Saturday, 26 February 2005

The greatest films in the world... ever!

On a recent company meal out (you know the sort of thing, where you give up your leisure time to socialise with people you're normally paid to hang out with) I found myself in something of a conversational conundrum. After copious amounts of wine and beer, the conversation descended into the kind of pseudo-serious debate that I thought I had left behind at university, many years ago. The subject? What is the best film of all time...

To me, this was patently a ludicrous subject. How can anyone, by any objective measure, identify a single "best" film? I think a few of my colleagues were in agreement, but alcohol was flowing in such Bacchanalian quantities that, whilst waiting for dessert, we went around the table and everyone named their favourite film.

Surprises? None of the men named any "Godfather" films, or "Raging Bull". "Citizen Kane" didn't get a mention. Neither did any of the films that you would expect people of my age range (late-20s/early-30s) to have grown up with, like Star Wars or ET, though Back To The Future was acknowledged. In fact, very few films made prior to 1990 were cited, with the exception of "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Gone With The Wind". As the act of going round the table made its inevitable way towards me, I began to wonder if people were actually naming their favourite film or just the first good film that came to mind, or even whether they were trying to score pretension-points by naming an obscure or arty film. As for me, I went for "Cape Fear" in the end, and was surprised to be asked by a number of people whether that was the Gregory Peck/Robert Mitchum original or the Nick Nolte/Robert DeNiro remake. Much as I enjoy the original, I went for the remake (stunning performances from all four leads, amazing quotable dialogue, terrific camerawork...).

The next morning, to distract myself from my hangover, I reconsidered my choice. It turns out I have lots of favourite films, of different genres or for different moods. Sometimes a film doesn't even have to be especially good to make my shortlist - it need only evoke a warm memory of the first time I saw it. Anyway, to draw this ramble to a close, here's a random selection of films I heartily endorse (in alphabetical order only) for the aforementioned variety of reasons. My favourites? Well, some... but ask me again in a year or two and I'll probably come up with a quite different selection...

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