Below are Danica’s selects and what she had to say:

Making this list gave me a lot of anxiety. It was impossible for me to decide on actual favorites so I went ahead and broke it down into categories! All of these films either inspired me early on to pursue directing or kept the flame alive over the years.

Essential: Films On Love

The Lovers on The Bridge (1991)

Directed by Leos Carax

The definition of a special movie. Unreal chemistry, my favorite type of magical realism, the best fireworks sequence in any film, the craziest production backstory…the whole thing is poetry. It’s the best “us against the world” film in my opinion. I love every piece of it.

A Woman Under the Influence​ (1974)

Directed by John Cassavetes

John Cassavetes was my first favorite filmmaker. Seeing that raw and improvisational filmmaking felt like it opened a door for me – I realized there were less rules than I’d imagined. Similar to how I felt when I first saw a Dogme 95 film.

Essential: Films on Terror

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Directed by Tobe Hooper

I heard a story from a friend that this initially premiered as the second film in a drive-in-double feature. The first film was a family-friendly movie, then this came on and literally ruined everyone’s life! This film is genuinely scary, even in the brightest daylight. That’s hard to do, seriously. It’s a film you could completely enjoy on the surface level for the pure terror, or dive in and analyze all day. The rural American family that’s been displaced from slaughterhouses by machines and transgresses into something insanely perverted, haunting, and realistic. I’ll watch a backwoods film any day.

Cache (2006)

Directed by Michael Haneke

Something about this movie makes me keep coming back. I feel about this movie the way the characters feel inside it – completely confused, heartbroken, and horrified at the same time.

Play (2011)

Directed by Ruben Ostlund

Ruben Ostlund always seems to blur lines in his films in a way I don’t see anyone else doing. His films are utter psychological torture and beg more questions than they answer – but that’s the point. They feel like visual poems about how gray life can be , about how hard it really is to define a person or action as right or wrong. They really do things that only film can, making you feel these unspoken, unanswerable questions to your core.

Essential: Documentary

Streetwise (1984)

Directed by Martin Bell

Such a courageous film. I look to this as a pillar for what films are capable of. It’s unreal how much it almost feels like a completely scripted journey, when it’s actually the farthest thing from it. Streetwise is in a genre of it’s own.

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills​ (1996)

Directed by Joe Berlinger

Teens in Arkansas convicted of heinous crimes because they liked Metallica and Aleister Crowley and wore all black. There were two more docs after this one and I think they contributed to (spoiler alert) getting them off death row. I wanted to be a journalist before I wanted to be a director so I will always be attracted to a good crime doc.

Essential: Music Video

‘Cry Baby​’ Dijon (2019)

Directed by Jack Karaszewski

This video is crazy. It’s composed completely of medium format still portraits that flash past you in a frenzy. It feels deconstructed but truly human. The stock footage finale of the sobbing child makes me cry. Dijon is my favorite artist right now.

Essential: Campaign

‘Double Life’ Play Station (1999)

Directed by Frank Budgen →

I have to stress that I don’t ever use slang like this, but I think it’s finally appropriate for this man. GOALS. G.O.A.T. THE ONE. Frank Budgen. This commercial is perfect, as is all of his commercial work. Perfect.