Including this uplifting comedy…
You only realise just how many hours of your life you’ve spent comatose on a sofa staring at a screen like a bearded goldfish when you decide to compile a big list of your favourite films. Fifty sounds like a lot, but it isn’t. Turns out I’ve watched hundreds of the things, possibly even thousands of millions, so whittling it down to a top fifty was like Sophie’s Choice (in a way). It’s been a painful process but I did it, and here are the first 25 with another 25 not far behind…
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
By far and away the greatest disco movie, but it’s so much more than that too: it’s also a ripe commentary on religion, sex, and gangs of lads aggressively pelvic thrusting in front of girls. Travolta’s finest hour, with the possible exception of Pulp Fiction which was his actual finest hour.
Angel Heart (1987)
I’m not a fan of horror films, I’m easily spooked. But this one has to make the cut. Rourke, De Niro, souls being sold, disturbing sex scenes involving blood and incest, loud heart-beating noises, Lisa Bonet being all nipplely. It’s got the lot.
Body Heat (1981)
The sweatiest movie ever made. William Hurt is oozing beads from his forehead and armpits, occasionally a long film coats his top lip, and Kathleen Turner takes all of her clothes off to reveal a gorgeous glossy body. Of course, she then went on to play Chandler’s DAD in Friends.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The forensic study of high school life in the 1980s, the late great John Hughes puts a bad boy, a prom queen, a jock, a dweeb, and whatever Ally Sheedy is into a petri dish and prods them all with a pipette.
Vanishing Point (1971)
I have no real interest in cars, I can’t drive. But if you plonk me in front of this road movie about some dude driving across deserts for no apparent reason, I’ll be the guy with his shirt off shrieking for him to GO FASTER. FASTER!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
I was torn between this and Midnight Run, but in the end I went for this on account of John Candy. It’s one of the great performances of our time. Steve Martin is also excellent.
Southern Comfort (1981)
This is a bit like Deliverance minus the bit with the pig with the bumming. Keith Carradine should be a superstar.
Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989)
I’m a big Woody Allen fan, I like the way he shrugs his shoulders and says things like “relationship schmelationship” or “holiday schmoliday”. I also like the jokes where he doesn’t say one word and then say it again with a “schm” in front of it. He’s an enriching film maker, and this is his best one.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
This is a cartoon about two kids starving to death, and while that sounds absolutely hilarious, don’t be fooled – it’s very moving. Seriously though (removes enormous joke glasses) you should watch this immediately.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
I’m not normally a sucker for big bulldozing acting work, but holy shit Daniel Day-Lewis in this is fucking ridiculous. And that’s ridiculous in the way rappers say it, like when it’s good.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
I’m a sucker for a war film, and Vietnam is still the grooviest war ever fought. Everyone got wasted and listened to the Stones. And then Dennis Hopper turns up to blow everyone’s minds.
Rumble Fish (1983)
From one Francis Ford Coppola movie straight into another, this features the second or third best cast of all time – Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Dennis Hopper, Diane Lane, Cage, Fishface, the other Penn, a guy with glasses, Tom Waits. Plus it was filmed in pretentious black and white, which makes it very meaningful to a teenage version of me.
Trading Places (1983)
I’ve taken to watching this every Christmas because the scene where Dan Aykroyd eats salmon through a Santa beard and then tries to kill himself in the rain is very Christmassy. Plus there’s the bit with Jamie Lee Curtis’s boobs that basically changed the whole course of my life.
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
Billy Crystal says a bunch of set ups and punchlines then Meg Ryan pretends to be enjoying a spectacularly good poo in a cafe. Result: one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time.
The Warriors (1979)
If you’ve ever stood in front of a full length mirror wondering when you’ll get to finally wear your brown leather waistcoat, here’s your answer – when you join a tough 1970s New York street gang. The opening sequence of this film finds various gangs hopping on New York’s version of the tube and it’s one of my favourite scenes ever.
Hannah And Her Sisters (1986)
Michael Caine does an amazing Michael Caine impression, and Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon spouts confusing riddles about art and literature before snogging much younger women. Woody Allen at his zenith.
Some of the characters try to cram too many words into a single sentence, and everyone seems to be constantly quipping which can be exhausting. But that’s splitting hairs, it’s great, Ben Affleck plays the ultimate dickhead, and Jason Lee is a revelation.
Weird Science (1985)
The story of Frankenstein if Frankenstein was a teenage pervert and his monster was a steamy English model with gigantic hair. Also stars Robert Downey Junior, the one who was in Aliens, a blonde, a brunette, and the creepy guy from The Hills Have Eyes.
When We Were Kings (1996)
Muhammad Ali in Africa biting verbal chunks out of George Foreman – one of the greatest sports docs ever made. After the shock loss Foreman went away and reinvented himself as the creator of very small ovens.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The best movie I’ve ever seen on the big screen, after I watched it I immediately bought the soundtrack, hung the poster up in my student house, grew some jheri curls, and pontificated endlessly on the merits of fast food.
Point Break (1991)
In his best performance since Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze philosophises about surfing while Keanu Reeves trundles around with his mouth open holding a gun.
Die Hard (1988)
Yeah Die Hard! Whoopie kayak motherfuckers!
Boyz N The Hood (1991)
Being a middle class lad from Oxford England, rap music has played an enormous part in my cultural development, and from the swathe of early 90s hip hop movies including fellow greats like Menace II Society and Juice, this one still leaves the bigger dent in my heart.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Everyone went mad over the prequels, but they forgot that Return of the Jedi was also turdballs. In fact, of all the Star Wars movies, this is the only flawless one.
Like the whole world, I like the bit with the garlic and the razor blade and everyone going “fuggedaboudid!” at each other.