Peter Farrelly

There's Something About Mary; Dumb & Dumber

US

Voted in the directors’ poll

Voted for

Airplane!

1980

Jim Abrahams/David & Jerry Zucker

Borat

2006

Larry Charles

It's a Wonderful Life

1947

Frank Capra

Jaws

1975

Steven Spielberg

Midnight Cowboy

1969

John Schlesinger

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

1975

Milos Forman

Reservoir Dogs

1991

Quentin Tarantino

Schindler's List

1993

Steven Spielberg

Sideways

2004

Alexander Payne

Wizard of Oz, The

1939

Victor Fleming

Comments

The Wizard of Oz was a huge event for me as a child – and for my entire town. It played once a year on TV; every kid in school was talking about it and we couldn’t wait to see it. I still get so much joy from it. It’s easy to skip it as it’s such an acknowledged classic but I’m not going to.

It’s a Wonderful Life is just a beautiful movie. It came out in 1948 and it didn’t do so well – maybe because after World War II it seemed slight and not serious enough. It really didn’t get played on TV until the late 70s. The first time I saw it I couldn’t believe what a great movie it was. It was a ball in the 80s turning people on to it.

Schindler’s List: the most moving movie I’ve ever seen. I almost didn’t want to see it because I knew what I would be in for. It was such a huge undertaking. How he made it look and feel so real was unbelievable. I’ve met Spielberg a few times and I can’t even talk to him, I’m so in awe of him because of this film.

Jaws: one of the most enjoyable movies ever and also the most horrifying. It kept me out of the ocean for years. There’s not one boring part. The way special effects have developed, when I show it to my kids it doesn’t have the same impact, but it still freaks me out. I live on the island where they shot it and Spielberg told me the entire time they were shooting it they had problems – with the weather, the shark, they went over budget, etc, and people back in LA weren’t loving what they were seeing. He was getting reports that it was being considered an all-time-disaster. To think of what he achieved with that kind of stress and crap going on – it’s great to hear as a filmmaker, because no-one really knows until they put it together.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: this is probably my favourite movie of all time. It’s impressive on every level. The acting is insanely good. It’s the best-cast film ever. I thought they’d shot it an insane asylum; I couldn’t believe they weren’t actually insane people. The beauty of it is that this completely flawed guy, McMurphy, who drinks too much and robs thing and hangs with hookers, inside him is a humanity that touches these people, and they touch him. I just love that message; it’s the ultimate redemption, that anybody is redeemable. It’s just the most moving movie and most impressive, the directing, the acting. It’s by far the best thing Jack Nicholson’s ever done. He was in the zone. I’ve seen this movie 15 or 20 times, and there’s not one split second where he is not the guy, he is not reacting exactly.

Midnight Cowboy: another movie in the same vein as the above. It’s a study of two deeply flawed men, and the humanity inside, the humanity in every loser, every winner, everybody. It’s heartbreaking, touching, funny and real. Like the best literature, it’s just so finely tuned, so detailed and nuanced. It shows the power of filmmaking, and makes you proud to make movies.

Reservoir Dogs: I didn’t see it until it came to video. I’d heard it was a good movie but thought it would be slight, taking place in a room; yet it was so much bigger and better than that. It was a study of these men – again guys who are flawed; who was capable of what? How much you can read in a person? Who would break first? Who would be pushed furthest? I was sitting there the whole time trying to analyse these guys, trying to figure out who was good, who was bad, who was worse. Throughout I figured this young cop was obviously just a poor guy who’d stumbled into this awful situation and knew nothing about anything. Then to find out at the end that he knew everything. He didn’t break even when they cut his ear off: that was one of the most shocking movie moments of my life. The whole film is just spectacular. I don’t normally like violent movies, but the violence was there for extremely important dramatic and plot reasons. It was necessary to tell that story and made me a lifelong fan of Quentin Tarantino.

Airplane! I long-listed 20 movies, and went back and forth between them. I realised at one time I had no comedies on here, and it always bugs me that comedies are second-class citizens. Comedians never get the due we deserve, and I find myself adopting the same prejudice. Then I realised there are comedies that changed me in a big way. The following are my three favourite comedy movies of all time, which I think everyone will enjoy.

For the record, Something Wild is one of my favourite movies, but for whatever reason a lot of people don’t react to it the way I do, so I didn’t include it on the list. I know it’s not for everybody, just as I know Bruno is not for everybody but personally I love Bruno. Bruno makes me laugh more than almost every movie out there. The thing I love about Bruno is the bravery, the courage to make that movie. The guy could have gotten killed two or three times making that movie – that’s what I was laughing at. The fact that he would go that far for his art impresses me.

I had a hard time knocking it down to three – I love Some Like it Hot and Animal House, but these three made the biggest impact on me. I wouldn’t be writing this if Airplane! had never been made. It made me think, “Wow, I didn’t think you could do that!” They just went crazy. I love the no-holds-barred humour.

I remember seeing the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams interviewed on Letterman and thinking “That’s me, I could do this.” It was the first time in my life it had ever occurred to me I could do it. I’d always had this impression that filmmakers were guys with bullhorns and berets; they weren’t me. Abrahams and the Zuckers were so down-to-earth and typical, yet they had this dream, went for it and achieved it. I probably laughed more in that movie than any in my entire life. I don’t know if it holds up as well because that kind of humour has been done a lot, by the Zuckers and others. Still, at the time it blew my mind, it was just an hour and a half of non-stop laughs.

Borat: I’m obviously a big Sacha Baron Cohen fan. His style of comedy is completely original. He’s a force. Borat is so lovable he could get away with murder. People didn’t love Bruno as much (although I did). Cohen and Larry Charles are such brave filmmakers; they talk about race, gender, anything, and ultimately they’re making light of these prejudices. Borat is a ground-breaking movie and it definitely gave me more laughs than any other movie in the list.

Sideways: one of the best scripts of all time – it’s such a simple story, and Jim Taylor’s writing is superb. Everything Alexander Payne does is interesting and this is his best. The characters are sensational, as is the casting. He could have got Brad Pitt but he got a couple of slumps. I’ve seen it four or five times now. I expected it to go down a notch, but no holes second or third time round. I’ve never met anyone that didn’t love it.

Honorable mentions go to The Sixth Sense, Titanic, Animal House, Some Like it Hot, The Graduate and Something Wild.

These are the ten movies that I love and they’re for everybody; whenever I show them to people they love them too. It’s a little boring, this list: I’m not coming up with movies you’ve never heard of. And these are not necessarily my favourite movies. When Bruno opened my wife and I went to see it. We’re not easily offended and we laughed our asses off; some people walked past and asked us what we’d seen and I said “You wouldn’t like it.”

I know my ten films may be obvious choices but I’m not going to be a dick and not pick them just because they’re successful.

We didn’t have a movie theatre when I was young – the nearest was 30 miles away and we’d go twice a year. So my main influences was television, especially the Andy Griffith show.

Bobby [Farrelly] and I are quite different in a lot of ways. I reckon five of my films would be on his list – Jaws definitely. Something Wild is why we cast Jeff Daniels in Dumb & Dumber – but he doesn’t quite share my passion for it. I feel bad it’s not in the top ten, but it’s not for everybody.

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