Movies I Want In The Criterion Collection

Or, an email I sent to the Criterion suggestions inbox because I might as well shoot my shot.

By: Erin

Posted: December 10, 2023

All images in this article are taken from TheMovieDB & IMDB, with the banner from Criterion’s website.

The Criterion Collection has become something of a fascination for me lately. They’re a company that has been operating since the Laserdisc days, providing top-quality prints of interesting films, replete with a wealth of bonus features. In this modern age of dwindling physical media releases, they’ve remained resolute, and they even have a great streaming channel, The Criterion Channel, to boot.

Something really interesting about Criterion is their movie selection. I love that they seem to be open to a lot of unique choices for what movies they cover while still having a clear brand. You’re going to get artistic, offbeat pictures when you buy from them. Hey, any company that lets me get Hausu, Mulholland Drive, Pink Flamingos, and Fantastic Mr. Fox all at the same time has to be worth their salt. Anyway, while browsing their website, I noticed they had a suggestions email. The first time I saw it I sent them a quick email asking for It’s Such A Beautiful Day and Wild Zero, but a few months later I thought to myself “why not shoot my shot?”. I mean, someone has to read that email address, right?

So, here’s the email I sent to Criterion listing way more movies than I meant to list and asking them to be added to the Collection. I have modified the format to be more article-like, but otherwise the words are as-sent. I understand that almost all of these have had some kind of release – and indeed, I own many of them. However, I just think seeing these movies get the immaculate physical treatment Criterion gives their releases would be a treat, and there are several that have their most up-to-date versions out-of-print. If nothing else, I know some of these are on their streaming service, but if one day you wake up and Interstella 5555 and The Room suddenly have beautiful Blu-Ray releases, you know who to thank.

31+ entries is a lot of entries, and they’re in no real order, so use the links if you want to jump to a particular set of movies.

Part 1 (American Movie, Interstella 5555, Bottoms, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Linda Linda Linda)
Part 2 (“I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians”, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, Barton Fink, Swiss Army Man, The Wrestler)
Part 3 (Bound, Napoleon Dynamite, Network, Loving Vincent, Paprika)
Part 4 (The Roger Corman Poe Cycle, Death Race 2000, The Lords of Salem, The King of Comedy, Black Dynamite)
Part 5 (Titane, May, Antiporno, Portrait of Jason, Ace Attorney)
Part 6 (Moulin Rouge!, The Room, Frank, Nightcrawler, Speed Racer, Be Kind, Rewind)


I would like to suggest several films I think would be perfect, if a little offbeat, additions to the Criterion Collection. I understand this email is lengthy but I appreciate you taking the time to read and consider my suggestions.

American Movie (1999)

A raw, honest, funny, and immensely inspiring look at what drives one to be an artist against all odds, Chris Smith’s documentary about regional Wisconsin filmmaker Mark Borchardt and his quest to finish his short film Coven and create his masterpiece, Northwestern, lit up Sundance when it premiered in 1999. Mark Borchardt is a fascinating figure, and I genuinely feel that there’s never been a better portrayal of what it means to be a dreamer, an artist, a middle-class Midwesterner who believes in himself and his craft and the “dream”. Moving, comic, at times ugly, and most importantly sympathetic, American Movie is an emotional journey and a documentary for dreamers and characters unlike any other.

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (2003)

A once-in-a-lifetime collaboration with Japanese animation master Leiji Matsumoto and French house group Daft Punk, Interstella 5555 is a tour-de-force of wordless storytelling that introduced a generation to house music and to Matsumoto’s work. Combining a powerful story about corruption and cultural appropriation in the music industry with bright sci-fi visuals and action, it is a recognizable and coveted modern music film that also can’t seem to stay in print. With Matsumoto’s passing and Daft Punk’s dissolution, it would be wonderful to honor it, and possibly include Daft Punk’s other film, Electroma, as well.

Bottoms (2023)

Emma Seligman’s smart & subversive queer teenage comedy that at once satirizes and celebrates the outrageous teen sex comedies of the 2000s. Blending brilliant set design, dark parody and political commentary, and barely-concealed queer fury, this movie is comparable to the works of John Waters or Gregg Araki while having Seligman’s own distinct comedic flair. Anchored by fantastic performances by Rachel Sennot and Ayo Edebiri as two deeply uncool girls who just want to start a fight club and pull some hot cheerleaders, Bottoms was and is a counterculture shot of adrenaline in a media landscape that begs us to assimilate. With no physical release seemingly planned, it would be wonderful to see it added to the Collection.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

This controversial picture from John McNaughton is as independent as they come, featuring Michael Rooker in his first major role as the titular Henry. Based on real life serial killer confessions, this movie was critically-lauded but denied wide release, with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert especially using it as an example of a reason why, if American film wanted to be taken seriously, the A for Adult rating should be implemented so this movie could be distributed. It is an unflinchingly cold film, not one interested in being a value judgment, but a bleak and honest character study unlike any other and a testament to the power of independent filmmaking.

Linda Linda Linda (2005)

Nobuhiro Yamashita’s gentle-yet-exhilarating coming-of-age story about a group of high school girls who start a band may appear simple on the surface, but it perfectly captures a moment in time where as teenagers something as small as the desire to perform at a school talent show can seem like life or death. It is a series of snapshots of youthful friendship and drama, a story told not through major beats but through quiet, intimate moments, the little things we remember as we grow older. It was named one of the best Japanese films of the 21st century by David Ehrlich of IndieWire and has even more recently inspired the name of the punk group The Linda Lindas.

“I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians” (2018)

Radu Jude’s savagely dark and frank documentary-style tale about how to confront the darkest part of our history. This Romanian film aims to bring to the masses Romania’s hand in the Holocaust but also serves as a brilliant and sardonic look at how audiences view art, what it means to show history and teach, how getting too deep in academia and philosophy can strip away viewing an atrocity with the necessary empathy, and it does so by leaving the viewer with haunting imagery counter to the views of the characters. It is a deeply challenging movie, rife with creative and clever cinematography, realistic dialogue, and it is a slowly rewarding experience as a result.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989)

Peter Greenaway’s divine juxtaposition of the gorgeous excess of fine dining with the squalor and savagery of misogyny and poverty makes for a striking takedown of hypocrisy in the Thatcher era. It is stomach-churning and horrifying, and yet dreamlike and beautiful with the unbelievable use of color that is reflected not just in the lighting of each scene but in the constant costume changes that occur mid-conversation as characters move from room-to-room. Michael Gambon is a force, and to get the best transfer of this masterpiece yet would be wonderful.

Barton Fink (1991)

Joel Coen’s brilliant peek into the life of the mind, a stunning look at the tortured creative that shifts genres to-and-fro to create one of the most cutting and devastating portrayals of writer’s block and the crisis of the artist I’ve ever seen. John Turturro’s performance as the out-of-his-depth playwright that can’t get over his own ego as he faces Hollywood is matched only by John Goodman’s two-faced Charlie Meadows, showing the actor’s incredible strength and versatility. Gorgeous art direction brings it all together. It is wickedly funny and emotionally poignant, packed with symbolism and metaphor galore. One of the Coen Brothers’ finest.

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Before the unbelievable Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Daniels broke onto the scene with the uniquely affecting and offbeat movie about love, life, and Daniel Radcliffe’s corpse. It’s a brilliant piece of high art through the lens of maximalist “low” art, tapping into high emotions using humor, surrealism, and flatulence. It’s a powerful statement on love, queerness, friendship, and what makes us human, and it stands apart from their Oscar-sweeping epic and is just as good if not better (Not that I wouldn’t mind Everything Everywhere… being recognized as well!)

The Wrestler (2008)

Darren Aronofsky paints the best picture of wrestling to have ever been put on film. As a former pro wrestler myself, the accuracy of the highs and lows is astounding and heartbreaking, and the historical value of Ring of Honor being frozen on film at the height of its popularity is huge for the wrestling community. Mickey Rourke’s performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson is immense, dominating every minute of screentime he gets. Wrestling is a deeply misunderstood artform, but this movie gets it, and it gets it while telling a tragic tale – one that is all-too-familiar to pro wrestlers such as Jake Roberts or Roddy Piper.

Bound (1996)

The Wachowski Sisters’ first film is a queer masterpiece, a tense and energetic thriller, a sexy and picaresque neo-noir that turns the crime genre on its head by focusing on two characters who in any other movie would have been side-characters. Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly are unbelievable, burning with passion and cunning as the handywoman Corky and the beautiful-but-underestimated Violet, and, thanks to the efforts of feminist writer Susie Bright who was brought in as a “sex consultant”, have electric and believable lesbian chemistry. Not only did this movie put the Wachowskis on the map, Jennifer Tilly considers it her favorite role she’s ever done.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Jared Hess perfectly captured small town dynamics and the true feeling of being an outcast in high school with this incredible independent film that has no right having the staying power it does. While many see this movie as a quotable comedy, I see in this my real experience with my friends growing up in a small community as weird, unfashionable nerds, surrounded by strange characters and burning with an unending desire to make mischief and pave our own way any way we can. It’s odd, sweet, and yes, even funny, but it’s most importantly human and real. It’s a loving portrayal of Preston, Idaho on film, a slice of America, and a success story that still feels strange. It doesn’t hurt that Jon Heder’s portrayal of the titular protagonist is as memorable as any pop culture icon of the time.

Network (1976)

Sidney Lumet’s fantastic study of the power of celebrity and the depersonalization that the chase for TV ratings can provide may be remembered for Howard Beale’s furious “Mad as Hell” rant, but it’s so much more than just one out-of-context scene. Peter Finch lights up the screen as a suicidal, desperate man crying for help on the grandest stage he’s afforded, and Lumet presents it with the sharp satire it deserves. It is a profound and haunting movie that is as relevant as ever, with the board room scene – “There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only lBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon.” – being the real stand out in a movie full of stand out moments. It’s also, as someone who worked in the news media, grimly hilarious in ways I wish it wasn’t. An unforgettable movie from one of the greatest directors of all time, and there are no physical releases in the US that give it the full respect it deserves.

Loving Vincent (2017)

Thanks to the efforts of DK & Hugh Welchman and 125 oil painters, this story covering the end of Vincent Van Gogh’s life and aftermath of his death is unparalleled in scope and unmatched in beauty. It is a moving way to tell the story of a man whose story is etched in infamy, by making a movie that is a celebration of his beautiful pioneering painterly style as well as a look into what kind of tales are told about us after our death. It is inspiring as it is heartbreaking, and the stories of Van Gogh’s last days make for a touching tribute and turn the master painter into so much more than just a troubled soul.

Paprika (2006), and the collected works of Satoshi Kon

Satoshi Kon is one of the greatest animation geniuses to ever live. Paprika is considered to be his magnum opus, a surreal and mind-bending journey through dreams. However, all of his movies either individually or as a collection would be incredible additions to the animation side of the Collection, a genre not often represented by Criterion. Millennium Actress is a moving story about an actress at the end of her life, following a documentary crew as they piece together the one regret that follows her in all her roles. Perfect Blue is the shocking and prescient tale about the danger of celebrity, of losing your self, and the mortifying ordeal of being known. Tokyo Godfathers is the beautiful Christmas story of three homeless people – one trans woman, one alcoholic, and one runaway child – finding a baby in the dumpster and raising it on their own. Each of Kon’s work has different tone and style and story and each is a masterful work of art from a creative taken from us far too soon.

The Roger Corman Edgar Allen Poe Cycle (1960-1964)

Enriching, lavishly beautiful pieces of work, all featuring Vincent Price chewing the scenery in entirely different ways, Roger Corman’s Poe cycle is a reminder that “The Master of the B-Movie” was skilled as any other craftsman. His movies range from wonderful chillers in The Masque of the Red Death and House of Usher to a horror-comedy comparable to Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein, which wouldn’t come out for another decade, in The Raven. If Corman understood one thing it was how to take Edgar Allen Poe’s masterful gothic writing and make the atmosphere as memorable as he could. As an added bonus, The Raven even inspired how spellcasting in Dungeons & Dragons works.

Death Race 2000 (1975)

Another Roger Corman feature, the harshly satirical Death Race 2000 paints a picture of the United States supposedly beset by overpopulation, promising rewards to any race participants that kill as many pedestrians as they can in a game show watched by the entire country. Roger Corman cites his movie The Intruder as one that, while he personally enjoyed it, showed him that to make his message heard he must mix it into his entertainments, and this movie is as loudly entertaining as it is meaningful, combining grindhouse sensibility and shock with hearty anticapitalist and anarchic principles. It is also extremely difficult to find a modern physical release for a reasonable price, so for preservation’s sake it would be wonderful to see in the Collection.

The Lords of Salem (2012)

Rob Zombie may be more known for his loud, comically twisted, and grimy House of 1000 Corpses or The Devil’s Rejects, but The Lords of Salem is a movie that feels like it set the standard for what horror movies would become. Much more thoughtful than his other fare, you can see the DNA of so many future horror movies present in this neon-drenched, slow, and psychological picture. Sherri Moon plays her role perfectly as a DJ who succumbs to darkness, leading to a spectacular climax comparable to an Ari Aster ending – just done 15 years earlier.

The King of Comedy (1982)

An underrated Martin Scorsese movie with an absolutely immense performance from Robert DeNiro as a comedian who wants to make it to the top of the business as quickly as he can. It explored and understood the dark side of celebrity and the concept of clout-chasing long before Oliver Stone and others, and long before the public could have ever known just how bad it would get. When you include Jerry Lewis in an ingenious role playing against type, you have one of Scorsese’s most-offbeat yet most enthralling works, and an incredible character study that is as dark and yet as uncomfortably comedic as they come. “Better a king for a day than a schmuck for a lifetime.”

Black Dynamite (2009)

By perfectly paying tribute to the era of Superfly and the films of Rudy Ray Moore, Scott Sanders made Black Dynamite an awesome reclamation of the blaxploitation genre and a hilarious comedy on its own. It feels entirely authentic in how its shot, complete with production gaffes, a smooth soundtrack, and Michael Jai White as the title character, giving us a performance that’s at once incredibly charismatic and riddled with hilarious flaws, making for a believably meta B-movie role. It accentuates the power the genre had for African-Americans while gently parodying it as well, and the script is quotable, wild, and smart.

Titane (2021)

The head-turning Palm d’Or winner by Julia Ducournau shocks with spectacular body horror that would make Cronenberg blush and marries it with heartfelt queer allegory, ravenous sexuality, gender and transmasculinity, and enthralling thumping music and murder. There’s not a single part of this movie that isn’t spectacularly beautiful, even at its most grotesque. This masterful French film revels in creating something stunning as it grapples with the boxes gender forces us into at various stages in our lives and what it truly means to identify as transhuman. It builds to a beautiful tear-soaked happy ending and makes you feel like you’ve been punched in the face. It’s a movie that will make your brain itch and you’ll be begging for more even after you’ve scratched it.

May (2002)

A character-study and horror over a decade ahead of its time, Lucky McKee’s uncategorizable tale of a neurodivergent girl’s attempts to fit in and understand the world and find real human connection is a chilling and resonant tale to the autistic and queer communities alike. One could argue May laid the foundation for stories like those of Ti West and Mia Goth’s Pearl. Impossible to market in 2002, it has since gained an immense cult following by virtue of its depth and empathy present in its story of violence and persistent, aching sadness.

Antiporno (2016)

When Nikkatsu asked Sion Sono to create a film in their erotic Roman Porno series with the direction of one nude scene every fifteen minutes, Sono responded with a terrifying psychological horror that functions as a breathless takedown of society’s views on sex, queerness, kink, and the role of a woman. It is erotica that is anti-erotica, a dizzying cry for help from lead actress Ami Tomite as her character struggles to understand her place in the world and to process the grief of losing her sister to suicide. It is powerful, painted in bright yellows and reds, a harsh brilliant light on our struggles to break the chains that bind us to society, and it is as moving and upsetting as it is titillating.

Portrait of Jason (1967)

Shirley Clarke’s interview with Black gay cabaret performer Jason Holliday is illuminating and electrifying. It is an era of queerness and a side of queerness so many of us would never have seen otherwise, and Jason is a tortured soul with stories for days. He invites you into his glamorous world until you don’t even realize you’re being taken for a ride, and the ambiguity of it all can be uncomfortable but beautiful, too. How can one interview be so truthful and yet so ethereal? It is a thoughtful documentary that we are lucky to have. How much of Jason Holliday is real? “I’ll never tell.”

Ace Attorney (2012)

Takashi Miike’s masterful adaptation of the video game of the same name is so much more than a Game Movie. It reimagines the UI and world of Capcom’s visual novel series into a world where legal proceedings have become a spectator sport complete with great luminous screens to show off evidence. No stranger to operating in a realm of contrasts, Miike understood the pointed satire of Japan’s legal system and the deep human drama of the game series and combined it with layered science fiction worldbuilding to create a movie that is beloved by fans and enjoyed by anyone who wants a sharp, emotional, and frantic story about a rookie attorney’s quest to do the right thing in the face of a system stacked against him.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

An explosion of color and sound, Baz Luhrmann’s frantic operatic spectacle of a jukebox musical is still unbelievable to behold. To this day the only thing quite like it is another Baz Luhrmann picture. Exuberant and melodramatic, it’s a shot to all the senses, sparkling with romance, humor, and only the finest theatrical tragedy.

The Room (2003)

Sometimes the most revealing works are not the ones of flawless beauty but ones that act as mirrors held up to their creators. Tommy Wiseau’s The Talented Mr. Ripley-inspired dark drama has become a cult favorite due to the unintentional comedic nature of the production, script, plot, and acting. There’s a certain kind of assured talent that comes from getting every aspect of a film wrong but pushing forward anyway. The following this movie has is powerful enough for actor Greg Sestero to release a book about the enigmatic Wiseau and his time working on the movie, and that book was later adapted into a film itself, both titled The Disaster Artist. There is a mystique surrounding this movie and its story, and it is a favorite attraction in arthouse theaters around the country, its alien nature elevating it to a form of meta art in itself. High camp.

Frank (2014)

An inventive movie about music, and about whether one needs to be tortured to make art, directed by Lenny Abrahamson and starring Michael Fassbender as the titular musician. Loosely based on the real life Frank Sidebottom, this independent movie from the UK is so empathetic towards the outcast and to the weird artists who create just to create. It’s whimsical and one-of-a-kind. It’s also notable for having such a major actor delivering a memorable performance while wearing a mask for 90% of the film.

Nightcrawler (2014)

If it bleeds, it leads. This famous saying in the news industry is the focus of this tense and smart thriller directed by Dan Gilroy and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s the story of a cameraman whose goal is to always get the grisliest footage of accidents and other sensational news items, and with it gain immense status no matter the unethical methods he employs. It’s comparable to both the aforementioned Network and The King of Comedy in that way, but Nightcrawler stands alone with fantastic nighttime photography and a truly menacing performance from an unblinking, always-smiling Gyllenhaal that is unlikely to ever leave your thoughts.

Speed Racer (2008)

Another movie by the incomparable Wachowski Sisters, this high-speed anti-capitalist sci-fi action may be the best American movie to translate anime into live action ever. Perhaps that’s damning with faint praise, but the Wachowskis took childhood memories of what Speed Racer was and created a work of art that uses artificiality as its main conceit, putting together a richly-detailed and weighty bubblegum explosion of a movie with fast and creative editing that tells the story at a breakneck speed but makes sure you’re never lost along the way. Only 2001’s Josie And The Pussycats can match its infectious eye-popping energy. It would look gorgeous with a proper transfer.

Be Kind Rewind (2008)

Michael Gondry’s tribute to an era of film that was just about to end has only become more poignant as the death of the video store has accelerated. Jack Black and Mos Def offer youthful, exuberant performances as two shop workers who find themselves in the sticky situation of needing to recreate their video library, but it’s the movie’s tender commentary on homemade art, the looming spectre of corporate America, and the creation of our own history and stories through the power of film that makes this movie special. It’s at once nostalgic in the traditional sense of longing and heartwarming in its belief in the strength of the moving image to preserve folktales and legends, and yet it’s also a celebration of eras both past and yet-to-come, and what we can do to meet the future. The final scene is unforgettably beautiful.

And finally, I’d love to see The Doom Generation (1995) as it appears on The Criterion Channel receive a physical release.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing what releases are planned in the future, and I do hope these are at least considered by your team.