For this Top 10 List, I’d thought I’d do something a little special…as this is my 400th post! Yes, I droned on and on for 399 blogs…and will drone on for one more. And how better to celebrate than to produce a list of my T0p 10 Films of All Time? I previously constructed a list of my Top 10 Films I’ve Watched More Than Five Times (click here to read!), but this List will be different. Some of these films may be ones I’ve only watched a few times, but they’ve stayed with me since that initial viewing. Or maybe it is one of those films I’ve watched time and time again.
A few qualifications/rules I’ve made for myself. Only one film from a director/franchise. Well, okay, that’s the only rule…oh, and I’ll try to limit the science fiction element.
- The Raid
I have never seen an action film as pure as ‘The Raid.’ Some may come close, but none offer the insanity, purity and fight scenes like ‘The Raid’ does. Its sequel gave us an unnecessarily bloated story that was hard to follow, but the original keeps things simple and grounded. Police raid an apartment block. They get trapped and have to fight their way to the top. That’s all there is to it. But there’s huge creativity to keep that simple premise afloat. There’s something admirable about a film so unambiguous about what it wants to do: show you some of the best fight scenes in modern cinema. I did think about putting a Bruce Lee film in this position, but I’ve always been honest about his films: I always fast-forwarded to the fight scenes. With ‘The Raid,’ everything flows from one fight scene to another. It doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t (like it’s sequel did). It is what it is, and it’s splendid at doing so.
- Throne of Blood
The best Shakespeare adaptation in cinematic history? I’d say yes (well, apart from ‘The Lion King’). I only recently watched ‘Throne of Blood,’ not long after watching 2015’s ‘Macbeth.’ And while the latter was very good, Kurosawa achieved greatness with the former. Kurosawa moves the play from medieval Scotland to medieval Scotland, but the basics remain the same. Man is given prophecy and he kills people to achieve it. Shakespeare’s tale has never been so full of foreboding and menace than in ‘Throne of Blood.’ It may not have the language of Shakespeare, but a film has never conveyed the spirit or poetry of a Shakespearian text better than ‘Throne of Blood.’
- The Empire Strikes Back
Who can’t get enough of ‘The Empire Strikes Back?’ Of course, I can’t help but watch the Original Trilogy as a whole. But we all know that ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is the peak of the Star Wars saga thus far (and probably will be, no matter how many Star Wars films Disney churns out). The first film was all style, little substance, with a feel good feeling running throughout it. The sequel is darker, weightier, and full of pathos. It still manages to be funnier than most supposed comedies as well. It’s the standard bearer for all sequels/middle entries in a trilogy.
(click here for my review)
Initially, I had this one down as ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ I was afraid of too much sci-fi in my Top 10 List. But, goshdarnit, I could not find it in my heart to leave out ‘Robocop.’ Yes, it’s a film I’ve watched more than five times, and it’s gets better on each viewing. There’s satire, ultra-violence, Christ under/overtones, buying things for a dollar, and one of the all-time great screen villains in Clarence Bodderick. But, deep down, it’s the story of a man who’s fighting to reclaim his past. But the past is something he’ll never reclaim. Dead or alive, you’ll probably never see a better film about a robot cop than Robocop.
- The Fly
You can’t go wrong with David Cronenberg. I was tempted by ‘Crash’ for this slot, but really, there can be only one Cronenberg film worthy of inclusion in my Top 10 Films of all Time. And that’s ‘The Fly.’ It’s a twisted love story, a science fiction drama, and body horror all spliced into one grand viewing experience. Jeff Goldblum has never been better as the scientist who slowly becomes a monster (thanks to his own arrogance). His chemistry with Geena Davis is tangible and honest. The special effects haven’t aged a day. They still elicit squirms and disgust (in the best way!). But it’s the love story that grips you and devours you.
(click here for my review!)
- E.T. : The Extra-terrestrial
If I could only pick one Spielberg film to watch for the rest of my days, it would be E.T. It’s Spielberg at the height of his powers. I did think about ‘Empire of the Sun’ as well, one of Spielberg’s best but most underrated. But E.T. is a film for all generations. It may be a Christ parable, or maybe not, but it’s a film full of childlike wonder at the most common of things: watching T.V, getting drunk, enjoying Halloween. It’s a family film in all senses of the word: anyone can watch it (and everyone should watch it), and it’s about family, be it about divorce or the power of family. And you’ll need tissues for the bittersweet ending.
- Black Swan
In my Top 10 List of Films I’ve Watched More Than Five Times, I included Aronofsky’s ‘The Wrestler’ on it. But Black Swan edges over the finish line for this list. It’s the tale of a ballerina who’s chosen to be the Swan for a production of Swan Lake. It takes postmodern swipes at Swan Lake and moulds the story we all know and love into something far more sinister and disturbing. Natalie Portman gives a performance that rightfully garnered her an Oscar, but everyone here is spot-on, be it Vincent Cassell as the lecherous Director, Mila Kunis as Portman’s understudy, or Winona Ryder as the faded star who wants the limelight back. It looks stunning, the black and the white, the reflections and the mirages all exquisitely filmed and constructed. But, best of all, it’s utterly engrossing from start to finish.
Drive rarely needs dialogue to tell the audience what’s going on. Yes, it helps occasionally, but the silence of the protagonist, simply called The Driver, often tells you everything you need to know. The brilliant soundtrack tells you even more. Those are merely two of the many great facets of ‘Drive.’ It may be a case of style over substance (something you could say about all of Nicolas Refn Winding’s films), but there’s enough substance to chew on here among the blinding style. It’s crisp, it’s lean, it’s brutal, it’s gory, but most of all, it’s a film that encapsulates Winding’s enigmatic style without being too esoteric (like, for example, ‘Only God Forgives’). This is a film where nothing goes to waste, and everything is part of the whole. And it also stars Bryan Cranston.
(click here for my review)
- The Terminator
Okay, I did say that I was going to limit myself to one film per director and/or franchise. James Cameron has three films worthy of this list: Terminator 2, Aliens, and this one that made the list. I wish I could have all three, but I can’t. So I chose ‘The Terminator.’ It’s lean, mean, rough and ready. There’s barely a minute wasted in this science-fiction/horror/chase film. Arnie was very good as a good guy in T2, but he’s excellent as the bad guy here. He may say few words, but his expressions and movements inspire terror. It’s a relentless chase that continues to leave me breathless. It also has one of my favourite scenes in cinematic history: The Tech-Noir scene. “You got me burnin’ to the third degree…”
(click here for my review)
Yes, this was at the top of my Top 10 Films I’ve Watched More Than Fives Times (click here to read!), and there was no other choice for the top spot here. I enjoy it more and more every time I watch it. Ridley Scott may have lost his directorial touch since then. But this is his magnum opus. Everything about it is cinematic perfection. The performances, the story, the pacing, the structure, the dialogue, the cinematography, the action scenes…I could go on. Ever since first watching it at the cinema in 2000, I’ve never watched a better movie. You should see it, Maximus…
The Lion King
Aliens (one film per director…)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Blade Runner (only allowed myself one film per director…damnit!)
Crash (1996) (one film per director again!)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Way of the Dragon
Mad Max: Fury Road
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Agree or disagree? Any you’d take away or add? What is your Top 10?