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Michael Mann Officially Joins Letterboxd & Names His 14 Favorite Movies Of All Time

Summary

  • Michael Mann names
    Battleship Potemkin
    as his favorite film, influenced by Eisenstein’s mastery of montage.
  • Dr. Strangelove
    , a film he saw during university, made Mann fall in love with cinema and pursue meaningful projects.
  • Noir films like
    Pale Flower
    ,
    The Asphalt Jungle
    ,
    Sweet Smell of Success
    , and
    Out of the Past
    heavily influenced Mann’s style.



Michael Mann officially joins Letterboxd and names his 14 favorite films of all time. The director is best known for his sleek and stylized crime dramas, with some of his most acclaimed works including Thief, Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Ali, Collateral, and Public Enemies. His latest film is Ferrari, starring Adam Driver, and Mann has recently been discussing the idea of adapting his prequel/sequel novel, Heat 2, into a feature film with Driver as a young Neil McCauley.

Now, Michael Mann has officially joined Letterboxd and created a list revealing his 14 favorite films of all time. The director explains that the list is in no particular order, except for Battleship Potemkin being first, which is his favorite film of all time. Mann also shared notes on each of his selections. Check out his full list below:


Battleship Potemkin
(1925)

Eisenstein not only laid the theoretical foundation—a dialectical toolkit—for much of 20th century film narrative, but in 1924 made one of cinema’s great classics, applying theory to montage, composition and meaning. Its influence on British, Weimar and American cinema is huge.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
(1964)

The whole of Dr. Strangelove is a high-energy third act, all denouement. Its assault on Cold War policy and military culture is devastating because its modality is ridicule. It’s hilarious and eternal while it’s contemporary morality plays are forgotten.

Biutiful
(2010)

The profound struggle through the lower depths of Barcelona street life of a human soul resplendent with grace, pathos and love. Pure poetry.

Raging Bull
(1980)

We are immersed into the failing and besotted life of LaMotta and his need for and pursuit of redemption. The humanity of the picture is extraordinary, as is Marty’s execution. It’s nearly perfect in its editorial economy, staging, blocking and compositions.

Incendies
(2010)

A masterpiece of remembrance of things past and present with a visceral associative poetry and authentic passions. It’s strong, human, and authentic.

Pale Flower
(1964)

For its incredible sequence of opening scenes alone, a striking piece of Japanese post-war noir, the people feel like you’re there, walking past them on the street.

L’Atalante
(1934)

From the smallest piece of set decoration through performances that are timeless to the thrust of its story and working-class milieu, it’s a masterpiece from Vigo at the beginning of a body of work that never happened because he died of TB at 29.

The Asphalt Jungle
(1950)

With a screenplay by W. R. Burnett, it’s a post-war drive into highly internalized characters whose lives so conflict with rage and yearning, like Calhern’s for young Marilyn Monroe. The most powerful performance is by the stunningly authentic Sterling Hayden. It’s Huston at his most brilliant.

Poor Things
(2023)

Wildly, expressionistically torqued. Kafka, if he was droll. Brilliant.

Apocalypse Now
(1979)

Coppola’s dark, high-voltage identity quest, journeying through nihilism and wildness into overload. An operatic masterpiece.

Sweet Smell of Success
(1957)

The Ernest Lehman, Clifford Odets caustic screenplay is unequaled except by performances by Lancaster and Curtis and the chiaroscuro lighting and night exterior shooting of James Wong Howe when film stock had 14 ASA.

The Hurt Locker
(2008)

For its brilliantly directed performances, as penetrating into the psyches of combatants moving progressively, inexorably closer and closer to annihilation. Renner and Mackie are brilliant.

Out of the Past
(1947)

Alongside The Asphalt Jungle, Out of the Past a masterpiece of noir in the wake of WWII. Given the scale and the horror of the war, the questioning the purpose to anything, the prevalence of betrayal and ulterior motivations… all that currency is beautifully wrought in this radical and literate blast from the 1950s.

Pan’s Labyrinth
(2006)

Pan’s Labyrinth is a real favorite of mine. Fairytales are not behavioristic, they’re very Freudian. They use symbols, particularly youth. Bruno Bettelheim did a lot of work on the nature of fairytales. As in a dream, fairytales have the power to invade our consciousness on many levels as we take it in. That’s the particular genius that Guillermo del Toro has.



Breaking Down Michael Mann’s Favorite Films

& How They Influenced His Work

Mann’s favorite films encompass a wide range of styles, themes, and stories that have deeply influenced his own cinematic approach. He names the 1925 Soviet silent picture, Battleship Potemkin, as his favorite film of all time, which director Sergei Eisenstein made as a testing ground for his theories on montage. Influenced by the Kuleshov school of filmmaking, Eisenstein manipulated the film’s editing to evoke the strongest emotional response possible, aiming to engender sympathy for the rebellious sailors and provoke disdain towards their oppressors. Eisenstein’s mastery of montage greatly influenced Mann’s own style of visual storytelling and editing.


Battleship Potemkin
is streaming on Max and for free on Tubi.

Another one of Mann’s favorite films is Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. The second film on his list, Mann says that seeing Dr. Strangelove during his time as a student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is what made him fall in love with movies. Kubrick’s 1964 film had a profound impact on Mann’s generation, proving that filmmakers could create serious, meaningful cinema with artistic merit while still appealing to mainstream audiences. This revelation encouraged Mann to pursue his own ambitious and meaningful projects later in his career.

Dr. Strangelove
is streaming on Prime Video.


Pale Flower, The Asphalt Jungle, Sweet Smell of Success, and Out of the Past are all works of noir which, with their shadowy cinematography and morally ambiguous narratives, heavily influenced Michael Mann’s movies. Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now also likely influenced Mann’s fascination with intense character studies. Though Alejandro Iñárritu’s Biutiful, Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, and Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth are some of the newer films on his list that haven’t likely influenced his work as much, they are still worthy choices for Michael Mann‘s favorite films of all time.

Source: Michael Mann/Letterboxd

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