1. TWELVE ANGRY MEN (1957).
A dissenting juror (Henry Fonda) in a murder trial gradually manages to convince his fellow jurors that the case is not as crystal-clear as originally thought. From highly acclaimed director Sidney Lumet comes proof that films do not always require a big budget. (Sometimes all you need is a simple yet decent storyline and terrific actors.)
2. A BOUT DE SOUFFLE (BREATHLESS) (1960).
A young, meddlesome car thief kills a policeman and attempts to persuade a woman to flee to Italy with him. With its quick, witty dialogue and beautiful Paris landscape, Jean-Luc Godard’s magnum opus is, without a doubt, one of the most influential works of the French New Wave era.
3. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941).
A private eye, Sam Spade, takes on a case which sees him get involved with three criminals, a beautiful liar, and their quest searching for a priceless jewel-encrusted statuette. If you are new to the film-noir genre, you will not go far wrong starting with this all-time classic from John Huston.
4. AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999).
A depressed father (Lester Burnham) going through a mid-life crisis in the suburbs decides to turn his miserable life around after developing a serious crush on his daughter’s beautiful friend — he sees her performing a cheerleader routine. This cool yet heartwarming tale of suburban life is a must-see for fans of Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendes.
5. DELICATESSEN (1991).
Surreal, post-apocalyptic dark comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who occasionally prepares a delicacy for his bizarre, eccentric tenants. For fans of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and his idiosyncratic, character-based film style, this will not disappoint.
6. THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955).
A religious, fanatical ex-con (Robert Mitchum) marries a rather gullible widow, the young children of whom are reluctant to tell him where their real father hid $10,000 that he had stolen in a robbery. Mitchum is supreme yet truly frightening in this Hitchcockian, suspenseful thriller.
7. DISTRICT 9 (2009).
An alien race made to live in slum-like conditions in South Africa suddenly discovers a kindred spirit in a government worker exposed to their extraterrestrial biotechnology. Adapted from the director’s short film Alive in Joburg, which was made on a shoestring budget, the storyline (despite its impressive SFX) is nothing short of being culturally and racially relevant to the world in which we live.
8. SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2008).
A theatre director struggles with his work and life (as well as all of the women in his life). He tries to create an elaborate life-size replica of New York inside a factory as part of his new production — bold indeed. Being my favourite screenwriter, I don’t have a bad word to say about Charlie Kaufman or his ever-complex, truly awe-inspiring mind — a genius.
9. RESERVOIR DOGS (1992).
Criminals of a diamond heist gone wrong attempt to work out why the robbery failed. They start to suspect that a cop is amongst them. With a cast that rivals the best ensemble in the history of cinema, not to mention Tarantino’s typically slick dialogue, it is nothing short of brilliant.
10. PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971).
A casual fling between a male radio DJ and an obsessed female listener takes a fearsome turn when another woman enters the fray. This intense thriller is proof that Clint Eastwood was always cut out for an established, highly successful career behind the camera.