So I sometimes get asked what my favourite film is. This is a question that I find pretty much impossible to answer. I mean, singling out one film over any of the others as a favourite? I know there are people out there who can only watch a film once, the argument being that once you’ve seen it, you don’t need to watch it again as you know what happens. That’s fair enough for them but, for me, that’s similar to saying that you’ve heard an album once so you don’t need to listen to it again. There’s always something that I may have missed first time round...
All of which is to say that I’m not going to tell you my favourite film. Nope, instead you are going to get a list of 100 films what I reckon are damn good. This is purely subjective and entirely based upon my own personal enjoyment. It’s also subject to change at any time (particularly when I realise that I’ve forgotten something and decide to change my mind). It’s also in no particular order – just the order that I’ve put them down on the page. So, without further ado, let’s kick off with the first twenty, shall we? Alrighty then.
1. Original Star Wars trilogy
Oh, look, and already he’s cheating and sticking three films down as one. Well, in the case of these films, when I say Star Wars, I’m referring to these three pretty interchangeably. I’ve already written about these before so let’s just say that this are the films I know the best on this list by a long way and I still enjoy watching them after all these years.
I don’t think it’s possible to underestimate how much Ridley Scott defined the look of sci-fi films for quite some time. It’s also a great combination of sci-fi and horror – it’s the archetypal “unknown beastie picks off small trapped group one by one” type story and it’s still great.
I struggled to narrow down the Bond films to stick on this list but decided I had to go with this one. It’s where the Bond template really takes hold for the first time – world-dominating supervillain, lady with rude name, borderline sci-fi gadgetry – it’s all there. And also for the “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die” line.
4. An American Werewolf In London
John Landis used to make great films. This is one of them. A horror comedy that’s both genuinely funny and genuinely horrific and with some great practical special effects by Rick Baker that still stand up today. CGI, eat your heart out.
5. Monty Python And The Holy Grail
I honestly can’t decide whether I prefer this or Life of Brian so have given up trying to decide. They’re both brilliant, basically.
6. Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan
I like a good Star Trek film and this is the best, if only for the reason that The Shatner’s acting is so powerful in this one, that he actually acts himself cross-eyed at one point (“Khaaaaaaaaaan!”).
7. The Producers
This was a slow burn one for me. The first time I watched it, I thought it was OK. The more I watched it, the more I realised just how brilliant it is. Gene Wilder’s performance is probably my favourite thing about it. Mel Brooks started so well. Where did it go wrong? (Oh yeah, Spaceballs, that’s where.)
8. Batman: The Movie
I like the Tim Burton films, I really like the Christopher Nolan versions but none of them are anywhere near as entertaining as the original 60s version. The highlight? Adam West trying to dispose of a cartoon-style bomb (complete with fizzing fuse) and encountering ducks swimming, children playing and nuns strolling at every opportunity (a sequence that was referenced in the recent Wallace and Gromit short, A Matter Of Loaf And Death).
9. Little Shop Of Horrors
Great tunes, great puppetry and Steve Martin as a sadistic, gas-sniffing dentist. What more could you want?
Another film that I could never imagine finding tiresome. It’s probably Bill Murray’s finest moment (that said, I’ll watch him in pretty much anything) and is still a fantastically quotable film.
Wait a minute, you had Alien and now you’re sticking the sequel on here too? Yes, for entirely different reasons. While the first one may have been a claustrophobic horror-thriller, this is an unashamed and unrelenting action film and is one of those rare occasions where a sequel is as good as if not better than the original.
The very opposite of a feelgood film (unless you watch the 90 minute American TV “Love Conquers All” version) and a film that very nearly make it to a release. I love the world that Terry Gilliam crafts – it’s his distinctive style that shines through.
My least favourite genre (somewhat unsurprisingly) would be that of the romantic comedy (or romcom, if you want to get smacked in the face for using a twee term). So you can imagine my surprise when one of my favourite films turned out to be a French romantic comedy. I know, quelle surprise, eh? Audrey Tautou is lovely, though. Mmmmm.
14. The Blues Brothers
John Landis again, this time with a musical road movie. Great tunes, great car chases and great performances for Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.
15. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
I’m a big fan of Charlie Kaufman’s writing. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work but it’s always interesting and full of ideas. This is his finest to date (I haven’t watched Synecdoche, New York yet) with a surprisingly likeable performance from Jim Carrey who only falls back to Carrey-isms a couple of times.
16. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
It’s Indiana Jones. It’s the first and the best. ‘Nuff said.
17. Back To The Future
A time travel movie that makes sense, always a bonus, and this, along with Doctor Who, is probably responsible for my obsession with time travel-y stuff.
18. The Muppet Movie
I’m always in the mood to watch this movie and, no matter what I may be in at the start, the mood I am in by the end is always cheerful. Anyone who isn’t instantly cheered by this has a heart made of some sort of flinty substance.
19. Singin' In The Rain
A surprisingly post-modern film being that’s a film about film-making. Also, some great tunes again. (You may be noticing that there a fair few musicals on here – I was brought up watching a lot of them and have a strange fondness for them. It’s like putting on an album but with pictures and stuff.)
Surely you can’t be serious? I am serious and don’t call me Shirley. Well, I’ve already blogged about this one so no big surprise there.
There’s your first batch. Some glaring omissions so far, you’re possibly thinking. Well, we’ve got 80 more to go...