Editor’s Note: In light of Sight & Sound’s film poll, which, every decade, queries critics and directors the world over before arriving at a communal Top 10 list, we polled our own writers, who didn’t partake in the project, but have bold, discerning, and provocative lists to share.
In compiling my Top 10 film list, I tried to avoid obvious choices based on general consensus. Movies like Modern Times, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Searchers are great, and I respect them for what they are, but I almost never stop what I’m doing to watch them. The list below includes 10 films I must make a pilgrimage to at least once a year.
10. The Candidate (Michael Ritchie, 1972). Films about political campaigns and governance generally don’t do much for me. They are often melodramas that just clumsily use the world of politics as a backdrop, and don’t give the audience any more insight into political environments than Star Wars provides insight into how aerospace technology works. A fine film, Franklin J. Schaffner’s The Best Man does attempt to show the proverbial sausage being made, but it hedges its bets by not naming a specific party, and ultimately feels watered down by obviously trying to be too even-handed. Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate follows a man running for office, Robert Redford’s Bill McKay, who expresses a clear progressive agenda, but without delivering any condescending, Aaron Sorkin-type monologues. I’m a right-of-center person, but every time I see this film, I’m tempted to go out and vote not only once, but twice, for Bill McKay.