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The Best Man (#110 of 2)

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot Matt Maul’s Top 10 Films of All Time

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If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Matt Maul’s Top 10 Films of All Time
If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Matt Maul’s Top 10 Films of All Time

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.

5 for the Day: Presidents and Politics

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5 for the Day: Presidents and Politics
5 for the Day: Presidents and Politics

When I realized that Presidents Day was approaching, I figured the timing was perfect for a “5 for the Day” on movies about American presidents. You know what though—feature films about real U.S. presidents have tended to not be that good. Television has done a much better job when it comes to telling stories about Oval Office occupants. Besides, the holiday itself had its importance sapped once they combined Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays together and decided the day would honor all presidents. Honestly, more deserve not to be honored than do. I don’t imagine there will be many fond remembrances of John Tyler or James Buchanan today. So, I decided to expand my field to both fictional presidents and politics in general—then the difficult task of winnowing down to five began. Thrillers such as the original Manchurian Candidate sprang immediately to mind, but since it was more thriller than political, I let it go. Political satires are plentiful, but I didn’t want to get overloaded with them so many worthy films missed the cut. I decided to limit myself to one satire and even though there have been better ones, I decided to go off the beaten path with my choice. All the President’s Men leaped to mind as well, but that’s more about journalism than politics. There still were painful cuts: I really wanted to include Spencer Tracy in The Last Hurrah, but I had to let it go. So, for better or worse, here are the five I settled on.