I guess this is a list of my current favourites and the list will (almost certainly) change in the future but I will always recommend every single one of these films.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2006)
Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler: An innocent prisoner will become more angry by the hour due to the injustice suffered. He will shout and rage. A guilty prisoner becomes more calm and quiet. Or he cries. He knows he’s there for a reason. The best way to establish guilt or innocence is non-stop interrogation.
This film has been my favourite for about 10 years, from my very first viewing. I’m a big fan of character driven dramas and this is a perfect example of this. It’s a slow film but the characters are so well developed you get completely caught up in their lives. The moral conflict that the main character goes through is utterly compelling and the ending is just perfect. All the performances are spot on and the film manages to be tense and gripping without the need for big action sequences. It’s a must see!
DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)
Sonny: It’s your job, right? The guy who kills me… I hope he does it because he hates my guts, not because it’s his job.
A film that I’ve been reminded of recently that I’d forgotten just how wonderful it is and I’m genuinely shocked it is not in the top 100 list. The film perfectly captures the public fascination with live unfolding events and how we always cheer for the underdog. It also deals with some pretty groundbreaking issues for the 1970s. However, the film is really all about Al Pacino’s performance – he reminds you why he is regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time and isn’t just all over the top and shouty (Devil’s Advocate I’m looking at you…) This is, in my opinion, Pacino’s greatest performance and a classic in every sense.
(THIS IS) SPINAL TAP (1984)
Nigel Tufnel: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like – I’m really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it’s sort of in between those, really. It’s like a Mach piece, really. It’s sort of…
Marty DiBergi: What do you call this?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, this piece is called “Lick My Love Pump”.
It was hard to pick just one quote from this film as it’s a movie with so many memorable one liners. It’s also hard for a comedy to age well but 30 years on from its release Spinal Tap is, in my opinion, the funniest film ever made. The mock documentary style at its finest with some great individual performances, most of which are improvised. And the songs are fun!
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006)
Richard: Oh my God, I’m getting pulled over. Everyone, just… pretend to be normal.
This is the film I always watch when I need a pick me up and generally want something feel good. The ensemble cast are all superb and it’s hard to pick a stand out performance. The film perfectly captures a dysfunctional family as they bicker their way across America. There’s loads of great individual scenes and as a whole it will definitely put a smile on your face. It’s genuinely heartwarming and a real gem.
LOVE AND MERCY (2014)
Brian Future: I hear voices. I didn’t tell you cause I didn’t want to scare you away.
A recent release that leapt into my favourites after just one viewing. The film is the story of Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame but has a clever gimmick with two actors playing him at different stages of his life. It feels right that two actors are playing Brian as this very much feels like two different characters, one during his descent into madness, the other coming out of it. Paul Dano is uncanny as young Brian Wilson and in a career full of great performances this may be the highlight so far. The film is slightly cheesy in places but it is very charming and the love story with older Brian works very well. There’s also the added bonus of some Beach Boys classics which slot in nicely to the film. And if that doesn’t convince, then Paul Giamatti (who I’ll watch in pretty much anything) is having a great time hamming it up to the extreme.