If I have to choose films that represent, for me, examples of perfect filmmaking, I think I could narrow it down to four.
The first would be 8 1/2, for the way Federico Fellini manages to accomplish with film what mostly abstract painters do—namely, to communicate an emotion without ever saying or showing anything in a direct manner, without ever explaining anything, just by a sort of sheer magic. For similar reasons, I would also show Sunset Boulevard. Even though Billy Wilder’s style is very different from Fellini’s, he manages to accomplish pretty much the same abstract atmosphere, less by magic than through all sorts of stylistic and technical tricks. The Hollywood he describes in the film probably never existed, but he makes us believe it did, and he immerses us in it, like a dream. After that, I would show Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday for the amazing point of view that Jacques Tati casts at society through it. When you watch his films, you realize how much he knew about—and loved—human nature, and it can only be an inspiration to do the same. And finally, I would show Rear Window, for the brilliant way in which Alfred Hitchcock manages to create—or rather, re-create—a whole world within confined parameters. James Stewart never leaves his wheelchair during the film, and yet, through his point of view, we follow a very complex murder scheme. In the film, Hitchcock manages to take something huge and condense it into something really small. And he achieves that through a complete control of filmmaking technique.
David Lynch on His Favorite Films