Movies are a huge part of my life and I’ve watched my fair few over the years. Whenever people ask, I always say that my favourite kind of movies are psychological thrillers. I like dark movies with a twist. For years, my favourite movie was The Prestige by Christopher Nolan. Since then, however, I’ve watched a whole roster of incredible movies and The Prestige has been completely knocked out off my list. If you’re looking for a good movie, I would suggest looking at some of the titles in this list, you won’t be disappointed. My top five movies of all time are:
#1. Sideways (2004)
Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB: 7.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 96% Metacritic: 94%
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment, embark on a week long road trip through California’s wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.
Something weird happens inside my body whenever I see Paul Giamatti on screen. I start squealing in delight and I’m unable to stop myself. It can be quite embarrassing. In my opinion, he is one of the best actors working today. In this movie he plays a depressed novelist who is hoping to get his book published. The man is wrapped in layer after layer of pessimism and fear, and watching him be pushed so close to the edge by his idiotic friend had me gripped from start to finish. The movie is funny, but it is also incredibly dark. Giamatti’s character is so vulnerable. He made me want to just give him a hug. There is a particular scene in which he describes why he loves wine which was almost too intense for me to watch.
#2. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
IMDB: 7.4/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 68%, Metacritic: 67%
Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes
A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play.
If you ever want a mind bending film, I cannot recommend Charlie Kaufman enough. He wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich. Those two movies are huge cult classics, and I don’t even like them that much. I much prefer another movie he wrote called Adaptation where Nicholas Cage plays two twin brothers trying to write a Hollywood script (what?) and THIS. Synecdoche, New York. It’s a masterpiece in film making and is also Kaufman’s directorial debut. It’s the kind of movie that you watch once, have no idea what just happened, and then before you know it you’ve watched it ten times, forcing everybody in your life to watch it with you so you can speculate about what the hell is going on. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a depressed playwright (theme emerging?) who is obsessed with capturing every single detail of real life in his production. As a result, he rents a warehouse and starts reconstructing a life-sized New York City inside, complete with actors playing the roles of every single person in the city. And that’s only the beginning of the weirdness. Trust me, if you want a movie that’s gonna have you scratching your head, watch this, and then read all the fan theories online afterwards.
#3. Filth (2013)
Comedy, Crime, Drama
IMDB: 7.1/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 63% Metacritic: 56%
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
A corrupt, junkie cop with Borderline Personality Disorder attempts to manipulate his way through a promotion in order to win back his wife and daughter while also fighting his own borderline-fueled inner demons.
This movie is based on a book written Irvine Welsh, the same man who wrote Trainspotting. It’s funny, dark, and tragic. It was also the main introduction for me to Welsh’s books, and I have since read a bunch of them. The characters that he creates are complex, sinister, and in their own ways trapped in a world of oppression. Welsh’s characters are all stragglers – left behind by society to deal with their flaws. Whether it’s a drug addiction or a mental illness, his characters face the grim realities of life with no support except the narcissistic people around them. That’s not to say that this movie is all serious. Welsh’s characters’ flaws are exposed through comedy, usually pushing extreme jokes to get a laugh. And Filth is no different. If you enjoy it, move on to Welsh’s literature and you will be rewarded.
#4. The Social Network (2010)
IMDB: 7.8/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 96% Metacritic: 95%
Running Time: 2 hours
Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the cofounder who was later squeezed out of the business.
I can’t believe this came out five years ago. It laid the groundwork for me to become who I am today. The Social Network is the most inspiring movie I have ever seen. It shows quite clearly that age is completely irrelevant when it comes to success. These guys literally built the most revolutionary innovation of my time while they were still at university. The story is timeless, covering the themes of friendship, betrayal and fame. Whenever I feel down or need encouragement to carry on trying to make my own way through life, off the beaten track and to my own rhythm, I watch this movie. The story it tells us categorically proves that if you want to be your own boss and escape the non-existence of 9 to 5, the only person who can do that is you. I will never be able to stop viewing anything I do creatively or otherwise as potential entrepreneurial projects as a result of this movie.
#5. I’m Still Here (2010)
Comedy, Drama, Music
IMDB: 6.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 53% Metacritic: 48%
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Documenting Joaquin Phoenix’s transition from the acting world to a career as an aspiring rapper.
This movie can be watched in two completely different ways. When I first watched it, knowing that it was obviously all fake, I saw a very tragic portrayal of a man obsessed with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood who had fallen off the rails. It was a poignant experience for me. The second time I watched it, I could not stop laughing the entire way through. The absurdity of some of the scenes and the lengths that Joaquin Phoenix went to to make this movie deserves high praise. The terrible philosophical metaphors on life, the spoilt brat temper tantrums and the scene involving Phoenix walking through a river slowly submerging himself (about as artistic as a fourteen year old’s short film) had me in stitches.
So there you have it, those are my favourite movies. I think they are varied enough that you can find something you like in there. What did you think of these movies? Please let me know in the comment section below. I’m going to get a bit more political in my next blog post. Join me on Saturday where I will be giving my perspective on David Cameron’s recent comments on Muslim women.