Actress [a.k.a. Centre Stage] (Stanely Kwan, 1992)
I love me some Maggie Cheung, and this film sports what, as far as I've seen, is her most lauded performance. Based on the tragically short life of '30s Chinese film star Ruan Lingyu (whose own seminal film The Goddess I also need to see), Actress got plenty of plaudits, the most prominent of which was Jonathan Rosenbaum listing it among the best films of the '90s.
L'argent (Robert Bresson, 1983)
A) It's Robert Bresson, thus necessitating I see it. B) It's on damn near every serious list of the best films of the '80s, a decade I'm still slowly mapping, cinema-wise.
The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
I believe it was on Twitter that the Self-Styled Siren (probably the best film writer in the country at the moment) argued for the underrating of William Wyler, furthermore arguing that this movie was the best Best Picture winner ever. I think she meant that literally, but I also got the sense she was speaking in terms of the mental image of a Best Picture winner, a.k.a. a typically middlebrow, easily digestible affair. But if the Siren sees artistry in it, you can be damn sure it's there, and I love the handful of Wylers I've seen.
Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004)
Comparisons to Kubrick and a celebrated score by my favorite modern film composer, Alexandre Desplat. I have neglected this for far too long.
Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
Supposedly one of the most unsettling films ever made. Given my preference for horror in the Repulsion vein of disruption and disturbance over jump scares, Nic Roeg's movie should be for me.
Faust (F.W. Murnau, 1926)
This has just been a major oversight I've sought to correct for a while. Murnau was perhaps the first poet of the cinema, and I've been looking forward to completing my gaps in his filmography.
Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas, 1996)
Another film starring Maggie Cheung, this one by one of my favorite modern directors, Olivier Assayas, and drawing its subject matter at least partially from the director of the next film on my list...
Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1916)
I've only seen short films by Feuillade and found them to be incredible, the perfect balance between Méliès' fantasy and the Lumières' flat documentation. I'd therefore like to check out one of his serials, and I think I'll start with this one, though Les Vampires and the Fantômas series are also priorities.
The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies, 1992)
Davies Distant Voices, Still Lives is a masterpiece, and this sequel seems to get about as much praise. I figured I'd watch this in anticipation of Davies' new film, The Deep Blue Sea, which toured the festival circuit last year but has yet to get wider release in the States.
Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg, 1932)
The only von Sternberg/Dietrich collaboration I've seen is The Blue Angel, but I have it on good authority from several that this commercially unavailable pairing brings out the best in both of them. Considering how great The Blue Angel is, I can't wait.
Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958)
I am deeply ashamed to admit I've never seen any Minnelli film, a problem I hope to rectify in the coming days with my new Blu-Ray of his Meet Me in St. Louis. But while the rest of his acclaimed musicals are also on my to-watch list, I must finally stop neglecting to see this drama, praised to the high heavens by damn near everyone I know and follow who's seen it.
There's Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 1956)
Douglas Sirk, maker of hyperstylized Technicolor films, also made equally artistic black and white films, or so I'm told of his four monochrome features. I can't remember where I saw a rave for this but it made me more eager to watch it than even Sirk's Faulkner adaptation The Tarnished Angels, which I may also get around to this year.