Read Part Two here:
Read Part Three here:
Read Part Four here:
Read Part Five here:
The final 'ten block', in alphabetical "I'm incapable of assigning any decisive numerical order to each film" style.
Top 50: #1-10
* Aliens (1986):
One of the best sequels ever made, and what used to be my all-time favourite movie. When I was a kid - before I'd even seen the movie - I still knew it was grade A cool, and indeed my friends and I would all fight over who got to role-play as Hicks (played brilliantly and admirably by Michael Biehn - who deserves bigger roles in my view). I'd seen Alien when I was 9 (the first horror movie - well, it's part horror movie - I ever saw), then I think I saw Alien 3, and then finally Aliens. Cameron's film is a rock-solid all-round box ticker on the list of awesomeness. An entire nest of aliens (before CGI), space marines, perfect editing, pacing and direction ... and then James Horner's blood-rushing score. The first battle with the aliens, and then the operations room siege are the two key highlights in the entire movie for me - they both leave me clutching the edge of my seat - every single time. Thrilling doesn't even describe the feeling adequately. Great action, great dialogue, great effects, great goddamned everything quite frankly.
* The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007):
Chopper is a decent movie - it's Director Andrew Dominik's first - it got a lot of attention and applause. I liked it, but I wasn't especially fussed about it...a gritty movie about a tweaked-as-all-hell violent criminal essentially. So to see the same guy direct a meandering, wistful, hypnotically poetic western comes as a bit of a shock. It divided viewers, and I firmly lie on the side of "love it". Roger Deakin's cinematography is absolutely breath taking, the central performances are astounding (particularly Casey Affleck), the score is spot-on and, well ... it's just awe inspiring. I was so dumbstruck after my first viewing that I obsessed over it for weeks and months, deliberately starving myself of it just in case the effect had been a fluke. Then I got a copy after getting a letter printed in Total Film (I've had four printed to date - ergo, four free DVDs) and then waited some more until I saw it again. I watched it this time with someone else, but they didn't like it much at all ... so perhaps that dampened my love of the movie a bit at the time, but quite quickly my sheer love for this film returned. I got the soundtrack and I poured over the final forty minutes another couple of times just to cement my adoration - it's an absolutely spell-binding film.
* Back to the Future (1985):
It's quite literally a perfectly written movie, and what's more it utterly captivated me as a kid, and indeed one of my first memories of going to the cinema was to see Back to the Future III. To this day it just makes me feel warm inside. If you're watching Back to the Future, then all is right in the world. Mind-bending time travel technicalities, memorable quotes, fantastically fun set pieces ... man alive, it's hard to describe how great this movie is and how much I love it.
* The Dark Knight (2008):
It took me a while to get around to seeing Batman Begins (I saw it on DVD), but when I finally did, it was quite impressive. Then I didn't watch it for quite a while until The Dark Knight was about to come out - then I realised how super-awesome Batman Begins is - and then the following day I went to see The Dark Knight, the hype around which was immeasurable. I've ranted and raved before on this blog about why I loved the movie, so be sure to track that down ... some people complained about the length ... I don't know what they're on about. When the movie ended I wanted at least another half hour, and 3/4 of the way through I was gutted that we weren't only 1/3 in. I was gripped - ludovico style - to my seat throughout. It's smart, it's tense, there's always something going on, and it's just bloody good filmmaking. I'll cap this off by saying this - a kid (about 8-10 years old I guess) towards the back of the theatre yelled out "WOOOOWWWWEEEEEE!!!" when the truck flipped head-over-heels ... yep ... that about sums up what I think of the whole film.
* Dawn of the Dead (1978):
One of the reasons I wanted to become a filmmaker, was Dawn of the Dead - the original and best. It was another formative film viewing experience from my formative film viewing years in my mid-teens. I remember reading an article in a 1997 issue of SFX Magazine all about the release of the "Director's Cut" (Extended Cannes Cut) of the film in the UK (which was cut by 6 seconds at the time). I re-read the article numerous times, and marvelled at the pictures from Romero's (at that time) Dead Trilogy. I'd already seen Day of the Dead at this stage, which blew me away ... but nothing like Dawn of the Dead. I remember sitting down in the evening to watch it ... then I remember sitting still in the same position utterly, 100% dumb-struck 2 hours and 20 minutes later. In between these two points I had been so utterly drawn into this superb horror classic that time disappeared. I've since watched it about 30 times, and oddly, after 20-something viewings I found myself suddenly exhausted by the sheer power of the opening 15 minutes of the film ... not sure why, but I was - and it just illustrates how much continued power this movie contains for me. So powerful was it, that it usurped Aliens from my number one slot at the time.
* Fight Club (1999):
As I said in the previous entry, which included Zodiac, I am a huge David Fincher fan. Fight Club introduced me to the excellent work of Chuck Palahniuk (I've read all his books), and as a film it floored me in all respects. As a Palahniuk adaptation it's perfect. As a film in its own right it's perfect. I've seen it numerous times and it's still fascinating, visually arresting, technically impressive and just really well crafted. Add in an examination of modern man's sense of pointlessness ("we have no Great War..." etc), and you've got the ideal male movie.
* Ghostbusters (1984):
Here we are again, back to my childhood classics - and this is my all-time childhood favourite. I loved The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, I had a ton of the toys, and I watched the two movies a hell of a lot ... and at the time of writing I have the videogame for Xbox360 on pre-order. Then I went for quite a number of years without seeing it until I bought the DVD (as part of a nostalgia trip I took while at university) and it all came flooding back. Similar to my rediscovery of Short Circuit, I found myself miming along to the dialogue and predicting the music cues, sound effects and editing. Not only that, but I was suddenly - aged 20 - finally able to get all the adult jokes throughout (I was surprised there were so many). I love both GB movies, but as is almost always the case, the original is the best ... and it's bloody fantastic.
* The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966):
During my, yep you guessed it - formative mid-teens - I first got into westerns. Channel 4 showed the Dollars Trilogy, which was also pretty much my introduction to the career of Clint Eastwood. The slow, creeping sense of tension during the stand offs (helped in no small amount by the spot-on editing and pitch-perfect score), dotted throughout the meandering grandeur of the rest of the movie has only impressed me more and more over the years. Properly epic and seriously cool, and while it's not exactly a realistic western, it's a great western movie - and indeed, it's my favourite western movie (regardless of it being a "spaghetti western"). It's just so good.
* The Maltese Falcon (1941):
I first saw this astounding noir classic during the first semester of my first year at university during the "Key Issues" course, which gave a general grounding in cinema history. Not only that, but we got to see a real, restored print of the film - something which I don't think I appreciated enough at the time, but which I have since really appreciated in retrospect. It was my introduction to Bogart, and my introduction to a whole host of classic Hollywood cinema. For me it was the point at which my cinematic tastes were blown wide open, and my appreciation for cinema took a large step up. It was even the subject of one of my first essays at university (and I got a 1st on it).
* Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991):
I first saw it on BBC1 (with all the fuck-words deleted) in the mid-90s. I then, for some daft reason, recorded over my videotaped copy and then it was never on TV again for sodding years. I got so desperate to see T2 again that I made it my New Year's Resolution one year ... and then, about 2 weeks later, I got it on video in WHSmith for £5.99. After thinking "wow, they cut out a lot of fucks ... and some violence ... from this flick", I was royally chuffed that I'd gotten my mits on T2 once again - and at that point it became my number one film (it was then overtaken by Aliens). Like Aliens, T2 is one of those rare beasts - a sequel which is precisely-as-good-as, if not better than, the original - and the pioneering CGI effects were, and still are, insanely impressive. Cameron proved himself as perhaps the greatest action director living with T2, a film which is consistently awesome from start to finish. To this day, T2 still knocks me over with a feather ... it's simply that great.
So there you have it. After six exhaustive days of blogging to celebrate my 300th blogpost (which was part one), I've laid out my Top 50 films of all-time ... with a further 10 honourable mentions ... and none of them properly numerically ordered within each 'ten block' ... although the 'ten blocks' are ordered in themselves, but well, it's the best I can do. Right now though, I need a breather!