My top 50 films of all time – 50-41.

I’ve decided to collate a list of my top 50 films of all time, which will be greatly aided by my IMDB history which I’ve been keeping a keen record of for over 9 years now to help me remember what I’ve already seen, kind of like Memento but without the whole tattooing thing going on. While there are absolutely hundreds of other films I do enjoy and some extremely guilty pleasures (Top Gun, Lake Placid, pretty much any other film that’s so bad that it’s good) or films that I like for other reasons (Jurassic Park, Happy Gilmore, other enjoyable films that don’t quite make it), these are my top 50.

The main criteria I consider:

  1. The narrative.
  2. The artistic style/Cinematography/Director.
  3. The acting/actors.
  4. Personal genre appeal.

Anyway, without much further ado, here’s a very subjective top 50 with a little bit of background as to why I vouch for each.

50: Freeway (1996)

“Do you wanna get shot a whole buncha times?”

Pre-Jack Bauer Kiefer Sutherland pulls off a fantastic performance as a child abductor/freeway killer/necrophiliac, but picks the wrong girl to mess with in Vanessa (Reese Witherspoon). A great tale of revenge which is loosely based around the Grimms’ Little Red Riding Hood with Sutherland literally being a predator, although one of a different kind, called Bob Wolverton. Get it? Because he’s the wolf. Quite light-hearted considering the gritty subject matter and full of amusing moments.

Did you know? 
Vanessa can actually be seen watching a Little Red Riding Hood cartoon early on in the film.

49: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

“I’ll never let anybody put me in a cage.”

I’ve always had a soft spot for old black and white romantic films, especially ones with a tortured protagonist, as will soon become clear on this list. Audrey Hepburn’s finest hour came as Holly Golightly in this classic, with her iconic image still appearing on bags, posters and merchandise of all sorts even now. Despite generally being quite a sweet film, there is an incredibly racist caricature of a Japanese landlord by Mickey Rooney, which shows the film’s age quite well.

Did you know?
Nine different cats were allegedly used to play Holly’s cat, the aptly named “Cat”, in the film.

48: Hanna (2011)

“Hanna, what did your mum die of?” “Three bullets”

A beautifully captured Leon-esque film about a young teenage assassin, brought up by her dad to be a ruthless killer following the death of her mother. Once again, the influence of fairy tales is quite apparent from the outset, going as far as to climax in a scene revolving around a Grimms’ fairy tale style amusement park. The one negative I have to pick out is the quintessentially annoying British family who represent approximately 0.01% of the United Kingdom.

Did you know?
The script for Hanna was in limbo for at least five years before finally being picked up, being listed as one of the best unproduced screenplays of 2006 and 2009 respectively.

47: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

“You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big!” “I AM big. It’s the pictures that got small!”

Like I said, I find something charming about B&W films which have a slightly unconventional romantic plot. In the case of the fantastic Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, it’s an aging, eccentric silent-movie era star (Norma Desmond) descending into madness following her isolation after “talking pictures” became the new phenomenon and she was shunned from Hollywood. Amusing in parts, equally tragic in others, it’s a film that has aged very well and is still more than watchable, like many of Wilder’s films.

Did you know?
When crew members enquired as to how Billy Wilder intended to shoot the monkey burial scene, he replied with “You know, just the usual monkey funeral sequence”. It was also implied that Norma and the monkey had a very unethical relationship prior to the events of the film, something that would have gone down like a lead balloon in 1950s cinema if less subtle, and probably still makes most normal people uncomfortable to think about in the modern era.

46: Cell 211 (2009)

“So the guards beat you up your first day. You must have pissed them off.” “I do my best.”

An intimidating, uncompromising and intense Spanish language film which involves a prison officer being knocked unconscious on his first day on the job, being taken to a cell to be treated and waking up to a riot. Panicking, he realises that he’s got to pretend to be an inmate to deceive the notorious Malamadre and the other hundreds of high-security prisoners into believing that he is also a dangerous prisoner.

Did you know?
Malamadre literally translates as “Badass”, and the character fits that description perfectly.

45: Memento (2000)

“Memory can change the shape of a room, it can change the colour of a car and memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.”

Memento’s unusual in the sense that it runs backwards, Guy Pearce’s character needing to piece together the jigsaw that is his life with a huge obstacle being amnesia. Tattooing himself with any relevant information he can find, he has to learn who he can and can’t trust. Twists and turns galore and some outstanding performances all round.

Did you know?
Leonard, the film’s main character, suffers from a real condition called Anterograde Amnesia, which was a condition that sometimes occurred in the 1950s when surgeons performed lobotomies on epileptic patients.

44: Psycho (1960)

“Oh, but she’s harmless. She’s as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.”

Psycho initially set out to do something a bit different, and was largely opposed by a lot of studios, who thought it was a huge risk to try something this innovative at the time. How wrong they were! If ever a film revolutionised the horror genre, it would be this. This is the first black and white film on the list to not have a central romantic theme. Still just as chilling now as it was the first time I saw it, and on that basis alone it has to be included on my list. Also featured a hilariously great trailer of Alfred Hitchcock walking around the set, informing the viewer that something “horrible” or “ghastly” happened there, but refuses to divulge any more details.

Did you know?
This was the first film to show viewers a toilet being flushed in all it’s glory.

43: The Lion King (1994)

“A king’s time as ruler rises and falls like the sun. One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.”

I have to say, this is my favourite Disney film of all time and I’m sure there’s nothing I can say about it that hasn’t been said before. Otherwise known as “that film with the lions and the bit that could make a drugged up Iron Mike Tyson have a breakdown and cry”, The Lion King is an animated masterpiece, suitable for anyone from any background of any age.

Did you know?
During the sequence for “Be Prepared”, the hyenas march past Scar in a very similar way to the Nazis marching past Adolf Hitler in stock footage.

42: American History X (1998)

“See this? That means ‘Not welcome'”

Intentionally provocative and powerful, American History X tackles the issue of racism in the US with the subtlety of an elephant driving a bulldozer into a police station. At its heart, it’s a film about a changed neo-Nazi trying to ensure that his brother doesn’t go down the same path as him. Edward Norton’s character, Derek, has realised his past mistakes, of which there are many and tries to escape his past following a stint in jail.

Did you know?
Edward Norton could have been in Saving Private Ryan if it wasn’t for deciding to star in American History X instead.

41: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

“You’re getting older, and you’ll see that life isn’t like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you’ll learn that, even if it hurts.”

Another one to add to the modern-day fairy tale style of filmmaking, this Spanish language fantasy film is full of suspense and intrigue as young Ofelia attempts to escape from her unloving father, who’s a bit of a bastard if we’re being honest, into her fantasy world. She becomes a princess in this alternate reality, which is a lot nicer than where she normally resides, Bastardsville, where her dad is killing rebel soldiers left, right and centre and generally being a bit of a cockwomble. Worth a watch for the Pale Man scene alone, which I won’t ruin here just incase you haven’t seen it for yourself.

Did you know?
Horror writer extraordinaire Stephen King attended one of the screenings of the film and sat next to director Del Toro. Del Toro said that King had squirmed at the Pale Man scene and that seeing that alone was like winning an Oscar.

Click here for part 2 – 40-31!

As always, the Walrus has spoken.

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6 thoughts on “My top 50 films of all time – 50-41.

  1. I thought American History X was brilliant! It really surprised me because I thought it was just going to be mindless violence but it was a very intelligent drama and I’ve not stopped recommending it to people.

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