Let’s face it: Concocting a list of Jean-Luc Godard’s top five movies is an exercise — if not in futility, then in cinematic dread. The New Wave director, who passed away Tuesday at age 91, made over 70 features, documentaries, shorts and TV films, at least 20 of which are considered masterpieces by critics, fans and French film fiends. Some Godard enthusiasts think that everything he made was genius, to the point that any ranking of his oeuvre will immediately bring its share of haters and snobs.  

That being said, JLG himself was fond of listing his top ten movies each year, both when he was a critic at the Cahiers du cinéma and when he went on to become one of film’s most celebrated artists. His favorite movie of 1962 was Howard Hawks’ Hatari!, which he picked over François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim (#4) and his own My Life to Live (Vivre sa vie) (#6). Odds are most people remember the latter two over the Hawks film, which goes to show that any list is entirely subjective and should be taken with a grain of salt — or, to cite a Godardian staple, an unfiltered Gauloises cigarette.

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