1. Smiles of a Summer Night: An incredibly funny movie where Bergman skillfully uses the gravity of the situation to keep everything from descending in to a mad farce. It was one of my first Bergman movies, and I am so glad that I watched this before some of movies with heavier themes such as Cries and Whispers and Scenes from a Marriage. I love all of his stuff, but for some reason, I constantly think of this movie when I think of Bergman.
2. The Seventh Seal: I know, I know, it’s cliche to have at the top here, but I love how Bergman uses the tone of the dialog to drive the movie along. Although I think that Nykvist and Bergman worked better, the cinematography of Gunnar Fischer really shines.
3. Cries and Whispers: This movie shocks me every time I watch it. Hatred and resentment are not unique themes for a Bergman movie, but I don’t think he ever did a better job than this. The dialog and acting in the dining room scene between Ullman and Thulin absolutely floors me. And holy crap at the usage of color!
4. Scenes from a Marriage: I have no reason to connect with this movie since I have never been married and none of my relationships has ended in such devastation. That being said, I am consistently surprised at how quickly I become invested in the characters. The final reunion scene in the cabin is so perfectly written.
5. Winter Light: I really enjoy a well thought out crisis of faith movie, and I think this is the strongest in Bergman’s trilogy. It is a masterpiece of simplicity and efficiency – perfectly contemplative and quiet. Ingrid Thulin’s gaze is so piercing in the scene where she reads her letter.
6. Persona: It’s very difficult to leave this one out of the top 5 since I absolutely love Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson. The scene where Bibi Andersson recounts a particular day on the beach is so shatteringly personal that it’s impossible not to squirm.
7. Wild Strawberries: Most trippy dream sequences ever. Blows Vertigo out of the water.
8. Fanny and Alexander: I have never watched the shorter version, and I cannot imagine ever doing so. The television version moves along at such a relaxed pace that when things really start to happen, it hits you hard. There are so many subplots that are explored that this could have been a trilogy.
9. The Virgin Spring: The revelation is so amazingly heartbreaking that you cannot argue with the choices made by von Sydow. This movie is a great conversation starter for a discussion about the morality of revenge. The look on von Sydow’s face sums up the movie.
10. Shame: Amazing look at the psychological impact of war.