50 Years of Criterion on Film

For my next list of 50, I decided to do something different. Instead of a genre, I've chosen a streaming service. So one movie a year since I was born, so long as they are available on the Criterion Channel. The good news is, I don't have to search for unfindables or make compromises (as long as I finish before the service pulls something). And if you think it's all art house and foreign films, don't worry. Criterion's mission is to showcase movies that are relevant to film history, so cult films, little known entries in name directors' filmography, there's all sorts, allowing me to, as usual, make choices based on diversity (quality being less of a concern, but not an absolute given). While I won't list them here, it might also be interesting to pair each one with a short film from that same year, seeing as Criterion is a big repository of shorts. So let's see what the future holds for me and my television screen...


The rise of studio-free film making in the U.S. is nonetheless subordinate, for me, to auteurs as the prolific Fassbinder, to Tarkovsky, and Bergman, and Varda, and Chantal Akerman, and the cult rise of kung fu films. I don't have anything on the list that I've previous seen, but some of these do appear.
1971: WR: Mysteries of the Organism
1972: Cries and Whispers (need to get some Bergman in here)
1973: F for Fake
1974: Céline et Julie vont en bateau
1975: Mirror (need some Tarkovsky too)
1976: Chinese Roulette (Fassbinder is a must)
1977: One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda!)
1978: Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron
1979: Camera Buff (ooh and some Kieślowski)

In the 80s, the Coen Brothers get their start, but let's not forget the impact of Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, Mike Leigh, David Cronenberg, and different takes on the documentary like the Thin Blue Line's. Kieślowski comes to prominence in the West in the 90s, so I'm gonna look at some of his earlier efforts.
1980: Kagemusha (some late Kurosawa)
1981: Coup de torchon
1982: Identification of a Woman (Antonioni!)
1983: Angst
1984: The Funeral
1985: Vagabond (more Varda!)
1986: Down by Law (Jarmusch)
1987: Blind Chance (more Kieślowski)
1988: Chocolat (the Claire Denis one)
1989: Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!


Some of my favorite (Criterion-accessible) directors in the 90s include some of the above, sure, but also Atom Egoyan, Wong Kar-wai and Richard Linklater. But I've seen most or all of their work, so they can't appear on this list.
1990: Metropolitan
1991: Europa
1992: Man Bites Dog
1993: Madadayo (Kurosawa)
1994: 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance
1995: Living in Oblivion
1996: Schizopolis
1997: Cure
1998: Pickpocket (Jia Zhangke's)
1999: Beau travail

As we head into the 2000s, Criterion's catalog gets slimmer, but they did add some cool anime films recently. Noah Baumbach, Guy Maddin, Lars von Trier, David Fincher, Alejandro Iñárritu, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Miranda July do feature. I ended up using Michael Haneke several times.
2000: Code Unknown
2001: The Piano Teacher (yep, back to back Haneke)
2002: Teknolust
2003: In the Cut (slim pickings)
2004: Throw Down (Johnny To, oh and the short has to be Bong Joon-ho's Influenza!)
2005: Kinetta
2006: Them (Ils)
2007: Nocturna
2008: Che Part 1 and Part 2 (so 51 movies, not 50)
2009: Fish Tank

Here's where it got difficult. While Criterion has recent titles right up to this year, these tend to be on and off the site much more quickly and/or because of rights problems are ON the channel, just not in Canada. For these reasons, I had to change a lot of titles I'd put on my preliminary list, made just a month ago, and I may have to do so again before I reach the end of the project.
2010: Lucky Life
2011: Le Havre
2012: Beyond the Hills
2013: The Rocket
2014: Girlhood
2015: Louder Than Bombs
2016: Creepy
2017: The Other Side of Hope
2018: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
2019: Bacurau
and 2020: Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time

Follow my progress every Sunday on This Week in Geek, or check out the list as posters at Letterboxd.