The (Unofficial) Criterion Collection Drinking Game


This game has been designed for those who want a fun Friday night drinking game without having to compromise your highly sophisticated, artistic interests. Don’t drink? No problem, just replace the alcohol with a delicious mocktail—or replace drinking with taking “shots” of candy or alcohol-free Jell-O. Not too familiar with Criterion? You can also take this list as some of my top recommendations for viewing and purchasing. Best part is that Hulu Plus offers pretty much every Criterion movie, ad free. I have ranked them in order of severity—least to greatest. Good luck.

7) A Man Escaped (1956) dir. by Robert Bresson

Never has a jail-escaping movie been simultaneously so slow and so riveting as in A Man Escaped. Bresson often would intentionally higher non-professional actors for his films to get the most straightforward, minimalist performance possible.

Take a drink:

  • Anytime the action takes place off camera
  • Anytime Andre is seen working on his escape
  • Anytime someone speaks German
  • Anytime the camera focuses on a characters hands

6) La Haine (1995) dir. by Mathieu Kassovitz 

La Haine (or Hate) is a striking work of urban cinema, highlighting class differences and the boredom and violence of young teens living in the French housing projects. Take a drink:

  • Anytime someone wields a gun (or mimes wielding a gun)
  • Anytime someone curses
  • Anytime the camera wanders independently from its subjects
  • Anytime a visual camera trick is used
  • Anytime music is played by a character in the movie



5) Harold and Maude (1971) dir. by Hal Ashby

One of the greatest love stories ever told? Perhaps. This was one of my favorite movies growing up, making me not only a believer in true love coming in any form, but also an extremely morbid young girl.

Take a drink:

  • Anytime a Cat Stevens song plays
  • Anytime Harold fakes a suicide
  • Anytime a character screams
  • Anytime a character attends a funeral


4) The Thin Red Line (1998) dir. by Terrence Malick 

This one is definitely my personal favorite from Malick. It’s one of the most gut-wrenchingly beautiful depictions of war, tapping into the more subjective perspective of the soldiers.

Take a drink:

  • Anytime a new famous person is introduced
  • Anytime Nick Nolte screams
  • Anytime there is an underwater shot
  • Anytime a character dies
  • Anytime Adrien Brody looks worried
  • Anytime there is a shot with no people in it
  • Anytime there is an explosion

3) The Thin Blue Line (1988) dir. by Errol Morris 


Errol Morris was heavily criticized for his use of overly Hollywood reenactments, previously primarily used in crime T.V. shows. Now, however, the reenactments are seen as a truly masterful way of conveying subjective memories and truth—a truth Morris himself is ambivalent about. This film was also just released on Criterion, finally!

Take a Drink:

  • Anytime Philip Glass starts playing
  • Anytime the killing is reenacted
  • Anytime the milkshake is shown
  • Anytime archival footage is used
  • Anytime Edith James (the defense attorney) takes off her glasses
  • Anytime a clock is shown
  • Anytime a gunshot is heard


 2) Mon Oncle (1958) dir. by Jacques Tati

I may be biased, but it’s my opinion that Tati is among the greatest filmmakers of all time. Before he started making movies, he worked as a mime. This style of humor is translated into his films by way of little dialogue, and constant sight gags (some of which are only noticed with a very keen eye). His films require attentive viewing, but at the same time, encourage a leisurely and enjoyable experience. I always choose Tati’s films for my desert island movie because I think you could watch them a hundred times and still notice something you had never seen before.

Take a drink:

  • Anytime Hulot uses his pipe (tapping it on his shoe counts)
  • Anytime the trash sweeper goes to sweep the trash but doesn’t
  • Anytime you see a dog
  • Anytime Hulot is on his bike
  • Anytime the kids play a prank
  • Anytime the fish fountain is turned on
  • Anytime the joyful, rural Parisian music is played
  • Anytime you hear Mme Arpel’s heels clicking
  • Anytime Hulot is confused or intrigued by modern technologies


1) Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) dir. by Jacques Demy

An absolutely stunning (both visually and thematically) love story. I have a feeling you’ll get about fifteen minutes into this one before passing out.

Take a drink:

  • Anytime anyone sings

Author: Catherine Haas

Catherine Haas is a native Philadelphian who received her master’s in film history from Columbia University. She is a freelance film programmer, writer, and an avid pug enthusiast.

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