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Spike Lee shares his list of 100 movies every filmmaker should see

Jul. 26, 2013by: Alex Maidy

With Spike Lee's OLDBOY coming later this year and a Kickstarter campaign underway to get his not-BLACULA vampire movie made, the versatile director also has made time to teach his craft to students at New York University. Contributors to his Kickstarter were given a treat today when Lee shared this:

Ive Been A Professor At The NYU Graduate Film For The Past 15 Years.The 1st Day Of Every Class I Hand Out My List Of Films That I Feel You Must See If You Want To Make Films. Please Look At This List And See What You Might Have Missed. As I Tell My Students If You Want Your Film Game To Be Tight You Must Have Seen Great Movies, World Cinema, It Just Cant Be Hollywood Films. Educate Yourself. Learn. Grow. Evolve. Make Great Films.

Peace, Onward And Upward,

Spike Lee.

The list is varied both in genre, era, and language. Some of these are well known to even the average movie-goer (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE GODFATHER, MAD MAX) while others are more obscure and likely titles recognized by ardent cinephiles (ROME OPEN CITY, MIRACLE IN MILAN). Some of the titles are surprising to me, but they also show that Spike Lee is a student of his craft and is informed about the history of movies.

Take a look at the list and see how many of these you have seen.

OLDBOY opens October 25, 2013. Spike Lee's Kickstarter campaign ends August 21st and is currently a million dollars short of reaching his goal of $1.25 million.

Extra Tidbit: I have seen 44 of the movies on the list.
Source: Kickstarter

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+2
6:23PM on 07/28/2013
No apocalypse now?
No apocalypse now?
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+0
6:21PM on 07/28/2013

Only 12

bummer man, lol
bummer man, lol
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5:28PM on 07/28/2013
Seen 49. Glad he included Mann's Thief, my favorite of his films.

As lists go, this one gets points for not being TOO pretentious, though it does cater a little toward his personal interests (no surprise).
Seen 49. Glad he included Mann's Thief, my favorite of his films.

As lists go, this one gets points for not being TOO pretentious, though it does cater a little toward his personal interests (no surprise).
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6:04AM on 07/28/2013

73 and 56

I have seen 73 of there and i own 56 of them.
I have seen 73 of there and i own 56 of them.
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+1
2:59AM on 07/28/2013
I can say I've seen 10 of those movies, although 2 were so long ago I barely remember them.

BTW I know Mel Gibson is Capt. Douche von Douchenheimer, but Apocalypto was an awesome flick!
I can say I've seen 10 of those movies, although 2 were so long ago I barely remember them.

BTW I know Mel Gibson is Capt. Douche von Douchenheimer, but Apocalypto was an awesome flick!
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7:55PM on 07/27/2013

hmm

I can respect Spike, though I know his persona can turn people off. However, how can anyone of his stature exclude 2001: Space Odyssey and Pulp Fiction? Personal preferences aside, these are undeniably necessary for any list dealing with influence and film education.

There are definitely more missing, as Spike himself admits, but just at a quick glance these omissions are staggering.
I can respect Spike, though I know his persona can turn people off. However, how can anyone of his stature exclude 2001: Space Odyssey and Pulp Fiction? Personal preferences aside, these are undeniably necessary for any list dealing with influence and film education.

There are definitely more missing, as Spike himself admits, but just at a quick glance these omissions are staggering.
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+0
7:34PM on 07/27/2013
Interesting list, thought he would have had more Scorsese on there. Really didn't see District 9 or, slightly more shocking considering, Apocalypto....even Mad Max got some love!
Interesting list, thought he would have had more Scorsese on there. Really didn't see District 9 or, slightly more shocking considering, Apocalypto....even Mad Max got some love!
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-10
7:03PM on 07/27/2013
Not one really great masterpiece on that list. Too bad. But for the standard "film nerd" and students it's pretty much the basic stuff you read anywhere else.
Not one really great masterpiece on that list. Too bad. But for the standard "film nerd" and students it's pretty much the basic stuff you read anywhere else.
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7:31PM on 07/27/2013
Qualify great masterpiece...?
Qualify great masterpiece...?
7:56PM on 07/27/2013
lolwut?
lolwut?
+0
1:38PM on 07/27/2013
Ok, I have to admit I was thinking how lame this list was going to be before I read it. It's actually a pretty good list of films. Glad to see District 9, Inside Man and Kung Fu Hustle make it. Good job Spike. Still should have had Old Boy, I mean COME ON!
Ok, I have to admit I was thinking how lame this list was going to be before I read it. It's actually a pretty good list of films. Glad to see District 9, Inside Man and Kung Fu Hustle make it. Good job Spike. Still should have had Old Boy, I mean COME ON!
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10:50AM on 07/27/2013

Good stuff

Good stuff.
Good stuff.
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9:29AM on 07/27/2013
Kung Fu Hustle made the list!
Kung Fu Hustle made the list!
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8:07AM on 07/27/2013
Glad to see Michael Mann's Thief on the list and very very surprised to see Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle too.
Glad to see Michael Mann's Thief on the list and very very surprised to see Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle too.
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+2
3:10AM on 07/27/2013

Not a bad list.

It's got some great films on it, and I'm surprised that he actually seems to have pretty good taste for the most part... But there is no movie that a filmmaker should or should not see... Every movie teaches a filmmaker something. Whether it's a camera angle or a lighting choice, or something as simple as "how NOT to make a movie." While I applaud him for his taste, I think his issues with some directors kept him from being totally impartial. He may have a problem with Tarantino, but there's
It's got some great films on it, and I'm surprised that he actually seems to have pretty good taste for the most part... But there is no movie that a filmmaker should or should not see... Every movie teaches a filmmaker something. Whether it's a camera angle or a lighting choice, or something as simple as "how NOT to make a movie." While I applaud him for his taste, I think his issues with some directors kept him from being totally impartial. He may have a problem with Tarantino, but there's absolutely no denying the man reinvented the mob genre with Pulp Fiction. Kudos though for Zelig. I'm half surprised he's ever seen a Woody Allen movie, let alone Zelig.
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6:13AM on 07/28/2013
Tarantino aint really a great or original director tho. His films tend to be good because of his writting or a couple of stand out performances. And true romance is easily the best thing tarantino wrote.
Tarantino aint really a great or original director tho. His films tend to be good because of his writting or a couple of stand out performances. And true romance is easily the best thing tarantino wrote.
9:23PM on 07/26/2013
Spike lee's rule before making this list : No Tarantino
Spike lee's rule before making this list : No Tarantino
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5:02AM on 08/01/2013
Makes sense. As per Spike Lee this is a list of 100 Great movies.
Makes sense. As per Spike Lee this is a list of 100 Great movies.
9:23PM on 07/26/2013
Spike lee's rule before making this list : No Tarantino
Spike lee's rule before making this list : No Tarantino
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+7
8:38PM on 07/26/2013
When is he going to evolve and make good films?
When is he going to evolve and make good films?
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+2
8:14PM on 07/26/2013

21

is my count
is my count
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5:54PM on 07/26/2013

Good List.

I am shocked with his ego he didn't add like... his whole filmography to it.
I am shocked with his ego he didn't add like... his whole filmography to it.
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6:23PM on 07/26/2013
Indeed. But he did state that it would be an "honor and priviledge" to sit next to him at a Knicks game. lol For $10,000. His statement on Kickstarter was nice though.
Indeed. But he did state that it would be an "honor and priviledge" to sit next to him at a Knicks game. lol For $10,000. His statement on Kickstarter was nice though.
5:54PM on 07/26/2013
I'm surprised he included Thief, since he slammed Michael Mann for directing Ali, feeling that a white guy shouldn't make a biopic of him.
I'm surprised he included Thief, since he slammed Michael Mann for directing Ali, feeling that a white guy shouldn't make a biopic of him.
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11:05PM on 07/26/2013
Perhaps Spike put his ego and check and simply gave props to the MOVIE. He didn't HATE Michael Mann, he just had an opinion on who should do Ali. Remember, white filmmakers historically get to do movies on EVERYONE. If an icon like ALI or MALCOLM X come up for a bio, who also bring up so many ties to cultural pride, suffering from racism, ties to the Nation Of islam and WHY one JOINS The Nation, a black director MAY have an insight for having experienced the same things at the same time rather
Perhaps Spike put his ego and check and simply gave props to the MOVIE. He didn't HATE Michael Mann, he just had an opinion on who should do Ali. Remember, white filmmakers historically get to do movies on EVERYONE. If an icon like ALI or MALCOLM X come up for a bio, who also bring up so many ties to cultural pride, suffering from racism, ties to the Nation Of islam and WHY one JOINS The Nation, a black director MAY have an insight for having experienced the same things at the same time rather than seeing the subject OBJECTIVELY. I've known Spike as well. Strong ego, not "friendly" to everyone, but he's a thoughtful person in certain respects.
5:26PM on 07/26/2013

53 of those films

Have been watched by me. Also: Nobody makes a movie with their own money, unless they're crazy or just cannot for the life of them get funding- ala Mel Gibson's Passion-
Have been watched by me. Also: Nobody makes a movie with their own money, unless they're crazy or just cannot for the life of them get funding- ala Mel Gibson's Passion-
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4:57PM on 07/26/2013

Empire of the Sun!

Glad to see I'm not the only one who loved that movie.
Glad to see I'm not the only one who loved that movie.
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4:44PM on 07/26/2013
His list is more diverse than I was expecting. However, where was Django Unchained? JOKING.
His list is more diverse than I was expecting. However, where was Django Unchained? JOKING.
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+17
4:37PM on 07/26/2013
Glad to see Apocalypto on the list, amazing film.
Glad to see Apocalypto on the list, amazing film.
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4:34PM on 07/26/2013

I have seen 62

He gets bonus points for NOT including Do The Right Thing & Malcolm X. Both are great, just glad he didn't pat himself on the back.
He gets bonus points for NOT including Do The Right Thing & Malcolm X. Both are great, just glad he didn't pat himself on the back.
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4:15PM on 07/26/2013

Kung Fu Hustle!

Glad to see it on the list. One of my favorite movies of all time.
Glad to see it on the list. One of my favorite movies of all time.
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4:07PM on 07/26/2013
No Quentin Tarantino. No surprise.

The list has a lot of classics but overall I'm not really digging it.
No Quentin Tarantino. No surprise.

The list has a lot of classics but overall I'm not really digging it.
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4:03PM on 07/26/2013
Also, while opinion is relative- Spielberg has stated that the two movies he wants to be remembered for, are ET and Schindler's List.
Also, while opinion is relative- Spielberg has stated that the two movies he wants to be remembered for, are ET and Schindler's List.
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+6
4:00PM on 07/26/2013
A great list but no Aronofsky?
A great list but no Aronofsky?
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3:57PM on 07/26/2013
kung fu hustle... what.
kung fu hustle... what.
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3:52PM on 07/26/2013
By surname, damn it! SURNAME!
By surname, damn it! SURNAME!
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+4
3:52PM on 07/26/2013
Good list, but I'd rather learn filmmaking from someone I actually admire. Not that I would turn down the opportunity to learn from any working filmmaker, but Spike Lee is not at the top of my list.
Good list, but I'd rather learn filmmaking from someone I actually admire. Not that I would turn down the opportunity to learn from any working filmmaker, but Spike Lee is not at the top of my list.
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3:49PM on 07/26/2013

lists are designed to divide

that said, i agree with most of his choices. i just wish 'an american werewolf in london' was on here.
that said, i agree with most of his choices. i just wish 'an american werewolf in london' was on here.
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