My top ten movies

It’s a tricky business choosing a top ten. Lists by their nature are subjective and, frankly, arbitrary; even so, you need some sort of guiding principle to help you choose between one thing and another. Should you simply go with the ten films you’d happily watch again and again? Your favourite films across a range of genres? Should you try to include something with a performance you love, even if the film itself is not that good?

Somehow you have to take all of these things into account and come up with a selection that you’re happy with. You’ll never get it spot on and any list can only ever be provisional: your tastes change, you see new movies you like, you have to make impulsive choices between this movie and that.

So this is my top ten today, but may not be tomorrow. As far as possible, I’ve tried to include a variety of films that I enjoy and admire. It’s been hard not to fill the list completely with noir and Hitchcock, but anyone who knows me won’t be surprised by that. I’m also very conscious that there are no foreign language movies, which is a shameful omission. I considered a few but just couldn’t quite justify their selection.

So here it is – my top ten:

  1. Vertigo
  2. Night of the hunter
  3. Oh brother, where art thou?
  4. The big sleep
  5. Blow up
  6. Out of the past
  7. Performance
  8. Seven
  9. It’s a wonderful world
  10. If…

In time, I’m going to write short reviews explaining each choice and why I like it so much. Please do comment on my list or, even better, post yours below or send your list to me. I’ll happily put it up and write a comment or two beneath…


10 thoughts on “My top ten movies

  1. And here are mine…

    The Red Shoes
    Jules et Jim
    Amores Perros
    Kind Hearts and Coronets
    Pan’s Labyrinth
    Edward Scissorhands
    Dancer in the Dark
    And, of course, The Breakfast Club.

    • Interesting selection – I love Kind Hearts and Coronets and have a soft spot for The Breakfast Club, but I’m ashamed to say I’ve not seen about half your list, Clare. The Red Shoes is great, though – and I’m glad to see a British movie at the top of the list. I’m planning to do a top ten Britfilms, too!

    • I’m very much with Clare and I wish she was my boyfriend and not Simon Wicks.
      Simon is taking me to the cinema on Sunday. He won’t tell me what we will be seeing but having read his Film Top Ten…

      • When I asked Jayne for her ten favourite films, she said: “Nuns on the Run, Dumb and Dumber, that ice skating one with that man, Blades of something. Oh I don’t know – you know I don’t remember the names of films.”

        On Sunday we’re going to see Seven. Because it’s Valentine’s Day. For god’s sake.

    • I think that’s a good idea, Lance. I was trying to be even-handed with my selections… my top ten *real* favourites could well have Bladerunner, Chinatown, The Cat People, Blue Velvet (all noir), Rear Window, North by Northwest, Shadow of a Doubt (all Hitchcock), It’s a wonderful world (great 1930s romantic comedy with Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert) and the Big Lebowski. For starters. I’m definitely going to do a top ten noir movies, though.

  2. Putting together a top ten list of favourite films is something I have been doing at least once every six months. The interesting thing is that the list hardly ever changes. With me it has definitely been the case that the films which appear on my list are films that I discovered when I was a teenager or in my early twenties. I think I felt films more deeply back then because I spent much of my life living within my imagination. It gets harder to do that the older you get. Anyway, here goes with my ten:

    1. Once upon a time in the west
    2. Blow up
    3. Get Carter
    4. The Ipcress file
    5. North by northwest
    6. Performance
    7. Dirty Harry
    8. Bullitt
    9. The wild bunch
    10. On her majesty’s secret service

    Those that just missed:

    11. The getaway
    12. Cross of iron
    13. The killers
    14 Le cercle rouge
    15 Picnic at hanging rock

    Simon, I can imagine you shaking your head in despair at the film that’s sitting right at the top of the list. It’s been there for a long, long time though….

    That was fun! Cheers!


    • I wouldn’t say despair – more resignation! The film at number two on your list is much more accomplished and enjoyable, in my opinion. Even so, you’ve got a few that were on my (long) shortlist – Bullitt, because it’s such a stylish, beautifully-edited movie; Picnic at Hanging Rock, because it’s so suggestive and mysterious; and North by northwest because it’s – well, it’s Hitchcock, isn’t it?

      Yours is a real “guy’s” list, even more so than mine. What a contrast with Clare (below). And there are no comedies (not intentional comedies, anyway) and only two films in which a romance is central to the plot (North by northwest and The Getaway) – although Performance is arguably about a romance as well. Actually, a few are quite specifically about men without women, but I’d say the absence of women is as significant as their presence in these movies.

      I’ve just thought of the foreign language movie I might have included in my top ten: Rififi. It’s the original heist movie, the one they all hark back to. Fabulous film.

      Thanks for that, Matt. Good list.

    • Simon,

      I am very pleased to see that at least two movies (‘Blow-up’ and ‘Performance’) have managed to find their way into both our lists. I was quite surprised though to see ‘O brother where art thou?’ riding so high in the list as I’ve never heard you mention it. I would have expected ‘Fargo’ as you’ve talked about that one at quite some length. Enjoyable movie, though.

      I see what you mean about the ‘guys’ link between all my movies. It’s interesting what you say about the general absence of feel-good romance in my list, with the notable exceptions of ‘North by northwest’ and ‘The Getaway’. Interestingly, the women in those films put their men through all kinds of emotional hell, leaving them feeling emasculated and humiliated. The romance in both movies only survives because the men manage to annihilate the opposition at the end, reaffirming their masculinity. These are dissonant rather than harmonious romances.

      And ‘The Getaway’ is as much a comedy, in my opinion, as it is a heist movie or a modern western.

      I must confess to only having seen two of the movies that were in Clare’s top ten (‘The Red Shoes’ and ‘ Jules et Jim’). ‘The Red Shoes’ is glorious, though I seem to recall finding ‘Jules et Jim’ quite hard work at the time. I need to see it again.

      Like you, I would enjoy the opportunity of discussing my ten movies in greater detail. Look out for my next post very soon!


  3. Pingback: My top ten movies, no.10: If… « The fixed factor

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