Photographers’ favorite movies: A Survey


In each issue of his magazine, Dog Food, Jason Eskenazi asks established photographers to list their top 10 movies as well as their top 10 books. Reading these lists, I always wondered if photographers had a different taste in movies than other folks in general. Do we usually go for the story, the dialogue, or the expected draw towards films with killer cinematography?

Dog Food has so far collected the answers of 41 photographers; that’s 410 movie entries. But for any statistical significance, the database had to be expanded. So I created my own survey. I set up a simple one on SurveyMonkey, asking participants to list their 10 favorite movies. I posted the link on my facebook page and the Flak Photo Network. It was important for it to be a blind survey, so to remove any possibility of bias with participants seeing the answers of other people. Compiling the list from the survey and and adding to the one from Dog Food, I had well over 800 movie entries.

From that database, I compiled the list below. These are the 25 films that were mentioned the most by participants, ordered from the least to most mentions, with the movie ranked first having been named the most. Wordpress autoplays slideshows by default, unfortunately. So make sure to pause it and rewind back to number 25.)


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Most names on this list were not surprising and I’ve seen a good deal of them. But I’ll admit that I had never heard of ‘Dead Man’ or Jim Jarmusch before, for example. So it’s a good opportunity to see this and other films I hadn’t seen or heard of.

This being said, I was surprised by some of the names that were absent from the list. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ famously sits atop imdb’s list of top 250 movies, but was only named by a couple of people a favorite of theirs. In addition, there were barely any blockbuster science fiction or fantasy films. No ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Star Wars’ or ‘E.T.’. I wonder if the sample is expanded even further, some people would name these movies.

As expected, the majority of entries in the survey were English-language films, 63% to be exact. However, 37% of films not in English is still an impressive figure, and I believe it’s indicative of the diverse tastes of the participants. In fact, there were movies in 30 different languages (aside from silent movies) that were written in in the survey.  The chart below shows the distribution of the entries across these different languages.



Lastly in this post, for those who are interested in the ‘cinéma d’auteur’, I complied the list of filmmakers who had multiple films listed in the survey. There were 17 directors who had at least 5 movies named in the survey. The number 5 is somehow arbitrary; it was only chosen to keep the list manageable. As with the movies list, there weren’t any surprises as to who made this list. But I was surprised not to see Quentin Tarantino here, for example. Or Steven Spielberg, Bernardo Bertolucci, or Ridley Scott too for that matter.

Still, I’m not ready to call this survey ‘scientific’ in any way. So I won’t be calculating any margin of error yet. But I hope all these results will be enjoyable to those who read them and, more important, they would be a source of recommendation for good movies to watch.

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PS: the font in the title cards is a nod to the director with most entries in this survey, and my personal favorite. Cheers.

8 thoughts on “Photographers’ favorite movies: A Survey”

  1. Not a lot of monochrome love on this list. I get it. In the color realm I’ll add Kubrick’s gorgeous Eyes Wide Shut. For b&w it’s definitely Wings of Desire, Casablanca, and The Third Man.

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