Chief Culture Reporter
|The Third Man
|North by Northwest
|James L. Brooks
|The Dark Knight
|Inside Llewyn Davis
|Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
My rule for this list is: at least one film from every decade. I decided to start from the 1930s, and this screwball comedy had to win. I feel it often gets overlooked in favour of Bringing Up Baby, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn's other comedy – from the same year! – but it's not only superior to that, but to practically every other comedy ever made.
The Third Man
For me, The Third Man just pips Double Indemnity as my favourite 1940s noir. Perfectly cast, brilliantly soundtracked – with a final shot for the ages.
North by Northwest
Because i have to include one Hitchcock, and I feel like this one gets passed over too easily. There's absolutely nothing throwaway about North by Northwest, which, for me, is as well directed as Vertigo, as tense as Rear Window and as thrilling as anything that's ever been released. A masterclass of concise writing, too – there's nothing here that could be shaved off to make the film any better
I think sometimes it's not about the film itself, but about when you watch a film that etches its way into your heart. I watched The Graduate at university while studying film, and found it to be the perfect confluence of everything I hold dear in filmmaking, from Simon & Garfunkel's soundtrack down to the ambiguous closing moments, which I watched it again immediately after. To me, it's perfect.
Fires on every cylinder – it's hilarious, it's moving, it's shocking. And it stands up better than most films from the 1980s.
The film student in me is rearing his head here. It's become almost clichéd to rave about how good Pulp Fiction is, but for good reason – it's absolutely justified. I don't think Tarantino has topped it – and personally, despite strong competition from The Silence of the Lambs, Heat and Se7en, I don't think any other 1990s film beats it, either.
Here is where I get a bit cheeky with my compilation technique. I'm fully aware that a lot of people voting in this poll might not choose to select any film from the 21st century, let alone an animated film – so with that in mind, I'm selecting what I think is the high point of Pixar's impressive run, and that is Monsters, Inc.
While Bong Joon Ho might have matched Memories of Murder's quality with Parasite, the reason I have to vote for this one is due to just how influential it is. I don't think any crime film that's followed has managed to not borrow at least one thing from it. So epic in feel. When the chilling end arrives, you know you've watched a sublime slice of cinema that you have no choice but to revisit again.
The Dark Knight
I was 16 when The Dark Knight was released, and was already a little obsessed with Christopher Nolan. I saw it in the cinema eight times, and have watched it an additional eight times. I still marvel at how Nolan managed to make a superhero film that felt so distinctly different to anything I'd seen before. I've loved all of his films (Inception *is* terrific, I don't care what anyone tries to tell me), but I think The Dark Knight deserves a placement on this list because of how Nolan managed to subvert and exceed expectations despite them being so high. I'm not sure many films released post-2000 feel more deserving of the 'future classic' status than The Dark Knight does.
Inside Llewyn Davis
There is something so special about Inside Llewyn Davis, and to this day I struggle to put my finger on it. On the surface, it's a folk music-inspired tale of isolation and misused ambition, but when you really break it down, it's such an existential mind-bender that could inspire hours of discussion. You can take what you want from the film and still get lots from it – it can be many things to many people – and that's why this Coen brothers film gets my vote despite me loving others (Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski, A Serious Man) just as much.
Due to the way I decided to compile the list, a lot of films fell by the wayside. Here are ones I strongly considered including:
Throne of Blood
2001: A Space Odyssey
Five Easy Pieces
I was honoured to be asked to participate in this list – thank you so much.