BC’s top 25 movies

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BC Pires -


IN 2016, I told my son that the original 1997 German-language version of Michael Heneke’s Funny Games was one of my 25 favourite films.

“Papa,” he chuckled, “you have about 500 of your 25 favourite films.”

It took five years but, in the wake of the 2021 TT Film Festival, I’ve come up with the real list.

To pick 25 from 500, I used a savage cutting tool: how many times could I watch this film enthusiastically and always take away something new every time?

Here then, in reverse order, are my 25 favourite films:

25. The Sixth Sense. M Night Shyamalan’s first film set his personal bar so high, all his following films limboed under it.

24. It’s a Wonderful Life. Frank Capra’s Christmas classic would probably top the list, if one didn’t make allowances for sentiment and ponche crema.

23. Planet of the Apes. The 1968 Charlton Heston version still stuns.

22. 12 Angry Men. The original courtroom thriller is still riveting 64 years later.

21. The Silence of the Lambs. In the last 20 years, only Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners approaches its rigid tension throughout.

20. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The spaghetti Western as gourmet fine dining.

19. The Exorcist. Another horror film would need something extraordinary – like Jack Nicholson – to be more worthy of repeat watching.

18. Aguirre: The Wrath of God. The film that best captures the Caribbean human condition was made by a German, Werner Herzog.

17. Locke. A thriller set in the driver’s seat of a BMW is the modern update of 12 Angry Men.

16. A Clockwork Orange. Stanley Kubrick’s superb rendition of the better version (without the final chapter) of Anthony Burgess’s great novel.

15. Taxi Driver. Martin Scorsese’s great New York film with Robert “You Got a Gun” De Niro.

14. Apocalypse Now. The Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness, retold with Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, a smoking soundtrack, Playboy playmates dropping out of helicopters and tigers jumping out of the bush.

13. Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino’s best movie.

12. American Beauty. Sam Mendes’s first film remains his best, the way I see it; which is at least once a year.

11. Elephant. Gus Van Sant’s masterpiece could be the best-edited film ever shot.

10. The Deer Hunter. The only reason Michael Cimino’s Vietnam film doesn’t peg higher is I’ve watched the films above it more.

9. No Country for Old Men. The Coen Bros adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s hard novel, plus Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem, makes this their best film yet.

8. On Body and Soul. Hungarian female director Ildiko Enyedi’s 2017 film is the newest on the list and the most unusual boy-meets-girl flick ever. It’s on Netflix.

7. Old Boy. Chan-Wook Park’s best film is violent, angry, vengeful – and beautiful and hopeful.

6. The Shining. This is a film that can curdle the blood just remembering almost any scene. Even without the axe.

5. Funny Games. Michael Haneke’s powerful argument against violence is made so well, people walked out of the cinema in protest against the violence he does not actually show.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey. The cut shot from the bone flung up into the air to the spaceship falling has not been bettered by 53 years of CGI and green-screen trickery. The final sequences are as scary to the middle-aged man today as they were to the ten-year-old boy who saw them at Astor Cinema in Woodbrook.

3. Three Colours (Blue/White/Red). Krzysztof Kieslowski’s great trilogy, separate-but-connected films inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity).

2. The Sopranos. The best American cinema since The Godfather also deals with the family through the mob. Now that I've watched the whole 86-hour series five times now, my second film could arguably be my top one, except my number one is:

1. The Godfather, Parts I and II. The films that made me come up with the test that settled my 25 Top Movies list. Every time I walk through a room in which The Godfather, I or II, is on a screen, I stop and watch. After a minute, I sit down. If I get up again before the film ends, it’s only for popcorn.

BC Pires is taking 400 blows for leaving out La Strada, Chinatown, Double Indemnity, Psycho, Force Majeure, This Is Spinal Tap, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings and plenty others that did not pass the test.

Read a considerably expanded version of this column on Saturday at www.BCPires.com


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