Top 10 Movies Of All Time

Coming up with a list of the top ten movies of all time is a lot of fun, but also really tough. Virtually impossible. But I’ve done it and I’m pleased with how it went. The final selection (and running order, that was as difficult as picking the movies themselves) is eclectic and likely to change the next time I see something even half good. I have an inability due to a diminished vocabulary to describe great films in terms other than ‘it’s amazing’ and ‘I’d defo put it in in my top ten’. Obviously to follow such assertions through would make my top ten movies of all time a wild and unpredictable beast. Putting all that aside though, I’ve created a top ten. A selection that is very much my Top 10 Movies Of All Time…

10. Kids

Kids is brutal. Never has the exploding and uncontrollable body of youth been better represented. It makes my top ten movies of all time list because it is hugely underrated as a piece of art cinema.

Everyone is predictably and unfairly focused on the controversy that surrounded the movie at it’s time of release. Stop talking about that it’s boring. There are shots in this film that spew forth beauty, while never letting the film lose it’s grunge aesthetic.

The viewer is given destruction and disenchantment punctuated with moments of the divine. Larry Clark’s set-ups are lyrical and Korine’s script is simplistic without being simple, and the two together are rich, stinking and raw.

09. Goodfellas

The key to this movie is it’s opening, right from the get-go, Henry Hill’s voice-over tells you what this film is about, “Even before I first wandered into the cabstand for an after-school job, I knew I wanted to be a part of them. It was there I belonged.”

Yup, it’s about belonging and man does it do it’s job. The whole of Goodfellas swings and pivots on it’s characters wanting to be part of something. Wanting to be a somebody.

Scorsese pulls from his cast performances of the highest order as we watch the rise and fall of wise-guys with this fix on Henry. A fix represented artfully in one of the finest steady-cam shots ever performed. It’s entry into this top ten movies of all time could be argued on that alone. This film is a masterpiece.

08. Hiroshima Mon Amour

I said this was to be a top ten films of all time for the people. This choice contradicts that, but I stand firmly by it. It is a study of memory and oblivion that is carefully and quietly shot.

It was intended originally to be a documentary about Hiroshima, but director Alain Resnais decided to add in fictional elements, until Hiroshima Mon Amour was created and a place in cinematic history secured.

Powerful and moving the film builds itself on a platform of love, which leads the viewer via the lead character Elle and her flashbacks, into a study of human atrocities and destruction. It isn’t an easy watch, but it is an eloquent and perfect one and half hours of cinema.

07. Day Of The Dead

The main reason for including this quality zombie flick in this selection is as follows. Richard Dyer, film critic and my former lecturer included it in his 2002 top ten films of all time for Sight And Sound. This baffled me, partly because zombie films are an odd choice and secondly because I always rated Dawn Of The Dead the better flick.

Richard’s response to my concerns went something like this, “I just really like the look of horror on the man’s face as he is torn in two.” That is plenty good enough for me.

06. The Bicycle Thieves

Cute Italian kid alert. Couple that with this being the finest example of Italian neo-realism and you have movie gold.

An impoverished father finds work putting up posters throughout Rome only to have his bicycle stolen. He and his son search the city to find the thieves. Magnificent.

05. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The first two installments of this seminal sci fi trilogy are exceptional. Many would pick ‘Empire’ over ‘New Hope’, however I would not. Seeing as I’ve grouped them together it seems somewhat a moot point, but for the record this preference is due almost entirely to the extended sequence involving the rescue of Princess Leia, it’s genius.

Lucas may now be mental, but his forging of a universe that people like myself refuse to believe is fictional is an amazing feat. From pseudo religion and light sabre wielding Jedi’s to rasping Darth Vader and intergalactic politics, it’s all a master-stroke. Though the greatest trick he pulled was probably letting someone else direct them. Very sensible indeed.

04. Melancholia

A recent film and one that was shamefully overlooked in the Oscar stakes. Lars von Trier’s study of depression in the light of global and very much impending doom is artful in a manner that is almost without compare.

Kirsten Dunst goes from good actress to ‘best of generation’ status in the running time of Melancholia, while being aptly supported by a numerous and exceedingly talented supporting cast.

What remains with the viewer though is this films climax. It is actually burnt into my brain. Operatic and compelling, I implore you to watch this movie alone in a dark room and feel it’s energy.

03. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II

Is it a faux pas to include two gangster tales in my top ten movies of all time? No, of course it isn’t. The Godfather and its sequel are shoe-ins for any collection regarding great films.

The trilogy about Mafia life and the legacy of Don Corleone, played perfectly by a jowly Marlon Brando is rare instance in cinema where the sequel is better than the original. A fact that is primarily due to the sterling work of Al Pacino.

Epic and intense rub along throughout sparking moments of supremacy in the world of cinema. My personal favourite? The cafe execution. It’s sublime.

02. The Thin Red Line

Malick is a directorial giant and maverick. His output might be a little sporadic, though he has speeded up a little in recent years. And to be honest his latest effort, The Tree Of Life was only just the wrong side of the final cut when it came to settling on my top ten movies of all time.

The Thin Red Line is the better film though. It’s cast is arguably one of the best to have ever been put together and thematically the film effortlessly sways from intense character study to visual essay on transcendentalism. Horror and beauty exist side by side and in such harmony as to surpass all other contenders. Truly an awesome piece of art in the world of the moving image.

01. Raiders Of The Lost Ark

There are few greater joys than watching Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Indy’s debut is a romp fantastic, as he hunts for the Ark of the Covenant, while battling Nazis and his nemesis in the form of evil archaeologist Rene Belloq.

It’s action adventure at its pinnacle. It’s efficient and economical, not a moment is wasted and the audience is given credibility in being able to follow the plot twists and the shifts in relationships without annoying explanatory interludes. Even having seen this film more times than I can count I become so absorbed that each chase, fist fight or jam that befalls Indiana feels fresh.

When Indy announces he’s going after that truck, we cut to him riding a white horse! And his knight in shining armour status defending the morals of humankind is secured in a glorious blast of Williams’ orchestration. Superb, few things make me grin more.

And there we have, the best top ten movies of all time. As I stated in the intro, see this list as liquid. Bruce Lee and cups of water and the like. I’ll be revisiting it every few months and adjusting it in retrospect. So feel free to leave your suggestions for the glaring omissions I’ve made, and if your point is good I might just consider it…

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