We all have favourite movies. I certainly do? But why do I love them? Do they inspire me as a writer? Do they inspire me to change as a person? Or are they just a fantastic powerful art form I’ve come to love throughout my life?
How’s it going everyone. Here’s another little (big) post about me and my interest. Today. I’m going to explore my favourite movies and why. I’m basing this list mainly on the films I return to over and over again. I’ve watched hundreds of movies in my life. Some great, some not so great, but the ones I love, are by far the ones I rewatch over and over, never getting bored, always being inspired. So without further ado, here’s Part 1 (Drama) of my ever so large list..
12. Perfume – 2006
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, centres around the life of a young man gifted with a remarkably heightened sense of smell. So powerful in fact he has the capacity to take pleasure in all scents, providing they are always new, and always evolving, all in the pursuit of creating the world’s most sublime perfume, even at the expense of others.
What I loved most about this film was its daringness. Based on the novel of the same name, Perfume takes a rich look into the sometimes emotional and sometimes graphically sexual world of the olfactory. It performs magnificently in portraying the art of perfume making, even at the expense of innocents for the sake of talent.
It looks into the harsh reality of obsession, and how one’s obsessed mind can deal such consequential actions in the pursuit and acquisition of preserved bottled perfection: a perfume so perfect, those who smelt it would believe they were in paradise.
Arguably the film could be considered contrived or pretentious. But I beg to differ. As dated as it may be to today’s cinematic standards, Perfume is utterly jaw dropping and encapsulating, and must be watched by anyone who’s ever obsessed, as the movie is an overpowering portrayal of obsession’s dangers.
11. In America
In America is a movie revolving around the lives of an Irish family who have recently moved from Canada to New York after the tragic loss of their young son. It follows how each of them adapt to their newly fast paced lives, navigating their emotions during such a difficult period.
There are so many key themes in this movie: loss, family, acceptance, poverty, unemployment, difficult choices, friendship, and above all, moving on and moving forward. Each character in the family deals with the ramifications of the son’s death in different ways, the movie told in almost two viewpoints, that of the more mature and sceptic parents, and that of the innocents and curiosity of the two daughters.
I could quite honestly believe the family were indeed relatives, the chemistry between all four of them, including ‘the man who screams,’ a neighbour of theirs in the building of which they all live, is vividly and emotionally realistic. The film drips with agonisingly beautiful truth, of how things are never easy, and never rosy, but in spite of it, if one can focus on the positives of life, positive change will happen, and will inevitably proceed happiness.
10. The Beach
The story of The Beach follows Richard, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, on his travels to Thailand in search of escapism. Stumbling upon a map in Bangkok, Richard sets off to a supposedly mystical island paradise, which not only does he find, but along with it a community of backpackers intent on remaining in their own purpose-built resort.
Though the concept of such a story would seem idyllic, it slowly unravels into the overall message that the road of adventure, although something to be sought, will in fact lead to an inevitable pothole. Nothing so perfect as the beach in which they chose to live on would ever be tame enough to retain one’s sanity.
It comes across almost that the beach itself within the island, is in fact like a drug, something so bliss-inducing, the human mind, along with human nature, will one day cease to handle it, leading to self-isolation and overall madness, something many of the characters soon fall into.
The plot of the film is a little distant some may argue, but visually the film packs a wallop, and the music choice is a perfect representation of the backpacking culture. Acting is superb from DiCaprio and Swinton, and as a viewer, I truly cared for their outcomes. A crazy, intense yet beautiful experience this film truly is.
9. Memoirs of a Geisha – 2005
Memoirs of a Geisha is centred around a young woman, who, taken away from her family is forced into the ownership of a geisha house, a place where young women are trained to become the renowned Japanese artists. Over time, she falls head over heels for a successful and influential businessman during the World War 2 era.
Ignoring the often criticism the movie received for its style over substance or Chinese/American actor usage for a Japanese story, the movie inspires the notion of striving for what you want and what you deserve in the face of adversity. Little Chiyo, the lead in the story, is put against so many set backs, hardships, bullies, expectations and ownerships, it’s a surprise she manages the overall goal she has set for herself: to one day find the man who showed her kindness on a bridge.
Visually, this movie is an absolute stunner. The accuracy and dedication to the referenced culture of Japan in the second world war era is meticulous, and whilst the acting is, arguably as good as an American interpretation of Japanese cinema goes, it’s hard not to be swept up by the incredible character developments. The score also is something to behold, combining both traditional Japanese with modern western orchestral, the movie is a feast for your eyes, ears and emotions.
8. Fight Club – 1999
The movie is about a man with a desperate need to cure his insomnia. Unable to sleep, he fakes a series of mental and physical symptoms in order to attend various support groups: a kind of coping mechanism for his emotional imbalance and addiction to Ikea furniture. Until he meets two unlikely people who change his life for what would seem for the better, though leads him down an unusual path of self-discovery.
What I loved most about this film, is its punchy (pardon the pun) representation of consumerism and meaning of life. Many of us have questioned what the meaning of life really is, and for some, such as the Narrator in Fight Club, the meaning of life can sometimes only be summoned by escaping, or more like disowning, a life within the corporate, nine to five rat race.
Steadily the movie increasingly ups the ante in terms of its mystery and character development, another thing I love in movies: how a character begins their journey as one person, and finishes it as either an improved or unimproved version of their former self. Another movie unquestionably great with its acting and gritty mood, Fight Club is a film stacked with plot, character and a message relatable to anyone who’s ever wondered: is there more to my life?
7. Chocolat – 2000
Chocolat follows the life of a mother and daughter, as they move from town to town, bestowing the healing art of chocolate making onto the residents, until the pesky Northern Wind insist on their evanescence to pastures new.
Chocolat is a very easy film to get on with. The conflict is very much present in this story in the form of the unwelcome townspeople during the time of Lent, and though it serves the plot and the character development marvellously, there is never an uncomfortable moment, and the film is as delicious to take in as much as the chocolates the characters indulge in.
The scenes in this film are decadent and look utterly delicious. The overall tone is warm and vibrant, and the score is whimsical and cheeky, though remaining poised and elegant. The messages are also just as yummy, like how a small act of kindness can completely change one’s perception of another, and how forbidding yourself of an odd little indulgence can only wreak havoc on your arguably perfect little life.
Precious follows the life of an overweight, pregnant, uneducated teenage girl living in Harlem New York in the late 80s. Clarice, also known as Precious, is consistently abused by her mother as a form of punishment for something Precious had no control over, and her story involves her struggle for education and stability in an unloving and hostile environment.
Boasting some of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time, it’s no wonder Mo’Nique, the actor playing Precious’ mother, quite rightly won her Academy Award for a climactic and earth shattering portrayal.
I can’t stress how utterly mean this film is to its characters, but there’s something about it that just screams realness and authenticity, you can’t help but be sucked into it. There’s so much room and opportunity to wish the best outcome for each of the characters and you really do care for them.
This movie is about realising and accepting your handicaps, but knowing that if you are able to embrace whatever shred of dignity you have for yourself, you’ll pull through from your ordeals and come out tops.
5. The Danish Girl – 2015
Taking many artistic liberties, based loosely on only a few documented events, the Danish girl fictionalises the real life struggle of the first transgender pioneer, Einar Wegener, into her new life as Lili in 20s Copenhagen.
What strikes me most about this movie is its ballsy undertaking of the still rather controversial topic of transgenderism. The topics shown are remarkably tasteful and artistic, though it does not shy away from the harsh realities some people in these situations go through, most notably the partners of those transitioning.
Both leads played by Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander meld so fluidly together it would be easy to watch the pair of them for hours, expressing their love that you or I would only understand should we ever be in their shoes. Their character journeys are so well arced, there’s a true sense of satisfaction as we experience both their emotional and physical changes.
Visually and audibly beautiful, the movie is perfect for anyone looking for something open minded, unique, well acted and rawly current, regardless of its setting.
4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those films that, despite its embedment in reality, it proves that should you take a chance at some point in your life, you’ll take yourself to enchanted and colourful territories you would otherwise never see yourself in. This movie follows several individuals on a somewhat more mature spectrum, as they embark on very individual journeys to The Best Exotic marigold Hotel in Jaipur India.
I LOVE stories like this, where several different individuals cross paths to have beautiful and colourful affects on one another. Each have travelled to Jaipur for specific reasons, and each reason is enriched by the influences of the other. It’s marvellous, and I quite honestly find it difficult to put into words how soul fulfilling this movie is to me.
Admittedly it’s a little sensationalised and vibrant in places. Though it manages to capture India and Jaipur at its most splendid, I can’t help but imagine much of the exhausting features of such a dynamic environment have been omitted for the sake of the movie’s plot and character development. But for me that doesn’t matter. The film is quite lovely: it’s emotional, blood pumping, thought-provoking and boasts some of Britain’s most iconic and beloved acting talents.
There are music and visuals to melt your heart and worries and spice up your thirst for new experiences, and the movie is testament to the notion one is never too old to change their life and experience something new and wonderful. A quote from this film’s ending is enough to lift my spirits always: “Everything will be all right in the end, and if it’s not all right, then it’s not yet the end.”
I can honestly say this is one of my all time favourite movies, and though I would include the sequel to this film in this list, I feel I would just repeat myself and my admiration. I will of course leave with one last quote from the second movie (of which I usually watch both back to back for the full experience) and that is: “There is no present, like the time.”
Leon, an incredible movie by French director Luc Besson, portrays the life of The Professional, Leon, an assassin, and his young protégé Mathilda, who he reluctantly takes under his wing after her family are murdered by corrupt DEA officers.
As tempting as it is, I couldn’t possibly rid you of the experience this film has to offer by furthering any more plot details. All I can say is that the character development in this movie is utterly exceptional. The growth in both Leon (Jean Reno) and Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is a clear indication of what makes great cinema. The movie really is that good, and your love for them both is beyond the bond you may feel for other movies.
Combining both love, drama and action into one solid package, Leon is easy to get deep into, boasting an array of daring and well-executed cinematics, a gritty though soothing tone and a soundtrack that fits as though it were chosen by a master, which I’m sure it was.
There is one key thing I love to point out about this film when I discuss it with people who may not have heard of it, and that it is in fact a love story. There’s action, drama, fight scenes and a lot of violence, but of course that is all exciting fleshy plot: the soul is what makes this film special, and boy is that soul shining through. Leon The Professional is “a love story that isn’t a romance”, a love between a man and a young girl, unromantic, but certainly powerful and connective.
A crowning achievement in cinema.
2. Atonement – 2007
The story of Atonement is centred around the power of a lie. There are three main leads in this movie, all of whom are affected by not only the second world war, but by the lie constructed by a child, which inevitably tears two lovers away from each other, and thrust them down a path of misfortune.
What I love most about this film is the strong representation of causality, where one small action can ripple throughout time and have immeasurable consequences. Where people’s lives are so delicate, it begs the question: how much control of our own destinies do we really have? Are we truly at the mercy of such harsh coincidences?
That aside, Atonement boasts some truly earth shattering performances from James McAvoy and Keira Knightly. The pair have stunning chemistry, and the performance from Saoirse Ronan is equally captivating. I even find myself entranced by the movie’s score, which I often play in the background whilst writing. Cinematics are superb, and the overall tone of the movie is heart wrenching, absorbing and sublime.
I can’t begin to number the amount of times I’ve seen this movie. I just find it that good, along with an ending so brilliant I sometimes skip to to it just to get my kick.
1. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump I am sure, is one of those movies I’m certain is at least in a top 10 for any film lover. If you love movies, you either love this film, or haven’t seen it yet, which would be a surprise, for it’s a masterpiece. I haven’t yet gone into full detail yet, but take my word for it. This film is one of the best films ever created.
Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, is a coming of age story about a man with a rather small IQ, but and incredibly large heart. Forrest has one clear goal in this story, which is to reunite himself with his childhood sweetheart, Jenny. Both their lives move in very different directions into their adulthood, though the connections and love they cherished of each other from childhood, creates a bond Forrest will fight through anything to keep alive.
Though Forrest has very evidential character development through the movie, he acts more of a catalyst for the development of the other characters: he brings them up from the ashes, he incites new life into those who’s path crosses his own, and whilst the story is indeed about him, it proves the power of influence in how the other characters change for the better after they’ve spent time with him.
Bonds are made, wounds are healed, skills are mastered and creations are invented, Forrest, despite his lack of smarts, makes up for it in his own perfect little ways unpretentiously, like a real life angel sent down to right the wrongs and leave everlasting value to all lucky enough to be part of his experience.
I really don’t know if there’s anything I dislike about this film. It was probably the very first ‘grown up’ film I saw as a child. Sure I didn’t understand it fully, and was never able to appreciate the mastery before me, but seeing it now with adult eyes, I am ever so lucky to be around to have this film in my life. It promotes such a can-do attitude, a positive outlook on life, and the questionable power of ignorance.
The movie is a collection of genres also, mainly a drama in my eyes, but it’s an action, a romance and a war movie. It’s a lesson on humility, innocents, doing the right thing, motivated by curiosity, compassion and love. And the phrase is true: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Superb. Because you don’t. We are never truly in control of everything that happens to us, the variables are endless, the people we meet are boundless, and phenomenal events are inevitable, but what we do have in our arsenal of control, is the power to view life positively, for those who are fulled by love, can well and truly be unstoppable.
My hat is well and truly off…