The dust has settled. The whole “Sight & Sound list” arguments have finished. One of the sites I contribute to, Flickering Myth, asked all their writers to submit ten films which we believed were the ten “best films of all time”. I sent my ten and kept hold of them for this post…
One thing Sight and Sound included in the magazine was a very brief description as to why the critics/directors chose the films. Some, obviously, gave no context or reasoning. Merely ten films that they personally defined as the ‘best’ ten films of all time.
Here are my ten. They are in no particular order and therefore have no ranking. Ten is tough enough – choosing a specific top film is simply ludicrous. I didn’t obsess over this either, instead, I pretty-much considered what first came to mind and swapped a couple when I had more than ten.
1) In The Mood For Love – I had to have a foreign-film. From the one’s I know, I could’ve chosen Amelie or an Almodovar … or Bergman, but this film was top of many “Films of the 00’s” lists and I can understand that, whilst the others I struggle more with. Moody, personal and incredibly well-shot. The actors are shy and quiet, but the brief looks and moments are what hits you so hard. You know those passing glances.
2) Modern Times – Chaplin, equally, had to make an appearance. I love how he makes social-structures into a joke. I still wait for the ‘machine’ that helps me eat whilst working …
3) Midnight Cowboy – I love the late 60’s for many reasons. American film-making simply exploded into a new era. Midnight Cowboy is less mentioned but I believe it to be stronger than many.
4) Jurassic Park – Though a personal favourite, the special effects rarely reach this height. What other film has special effects that, without crazy ‘remastering’ still stands so strong. Even Lord of the Rings looks false – not this.
5) Signs – I love Shyamalan and I think history will support this. We shall see, but Signs was on my mind when I wrote this. A deeply personal film – set in the context of a different-type of Independence Day.
6) Pulp Fiction – New filmmakers since 1994 owe a debt to Tarantino. Still remains as slick as it ever was – and remains the best film of its type. Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Doug Liman, Guy Ritchie all owe something to Tarantino.
7) Citizen Kane – Technically genius. Perfect acting – and acting of such a difficult manner (from 20 to 70!). Socially relevant in 1941. Socially relevant today. Innovative narration.
8) Vertigo – I worry that this is too obvious, but I stand by it. I don’t think Hitchcock has been as ambiguous as he is here. Though about obsession – we become obsessed through Jimmy Stewart. Herrman’s haunting score. It reaches such profound heights – and deserves its No 1 spot.
9) Annie Hall – So brutally honest and true. No one is as effacing. Most filmmakers claim to make films ‘for themselves’, Allen is clearly doing this, but his voice is so unique and pessimistic. This film is a brilliant example of comedy at its best. John Hughes, Ricky Gervais, the-guy-who-made-The-Wonder-Years… anything whereby the fourth-wall is trashed for the sake of a good monologue.
10) The Godfather – I originally preferred The Godfather Part II (Remember, this year is the first year they have been split up in the poll) but, the more I think about it, I realise that every single thing about The Godfather is perfect, whilst what is good about Part II is how when we are dealing with all the Cuban politics, you are excited about DeNiro’s Don in little Italy whilst when all of that backstory dries up, “I know it was you…” happens and you#re back into the Pacino narrative. Godfather is perfect, start to finish.