"I'm not sure if I can say this on here." Director Sophie Hyde hesitates, then with an impish grin admits: "I'm a bit of a wanker. I'm a bit pretentious sometimes."
And why shouldn't she be? The Australian filmmaker has more than proven her taste level across her first three features, the latest being Good Luck to You, Leo Grande starring Emma Thompson as a retired teacher who hires a sex worker in hopes of having the first good sex of her life. As with 2019's Animals and Hyde's debut, 2013's 52 Tuesdays, the movie has bowed to much acclaim for its honesty, insightfulness and boldness in going against the grain.
"I'm always thinking about the audience and their experience. I never want it to feel like they're observers. I want the audience to feel with the characters," Hyde says of her directorial approach. "I always think of how do we manage to make this cinematic and pleasurable for an audience? Pleasurable — that's on brand."
Pleasurable is also what she looks for in movies made by others. Below, Hyde shares with A.frame the five movies that have been most instrumental to her as a filmmaker.
Directed and written by: Carine Adler
There was another Under the Skin years later, but this is the Carine Adler one. I first saw this when I was at university in Melbourne, in Australia. I remember going into the cinema, watching it, and Samantha Morton is incredible. She is in a couple of really significant movies that meant something to me, but in this, she is a character grieving and she deals with her grief through a kind of sexual exploration. I was really drawn to the exploration of grief and to how fresh that felt and how specific it felt. That excited me, and I continue to think about that film all the time.
Directed by: Peter Weir Written by: Tom Schulman
This is another one that was really important to me as a teenager. In fact, I studied it at school two years in a row. I love it. I love poetry and as a teenager, I was like, "Oh, poetry! It's just so full of life!" So, Dead Poets Society was like heaven to me. A group of boys dealing with teenage stuff that just feels so present and big — life, death, friendships, your career, sex. They all were meaty, important things, and I loved it. And I loved all the quotes, and I loved the ensemble of teenage boys who were all really strong in their own way, and Robin Williams is amazing. I wish I could watch that again now, actually. It's been years since I saw that.
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón Written by: Carlos Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón
I was blown away by this film. It's really passionate but also really specific, and I didn't know where it was going to go. It was so beautifully shot. It's another one that I loved back then and it continues to return to me. Alfonso Cuarón's proven to just be an amazing filmmaker across so many different forms, but I think you see it in that film. And those two beautiful Mexican actor, Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, and the actress as well [Maribel Verdú], they also show themselves to be really incredible.
Directed and written by: Jim Sharman
I grew up with Rocky Horror, and I had it on rotation all the time when I was a kid. I could do every line of it, and in fact, I've sung every line of it, many, many times. My parents have a story where they say that my older sister was conceived after them seeing Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is interesting. [Laughs] Honestly, I love everything about it.
It's got all these Australians in it, so it's a really interesting thing. It's Australians and New Zealanders in London making this show alongside people like Tim Curry. But I went and visited and met with Little Nell, who's in it [as Columbia], a few years ago. She lives in Sydney and she was just as wild and brilliant and funny as I was hoping for her to be. Honestly, what a show. There's a wildness in Rocky Horror. There's, like, a raw roughness that I feel like things often get polished away now, and Rocky Horror just isn't, you know? And it's Susan Sarandon in it! Like, what?!
Where to Watch: HBO Max
Directed and written by: Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-wai was a hugely influential filmmaker for me when I was at university. I thought all of his films were amazing — Chungking Express and Fallen Angels and In the Mood for Love, which were the more breakout movies. For me, Happy Together had this gorgeous love story. The visuals are so intimate, and Wong Kar-wai does this thing with his cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, where things feel stylized and naturalistic at the same time. That's something that I'm always looking for in a movie. How do I feel like it's real, but it also feels like cinema? And his films always do that for me.