Daily Archives: 10/01/2018

2018 -A Film Odyssey

Entering 2018, I wanted to try to post something new, fresh, honest and thought-provoking.

A lot of what I wrote sounded pretentious though. As such, for as much my own personal record as much as the next man, I’m going to try to answer the age old question which regularly bugs me when people ask it, and which I kind of feel I should know.

So here, subject to future editing, is my own personal Top 10 Films of all time






Note – This is a purely subjective list. It is not based upon artistic quality (as will be evident), it is purely a list of 10 films which matter to me, and which if someone were to ask me, I would attempt to list. As such, and since I can’t put them in order of preference, here they are in alphabetical order.


Annie Hall (1977)

Director: Woody Allen

Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts

IMDB One-line synopsis: Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditzy Annie Hall.

Why do I love this movie?

Annie Hall is one of Woody Allen’s finest works. A witty, beautiful story of love, loss, aspiration and regret, it is Woody Allen at his prime. It teaches us to love, and it teaches us that none of us are perfect. To me, it helped bring me even further in to Woody’s works (my first & favourite Woody film features later), it helped me to develop a wider grasp of what it is to love. To me, it also captured beautifully the way that we never say/do what we think. That one scene on Annie’s balcony where the two are beating themselves up internally whilst trying to engage in idle chat, it’s such a wonderful reflection of human nature, our insecurities, our vulnerabilities, our… humanity.


Casablanca (1942)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid

IMDB One-line synopsis: In Casablanca in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate encounters a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

Personal Review: https://thenorthernmonkee.com/2013/04/21/casablanca/ (Written 2003)

Why do I love this movie?

It’s Casablanca! Seriously. The film is now over 70 years old, but it remains a classic. It regularly features amongst Top Rated Movie lists (36th on IMDB feels a bit insulting), it regularly gets cited by Directors, Writers & Actors alike as an inspiration. It’s just a magnificent, magnificent movie. The love, the sacrifice, the redemption story. From start to finish, it is a movie which lasts forever. Simple.


Fever Pitch (1997)

Director: David Evans

Stars: Colin Firth, Ruth Gemmell, Mark Strong

IMDB One-line synopsis: A sports fan’s romantic courtship clashes with his obsession with his favorite football team.

Why do I love this movie?

Appropriately’s The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” just rocked up on my stereo as I began to write this. Fever Pitch, with a truly, truly wonderful soundtrack (The Who, The La’s, Van Morrison and more) was a football fan’s dream. It captures the beauty behind sport. It captures why we fall in love with sports teams, it captures why we belong to that club, it captures why we “belong”. It’s just a shame that it’s about Arsenal… 😉


Garden State (2004)

Director: Zach Braff

Stars: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard

IMDB One-line synopsis: A quietly troubled young man returns home for his mother’s funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade.

Why do I love this movie?

Talking of soundtracks… If you’ve seen Scrubs, you know that if Zach Braff is good at one thing, it is how to come up with a phenomenal soundtrack. Garden State is the pinnacle of this. Nick Drake, Simon & Garfunkel, The Shins, again the list goes on. Braff has a perfect ear for music. He knows what works where, what works when. In what is effectively a sweet story where not a huge amount happens, he punctuates the mood with pristine musical accompaniment, and he seems to do it effortlessly. The moment that Braff’s character (like most of us) discovers the Shins for the first time, as Portman smiles at him adorably, you’re there, you’re in the movie, you’re falling for Portman. It is just a perfect, perfect moment.


Gladiator (2000)

Director: Ridley Scott

Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen

IMDB One-line synopsis: When a Roman General is betrayed, and his family murdered by an emperor’s corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Why do I love this movie?

It’s basically my generation’s Ben -Hur. It’s a historical epic with stunning fight scenes, intrigue, betrayal, murder and more. It’s possibly the easiest film to watch ever. I’ve seen it so many times, and I never get tired of it. Easy TV, on an empire sized scale.


The Lion King (1994)

Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

Stars: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones

IMDB One-line synopsis: Lion cub and future king Simba searches for his identity. His eagerness to please others and penchant for testing his boundaries sometimes gets him into trouble.

Why do I love this movie?

Everyone should have a favourite Disney movie. It’s just a necessity of life really. For me, the adventures of Simba are fun, exciting, heart-breaking, scary and ultimately redemptive in so many ways. It also has some of the best music of any Disney movie ever. The stage show is pretty epic too.


Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Directors: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

Stars: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds

IMDB One-line synopsis: A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.

Why do I love this movie?

To me, Singin’ in the Rain is the closest that anyone has got to cinematic perfection. If not for the brief Gene Kelly ego-trip cut-away (“Gotta Dance”), we’re looking at 10/10 on all levels. The songs are memorable & intoxicating, the cast faultless, the little easter eggs (here’s one: Jean Hagen was actually a great singer & Debbie Reynolds was the mime artist) numerous. It’s a heart-warming story which drags you in and keeps you watching throughout. There’s also far, far, far too many in-jokes within my family about this film. No, no, no. Yes, yes, yes. A masterpiece.


Sleeper (1973)

Director: Woody Allen

Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, John Beck

IMDB One-line synopsis: A nerdish store owner is revived out of cryostasis into a future world to fight an oppressive government.

Why do I love this movie?

Well it certainly isn’t faultless. It’s not Woody’s greatest work, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the film that introduced me to the genius of Woody Allen. It is a wonderful tribute to Buster Keaton, cross-referenced with dystopian horrors and witty one-liners. Parts of it still make me chuckle to myself, even when I haven’t seen it for months. It is regularly one of the first films on this list when people ask me “that” question, and it has to be here now.


When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Director: Woody Allen

Stars: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, the late, great Carrie Fisher

IMDB One-line synopsis: Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.

Personal Review: https://thenorthernmonkee.com/2012/10/24/when-harry-met-sally/ (Written 2003)

Why do I love this movie?

I’m a romantic at heart. I’m a believer that out there is someone for each of us. I’m also a believer that in his day, Billy Crystal was actually funny…

Joking aside, When Harry Met Sally is that romance that hits a nerve every time. It’s just… yeah. Difficult to explain really…


Young Frankenstein (1974)

Director: Mel Brooks

Stars: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman

IMDB One-line synopsis: A young neurosurgeon (Gene Wilder) inherits the castle of his grandfather, the famous Dr. Victor von Frankenstein.

Why do I love this movie?

Just like Woody Allen, Mel Brooks has been a part of my movie watching life for longer than I can remember. Whether Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles or this beauty of a movie, he has been in my life from a young age. I still remember this movie starting on New Years Eve many decades ago, watching five minutes in the living room, being scared when the coffin opens and putting in a VHS to record it. We still own said VHS tape… Anyway, Brooks is a comedy God. His satirical knowledge of genres is faultless. He just IS Mel Brooks. And despite being over 90, he still hasn’t lost it. The theatrical version of this masterpiece is now showing in London’s West End. It might even better than the movie, if that is possible. I love this film. Might watch it again tonight…


Anyway, that’s the 10 done (until I no doubt change them in a few weeks.

Finally though, here’s a brief list of films I nearly included but had to miss out…

Blazing Saddles, Monty Python & the Holy Grail, The Producers, Reservoir Dogs, Shrek, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Third Man

Right then, now to do something meaningful with 2018. Might go to the pub.






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