First up, I’m horrified to realise that from my original list I omitted an absolute belter of a film. It’s number one here. Frankly the first ten weren’t necessarily my Top Ten, since the actual ranking of things like that is too subjective and changeable. So anyway, here’s ten more….
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark. The opening sequence, the way the Paramount logo morphs into an actual shot of a mountain. The hat, the whip. Nazis getting their faces melted off. Karen Allen. The truck chase. Shooting the sword guy. Faultless from start to finish.
2. Jurassic Park. I nearly put this in my Guilty Pleasures list but either way, it’s just more Spielberg gold. I can do without some of the schmaltzyness and it does look a tad dated here and there, but when it gets going, it’s marvellous. A little perturbed that our son’s nursery apparently let 3 year olds watch it one rainy afternoon mind you…
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. OK, let’s get another Spielberg one of the way here. Some of the early scenes give a real sense of a building epic, but it becomes more of a personal journey with Richard Dreyfus’ character toward the end. The abduction sequence is terrifying, the final encounter is still exciting and kind of touching and the special effects still look good. I struggle to watch the mashed potato scene without thinking of the Homer Simpson version though.
4. Downfall. The story of the final days in Hitler’s bunker. You do get a sense of sympathy for some of the characters and the way everyone has been sucked into the madness. But only for a few, and not that much. More fascinating is the portrayal of the completeness of the dictators delusion and denial and the astonishing performance of Bruno Ganz in the lead role.
5. Hero. An amazing film on many levels. The aesthetics are extraordinary, the shifting and multi-layered story gripping, the action exceptional and the cast first rate. Epic.
6. Glengarry Glen Ross. CAST! Unimaginably good cast: Pacino, Spacey, Baldwin, Lemmon, Pryce, ‘Fuck you, that’s my name.’ A spin off character on the Simpsons. A phenomenally good film. ‘You see this watch?‘
7. Shaun of the Dead. Cornetto? Put Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright properly on the map after the stupendously good sitcom Spaced, from which a number of ideas are borrowed/expanded, not to mention cast members. A love letter to all manner of horror films and the extras and outtakes on the DVD are awesome.
8. The Thing. The John Carpenter one, with Kurt Russell. It’s a properly creepy, claustrophobic film with a mounting sense of isolation as everyone begins to realise that they really can trust no one. They also used a guy with no arms for one of the special effects scenes where a guy loses his arms. Keep your CGI.
9. Die Hard. Still a classic of the action genre, you cannot fail to enjoy a bit of John McClane. Well, possibly you can fail to enjoy the follow ups but the original is awesome. Proper blockbusting popcorn-munching, wisecracking, bad-guy shooting fun. And Alan Rickman nearly steals the show.
10. Goodfellas. There are plenty of mafia movies to choose from but I prefer this to The Godfather. There are some genuinely shocking moments of violence, and the central performances of Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro bristle with menace, but the sprawling story and the brilliant cast mean that you cannot take your eyes off this for a moment.