Monday, 7 September 2015

What are my top ten movies?

This is a tough question, not for the difficulty of choosing ten loved movies, but more for recognising how conventional they are. There is nothing surprising or unusual here, and of course they're all family friendly, except for the oddest of moments. Hence, in no particular order, my ten favourite films (today, at least) are:

-) 'Ghostbusters': The classical genre comedy, that lives on and remains funny to this day. Three central comedic performers at the top of their game, Ivan Reitman at his best, Sigourney Weaver, and a huge confluence of positive factors all combining. Great movie.

-) 'Jaws': What is left to say about 'Jaws'? Great performances, an archetypal villains, a top director forced to be creative by production difficulties, and the anchor jacket. Class.

-) 'Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan': The best 'Star Trek' movie, with the best characterization, the best production, the wittiest script, and the teariest finale of them all. Everything they missed in 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture', they caught here. Leaving out films three, four and six for redundancy's sake.

(Okay, it's getting harder now. Can I think of seven more films?)

-) 'The Philadelphia Story': This is the prototypical romantic comedy and star vehicle, and Hepburn's greatest early performance. She was ever the thinking person's actress, and the idea of her, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart in one place is astounding.

-) 'Groundhog Day': Another prototype, this time for the transformative comedy drama star vehicle. Bill Murray gives one of his best performances, Harold Ramis directs with great humanity, and the film was apparently completed despite a massive creative rift. Utterly excellent.

-) 'Ladyhawke': A surprising, cute, romantic fantasy with a shockingly intense finale and a great horse. Yes, the score doesn't work to begin with, but it settles in well. Lovely, genuinely lovely.

-) 'Sneakers': Probably the only good 'hacking' movie, a great and charming adventure or thriller, and one of Robert Redford's later career marvels. All star cast, great music, awesome moments, and Mary McDonnell gets a rare good film role.

(Right, three more, this can be done. Don't panic!)

-) 'The Apartment': The greatest Billy Wilder movie, and one which encapsulates everything he brought to film, and everything he lost post-censorship.

-) 'The Muppet Movie': A bear's natural habitat is his Studabaker. Enough said.

-) 'Mr Smith Goes To Washington': My favourite Capra, which has a great finale, great pacing, and a standout performance from Jimmy Stewart, the Man Who Could Do No Wrong.

Honourable mentions go to 'Bringing Up Baby', 'The Hot Rock', 'Sleepless in Seattle', 'Twister', 'The Truman Show', 'Superman Returns', 'Joe Versus The Volcano', 'Time After Time', 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory', 'Mary Poppins', 'The Music Man', 'Singing in the Rain', and a host of others!



  1. Thanks for this, Oliver. Have you seen Contact (1997)? I confess I liked Sagan's book a bit more. I.

    1. I wrote it to send in to a podcast I was listening to, but it turned out to be unnecessary. I have seen 'Contact', yes, and read the book. Overall, I think the film is a bit better because the book felt over extended. I should probably read some other Sagan things, as he sounds like quite the interesting chap!