Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top 100 British films

TimeOut recently polled many critics, actors, directors, producers, and journalists to compile a list of the top 100 British movies ever made. Surprising to me, as I like to think of myself as a film buff, I've only seen just over 1/5th of the list. I've at least heard of the majority of them, but even then there were more than I expected where my reaction was "What the hell is that? I've never even heard of it." The list shows the growing reputations of Nicholas Roeg, and the continued legendary status of Mike Leigh, and the revered legendary status of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Of what I've seen, nearly all of them deserve to be there, and the #1 on the list is a personal favorite of mine, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it. But really, what lists like this tend to do is give people recommendations and hopefully spur them into seeing some great movies. I know this's done that for me, many of the movies that would not previously have been on my radar now are, and I hope to get a chance to see as many of them as I can.

The top ten ended up looking like this, with comments on the ones I've seen:

1. Don’t Look Now (1973), directed by Nicholas Roeg

I've seen this movie a couple of times, and it's a brilliant psychological nightmarish horror movie. Like all great horror movies, there isn't much in the way of gore or onscreen carnage, but Don't Look Now drips with atmosphere. There's also a legendary sex scene between the lead characters (played flawlessly by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) that is the reason many people know the movie.

2. The Third Man (1949) directed by Carol Reed

Famous for its cinematography, the first appearance of Orson Welles' character, and a speech he eventually makes on a ferris wheel, The Third Man was a movie that, I felt, didn't live up to its reputation. It's a very good movie, highly recommended, but hardly #2 of all-time deserving.

3. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) directed by Terence Davies
4. Kes (1969) directed by Ken Loach
5. The Red Shoes (1948) directed by Powell and Pressburger
6. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) directed by Powell and Pressburger
7. Performance (1970) directed by Nicholas Roeg
8. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) directed by Robert Hamer

Supposedly a brilliant black comedy, I simply found it boring. Alec Guinness is absolutely wonderful in his multiple roles, but other than that I couldn't find a single thing I cared about in the movie. I seem to be in the vast minority though.

9. If… (1968) directed by Lindsay Anderson
10. Trainspotting (1996) directed by Danny Boyle

I thought perhaps that I simply didn't "get" Trainspotting the times that I watched it, but from Danny Boyle's career since this movie, it seems I simply don't like him as a filmmaker. Again though, I seem to be in the minority.

You can see the rest of the list, including TimeOut's writeups on each movie, here:


Groggy Dundee said...

Not a single David Lean film on that list? The Red Shoes over The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp? Ridiculous.

I do like Kind Hearts and Coronets but I'll admit it's not my favorite Ealing comedy: The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers are much better.

kathy said...

The toilet scene in Trainspotting made me so sick I could not finish the film. Just gross...