The best movies of all time according to Spike Lee

We all know him with the nickname Spike, given by his mother because he was skinny and reckless, but his real name is Shelton Jackson. A true experimenter in production and shooting techniques, his style is easy to recognize, with those close-ups where the characters look straight at the camera and move together with it, as if the actor was floating with the spectator, usually surrounded by warm colours.

He has filmed many cult movies: Do the Right thing, Jungle Fever, Malcom X, The 25th hour, Inside Man, Miracle at SantÔÇÖAnna and many others. Spike Lee was born in Atlanta in 1957: son of Bill, jazz musician, and Jacquelyn Carroll Shelton, a teacher of humanistic subjects, first among four children in total. After Atlanta, the family moved to Chicago and then to Brooklyn, New York, which became the city of Spike Lee: the one with which he was identifying himself most and the one that he showed so often in his movies. He did an internship at Columbia, but it was Hollywood that convinced him to become a filmmaker. He also directed famous commercials, documentaries and music videos collaborating with various artists: Michael Jackson, Chaka Kahn, Naughty by Nature, Arrested Development, Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Miles Davis, Prince, Public Enemy among others.

What not everyone knows is that Spike Lee is also a professor of films and fine arts at the University of New York. And the curiosity that is worth rediscovering is the list of 86 films that he drafted for his students, as l list of movies to study if you want to know the basics of great cinema. A list that also represents the essential films according to his perspective, covering several illustrious colleagues: from Hitchcock to Truffaut, from Kurosawa to Billy Wilder, from Fellini to Francis Ford Coppola. The list is below, a nice way to verify that our cinematographic knowledge covers what must be known. Otherwise, you wonÔÇÖt pass at Spike LeeÔÇÖs tests.

  • Bad Lieutenant┬áby Abel Ferrara (1992)
  • Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa (1950)
  • Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa (1961)
  • Ran by Akira Kurosawa (1985)
  • Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock (1954)
  • Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock (1958)
  • North by Northwest┬áby Alfred Hitchcock (1959)
  • Bonnie and Clyde by Arthur Penn (1967)
  • The Conformist by Bernardo Bertolucci (1970)
  • Last Tango in Paris by Bernardo Bertolucci (1972)
  • Ace in the Hole by Billy Wilder (1951)
  • Some Like It Hot┬áby Billy Wilder (1959)
  • Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett (1977)
  • Night of the Hunter by Charles Laughton (1955)
  • Raising Arizona┬áby The Coen Brothers (1987)
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai┬áby David Lean (1954)
  • Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean (1962)
  • On the Waterfront┬áby Elia Kazan (1954)
  • A Face in the Crowd by Elia Kazan (1957)
  • La Strada by Federico Fellini (1954)
  • La Dolce Vita┬áby Federico Fellini (1960)
  • 8 1/2 by Federico Fellini (1963)
  • City of God by Ferando Meirelles, Katia Lund (2002)
  • The Godfather┬áby Francis Ford Coppola (1972)
  • The Godfather: Part II┬áby Francis Ford Coppola (1974)
  • 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut (1959)
  • Day for Night by Francois Truffaut (1973)
  • Patton by Franklin J. Schnaffner (1970)
  • Mad Max by George Miller (1979)
  • The Road Warrior by George Miller (1981)
  • Battle of Algiers┬áby Gillo Pontecorvo (1966)
  • The Last Detail by Hal Ashby (1973)
  • Breathless┬áby Jean-Luc Godard (1960)
  • West Side Story┬áby Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise (1961)
  • Stranger than Paradise┬áby Jim Jarmusch (1984)
  • The Train by John Frankenheimer (1964)
  • The Maltese Falcon┬áby John Huston (1941)
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre┬áby John Huston (1948)
  • Fat City by John Huston (1972)
  • Midnight Cowboy┬áby John Schlesinger (1969)
  • Marathon Man by John Schlesinger (1969)
  • Boyz n the Hood┬áby John Singleton (1991)
  • Los Olivdados by Luis Bunuel (1950)
  • Black Orpheus┬áby Marcel Camus (1959)
  • Home of the Brave┬áby Mark Robson (1949)
  • Mean Streets by Martin Scorsese (1973)
  • Raging Bull┬áby Martin Scorsese (1980)
  • Apocalypto by Mel Gibson (2006)
  • Casablanca by Michael Curtiz (1942)
  • Thief┬áby Michael Mann (1981)
  • The Red Shoes┬áby Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger (1948)
  • Coolie High by Michael Schultz (1975)
  • I Am Cuba┬áby Mikhail Kalatozov (1964)
  • One Flew Over the CuckooÔÇÖs Nest┬áby Milos Forman (1975)
  • District 9 by Neill Blomkamp (2009)
  • In the Heat of the Night┬áby Norman Jewison (1967)
  • Touch of Evil by Orson Welles (1958)
  • Blue Collar┬áby Paul Schrader (1978)
  • White Heat┬áby Raoul Walsh (1949)
  • Is Paris Burning?┬áby Rene Clement (1966)
  • M*A*S*H by Robert Altman (1970)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird┬áby Robert Mulligan (1962)
  • Rome Open City by Roberto Rossellini (1945)
  • Paisan┬áby Roberto Rossellini (1946)
  • Chinatown┬áby Roman Polanski (1974)
  • Black Rain┬áby Shohei Imamura (1989)
  • Dog Day Afternoon┬áby Sidney Lumet (1975)
  • SinginÔÇÖ in the Rain┬áby Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly (1952)
  • Paths of Glory┬áby Stanley Kubrick (1957)
  • Spartacus by Stanley Kubrick (1960)
  • Dr. Strangelove┬áby Stanley Kubrick (1964)
  • Kung Fu Hustle by Stephen Chow (2004)
  • Dirty Pretty Things┬áby Stephen Frears (2002)
  • Hoop Dreams by Steve James (1984)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind┬áby Steven Spielberg (1977)
  • Empire of the Sun by Steven Spielberg (1987)
  • Cool Hand Luke┬áby Stuart Rosenberg (1967)
  • Badlands by Terrence Malick (1973)
  • Days of Heaven┬áby Terrence Malick (1978)
  • The Wizard of Oz by Victor Fleming (1939)
  • An American in Paris by Vincente Minnelli (1951)
  • Lust for Life┬áby Vincente Minnelli (1956)
  • The Bicycle Thief by Vittorio De Sica (1948)
  • Miracle in Milan┬áby Vittorio De Sica (1951)
  • Dead End by William Wyler (1937)
  • Zelig by Woody Allen (1983)

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