This has been me for a while now; sitting down and seriously thinking about which films deserve the top spot on my list. These films that have made an impact on me; whether they have stayed with me for years or they completely blew me away there is a reason why these titles have made my top five. These films have depth and thought provoking themes that really fascinate me and I love how there’s always something new to uncover with each viewing.
I don’t believe it should be hard to have a number one film because for me the criteria for your number one should be the one that comes above all other films; it has to tick all the boxes for yourself and it’s a film that you can’t help but passionately defend.
I’ve given a brief description of why these films have made my list. Feel free to comment on whether you agree with some of my choices or some ones that are missing in your opinion.
5. Brooklyn (2015)
Beautiful. Emotional. Captivating, Perfect. Some of the words to describe this sincere and deeply moving tale of identity. This is Saoirse Ronan’s film (she was nominated her second Oscar for her performance) and boy does she own it! What I love about this film is that you go on the journey with Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) and feel what she feels and experiences what she experiences; it’s a coming of age story and you see how the experience of Brooklyn changes her and how she is caught in a moment of how to move on without losing a sense of where you come from. I love personal stories with fleshed out leading characters that you feel you can go on a journey with them over the course of the film.
4. The Great Gatsby (2013)
Baz Lurhamn adds his own unique stamp on a literary classic. On paper a hip-hop infused soundtrack matching a film set in the 1920’s jazz era doesn’t add up yet it somehow works perfectly and adds a sense of relevance to a story set almost 100 years ago. Having read the book I love this interesting adaption as it keeps the themes and emotions of the book intact. Lead by an incredible cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki and more breathe life into the characters and help in making The Great Gatsby a blast. Yet what makes it even more powerful is it’s tragic nature that adds an emotional depth to the story. This film has everything and more.
The Great Gatsby was a financial success yet in fact received mixed reviews, so it was comforting to read this article where Fitzgerald’s granddaughter supported the film:
Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, writer and filmmaker Eleanor “Bobbie” Lanahan, loved it, too. The other night, Luhrmann said, it “took my breath away” when this “quite regal” woman “came up to me and she took my hand and said, “I’ve come all the way from Vermont and I wanted to see what you did to my grandfather’s book.” Her review? “I do feel Scott would have been proud,” she said, and later wrote to Luhrmann for clarity’s sake. “It’s got tragedy and comedy and character.” Furthermore, she said, “The movie took little away from the book, but added to it. For me, it is the first time I truly felt sympathy for Gatsby on film.” But what Luhrmann found most touching was when she said, “I think you proved that first person narrative can, in fact, be translated to film.”1
3. Gone Girl (2014)
I read the book first and thought: WOW. Then I watched the film and the thought: WOW. What I love about the narrative structure is how you are lead to believe it’s a typical missing person case drama but around halfway through escalates into a crazy ride and it’ll blow your mind. I’ve said too much already, but trust me when I say this film will hook you and keep you watching till the very end and then again, you’ll just sit there in silence going over what you’ve just seen. The hypnotic and haunting music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross perfectly accompanies the film creating a sense of mystery and an unsettling nature. Everything from David Fincher’s unique vision to Gillian Flynn’s creation to Rosumand Pike’s Oscar nominated performance is brilliant. A film that requires multiple viewings just to see how amazingly crazy it is.
2. Never Let Me Go (2010)
This film is perfect. It’s tragically beautiful and carried by the incredible performances of Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield. Never Let Me Go is a stripped back sci-fi film full to the brim with raw emotion that will captivate you and have you sitting in silence after watching the film questioning everything about life. If it weren’t for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) this easily would be my number one film. It’s a film that after I first watched it I loved it and always remembered that haunting feeling it had but it wasn’t until I watched it again soon after it quickly grew into one of my favourites. Everyone needs to watch this film. “What I’m not sure about is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.” (Kathy played by Carey Mulligan) Wow. Let that sink in.
1. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
This film perfectly showcases spectacle whilst at the same time rooting it in emotion and character depth. The whole trilogy is perfect and should be watched in one viewing, however if I were to select my favourite I would select the third film. The Return of the King is the result of everything that has been building up to this moment and that’s where the emotional punch lies. This has been my number one film since I can remember; it blew me away when I was younger and as I’ve grown up I’ve appreciated it a lot more and it still stands as an epic masterpiece. This is fantasy done correctly.
In this 3 hour epic Peter Jackson manages to fit in so much without it ever feeling overbearing; he manages to give each character their own arc without feeling characters are sidelined. I love how as well as Frodo’s own journey we see Aragorn finally accept his fate and Éowyn completely owning it and not giving into fear. I have to justify the multiple endings of this films because for me it’s closure after the colossal events of the trilogy and allows the audience to breathe and truly see the effects of what has gone before.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is pure fantasy (one of my favourite genres) allowing the audience to use their imagination and getting lost in the magical world of JRR Tolkein but it also has heart and is rooted in something deeper than just pure spectacle. This has always been my favourite film from as early on as I can remember and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
So now you have my full top ten list. There will be films that I absolutely love but sadly didn’t make the list, that doesn’t make me think any less of them however my top ten are all films that were different and refreshing. Please let me know what you think about the films that have made the cut and what your favourite films are as well.