As a part-time critic for The Avro Post, I think it’s important to share what my favourite movies are so that readers can get a better sense of who I am as a moviegoer.
10. The Conjuring
Directed by James Wan, The Conjuring was the first horror movie in a very long time to actually creep me out. It had a very gritty, real tone to it and Wan’s understanding of making sequences tense help draw the viewers in and lure them into a false sense of security. The sequel to this movie managed to scare me, but I felt the story and direction was far stronger in this film.
9. What We Do In the Shadows
Taika Waititi’s major directorial debut saw three vampires; Viago, Vladislav and Deacon, living together in Wellington, New Zealand and it’s a hilarious movie. Loaded with jokes and such a unique premise, the success of this movie allowed Waititi to go on and continue to build his name with projects like Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit and the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. This movie also received a TV series adaptation that I thought was almost better than the movie it was based on and tackled a lot of humour that pushed the boundaries of TV in some cases.
Damien Chazelle’s first major film came out swinging. A powerful dynamic between Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) and Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) results in a look at how dangerous the pursuit of success can be. The editing in this film is incredible, utilizing the music of the film to elevate the storytelling and keeping the raw intensity of Neiman’s training uncomfortable. I heard about the movie due to its Golden Globe/Oscar campaign and when I got to finally see it on home release – wow! It was the first movie I sat and watched twice (back to back) just to absorb it all.
7. The Big Lebowski
Joel and Ethan Coen are among the my favourite directors and The Big Lebowski plays a big part in that. Despite a long list of great movies like True Grit, A Serious Man, No Country for Old Men and Raising Arizona; there’s something about the absurdity and no-purpose plot to Lebowski that makes it so charming and enjoyable. Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore and Peter Stormare, the film is just a chronicling of one very average man’s miserable day spiralling into something even more ridiculous. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, watch it at your soonest convenience.
6. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
In a franchise that started out strong with the first film in 1996, the Mission: Impossible movies have just gotten better and better. Christopher McQuarrie took over from Brad Bird with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and then the sequel, Fallout. The sixth film took everything to new heights – bigger stunts, bigger set pieces, bigger cast, you name it. No matter how old he gets, Tom Cruise shows no signs of slowing down and it shows the most in this film, especially after he broke his ankle during a take but kept going.
5. Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
I remember being four years old and my dad rented Star Wars Episode V from a video store (way back when) and it was one of my first ever live action movies that wasn’t directed at children. I was in complete amazement at what I was seeing. The Battle of Hoth, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Bespin, Dagobah… all of these distant and magnificent places and characters accompanied by John Williams’ iconic score. To say it left an impression on me is an understatement, and while I don’t hold Star Wars as near to me as I did as a child, there’s no denying that I’ll be there opening night for every new Star Wars movie.
4. The Godfather
When it comes to classic filmmaking, or films in general, you can’t, under any circumstances, forget Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo, it tells the story of a New York crime family in the 1950s. With a cast that has gone down in the history books; Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan and Diane Keaton, The Godfather appeared on my radar during my formative years, you could call them, the ones we all have in our early to mid-teens, and it opened my eyes to the finer side of film. There’s nothing wrong with explosions and superheroes and action movies, but to ignore what’s considered the classics is doing yourself a disservice, and The Godfather is one of those classics you have to see.
3. Walk The Line
At the time that this movie came out, I was at an age where biopics didn’t exactly do much for me, but Walk the Line changed my life, for lack of a better saying. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon star as Johnny Cash and June Carter, directed by James Mangold, and it’s a fantastic movie. Chronicling Cash’s life from his troubled childhood through his first marriage, his rise to fame, drug abuse and eventual peace and reconciliation with Religion and June Carter. I was floored and blown away by this movie and instantly became a huge Johnny Cash fan. The movie made me also go out and get a guitar and I taught myself to play.
2. The Middle Earth Saga
While this section is encompassing all six films (yes, I love The Hobbit trilogy too), if I was forced to pick one, it would be The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Fellowship kickstarted an interest in fantasy, and in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien in general. It was the first movie franchise to get me going back to the theatre excited, hoping to see a trailer for the following instalment. Return of the King ignited my love of films with “My friends… You bow to no one…” remaining one of my favourite cinematic moments of all time. Beautifully crafted from start to finish with a score that cannot be matched from Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings is brilliant.
1. The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Much like the Middle Earth saga before this, if I had to narrow the choice down, it would be Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, and I feel like that counts as one pick because it’s telling one over-arching story with the Infinity Stones and Thanos. Growing up as a fan of superheroes, what Marvel Studios has managed to achieve over the past 11 years is beyond astounding. The action, the stories, the characters – all on this continuing, ever-evolving journey. The riskiest thing Marvel Studios did one day was make Iron Man – now we’re moving into a time where we’re getting movies like The Eternals, Shang-Chi and Disney+ shows for characters like Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk and it’s glorious.
Honourable mentions: Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese), The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson), SAW (James Wan), Logan (James Mangold), Toy Story (John Lasseter), Inside Out (Pete Doctor)