Film taste is a funny thing. Do you consider YOUR best film to be THE best film? Personally, I don't. You can acknowledge better films exist. Ones with more technical mastery behind them. Ones that critically and commercially performed better. Ones with more awards. But despite all that you can still point to a ‘worse’ film than those, and say this one is my favourite!
That’s what I love about cinema. The personal nature of it. A film doesn’t have to be the best to be your favourite. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be ‘good’. It just has to connect with you. Whether it’s the music, the visuals, the performances, or even just the general vibe. All it has to do is speak to you, and you alone. Your worst ever film is someone else's favourite, and that’s a wonderful thing.
With that in mind, here are my personal top 10 movies of all time as of right now (listed alphabetically, to save me the pain of having to choose between them.) I say as of right now because the list changes constantly, but this is how it stands today...
"Dying For The Right Cause. It's The Most Human Thing We Can Do."
Sequels are rarely better than the original. Sequels that come 35 years after the original are almost exclusively worse than the original. And yet here we have an oddity - a decades later continuation that not only stands alongside the original but even surpasses it in some regards. You lose some of the subtlety — the noir — of the original, but in return you gain beauty. The visuals, the soundtrack, the nuanced performances, all elevate an already wonderful setting. The main character almost has a counter character arc in that he is not special at all, and yet in that he manages to find his own meaning and purpose. We should all be so lucky.
“Well, I understand Double-O's have a very short life expectancy...”
At the risk of pissing off every man above the age of 40, I am not a big fan of the pre-Craig Bond films. Connery’s Bond of course has his place in the annals of great characters. But overall the campiness and oscillating tone of it all never clicked for me. Then comes Daniel Craig’s take on the character, smashing through my expectations like a sledgehammer being wielded by a bull in a china shop. Equipped with a sense of brutality, style, angst, and adventure, Casino Royale took Bond to a height he hasn’t been to before or since.
“People only know what you tell them.”
The directing, writing, acting, score, and visuals are all representative of a filmmaking team at the top of their game. It’s like watching an orchestra play in perfect harmony with Spielberg conducting them. The film speeds up and slows down and eventually crashes to a fantastic crescendo without any of the players missing a single note. Not the biggest film, and not the flashiest film, but it is pure joy from start to finish, and endlessly rewatchable.
“Meet me in Montauk…”
I didn’t like this film when I first watched it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then I watched it again. And again. And again. This is a film that simply refuses to let me go. Even if I could delete my memories, I think it would find a way to remain. A mediation on loss and letting go that asks the question; can you escape your past? Should you even want to? It’s also wonderfully cinematic — I don’t think you could tell this story through any other medium than film and have it work as effectively.
"What'd Ya Say I Buy You A Cup Of Coffee?"
One of the most defining action movies of all time. Star Power. Action. Slick and stylized cinematography. Romanticism. The Music. The whole film just drips with atmosphere. Also, the cafe scene? Perfection. The shoot out? Perfection. Pacino shouting "She Got a Great Ass" in a really weird and quotable way? Perfection.
“Perhaps we've just forgotten that we're still pioneers”
This, to me, is what cinema was always supposed to be. Pure spectacle grounded by human emotion. The word epic is often overused, but in this case it’s the only word that can be used. It probably helps that this was literally the best cinema experience of my life. Centre seats, brand new IMAX screen, and practically no one else in the room with me. The film looms above you, majestic, apocalyptic, hopeful, distraught, and always forward-facing. Despite all of this, the film comes back to one core element - A father and daughter. It’s a beautiful story wrapped in the bombast of a summer blockbuster.
“There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.”
The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy could be on this list, but if I had to narrow it down to one then it would be The Two Towers. Bigger in scope and scale than its predecessor and packed to the brim with major achievements in filmmaking. The typical bleak middle film of a trilogy manages to end in hope, and that’s a powerful message. The battle of Helms Deep may well be my favourite cinematic sequence of all time, and I will always get goosebumps when Gandalf arrives at the first light of the fifth day. Inspiring.
"I can’t remember to forget you..."
Occasionally the criticism gets levelled at this movie that it would be no good without its unique editing device. That strikes me as an odd criticism. Most creative endeavours would be lesser if you take away the main aspect that makes them great, surely? Regardless, a wonderfully unique film with a central mystery that will have you rewatching it over and over again to catch the minutia. Toys with the importance of perception on reality in a way that will have you questioning your own worldview.
“Great, kid. Don't get cocky!”
Look… It’s Star Wars. Do you need me to explain? The first films I ever saw that taught me the power of what cinema could be.
“A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A billion dollars.”
I think The Social Network might be the best film of the 2010s. The thing that truly amazes me about it is how it continues to grow in relevancy. Most films are a product of their time, and remain a product of their time, while this film becomes more of a required viewing with each passing year. I genuinely think this film could be taught in history classes one day. Sorkin’s script and Fincher's direction both fire on top form, delivering a film that defines the generation straddled between a pre and post social media world. A true pivot point for us all.
It also helps it had a banging trailer. Maybe one of the best.