Top Ten Films

When I first started this blog in 2012, Top Tens were all the rage. Most days, it seemed to me as if there was a Top Ten of everything on the blog. This ranged from the top ten cute cats, to the top ten favourite film stars, through to the top ten favourite places to go in the world, and the top ten best snack foods. Top Ten mania had hit blogging, and could not be avoided.

Not long after I started to write posts about film and cinema, the ‘Top Tenners’ came knocking on my door. They sent me links to their own top tens, and asked to know my own preferences. Who were my favourite actors? My list of best directors? The questions went on and on. The barrage was relentless, for a while. Some blogging sites were even called ‘My Top Ten’, and other variations. These Top Ten addicts went into almost everything you can imagine, believe me.

But I resisted, I refused to play ball. There was no way that I could think of my personal top ten films. After all, I had seen so many, how could I choose? I offered them categories. I would suggest my top ten films by Japanese directors, or my top ten war films, and so on. But this did not satiate their desire for me to provide that list. Even when I said things like, “my tastes are constantly changing”, they refused to accept that I could not provide them with a ready-to-order selection.

Almost five years later, and I hardly ever see Top Tens anymore. Maybe they ran out of subjects to place in order, or perhaps they just stopped blogging once they had got all the answers. They should have waited for me though, as I have just decided that I WILL list my top ten favourite films after all. There are some thoughts accompanying this list though. I do not claim that these are actually the best ten films ever made, far from it. Nor do I claim that their subject matter will suit everyone, even the most ardent film fan. They are just the films that I remember fondly, and always enjoy seeing over again. I will also state from the outset that those people who do not like subtitles will be disappointed. You lot better not bother to read on, in that case. And everyone should also realise that these are personal favourites at the moment, so that does not preclude new films appearing, and knocking some of these from their spot.

So, here goes, in ascending order. Feel free to add your own top tens in the comments. Let’s keep the spirit of those Top Tenners alive, in 2017!

10) The Conformist (1970)
Bertolucci’s political drama has long been a powerful memory for me. Fascism in Italy, amazing sets, and the portrayal of a man prepared to do almost anything to move up in the world. Memorable performances from a talented cast, and everything feeling just right, at the hands of one of the best directors. The period is recreated impeccably too.

9) The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
This unusual British film, written and directed by Peter Greenaway, can best be described as having a ‘cult following’. The amazing costumes, the wonderful musical score, and the unusual construction, all surround a baffling ‘whodunnit’ murder mystery, set in England in the 17th Century. I have heard it described as the ultimate case of style over substance. I don’t care. It is fabulous.

8) Great Expectations (1946)
David Lean had to feature here, and this film is undoubtedly one of his best. Beautifully filmed in luxurious black and white, this is a masterclass in how to bring the work of Charles Dickens to the big screen. Add to that a great cast at the peak of their form, stunning imagery, and a faithful depiction of Victorian England, and you are left with a work to treasure; one to watch over and over again, and never tire of.

7) Carmen (1983)
I have always loved to watch Spanish Flamenco. I admire the percussive dancing, the hand-clapping, and the wonderful guitar work. Carlos Saura took the story of Bizet’s opera, and transplanted it to a modern flamenco school. It was a stroke of genius, and works so well, with the flamenco rhythms replacing the operatic score. This is a very personal preference of course, and I will understand if you are baffled to find it in my list. But it is a great film, in so many ways.

6) Kagemusha (1980)
Akira Kurosawa is one of my all-time favourite film-makers. I could have probably populated this list with ten of his films, and left it at that. Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior is a visual feast. This is how to make an historical epic. Set in the turbulent days of feudal Japan, this film left me reeling after watching it at the cinema. Sweeping vistas, a riot of colour, and the use of countless extras in the cast. This feels completely authentic at all times, and the plot, about a small-time crook who resembles a warlord, is almost unnecessary.

5) GoodFellas (1990)
I have admired many of Martin Scorsese’s film over the years, but none more so than this. In my opinion, this is the ultimate gangster film, and the best ever made in the genre. (You will note that it managed to squeeze The Godfather trilogy out of this list) From the opening scene, it had me gripped, and I watched every second of the film with the same fascination. This is the seedy side of the hoodlums who do the dirty work for organised crime, with a succession of first-rate actors taking on every role as the film unfolds, as well as the performance of a lifetime from Ray Liotta. Throw in some of the best long-shot scenes ever put on film, and the constantly convincing changes in the eras covered, and you have what can only be described as a modern masterpiece.

4) Touch Of Evil (1958)
I have always loved to watch Orson Welles. I write about him a lot on this blog, from his twinkling-eyed smile in ‘The Third Man’, to my own admiration of his performance as Falstaff, in ‘Chimes at Midnight’. I really rate him as an actor, though he is best known as a director. His work on this film is second to none, in both areas. From what is perhaps the best crane shot in cinema, as the film opens, to his portrayal of the run down bloated detective Quinlan, Welles has crafted a film that is complete in so many ways. There is a seen-better-days Marlene Dietrich to enjoy too, and you can even forget that Charlton Heston is in it.

3 ) The Lives OF Others (2006)
This Oscar-winning German film deals with life in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989. It is about surveillance, dissent, and living in a very controlled society. But you can now just forget that, because this film is high on my list for one very good reason. The acting of the star, in the main character of Wiesler, the Stasi captain. Ulrich Muhe might well have been unknown to most of us, were it not for this film. As he sadly died the following year, aged just 54, we are left with this amazing performance as his legacy. His depiction of the obsessive captain is second to none, and he displays such nuance, that at times it appears that he is not acting at all. One of the great films of all time, without doubt.

2) Come and See (1985)
Regular readers of my blog will hardly be surprised to see this Russian film so high on my list. This is a war film like no other. A haunting, surreal production that will live on in your memory, and is unlikely to ever be erased from your mind. It is almost impossible to describe. You just have to see it, to experience its terrible wonder.

1) Blade Runner (1982)
A film that has had its own post here already, and been praised to the hilt by me so many times, it just had to get the top slot. Few films have stayed with me like Ridley Scott’s dystopian film noir. Part science-fiction, part gumshoe detective story, it just has it all. Wonderful performances, amazingly-rendered sets, and fantastic ideas. When I left the cinema after watching this, I knew that I would never forget it. And in all those years since, it has never been bettered. There is a sequel due out soon, but don’t wait for that. See the original, and marvel at the invention.

There you have it. My first ‘real’ Top Ten. No great surprises, for anyone who knows my taste. I hope that you will play along in the comments, and maybe even watch the ones on this list that you have never seen. Let me know if you want more Top Tens too.

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54 thoughts on “Top Ten Films

  1. Oh dear, I have only seen one film from your list Pete, and that’s GoodFellas. The only reason I’ve seen that is because I was shown it as for my “filmic education”. Thanks for the post, I will try and watch the other nine films πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need to watch them if they are not ‘your thing’, Jenny. I have something of an eclectic taste, and I have long confessed to being a ‘film snob’, to some degree. Thanks for reading and commenting though, it is appreciated. (I really think you would enjoy ‘Blade Runner’ though. It is really VERY good.)
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My love for The Godfather trilogy was only eclipsed by Goodfellas, because it is a complete gangster film. Of course, Coppola’s trilogy is magnificent, but it is at its best by watching all three films.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. An excellent Top 10 Pete, Come and See you’ve championed before so will have to see. Out of those listed I’ve only seen Goodfellas and Blade Runner both which I greatly admire. I will try to see the others as I fear no subtitles and feel sorry for those that do. As for a Top 10 myself I have to admit, I think you’re very brave. No way in hell I could pick 10 favourites films. Only 10?! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lloyd. As I remarked in other replies, it took almost five years, and was very taxing. Not least the anguish with those having to be left out, like ‘Everlasting Moments’. Like all such lists though, it is subject to future revision. Possibly.
      Best wishes, Pete..

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This took me almost five years to compile, Olga! I still had doubts, even after I hit ‘Publish’. I am sure that the selection may change in the future, but having to leave out so many classics was a painful exercise. Like deciding which child you love the most.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. This is a fascinating list! Many of the films listed here, I’ve never watched (Kagemusha, for example), although I have a Kurosawa film in my top ten (Rashomon). Others I love exceedingly (Touch of Evil) but they haven’t made it into the list. And, of course, you can imagine my joy at seeing Blade Runner at the top! I just marvel at the fact that you manage to order them – I have an almost perennial top ten, but I only manage to list it chronologically!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Nandia. I approached some of this list by choosing one film from the work of a director I admired. Kurosawa was the hardest to choose from, as I like all of his work. Rashomon would have featured, but I wanted to include an epic, and a film of his in colour. The rating was based on how I felt I could watch them many times, and I avoided the chronological order by doing that.

      My biggest regret was having to leave out ‘Everlasting Moments’. The Swedish film has been haunting me ever since I watched it, and may well displace one of the above films in the future. I might even replace ‘Kagemusha’ with ‘Dersu Uzala’, as that 1975 film was simply magical.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what a great list! I can not count my favorite movies. I also change my thoughts about movies from time to time.
    The only film I watched was the german one.
    But I’ll probably look at some of your list. I think I will start with the cute young Harrison Ford! πŸ™‚

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  5. This could be a manageable list for me Pete, having seen 4 of them, 2 on your recommendation, so only 6 to go. But first to watch Blade Runner again, if I could come up with a list it would be sure to be close to the top.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Eduardo. I have no doubt recommended all of these to you, at some stage. Blade Runner benefits from repeated viewings. I never fail to find something I previously missed.
      Love to all in Poland, Pete.
      By the way, I have just sent you some money for soaps, via Paypal. Please send just Castile, and use any change for a cheap colouring book, for the lovely Malina. x

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have Blade Runner on DVD (the version with the unicorn origami), and I watched Touch of Evil not that long ago. They’re both great films! I haven’t seen the others you mentioned. Here’s my Top 10 list in descending chronological order:
    Chicago (2002)
    Basic Instinct (1992)
    Aliens (1986)
    Dressed to Kill (1980)
    Midnight Express (1978)
    Young Frankenstein (1974)
    Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
    Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
    My Fair Lady (1964)
    The Seven Year Itch (1955)
    Of course, I remain a huge fan of The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), The Birds (1963), The Great Escape (1963), The Vikings (1958), and Adam’s Rib (1949). I also have a list of guilty pleasures that includes Mr. and Mrs Smith (2005), Wild Things (1998) LΓ©on: The Professional (1994), 37Β°2 le matin [Betty Blue] (1986), and Silver Streak (1976).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for that, David. I had to leave out Bonnie and Clyde in favour of Goodfellas. Both very different, but only room for one gangster film on my list. Much the same with Alien, and The Duellists. The first lost out to Blade Runner, the second to The Draughstman’s Contract. I have a lot of time for Leon, and would not call it a guilty pleasure at all. Spoiled for me by Oldman’s over the top cop, but amazing performances from Portman and Reno.
      Ten choices was never going to be enough!
      (I don’t actually like My Fair Lady. I never have, for some reason.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah, fabulous! You list two of my favourites, the 1970 Il Conformisto – Jean Louis Trintingant was brilliant in that, and The lives of Others, directed by the fantastically named Graf Florian Maria Henckel von Donnersmark

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  8. Pete, you are right about the “top ten” craze. They seem to have been designed to “get attention” for the most part, but once you exhaust all of the obvious things to countdown, they become frivolous – and I agree that it’s not a “ten best” films, but a personal “ten favorites”. It allows others to see what you respond to, and any list that includes a Peter Greenaway is a great list, because he is a cult Director that isn’t nearly as well known as he should be…sorry, prattling on a bit here – thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Abbi. I recall that you commented about ‘Come and See’ before. You are one of the few people I know who has seen it.
      Not easy to watch a film with a baby in the house, at least to be able to concentrate on it.
      You might have to wait until he gets his first car!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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