Looking through my list of top ten movies, it soon becomes evident that there is a strong bias towards musicals. This has been my favourite genre of film from an early age and I never tire of watching them.
My taste in TV programmes is about 95% factual documentaries and 5% historical dramas such as ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’. Unfortunately, the number of documentaries made for cinema audiences these days can be counted on one hand. Gone are the days when those fabulous ‘National Geographic’ travelogues were shown alongside the main feature.
I’ve never been a fan of action films and American comedies leave me cold. Indeed, the phrase ‘American comedy’ is the biggest misnomer in the English language as far as I’m concerned.
Here then is my top ten list:-
10. American Graffiti (Dir. George Lucas 1973)
A coming of age movie that epitomises what I believe small town America was like in the early 60s. It was a time of innocence that is now very nostalgic to look back on. It was shot in under a month on a tight budget but captures that era perfectly in the sets, the cars and the music. As we all know, Lucas went on to make ‘Star Wars’, a great achievement indeed but, given the choice, I would rather sit through ‘American Graffiti’.
9. Amadeus (Dir. Milos Forman 1984)
This is not the story, as you might suppose, of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself but of the consuming jealousy of a lunatic asylum inmate, Antonio Salieri. He believes that God should have given him the musical talent rather than to Mozart, whom he considers to be a vulgar character. How historically correct the movie is, I have no idea, but if you enjoy it for what it is rather than analyse it, you will surely find it as entertaining as I did.
8. Chicago (Dir. Rob Marshall 2002)
The star of this movie is, without doubt, the dancing and choreography. The screen adaptation of Bob Fosse’s original stage musical is a delight from beginning to end. We are all aware of Richard Gere’s acting talents but in this film he knocks out a great tune and he isn’t a bad dancer either. He is ably supported by Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones strutting their stuff. Definitely one of my all time favourite musicals whether on stage or on the screen.
7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Dir. Stanley Kubrick 1968)
I admit to not understanding certain aspects of this film when I first saw it as a teenager, in particular the importance of the black monoliths. However, I was gripped from the moment the bone that the ape man threw in the air metamorphosed into a spacecraft. The absolutely stunning photography set to the ’Blue Danube’ was a treat for the eyes and ears. The ever more threatening computer ‘Hal’ was another master-stroke in one of the best Science Fiction films ever made.
6. Koyaanisqatsi (Dir. Godfrey Reggio 1982)
Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi Indian term meaning ‘Life out of balance’. A documentary (of sorts), this film is a collection of stunning moving images incorporating time lapse and slow motion photography set to the haunting music of Phillip Glass. The final sequence is unbelievable and you simply wonder ‘How did they film that?’ If you haven’t seen this film, I urge you to watch it.
5. Evita (Dir. Alan Parker 1996)
Film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical based on the life of Eva Peron. Now, I’m no fan of Madonna but credit where credit’s due; she was perfect in this role. The costumes and visuals were stunning and Madonna’s co-stars, particularly Antonio Banderas, were totally believable in their roles. The Peron era was a difficult time for many Argentines but it was interesting to see the other side of the coin.
4. E.T The Extra Terrestrial (Dir. Steven Spielberg 1982)
In my opinion, Spielberg’s finest movie. The film’s ability to grab you emotionally is very strong and I admit that I had tears in my eyes when I first saw what I thought was going to be E.T.s death scene. Spielberg takes you on an uplifting journey and anyone who is not moved by this film whether they be an adult or a child must have a heart of stone.
3. Oklahoma (Dir. Fred Zinnemann 1955)
Made the year I was born (yes, I know I look much younger) and a film that I never miss whenever it is on TV. The quality of the Cinemascope print is stunning and the photography really brings home the feel of the Oklahoma territory at the turn of the century. The ‘Rodgers and Hammerstein’ numbers ain’t too bad either.
2. Oliver (Dir. Carol Reed 1968)
A musical version of Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’, this film has a great cast and great choreography. However, it is Lionel Bart’s masterful musical scores that make this my number one stand alone musical. Every song is unforgettable and you find yourself singing them for days after watching the film.
No 1 – That’s Entertainment (Dir. Jack Haley Jr, 1974)
A mix of my two favourite genres, musicals and documentary. This is the story of the 50 year history of the MGM studios and its stars. There are more stars in this than in the night sky and the unforgettable songs and dance routines are pure magic.
So there you have it – agree or disagree as is your wont. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out the lists from other OVFM members!! Click HERE to return to the menu page!