By Adam Carlson
Updated January 29, 2013 at 08:42 PM EST
Christopher Nolan
Credit: Ron Phillips

Christopher Nolan has a thing for “desperate men.”

That’s the takeaway, or one of them, from the director’s list of top 10 Criterion releases, which includes Stephen Frears’ The Hit and Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men in the No. 1 and 2 spots.

“Few films have gambled as much on a simple portrayal of the dynamics between desperate men,” Nolan said of Frears’ film.

It’s a varied list, spanning genres, decades and countries. And it’s notably anti-American (or America-lite), though that may have more to do with the field Nolan chose from than his actual choices: Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line and Orson Welles’ The Complete Mr. Arkadin are the other two picks from the U.S., alongside Lumet.

Films both newer (Nicolas Roeg’s Bad Timing, Al Reinert’s For All Mankind) and old (Fritz Lang’s The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) fill out his choices; and Nolan seems drawn to works of technical excellence. He notes Roeg’s “structural innovation,” for instance, and describes the “incredible” power of Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi — a documentary that mixes time-lapse photography and Philip Glass and is mostly about how Modern Life is Hard.

But given Nolan’s preference for wowmanship, and his heritage, one omission is particularly glaring: no Hitchcock?

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