So, here we are. The final furlong. Who will receive the coveted Wayfaring Walrus Tusktastic film of all time award?
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10: Running Scared (2006)
Prior to his sad death at just 40 years old recently, Paul Walker was known mainly for his performances in the Fast and the Furious franchise, but it’s often forgotten that he did star in a number of other films. In my opinion, this was by far the finest. Another almost fairytale-like film in structure, it takes so many unpredictable twists and turns that you could never possibly see coming which dramatically change the path the plot is following. It’s essentially a story about a criminal in a gang, his son and, more centrally, his sons Russian best friend, Oleg. Oleg has been suffering from the wrath of his psychotic father for many years, but the abuse gets a lot worse to the point where he needs to run away from home. Walker’s character, Joey, comes in when it’s discovered that Oleg has stolen a gun from his basement that he cannot afford to lose because it’s got a strong connection in a crime he was involved in. The race is on to find Oleg before he gets picked up by the police or worse.
Did you know?
One of the more evil characters in the film has the surname ‘Hansel’. In the context of her being a child predator, this is very fitting with the famous Hansel and Gretel tale.
09: The Science of Sleep (2006)
One of the more bizarre films on my list, but nevertheless a great experiment in randomness. The main character, Stephane, moves to Paris following the death of his father, but disillusioned by reality prefers to dive into his dream world. Almost like a collection of thoughts at times more than a film, which makes it feel fairly unstructured, but in a good way. Unusual and very surreal, with great special effects/costumes and humour. I think Salvador Dali would have approved.
Did you know?
Lead actress Charlotte Gainsbourg has a rich family heritage. Her father was the multitalented singer, songwriter, actor and director Serge Gainsbourg and her mother is Jane Birkin. She is the goddaughter of Yul Brynner and granddaughter of TV actress Julie Campbell. She also has three children with Israeli-French actor/director Yvan Attal.
08: Nine Queens (2000)
The heist movie in my opinion. A deceitful and dislikable but intelligent conman takes a greener, aspiring hustler under his wing as his protege as they attempt to pull off an ambitious swindle using the “Nine Queens” set of stamps, worth approximately $450,000. An ingenious script where, as the tagline suggests, “if you think you’ve figured it out, you’ve been conned”. An under-appreciated masterpiece.
Did you know?
Tragically, the talented director and writer Fabian Bielinsky died at the age of just 46 six years after this film was released. A real shame, considering the last film he released was the weirdly intriguing El Aura (2005), and Bielinsky was surely due to go on to great things.
07: The Wave (2008)
An important film based on an unethical real life experiment which explored the nature of the Third Reich, and why German civilians followed Hitler and supported his actions through World War 2 rather than making a stand. ‘Cool’ teacher Rainer Wenger has always been anti-establishment, and tries to educate his students in a down-to-earth kind of way. One day, he’s forced to teach a class on autocracy, where one person is put in a position of unlimited power. It starts off as a bit of fun, making them all call him “Herr Wenger” and wear a specific uniform to show solidarity with their group, although in essence it is all done for manipulation. However, it soon turns ugly, as it crosses the line almost beyond Rainer’s control. Students from across the school want in on the project, friendships break down and the ugliness of a dictatorship soon begins to show. Eye-opening, horrifying, hard-hitting, powerful and educating, The Wave should be a film that’s studied for many years to come.
Did you know?
The actual experiment lasted only around 5 days as Ron Jones, the history teacher who devised it, felt it was going way too far. He’d actually noticed in just 3 days that students started reporting other students who weren’t obeying his orders such as saluting to each other in Nazi-like fashion, and actively blocking outsiders from their group. What started with 30 students ended up with more than 200, all complying with his commands.
06: Amores Perros (2000)
As I’ve mentioned before, Inarittu has a great talent for directing films with multiple storylines. Nowhere else is it more visible than in Amores Perros, or “love’s a bitch” in English. Many characters who seem unrelated all converge together through their narratives, all of which have dogs as a central theme. Octavio is a young man in love with his abusive brother’s wife, with his story focusing on a Rottweiler named Cofi. The second storyline is based around Valeria, a Spanish supermodel with a seemingly perfect life, barring that her new partner has just left his family for her. Redecorating their new home together, her segment revolves around a small terrier called Richie. Finally, there is the tale of ‘El Chivo’, a former guerrilla fighter and hitman who has no family or anyone left except his dogs, often taking in new ones and looking after them. The audience gets a great insight into each protagonist in the film, where seemingly meticulous detail has been written into each personality. Intricate, clever and yet still action-packed, this is the film that Hollywood wishes it could make.
Did you know?
Amores Perros is unorthodox in that it shows the reassuring disclaimer that no animals were hurt in the production of the film at the start of the film, rather than at the end. This is because some of the scenes are so excellently filmed that they can be genuinely harrowing to watch. The crew went above and beyond the call of duty, even being robbed while filming in the more dangerous areas of Mexico City.
05: Gran Torino (2008)
Grumpy old Korean war veteran Walt Kowalski lives a simple life and refuses to change with the times. His family have more or less disowned him and his only true companion is his dog, Daisy. Seeing his area overcome with gang violence among mass immigration, he is frustrated but rejects any suggestion of moving, as it’s his house and he won’t be scared away from it. One day, everything changes for him as he becomes involved with the Hmong community who soon begin to accept him more than his own family do. It was great to see Clint Eastwood still producing such brilliance in his later years, and I hope it continues for many more to come.
Did you know?
Gran Torino was the most successful of all of Eastwood’s films in terms of box office.
04: La Haine (1995)
When I first saw La Haine, I hated it. Then I watched it again and realised how truly great it is. The seemingly irrelevant conversations and scenes that drift by suddenly made sense, all coming together like a puzzle. Following three friends from a run-down Parisien suburb; Vinz, Hubert and Saïd, all of whom are from different cultural backgrounds, the film is based over a 24 hour period. A police officer has lost his gun during a riot the night before, and Vinz is the one to find it. With their friend in hospital following an episode of police brutality, they need to decide whether to seek revenge or not, with divided opinions on what they should do.
Did you know?
One of the more mystifying sequences in the film is where Vinz (Vincent Cassel) is looking in a mirror, similar to in Taxi Driver (1976), with the camera seemingly behind him and right in the reflection of the mirror. However, there was actually no mirror, director Kassovitz instead using a double to mimic Cassel’s movements to create this mind boggling effect.
03: Fight Club (1999)
The first rule of Fight Club is that I can’t talk about Fight Club.
Well, I best say something about it or this is gonna be a pretty boring entry. The first thing to mention is that the actual fighting itself is merely a subplot to what is actually going on, and features surprisingly few fighting scenes considering the title. With many memorable characters, an anarchic storyline which does not adhere to traditional Hollywood storytelling, subliminal imagery and knowing nods to it’s audience, Fight Club should be the standard bearer which films aspire to be. Uncompromising, bold, intelligent and with never a dull moment, it’s one of the finest productions of all time. It also has a jawdropping twist which makes the Sixth Sense (1999) look like a badly written plot of an episode of the Teletubbies (1997-2001).
Did you know?
Director David Fincher initially wanted the marketing for Fight Club to be based around the anti-commercialism theme that is prominent in the film. However, the studio executives decided that it was too risky and went for a generic approach which made it appear as though the film was just about Brad Pitt and men beating each other up. Often the ad campaign would appear during breaks in programming for things like the WWE and UFC, not the generally target audience for a cerebral thriller. Naturally, Fincher was said to be outraged by this, as it goes against everything the film was about.
02: City of God (2003)
Almost clinching the #1 spot for personal reasons is City of God. Sadly, there can be only one winner, as this is the film that made me interested in filmmaking, thus directly influencing my decision to go and study it full time, defining where I ended up living and therefore dramatically changing the route that my life went in for a number of years. If it wasn’t for City of God, I seriously doubt that I would have ended up being as intrigued by the filmmaking industry as I am today.
Anyway, on to the film. In essence, it’s a Brazilian gangster film based in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It offers an unglamourised insight into what is known as one of the most dangerous places to live on Earth. It doesn’t attempt to sugar coat anything, showing a lot of believable scenarios, not only between uneducated gangs and the corrupt police but also normal, everyday people who want to escape the slums and have a better life. In terms of cinematography, it’s the finest I’ve ever seen, with incredible street chase scenes, vibrant colours and some extremely clever camerawork. The narrative doesn’t just focus on the gangs nor the police, but tries to show a wide selection of the inhabitants of Rio who you grow to love or loathe as the film progresses.
I can’t recommend this film highly enough, as if you’re anything like me, it’s the film you didn’t know you needed until you saw it.
Did you know?
A vast number of the actors in the film had very little acting experience, and were merely inhabitants in the favelas of Rio, some even from the Cidade de Deus slum itself, which the film is based around.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for…
The announcement of the winner of the Tusktastic award is just around the corner…
A word from our sponsors…
This is dramatic though, right?…
Ok I’ll stop now…
Can we have a drumroll please?!
01: Sand Sharks (2011)
A real tour de force of cinema. Unequalled and unrivalled, the mighty Sand Sharks shook the film industry to it’s core when it was first released back in 2011. With simply exceptional acting from lead actress and daughter of WWE’s disgraced legend Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan steals the show. The scriptwriting is a joy to behold, with beautiful lines such as “something ATE my boyfriend” and “there’s a SHARK swimming in the SAND!”, along with the academy award nominatee – “it’s our civic duty to close this beeeaach”. Just when you thought you were safe out of the water…
Never before had these beautiful, mostly non-aggressive Sharks been thought of as dangerous murdering machines.
Well, maybe except in:
Play this music for dramatic effect…
Jaws The Revenge
Deep Blue Sea
Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus
Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus
Spring Break Shark Attack
Shark Attack 2
Shark Attack 3
Shark Night 3D
Shark in Venice
Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy
12 Days of Terror
Malibu Shark Attack
Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the USS Indianapolis
Mako: The Jaws of Death
Well, at least the fascination stopped there with portraying these amazing beasts as human killers…
Oh wait. There’s more since:
Sharknado The Third One
Jersey Shore Shark Attack
2 Headed Shark Attack
Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark
Did you know?
Sand Sharks isn’t really my favourite film of all time. I bet I fooled you there for a minute though.
My real favourite is…
01: Lake Placid 3 (2010)
Sorry, I won’t do it again. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.
01: Amelie (2001)
Absolutely no sharks appearing out of wine glasses or market stalls in Amelie. My favourite film of all time may strike you as a surprising choice for such a rugged, macho Walrus such as myself, but it resonates with me more than any other film, and I can watch it a seemingly infinite amount of times without tiring of it.
Beautifully filmed with almost a dream-like effect, wonderfully acted and with a fantastic message behind it, Amelie is about a good samaritan who is lost in her own little world. Inspired by a random event that happens, Amelie is suddenly driven to do good in the world, often at the expense of her own happiness. Anonymously, she acts completely selflessly throughout and is driven purely to improve the lives of everyone around her as much as she can. With a magnificent soundtrack by Yann Tiersen which completely matches the tone of the film, it’s just about as near to perfect as you can get. A number of memorable characters, none of whom have particularly movie-star good looks, and all are believable as people despite being a borderline fantasy film. Audrey Tautou was an example of perfect casting, I don’t imagine it would have worked as well as it does with any other lead actress.
Did you know?
To match the aesthetic of the film, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet would insist on cleaning every location spotlessly before filming, including graffiti, rubbish and any other various debris.
So, there we have it. The top 50. I hope you enjoyed it more than I enjoyed compiling the list. Maybe in another 10 years I’ll revisit this to see what’s changed…
Maybe make that 20 years actually. It’s quite a daunting task.
For now, as always.
The Walrus has spoken.