Here it is everyone; my first top ten list. This week, I’ll be doing a list of the ten best 18 rated films of all time. I am sure many of you will have different opinions on my list so I encourage you to let me know what you think in the comments below, or by tweeting me. There may be some of you who don’t necessarily want to read the entire list. I’m not offended don’t worry, which is why I have listed the numbers of the list below, which you can click to take you to that particular number. Enjoy reading!
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Year of Release: 1971
There aren’t many people who haven’t heard of this infamously controversial film. In 1971 Stanley Kubrick released A Clockwork Orange. Although highly praised, the film received a lot of criticisms for its extreme violence, and was withdrawn from release by Kubrick himself due to this.
The film tells the story of Alex DeLarge, a teenager in a futuristic London, who spends his nights terrorising the community with his gang of thugs. Eventually, DeLarge is arrested for the crimes he committed. But instead of an ordinary jail sentence, he enters into a new government programme trying to solve the nation’s violence problem. However, not all goes to plan.
From the beginning I was hooked. Immediately we are introduced into Alex’s world, showing a brutal beating being dished out onto an old man in a tunnel. Brutal and vicious, this scene is the perfect introduction to the movie.
Although the ultra-violence is what this film is most renowned for, the film is also a satirical depiction of government programs trying to solve problems. This combined with the central themes of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ make this film a challenging, thought-provoking watch.
Malcolm MacDowell’s performance as DeLarge is nothing short of perfect. Truly showing the sadistic nature of his character with an undeniable charm, he makes the character one of the most likeable villains in the history of cinema.
Stanley Kubrick was famously known for being a perfectionist; and although this may have been frustrating for the crew, it certainly pays off and Clockwork Orange is a perfect example of that. The film suceesfully uses unique set pieces and imagery, as well as classical music to immerse the viewer in the perverse world of Alex DeLarge.
You may not enjoy this film on your first viewing. It is ultraviolent, disturbing and unforgiving in its content. But this is what makes the film special. It is a one-of-a-kind piece of art, the likes of which haven’t been matched. Put simply, it is a masterpiece. Be warned though, you won’t think of the song “Singin’ in the Rain” in the same way ever again.
Interested? Have a look at the trailer.
Director: Danny Boyle
Year of Release: 1996
Danny Boyle has become a household name in the past decade. With films like 28 Days Later, 127 Hours and who can forget Slumdog Millionaire, his films have been huge successes and are often unforgettable.
However, what is arguably his most famous film, earned a spot on this list – Trainspotting.
Based on the book by Irvine Welsh, the film tells the story of Renton, a ‘junkie’ living in Edinburgh who is keen to get out of the drug scene, despite the temptations from his friends. As we progress through Renton’s struggle, we see how ‘getting clean’ affects his relationship with those close to him.
The film mainly focuses on the use of the drug Heroin, and the effects it has on them. However, for a film about Heroin, it certainly doesn’t bring you down; this film is electrifying.
There are so many aspects of Trainspotting that deserve praise. One of which is the acting. Ewan Macgregor stars in the main role as Renton, and certainly doesn’t disappoint. It would have been easy for the actors in this film to give a performance that didn’t capture what it is like to be a drug addict, but in Trainspotting, all actors bring depth to their characters, managing to make us like them but also be repulsed by them.
Robert Carlyle is sensational to watch. Starring as the unhinged, incredibly violent Begbie, he steals every scene he is in with his behaviour, ranging from outrageous profanity to beating up a random person.
It isn’t only Begbie who swears a lot in Trainspotting though. Profanity runs throughout the entire dialogue, so if swearing isn’t your thing, perhaps this isn’t for you. Despite this though, the script is hilarious, bringing a layer of dark comedy to what could be a tragic drama.
The soundtrack, including the incredible Born Slippy by Underworld, is energetic and captures the era the characters are in perfectly.
Listen to Born Slippy by Underworld here (this video also includes various clips from the film itself).
This film, although deeply disturbing at some points is one that should be watched by everyone. Go in with an open mind and prepare yourself for some graphic scenes, and you’ll have a great time. It is a hilarious triumph, and a true British classic.
You can watch the trailer for the film here.
Director: John McTiernan
Year of release: 1988
Come on, who hasn’t heard of Die Hard? If mentioned in conversation, you will often be met with “aw I love die hard” or “yes die hard!”, something along those lines.
The 1988 action thriller follows John McClane, an NYPD officer trapped inside a building taken over by terrorists in LA. As the clock ticks for the hostages, McClane has to spring into action.
What makes this film so great is that it doesn’t try to be more than what it is. This is an action thriller with a simple plot, and there’s nothing wrong with that. With a few twists along the way, we are kept interested throughout the entire film.
The main positives about the film are the performances from the two leads. Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, and genuinely couldn’t be more perfect for the role. Bringing the tough guy character with charm and cockiness to life, he is incredibly entertaining to watch in what could arguably be his best role. The second lead in the film is just as fantastic. Alan Rickman stars as Hans Gruber, the leader of the terrorists taking hostages in the building. His performance is sublime throughout the film, as he brings realism to the character, which helps the viewer understand him.
These aren’t the only positives though. The film’s production is fantastic, using the brand-new Fox Plaza office tower as the setting for the film. Also to note is John McTiernan’s direction, which gave sophistication and a polished finish on what could be very average film. This was proven by the four Academy Award nominations it received.
Overall, Die Hard is brilliant. Its plot isn’t too over the top that we can’t believe it, but still has plenty of surprises. Giving us action, intensity, suspense and fun, Die Hard could be the best action film ever made. Yippee-ki-yay!
Check out the trailer here.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year of release: 1992
When a film starts with men in suits walking in slow motion, you’re probably going to be in for a good time. Also finding out the film is directed by Quentin Tarantino would suggest that you’re going to have a good time.
Reservoir Dogs tells the story of a group of men hired to perform what should be a simple jewellery heist. However, when it goes wrong, the surviving criminals suspect that there is a rat in the group.
Tarantino’s first film features an all-star cast, including Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth and Chris Penn.
What makes this film different is its pureness. Unlike Die Hard, which was a big budget production, Reservoir Dogs had the relatively small budget of $1,200,000.
This means that instead of watching an overblown violent film, you actually feel like you’re watching a set of criminals trying to figure out what to do.
The script is ingeniously written, giving us a film that is boosted by its clever dialogue more than other aspects. The story is relatively straightforward although there are a few twists and turns along the way that keeps the film consistently engrossing.
The best performance in the film in my opinion comes from Michael Madsen as Mr Blonde. Playing a complete psychopath, he is calm and collected throughout the film, but still manages to make the viewer aware that he is in fact unhinged in many ways. A prime example of this is a scene featuring Madsen and a police officer tied up. I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen it, but let’s just say you wouldn’t want to be ‘stuck in the middle’ with Mr Blonde.
The film could probably be longer so we could get to know the characters more, but other than that the film handles everything perfectly. There is quite a bit of violence but it is done in a way it isn’t glorified, but is rather essential to the film. If you haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs, go watch it, rent it or be a true ‘Dog’ and steal it.
See the trailer here.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year of Release: 1994
Tarantino, you’ve done it again. As I’m sure you’ll be ecstatic to know, you’ve earned another spot on my top 10 list.
Pulp Fiction, revolves around the lives of two mob hit-men, a gangster’s wife, a boxer and a couple who want to rob a diner. As the story progresses, the characters lives intertwine.
Amazingly, this is only Tarantino’s second film. Reservoir Dogs was brilliant, but Pulp Fiction is on a new level. Pulp Fiction revolutionised cinema. Before it was released, there wasn’t another film of its kind. Movies would be more about simple story telling that a viewer could easily follow. Pulp Fiction changed that. The film presents its different plots in a very non-linear fashion, out of time and making them seem disjointed, but it wouldn’t be the same if this wasn’t the case.
All performances in this film are excellent. My two personal favourites are Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, who star as the two hit men. One of their earlier scenes together features their discussion about what a big mac is called in different countries. The dialogue is very witty, entertaining and most importantly real. It makes the viewer feel more connected to the character, as if we could easily engage in their conversation at any time.
What is really significant about the dialogue though is that it makes us forget who the characters actually are; criminals. Their chit-chat plays a big part in the film, as they use it to taunt their victims.
Saying that though, the dialogue overall, like Reservoir Dogs, is one the films best features. Tarantino savours every line, making sure no time is wasted with pointless remarks, instead giving each character witty comments and intelligent observations.
What the film managed to do is create a whole new breed of cinema. Featuring the iconic Tarantino violence combined with all his fresh skills and ideas make this film truly unforgettable.
Curious? Watch the trailer.
Director: Martin Scorcese
Year of release: 2006
Martin Scorcese is a legend in film. He has won many awards over his time, with one of them being an academy award for Best Achievement in Directing. That was for The Departed.
In some ways simple but in some ways complex, the film follows two police officers. One is an undercover state cop who has been assigned to infiltrate the mob. The other is a state cop who is an informant for the mob. When both the police and the mob realise there is a rat in their presence, the race begins to track each other before being exposed.
The film itself is actually a remake of the Japanese film ‘Infernal Affairs’, but Scorcese takes this story and brings it to the screen in extraordinary fashion.
The direction is well worthy of the Oscar here, as every scene has been set up to create as much impact as possible. Especially police interrogation scenes, managing to inject both suspense and humour.
As well as the dialogue, which is perfectly written, the acting in this film is perfect. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon are excellent as the two police officers, and Jack Nicholson is unsurprisingly brilliant as the mob boss, invading each scene with his silent authority.
However, the best performance in the film I believe comes from Mark Wahlberg. Starring as Sergeant Dignam, his relentless aggressive attitude to his work electrifies every scene he is in. Delivering hilarious one-liners, his performance reminds me of Ronald Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket.
Proving how great the film is with its academy award for Best Picture, the amazing acting on top of expert story telling make The Departed truly special.
Watch the trailer here.
Director: Martin Scorcese
Year of release: 1990
Would you look at that, Martin Scorcese has another film on the list. The Departed is incredible, but Goodfellas is his best film.
The story follows Henry Hill, from childhood to adulthood, and his journey from a small time teenager to a gangster.
Ray Liotta stars as Henry Hill, in what is without a doubt his best role. He gives the character a sense of innocence but yet, still manages to give him the authoritarian persona. A funny, charismatic character, we can’t help but route for him as the story progresses.
Joe Pesci stars as his best friend Tommy DeVito. An insane mobster with a very dark sense of humour, he steals every scene he is in with his wildly psychotic actions. Despite this though, he is strangely likeable, regardless of how deranged he is. This goes to show how talented Pesci is.
Robert DeNiro stars as James Conway, who steals because he absolutely loves it. Showing he was an amazing actor in Scorcese’s previous film Taxi Driver, he establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with in Goodfellas. He remains relaxed but at the same time we know that at any point he could change completely and kill someone without even thinking.
The film is long, so this gives it room to expand upon its themes, such as power. An example of this is the long shot in which Henry Hill takes his date Karen to the Copacabana Club, and the camera follows them as they make their way into the building. They take their own way in, as Hill has the ability to do so because of his reputation.
This shot shows the supreme skill of Martin Scorcese. His directorial skills are simply outstanding and this film showcases that in all its glory.
All of the aspects of this film are breathtaking; the cinematography, screenplay, editing, acting, dialogue, and music work together in a way that turn Goodfellas into a film you can’t refuse.
Go on, watch the trailer.
Director: Milos Forman
Year of release: 1975
Jack Nicholson has given great performances over the years, notably in the films like As Good as it Gets, Batman and The Departed as seen earlier in this list. However, in 1975, he gave his career defining performance in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Jack Nicholson stars as McMurphy, a criminal with previous felonies, who when arrested for assault and rape, pleads insanity to the court to avoid prison, but instead be sent to a ward for the mentally unstable. Whilst there he grows close to the inmates, and has to endure the oppressive head nurse. It all becomes too much for McMurphy, and begins to initiate a rebellion against her. Based on the novel by Ken Kesey, Jack Nicholson brings the character to the screen in a way no other actor could. Capturing the character’s consistent optimism in the face of the defeated spirits in the ward, Nicholson manages to display clear human emotion. From crazy antics to crushing lows, we sympathise with him, despite the reality of what he is actually doing.
Louise Fletcher stars as the head nurse, Nurse Ratched. Hands down one the most memorable villains in film; her one-dimensional character certainly isn’t a negative here, as it is an accurate representation of what she is. An incredibly stubborn woman, who plays on the weakness of the inmates to gain power. The supporting cast are fantastic also, all managing to demonstrate their clear talent. Mental illness is not a joke, and the cast clearly respects this with their tasteful depiction of what it is like to be mentally unstable.
The film is an outstanding achievement, surpassing all the hype I’d heard and actually making a huge impact on how I see films. Winning all five main Oscars (best picture, best actor, best actress, best director, best screenplay), this is unmissable.
Have a look at the trailer here if you’re curious.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Year of release: 1974
Now, excusing those who know absolutely nothing about film – which is a very small amount of people – you would have to be deluded to not expect to see The Godfather appear somewhere on this list. However, there will be many of you out there who would say the first Godfather film deserves a spot on the list rather than part 2. Let me tell you why I disagree.
The film works as both a sequel and a prequel by telling parallel stories. The sequel storyline follows Michael Corleone in 1958, the new Don of the crime family trying to protect the family business following an attempt on his life. The prequel storyline tells Vito Corleone’s story, from his childhood to starting his family enterprise in New York City.
For those who haven’t seen the first, the story in the original film revolves around the aging patriarch of the crime family transferring control to his son, Michael Corleone.
What made The Godfather great was pretty much everything you can possibly think of. Francis Ford Coppola managed to create a film that catches the imagination of the viewers, and reels them into the gangster world. It is a true generational saga.
Now onto the second film; I’m definitely not discrediting The Godfather. It is one of the most memorable films ever made, which is my only criticism of The Godfather Pt. 2 – it isn’t quite as memorable.
But everything else is what all gangster films should follow. The cinematography is atmospheric and the score perfectly compliments the tone of the film.
The performances from the whole ensemble cast are definitely to be applauded. Two main actors to note are Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Al Pacino stars as Michael Corleone. Unlike his rather innocent persona in the first film, in the sequel he is a ruthless character, effectively depicting a realistic gangster looking to expand his empire. Showing how Michael Corleone’s life isn’t as attractive as it seems through his cold-hearted performance, it is a wonder how he didn’t win the Oscar for this film.
Robert De Niro stars as Vito Corleone in the prequel section of the film. A standout performance for De Niro, he blows audiences away with his interpretation of the original Don in his early days. Slick and smooth, he manages to make us not miss Marlon Brando – the original Don in the first film – for the entire film.
Supported by an outstanding cast featuring the likes of Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton, this could perhaps be the best sequel ever made. It is grittier, darker and more powerful, and I sincerely recommend you make time to watch this.
Watch the trailer here.
Director: Frank Darabont
Year of release: 1999
So here we are, the number one spot. After arguing with myself for a few hours, I finally came to my decision to what should be awarded the top spot; The Green Mile.
The Green Mile, based on the book by Stephen King, is about the lives of guards on death row being changed by a new prisoner. The prisoner, a black man accused of child murder and rape, has a special, mysterious gift that shows the guards there’s more to him than there may seem.
As well as being my favourite film on this list, there are several reasons why it is actually perfect.
First of all the casting is outstanding. Tom Hanks stars as Paul Edgecomb, the senior prison guard. He is excellent in his role, and despite the fact he can occasionally lean towards humour, he remains serious and appropriate throughout the film.
Another brilliant performance comes from Doug Hutchison. He plays Percy Wetmore, a mean spirited evil prison guard, who does the job because he ‘wants to see one burn up close’. A breakout performance, his behaviour will appall and disgust you, and make you want to punch your hand through the screen.
However, the most incredible performance comes from Michael Clarke Duncan, who stars as the prisoner John Coffey. In a truly mesmerising performance, he shows true emotion and gentleness with is essential to his role. Despite his size, Duncan managed to give this character a sense of vulnerability, clearly showing how talented he really is.
The director Frank Darabont, developed one of the best adapted screenplays in just under 8 weeks. Also director of the marvellous “The Shawshank Redemption”, it is no surprise that this film is one of the best ever made.
The film is 3 hours long but don’t let the runtime scare you off. Coming from someone who has watched the film many times, the 3 hours fly by I promise you that. Character driven, unique, unpredictable and absorbing, The Green Mile is a one of a kind gem in cinema that should be admired and praised by everyone.
Watch the trailer for the number 1 18-rated film here.
What do you think? Do you agree with my list? Am I crazy? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me using the widgets to @frew_cameron.