Top 100 Favourite Movies – Coming Soon!

Yes, listing with brief reviews will pop onto here soon! These won’t be the BEST movies ever made, just the ones I most enjoy rewatching. I’m happy to agree that 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gone With The End are classics – but I don’t enjoy watching them as much as some lesser films. So…. not quite making the 100, but almost, are the likes of The Raven, Predator, Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Carry On…Follow That camel, Red, True Lies, Revenge Of The Sith, Star Trek: Wrath Of Khan, Twister, The dark Knight, Avatar, West Side Story, The Searchers, The Road To Singapore, Son Of Paleface, Memento, Duel and The Pink Panther…

Maybe that will give clues to those that DID make it. Hint: I’ve allowed sequels to be listed in their own right, trilogies do not get to be one big bumper package. They are either good enough to rank on their own merits or they aren’t in there…

ooh, exciting!

100. 2010 (1984)

2001: A Space Odyssey is a recognised classic, and director Stanley Kubrick a great. That said, I can’t get over the confusion it caused to me as a child when I first saw it. I admire it but it leaves me cold. Science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke remains my favourite writer and no-one presents a greater sense of awe in the universe (based on reality not fantasy), and this sequel captures the Clarke spirit better: the plot and characters are better-presented, albeit in a less arty more straightforward fashion. Plus it’s got John Lithgow, some years before the fabulous Third Rock From The Sun, and future movie treasure Helen Mirren, and a brilliant finale that speaks to me and my interest in the exploration of the universe. What’s not to like?!

99. Blade Runner (1981)

Two cinema icons in Ridley Scott directing, Harrison Ford starring, a beautifully dystopian backdrop, and a touching ending. Ford is a rogue Replicant chaser, better known as androids doing short-term dangerous work, and programmed to terminate after a few years. Some understandably object to that, but less understandably have a tendancy to kill people. A little slow-paced, but the visuals and cast alone would make it worthwhile: Sean Young, Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer all give brilliant performances, but even if you go to the more minor parts there are gems to be found from William Sanderson (future Newhart TV support actor: “Hi I’m Larry. This is my brother daryl and this is my other brother daryl”) and James Hong (from loads of TV and movies, most famously now as Kung Fu Panda’s dad).

98. Speed (1994)

This is a piece of 90’s action hokum, with a ludicrous plot (a bomb on a bus set to go off if the speed drops), but I’m fond of it thanks to the pace and the cast: Keanu Reeves impressed for the first time as an action hero (Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure just missed the 100 list, his Californian airhead engaging), Dennis Hopper got a career boost as movie villain, and most of all Sandra Bullock bounced in as top light comedy actress of the decade, she more-or-less made the movie great fun and sparked a run of engaging movie comedy/thrillers.

 97. True Grit (1969)

John Wayne’s Oscar-winning performance as Rooster Cogburn, recently re-made in a better but less engaging fashion, this childhood cowboy favourite still looks great. John Wayne was great, even if he starred in other Western classic movies like The Searchers, this was his most memorable performance. Glen Campbell, one of my pop star heroes of the time (and since) was likeable even if not really an actor, and that head-turning starring role from the young Kim Darby is awesome. Already notable as Miri (Star Trek), she never achieved the stardom she deserved, and shines as the vengeful determined 14-year-old hiring Cogburn to get the murderers of her father. Great plotting, great dialogue, and a great supporting cast in Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin, Robert Duvall and best of all Jeff Corey. You might not know some of the names but the faces should be familiar to movie and TV fans of the time.

96. Night At The Museum: Battle For The Smithsonian (2009)

A good sequel to a good modern comedy, the first film had the bonus of veterans Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney as baddies, but this has a better villain in The Simpson’s Hank Azaria beautifully hamming it up Boris Karloff style, and great new character Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), along with returning waxworks-brought-to-life Steve Coogan, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson and Ricky Gervais who all give great support to star Ben Stiller. It’s refreshing to see old-fashioned all-star casts in light comedies. OK it’s fluffy and feel-good, but it’s fun! As a minor aside it’s also great to see Clint Howard (Ron’s brother) popping up as space controller or alien in bit parts in my favourite films and TV shows (from Star Trek as a kiddie to this via Austin Powers)!

95. Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers (1956)

The 1978 remake was scarier, but the original has period charm and McCarthyism as a more relevant backdrop to the best “aliens take over your body” film. Black and white actually adds to the dark mood of the film, and it uses the fear of being taken over while you’re asleep and helpless as it’s the disturbing premise, along with not being believed and not knowing who to trust. Paranoia! Kevin McCarthy is great in the central role (and reprises it in the remake and other affectionate mickey-takes), while Carolyn Jones became a 60’s TV icon as Morticia in The Addams Family, one of the great television performances’ and characters’. Fab!

94. Goldfinger (1964)

Still the biggest bums-on-seats Bond movie, and the most iconic. Sean Connery was the first James Bond, and probably will always be my favourite, and Gert Frobe as the OTT Goldfinger is the best Bond villain: Do you expect me talk? No Mr Bond I expect you to die! Honour Blackman is one of the best love interests and certainly the most ridiculously named (Pussy Galore) while Oddjob makes for good karate-chopping baddie support. The plot doesn’t really matter THAT much in Bond movies, it’s how fun the journey is, and this one is full of 60’s charm. Oh, and theme songs are SO important to Bond movies, this one is the most famous (probably) even if not the best one (that’s You Only Live Twice and Live And Let Die).

93. The Cabin In The Woods (2012)

I’m not generally a fan of slash horror movies, often they are cliched and use gore for gore’s sake. Joss Whedon, though, I’m a massive fan of. Not only has he produced 3 of the best ever drama/comedy/sci fi/horror TV shows in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, but he has 2 major movie favourites still to come. He can write great drama, comedy, characters, songs and is a genius of plotting and direction, preferring to turn around conventions and cliches into something new and exciting. That’s what he’s done here: cleverly used a million ropey slash plots and turned them into something wonderful. The cast is good, notably Chris Hemsworth one of the current action superhero stars, and it’s great having old TV favourites appear, like Amy Acker (from Angel) and Tom Lenk (Buffy), and most of all of course, a name that’s going to keep on cropping up in my list: the faaabulous Sigourney Weaver as bad-ass baddie.

92. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Walt Disney built an empire, for good and sometimes not so good, on this classic movie. The first-ever properly animated groundbreaking colour feature movie, and one of the biggest films ever, it was already 25 years old when it became one of my earliest childhood memories, along with a stack of 78’s of songs from the soundtrack that gradually got broken. It’s hard not to feel pangs of nostalgia on hearing I’m Wishing, Whistle While You Work, Someday My Prince Will Come and the rest, cos, yes it’s a musical as well as a fantasy fairytale. 75 years on, it’s as timeless an example of popular cinema as can be seen so far: in an age where the satellite and cable TV generation have channels galore to choose from, they choose not to watch black and white oldies, a concept they can’t cope with (unlike those of us brought up on it) – but this one lives on from generation to generation.

91. 2012 (2009)

Roland Emmerich is a modern action-disaster director specialising in apocalyptic plots. Better than his previous The Day After Tomorrow, this is essentially hokum, and scientifically about as realistic as Snow White, but it’s a fun roller-coaster ride that is relentless, as John Cusack survives one world-ripping disaster after another by the skin of his teeth. As ever casting of minor roles can sway me: Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson (longtime fave Woody from Cheers) giving a gloriously OTT performance, and Stephen McHattie (once upon a time great in TV series Centennial and oodles of others) help tip it over the edge from cheese into guilty pleasure. It’s a romp!

90. Batman Returns (1992)

Cards on table, I’m a fan both of the dark Batman DC comics and the camp 60‘s TV (and Movie) version. The first Tim Burton Batman film, like most of his movies, impressed me in a grim and inventive fantasy fashion but didn’t warm the cockles of my heart. This follow-up has a better plot and two great villains in Danny Devito’s warped Penguin and Michelle Pfieffer’s sultry Catwoman. Michael Keaton gives his most memorable film performances as Bruce Wayne/ Batman, but I think he bowed out at the right time as they went downhill after this one.

89. Jason And The Argonauts (1963)

Ray Harryhausen was a stop-motion animation genius to kids of my generation. Movies featuring his work were wild fantasy rides, and the Greek epics were best of all, and this was the best movie of all. It’s basically a Greek Odyssey, starring Todd Armstrong as Jason on a quest for the Golden Fleece. The supporting cast, largely British, is also great. From an American point of view, the hero always has to be American, and usually the heroine too (Nancy Kovack here, a fave of mid 60’s TV episodes of Star Trek, Batman, Bewitched and the like) but at least they employ British actors in period dramas to give it that classy epic feel. Other than that they are always the villains. If a Hollywood movie has a British actor in the cast, he’s the baddie nine times out ten. Cliche! Fab actors here, the marvellous Patrick “Dr Who” Troughton and Honor “Avengers” Blackman. That said, though, it’s those Harryhausen monsters, and most of all the fighting skeletons that remain as classic movie moments, well ahead of their time.

88. The X Files (1998)

One of those rare things – a TV spin-off movie that’s as good as the TV series. I can’t say whether it works independent of the series, because I loved the show, it’s one of the 90’s defining series’ and a worldwide success. Chris Carter created a monster/sci-fi classic and mixed it with the FBI and a large dose of paranoia, and the characters of Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) in sort of ongoing plot-threads that reach a climax of sorts in the movie. I would imagine anyone who hasnt seen the TV show might find the cast of characters from the show confusing, and the plot bewildering, but if you have, it’s a grand surprise movie present, with a great snowy alien spaceship of a climax to thrill. Duchovny and Anderson are always witty and effective, and their characters’ will-they-won’t-they (get together) relationship is always engaging, and the great Martin Landau (of many a TV show and movie) supports well too. You really should watch the first 5 seasons of the show first though…!

87. Revenge Of The Pink Panther (1978)

Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau is one of the great cinematic idiots, triumphing regardless of inability, usually down to pure luck or perseverance. Blake Edwards series of Pink Panther films got increasingly daft as they progressed, the early David Niven-co-starring original looking like a charming period piece in comparison. Sellers was a comic genius, with an uncanny morphing ability to become a character, and the former Goon Show actor was a great crack-up in out-takes, often more entertaining than the finished product. I’m not saying this is the best Sellers film, or even the best Panther film, but it’s my favourite. It’s got Prof. August Balls (Graham Stark), the wonderful Burt Kwouk as nutty manservant Cato, Dyan Cannon having a right old laugh and joining in with aplomb, and most of all Herbert Lom, his homicidal Chief Inspector Dreyfuss having been through insanity and beyond in his attempts to kill Clouseau is even funnier than Sellers, because he’s playing it straight. Great fun.

86. X-Men (2000)

The film of the Marvel comic, and although I was firmly a DC Comics fan, and X-Men were a sort of contemporary version of DC’s earlier futuristic Legion Of Super Heroes, I couldn’t help loving the film. It had a great cast (Patrick ‘Star Trek’ Stewart as Professor X, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, James Marsden as Cyclops, and Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Ian McKellan). It’s a good plot, a good pace, a well-produced Bryan Singer super-hero adventure movie, and the 2003 X-2 sequel was almost as good. Not so the third one, sadly, best skip to the 2011 prequel X-Men: First Class. Not much else to say, it’s a good romp, and better-constructed than missing-from-the-list superhero movies like the more sprawling 1978 Christopher Reeves Superman, the engaging Toby Maguire’s Spiderman and likeable Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern (all of which I like a lot)…

85. Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971)

The third in the Apes series, this sequel to a classic movie works because of the plot and the central performance from Kim Hunter as Zira and Roddy McDowell as Cornelius, the two starring “apes” from the previous films. Thrown back in time after the future-Earth is blown-up, it’s more of a “o the inhumanity of man” comment on the1970’s intolerance and fear of the different (or indeed any age, it just happens to be set in 1971). Hunter and McDowell are magnificent, with great support from Sal Mineo, Bradford Dillman and the great Ricardo Montalban – who almost made it into the list as Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan). At first engaging, amusing, watch out for that Shakespearean Tragedy-ish ending and keep a hanky handy.

84. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

The ultimate all-star spectacular disaster movie, an ocean-liner turns upside down and the stars have to struggle through to the upturned hull. It may be a tad dated now, but this Irwin Allen blockbuster was my all-time favourite movie of my teen years, I bought the book, I idolised the stars, and it inspired even bigger (but less good) disaster movies of the mid-70’s. Roddy McDowell (yes, two entries in a row), Ernest Borgnine, Leslie Nielson, Carol Lynley, Jack Albertson all good, but dominating the film are Stella Stevens as an ex-hooker, Shelley Winters all Jewish-mama, and Gene Hackman as the trendy aggressive preacher. I’m not spoiling the plot by saying they annoyingly are the ones that get killed off! Irwin Allen was a hero (of sorts) to 60’s kids with his appealing sci-fi TV shows like The Time Tunnel, Land Of The Giants and Lost In Space. He tried one more good blockbuster (The Towering Inferno) before it all started to wear a bit thin after another type of blockbuster movie debuted in 1977.

83. The Pelican Brief (1993)

John Grisham novels and films are enormously popular, but this is the only one that really connected with me. A great cast in Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington, and supporting dependables like James B Sikking, Sam Shepherd and John Lithgow, a great plot whodunnit plot (Roberts is the target of baddies, political intrigue at the highest levels, and has multiple attempts against her life supported only by reporter Washington). You may be surprised, looking at some of my other faves, that there are no aliens in it. Or are there!? No, there aren’t:)

82. The Great Race (1965)

A trifle overlong, but this Blake Edwards period slapstick comedy (set in the 1900’s comfortably then within living memory) has so much going for it, it’s just so damn loveable. It’s got the marvellous and beautiful Natalie Wood as an independent woman ahead of her time, the marvellous and handsome Tony Curtis in full-engaging mode, Jack Lemmon hamming it up villainous Dick Dastardly-style, and Peter Falk as put-upon sidekick. Not to mention the Vintage car-race setting (always works for me!), and cameos from Vivian (I Love Lucy) Vance, Larry Storch, Dorothy Provine and Keenan Wynne. The critics weren’t very kind, and I’m alone in rating this one, but it’s a feelgood film to me, loved it as I entered my teens and still do.

81. The Incredibles (2004)

It’s hard to believe this Pixar Studios gem is nearly a decade old, it seems recent. Cards on table, the greatest family animated movies of all-time are made by Pixar, which is why Disney (previous owner of the title) bought them out. I love super-hero comics, and this uses some of the staple comics cliches as entry to a charming family (super-hero) story, from the point of view of growing-up former super-powered team-members and their super-powered kids. Well-written, well-made, amusing, great fun. All the leads (Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson etc) are great but Edna (Brad Bird) fashion-designer for the super-powered steals the show, and long-time faves Wallace (Deep Space 9) Shawn and Pixar regular John (Cheers) Ratzenberger add familiar joy, too. Great stuff.

80. Grease (1978)

The first time I saw the film, because the hit singles were great fun, I thought it was cheesy fun. I’ve since amended that to tongue-in-cheek cheesy fun. Everyone is having a good old nostalgic laugh, the cast is superb, the songs are wonderful, the plot is high school cliche with the big turnaround: sweet world-successful 70’s popstar Olivia Newton-John (Sandy) has a go at looking like all leather-clad to get the naughty (but not really naughty) boy John Travolta. OK, so most of the cast hadn’t seen high school days in years, and the supporting cast were all 50’s veterans, but it works. It’s amusing, the characters (and cast) fun, and it threw Travolta into mega-stardom, the album and singles sales into the stratosphere, and several of the cast into TV success in sitcoms and sci-fi shows. Personal faves, Stockard Channing as bad girl Rizzo, Frankie Avalon doing a pastiche 50’s song, Livvy’s ballad Hopelessly Devoted To You and Travolta’s ballad Sandy, Dinah Manoff as pouty Marty, Eve Arden (veteran of Marx Brothers movies, and TV sitcoms of the 50’s and 60’s) as the Principal, not to mention cameos from old TV faves like Alice (Bewitched) Ghostley… It captures the spirit of the fun rose-tinted side of the 50’s, even if not the reality. As cheese goes, it’s pure gourmet!

79. The Abyss (1989)

James Cameron movies may crop up again in this list, though not the all-time moneymaking blockbusters Avatar and Titanic – there, I’ve given it away, they only just missed the list! I prefer this one, a tense, dramatic and exciting underwater battle against the elements and with a bonus sci-fi deus-ex-machina climax. The cast and characters are more engaging than later movies, and the plot appeals to the scifi fanboy in me more. Ed Harris is always good, Michael Biehn made a great pyschotic baddie, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was very good, and the computer-generated special effects were state of the art at the time, with the underwater-liquid-alien-effects striking. Not his most famous movie, and like most of his movies, it might benefit from some editing – bladder-busters are a pet peeve of mine, so if you hope to see much longer movies in the list like Gone With The Wind, or any of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, well, spoiler alert! You may be disappointed….

78. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

Has anybody not seen this TV perennial? Almost 75 years on, regarded as a classic fantasy family fave, critically and commercially (eventually), it made a star of Judy Garland and gave pop culture references galore and singalong songs like “Over The Rainbow” and “Yellow Brick Road”. I’m old enough to have my earliest memory of the film a cinema moment: it was being shown at RAF Swinderby’s family cinema in 1968, a Saturday morning kid’s treat I think, there weren’t many in there, but there were plenty of groans when the film started and it was in black & white! Yes, even then kids preferred colour movies… It was a treat when the technicolor started, though, and who wouldnt love the cowardly lion and the nasty wicked witch, thanks to a great performance from Margaret Hamilton. Oh, I must mention Judy Garland, too – she was never so charming (if a bit old for Dorothy), and while I was never a fan of her adult movies or music, it was perfect casting here. I was sorely tempted to replace this with the prequel Oz The Great And Powerful, a sort of modern version of events leading up to the Wizard Of Oz, charming and sympathetic in style, and immensely watchable. As the years pass I may well do that…!

77. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Not most people’s idea of the best Bond movie, and I wouldn’t claim that, but it’s the one I enjoy most. Why? I actually enjoyed Roger Moore’s tongue-in-cheek Bond, at least in the early films, and it suited the times as spy movies looked a bit campy anyway by the mid-70’s. The theme song by Lulu (John Barry of course) is also not rated highly, but I liked it, hey ho! The scenery in this one, in the far east, was stunning, the stunts great fun, the plot coherent and the villain (the great Christopher Lee) made a change from the usual megalomaniacs. Herve Villechaise (diminutive Tatoo from Fantasy Island) was amusing, Britt Ekland was never better (funny and engaging), and the cameos from the sherriff (Live and Let Die) was a nice touch. After this one I grew less and less bothered by Bond movies until the Daniel Craig era re-invented them (and all three of which didn’t quite make the list).

76. The Apartment (1960)

Billy Wilder’s follow-up to an absolute timeless classic, and it’s a great movie in it’s own right. At times, mildly amusing, mildly-disturbing, touching, heart-warming and ultimately feel-good, it’s never less than beautifully made and performed. Shirley MacLaine is brilliant, Jack Lemmon is more restrained than in most of his comedies of the time, childhood TV faves Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian) and Fred MacMurray are both playing against Uncle/dad type, Fred especially shaking off his Disney 60’s movie dad image. He’s a rotter, actually, in this. I first saw it as 1974 moved into 1975, New Year’s Eve late on (I think) and was charmed and moved, and still am. The critics loved it, and it deservedly won Best Picture and Director oscars. It’s not often I agree with the winners…!

75. Peter Pan (1953)

Probably my favourite early childhood Disney movie, at least until The Jungle Book came out (I loved the songs), and certainly the most fun and the one with the best characters. Early memories of Peter’s shadow, Hook & the obsessive crocodile trying to eat him, floating Nana the dog, sulky Tinkerbell and cool Tiger-Lily, bumbling Mr Smee, and of course hero and heroine Peter Pan and Wendy, loomed large through various Disney clips that abounded on TV shows in those days as well as the cinema. There aren’t too many making my list, though, as they lack the adult cool of modern PIxar and other animated companies, but still have a period charm to them, and the animation in all cases is still beautiful to look at, art by any name. Sadly, after Walt Disney moved into the refrigerator, the movies stopped being that good for 20 years or so.

74. Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

A recent surprise entry, and not one terribly highly regarded critically (so far), well I think they have it wrong. It’s basically (as it sounds) a western romp and a sci-fi romp bundled into one great romp. The cast is marvellous, it’s got Daniel “Bond” Craig and Harrison “Indiana” Ford for starters, and good cameo support from the likes of Sam “Galaxyquest” Rockwell, Clancy “Earth2” Brown, and Keith Carradine, as well as a memorable female lead in Olivia Wilde. The script manages to combine the best elements of the western (characters, soap, townspeople, goodies n baddies) with the novelty of alien invasion in the Wild West. It works, honest! Chuck in Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard working in the background, and that’s not so surprising. It’s a film that improves with re-watching, and in my book that’s the mark of a great movie.

73. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Frank Capra’s feel-good classic is a perfect example of how critics often miss the point at the time of release. It wasn’t regarded quite as highly as it today, but decades of holiday TV showings have given it an ongoing lease of life and critical reverence. Quite right too. James Stewart is always watchable, and he’s perfect here, as he finds out what the world would have been like if he’d never been born – and he finds out he made it a better place. Sentimental overload, maybe but life-affirming too, and just because something is sentimental doesn’t mean it’s not true. The FBI apparently found the anti-selfish-bankers sentiment anti-American. As we all now know, they were in fact ahead of their time and entirely accurate as global investment bankers have been the ruin of so many thanks to their lies, greed and selfishly-motivated manipulations with no concern for the consequences as long as they got massive bonuses. Just an opinion….(albeit one very difficult to refute). So Capra, he was right, the film is a timeless classic and continues to be relevant and oozes period charm.

72. Pleasantville (1998)

A beautiful pseudo-fifties period-piece fantasy morality tale, the movie is original, nostalgic for old-time television but also shows that the idealised American family TV world was never really anything more than that. Two great early performances from young Tobey Macguire and Reese Witherspoon as two 90’s kids mis-placed into 50’s TV show Pleasantville. As they affect the characters inhabiting the world, with their modern attitudes, the black-and-white world and characters turn technicolour and deeper. It’s a touching movie, clever script and refers to sitcoms past (veteran actor Don Knotts) and future (the wonderful Malcolm In The Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek), but ultimately it’s a very “human” film dealing with oppression and consequences, and a non-blame attitude towards human failings. Sentimental and sweet.

71. Enemy Of The State (1998)

Essentially a thriller based around that peculiarly-American paranoid fascination with the interference of the state, loss of freedom in the modern world with the expansion of the internet and surveillance instruments. Taking it to a fantastical extreme, perhaps, but it’s romping fun with a great cast. Will Smith (who keeps cropping up in this list) is always immensely likeable everyman in these sort of big movies, and Gene Hackman is his usual grumpy anti-hero as a good contrast. The pace never lets up, add in baddie Jon Voight, and small roles from Jack Black and Seth Green, and you have a great modern action thriller. It won’t make many “Best Ever” lists, but it’s very re-watchable.

70. Independence Day (1996)

Talking of Will Smith, this was the one that changed him from the Fresh Prince to movie megastar. It might be blockbuster sci-fi cheese, but it’s well-made, good-humoured, fast-paced, and has a great cast: great fun, all-in-all. It’s never going to win awards for script-writing genius, but it’s a spectacle that is rewatchable, thanks to fave actors like Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Adam Baldwin and of course Director Roland Emmerich. Roswell, punching aliens, saving the world and iconic images like the blowing up of the Whitehouse (and everywhere else!). What’s not to like…?!

69. Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

There aren’t that many musicals in my list, perhaps because the golden age of musicals had ended by the time I was a teenager, and I was much more obsessed by pop music (in it’s most broad “popular” music sense, I liked and still like everything current and recent as well as old). Tim Rice wrote great lyrics and was a popchart singles and albums afficianado (and therefore a hero to me) and Andrew Lloyd-Webber had one of the great gifts for melody and drama. Put them together on one of the most important stories in human history, and in a rock setting, some incredible songs, and some stunning performances from Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman and Josh Mostel and I was bound to love the film. It has it’s flaws, a bit slow at times, and an oddly off-putting 1973 “re-telling/acting” basis for the story rather than setting it as if it were historical (to avoid upsetting religious groups I would imagine), but I still get shivers during Superstar, I Don’t Know How To Love Him and Could We Start Again. That’s good enough for me, Hosannah and King Herod’s Song are just icing on the cake.

68. Toy Story 3 (2010)

A re-uniting of cast and characters and also a proper end to the Toy Story series, like all Pixar films there is nothing much not to love. Clever, human, exciting, witty, loveable and much much more – even if I rate the most recent the lowest (doh! There’s a clue!) it’s still great. Tom Hanks, Wallace Shawn, Laurie Metcalfe, Tim Allen, John Ratzenberger & plenty of other great character actors supply the voices, the story is ultimately sad, the passing of childhood, but also survival through the passing of childhood to new generations. Grown men have cried at the scenes where Andy gives away his childhood toys. I can empathise (even though I clung on to a lot of mine!).. Fabulous stuff.

67. I Married A Witch (1942)

Veronica Lake is mostly remembered these days as the inspiration for Phil Oakey’s Human League variation on her Peek-A-Boo haircut, but she really ought to be better known for this early example of a fantasy rom-com. She’s  engaging and beguiling as a witch executed at Salem, who pops back into modern-day America after a spell stuck as a spirit in a tree, and as vapour. It’s all very whimsical and likeable, and very much the blueprint for TV show Bewitched. Co-star Fredric March called Lake a “brainless little blonde sexpot, devoid of any acting ability”, which is ironic as he’s largely forgettable and she’s entirely memorable. Under-rated, albeit never one to win any awards, it’s a good film for a rainy day when you fancy getting cheered up!

66. Help! (1965)

Richard Lester’s follow-up to the critically-acclaimed and influential A Hard Days’s Night, The Beatles first movie, Help! has more childhood memories attached to it for me. I went to see it at the cinema when it came out, I was living in Liverpool, home of the Fabs, and it was colourful and packed with loveable moptop scenes and wonderful songs. The plot, such as it, is a bit dodgy in these politically-correct times (Ringo has a ring, the wearer of which gets to be sacrificed by a whacky eastern cult) and is largely a chase movie with quips. John, Paul, George & Ringo are great personalities, albeit not really actors. Ah, but those early-pop-videos contained in the movie are just wonderful: Ticket To Ride in the snow, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, and a few great tracks mucking around in the tropics. Fun, and pure 60’s.

65. Star Trek VIII: First Contact (1996)

Not the original Star Trek cast, this is the cast of the Next Generation in their best movie outing. Much as I loved the TV series at the time, in retrospect the engaging cast never really excites like the original characters and cast did, but this is a good old try at a time-travelling adventure romp with the debut of a great villain in the Borg Queen. In one respect the uniqueness of the Borg was their very lack of individuality, and that’s what made them The Next Gen’s greatest villains. Having a Queen kind of waters that down, but accepting that, it’s a brilliant performance from sensuous baddie Alice Krige, who has one of the great movie arrival scenes. The usual cast are always good, Patrick Stewart is always reliably formal and commanding as Captain Picard, and Brent Spiner effectively restrained as android Data, and of course I’m a fan of the rest of the cast. Jonathan Frakes also directs well enough while starring as Commander Riker, and having James Cromwell in a movie never hurts. The role might not be as meaty as LA Confidential, but he’s always reliably good.

64. Carry On Screaming (1966)

Oh so British saucy seaside humour that doesn’t really translate worldwide, the long-running Carry On films remain well-known in the UK only, really, but this Hammer Horror spoof is delightful in it’s own right. Harry H Corbett and Fenella Fielding step in amongst the usual gang of great character actors, Kenneth Williams, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims and Bernard Bresslaw with aplomb. Owing more than a bit to the recent Addams Family & Munsters TV shows, the gags and puns fly fast and hard, and so many of them are pure genius! Harry H stepped into Sid James usual leading man role with gusto (here as police sergeant), and Fenella Fieldings Vamp is delicious. A sample quote following Slobotham’s encounter with a giant lurch-like werewolf:

Constable Slobotham: Sorry, Sergeant ! I thought it was that horrible thing again.

Det Sgt. Bung: What horrible thing ?

Constable Slobotham: I don’t know. It was something unspeakable.

Det Sgt. Bung: Unspeakable ?

Constable Slobotham: Yes. Never said a word.

bad jokes that great deserve prizes!

63. The Terminator (1984)

James Cameron’s debut movie, a low-budget sci-fi blockbuster that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a big name. The cast is great, even Arnie (mostly because he doesn’t have to try and act much) and the suspense and tenseness of the “how can you kill a killing machine that just comes back again” plot has been copied endlessly since. The direction is sharp, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn are fab, and the End Of The World We’re All Doomed (Maybe) plotline hangs heavy over the film throughout. Very famous now, spawning sequels, TV series and a 3D movie/live stage action combination at Universal Studios (seen it dozens of times), not to mention starting James Cameron’s cinematic empire, one might say it exceeded it’s modest aims. A great movie.

62. Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

Follow-up to the rejuvenated Classic Trek franchise, with an all-new cast (plus original Spock Leonard Nimoy, and Doctor Who’s Noel Clarke in cameo) J.J.Abrams (future Star Wars final trilogy director) does a marvellous job in updating Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. The original had Ricardo Montalban as villain Khan, and the original TV cast, as major bonuses, but had some structural flaws in it’s climax, notably fighting by video screen. This version fleshes out the plot more, adds in some great Trek history nods for the fans, and is out and out good-natured, fast-paced action. The new cast is every bit as good as the originals, every single one of them, especially the core three characters Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and McCoy (Karl Urban), not to mention Simon Pegg as Scotty. Genius casting, and man of the moment Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan is a great choice too. I could nitpick about the interplanetary-beaming escape being a very bad plot device (why have spaceships if you can do that!) but it’s nonetheless a great romp.

61. The Mummy Returns (2001)

A quick follow-up to the fabulous The Mummy, this sequel had the advantage of the original cast (albeit with a surprisingly not-annoying young son for Brendon Fraser and Rachel Weisz), a bigger budget and non-stop engaging adventure. Not as satisfying as the original, but enough of a spectacle and fun romp that I still enjoy re-watching it. Fraser and Weisz, and John Hannah are still engaging and the baddies Arnold Vosloo and Patricia Velasquez deliciously naughty. The main annoyance continues to be the extended advert for The Scorpion King movie, Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s stepping stone to stardom, and any real sense of danger (having seen the original movie), but as a good-natured bit of fun there are plenty of amusing set pieces, the double-decker bus chase, the balloon-boat quest and the niggling banter between Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and his brattish British captive boy.

60. A Night At The Opera (1935)

The Marx Brothers, especially Groucho, had become cult heroes by the 70’s to a new generation of fans raised on their movies from TV (like me). The cynicism, anarchy and energy of the trio had aged quite well compared to other stars of the early 20th century. Sadly, in these “colour movies only” days, they seem to be a minority interest which is a great shame because some of the greatest moments of cinema are the verbal sparring matches between Chico and Groucho, and Groucho’s one-liner put-downs of the rich, the powerful, the pompous, or the ridiculous. Historic translation of 19th century vaudeville over to cinema, their early films were just TOO anarchic for mainstream media, so this was the first (and best) attempt to widen the appeal via adding a love story couple and song and dance numbers. To be honest the terribly dated saccharine non-Marx add-ons were made for fast-forwarding, but it’s worth persevering for the gags. Harpo, the silent movie left-over, tends to be more annoying than amusing, but Chico and Groucho’s timing is just sooo good for the wisecracks. This is the best of their MGM movies, taking the piss out of the sniffy Opera-crowd. Worth it for the “There ain’t no Sanity Clause” bad pun alone.

59. Apollo 13 (1995)

Ron Howard’s project to remind everyone of the achievements of the Moon Landing and the heroic astronauts of those days. It’s a great film with Tom Hanks fitting the part of Jim Lovell perfectly, in fact the whole cast is fab, Kevin bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton and even Ron’s brother Clint yet again stuck in Mission Control in a movie. It’s easy with historical hindsight to take events for granted, but when I was 12 the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission gripped the news media for days, we had no idea whether they would get back alive from cutting edge frontier exploration-gone-wrong. The film beautifully captures 1970 and the events, I lived in Singapore at the time, all technicolour tropical delight and the fashions are those in the film, the talking point at home with the neighbours was whether they would survive (it didn’t look good) and the miracle was that they did with sticky tape and pencils and a lot of good luck. It’s an example to anyone taking on historical events to be largely faithful, scientifically accurate, have a great script and cast, and the drama will unfold itself without need to resort to fantasy and nonsense masquerading as history. Brilliant, award-winning stuff.

58. The Thin Man (1934)

The oldest film in my 100 (there I’ve given it away, no silent movies!), William Powell and the fab Myrna Loy starred in a whole series of romantic detective comedies, and pretty much set the template for Romcom, for smart, witty dialogue, on-screen banter, playfulness and murder mysteries as a fun puzzle to be solved while having a laugh and a dash of drama (see most TV series based on cops and detectives!). A married, well-to-do couple with bags of leisure time and cash, it was something to aspire to in the desperate 30’s, and this debut film remains the best of the bunch, with Aster the dog, and a guest actor (Cesar Romero) who later popped up as his own latin romantic leads before morphing into the 60’s Joker in Batman. The on-screen chemistry is fab between Powell & Loy, and Myrna was still cropping up well into the 70’s on TV and in movies, still dignified, classy and witty. Charming, always, The Thin Man movies.

57. Monte Carlo Or Bust! (1969)

Follow up to the slightly more famous Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, there’s more to love in this period car rally race comedy: most of all Peter Cook and Dudley Moore as upper-class British Empire delusions-of-grandeur (but loveable) types. They have some great scenes together, though the films main stars are Tony Curtis, still one of the great easygoing leading men in movies at that time, and Susan Hampshire, fresh out of The Forsyte Saga on TV and slap bang into family-oriented movies. I was a huge fan of both, and still am. Toss in double-act Eric Sykes and Terry-Thomas, the greatest comic villain actor in cinema history – he’s despicable and yet appealing, always playing the same unscrupulous cad with gusto – and there’s enough to love to get over the odd over-long more European OTT scenes. Bonus villain Gert “Goldfinger” Frobe is funny, Hattie Jacques, always endearing, cameos along with other Sykes regulars, and the plot jaunts along nicely enough. Movies these days are so engrossed with spectacle they forget the joy of the character actor at the top of their game, and this movie has that aplenty. Fun.

56. The Matrix (1999)

The Wachowski Brothers hugely original and stylishly influential sci-fi blockbuster is a visual treat, and the cast uniformly perfect in their roles. Largely humourless and ponderous, full of self-import, and, let’s be honest, a very silly plot (humans used as living batteries for powering machines, living a virtual life, doesn’t really bear come over as remotely likely) but the style and mood of the movie just carries it brilliantly. Keanu Reeves is great as the lead, minimal emoting as ever, Carrie Ann Moss is cool, Laurence Fishburne is great, Hugo Weaving is astoundingly charismatic for a computer-generated baddie, and Joe Pantoliano is beautifully sleazy as the treacherous Cypher. I grew up seeing Eastern action movies in Singapore, and some of their vigour and style is sort-of incorporated and updated with computer state-of-the-art effects to give a visual Kap-pow! Neither of the sequels comes close to the cohesiveness plot-wise of the original, and it remains fresh and just plain fabulous to watch.

55. Casablanca (1942)

One of the greatest and most famed movies of all-time, I also love it. These days it’s a period movie, stylish, romantic, dramatic and dashing, but in 1942 it was a modern anti-nazi war movie and love story. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman gained screen immortality, quite rightly, and the supporting cast is also excellent, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Claude Rains especially. Given the chaos the script and production was in during filming, it’s a major triumph of turning mess into a shining jewell. Maybe that’s why it seems so alive as a film. Or maybe it’s Bogart, cynical and hurt, an actor ahead of his time – by the 70’s he had become much bigger in death than he was in life, a cult hero for cynical times, so much so that the gorgeous Dooley Wilson song As Time Goes By (as featured in the film) became a chart hit mixed with great quotes taken from the film. And there are so many: Of all the gin-joints…, Play it! Play As Time Goes By…, and many many more. The dialogue is genius. The film is brilliant.

54. Aliens (1986)

James Cameron’s unlikely sequel to Ridley Scott’s superb Alien, this is pure roller-coaster action from start to end. Sigourney Weaver proves herself to be one of the great assertive female actors – worth mentioning that, because before she came along women were not action heroes – and a treasure of sci-fi/fantasy genres films that is still ongoing. Fanboys worship at her feet. At least this one does, anyway! The plot is fine, the action brilliant, the effects horrific (in a good way), and the cast are really good too, albeit as cannon-fodder, especially Bill “Twister/Apollo 13” Paxton and Michael “Terminator” Biehn, and Lance Henriksen as the android sets himself up nicely for X-Files/Millennium-type TV roles. James Cameron showed what he could do with a decent budget, and the movie showed that sequels don’t have to be carbon-copies of the original, Aliens being a very different movie to Alien in tone and pace and style.

53. It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

If ever there was the perfect all-star comic cast it’s this one. A blockbuster comedy tour-de-force from Stanley Kramer, if anything it’s got too much going on and needed editing down – it was, at the cinema from 210 minutes to 161. The script is fine, a manic chase movie looking for buried treasure, but the main appeal is the sheer number of beloved comic actors doing what they do best, and headed by the non-comic-actor Spencer Tracey. A huge, huge box-office hit at the time, I guess the appeal passes subsequent generations by as each of the stars (many of them TV stars) become less known. However, every generation really needs to acquaint itself with any film that has Phil “Bilko” Silvers in all his conniving, charming glory, Terry-Thomas sniffily doing battle with battle-axe musical superstar Ethel Merman and dumb psycho Jonathan Winters. Pretty much the entire (huge) cast were well-known in the 60’s, it would be the equivalent of taking all current American TV comics and comic-actors and putting them in one huge movie, but that’s not enough – no, there are cameos from superstars Jack Benny, Buster Keaton, Jerry Lewis and dozens of others. The interplay and ruthless competing between the main cast, is the joy, the set-piece visual (silent-movie-inspired) scenes a bit more hit & miss.

52. The Simpsons Movie (2007)

A great shame this movie just missed the Top 50, it’s a gem, and a return to the great days of The Simpsons TV series, seasons 3 to 10 or so rating among the best 7 or 8 years of TV comedy of all-time, if not the very top. In the years since the late 90’s the scripts weren’t as sharp or original (the baton for that had passed firmly to Futurama), so it was marvellous to get this gift reminding us just how good The Simpsons could be when the scripts are there. Homer Simpson (Doh!) is one of the great comic characters of all-time, and his scenes with the wrecking ball, Spider-pig, lost in the wilderness, and motorbike ride round the bomb-blasting dome around Springfield memorable. Matt Groening, to me, is a TV great for creating Simpsons and Futurama, and the actors, there from day 1 voicing the large cast of characters, brilliant and pop up in other movies in person, notably Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer.

51. Move Over Darling (1963)

The one that just misses out on the 50? Doris Day. Oldest woman to make the album chart with new material in 2013 or so, Doris is not just a great singer with a voice to melt the heart, she was the world’s premiere light comic actor, male or female, for 10 years or so in the 50’s and 60’s. Box office gold, the Rom-coms churned out at a goodly pace, most of them fair to good, and occasionally great, notably with Rock Hudson or, as in this case, the great genial TV actor from cowboy series Maverick who transferred later success to the fabulous Rockford Files. In the interim he was a great leading man, essentially playing the same cowardly, cynical, wisecracking, loveable, exasperated and good-hearted role in most of them. I love Doris, I love James, and I love this film and the then-familiar supporting cast of great character actors like Thelma Ritter, Don Knotts and the fabulous John “Gomez Addams” Astin. The plot? James thinks he’s widowed but Doris instead turns up on the day she’s declared legally dead having marooned on a tropical island for 5 years. As you do. It’s fluffy nonsense, and it’s all about the larks and quips and sparks flying, but it’s such fun what’s not to love. It’s also got that great theme tune, sung by Doris and a hit again 20 years later. Yay!

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2 thoughts on “Top 100 Favourite Movies – Coming Soon!

  1. Great idea, John!
    Looking forward to see that list!

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