Rank You For The Movies: The Infinity Saga

There was an idea…

Humans have an intrinsic fascination for ranking their favourite things. The sense of order and comprehension it brings to our opinions, and the fun of compiling a list, has resulted in a constant stream of top 10s online. Rank You For The Movies is a new feature (inspired by Empire’s fan-favourite The Ranking) which brings together the views of myself, Ross Miller (@rosstmiller), Madeleine Lloyd-Jones (@madelexne) and Lucy Buglass (@LGTHBlog). We essentially discuss a film-related topic and produce a top 10 list at the end – and you can see our conversation unfolding below. 

Cameron: If anyone has Thor: The Dark World in their top 10, we can tussle cause that’s straight-up lunacy.

Ross: Mate, it’s comfortably touching the bottom floor. Apart from the final battle, which is pretty creative, it’s most definitely one of if not the weakest of the lot. I think it has mainly to do with the villain and his whole plot – no disrespect to the great Christopher Eccleston but just very bland.

Cameron: It’s the only MCU movie I actively dislike; the dullest colour palette, boring and just completely unengaging. The recent rewatch was a sore one.

Ross: I wouldn’t go far as to say I dislike it – the affection for the characters carries it but I can see why. I thought the first Thor was damn good.

Cameron: It has one of my favourite quotes though: “Your birthright… was to die!” Great stuff.

Ross: Nice. Reminds me of the kind of one-liner in Avengers: Age of Ultron: “Well, I WAS born yesterday.”

Cameron: Right, the thing with the first Thor. I dig that it’s like Shakespeare and Marvel married together, but the filmmaking is ugly. Dutch angles for days.

Ross: Oh really? I kind of really like that! Branagh brings a grandness to it. And I thought it handled the extremely difficult job of introducing what is a ludicrous character for what started out as “real world” tech hero stuff.

Madeleine: I really agree that it’s low-tier filmmaking. It’s really messy and unsatisfying.

Cameron: He did establish a believable world (even though Asgard, in that first movie, isn’t as gorgeous as one would expect), but it just feels a bit cheap to me. Flourishes that do not agree with me at all; I feel the MCU has pushed all that stuff out and has much slicker cinematography overall.

Ross: I get that. You either go with that kind of flourish stuff or it turns you off. I agree the MCU has definitely gelled more as it went on – some may argue that it’s become homogenized but I think it works if you look at as telling an overarching saga.

Cameron: Strong directorial voice, for sure. Just not a particularly pleasing film to watch, for me anyway.

Madeleine: I agree with that Ross for sure. The first two Thor’s were just establishing in a chill way.

Ross: What do we think of Thor: Ragnarok then? Talk about artistic directorial style and flourish!

Cameron: Ragnarok is the tits.

Madeleine: Ragnarok is brilliant.

Cameron: Very smooth, super cool, truly hilarious and quite unique from the other movies while still fitting in. I like it a lot.

Ross: It’s just such a shot of pure, eye-popping joy – Waititi was such a great choice for make that movie. The way he marries his idiosyncratic style of humour with the Marvel world, embracing the ridiculous and surreal at every turn, made for a refreshing watch.

Cameron: A proper jolt of lightning. That’s the wonderful thing though, about the MCU. It’s a franchise that’s brought me consistent giddiness.

Madeleine: It’s so rare that a franchise film can nail another tone whilst keeping in tune with the other films.

Ross: For sure. You feel like you’re getting a consistency as a fan loyally watching all the films while trying something a bit different. Of course they’re not all like that but for every Dark World there’s a Ragnarok and I’ll take it!

Cameron: I’ve seen people saying that the first Avengers hasn’t aged well but I don’t get that at all? The costumes are maybe a bit schlocky but it looks amazing, visually still a total spectacle and screenplay wise, a pure delight.

Madeleine: Oh my god no way has it aged poorly! It’s still incredible. Still gives me such a sense of excitement.

Ross: I have to admit it’s been a good while since I properly sat down and watched the first Avengers properly but it’s terrific. That moment, THE moment, of the camera spinning around them all finally in a group is spine-tingling. They’d laid the groundwork properly, walked before they ran, which made that moment mean a lot for fans.

Cameron: The confidence that Whedon had is on a par with Waititi; a guy who knew exactly what made comic book movies work and gave the fans more than a handful of moments of euphoria (let’s not discuss Age of Ultron though).

Ross: Ah, not an Ultron fan? I find it very underrated. That whole Sokovia battle is aces.

Madeleine: I need to rewatch Ultron. I was disappointed when I watched it, but I think it had so much to live up to. I think Whedon was given too much to cram in after the success of the first.

Ross: That’s the thing, expectation really did it in. But if you rewatch it’s got its own thing going on. There’s a bleakness to it in how it deals with technology and our responsibility of letting it get out of hand therein

Madeleine: That’s interesting. It was released so soon after the first, which I almost always think is risky. Got the impression it was bashed together pretty quickly to make easy money for the studios.

Cameron: To quote the great Kermode, here’s the thing. It has a lot of the same brilliance that made Avengers Assemble work. Orgasmic shots of the team fighting, nice touches of darkness. But, without James Spader’s extraordinary villain (seriously, top three easily), the thing crumbles like an overbaked pastry. Allegedly the original cut ran around three hours, and you can tell – there’s SO much in it, lots of little plot threads and ideas that aren’t really chewed into enough. Plus, the last battle is fun and all, but it doesn’t hook me in the same way. If it weren’t for Captain America: Civil War, it wouldn’t have anywhere near as much impact today. It did bring us Scarlet Witch though, and Vision.

Ross: I get that; it definitely chucks in more ideas than it really handles. But I appreciate the ambition of it. It also has one of the franchise’s best gags; when they’re all trying to lift the hammer and Thor’s nearly full on shites his pants when Cap is able to move it just a little.

Cameron: Thoughts on the Captain America films?

Ross: Oh boy here we go… I’m not a great fan of The First Avenger.

Madeleine: I think the Cap films are the most consistent films of them all. You’re not?

Ross: I mean, I still like it, but I just didn’t love the whole WWII setting of it. And I know this is part of the point but the old-fashionedness (to make up a word) felt weird to me. It would easily be lower tier to me. But it’s still an enjoyable time, it lays the groundwork nicely for Cap as a good-hearted hero

Madeleine: I think it’s one of the best examples of the setting. I think it was the film to really ground the MCU.

Cameron: I just don’t think Cap as a character would work without seeing him in his original world. To get behind his whole honour and outlook, the wartime is absolutely necessary (not fully convinced he had to put the ship in the water, though).

Ross: I realise I’m in the extreme minority with it, most love it. It’s one of those I’ve seen the least, even though that still means seeing it three times!

Cameron: Winter Soldier is outstanding; proper conspiracy spy thriller (love how Robert Redford plays the exact kind of villain that Bob Woodward would want to expose) with all the superhero trimmings.

Ross: That whole sequence on the ship, that shot of him running as he bounces the shield, is stunning.

Madeleine: They really are the most interesting films, the Captain America‘s. The most political parallels; most real life shit and I think best character work.

Ross: For sure. Just look at how they deal with it all in Civil War which is my favourite of the whole MCU.

Cameron: The direction is actually a lot more confident in that movie than in some action scenes in Civil War. But overall, that’s the MVP. I fucking love Civil War.

Madeleine: Civil War really shook me.

Cameron: The emotional stakes in that film are just so, real? As Maddy said, the real world parallels are interesting. Who knew that politics could actually do some good?

Ross: To me the franchise works best when it deals head on with character work and matches that with pure, unadulterated superhero spectacle. Rarely is that better handled than in Civil War. I love how it comes down to this fundamental disagreement; should superheroes be politically policed?

Madeleine: I love how it asks the question instead of having a take on it.

Ross: I lost my tiny mind during that airport fight scene; when they all ran towards one another, with Spidey brought into the fold, and each having to choose sides. Shooketh to the core.

Cameron: I know it’s good to discuss the serious subject matter it manages to weave… but that AIRPORT SEQUENCE. While Civil War isn’t my top MCU movie, that’s the best moment in the franchise. Spidey, Giant Man, aw MAN it’s insane.

Ross: When you find out that it was Bucky who killed Tony’s parents – man alive.

Cameron: Guardians, thoughts?

Ross: I love both Guardians films! The first more than the second but I enjoyed Vol. 2 a lot.

Madeleine: Guardians 1: yes. Guardians 2: messy start, perfect ending.

Cameron: I really enjoyed Vol. 2 recently. Kurt Russell is a legend.

Ross: I get what you mean, though. It takes a bit to establish the father storyline.

Cameron: Soundtrack for the first is better overall I think, too. I prefer the first but they’re both great movies. Character wise, powerful as well.

Ross: There’s this weird dislike for it in certain circles that I don’t understand. Quill’s heritage storyline works even better when you feed it into what comes later, his sense of loss compounding.

Madeleine: I think there was too much forced “look we’re the funny film hahaha!!!” In the first half that I just wasn’t impressed by, but from the Kurt Russell reveal onwards was ace. Like really, really ace. I cried all of my foundation off too.

Ross: Yondu! *ugly cries*

Cameron: Aw god that death hurts. More than I could have ever expected.

Ross: “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” Legit all I could think about during the first 20 minutes of Mary Poppins Returns.

Cameron: Iron Man movies; go.

Ross: First one great, second one not so much, looooove the third one. That’s my “I’ll die on this hill” defending MCU movie.

Madeleine: The Iron Man films rest entirely on RDJ’s performance – the plots are pretty… forgettable?

Ross: He is definitely the lifeblood of them.

Cameron: First one is one of my favourites. Actually like the villain but the whole thing is an insanely likeable origin story, it relies on the beauty of RDJ but Favreau’s direction is seriously awesome. Second is still an impressive looking movie, solid fight sequences but weaker in other areas.

Ross: That “cool guys don’t look at explosions” moment where he walks away made the 10-year-old me want to leap up and down in my cinema seat. Rourke just doesn’t seem to care at all, and how very dare they waste Sam Rockwell like that. I bloody love the third film, though. It’s basically about superhero PTSD. RDJ is giving a seriously good performance in that film.

Madeleine: I do appreciate the new depth they went to, and what they did with Pepper!

Cameron: Really enjoy a lot of the third movie, some of the set-pieces are genuinely staggering (Air Force One, what a belter). But I don’t really like that reveal that much, and Guy Pearce does a Brad Pitt impression for a lot of the movie. PTSD angle is its huge saving grace, major props.

Ross: I can’t express how much I love what they did with the Mandarin reveal. It’s genius in my opinion. I don’t come at it from a fan of the comics, so I didn’t have that built-in expectation of what that character should be, but for me it worked as this fantastic commentary on what a villain means in our own world. It was expected it was this hooded middle-eastern bogeyman when that was all propaganda artifice for the villain actually being the rich westerner in the slick suit.

Madeleine: Again, another example of Marvel not being ignorant to real world issues.

Cameron: It’s time my friends… let’s talk Infinity War.

Madeleine: It juggled all those characters miles better than I ever thought it would.

Ross: It really could have flubbed that aspect but the Russo’s nailed it. That is a lot of characters, a lot of clashing personalities and styles all colliding but it’s quite remarkable how well it works.

Madeleine: It felt very authentically structured, which i think is such an underrated but vital quality in a film.

Ross: Very true. Clean, slick, digestible storytelling that allows the character drama and the spectacle to flourish.

Cameron: I guess I kind of like it…

Madeleine: You kind of like it?

Ross: I think he means he adores it Maddy.

Madeleine: I just want him to unleash his full obsessive essay Ross.

Cameron: It is fucking spectacular. I really do adore that movie, I basically worship what the Russo’s managed to pull off. A Herculean feat, this gargantuan number of superstars and plot threads under the final boss villain and it all just moves as one exhilarating piece. It’s the fastest way to spend 2 hours 40 minutes. Feels like 90. I cannot get enough.

Madeleine: There it is.

Ross: How rare is it you get a cultural event like that pulled off with such confidence, with such bravura and handle on all the aspects. Not only that but send your audience away gobsmacked.

Madeleine: Genuinely the most impressive piece of franchise cinema.

Cameron: Please tell me you guys like that ending? I will maintain that the snap is not only genius, but extremely necessary thematically.

Ross: Of course! How could you not? It hurts so gooooood.

Cameron: Spider-Man’s death is genuinely one of the most emotionally distressing things I’ve endured in a cinema.

Madeleine: I was a tiny bit like… okay but those characters that just ‘died’ have sequels coming out soon so… but the bit that made it heart-wrenching was the survivors reactions. Okoye’s!

Ross: It proved there was stakes. I don’t buy this “well they’re just going to undo it so how does it matter?” bullshit. Of course we know they’re not going to permanently kill of Spidey or Black Panther (one of whom they just introduced, the other featured in a $1.2 billion cultural touchstone) but it matters in context, for the characters, the for the world it’s set up, for the remaining Avengers to have something to fight for.

Madeleine: It introduces the idea that these characters are actually defeat-able.

Ross: Three things make that film work as well as it does. The pacing, the emotional gut punch and Brolin’s performance as Thanos.

Cameron: We had to see THE BIG BAD use his BIG POWERS. Otherwise he’s just another run-of-the-mill antagonist. I would have been seriously pissed if they just finished him off. I want to see the original heroes hurting. This should be the fight of their lives, and as such, the most engrossing comeback of the entire series. That’s why it works.

Ross: That character could have been so very silly. But Brolin imbues him with such presence and menace, that “I’m right” arrogance, you really feel he’s a threat.

Madeleine: That character could have been so very silly. But Brolin imbues him with such presence and menace, that “I’m right” arrogance, you really feel he’s a threat.

Cameron: And you know what? His motives are almost, agreeable?

Madeleine: That’s what makes him so scary, even though he is big and purple his motives are very human.

Ross: Well I mean GENOCIDE, Cameron, but I see what you’re saying.

Cameron: Perfectly balanced, as all things should be…

Madeleine: It’s not “I want power”, “I want to rule the world” it’s “someone’s got to do something about this”. It’s like a biblical type purge.

Ross: He wants power but as a means to an end, not for the sake of it.

Madeleine: What I really admire about the MCU is how with it’s success, it’s always stayed authentic. The more and more power it gets behind it worldwide from audiences, the more intricate and brilliant the story making gets. Everything is so thought out, connected and executed with a clear purpose – nothing is a cash grab.

Ross: That’s what sets it apart from the likes of the DCEU.

*We were about to finish up then quickly realised we forgot Black Panther*

Madeleine: Black Panther is cool!

Ross: *Laughs* oh yeah, Black Panther! That little movie.

Madeleine: Quick summary: monumentally important, culturally brilliant, brilliant performances, great music, great fun. Maybe a little predictable at the end but great script so it’s all good.

Cameron: We can all agree that Black Panther is excellent, yes? Brilliant villain, immersive world. Some shaky effects but generally terrific.

Ross: Yeah Black Panther is damn good; the sense of style, something different. Convincingly portrays this hidden kingdom, unseen by choice by the rest of the world. Top music, too. Not surprised it won the Oscar.

Madeleine: It’s the most real world in the MCU. Even from Civil War I bought it as a nation.

Ross: And the only MCU film to introduce a gesture that’s culturally recognisable now.

Cameron: Right we’re definitely in the Endgame now, let’s vote.

10. Spider-Man: Homecoming

© – Marvel

9. Black Panther

© – Marvel

8. Iron Man 3

© – Marvel

7. Iron Man

© – Marvel

6. Thor: Ragnarok

© – Marvel

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

© – Marvel

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

© – Marvel

3. Avengers Assemble

© – Marvel

2. Avengers: Infinity War

© – Marvel

1. Captain America: Civil War

© – Marvel

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Rank You For The Movies (and good luck for Avengers: Endgame…)

Rank You For The Movies: Steven Spielberg Movies

Humans have an intrinsic fascination for ranking their favourite things. The sense of order and comprehension it brings to our opinions, and the fun of compiling a list, has resulted in a constant stream of top 10s online. Rank You For The Movies is a new feature (inspired by Empire’s fan-favourite The Ranking) which brings together the views of myself, Ross Miller (@rosstmiller), Madeleine Lloyd-Jones (@madelexne) and Lucy Buglass (@LGTHBlog). We essentially discuss a film-related topic and produce a top 10 list at the end – and you can see our conversation unfolding below. 

© – USA Today

Cameron: I’m just going to put it out there – Temple of Doom is the best Indiana Jones movie.

Ross: Straight in there with the big guns! I have to stick with Raiders of the Lost Ark myself. They’re all great, though. All three of them.

Cameron: *laughs* Yes, all three of them. I love Raiders so much, Temple of Doom edges it for me though. So completely bonkers, extremely violent considering it’s a PG and legitimately, pretty scary! The bugs, the sacrifices… yikes.

Ross: I do love Temple of Doom, though. As you say, bonkers for what is supposed to be a family friendly adventure flick.

Lucy: I prefer Raiders too!

Cameron: The whole sequence where they eat weird and wonderful things, brains and whatnot, has stuck with me since childhood.

Ross: It’s scarring!

Lucy: It’s intense for a PG, that’s for sure.

Ross: But it’s hard to beat that opening sequence of Raiders for me; the statue, the whip, the boulder. So iconic and still thrilling.

Lucy: Even if you haven’t seen the film, you know that theme. Just so good.

Ross: Let’s jump ahead to more recent Spielberg stuff; I absolutely love Catch Me If You Can.

Cameron: Yes, yes, yes! Catch Me If You Can is genuinely sublime; the star power in that movie is off the chain. DiCaprio, Hanks, Walken; unreal.

Ross: I might actually say that’s it’s my favourite of all his work. Not best, per se, but it’s the one I enjoy most just to throw on and still enjoy the heck out of it compared to something like Saving Private Ryan or Munich which, while great, are pretty harrowing to watch on the regular.

Lucy: Oh man, yes! Perfect combination, Hanks especially can do no wrong in my eyes.

Ross: It’s one of Leo’s best performances; the way he manages to convince you he’s older than he is, right before your eyes, even though you know he’s just a kid is an extraordinary feat.

Cameron: An underrated John Williams theme also, and the quirky animation too. It’s really not a conventional Spielberg movie at all, even in terms of the editing – much more zippy.

Ross: The opening titles are exquisite; Saul Bass eat your heart out.

Cameron: Spielberg is a gold dust merchant. Even his missteps have upsides. 1941 is easily his worst movie but there’s still an element of spectacle.

Ross: What’s another of his films you’re a big fan of?

Cameron: Okay so if we’re still talking modern Spielberg, I unashamedly adore The Terminal.

Ross: I like The Terminal! Gets looked down on but it’s really charming.

Lucy: A.I. Artificial Intelligence is probably my all time favourite, I love it more every time I watch. Best film of 2001 for me, probably.

Ross: A.I. is sublime. And it’s only gotten better with age.

Lucy: Haley Joel Osment is amazing, probably one of my favourite child performances. I’ve always loved the concept of A.I. and robots anyway, so that story really stood out to me. Just feels so well done and genuinely tugs at my heartstrings.

Ross: He’s so good in that role. I love the scene where she “activates” him, the change in his eyes. It’s got that unmistakable Spielberg sentiment that really gets to me; did you know it was originally supposed to be a Kubrick project and, after he died, Spielberg worked from his notes and sketches? Although I imagine Kubrick’s version would be much less sentimental. 

Lucy: That’s one project I’m glad Kubrick didn’t touch!

Cameron: A Spielberg classic that I actually don’t really like: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I think the craft behind it is staggering, special effects are absolutely unreal especially for the time, and that closing sequence is cinematic magic in a bottle. But everything before it? I find it to be a bit of a slog.

Ross: It definitely does that a slower pace than a lot of his other stuff.

*At this point, Madeleine entered the conversation.*

Madeleine: Hi, sorry I’m here! Close Encounters is stunning. Even though visually it maybe looks outdated, it doesn’t feel outdated? Does that make sense?

Ross: Yeah I get what you mean, Maddy. By the very nature of VFX, there’s always going to be a level of outdatedness.

Cameron: Right Maddy, favourite Indy film; go!

Madeleine: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


Madeleine: I joke! It’s Raiders for me.

Cameron: God dammit, I’m alone in my Temple of Doom.

Ross: What do we feel about his other two early-mid 2000s sci-fi: Minority Report and War of the Worlds?

Cameron: Minority Report is great but nowhere near top 10. War of the Worlds on the other hand is a modern masterpiece; it has set-pieces scarier than most horror movies. The whole post-9/11 angle of it makes the terror so much more effective (until that damn ending).

Madeleine: I haven’t actually seen Minority Report! It’s like the one film I’ve missed. I think I agree there about War of the Worlds.

Cameron: And like March of the Penguins, any film which Morgan Freeman narrates is automatically fantastic.

Madeleine: Morgan Freeman could narrate the terms and conditions of something and I’d be in heaven.

Ross: I’m the opposite, Cameron! I like but don’t love War of the Worlds. With the exception of the first attack scene and the basement bit with the roaming spy alien. Whereas Minority Report I adore.

Cameron: But it has so much Tom Cruise running! Isn’t that why we all go to the cinema?

Ross: No, we go to the cinema for a tasty debrief, obviously.

Cameron: Ross.

Madeleine: Fun fact: Ben Stiller based his Night at the Museum run on Tom Cruise.

Ross: I am a big Philip K. Dick fan anyway and I really thought Spielberg nailed the concept. I love time travel stories, too, and the way it plays around with that idea of the morality of “is someone guilty if they technically haven’t committed the crime yet?”.

Cameron: It’s interesting cause they basically use the same idea in Captain America: The Winter Soldier but tailor it Hydra.

Lucy: I haven’t seen Minority Report either… I am terrible.

Ross: We won’t say anymore, don’t wanna spoil it for you two.

Cameron: Right, E.T. – what’s the craic?

Ross: Just will say that I think it’s one of his most visually stunning films.

Lucy: I adore E.T. so much!

Madeleine: On the first week of secondary school they made us watch E.T. in English – I think to get rid of our attitudes when we all knew we’d seen each other cry?

Ross: But, but, but. It wouldn’t crack my top 10 of his if I’m being honest. It’s heartwarming and fun but has a big dollop of nostalgia covering it, I just think he’s made more interesting films on a number of levels.

Cameron: I listen to the E.T. score literally every day while walking my dog and let’s just say, I have some pretty emotional walks.

Ross: Do we think the film has maybe the most iconic shot in cinema history, with the bike and the moon?

Lucy: Yes definitely Ross!

Cameron: Guys… what about Jurassic Park?

Madeleine: Yes! Dinosaur time!

Cameron: Not in my top 3… it’s close, I won’t lie.

Madeleine: I don’t get you Cameron.

Lucy: I mean, there are so many Spielbergs to choose from so I’ll let you off.

Ross: I still remember when I first saw that moment when we first see those dinos. There was absolutely nothing in the world like it. It’s like Spielberg created a feeling that didn’t exist before in that moment.

Madeleine: Spielberg is pretty excellent at adapting books I recently read Jurassic Park and it was so good. Spielberg translated it perfectly to the screen. I’ve just started reading Ready Player One too.

Cameron: Oh… the book of Ready Player One is so much better. I liked the movie, but the book is so in-depth and as a result, more engaging than the who’s who of the movie.

Madeleine: I think the thing with Spielberg is that he created so many totally new things on the big screen that now we’ve seen it, and in that sense maybe he’s lost that awe-inspiring-ness with more recent films?

Ross: I think the closest he’s gotten recently was with RPO and The Shining sequence. Pure brilliance.

Cameron: Was anyone big on The Post? I remember seeing it being showered with praise and being completely dumbfounded – like it’s good, but “one of the best films of all time”? Not a chance.

Lucy: Nah not really, it was fine but didn’t blow me away.

Cameron: There’s three biggies we haven’t really talked about. First up: Schindler’s List.

Ross: It is a truly magnificent piece of filmmaking. Wonderfully staged, gorgeously cinematography and music and exquisitely acted.

Madeleine: Magnificent is really the word for it. Magnificent if harrowing.

Ross: The moment that really gets to me, conveying the absolute inhuman, callous cruelty is Ralph Fiennes’ character getting up from bed, going out on the balcony and just casually snipers that poor woman before stretching and going back into his room.

Cameron: It hit me really hard, the level of respect but purity in showcasing the horrors of the holocaust while still managing to retain a sense of triumph is a testament to Spielberg’s storytelling talents.

Madeleine: It walks the line of truthfulness and respect so well.

Lucy: I think I’ve only watched it once, because it disturbed me so much. Not easy at all.

Cameron: Swiftly on… Jaws.

Madeleine: Genius.

Cameron: Suspense has a sound, and it goes “duh rum”.

Ross: I mean, how many films can you say scared an entire generation from going into water?

Madeleine: And generations to come – I remember the first summer after seeing it I could see a suspicious shaped rock in the water and refused to go in. I was scared out of the water after watching that. Like, I was scared Jaws was going to get me in my bed.

Cameron: It’s hard to say any film is perfect, but it’s pretty damn close. It’s the OG summer blockbuster.

Lucy: Jaws is genuine horror, like, that suspense is magnificent. Still scares me now.

Cameron: I suppose, there’s only one we still need to speak about… just a little film called Saving Private Ryan.

Ross: It doesn’t get much better than that opening sequence.

Cameron: Tied with Inglorious Basterds for the best opening sequence of all time.

Madeleine: It is pretty fucking spectacular.

Ross: It’s about as close as most of us will get to actually being in warfare.

Cameron: Similarly to Schindler’s List, the way Spielberg (really gruesomely) captures the horror of Omaha Beach walks a very fine line between visceral, necessary gore and gratuitousness. But it’s spot on, not a single shot out of place. Arms, legs, intestines all over the place. War is hell after all.

Madeleine: The scene in Hacksaw Ridge where they first go over the top really reminded me of that.

Ross: You really feel like you’re one of those soldiers. He makes the brilliant decision of not showing you the German soldiers, just shots of the gun turrets firing down indiscriminately on the US soldiers.

Cameron: Shall we vote?

10. War of the Worlds

© – Paramount Pictures

Cameron: A criminally underrated entry in the director’s filmography, War of the Worlds not only packs a terrifying, exhilarating punch, but it has some of the very best scenes of Tom Cruise running. The klaxon of those tripods thrums like a death sentence.

9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

© – Columbia Pictures

Madeleine: This film should not have worked – it’s years ahead of successful alien films and the effects that came with them, but it does work. The focus on the humans’ fixation on it is enough to tie you to the basic practical, albeit effective effects – and that MUSIC.

8. A.I. Artificial Intelligence

© – DreamWorks Pictures

Lucy: I’ve always regarded A.I. Artificial Intelligence as my favourite Spielberg film (so far anyway!). Haley Joel Osment is fantastic in the lead role, embodying the frustrations of A.I. trying to comprehend human emotions. It tackles some serious issues and asks big moral questions about how we should use modern technology. Although the effects look pretty dated today, it’s a great piece of escapism that I can revisit again and again.

7. Schindler’s List

© – Universal Pictures

Ross: It’s the film that made the industry take Spielberg the populist Hollywood director seriously as he took on a subject close to his heart and Jewish heritage. The result was something truly harrowing and disturbing, epic yet intimate, deeply respectful yet forthright as it depicted the atrocities of the Holocaust. Something about the starkly beautiful black and white cinematography both sends us back in time and makes the horrors of the time and place feel all the more real; it makes you feel like you’ve seen the face of evil. Never an easy watch, of course, but a vital and unforgettably powerful one.

6. Raiders of the Lost Ark

© – Paramount Pictures

Lucy: Who could forget the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark, and our first look at Indiana Jones? Arguably Harrison Ford’s finest performance, it’s got everything you need in a family action film. Not to mention, there’s the iconic boulder scene that has been parodied many times, yet somehow never gets old. Highly recommended!

5. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial 

The Spy Who Shagged Me
© – Universal Pictures

Madeleine: This is a film that appeals to everyone: all ages, backgrounds and generations. It’s simultaneously nostalgic yet timeless, from the opening forest scene to that simple “ouch” at the end which is almost guaranteed to destroy you. It has destroyed me many times.

4. Catch Me If You Can

© – DreamWorks Pictures

Ross: In my eyes this is Spielberg’s most breezily enjoyable film. The caper takes us on a whirlwind journey through the life of real life con man Frank William Abagnale Jr., punching above his weight and beyond his years. Telling the “true story of a real fake” going back and forth in timelines, Spielberg manages a perfectly tightrope tonal walk between the light-hearted fun and genuine pathos, with a terrific central performance by Leonardo DiCaprio who manages transformations to convince even us as the audience that he is who he claims to be.

3. Saving Private Ryan

© – Paramount Pictures

Cameron: As the bullets torpedo the water, dust the sand and rupture god-knows how many organs, Spielberg places you in the unescapable hell of warfare in the opening minutes. When you finally let your senses recalibrate, there’s a brilliant masterpiece to enjoy.

2. Jurassic Park

© – Universal Pictures

Madeleine: Watching this film today is still just as effective as watching it in it’s 1993 release. The special effects are brilliant, and the use of practical models is still (I think) second to none. It’s just iconic performances, scenes and music. With DINOSAURS.

1. Jaws

© – Universal Pictures

Ross: Scaring an entire generation (or two!) from wanting to even go near the water, everything about this film earns its lofty status; the famous two-note driven score by John Williams, the well-drawn characters, the performances by Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw and the overall sense of fear and tension born out of the happy accident approach of not showing us the shark for most of the movie. An iconic classic for all those reasons and many more that, for our money, sits it atop the Spielberg tree.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Rank You For The Movies!

Rank You For The Movies: 21st Century Best Picture Winners

And the winner is… 

Humans have an intrinsic fascination for ranking their favourite things. The sense of order and comprehension it brings to our opinions, and the fun of compiling a list, has resulted in a constant stream of top 10s online. Rank You For The Movies is a new biweekly article (inspired by Empire’s fan-favourite The Ranking) which brings together the views of myself, Ross Miller (@rosstmiller), Madeleine Lloyd-Jones (@madelexne) and Lucy Buglass (@LGTHBlog). For the sake of unnecessary explanation (I’ll only do this once, don’t worry), every two weeks we’ll select a topic, discuss it and produce a top 10 list at the end – and you can see our conversation unfolding below. As the Oscars are steadily approaching, our first topic is 21st Century Best Picture winners. Enjoy!

*Lucy was not available for this ranking, but will be included in further editions

Cameron: So do we all have an idea of who our favourite Best Picture winners are?

Madeleine: I really love the majority of the BP winners of the past decade but Birdman is on another tier for me.

Cameron: Birdman stole that award from Boyhood.

Ross: Couldn’t agree more Cameron.

Madeleine: Controversial…

Ross: Birdman is fantastic, a real technical feat, but Boyhood was truly something special for me. I think out of the two, Boyhood is the one people will be talking about in 30 years.

Cameron: Don’t get me wrong, I really like Birdman – but in terms of scale and emotional welly, Boyhood was always my winner that year.

Madeleine: I think it was a tough year to judge because it was a rare year where there was two films that really pushed the boundaries in above average filmmaking, you know?

Cameron: Absolutely, that fake baby in American Sniper really elevated cinema.

Ross: Completely [laughs]!

Cameron: We can all safely agree that Crash is the worst right? No one has that pegged as their best (or one of the best)?

Ross: To be quite honest Chicago is my bottom…

Madeleine: I’m SORRY?

Ross: I just have no real love or attachment towards Chicago, it was the one I caught up with most recently, it’s fine, but Best Picture? Crash has a some great acting and a couple of really powerful moments, not gonna lie.

Cameron: I think the thing with Chicago is that it reminded audiences of how big an onscreen musical can be, the Academy loves a good bit of nostalgia.

Madeleine: That is true that the Academy loves nostalgia – I honestly think that’s what’s driving a lot of success for Bohemian Rhapsody this year.

Cameron: If Bohemian Rhapsody wins Best Picture I’ll be fully convinced we live in the matrix and it’s glitching out.

Ross: Ha. I actually enjoyed Bo Rhap but there’s a cavalcade of films that should be up instead.

Cameron: Ones that I would eliminate from the running to end up on my list of favourites – A Beautiful Mind, Argo, The Artist, Million Dollar Baby. None of which I think are bad films, just not ones I tend to think about.

Ross: The King’s Speech would be way down the list for me.

Cameron: It won over what I genuinely think could be the finest film of the past 20 years – The Social Network.

Madeleine: Arrival deserved masses more, that’s my biggest loss of the past decade at the Oscars.

Ross: Amy Adams for that film too, how she wasn’t nominated is beyond me.

Madeleine: It was the only film I think I’ve ever seen in the cinema that touched me that hard – I cried for the last forty minutes just because of how good it was.

Ross: What would everyone’s top of the list be?

Cameron: My three at the moment are: Spotlight, The Departed and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Ross: Mine is: No Country for Old Men, Moonlight and The Shape of Water.

Cameron: Moonlight is really low on my list purely on the basis that while I think it’s exquisite, I can’t imagine ever being in the mood to rewatch it.

Ross: Interesting. I feel like it’s a sumptuous experience I’d go back to as a sort of comfort watch. That whole last sequence, from the meet-up in the diner onwards, is just *chef’s kiss*.

Madeleine: The Shape of Water was genuinely the most deserving of the win than a lot of others over the past years. My top three are: Birdman, The Shape of Water and… Moonlight? I think Moonlight was the best technically made and powerful film, but I actually really liked The King’s Speech?

Ross: Don’t get me wrong, I liked The King’s Speech, but just like the others more.

Cameron: Oh god, I’m so different from you two.

Ross: What’s everyone’s thoughts on Spotlight?

Cameron: Genuinely loved Spotlight from start to finish, completely and utterly captivating and really honest, too.

Ross: I loved Spotlight, too. And it only gets better on rewatch. Something about a film celebrating hardworking, honest journalism with a worthy goal filled my heart with pride.

Madeleine: Spotlight I only watched last year! Way more captivating than I thought it might be, really amazing when I thought it could easily have relied on the fact that it was just an amazing true story to get it by.

Cameron: What about Slumdog Millionaire? That film makes me feel infinitely happy.

Ross: It was certainly joyous (ultimately, there’s some pretty dark stuff in there, though) but it just hasn’t compelled me to watch it again.

Cameron: It’s got all the makings of a crowd-pleaser: a great central lead; unfiltered hardship and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Madeleine: I agree with Cameron on Slumdog actually, I think about so many scenes from that so often and I haven’t seen it for years.

Cameron: Oh that was the year The Dark Knight wasn’t nominated due to the limit of nominees – now I’m annoyed.

Ross: Where do we stand on The Artist at this point?

Madeleine: I really enjoyed The Artist, but I think there’s something about it that means it hasn’t aged as well? It was pretty impactful then but not so much now?

Ross: I really enjoyed it, too. On a technical level it’s really impressive. But I did watch it quite recently and you’re right there, it did lose a bit of the sparkle.

I remember laughing like an idiot at that joke Steve Martin made when he co-hosted with Alec Baldwin. When he said about winning Best Actor guarantees you a long career: “Jean Dujardin for The Artist. I mean, look at him now… he’s everywhere.”

Madeleine: [laughs] Classic.

Cameron: Right, shall we vote?

10. Chicago

© – Miramax

Madeleine: Adapting theatre to film is notoriously challenging to live up to the usually much- beloved original, but I think Chicago is one of the best examples of it being done so, SO right. Brilliant performances all around (who knew Richard Gere had those pipes?), so aesthetically pleasing and pays appropriate homage to its stage origins. The hours I have spent recreating ‘Cell Block Tango’ alone demonstrate my love for this film.

9. Slumdog Millionaire

© – Warner Bros

Madeleine: It’s bizarre that this is widely agreed (by myself too) that this is a feel good film when there are so many really harrowing parts in it. One of the things about it is the sourcing of the cast; the children were chosen from real Indian slums and the main cast were relatively unknown. It’s that authenticity is what makes your route for it so much; and the vividity of the life of those people that creates such a lasting impression.

8. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

© – New Line Cinema

Cameron: The all-time essential fantasy movie – capping off a legacy of Best Picture nominations for the entire trilogy, ROTK is the culmination of gripping, precious plot threads in a dense, cherished fable. The storytelling is perfect and the battle scenes are seismic and groundbreaking – an unforgettable epic.

7. 12 Years A Slave

© – Entertainment One

Ross: Steve McQueen’s follow-up to Hunger and Shame packs a serious emotional punch, telling the amazing and harrowing true story of Solomon Northup’s life in brutal slavery. It feels at once exactly like the sort of thing the Oscars go for but is also starkly authentic in how it goes about exploring a wretched time in America’s history. The performances are second-to-none from all involved but it’s Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar-winning one as slave Patsey that really steals the show.

6. The Departed

© – Warner Bros

Ross: A remake of 2002 Hong Kong action thriller Infernal Affairs, Westernized and transposed to contemporary Boston, shouldn’t have worked. But in the hands of the one and only Martin Scorsese, it was turned into something special and utterly compelling in its own right. With the film that finally saw him nab his long overdue Best Director Oscar to go with the Best Picture accolade, Scorsese finds yet another way to bring a freshness to a well-worn genre, inflecting the familiar cops and criminals shtick with his own unique brand of sharply profane wit and shocking bouts of violence.

5. Birdman

© – Fox Searchlight Pictures

Madeleine: Of the past five years of cinema trips, no film has blown me away like this (save for Arrival). It’s astonishing to me that the entire runtime is comprised of only seventeen shots. Seventeen! It’s hypnotic to watch; with it being somehow hyper-realistic and surreal all at once lead by some career highlight performances from Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Edward Norton. On top of all of that, I think it’s such an investing story that I could watch over and over, and find something new each time.

4. Moonlight

© – A24

Ross: With just his second feature Barry Jenkins quickly proved himself as one of the finest filmmaking talents around with his remarkable film that chronicled the growing up of one young gay black man. The choice to split the story into three distinct segments was a simple but elegantly effective one, allowing us to feeling him growing before our very eyes while, thanks to three wonderful performances, still maintaining the sense that it’s the same person. In my eyes it’s one of the smartest choices for Best Picture the Academy has made in a long, long time.

3. No Country for Old Men

© – Miramax

Ross: 2007 was a standout year for movies, with the likes of There Will Be Blood, Zodiac and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but the Coen Bros’ dark masterpiece deservedly scooped the Oscar’s top prize. It finds the one-of-a-kind filmmaking siblings on terrific form as they mix tense thrills and metaphorical pathos, empathy with cynicism, jet-black humour with tragic consequences, with Javier Bardem’s Oscar-winning turn as relentless hitman charging the Western-meets-noir plot as he hunts down Josh Brolin’s thieving hunter. For my money it’s the best film to win the Best Picture Oscar so far this century.

2. Spotlight

© – Open Road Films

Cameron: A hardline, heart-choking account of a journalistic triumph. Told in earnest with pathos and passion, it’s a story of fighting for the vulnerable against the predators, one that earns its chilling resonance by the startling end credits.

1. The Shape of Water

© – Fox Searchlight Pictures

Cameron: Cinema at its absolute purest; fantastical and romantic, captivating and enchanting. Steeped in a teal, aqua-world of Cold War paranoia and B-movie flourishes, Guillermo Del Toro’s twisted fairy tale is a total expression of creative freedom unleashed with soul, and is a classic for the ages.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Rank You For The Movies later in the month!

My Top 30 Favourite Movies Of All Time

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

© – Paramount Pictures

Utterly ebullient and down-to-earth. Would have been included for the wondrous (and bloody terrifying) boat ride alone.

29. The Matrix

© – Warner Bros

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

The Shining (1980) Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance
© – Warner Bros

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

© – Columbia Pictures

Gritty without veering into exploitation. Come for Laurence Fishburne’s performance, stay for the unflinching storytelling.

26. Avengers: Infinity War

© – Marvel

The (current) peak of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; breathless, audacious and devastating.

25. Finding Nemo

© – Pixar

The animation is stunning, but it’s the writing where this one really excels; terrific gags and killer emotional moments.

24. The Departed

© – Warner Bros

Arguably Scorcese’s masterwork; a sprawling gangster epic with Mark Wahlberg as the sweariest cop in the movies.

23. Inglorious Basterds

© – Universal Pictures

Tarantino’s ceaseless kinks flourish more under the thrilling tale of men who gratuitously murdered Nazis. Glorious.

22. True Romance

© – Warner Bros

Hans Zimmer’s exuberant, infectious theme compliments this quirky, blood-stained crime adventure with an all-star cast.

21. Alien

© – 20th Century Fox

“In space, no-one can hear you scream” – need I say more? Terrifying and seminal.

20. The Fugitive

© – Warner Bros

Before the surge of one-man, ultra-violent vigilante outings late into the millennium,
thrillers had a tauter tendency, shown definitively by The Fugitive. 

19. Inception

© – Warner Bros

The use of the term “mind-bending” has almost become a cliche when discussing Inception, but it’s completely apt. Challenging, brilliant sci-fi.

18. Hereditary

© – A24

2018 gave birth to the greatest, most traumatic horror in years, from a debut filmmaker no less.

17. Collateral

© – Paramount Pictures

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

The Dark Knight
© – Warner Bros

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

© – MGM

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

© – Warner Bros

This impossible sequel was a life-changing surprise. God bless Roger Deakins’ heavenly cinematography.

11. La La Land

© – Lionsgate

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

© – Columbia Pictures

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

© – TriStar Pictures

James Cameron took Arnie’s iconic brute from horror to action without a single hiccup. The perfect blockbuster.

8. Spider-Man 2

© – Columbia Pictures

The friendly neighbourhood web-slinger was at his best in 2004; delightfully human, enthralling and memorably led by the effortlessly geeky Tobey Maguire.

7. Prisoners

© – Warner Bros

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

© – Disney

One of the most influential and groundbreaking animated works ever, those who don’t love Toy Story just haven’t watched it yet.

5. Whiplash

© – Sony Pictures Classics

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.

4. Warrior

© – Lionsgate

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

© – Columbia Pictures

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

© – Paramount Pictures

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

© – Warner Bros

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.