James Franco's 15 Favorite Criterion Movies

The Criterion Collection's website posts the top 10 favorite Criterion movies of various artists each month, and this month's entry is from James Franco, whose taste in movies is as good as his stoner act. Instead of a Top 10, Mr. Franco provided them with 15 movies grouped by their 9 directors. Wha--? Forget it.

Not surprisingly, among the 15 is Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho, which he had credited many times before as the movie that made him fall in love with films and inspired him to go into acting. Pictured above is a photo taken by Gus Van Sant last year in Oregon of Franco reenacting a scene from the film.

Gus is the best. Idaho was one of the first movies with which I fell in love. I would watch it repeatedly when I was a teenager. River Phoenix gives the performance of a lifetime, original and inspiring. As a young actor, I needed nothing more than this performance for inspiration. The film is a collage of techniques, plots, and themes, expertly wound together as only Van Sant is able to do. When Criterion released this DVD with a film-length interview between Todd Haynes and Gus, it was a gold mine for an acolyte like me. There are also great old magazine articles, and an odd conversation with J. T. Leroy, before he was exposed. Mala Noche is Gus’s first film. He financed it with his own money. It’s a great early glimpse into many of the themes that continue to consume him.

His Top 15:

  1. The Spirit of the Beehive
  2. Murmur of the Heart
  3. Lacombe, Lucien
  4. My Own Private Idaho
  5. Mala Noche
  6. A Woman Under the Influence
  7. Opening Night
  8. The Battle of Algiers
  9. Salesman
  10. Gimme Shelter
  11. L'Eclisse
  12. L'Avventura
  13. Il Posto
  14. 3 Women
  15. Secret Honor

Visit the Criterion website to read Franco's thoughts on each of them and purchase the films on DVD (or watch them online).

Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.


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