Karen Oughton

Visiting lecturer, media communications; freelance film journalist

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Citizen Kane

1941

Orson Welles

Dog Day Afternoon

1975

Sidney Lumet

Mary Poppins

1964

Robert Stevenson

Monty Python's Life of Brian

1979

Terry Jones

New York Ripper, The

1982

Lucio Fulci

Rocky Horror Picture Show

1975

Jim Sharman

Serbian Film, A

2010

Srdjan Spasojevic

Shawshank Redemption, The

1994

Frank Darabont

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Vivre Sa Vie

1962

Jean-Luc Godard

Comments

My list reflects a variety of film genres and comprises of classics, moderns and some overlooked gems. I have tried to be objective in terms of assessing films either from an academic film-theory perspective or by considering their cultural impact. Cinema-as-craft is represented through Vivre sa vie. Godard dissects his damsel, Nana, through camera angles and music that give the scarlet lady a deep yet cold mystery that lends an intriguing eroticism. Second is Citizen Kane. While the film occasionally suffers from the technical restrictions of its age, the sweeping long shots contrast with Welles’ performance to give a superb feel of the world of the title character and bring the era to life. Vertigo also contains technological advances, but adds to them a truly skin-crawling and altogether heartbreaking plot, complete with superb acting from the leads. Dog Day Afternoon is included for its frenetic shots of Al Pacino’s thief, Sonny, running through the bank, contrasting the character’s attempt to keep the situation under control while Brooklyn and the world outside the bank’s door turns to a leering, laughing circus. Cinema’s ability to affect its audience is the reason for my final few choices. The New York Ripper’s decidedly nasty narrative is accentuated by the more infamous scenes and the heartless backstory to act as existential nihilism as much as an old hacks’ horror. Furthermore, the controversial A Serbian Film is, I must confess, my favourite film. It presents some of the darkest human impulses as somewhat desireable and dares to posit its plot as a political allegory that contains real emotional punch – I cried in the press screening. It is a film that affects horror fanatics and mainstream viewers alike – my students simply stated that it is impossible to un-see. It therefore makes oddly logical sense to include Monty Python’s Life of Brian as a comedy containing a serious message, an irresitably silly singalong and enough blasphemy to cause controversy across the world. Alternatively, some films unite their audiences. Mary Poppins is a family film that evokes shared affections and festivities while incorporating adult themes and animation, while The Shawshank Redemption conveys a strong message of self-determinism. Finally, as a nod to cult film fans everywhere, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a barking mad example of how cinema affects an audience that can then take the strangest theme and bring it, Rocky-like, to life for generations to come.

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