Cybel The DP’s '85 Essential Films You Must See to Know Anything About Why She Loves Film'
Photo Credit: S & A

Cybel The DP’s '85 Essential Films You Must See to Know Anything About Why She Loves Film'


Spike had a list. Scorsese had his. But when can we talk about the films that make a female filmmaker tick?!! And that’s when I remembered I’m also a writer. We’ll start with my list.

When Fast Company posted Scorsese’s list, it immediately went viral. It’s a great list and I committed to seeing every film on there. However, I was a little perturbed by the title: “85 Films You Need to See to Know Anything About Film”. Sounded a little harsh and sensationalistic. If you scroll down, you’ll see “list of 85 films that the director said most influenced him.” That’s an entirely different reason you should watch these films. It’s not to know everything about film but to appreciate what gave birth to his personal aesthetic. Equally important, but different.

Recently, I read Spike Lee’s List of Films Every Filmmaker Should See. I had already seen every film and did a quick victory lap in my apartment.

Since film school, I’ve kept a list of all the films that had a notable impact on me. There are over 400 titles. As many of you know, I watch at least one film/day (#nfotd) that I’ve never seen before. Because I watch so many films and am nerdy enough to compile a list, fellow film friends have bugged me to share it. When Scorsese’s was published, I decided to whittle mine down to 85 and share that. Not an easy task. At all.

My criteria: must be a film that influenced the type of DP/Artist I’ve become, opened me to a new visual way to express a narrative or a visual representation of my philosophy on life. A few had to be included simply because I could not live without them. They are not necessarily my favorite films, the most important in film history nor the ones I find most entertaining.

This list is “as of March 2012” (when I first saw Scorsese’s). Since then, I’ve seen “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman”, “Holy Motors” and “Mishima”; three films that might have more of a right to be on my list than others. I also included 4 documentaries (thus 89 titles).

After much agony, I chose not to include the film I’m named after. I still wonder if I should have swapped “The Birds” or “Monty Python” for “Hannah and Her Sisters” or “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”. And I still can’t commit to which Ophuls belongs. All of them?

Before we begin, this is what I’d like you to remember: these are 85 films that influenced me. See them. Don’t. Agree. Throw tomatoes at the computer screen. But more satisfyingly, I encourage you to write up your own list of 85 films that influenced you as an artist, that influenced you as a bank teller. Whatever. Post the list. If you’re on Twitter, cc me @CybelDP, include hashtag #My85 and I promise to retweet them.

Title Director / Director of Photography Year

”12″ – Nikita Mikhalkov / Vladislav Opelyants (2007)              

“12 Angry Men” – Sidney Lumet / Boris Kaufman (1957)               

“400 Blows” – Francois Truffaut / Henri Decae (1959)              

“After Life” – Hirokazu Koreeda / Masayoshi Sukita & Yutaka Yamasaki (1998)               

“Ali : Fear Eats the Soul” – Rainer Fassbinder / Jurgen Jurges (1974)               

“Aliens” – James Cameron / Adrian Biddle (1986)               

“All About Eve” – Joseph Mankiewicz / Milton Krasner (1950)               

“All the President’s Men” – Alan Pakula / Gordon Willis (1976)               

“Amelie” – Jean Pierre  Jeunet / Bruno Delbonnel (2001)               

“Apostle, The” – Robert Duvall / Barry Markowitz (1997)               

“Bad Day at Black Rock” – John Sturges / William Mellor (1955)               

“Belle De Jour” – Luis Bunuel / Sacha Vierny (1967)               

“Big Combo, The” – Joseph Lewis / John Alton (1955)               

“Birds, The” – Alfred Hitchcock / Robert Burks (1963)               

“Black Girl” – Sembene Ousmane / Christian Lacoste (1966)               

“Black Narcissus” – Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger / Jack Cardiff (1947)               

“Blade Runner” – Ridley Scott / Jordan Cronenweth (1982)               

“Bonnie and Clyde” – Arthur Penn / Burnett Guffey (1967)               

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – Blake Edwards / Franz Planer (1961)               

“Carrie” – Brian De Palma / Mario Tosi (1976)               

“Citizen Kane” – Orson Welles / John Toland (1941)                             

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” – Steven Spielberg / Vilmos Zsigmond (1977)               

“Color of Pomegranates, The” – Sergie Parajanov / Suren Shakbazyan (1968)               

“Conformist, The” – Bernardo  Bertolucci / Vittorio Storaro (1970)               

“Conversation, The” – Francis Ford Coppola / Bill Butler & Haskell Wexler (1974)               

“Corner, The” – Charles S Dutton / Ivan Strasburg (2000)               

“Cranes are Flying, The” – Mikhail Kalatozov / Sergei Urusevsky (1957)               

“Daughters of the Dust” – Julie Dash / Arthur Jafa (1991)               

“Do the Right Thing” – Spike Lee / Ernest Dickerson (1989)               

“Dogville” – Lars Von Trier / Anthony Dod Mantle (2003)               

“Double Life of Veronique” – Krzysztof  Kieslowski / Slawomir Idziak (1991)               

“Dresser, The” – Peter Yates / Kevin Pike (1983)               

“End of the Century (The Story of the Ramones)” – Jim Fields & Michael Gramaglia (2003)               

“Enter The Void” – Gaspar Noe / Benoit Debie (2009)               

“Exterminating Angel” – Luis Bunuel / Gabriel Figueroa (1962)               

“French Connection, The” – William Friedkin / Owen Roizman (1971)              

“Fresh” – Boaz Yakin / Adam Holender (1994)               

“George Washington” – David Gordon Green / Tim Orr (2000)               

“Gone with the Wind” – Victor Fleming / Ernest Haller & Lee Garmes (1939)               

“Grey Gardens” – The Great Maysles (1975)               

“Heat” – Michael  Mann / Dante Spinotti (1995)               

“Honeymoon Killers, The” – Leonard Kastle & Donald Volkman / Oliver Wood (1969)               

“Human Condition, The” – Masaki Kobayashi / Yoshio  Miyajima (1959)               

“Hunger” – Steve McQueen / Sean Bobbitt (2008)               

“I Am Love” – Luca Guadagnino / Yorick Le Saux (2009)               

“In Cold Blood” – Richard Brooks / Conrad Hall (1967)               

“In the Mood for Love” – Wong Kar Wai / Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan & Ping Bin Lee (2000)              

“Inception” – Christopher Nolan / Wally Pfister (2010)               

“Intentions of Murder” – Shohei Imamurai / Shinsaku Himeda (1964)               

“Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” – Chantal Akerman / Babette Mangolte (1975)               

“Juliet of the Spirits” – Federico Fellini / Gianni Di Venanzo (1965)              

“Kaagaz Ke Phool” – Guru Dutt / V K Murthy (1959)               

“La Jetee” – Chris Marker / Jean Chiabau Jean & Chris Marker (1962)               

“La Ronde” – Max Ophuls / Christian Matras (1950)               

“Last Time I Saw Paris” – Richard Brooks / Joseph Ruttenberg (1954)               

“Le Mepris” – Jean Luc Godard / Raoul Coutard (1963)               

“Les Bonnes Femmes” – Claude Chabrol / Henri Decae (1960)               

“Limey, The” – Steven Soderbergh / Edward Lachman (1999)               

“Lost Highway” – David Lynch / Peter Deming (1997)               

“Marnie” –  Alfred Hitchcock / Robert Burks (1964)               

“Medea” – Lars Von Trier / Sejr Brockmann (1988)               

“Medicine for Melancholy” – Barry Jenkins / James Laxton (2008)               

“Medium Cool” – Haskell Wexler (1969)               

“Midnight Cowboy” – John Schlesinger / Adam Holender (1969)               

“Mildred Pierce” – Michael Curtiz / Ernest Haller (1945)               

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” – Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones / Terry Bedford (1975)               

“Nashville” – Robert  Altman / Paul Lohmann (1975)               

“Opening Night” – John Cassavetes / Al Ruban (1977)               

“Paris Blues” – Martin Ritt / Christian Matras (1961)               

“Picnic at Hanging Rock” – Peter Weir / Russell Boyd (1975)

“Pina” – Wim Wender / Helene Louvart (2011)               

“Pink Floyd The Wall” – Alan Parker / Peter Biziou (1982)               

“Primer” – Shane Carruth (2004)               

“Ran” – Akira Kurosawa / Asakazu Nakai  & Takao Saito & Shoji Ueda (1985)               

“Seventh Continent, The” – Michael Haneke / Peschke Anton (1989)               

“Shining, The” – Stanley Kubrick / John Alcott (1980)               

“Sorrow and the Pity, The” – Marcel Ophuls / Andre Gazut & Jurgen Thieme (1969)

“Sounder” – Martin Ritt / John Alonzo (1972)               

“Stalker” – Andrey Tarkovsky / Aleksandr Knyazhinsky, Georgi Rerberg & Leonid Kalashnikov (1979)               

“Sunrise” – F W  Murnau / Charles Rosher & Karl Struss (1927)              

“Taxi Driver” – Martin Scorsese / Michael Chapman (1976)               

“There Will Be Blood” – PT  Anderson / Robert Elswit (2007)               

“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” – Sydney Pollack / Philip Lathrop (1969)         

“Thin Red Line” -Terrence Malick / John Toll (1998)                            

“Touch of Evil” – Orson Welles / Russell  Metty (1958)               

“Wages of Fear” – Georges Henri Clouzot / Armand Thirard (1953)               

“War Game, The” – Peter Watkins / Peter Bartlett & Peter Suschitzky (1965)               

“Wings of Desire” – Wim Wenders / Henri Alekan (1987)

“Yo Soy Cuba” – Mikhail Kalatozov / Sergei Urusevsky (1964)

Visual Inspiration from the Archives:

A Cinematographer’s Plea to the Budding Film Auteur : Move Your Camera

One Cinematographer’s Obsession with Color

See my DP work at

Chat film at @CybelDP and read my film live tweets @CybelNfotd

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