Top 5 Movies of 1990-1994
1. Schindler’s List (1993)
Heartbreaking films aren’t normally my favourites but this is magnificent. The director, actors, writers are all amazing so it would be difficult for this film to not be amazing. The Holocaust/Nazi topic is quite overdone and can often be clichéd/forced but this film offers a slightly different perspective (because it is not a Jewish or Nazi story but about a man who lies between the two) and is genuinely emotional. It’s also a beautiful film, almost entirely black and white, that is immensely affective and the cinematography aids the story. A film to beat all films.
2. The Lion King (1994)
Hamlet with lions, I don’t know how this was pitched but I’m glad Disney decided they could work with this crazy idea. Indisputably one of Disney’s best films and I would consider it to have the best sequel as well (which if you haven’t seen please watch). It’s got music, happiness, sadness, betrayal, a monkey; it’s got everything you need for a great animation and film. Everyone knows this film and have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love it. It’s a classic and deservedly so.
3. Leon: The Professional (1994)
I only recently watched this film and was shocked by how amazing it was. It’s another film with fantastic acting (Natalie Portman…wow!) and direction so it has a solid base before the film has even begun. It’s a dark film with a lot of dark humour (the best kind of humour) which relates an enjoyably balanced film. This is probably the one film I would have adored a sequel, but I’m pleased there wasn’t one because I’m sure it would have fallen to the curse of the disappointing sequels. It’s a great introduction into French films because it’s written, directing and staring French men, however it’s all in English, lovely.
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
A bit of an odd one but a very very good one. It’s creepy and strange but thoroughly enjoyable. Amazingly stylised, (throughout the whole film I am fixated with the way Jack walks) made with figurines on tiny sets, that idea pleases me. One of the best things about this film is you are all but legally obliged to watch it at both Halloween and Christmas, so you’re guaranteed at least 2 yearly viewings. Weird and wonderful.
5. The Shawshank Redemption
I recently read the book and I am shocked at how similar the two are, this is one of the most truthful adaptations I’ve seen. It enforces the simple moral of perseverance within more complex and delightful sub-plots and stories. Throughout there are morals about various facets of live, such as the importance of simple pleasures, and this is done in such a way that the film never feels preachy. This film is ridiculously highly regarded n the internet (number 1 on IMDb) but rarely considered many people’s actual favourite (as today) but it certainly is worthy of its praise, if not quite such high praise. Hopefully everyone has seen Shawshank and I would recommend the book if you haven’t taken a look at that yet.
Top 5 Movies of 1995-1999
1. Toy Story (1995)
For a girl who still loves her teddy bear, this film is eternally magical to me. Such as simple premise based on a thought that every child has, about their toys coming to life when they’re not around, it is difficult to believe this film would be the phenomenon it is. Toy Story is quintessentially Pixar due to its heart, comedy, creativity and celebration of childhood. I hope every parent is, at some point, sitting their child down and watching Toy Story with them because every child needs this film in their life. It’s happy and heart-felt and perfect.
2. Anastasia (1997)
The greatest Princess who sadly wasn’t immortalised by Disney, and I wish she had been because I would love some Anastasia merchandise and rides in Disneyland. I always forget that she was actually complicit in a con before accidentally discovering her own authenticity, so you can’t say any of these characters are role models, but they are loveable. This film can also boast about having, what I consider, one of the greatest song with Once Upon a December, it’s so hauntingly beautiful and a bit of a change for a children’s film. I like a film with a non-talking animal side-kick (Pooka the dog) but also a talking animal which is explained by magic (Bartok) because it adds a little of realism but also emphasises the magic of the film. It’s another film that all children need to see because it teaches you how to be plucky, confident and that maybe (just maybe) you could be royalty.
3. Truman Show (1998)
The only live action film that made this list! It’s a cautionary tale for the TV obsessed masses and for those who just keep going through the day-to-day motions rather than ‘living’. Although I’m not entirely behind these messages (and I’m not normally a Jim Carrey fan) I do love this film. Carrey’s much subtler than normal performance as Truman shows what a good actor he really is. You’ll look at the moon a little differently after seeing this film.
4. Mulan (1998)
Possibly the most marvellously feminist Disney film with a warrior woman who is better than the men, lovely. One truely spectacular thing about Mulan is that she isn’t a typical ‘strong female character’, she isn’t overly cocky and self-assured (which seems to be the more common form floating around) but instead is unsure of everything expect her desire to help her family and therefore she has to work for her success, (again) lovely! Mulan is a role model because she shows that you can defy expectation (from your parents’ to strangers’) and if you work hard you can achieve anything, which a lot of ‘strong female characters’ don’t necessarily show, because they often show a woman who is naturally dominant rather than one who must improve and try. Other than being feminist, this film is beautiful, from the animation to the soundtrack, and balances funny and heart-felt with the skill of the best Pixar films (helped by great actors like Eddie Murphy). I’ve said it before but, I hope every child is shown this film because it’s important and amazing.
5. Hercules (1997)
An underrated Disney film, or at least one I rarely see referenced, but it is one of the stories that is most easy to relate to for a lot of this generation (similar to Mulan about a misfit to finds his place) but also has some of the best and most unique songs because of the singing Muses as narrators. It was one of the Disney films that I just watched on repeat, again falling in love with the idea that if you try hard and persevere you can achieve great things. We have another feminist character in Meg who is a damsel in distress but she can handle it, lovely!! This film is also fun to introduce you into (inaccurate) Greek mythology, and that’s never a bad thing to know about. An animation heavy period of time but these are some of the greats.
Sorry for the silence!
Wow, ok, a hideously long and unexpected hiatus.
No real excuses other than letting things get in my way (like holidays and a summer job) but hopefully I’m back (maybe not with a vengeance but hopefully without months between posts).
I will try to complete my current 3/5 part series, and my rule of 5 will continue in my reviews (as will my cheating brackets).
It’s terribly easy to fall out of the habit of doing these reviews, but I love doing them and hopefully I’ll be able to pick myself back up again.
Please bear with my fickle and sporadic nature but hopefully reviews will be coming steadily throughout the rest of my summer holidays (which end at the end of September) and then once uni starts again I’ll be able to go full throttle because I’ll be procrastinating marvellously!
Top 5 Movies of 2000-2004
1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001/2002/2003)
Possibly the greatest fantasy films ever, I’m counting all three together because they are all from the same original story and are all released in this time period. It’s so rare to have a cannon of films which all receive similar praise, even The Godfather trilogy has a fall with their third film, but all three of these films are deservedly considered incredibly. Along with all the best fantasy films Lord of the Rings has great acting, high tech CGI (although it’s beginning to look a little dated), a good script and a wonderful soundtrack which combine to make great films but also realistic fantasy. It’s rare for a fantasy film to get popular appeal and be recognised by the awards, this trilogy won 17 Oscars in total and get 8.8/8.9 on IMDb which shows that these films are successful in all possibly ways within this industry. Unfortunately The Hobbit films barely compare to Lord of the Rings, but I guess getting a good thing three times around is difficult, let alone trying to make it happen 6 times.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
These films keep rolling out but the first is still the best so they really need to stop making more. It’s got a fantastic cast of characters from the memorable Jack Sparrow, to the kick-ass Elizabeth Swan but then also the bland Will Turner. Pirates are always fun, as long as they’re the fictional swash-buckling kind, and this film creates a wonderfully fun and charming take on the pirate stereotype. It’s one of those films where people of any age leave the cinema wanting to hop onto a ship and sail for treasure, and those are the bet kinds of films. You can’t go wrong with this film, but you can go wrong with making too many pointless sequels (please stop).
3. Love Actually (2003)
The best rom-com ever, this is the rom-com to end all rom-coms, if you want to watch a rom-com this is the rom-com for you. It’s got a great cast, is funny, has multiple plots for which ever type of love story you like, and it’s set at Christmas time so there is always an excuse to watch it when the weather get a little cooler. I can’t deny that I’m a fan of Richard Curtis, from his films to TV work he’s excellent, and this is a good example of the kind of stuff he does, charming, funny and very British. This film also isn’t overly sentimental, obviously there are a lot of cheesy moments, but there is also more alternative versions of love. If you want to watch a rom-com, this is the one to watch, whether for your first time or your 100th re-watch, watch Love Actually.
4. Belleville Rendezvous (2003)
A French animation with little/no dialogue but a very catchy song, what could be better? Everyone knows Pixar, Disney and Studio Ghibli but Sylvain Chomet should be another name that people who like animations are aware of. It is odd, be aware of that, there are Mafioso types who melt into each other, a tiny grandmother with uneven legs, and ageing singers who fish for frogs with bombs for their dinner. It’s a typical French film where you just have to accept what you’re seeing rather than questioning, because then you can enjoy it for what it is. If you’re looking for a slight alternative to the more common animations, then this is amazing.
5. Moulin Rouge (2001)
Not everyone’s favourite musical, but as someone who really likes cover song and Baz Luhrmann this is an amazing musical for me. It’s a very pretty film with distracting costumes and colours if you don’t like the rest of the film. It’s a slightly flimsy plot, about misidentity and passionate love, but there is enough plot to keep you interested in between songs. Seeing Jim Broadbent singing Queen is one of the best thing you will see in the history of film. It’s another film that you shouldn’t take too seriously and just enjoy it for what it is, Jim Broadbent singing and a lot of bright colours. If you don’t like musicals, maybe try this one, if you like musicals I assume you’ve already seen it.
Top 5 Movies of 2005-2009
So, I accidentally chose all 5 films from 2009 but I’m not going to change that because these were my favourite films. Obviously 2009 was a vintage year!
1. District 9 (2009)
The most under-rated sci-fi film, although the director, Neill Blomkamp, and the star, Sharlto Copley, are now getting more recognition with Blomkamp’s larger budget Elysium and Copley being in Maleficent. For a relatively small budget the CG created aliens are amazing, especially because they’re so intricate, and it’s interesting to see aliens shown as neither the enemy or the friend but as complex characters. The film is in a mocumentary style and then falls away from that, I love mocumentaries and the fact Blomkamp doesn’t stick too rigidly to it. The most disappointing thing about this film is that it feels incomplete and I am still hoping for sequel eventually. Worth watching even if you’re not a fan of traditional sci-fi because it doesn’t take place in space and deals with very human issues.
2. Up (2009)
With the greatest opening of a film ever, Up never gets boring even after re-watching it thousands of times. Up taps into a lot of basic human fears about living life to the fullest and achieving your goals, which is what makes this film so amazing for a wide range of people. It has an annoying but oddly loveable cast of characters, with the grumpy Carl, endlessly chatty Russel and desperately friendly Dug, and you want all of these characters to just be happy because they all suffer from loneliness, another very common feeling. Up is also a very beautiful because it is animated with such colour and vibrancy, one moment in particular was when the balloons filled a little girls room with multi colour lights is very memorable. It’s a typical Pixar film, family friendly and with a lot of heart.
3. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
This is such a lovely, charming film and it does make you fall in love with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom but unfortunately a lot of people hate Summer because she is the one who breaks Tom’s heart. This is quite a misinterpreted film, I’m not sure how it’s meant to be interpreted but it’s not meant to be a pure love story and yet everyone thinks of it as such, it’s almost more of a cautionary tale about falling in love too quickly. Aside from the story, the film is created beautifully, with Marc Webb incorporating interesting techniques like an Expectation vs. Reality split screen or a shot which is transformed into a sketch. It’s one of the better rom-coms because it doesn’t deal with The One, but rather shows a realistic portrays of a transitional relationship, which is rare to see. Along with being a cute but realistic film, it’s also funny, so it’s a good film for a date night (maybe) because hopefully everyone can enjoy it.
4. Inglorious Bastards (2009)
Everyone loves a bit of Quentin Tarantino and this is one of his most approachable films because it isn’t quite so abstract and stylised as Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction, and deals with a very common filmic topic of WWII. It’s wonderful to see a big Hollywood film filled with European or bilingual actors who can actually speak the languages, Tarantino even makes fun of the American actors trying to speak Italian, and it is nice for a Hollywood film to actually cast people correctly rather than just getting big stars and trying to train them to speak in certain languages or accents. Everything about this film is masterful, from cinematography to script to acting, and this makes for an enjoyable watch for the casual viewer and film buffs. It’s also funny, bloody and fast paced (for a 153 minute film) so you don’t get bored, despite the length. It’s just a very good, well made and fun film, so I find very little reason that it shouldn’t be on this list.
5. Star Trek (2009)
I haven’t seen anything else in the Star Trek cannon but this film creates an exciting alternate universe from the originals to introduce a new generation to the franchise. It’s a good sci-fi action film that introduces the characters and world really well, which allows the old fans to understand the differences between this version and the previous ones, as well as new fans to get a grasp on everything. The story was really interesting, because it’s about parallel universes and time jumps, etc. which I think is a popular subject for most sci-fi fans because it’s so interesting, and this also allows these films to head off into a different direction than the earlier version. It’s brave to remake a very popular franchise, because although you will definitely make money you will also suffer from fan-boy hate, however this film’s popularity is testament to the skill and care of its creators. For a fan of sci-fi, you can’t go far wrong with Star Trek.
Top 5 Movies of 2010-2014
This will be a 5 part series where I pick my 5 favourite films within 5 year time periods, enjoy :)
1. Life of Pi (2012)
This is one of the greatest films ever, not just of this time period, because it is visually flawless but also manages to make the story of a boy in a boat fascinating (something that I felt that the book didn’t do). Also, any film that shows animals in such a positive, respectful and realistic light makes me happy. The veteran director Ang Lee creates another stellar film but doesn’t rest on famous actors, instead casting the unknown Suraj Sharma in the lead, which shows the strength of his conviction in his film not needing big names to draw in the audiences. You could watch this film with the sound off and just enjoy how beautiful it is and the superior CGI, however I do feel that it will begin to look dated as a lot of films do because technology is constantly advancing and we become more aware. Life of Pi is a film that I not only enjoyed but I believe is a master-class of film-making and I hope that it is one of those enduring films in the future.
2. Inception (2010)
Confusing to some but enjoyable for all, with an amazing cast, director and writer this film couldn’t really fail and certainly didn’t disappoint. The film was advertised in such an odd way that I remember going to the cinema without a clue of what will happen and, to be honest, throughout the film I was a little confused, but after millions of re-watches it actually makes sense. It’s a typical Nolan film with a lot of complexities and subtleties, so if you like Nolan’s style then this will be for you, and if you don’t watch it anyway! This film is dripping with stars, worthy of their fame, and carries Nolan’s name which is possibly a reason for its initially success, however the film itself that has made it endure. The best thing about this film was that everyone walked out excited, thinking and discussing which is what a film should make its audience do.
3. Toy Story 3 (2010)
I am a major Pixar fan girl, so obviously Pixar will appear on some of these lists, and the Toy Story trilogy are three equally amazing films and an incredible trilogy. Toy Story 3 does what the other two did, introduces amazing new characters, makes you fall in love with the old ones again, and spends 100 minutes focusing on a charming story. The first film came out 15 years before this, and this means that many of the little ones who watched the first were grown and therefore the emotional kick behind this narrative hit home for a lot of people. It has the Pixar heart of humour mixed with emotion and works so well for children and adults. This film is one of the most emotive Pixar films, making most people cry at some point, and would be a fitting end to the trilogy, although I think (and hope) it will become a tetralogy.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Although this is a recent discovery, it is a great one, because this film is so charming, witty and beautiful that it jut makes me smile. Similar to Inception because it has a big cast and very famous director, so it was going to successful but, again, the actual film lived up to expectations and quickly became my favourite of this year so far. It’s another beautiful film and focuses on every little detail to ensure that each shot is perfected. The plot was good, although when writing this review I forgot what it was so clearly the film focuses less on the major plot but rather focuses on the more minor details, which is fine because you never lose the point of the film, you just don’t focus on it. Sometimes Wes Anderson films go over my head but this one was perfect, so even if you’re not a Wes Anderson fan you could try this film to ease yourself in; I think the main tip is to just go along with everything that happens without quetioning it.
5. The Intouchables (2011)
I do like a good French film but rarely find films in foreign languages funny because there is a barrier because of the reading and linguistic nuances, but this film was laugh-out-loud funny. I’m surprised it didn’t get more Oscar attention, but I suppose the ‘foreign language’ film award is generally given to more emotive films. Despite being overlooked by the American awards this film is an impressive balance of humour and emotion so that you care about the characters and like them. It’s one of the few French films that I’ve seen but if more are like this I hope French films become more commonly shown in England. Both actors are going on to do more English/American films and I would love to see the writers/directors to also do a film in English, just so that I can fully appreciate one of their films (especially with my lazy nature).
Animation Week (Day 5): 5 Best Claymation Animated Films
1. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
This pair are possibly my favourite duo in films, and it’s shocking to think that there are only 4 shorts and one feature film and yet these are such recognisable and well loved characters. Going from 20-something shorts to a nearly 90 minute picture must have been difficult but this film maintains the charm and nuances that make the Wallace and Gromit films so enjoyable. The film is hilarious, with a vegetable eating bunny on the loose, and the secondary characters, voiced by fantastic actors, add to the film and support W & G well. Also, how they make hairless, clay bunnies cute is beyond me but they manage it. Watch this film and then go and check out A Grand Day Out because the difference between the quality is phenomenal.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This is one of the greatest animations ever but my love of Wallace and Gromit triumphed, although I’m sure this film would have topped a, lot of other people’s lists. This is such a wonderfully dark animation and the oddity of everything makes it extra beautiful to watch. It’s so interesting to think that it follows most of the basic Disney principles, a love story, songs, discovery of magic, and yet it is much a step away from the familiar formula as well. A lot of people have mentioned that they can’t decide when toy watch this film, Christmas or Halloween? Personally, I would recommend watching it any time, any day, but if you want to watch it as a holiday film, pick both Christmas and Halloween.
3. Mary and Max (2009)
Similar style to Nightmare Before Christmas because of the use of monochrome colour a and a dark diversion from traditional animation methods, but this film is a lot darker. Mary and Max follows two troubled characters who find each other, however they can’t help each other to their fullest extent because Mary is in Australia and Max is in America. It’s an odd mixture of cute, endearing but then also sad, heart-breaking. If you’re less of a fan of children films but still want to watch an animation (for whatever reason) this is the one for you. The director/writer hasn’t done much else, which is a bit sad, but hopefully more will be coming from him.
4. Chicken Run (2004)
Such a weird film, but so good because it is very aware and accepting of its own oddness. It’s also similar to Lion King where they take a familiar classic idea (Hamlet/The Great Escape) and apply it to animals….the natural progression where I hope all films will get to in the end. It’s another weird one where there are featherless chickens (like the hairless bunnies) but they are still believable and kind of cute. It’s genuinely funny but unfortunately there are some moments that are meant to be dramatic and they fall a little flat due to the general tone of the film (I’m thinking especially of a bit where there is dramatic rain but it looks so odd on the smooth chickens). I never thought that I would be rooting so intensely for a chicken, but you do when watching Chicken Run.
5. James and the Giant Peach (1996)
A hybrid of live action and animation which blew my mind when I first saw this. It’s my least favourite style of animation, because it’s reminiscent of Nightmare but has a more creepy/spikey feel to it. The plot also wanders around, the scene in the sea with pirate skeletons is particularly useless although enjoyable. Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margolyes as the aunts are wonderful and satisfyingly horrible and terrifying. There are a lot of flaws in this film, but it is still incredibly good and worth watching (but if you don’t want to then just read the book).