Since I’ve already talked about my favourite books previously, today I’m going to address my favourite films. By the way: I’ve got a letterboxd account, on which I review EVERY film that I watch, so if you’re interested in that, feel free to check it out. I’m going to link it at the end of this post. CW: suicide, trauma, violence
With that out of the way, what are my top ten favourite films as of now?
10. Blade Runner – Ridley Scott, 1982
If you’ve read my previous post, you may know that the novel that this film is based on is very dear to me. While Blade Runner is not a perfect adaptation, it is rightfully celebrated as a classic. The visuals are dated, yet iconic and, as the cinematography, they are evocative and suck you into the action.
For instance in a street chase scene in which the shots really make you feel like you’re involved in the chase through a crowded street. Where the film really shines though, is in its ending where its writing, visuals and overall presentation culminate in a worthy conclusion and an awe-inducing monologue.
All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.
That ending scene and the film overall is just iconic and you need to watch it, especially as a fan of sci-fi. And if you’ve enjoyed it, definitely read the novel as well, it’s even better! As the book, the film revolves a round a blade runner, a sort of head hunter who has to retire (kill) a bunch of androids, artificially created humans and explores the question what it means to be human and how one can know if they’re human. While it doesn’t go nearly as in-depth as the novel, Blade Runner is still a spectacular, yet deep flick!
9. The Babadook – Jennifer Kent, 2014
The Babadook is a creature from a children’s book that begins to haunt a widowed mother and her son in this horror film – or is it? Firstly, I don’t think that this is a horror film but rather a psychological drama. Secondly, there is so much more to the creature.
The Babadook revolves around a single mom who has to raise her abrasive son, a “problem child”. While watching, I initially felt really sorry for the mother because of her son’s behaviour but then I realised that I missed out on some very obvious points and everything just fell in place and made me feel ashamed of myself at a certain point of this film. As stated earlier, this is more of a drama about trauma than anything else, so if you go into this thinking that it’s just another spooky creature film, you might want to keep your expectations in check. This film gave me a physical reaction and I’m pretty sure it actually triggered me, so be cautious. If you can handle topics such as abuse and trauma, definitely give this a watch though, it is an intense experience that can really make you feel something.
8. The Shining – Stanley Kubrick, 1980
To continue on a sad note, my pick for spot no. 8 is Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King classic The Shining. As the previous film, this one touches on heavy themes, such as abuse but it is different in that it is an actual horror film, one that establishes an incredibly tense atmosphere and really keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
The Torrance family moves into a hotel in order to take care of it over the course of the winter after the previous caretaker has killed himself and his family. Danny, the child of the Torrances, sees odd things and creatures and his father Jack, who is played by Jack Nicholson, seems to continually lose it.
You might see where this is going and this film has very much been absorbed into pop culture but it just feels incredibly tight. This is one of those films that I would confidently consider a masterpiece at any time, as it delivers in all respects. The cinematography is on point and strikes home the desolation surrounding the setting, while the great soundtrack increases the suspense and the great acting just carries the entire film. Jack Nicholson absolutely killed it in this role and scared the bejesus out of me. His acting alone carries this film but stacked on top is the overall great presentation, which cements this as a masterpiece and a great psychological horror film.
7. Fight Club – David Fincher, 1999
Being yet another film with cult status, Fight Club just delivers on all ends. An unnamed protagonist meets Tyler Durden and gets mixed up with a fight club, with a set of rules, the first two being: “You do not talk about Fight Club.” So let’s skip that part and the rest of the story and talk about why this is a phenomenal experience.
I was unfortunate enough to go into this knowing about both the big plot twists and the ending, so I knew virtually everything that was going to happen but nonetheless, this flick managed to blow me away due to the fact how on point it just is. The twist is build up from the beginning onward, so if you know about it, you can already see it coming. The way that some of the scenes are shot and the hints that are given through this all lead up to the big reveal and despite knowing all about it, I was really invested in the experience. Add in lots of iconic scenes, a great soundtrack and interesting themes and there you have a great film. This film made me start reading the work of the author Chuck Palahniuck and having read one of his novels, I have to add that the film oozes of his cynicism and really captures the vibe he has given me thus far, so that’s another positive in my book.
6. The Lord of the Rings – Peter Jackson, 2001 – 2003
Look, I might pick one of these films but I’m not willing to expose myself to the pain of doing that. With the LOTR trilogy, Peter Jackson defined my understanding of a perfect trilogy and not only captured the core of the novels that he adapted but also improved on the source material by tightening things up and getting rid of the randomness and some of the pathos of this series that stuck out to me while reading it.
The Fellowship of the Ring is the build-up for the later parts and sets up middle earth as well as the story, while The Two Towers elaborates on that and brings the stakes across to the audience, feeding into the grand finale, in which The Return of the King brings the story to a perfect close. They are all part of one journey and make for a stunning experience, even after dozens of re-watches. In the years following this, there was a fantasy wave for a reason.
Thematically, apart from its impact on fantasy, TLOTR dives into Tolkien’s views on industrialisation, as most evident in part two where orcs cut down trees and nature strikes back with a vengeance. While it depicts the loss of the magic in nature and the end of an era, in which elves, dwarves, humans and orcs coexisted, the series really captures the sense of magic in middle earth and creates a world like no other. If, for whatever reason, you have not watched these films as of now, go rectify that! They are brilliant in terms of world-building and sheer scale, as well as overall presentation and plot.
5. Blade Runner 2049 – Denis Villeneuve, 2017
Before he would direct Dune, director Denis Villeneuve would create a sequel to the classic Blade Runner more than 30 years after the original’s release. Usually, this doesn’t end well, but Villeneuve managed to direct a film that surpassed the first film by far.
Not only is Blade Runner 2049 closer to the source material and makes greater use of its themes, but it also re-contextualises lots of aspects about the first film and improves it in hindsight. This time around, the lines between artificial and non-artificial life are blurred even more, as we follow K, an android and blade runner on his quest to figure out his identity and find a human-android-hybrid who could threaten the entire system of the Blade Runner universe.
2049 pays homage to the first flick through its cinematography, which in some parts looks like it’s been ripped straight out of the first film, but also through its plot and themes, which are interwoven with one another and make for a much deeper experience than in part one. Villeneuve deserves way more credit for this one than he got but I’m certain that the sequel to Dune is going to cement that series as a modern sci-fi classic. Still, watch Blade Runner 2049, it’s great in all regards, except for some of the visuals, which come too close to the original and look similarly dated in parts.
4. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – J. A. Bayona, 2018
Before we go into my top three, here’s a hot take: Fallen Kingdom is among the best in the franchise, simply in terms of themes and execution thereof. I’ve got a post planned on this topic, in which I’m going to talk about this in more detail but for now, here is just what I love about this film.
The second entry into the Jurassic World franchise is the first in the Jurassic series to actually incorporate some of the various themes of the series into a film explicitly and develop them throughout its entirety: animal rights and morals concerning extinct and artificial life in general. Both of which are set up in Jurassic World and further developed in Fallen Kingdom.
The morals about bringing back animals from extinction for humans to use them as attractions and such as always been a part of the franchise, but the ways this was touched on were always rather abstract until Fallen Kingdom was released. Instead of just focusing on humans playing god, the World films actually develop overarching themes that have always been relevant in the franchise but had been neglected until then. The new films finally embrace this and go deeper than just surface level, which Fallen Kingdom cements through its plot twist and ending. While lots of people think that they’re corny I think it’s rather corny to get all but-hurt when you’re confronted with the consequences of your actions, especially by a film. That’s pretty much what this one does in its exploration of animal rights and I love it.
Apart from that, once you’ve seen Fallen Kingdom, Jurassic World feels even better, as you can see all the future plot points and themes being set up, which again makes the films tie in nicely with the franchise overall. To each their own, but I love this film and I think that it gets a lot of unfair criticism and I haven’t even talked about the opening scene or the shift in tone here, but that’s a story for another day.
3. Scream – Wes Craven, 1996
After watching the latest entry into the series and the new requel of the Texas Chainsaw franchise, I just had to appreciate the greatness of the original Scream. It is both a love letter to slashers and a perfect parody of them and finds the perfect blend between a somewhat serious slasher and a goofy horror comedy. The killer reveal is still awesome and hasn’t lost its impact, the humour and meta-shenanigans are on point and the list goes on and on.
I don’t really have too much to say but I think Scream is just great and you have to watch it. I also recommend re-watching Scary Movie afterwards, as that one points out just how great of a parody the original Scream actually is: in Scary Movie, they actually took original bits of the script and didn’t change the characters’ voice lines but instead just highlighted how ridiculous the original lines were through overacting. Scary Movie hasn’t aged well at all, but at least it makes you appreciate the original Scream even more, especially the comedic part of it.
2. Cloud Atlas – the Wachowski sisters and Tom Tykwer, 2012
Surprise, I also adore the film, which may be controversial. I expected to hate this, even more so when I realised that it was directed by the people behind the Matrix films, which I didn’t enjoy particularly. Additionally, I thought that there was no way to turn a novel like Cloud Atlas into a film but I was wrong in that assumption. I think that this motion picture manages to transport the story into an entirely different medium and uses all the prospects of film to its advantage – with some tone deaf artistic choices.
I get why people dislike this film because of the actors playing different races, as that was a bad decision that should not have been made. It is just tone deaf and counterintuitive given the message of the novel and film but I think I get what they were going for, which of course does not excuse this choice. The chose to have the same actors play similar roles throughout the stories to bring some of the themes which may otherwise have been lost in adaptation into the new medium but they could have come up with better ideas than having white actors play people of colour and vice versa. I can still enjoy the film though because of its message and overall execution.
As for the story: Cloud Atlas tells six stories set in different ages of humanity and makes an effort to highlight atrocities throughout our history. While you have to make an effort to make out the connections between these stories in the novel, the film uses its medium to its advantage and jumps a lot more between the different times and settings, paralleling key scenes and bringing its message across. If it weren’t for the aforementioned artistic decision, which can make this film come across as colour blind, it could be revered as the masterpiece that I think it could have been. This is a case where have to keep artistic intention in mind and given the fairly radical progressive message of the source material, especially in Sonmi’s story, I am pretty sure that this was just a poor but not ill-intended decision.
I can really dig Cloud Atlas though, not only for its adaptation of the source material, but also for its cinematography, visual style and overall presentation. Apart from that, the cast is massive and involves big names, such as Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving and Halle Berry. It is a great adaptation and I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite all my concerns, which ultimately makes it one of my favourite films.
1. Jurassic Park – Steven Spielberg, 1993
This is the one film that I’m always going to love. It has never lost its very special feel to me, even after almost twenty years of continual re-watches. It has everything: Jeff Goldblum, great cinematography and a wonderful score, animatronics, making its effects hold up nicely, a great plot with lots of interesting themes, even if they are more subtle than in later installments, and dinosaurs of course.
I am always going to love this film and the scene where you see the first dinosaur alongside Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) always brings me close to tears. After all these years, this film still manages to capture the child-like wonder and love I have for dinosaurs and that is something that no other medium has managed to achieve thus far. JP is not only my favourite film, but among my favourite pieces of art in general and I have a feeling that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Beyond that, the writing is on point and the cinematography helps to bring the entire premise to life. It takes a while until we see the antagonists of this film in full and before that, we only catch small glimpses of the raptors. Of course, the real antagonist, capitalism is omnipresent but there is nothing like a sweet build-up and a satisfying climax (this sounds wrong lol). The raptors are quite similar to the aliens in Ridley Scott’s classic, as they are smart and small and thus able to enter buildings and play with their prey, that is unsuspecting humans. Their scenes are iconic in themselves but there is so much more and all the great moments in this film never get old. It is still a masterpiece to this day.
These are my favourite films. What about yours? Let me know. As promised earlier, here’s the link to my wordpress account. If you would like to become mutuals, just hit me up, I really enjoy reading and writing reviews and finding new films. https://letterboxd.com/sovlpvnk/
Thanks for reading as always.
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