Making lists is one of the bests things in life. Anyone who has seen or read High Fidelity will know the importance of making a list. Of course when I go shopping I never make a list and to be fair, this is probably why I ALWAYS forget the item that I’ve mainly gone out to buy, but that isn’t the point, lists are cool – deal with it.
However making a list of your favourite films is a mammoth task and I’m fairly impressed I managed to do it so quickly. Empire Magazine took the trending topic of your #First7jobs and flipped it to movies. Listing your first seven jobs is easy – its factual, you did these jobs and you can’t change the order you did them in – but listing your favourite films IN ORDER, oh jeez that is difficult. I keep thinking about my favourite films and bands and the order changes all the time, but I took Empire up on their challenge and listed my seven favourites in order and these are the reasons why.
The 2016 version of Ghostbusters is a fairly horrible movie. I love the talents involved in the film on screen, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy are fantastic on SNL and have been great in other films, however nothing really worked at all in the Paul Feig helmed reboot and that’s the end of that chapter. The Ghostbusters I have at the top of the pile is the 1984 original with Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd and of course Ernie Hudson.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw this film on VHS from our local indie rental store, (Acorn Video in Ramsbottom for those who care) I was young, certainly didn’t get some of the ruder jokes, but I just loved this film. I watched it again and again and again and grew to love it even more. I even wrote to a show which I don’t think we can talk about anymore to see if I could err have it fixed so I can meet the cast. Needless to say that didn’t happen and as I grew older, I grew more in love with the film and the universe – yes I had all the Real Ghostbusters merchandise and wish I hadn’t sold the lot.
The camaraderie between the principal cast is second to none, I could have watched Murray, Ramis and Ackroyd in any film just having fun for the rest of time, they’re so damn good. The script is on point, the humour is perfect and the tone brilliant. This is one of those films that had a real effect on me. If I could have a movie job, I want to be a Ghostbuster. It tapped into everything I love, comedy, horror, fantasy, friendship and more. This is just the best movie EVER. I have said so.
2) Back to the Future
Great Scott! This is number two you say? Crazy fool, what’s wrong with you, BTTF is amazing. Yes, it most certainly is and is clearly one of my favourites, but doesn’t top the mighty Ghostbusters in my list. Don’t get me wrong, I love this movie. Marty McFly is one of the coolest characters ever. I think I bought a skateboard and tried every single time I dismounted to do that kick up thing to catch it in my hand because Marty did it in this film. I thought about time travel and what I’d love to see because of this film, (and later Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure). The first part of what became a fantastic trilogy, (ok I know BTTF 3 was a bit rubbish, but altogether, its a great trilogy) still stands up today as a brilliant movie. The friendship between Doc and Marty is so integral and special to this film. The cool kid with the hot girl who is kind of a loner hanging out with the local friendly – yet a bit bonkers scientist because these two guys GET each other. Doc loves Marty’s friendship because he’s cool and Marty just loves this crazy old dude who creates amazing things and had a brilliant dog.
This film has the lot, time travel (obvs), a redemption story, friendship, fantasy and THAT performance of Johnny B Goode. It spawned a brilliant sequel that was all about YOUR KIDS MARTY and also gave me one of the best experiences ever at the Secret Cinema event a few years ago. Its a classic feel good adventure and always makes me smile every time I see it. When I get married, I will be hosting an Enchantment Under the Sea dance at the reception.
3) Pulp Fiction
This was actually on the night before I wrote this on Channel 5. Pulp Fiction is one of the few moves that if I randomly catch it on the TV whilst channel hopping, I will watch every time. I have to admit, when I first saw this film, I didn’t get it. I was too young, but as I matured, (steady now, I know I haven’t really matured, fart jokes are still the best) and got older, I began to understand the story, the structure and generally understand the genius piece of cinema that Quentin Tarantino had created.
I studied this movie at college and I think that made me love it even more. The different narrative structure, the performance, the raw aggression of Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules and the (at the time) unrivalled hotness of Uma Thurman made it a strong favourite and one that I loved to watch again and again. The mystery of what is in the briefcase, (is it a soul or is it just gold?), Ezekiel 25:17, the still disturbing incident with Zed and the now insurance salesman cool of Winston Wolf all made for a fantastic film which stands the test of time and is still a classic today. When the 20th anniversary rolled round a few years ago and the team screened it on the beach in Cannes, oh that was a day, I mean I wasn’t there, but I did have a screening at my house and that’s what counts. You can always tell how much a person loves a film by the fact that they will own some merchandise for it. I have t-shirts for all movies on this list including my Pulp Fiction one. Its still going strong & would be sold as ‘vintage’ these days. Pulp Fiction also has one of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time, if you don’t own it, you’re doing movie soundtracks wrong.
4) The Dark Knight
The Tim Burton Batman movie was a slice of gothic genius. Then Joel Schumacher changed the game and, well we got Bat nips. In 2004, Christopher Nolan found the ‘script’ for Bat-movies and proceeded to rip it up, rewrite it and reshape the Bat on screen. Batman Begins was a wonderful reintroduction to Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego with a grittier, darker view – but its sequel took things to a whole new level – reintroducing a much loved villain and hitting a home run in a big way.
The Dark Knight brought back The Joker, the most loved nemesis of Batman. Jack Nicholson set a bar very high in 1989 and any future incarnation was always going to be compared to the gangster style of Jack’s Joker. When news of Heath Ledger’s casting hit the web, the reaction was a bit non-plus. In fact, it was fairly horrendous. Not many wanted this pretty boy taking on such a scarred, deranged individual and the school of though was that he was going to royally stuff it up. Imagine the reaction to Affleck being cast as Batman and just wonder what the hashtags would have been back with Ledger was announced.
What we all didn’t know was that Ledger was going to turn in an Oscar winning performance as the Joker which took the character in a wonderful direction. An anarchist who just wanted to watch the world burn around him. His history shrouded in mystery, his reasonings for doing what he did also shrouded in mystery. Heath’s Joker buzzed around in the background of this film causing all kinds of hell as Batman tried to keep the city together. He introduced a little anarchy into the system and Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker will forever go down as one of those iconic performances in cinematic history. The Dark Knight is without a doubt one of my favourite films and a great Batman movie too with the Joker testing the Batman’s limits, the morally questionable method he uses to catch his mortal enemy and the other threads introduced here make this one of Nolan’s true masterpieces. For that Ledger performance alone it makes The Dark Knight a near perfect film and yet another one which I will watch at any given opportunity.
5) The Exorcist
William Friedkin’s iconic horror movie still stands up now in my opinion. The Exorcist is genuinely terrifying. With the way the horror genre has evolved and the seemingly increasing need for loads of blood and the goriest kills you can find, The Exorcist stands out using a more psychological edge than just blood, guts and gore.
The crab walk, the crucifix scene, the head spinning, all truly disturbing and then the psychological battle of wits between Fathers Merrin and Karras against the Devil had me hooked. I’d love to see this re-released ahead of the new TV series to see how a new audience will take to it. Will they hold it in the same regard I do? I’m honesty not sure.
6) The Empire Strikes Back
When it comes to Star Wars we all know that Episode V, (a fact that NO-ONE even questioned as kids) is the best in the series. Its where pure evil fights back, Luke loses a hand, Han gets frozen in carbonite and before he does tells Leia he loves her, heartbreaking. If you didn’t have a tear at that point, you’re not human! Also there’s Yoda and lets face it, Yoda is amazing. Luke’s conflict about finishing his training or saving his friends is pivotal in the larger story and also what is still to come.
Again Secret Cinema plays a part in why this makes my top seven as another one of my favourite days out was at the Empire Strikes Back event put on by Fabien Riggall’s team. A fantastic day being a Rebel and watching one of the best films ever in some random London location. Also I have loads of memories of renting this movie loads growing up, this was one my and my family used to watch together, in fact I’ve still got one of the VHS copies we used to watch together and now as my movie merchandise buying habits change, I have a David Prowse signed ESB poster on my living room wall. I’m looking forward to Episode VIII and hoping it can be the new ESB of the new trilogy.
7) Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe’s story of rock and roll journalism is one of my favourite ‘feel good’ movies. Ok, so it may not fall into the typical feel good category, but its one of the films that I can always turn to if I feel a bit meh and after I finish it, I know I’ll feel ace.
Featuring some fantastic performances from Billy Crudup, Jason Lee and Kate Hudson as the groupie.. I mean Band Aid, Almost Famous is such a beautiful story. Standing out though is the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman as legendary Creem magazine writer Lester Bangs. One of the best performances of his career without question.
Watch this and I dare you to not feel inspired or just amazed by the end.