Film Editor Jeff Ford’s top 10 movies, and why he watches them again and again

Byline: Adriana Toma

You know that friend of yours who always has amazing movie recommendations? For AGBO, that friend is legendary film editor Jeff Ford, a frequent collaborator of Joe and Anthony Russo who’s worked on titles like Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Ford made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2011 with Captain America: The First Avenger. Now, he’s working with the brothers on their upcoming film, The Electric State

Since Ford is a true movie connoisseur, we asked him to tell us about his 10 favorite movies that inspire him the most.

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Jeffrey Ford, AGBO’s favorite film editor

“These are the films I sometimes will watch when we’re in prep, or even when we’re in production, because they’re movies that you can really learn from by watching them over and over. They always reveal something new to you, and they stand the test of time. They’re still just as good as the first time I saw them.” Ford said about his selections.

Keep reading for the list of Jeff Ford’s 10 favorite movies, and why they need to be on all of  your streaming lists.

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The Conversation

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 paranoid thriller starring Gene Hackman set a new standard for the genre. Drawing influence from Antonioni’s 1966 hit Blow-Up, the director came up with the concept after reading a news story about a surveillance technician. The film also has a strong emotional storyline: “It’s about a guy who’s an introvert and he can’t break out of who he is,” Ford says. 

Apocalypse Now 

Directed by Coppola, this 1979 iconic Vietnam War saga stars Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, and Dennis Hopper, and was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness. Ford observes that the film is “a morality tale about what’s right and what’s wrong, and the inherent hypocrisy of war.” He also says that it’s “really informative [for] learning to make a movie… You can learn so much from how that film was edited. And I prefer the original, 70-millimeter theatrical release from 1979, not the subsequent recuts.” 

Hannah and Her Sisters 

Woody Allen’s 1986 film set in New York stars Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, and Dianne Wiest. The film paints a portrait of Hannah and her two sisters as they try to control their uncontrollable lives in Manhattan. As Ford says, “It’s about neurotic people falling in love and managing anxiety. I watch this movie probably once a year – it’s like comfort food.” 


Directed by William Friedkin, this 1977 action-adventure film follows four men as they risk their lives transporting nitroglycerin through a treacherous jungle. Friedkin, who also directed The Exorcist and French Connection, was fascinated by humans’ lack of control over their own fate, a central theme in the movie. “It’s another movie about moral ambiguity: The worst people in the world are trying to do something to get out of a terrible situation, and that’s a great premise,” Ford explains.


Every fan of the superhero genre must watch this 1978 classic from Richard Donner, with Christopher Reeve as Superman, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. It’s the first comic book blockbuster and is widely considered one of the most significant comic book films of all time. Ford sums up the tale like this: “You can have all of the powers in the world, but sometimes you can’t save the person that you love. Or can you?” 

All the President’s Men

Directed by Alan J. Pakula and released in 1979, the film follows reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they investigate the Watergate scandal and former President Nixon’s downfall. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, and Jack Warden. “This is a true story; a historical docudrama that plays like the best thriller ever!” notes Ford.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

We’ve been watching the skies since seeing this 1977 sci-fi gem written and directed by Steven Spielberg. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is determined to find answers after he has his own close encounter.  For Ford, “It’s about paranoia and obsession but also about hope, how ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances become heroes.”


In 1986 Michael Mann’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’ book Red Dragon, which featured the original Hannibal Lector (Brian Cox), introduces detective Will Graham (William Petersen), as he tracks down a serial killer. Considered one of the best psychological thrillers of all time, Ford calls the film “a master class” in intention and suspense, told in a minimalist style. “It is a really beautiful movie, both visually and socially,” he adds.

The Thing 

John Carpenter’s 1982 film is a remake of The Thing From Another World (1951). Considered a “paranoia classic,” the film tells the story of researchers in Antarctica who discover the unthinkable: A mysterious and terrifying extraterrestrial that threatens and shakes their reality.


A quintessential Los Angeles film, Roman Polanski’s Chinatown follows private detective JJ. Gittes (Jack Nicholson) who, after setting out to catch an adulterer, discovers secrets, lies, and corruption lurking beneath the surface of 1930s L.A. The film also stars Faye Dunaway and John Huston. As Ford says, “Chinatown is still relevant. You can watch it and understand the way the world works today in terms of class politics in America and specifically, in Los Angeles.” 

Want more insights on movies from filmmakers? Tune into the Russo Brothers’ Pizza Film School.