The other day I watched a movie that really got me excited for films again and I realised that I’ve never actually compiled a list of some of my favourite films – which for someone who loves lists, is kind of odd. So, I figured I may as well put it on here for people to read and hopefully some of you will perhaps sample parts of this list. Also I guess that if I meet some new friend who asks about my taste in movies, I can lazily point them in the direction of this post (and if you are here because of that, then might I warn you that I’m definitely not as cool as you seem to think I am). I will do my best to give enough pertinent information about these films without giving away much plot, because much like sex without a condom, films are far more satisfying without too much premise. So sheath up buckeroo, and take a hearty dive into my top 15 film recommendations, which are in no particular order. I should add that I am going to refrain from including my favourite comfort movies which include (but are not limited to) things like The Mummy, Con Air, Almost Famous, National Treasure, Lara Croft and Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, because although entertaining and easy go-tos, they don’t really get me truly excited about the world of film like the ones below.
This film is just fantastic. It is a sparkling orgy of all of my favourite things – exploring the fabric of spacetime, inter-dimensional abilities, excellent humour, top-notch acting, time period nostalgia, a beautiful soundtrack and visual spectacularity. It’s one of those films that you definitely need to watch more than once, as you aren’t likely to fully comprehend some of the deeper plotlines the first time around (or the second, or the third). I drunkenly posted a video on Youtube once, ranting for ca. 13 minutes about what the actual fuck is going on in Donnie Darko, and there are countless other videos along the same lines.
Across The Universe
Perhaps I’m biased because I like 20th century history, LSD and The Beatles, but this movie really stood out for me as an achingly gorgeous love story offset by a politically restless yet totally vibrant, psychedelic era. The singing is off chops – Joe Cocker absolutely nails the shit out of Come Together, which is sandwiched between other stellar vocal cameos from the likes of Eddie Izzard, Salma Hayek and Bono. It’s a very bright and colourful film with a soundtrack featuring nothing but Beatles songs in various styles. It’s a yes from me Simon.
I’ve always loved surfing films and this one is based on the true story of Jay Moriarity, a young surfer from Santa Cruz who was the unknown local who made the cover of Surfer magazine in the 90s when he wiped out on Mavericks during a massive swell. This film is a testament to hard work and dedication to your goals and is motivating as heck.
The Man From Earth
This film is literally a bunch of academics sitting around a fire talking after one of them reveals himself to be a Cro-Magnon man who has survived ever since his day. It’s kind of a philosophical thought experiment and is really fascinating. Low budget as all heck but has a pretty dedicated intellectual sci-fi fanbase.
This one is a very clever Christopher Nolan effort, so you know it’s going to try to mess with you good and proper. The film is a story of intense tragic rivalry between two magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman) and it dissects the nuances of stage magic along the way. It’s not until after you watch it that you realise that the film is actually a magic illusion in and of itself. Are you watching closely?
NB: In fact anything by Christopher Nolan is insanely boss – Interstellar and Inception are also two firm favourites of mine. Watch those too if you know what’s good for you.
JK Simmons, oh my god. That man can be SO chilling when he wants to be, and in Whiplash he is a megalomaniac music conservatory instructor who abuses the shit out of a promising young pupil. It’s really intense, yet the ending is so incredibly triumphant that I found myself inadvertently holding my breath during the final scene. SO GOOD.
The Blues Brothers
Man, I really like a lot of music-themed films. The Blues Brothers is hilarious and vividly pretty and the music is nothing short of simply joyful. I have a huge crush on Dan Aykroyd in this one.
The theme of scientific advancement vs social ethics will be a winning combination every single time. Add in some skilled Michael Crichton plot, some INCREDIBLE Steven Spielberg effects, some dinosaurs, Jeff Goldblum, and you have yourself a classic. If you haven’t seen Jurassic Park then what the fuck is wrong with you, get out of my blog and go watch it. Run don’t walk.
Interview With The Vampire
This was that one time that I quite liked Tom Cruise – his character Lestat is really rather funny. This is a pretty well-made film that gives a glimpse into the human aspects of traditional monsters, showing the ever-present duality of nature among all creatures. The acting is excellent and the pacing is perfect.
Disney’s Fantasia (1940)
I watched this a couple of years ago and couldn’t for the life of me reconcile with the fact that it was made in 1940. It is such an unbelievably rad achievement for it’s time! There is no dialogue whatsoever, just music and animation, so it’s a real audio visual treat to get lost in.
I love this movie for many of the same reasons that I love Donnie Darko, and one day after watching them both on LSD, I realised how eerily similar they actually are, and subsequently found a guy who was able to communicate what I was far too high to at the time. Also, Kevin Spacey is probably one of the sexiest people of all time, which is so weird because he always looks a bit like a tired accountant on his day off. Maybe it’s the way he speaks, I dunno. But his inherent quiet sexiness only adds to American Beauty and I think Mena Suvari’s character missed out by not getting all up in that for real.
Based on the book by our lord and saviour Carl Sagan, this film is about the reaches of radio astronomy, presenting some interesting ideas about how shit might go down if we received communication from out there. Jodie Foster is a radio astronomer working for SETI (aka bae) who receives and manages to decipher communication from extraterrestials. Her scientific nature is frustratingly cockblocked at many turns by Matthew McConaughey, a religious philosopher. But fuck that guy, because Jodie Foster is going to get amongst some otherwordly interaction! This one is directed by Robert Zemeckis, so you know it’s good.
Back To The Future
Speaking of Zemeckis, This one has been my best friend since it came out – which is the year in which I was born (I am going to just assume that my parents watched it with me as a baby in the room because it has been a part of my life ever since I can remember). It’s a playful time travel classic, with fun, bright visual design and a corking good soundtrack (thanks to Alan Silvestri and Huey Lewis) – and the attention to detail in what on the surface seems to be a pretty one-dimensional film, is actually very lovely.
I only just saw this one a couple of days ago and it’s what prompted me to write this post, and to try seeking out more like it. Ex Machina is a recent indie sci-fi film about artificial intelligence, involving a multi-faceted Turing test that is ongoing throughout the whole film. I started to subvert the Turing test back onto the other characters in my mind and for some time I started wondering whether the characters presented as human were actually human or not. I started to suspect that I was unknowingly participating in the test, and I am still thinking about Turing’s test parameters and the real-world applications in a future where “computers will overtake humans with artificial intelligence at some point within the next 100 years”, according to Stephen Hawking. A true mindfuck, plus the dialogue is actually believable, which you don’t come across all that often.
Band of Brothers
Not actually so much a movie as a 10 part HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers is one of my all-time favourite pieces of narrative ever. The portrayal of the men of Easy Company throughout their WWII campaign is just incredible, and really captures the grim horror of war in juxtaposition with the good-humoured nature of these adolescent men who were a long way from home. I must have watched this at least fifty times and will probably watch it many more. A phenomonal production effort from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg with outstanding acting and visually stunning shots.
So that’s it – 15 of my favourite movies. Feel free to suggest any to me that you think i’d like, based on the above list!
Love, Chelle xoxoxoxo