Now, I love me a good film. Over the last couple of years I have really started going to the cinema regularly for films I wouldn’t normally have thought to go and see. Films like Widows, American Made, The Hitman’s Bodyguard and others were not films I would have gone out of my way to see a few years ago. That being said, there are plenty of films I have not seen and probably should have by now, like 12 Angry Men,or The Godfather, so they will not be on this list because that would going off their reputations without me ever having seen them, and that’s just silly. So, in no particular order, here are my five favourite films.
This is a seminal film if you were a young kid in the late 90s or 2000s. Not only was its technology innovative and the voice cast excellent, it introduced Pixar as a creative force to be reckoned with and they have barely let up ever since. Toy Story was also able to do what all the best children’s films do; it was able to speak to both adults and children alike about how the world and your role in it can change and how you have to adapt to that change and that ultimately, that is not always a bad thing. Toy Story changed the game for animated children’s films and its mark is indelible and permanent. It also managed to keep the quality consistent throughout the rest of the films as well. And that’s a rare achievement for any film.
The Lion King
Ok, so there was a lot of Disney films watched in my childhood, even ones from the 70s like The Aristocats, but this is the absolute pinnacle of traditionally animated films. This film is so ingrained in public conscience people can quote it back word for word. It’s a beautiful film with great music, again being able to speak to both children and adults despite it being on the surface a film with cartoon lions and hyenas.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This film is perfect. It’s well written, well directed, well edited, well acted, has a fantastic score and brilliant characters. The heroes are on the back foot for the entire run time, always on the run against a vastly superior enemy. It also has the best twist in all of cinema history. James Earl Jones is relentlessly sinister, quite happy to kill his subordinates if they mess something up and always nipping at the heroes’ tails. The fight sequences are tense and emotionally weighty as well as well choreographed. The special effects still hold up now. There’s just nothing wrong with it!
I feel like not many people know about this movie. Directed by Ron Howard, it tells the story of the 1976 Formula One World Championship Season and the rivalry between the two leading drivers of that season, Niki Lauda and James Hunt. It is also incredibly faithful to the actual events, unlike some films that claim to tell the true story. The true story is exciting enough that it barely needed any embellishment anyway, and the way Howard chooses to shoot this movie, with camera angles focusing on the actor’s eyes and from the side of the helmet during moments of drama makes you feel like you are there in the car with them. Speaking of the actors, the two lead performers both nail their characters. Daniel Brühl gets Lauda’s accent and OCD perfectionism towards the mechanics and technical side of Formula One driving, while Chris Hemsworth gets the accent right while transforming from the God of Thunder to the lithe playboy who lives and drives on the edge constantly veering towards falling off it.
This film along with Reservoir Dogs solidified Quentin Tarantino as a household name, and wholly original film maker. Every scene leaps off the screen, oozing with cool, charisma and menace. Jules’ quoting (fake) scripture before performing a hit, Vincent and Mrs Wallace dancing at the diner, even the talk about the difference between McDonalds in America and Europe, it all adds to the atmosphere. Not only that but it resurrected the careers of both Bruce Willis and John Travolta. Pulp Fiction is the ultimate expression of Tarantino, for me. The fact that it’s told out of order, the choice of music, the characters and how they interact with each other. It’s brilliant and it rounds out the list of my top 5 favourite films.