Another batch of ten films that have somehow influenced me, inspired me and held my interest over the years.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
This post-war movie features James Stewart on fine form as George Bailey, a man who has spent his whole life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. George runs the buildings and loan company that his father set up, but on Christmas Eve, George’s Uncle Billy loses $8,000 of the business’s money while intending to deposit it at the bank. Hearing that his business will collapse and he could be held responsible and sent to jail, George contemplates suicide as a last resort – thinking that his wife and children will be better off without him, but help is at hand from gentle Angel, Clarence who has been sent to show George what life would be like in Bedford Falls if he didn’t exist. The film, a flop on its original release, has since gone on to become one of the most beloved films of all time.
WATCH IT FOR: George Bailey’s rejuvination
THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987)
In the middle of prohibition, Federal Agent Elliot Ness sets out to bring down mobster Al Capone (Robert De Niro) and forms an unlikely band of men to help him. Kevin Costner is perfect as Ness, a straight-laced man of the law who joins forces with cop Andy Garcia and number-cruncher Charles Martin Smith. But its Sean Connery as the beat cop, Malone, who steals the show in a performance that won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Director Brian De Palma recreates 1920’s Chicago brilliantly and uses the camera as only he can.
WATCH IT FOR: The train station showdown
DEATH BECOMES HER (1992)
A black comedy about a woman who learns of an immortality treatment and sees it as a way to outdo her long-time rival. From director Robert Zemeckis, this effects-driven movie sees Meryl Streep perform a song and dance routine at the start, Goldie Hawn donning a fat suit and Bruce Willis marrying both of them!
WATCH IT FOR: Meryl & Goldie and the shovel showdown!
THE ‘BURBS (1989)
Playing on the paranoia of small town America, this twisted comedy from director Joe Dante sees overstressed suburbanite Tom Hanks join forces with his neighbours to prove that the family next door are up to no good!
WATCH IT FOR: This is Walter!
SUPER 8 (2011)
During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town all while making a movie on 8mm for a competition. Directed by J.J. Abrams, this sci-fi adventure has some of the best young lead actors carrying the weight of a big, blockbuster on their shoulders. Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning and Riley Griffiths are stand-outs but, to be honest, the whole cast (including the adult actors!) are top notch! A highly enjoyable ride!
WATCH IT FOR: The train wreck!
THREE AMIGOS! (1986)
Three unemployed actors accept an invitation to a Mexican village where they are asked to replay their famous bandit-fighting characters, not knowing that this is the real thing. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short are brilliant as the self-obsessed actors in search of bigger things. Packed full of references to the great Westerns as well as Old Hollywood, this film is a riot!
WATCH IT FOR: My Little Buttercup
THE SHINING (1980)
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while the psychic son sees visions of deadly things to come. Based on the novel by Stephen King, this chiller casts a perfectly maniacal Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence, a writer suffering from writer’s block and severe cabin fever who goes on a mad rampage based on the words of a waiter’s ghost to “correct” his family. Made famous for Nicholson’s “Here’s Johnny!”, this film boasts more than its fair share of shocks and disturbing images courtesy of director Stanley Kubrick.
WATCH IT FOR: Jack Nicholson, slowly going completely mad
MARY POPPINS (1964)
Based on a series of books by P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins is the story of a magical nanny who comes to work for the family of a cold bank worker. Full of vibrant colours and rousing musical numbers, this Disney movie has entertained audiences for fifty years and still doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. Julie Andrews rightly won the Oscar for Best Actress for her work here, but for my money Dick Van Dyke is the one to watch. Yes, his accent is dodgy but you can’t fault him on his energy.
WATCH IT FOR: Step In Time
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
Oskar is a meek and bullied 12-year-old living in Stockholm in the 1980s. One night he meets Eli, a new neighbour, through whom he finds love and revenge. This isn’t your conventional vampre horror as the film plays down the usual characteristics and, instead, focuses on the relationship between the two children. Its a beautifully shot piece of work, made all the more beautiful by the Swedish surroundings, that stays with you for a long time after the credits have finished rolling.
WATCH IT FOR: The pool scene
SON OF RAMBOW (2007)
During a long, British summer in the 1980s, two schoolboys from different backgrounds set out to make a film inspired by First Blood. This is one of those films that just creeps up on you and grabs you without you even knowing. Director, Garth Jennings brings the period to life and the two young leads, Will Poulter and Bill Milner are outstanding as they explore friendship and prejudice.
WATCH IT FOR: Pure nostalgia
Ok, that’s the end of Part Four of this countdown of my all-time favourite films. But wait, there’s still more to come…