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Jim Jarmusch names his 10 favourite films of all time


Known as one of the most celebrated independent filmmakers in America, Jim Jarmusch is a pioneer of truly idiosyncratic cinema, embracing each and every one of his particular eccentricities. Approaching his films with a similar sense of experimentation to his real-life lookalike David Lynch, Jarmusch works with recurring actors such as Bill Murray, Tom Waits and Tilda Swinton to tell his artistically-inspired soulful stories. 

Starting out in the industry studying filmmaking at the New York University, Jarmusch established himself early on as a free-spirited thinker, toying with his lecturers by handing in movie scripts wherein very little happened at all. Fond of this rebelliousness, Nicolas Ray, who lectured at the university, took the young director under his wing to nurture his evident talents. 

Creating the celebrated movie Permanent Vacation as his final university project, the college remarkably refused to award him a degree for his efforts, calling his work sub-par. Since then, Jim Jarmusch has gone on to work with the very best Hollywood talent including Johnny Depp, Iggy Pop, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Cate Blanchett, Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan.

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Working across several different genres, it’s clear that Jarmusch has an extraordinary grasp of world cinema, a fact that’s self-evident when looking at his list of ten favourite films, including filmmakers such as Roberto Rossellini, Akira Kurosawa, Robert Bresson, D.W. Griffith and Buster Keaton. 

Naming ten classic movies, the likes of Open City, Broken Blossoms, Seven Samurai make up the bottom three spots, whilst Mouchette by Bresson and Keaton’s The Cameraman take number seven and six, respectively, placed shortly behind F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise at five and Jean-Pierre Melville’s Bob le Flambeur at four.

Heading into the top three, and it’s Jarmusch’s old lecturer Nicolas Ray who receives praise in bronze for his 1949 movie They Live by Night starring Cathy O’Donnell and Farley Granger. A romantic film noir, the film tells the story of an escaped convict who falls in love with a woman who helps him back to health after a minor accident, though, predictably, their relationship is somewhat doomed. 

Yasujiro Ozu’s influential family drama Tokyo Story takes the second spot, with the Japanese filmmaker being recognised as one of the greatest of all time thanks to this 1953 magnum opus. Following an old couple who go to visit their children and grandchildren despite receiving little attention at all, Ozu’s film is a touching analysis of old age and the melancholy passing of time. 

Number one on his favourite films of all time is the 1934 Jean Vigo movie L’Atalante, a French movie recognised as one of the greatest of all time. Starring Dita Parlo, the film tells the story of a newly married couple who struggle through their first months of marriage whilst travelling on a boat named the L’atalante bound on course down the river Seine.

Take a look at the full list of Jim Jarmusch’s top ten favourite movies of all time, below.

Jim Jarmusch’s 10 favourite films of all time:

  1. L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934)
  2. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
  3. They Live by Night (Nicholas Ray, 1949)
  4. Bob le Flambeur (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1955)
  5. Sunrise (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
  6. The Cameraman (Buster Keaton, Edward Sedgwick, 1928)
  7. Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967)
  8. Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
  9. Broken Blossoms (D.W. Griffith, 1919)
  10. Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)