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Shaun's Top 10 Films of All Time


The Guys from {FILM} is a discussion on movies and films from all eras and genres

Shaun's Top 10 Films of All Time

Shaun Cordingley

As we are at present launching a new site, with a wide array of topics and more regular content, I felt that it was perhaps a good idea to start with something that has come up on multiple occasions, both on Twitter and in questions to the {PODCAST}: 'what are your top 10 films of all time?'

Well then, to put this question to bed, once and for all, here are Shaun's Top 10 Films of All Time:

1) Alien -1979

Anyone who has been around The Guys From {BLANK}, or The Guys From {PODCAST}, or has spoken to me about film had no doubts of what my favourite film of all time is; Alien is still one of the best horror films every made, as well as being one of the best science fiction films ever made. The concept of taking a traditional haunted house story, and sticking it on a spaceship is genius, and the way in which Ridley Scott shoots the film is incredibly adept at delivering a great film on a budget that was ~10 million dollars.

The design of the alien (xenomorph) is amazing and creepy, and the use of Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger's artwork as a basis for the alien (and alien world elements) design was a brilliant stroke, giving Alien a feel that had never been seen before, and has never been replicated (unfortunately, even by the never to be mentioned in a Top 10 list again, Prometheus); thankfully Scott and scriptwriter Dan O'Bannon dug their heels in and convinced 20th Century Fox to keep the "disturbing" artistic imagery.

Look, I could literally write entire articles on Alien, and perhaps will in future, so lets just end this with a quick thank you to Star Wars (1977) for making Science Fiction a viable (read: marketable) genre, and for Dan O'Bannon holding out to ensure that Alien wasn't given to someone who would have turned it into a junk-y b-monster movie.

2) Jurassic Park (1993)

One of the greatest adventure movies ever made, with CGI dinosaurs that to this day still look great (plus the super-awesome models, puppets and robots) and a story that, while not exactly breaking any new ground, works so well, that there is no reason that this film shouldn't be on everyone's Top 10 lists unless:

a) They were born much later than 1993, thus they do not have the same sense of wonder and nostalgia for Jurassic Park that someone like me (who was in Grade 2 when it came out) would have.  Plus, as I was in Grade 2, I was obviously still totally obsessed with dinosaurs, so *boom*, and those young folks have Jurassic World to be excited about.

b) They don't like science fiction/fantasy films

c) They hate fun, or,

D) They're now too hipster-cool to say that they like something that is so unabashedly mainstream, mass-market and emotionally manipulative (face it, this movie tugs at you endlessly).

I am almost 100% sure that all of you are now humming the song from Jurassic Park because it is one of the best soundtracks of all time...heck I was even whistling it while I was writing about Alien, knowing that Jurassic Park was next.

Fun Fact: Back in university, when I had 4 roommates, we would put the soundtrack album on our house stereo and blast it while we were cleaning (or doing fantasy sports drafts); just try not to feel epic and successful mopping a floor and listening to soaring John Williams horns.

3) Paprika (2006)

The greatest animated film (to me) of all time is Satoshi Kon's Paprika; which is kind of an Inception before Inception. Paprika is hard to explain (as you perhaps gathered from the embedded trailer), but what it is essentially about is this: in the near future, a radical pyschotherapy treatment called 'dream therapy' is invented using a device called the 'DC Mini' which allows therapists to enter the dreams of their patients, and assist them there.  Everything goes crazy when a DC Mini is stolen and hacked, and the dream worlds begin merging with themselves and reality. 

Filled with a love of film-making, ridiculously spectacular set-pieces, and enough mind-bending art to send your head spinning, nothing has ever topped Paprika for me by way of animated films, and I suspect, with Satoshi Kon passing away in 2010, and Hayao Miyazaki retired, will remain at the top.

4) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

For listeners of the {PODCAST}, this will come as no surprise either, considering the amount of gushing I do/did for NBC's Hannibal. This is the first film on this list that I do not own (which I promise I will rectify at some point), but there is something fun about still having a few films that I absolutely love that I will stop immediately when I see it on television and just watch, regardless of where it is in the film.  The first (and only) Best Picture Oscar winner on this list, Silence is a spectacular film about a young F.B.I. agent seeking the help and advice of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (an imprisoned serial killer and cannibal), in order to catch a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill.

Tense, brilliantly acted, and with one of the best climaxes of all time (thinking of the night vision scene), Silence of the Lambs remains the best thriller ever made, and to me, the second best horror movie of all time.

And do not worry, I am not going to leave you hanging on the scene everyone thinks about (and yeah, WARNING OF EXPLICIT CONTENT):

5) Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back

I love Star Wars

This is still my favourite, and the best Star Wars film so far (and I do mean so far, I have high hopes for the new creative team delivering anthology films, and I loved what J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek).  I have an original release of Empire blanket (from 1979) on my bed right now, and I am not once bit ashamed of that (not to mention the fact that it is so old, worn and loved that it is the perfect spring/fall weight).

Between the Battle of Hoth, Luke's training with Yoda and the Cloud City sequences of Bespin, Empire Strikes Back is the darkest of the original trilogy, and still maintained its' delightful charm.  I do love all of the original trilogy, but the one that I think about the most (and thus is on this list) will always be Empire.

That is not to say that I cannot acknowledge that there are flaws in it, and I do not kid myself about the swamp, tree, darkness section all, but I love it just the same.

And of course, I mean this all before inserted, weirdness versions, I still remember seeing this when I was super young, on VHS, with my parents, and then having to wait until we went to the video store again (which I believe was a whole week) to see Return of the Jedi.


"Video store"

6) Jaws (1975)

I love sharks, and this is still the greatest shark movie ever made, and it is 40 years old. It not only requires you to accept Bruce as the shark (that poor, poor crew having to deal with that nightmarish set of water-logged puppets/robots), but to accept how 1970s the mayor of Amity Island is and go "yeah, that totally makes sense; you need a reason for people to keep swimming after the first attack....".

The first, and still one of the best blockbusters ever made, the story of Jaws is incredibly simple: giant shark terrorizes town, sheriff, marine biologist and fisherman are tasked to stop it. Man vs. nature as a theme at its' finest, Jaws is awesome, and good old John Williams nails the score again.

7) Pulp Fiction (1994)

I have been back and forth on which Tarantino film would make the Top 10 a few times, and depending on when I am writing the list, it usually rotates between this one and Inglorious Basterds, however when it gets right down to it, the only thing I have against Pulp Fiction is that I know it so well, so that is why it won the day.

An interlocking series of stories about Los Angeles mobsters, small-time criminals and fringe players (not to mention the briefcase), Pulp Fiction is the best indie film ever made (hard to believe, I know, but it was an indie film) that gives a modern *cough* 90s *cough* look at one of my favourite genres of fiction, complete with everything that makes Tarantino the director he is: the dialogue, the monologues, the cool soundtrack, the great cinematography on fight scenes, and the wry humour

Now whether or not it remains Tarantino's best film, is a conversation for another day...

8) Ghostbusters (1984)

I saw this movie when I was a bit too young, and did not sit on furniture for a while, for fear of arms coming out of them and dragging me to become a gatekeeper/keymaster, however, that aside, I love Ghostbusters. Out of all of the films on this list, I have probably seen this one the most, and yet continue to watch it once every couple of months when it is on television.

Starring some of the best comic actors of all time, featuring excellent special effects (the charm of these ghosts is off the chart, and do not get me started on the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man) and a story that holds up beyond measure, Ghostbusters is one of those absolutely classic 1980s films that stands up on its very own. The idea of taking a paranormal premise, and turning it into a work-a-day, almost utility idea is awesome.

Plus, in every history course about ancient Sumeria, I got to mention Zuul, much to the delight of my professors. hopeful...for the reboot, and I have no problem with the casting, or what I have been seeing so far, I just have a lot of concerns over rebooting a franchise like this at all...but having the original creators involved does get my attention, so here is hoping that we get another awesome addition, and not a Prometheus (dang it).

9) Gosford Park (2001)

Gosford Park was a film that I did not appreciate the first time I saw it, as I was too young at the time to really appreciate it for what it was, but the more that I have seen it, the higher and higher the film has climbed in my esteem to grace #9 on my Top 10 list.  Taking place over the course of a weekend at the upper class, eponymous English estate in 1932, we see the weekend through the eyes of the wealthy, upstairs, and the servants downstairs.

Financial machinations, murder, deception and intrigue abound, all tightly wrapped up in strict class and social mores, Gosford Park is my favourite Robert Altman film (I know he made M*A*S*H*,  but I said it), and is truly the auteur at his best.

To answer the inevitable question, yes I do adore Downton Abbey as well, however that is a fair deal more of a melodrama/soap opera than Gosford Park, which really ties itself into the story of murder and the crumbling class system, than the ups and downs of these people over the long term.

Also, I am way behind in Downton, so don't talk to me about it yet.

10) The Jerk (1979)

There is no way that The Jerk would not make my list.  I undeniably love this movie so much...I just...there are no words.  It is ridiculous, it is hilarious, and it is a movie that I can watch a few times a year and enjoy it outright, from the opening line of "Huh? I am not a bum, I'm a jerk. I once had wealth, power, and the love of a beautiful woman. Now I only have two things, my friends....and thermos" to singing 'pick a bale of cotton', there is not a moment in The Jerk that I don't adore.  


There it is, you are welcome, now you may stop asking for my Top 10 films...and get back to asking for a whole pile of other film things. 

Let us know your favourites in the comments below, or feel free to tell me how crazy I am for having The Jerk over Back to the Future.

Whether or not we here at {TGf} write a 'Best Films of All Time" list, to counter AFI and the others, well that is something you will have to wait and see.