Ian McKellen’s Gandalf once said: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” One’s loves keep a person both grounded in sanity and safe in sky-high escapism. My passion in life is, you guessed it, film. There is no other pastime that gives me greater support, comfort or enjoyment than two hours watching killer robots, inspirational biopics, voyages into fantasy worlds or whatever the choice of the day offers.
Before we’re too far into 2019, I wanted to revise and rewrite my top 30 favourite films. Let’s be clear, these aren’t the movies I necessarily think are the best of all time; while there’s certainly an appreciation of high quality filmmaking, this is more accurately a collection, in order, of those which bring me the most joy and satisfaction, regardless of more objective worth. Without further ado, enjoy.
30. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Utterly ebullient and down-to-earth. Would have been included for the wondrous (and bloody terrifying) boat ride alone.
29. The Matrix
I dressed up as Neo at least three times for Halloween as a wee boy. So yeah, I kinda love The Matrix.
28. The Shining
Kubrick’s mastery of the camera and Nicholson’s unhinged downfall are two of many elements in this extraordinarily creepy classic.
27. Boyz N The Hood
Gritty without veering into exploitation. Come for Laurence Fishburne’s performance, stay for the unflinching storytelling.
26. Avengers: Infinity War
The (current) peak of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; breathless, audacious and devastating.
25. Finding Nemo
The animation is stunning, but it’s the writing where this one really excels; terrific gags and killer emotional moments.
24. The Departed
Arguably Scorcese’s masterwork; a sprawling gangster epic with Mark Wahlberg as the sweariest cop in the movies.
23. Inglorious Basterds
Tarantino’s ceaseless kinks flourish more under the thrilling tale of men who gratuitously murdered Nazis. Glorious.
22. True Romance
Hans Zimmer’s exuberant, infectious theme compliments this quirky, blood-stained crime adventure with an all-star cast.
“In space, no-one can hear you scream” – need I say more? Terrifying and seminal.
20. The Fugitive
Before the surge of one-man, ultra-violent vigilante outings late into the millennium,
thrillers had a tauter tendency, shown definitively by The Fugitive.
The use of the term “mind-bending” has almost become a cliche when discussing Inception, but it’s completely apt. Challenging, brilliant sci-fi.
2018 gave birth to the greatest, most traumatic horror in years, from a debut filmmaker no less.
Michael Mann is a man of impeccable talent, but Collateral is by far his suavest work, featuring a career-best Tom Cruise (with the coolest hair I’ve ever seen).
16. The Dark Knight
With all the magnetism and atmosphere of a crime epic, The Dark Knight swaggered into the superhero world and changed the game forever.
15. The Raid 2
In my opinion, the greatest action spectacular of all time. Watch out for the baseball bat.
14. Hot Fuzz
Sharply written with a kill-happy spirit, no other comedy has a higher laugh-a-minute runtime.
13. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Every watch of Kubrick’s magnum opus is almost a spiritual experience, flying through the beautiful, suffocating abyss of the universe, not always sure what’s happening but never being able to look away.
12. Blade Runner 2049
This impossible sequel was a life-changing surprise. God bless Roger Deakins’ heavenly cinematography.
11. La La Land
A tribute to the classic musicals of old with refreshing, contemporary sensibilities and unforgettable numbers. Remember tissues, forget the Oscar gaffe.
10. The Social Network
Impressive in so many improbable ways, but most of all in its breathtakingly electric script. Engulf yourself in the rapid, poetic rhythm of the jargon and putdowns.
9. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
James Cameron took Arnie’s iconic brute from horror to action without a single hiccup. The perfect blockbuster.
8. Spider-Man 2
The friendly neighbourhood web-slinger was at his best in 2004; delightfully human, enthralling and memorably led by the effortlessly geeky Tobey Maguire.
Villeneuve’s examination of the perils of guilt takes distressing turns, but thanks to a captivating ensemble (particularly Hugh Jackman), you won’t necessarily want to forget it.
6. Toy Story
One of the most influential and groundbreaking animated works ever, those who don’t love Toy Story just haven’t watched it yet.
Damien Chazelle’s first foray into feature filmmaking is a psychological thriller of the highest calibre. J.K Simmons exercising his angry side is a real treat.
A rousing, enrapturing beast of a fighting flick. Muscular in every sense of the word; it packs a real punch too.
3. The Shawshank Redemption
It’s the central message of The Shawshank Redemption that captures your imagination; fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free. An unequivocal masterpiece.
2. Forrest Gump
There’s a case to be made for Forrest Gump being the greatest movie ever made; it has drama, action, comedy, romance, and the creative genius to bring everything together.
1. The Goonies
A real honest, good-hearted, high-spirited adventure movie that portrays kids as the profane, crude, rambunctious goonies that they are. Timeless fun that has yet to lose its rollicking charm.