Essays on cinematic narrative. The focus is a set of dynamics collected under the concept of folding, a related system of techniques to model agency and causality.

About Ted’s Fours

Published: 24 May 2012

After only a few months of posting comments on IMDB, I started getting requests for ratings. Others wanted a best films list.

I am reluctant to have a single number that characterizes an experience, especially one I am working hard to make multidimensional. But I do have an opinion when a movie is worth watching — and when it is a complete waste of time. Also, there is a class of film in between that isn’t quite worth recommending unless you have special interests. I’ve designated these three general buckets as ones, twos and threes.

The ‘threes’ are films I would recommend. From these I am collecting a list that I recommend for those interested in a life in film. For convenience, I’ve called these ‘fours.’

The list of fours can be found below and in the database section.


Rules are: no more than two per filmmaker and no more than two per year. This means that there are some non-intuitive selections due to collisions. I think the discipline of twos — no more arbitrary than any — is useful, producing a welcome variety.

This list will change! One of the filmmakers listed below may produce a more important film than the two listed. In that case, a slot for a year may open up, with possible ripples elsewhere in the list. The database at this site is kept current, but the ratings here may differ from the original comments on IMDB.

Filmmakers with Two Films on the List

A few interesting filmmakers.

Those with two, listed in order of the director's birth year:

Alfred Hitchcock’s (b 1899) two are Rear Window and Vertigo

Akira Kurosawa’s (b 1910) two are Rashômon and Ran

Orson Welles’ (b 1915) two are The Lady from Shanghai and Othello

Frederico Fellini’s (b 1920) two are 8 ½ and Fellini: A Director’s Notebook

Alain Resnais‘ (b 1922) two are Hiroshima Mon Amore and Last Year at Marianbad

Robert Altman’s (b 1925) two are Short Cuts and Tanner on Tanner

Stanley Kubrick’s (b 1928) two are A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey

Andrey Tarkovskiy‘s (b 1931) two are Andrei Rublov and Nostalghia

Nagisa Oshima's (b 1932) two are Death by Hanging and Double Suicide: Japanese Summer

Woody Allen’s (b 1935) two are Annie Hall and Sweet and Lowdown

Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s (b 1941) two are Three Colors: Red and Three Colors: Blue

Raoul Ruiz‘s (b 1941) two are Three Crowns of the Sailor and Marcel Proust’s Time Regained

Werner Herzog’s (b 1942) two are Heart of Glass and Fitzcarraldo

Peter Greenaway’s (b 1942) two are Prospero’s Books and The Pillow Book

Terrence Malick’s (b 1943) two are The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life

Pedro Almodóvar’s (b 1949) two are Talk to Her and Broken Embraces

Gillian Armstrong’s (b 1950) two are My Brilliant Career and Oscar and Lucinda

Julie Taymor’s (b 1952) two are Oedipus Rex and Across the Universe

Kar Wai Wong’s (b 1956) two are In the Mood for Love and 2046

Julio Medem’s (b 1958) two are Sex and Lucia and Room in Rome

Christopher Nolan’s (b 1970) two are Memento and Inception


Notable others with one, expected to deliver a second:

Roman Polanski‘s (b 1933) two are The Tenant and ...

Ridley Scott‘s (b 1937) two are Blade Runner and ...

Brian De Palma's (b 1940) two are Snake Eyes and ...

David Lynch's (b 1948) two are Inland Empire and ...

Guy Maddin’s (b 1956) two are The Saddest Music in the World and ...

Charlie Kaufman‘s (b 1958) two are Synecdoche, New York and ...

Baz Luhrmann’s (b 1962) two are Moulin Rouge! and ...

Alejandro González Iñárritu's (b 1963) two are 21 Grams and ...

Interesting Actors

With no surprise, many of the actors we admire feature in some of these:

Cate Blanchett (Heaven, Oscar and Lucinda, I'm Not There.)

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Synecdoche, New York)

Julianne Moore (Vanya on 42nd Street, Short Cuts)

Sean Penn (The Tree of Life, 21 Grams, Sweet and Lowdown, The Thin Red Line)

Interesting Cinematographers

Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, 2046, The Limits of Control)

Sacha Vierny (Hiroshima mon amour, L'année dernière à Marienbad, Prospero’s Books, The Pillow Book)

The List

For reference, the list of Fours is collected here.

2011: The Tree of Life

2010: Inception

2010: Room in Rome

2009: Broken Embraces

2009: The Limits of Control

2008: Synecdoche, New York

2008: Tropic Thunder

2007: Across the Universe

2007: I’m Not There.

2006: Blood Tea and Red String

2006: Inland Empire

2005: Hidden

2005: The PianoTuner of EarthQuakes

2004: 2046

2004: Tanner on Tanner

2003: 21 Grams

2003: The Saddest Music in the World

2002: Heaven

2002: Talk to Her

2001: Moulin Rouge!

2001: Sex and Lucia

2000: In the Mood for Love

2000: Memento

1999: Marcel Proust’s Time Regained

1999: Sweet and Lowdown

1998: Snake Eyes

1998: The Thin Red Line

1997: Oscar and Lucinda

1996: Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life

1996: The Pillow Book

1994: Three Colors: Red

1994: Vanya on 42nd Street

1993: Short Cuts

1993: Three Colors: Blue

1992: Oedipus Rex

1991: Prospero’s Books

1990: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

1987: King Lear

1986: The Singing Detective

1985: Ran

1983: Nostalghia

1983: Three Crowns of the Sailor

1982: Blade Runner

1982: Fitzcarraldo

1981: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

1980: Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession

1979: My Brilliant Career

1979: The Muppet Movie

1977: Annie Hall

1976: Heart of Glass

1976: The Tenant

1975: Picnic at Hanging Rock

1973: Day for Night

1971: A Clockwork Orange

1971: The Last Movie

1969: Fellini: A Director’s Notebook

1969: Funeral Procession of Roses

1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey

1968: Death by Hanging

1967: Japanese Summer: Double Suicide

1966: Andrei Rublov

1965: The Saragossa Manuscript

1964: I Am Cuba

1964: Red Desert

1963: 8 1/2

1962: Lawrence of Arabia

1962: The Pier

1961: Last Year at Marienbad

1959: Hiroshima My Love

1958: Vertigo

1957: 12 Angry Men

1957: The Seventh Seal

1956: Forbidden Planet

1954: Rear Window

1953: Duck Amuck

1953: Tales of Ugetsu

1952: Singin’ in the Rain

1952: The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice

1951: A Streetcar Named Desire

1950: Rashômon

1948: The Red Shoes

1947: The Lady from Shanghai

1941: Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

1941: Sullivan’s Travels

1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

1936: My Man Godfrey

1935: The Phantom Empire

1934: L’ Atalante

1933: The Old Man of the Mountain

1933: The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

1932: Freaks

1932: The Mask of Fu Manchu

1931: City Lights

1930: The Bishop Murder Case

1929: Diary of a Lost Girl

1927: It

1927: The Jazz Singer

1924: Sherlock, Jr.

1920: The Golem

1910: Frankenstein

1902: Jack and the Beanstalk

1895: Lumiere: Painted Dancer

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© copyright Ted Goranson, 2012