So, er, what’s like your favourite film?!

Looking through my collection of films on the train back to London one evening (of pirated, downloaded .avi files to be precise) I spent so much time debating which film to watch, that by the time I’d made my choice, I could only fit in the first hour of said choice. This is hardly surprising, choice in my 21st century childhood has always been overhwhelming, as it would be for anyone lucky enough to be born into the modern Western world. Then, my train of thought inanely turned to that of an ultimate question – What is my favourite film? One of those questions asked in situations where you are new to a social circle for example, or a group of people in a new job. The unanswerable generic question which is not asking for an honest answer, moreover a test of the subject’s social knowledge and perception. A kind of ‘are you welcome here?’ test rather than a bit of get to know you small talk. Or at least this is how I feel. Maybe it’s my insecurity that shows I constantly feel like I’m being judged by every single human being I have a conversation with. But, those questions – ‘What type of music do you listen to?’ and ‘What’s your favourite film?’ beg a lot of brain work. If I met these questions from a rightfully wary but fairly welcoming new bunch of colleagues or pals with the answers ‘Hungarian death metal’ and ‘Charlie’s Anals’, I’d look a bit of a tard. Thinking about it, I’d look hilarious, but the point is (believe it or not, there is one somewhere) that when I try and think of 10 of my favourite films ever, it’s difficult not to think of each one in light of how it makes me look. How a certain type of film reflects a certain air of class, intelligence, humour and so forth. So here are my 10 favourite films (I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible) ever that are in no way picked to make me look anything but undeniably cool…honest.



Vicky Christina Barcelona – 2008. Dir. Woody Allen

I’ll confess that most of these films are very much in the manly, classic vain. But I’ll start with this one. I’ve scoured the net carefully for still images that reflect as much of my perception of the films as possible. The humour from Allen here is unmistakable, but by no means in the canon of his works to date. Still, I enjoyed the free expressionism sentiments from the damaged but painfully cool Javier Bardem and the general free spirited nature of the entire film. Granted, some of the cultural references seem a little ignorant, a very Western view of idyllic Spain, but the icing on the cake is Penelope Cruz. Not only an amazing actor, but every modern man’s fantasy no doubt. Just see above…wow.


The Deer Hunter – 1978. Dir. Michael Cimino.

That’s more like it. Man films. I have to be careful not to overdo the De Niro / Pacino love in. His performance in this is incredible, yet it is Walken who takes the plaudits. Whilst the premise for the plot if brilliant, the acting overshadows anything from the director. Still, that should be the point right?


The Shining – 1980. Dir. Stanley Kubrick.

I opted against the daft Nicholson head in the door shot. Whilst this film is as much about him as anything, I had to choose a shot of something in the hotel corridors. Spoilt for choice, I toyed between little Danny Torrance on his trike, or these sinister looking twins. The nightmare glimpse of the blood stained walls was a bit much, and I thought about the blood pouring out of the lift, but there are just so many scenes contained within the two charmingly wallpapered walls that it kind of sums up the insularity of everything to do with the film.


Scarface – 1983. Dir. Brian de Palma

So many naff shots of this film plague the net. I could’ve opted for the tacky white suit with red shirt combo Tony Montana sports whilst walking alongside a pool, or the infamous ‘say yello to my ‘lil friend’ scene. I actually wanted the look on his face when Manny opens the door to his sister’s house, shortly after him and Montana’s sister had married. Or anything from the chainsaw in the apartment scene. But I opted for this. Bar the Godfather, one of the single greatest acting performances ever from Pacino. Screenplay is great too, as is the soundtrack. Anyone who’s ever played GTA Vice City will know exactly what I mean.


O Brother Where Art Thou? – 2000. Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen.

Not necessarily as good as Barton Fink, Fargo or No Country For Old Men ( I would agree with the last of those three) but one of my all time favourites for its plot, cinematography and soundtrack. Whilst the soundtrack takes the plaudits, and is my favourite film film soundtrack by a country mile, the setting is what draws me in the most. Maybe it’s because of my love for Steinbeck, Preston Sturges & Dorothea Lange come together in a neat and crisp 21st Century spectacle. Also, Clooney’s funny, for once.


The Godfather Part II – 1974. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola.

Same problem here with Scarface, which picture to choose? I nearly left this one out in favour of ‘Into the Wild’ or ‘Reservoir Dogs’, but couldn’t bring myself to it. The choice of picture was really down to choice of De Niro or Pacino. This one’s difficult, as I think it’s Pacino’s best performance to date, alongside De Niro’s. I don’t prefer De Niro’s Vito Corleone to Pacino’s Michael, but I prefer the overall scenes where we backtrack into the early formation of the Mafia empire. Amazing film that I couldn’t do justice in words, and predictably picked ahead of the preceeding original, which still deserves a mention.


Breathless (A bout de souffle) – 1960. Dir. Jean-Luc Godard

I’ve already written a piece on this about two years ago. Quirky, original, undeniably the coolest film ever made, and probably the coolest film to be seen watching / say you’ve watched. An answer for the earlier mentioned awkward, ultimate social question. Jean-Paul Belmondo is amazing, but the direction is what makes this one. It changed cinema forever, and hasn’t been matched since.


La Haine – 1995. Dir. Matthieu Kassovitz

Couldn’t pick between the two images, so inserted both. Kassovitz’s portrayal of the French balnieu’s is one of my all time faves. I’m not a huge fan of Hip-Hop, or this subject matter really at all, but it is such a gripping piece of art that it deserves to be talked about despite what it promotes. One of my favourite ever performances too from Vincent Cassel, one of the world’s great actors, from the first image. The second image is the beginning of one of the greatest filmic moments I have ever seen, a shot of the three musketeers here, which has the camera focused on them, whilst the surrounding backdrop zooms out further and further until we see the iconic Eiffel Tower behind their heads, and the entirety of Paris in all it’s splendour.


City of God (Cidade de Deus) – 2002. Dir. Fernando Meirelles

3 foreign language films make up my all time top 4. Maybe in an attempt to look worldly and arty as we all know subtitled films are hip and happening. I wrote an essay on this film for my Latin American Cinema course at uni, and whilst this isn’t the most celebrated, or critically reverred Latin American speaking film, it is certainly one of the most commercially successful, and whilst that might not matter for much in the snooty world of the critic, it says a lot for a film shot on a shoestring budget, using talented local actors and extras from the Brazilian favelas. The acting is amazing, the screenplay is one of the best that has ever been written, and the cinematography from Cesar Charlone is also unmatchable, and fully deserved of it’s 2004 Academy Award for best cinematography.. Some of the most imaginative artwork and camera direction I’ve ever seen.


Pulp Fiction – 1994. Dir. Quentin Tarantino.

I had to have an English speaking film for my number one. Whilst Tarantino drives me mad with his arrogance, this is one of the greatest works of art ever made. I couldn’t bring myself to add Reservoir Dogs into my top 10, although it does come in at 11 on my favourite list. A cast to die for, an excellent screenplay overloaded with genius pop culture references, and, as much as I hate to say it, great direction.

Omissions – Les Valsueses ; Into the Wild; Reservoir Dogs.

One thought on “So, er, what’s like your favourite film?!

  1. I read this when it was first posted, then passed on to other matters. Here’s what I thought at the time. This is the best article I’ve seen from this author: fascinating, challenging, opinionated in the best way and a coherent list to be grateful for. Searching for the ten best of anything is a fool’s errand, but JM knows that and says so, yet still makes a very good case for those he picks. I would have liked to see All Quiet on the Western Front, Citizen Cane, Some Like it Hot, The Third Man, Gone With the Wind, etc, etc included. But that would be my list, not JM’s. A fine piece of criticism. Thank you.

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