When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1964, it gave its Best Picture award to My Fair Lady, a movie that makes more sense if you assume Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering are having sex. The film's reputation has suffered somewhat since then, but I like it, and it's in my honorable mentions. It isn't in the top 10, though:
1. Dr. Strangelove
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern, from a novel by George
"Mein führer! I can walk!"
2. Woman in the Dunes
Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara
Written by Kobo Abe, from his novel
Spooky and beautiful. Even better than the book.
3. Diary of a Chambermaid
Directed by Luis Buñuel
Written by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carriere, from a novel by Octave Mirbeau
Sex, crime, fascism.
4. The Killers
Directed by Don Siegel
Written by Gene L. Coon, from a story by Ernest Hemingway
In which Ronald Reagan delivers the immortal line, "I approve of larceny. Homicide is against my principles."
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Written by Yoko Mizuki, from a book by Lafcadio Hearn
Four Japanese ghost stories. The first is mediocre, but the rest are riveting—especially "Hoichi the Earless," which feels like an epic medieval poem but bears no resemblance to Hollywood's "epics" at all.
6. The World of Henry Orient
Directed by George Roy Hill
Written by Nora and Nunnally Johnson, from Nora's novel
Two children make a magical dérive through New York, then are initiated into adulthood. Between this and The Manchurian Candidate, Angela Lansbury was clearly going through the "bad mom" phase of her career.
Written and directed by Kaneto Shindo
This, Kwaidan, Woman in the Dunes—what an amazing year for Japanese horror pictures.
8. A Shot in the Dark
Directed by Blake Edwards
Written by Edwards and William Peter Blatty, from plays by Marcel Achard and Harry Kurnitz
The best of the Pink Panther series.
9. The Americanization of Emily
Directed by Arthur Hiller
Written by Paddy Chayefsky, from a novel by William Bradford Huie
Reminds me a bit of Stalag 17, except it has the courage of its convictions.
10. A Fistful of Dollars
Directed by Sergio Leone
Written by Leone, Víctor Andrés Catena, and Jaime Comas, from a story by Dashiell Hammett
Hammett told this tale first, in his great novel Red Harvest. Then Akira Kurosawa made a superior samurai film of it, and then Leone and Clint Eastwood moved the story to the Old West. Someday someone should remake it with Bugs Bunny in the lead.
11. Kiss Me, Stupid (Billy Wilder)
12. I Am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov)
13. Band of Outsiders (Jean-Luc Godard)
14. Séance on a Wet Afternoon (Bryan Forbes)
15. The Train (John Frankenheimer)
16. Mermaid (Osamu Tezuka)
17. Becket (Peter Glenville)
18. My Fair Lady (George Cukor)
19. Nightmare in Chicago (Robert Altman)
20. The Evil of Frankenstein (Freddie Francis)
Of the films of 1964 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in The Soft Skin.