Saturday 7 May 2011

A Life in Movies Blogathon

Andy at Fandango Groovers has invited bloggers to participate in the "A Life In Movies" blogathon: a list of favourite films from the year we were born up to 2010, one title for each year. Nearly as hard as the Cinematic Alphabet meme but just as much fun. And compiling this list has reminded me of  several films I'd like to revisit very soon.

1980 - The Shining (dir. Stanley Kubrick)

It might not have pleased the novel’s author very much, but Stanley Kubrick’s film, departing fairly radically from its source at times, still remains perhaps the most striking and memorable of all Stephen King adaptations.

1981 - Atlantic City (dir. Louis Malle)

Louis Malle and John Guare’s fairly unclassifiable collaboration mixes elements of crime drama, comedy, love story and fairy-tale to create one of the most distinctive  American movies of the period. Great work from Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon.

1982 - Shoot the Moon (dir. Alan Parker)

We talk about break-up albums, but not break-up movies so much. Sharply-observed, funny, raw and disturbing, with memorable performances from Albert Finney and Diane Keaton as the couple falling apart, Shoot the Moon is one of the best.

1983 - Zelig (dir. Woody Allen)

Allen’s brilliant mockumentary charts the history of an “everyman” chameleon whose neurotic insecurity prompts him to take on the ideas, opinions and even physical appearance of whichever group of people he happens to be associating with. Hilarious and insightful, and, like all of Allen’s best films, both deep and feather-light.

1984 - Gremlins (dir. Joe Dante)

An early disappointment for me was not being allowed to go to see the 15-certificate Gremlins at the cinema. Seen on many occasions since; loved every time. “And that’s how I found out there wasn’t a Santa Claus…”

1985 - A Private Function (dir. Malcolm Mowbray)

“Like Volpone set in a cabbage patch” (Pauline Kael). Maggie Smith states: “I’m not having people think we put just rubbish in the bin.”

1986 - Little Shop of Horrors (dir. Frank Oz)

Honestly, no musical makes me happier than Little Shop of Horrors. Magic moment: the Steve Martin/Bill Murray encounter.

1987 - The Princess Bride (dir. Rob Reiner)

"My name is Inigo Montoya .. &etc."

1988 - Distant Voices, Still Lives (dir. Terence Davies)

Or The Naked Gun. Or Women on the Verge ...

1989 - Miss Firecracker (dir. Thomas Schlamme)

Does anyone else like this?

1990 - Home Alone (dir. Chris Columbus)

Vigilantism and family values, Hughes-style. Movie obsession commences right here.

1991 - Paradise (dir. Mary Agnes Donoghue)

Thoughts on Paradise here.

1992 - Strictly Ballroom (dir. Baz Luhrmann)

“Lee-sen to the ree-them!” One of my happiest cinema-going memories.

1993 - Philadelphia (dir. Jonathan Demme)

There are so many great sequences here, from that wonderful opening montage scored to Springsteen to the close-up of Hanks alone on the street,  and the opera scene, of course. But for me the key moment in Philadelphia comes in the exchange between Denzel Washington’s lawyer Miller and Charles Napier’s Judge midway through the movie. “In this courtroom, justice is blind to matters of race, creed, colour, religion and sexual orientation.” “With all due respect, Your Honour, we don’t live in this courtroom, though, do we?”

1994 - Forrest Gump (dir. Robert Zemeckis)

The early 90s = The Hanks Years.

 1995 - To Die For (dir. Gus Van Sant)

Van Sant's satire skewers its moment, and holds up very well.

1996 - The Portrait of a Lady (dir. Jane Campion)

Nicole, mark II. For me, the best Henry James adaptation there has been, or is ever likely to be.

1997 - The Sweet Hereafter (dir. Atom Egoyan)

A movie that retains its enigmatic quality no matter how many times it's seen; Egoyan’s masterful adaptation of Russell Banks’s novel.

1998 - Buffalo 66 (dir. Vincent Gallo)

Gallo's stylish, one-of-a-kind indie romance.

1999 - American Beauty (dir. Sam Mendes)

Or Magnolia. Or Topsy Turvy. Or Limbo. Or The Sixth Sense. Damn good year.

2000 - Under the Sand (dir. François Ozon)

A classic of first-person cinema: Ozon’s chilly, anti-closure masterpiece of mourning and melancholia.

2001 - The Deep End (dir. McGehee and Siegel)

McGehee and Siegel’s contemporary reworking of The Reckless Moment, with a tremendous performance from Tilda Swinton as the under-pressure matriarch.

2002 - Talk to Her (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)

Silent cinema. Telling stories. Dance and desire. Almodóvar's most moving, soulful film.

2003 - Lost In Translation (dir. Sofia Coppola)

Our Brief Encounter. Wonderful atmosphere. Humour and melancholy, alienantion and connection, resignation and hope.

2004 - The Village (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)

I wouldn't try to defend Shyamalan's last couple of films, which have seemed miscalculated in the extreme, but I've always been taken with The Village, for me one of the strangest, most beautiful and most underrated American films of the decade.

2005 - Hidden (dir. Michael Haneke)

Does anyone put our contemporary panics and paranoias on screen more memorably than Mr. Haneke?

2006 - Dans Paris (dir. Christophe Honoré)

Watching  Dans Paris, I discovered that I much preferred New Wave homage to the “real” thing.

2007 - Les Chansons d'amour (dir. Christophe Honoré)

Dans Paris's musical sister.

2008 - 35 Shots of Rum (dir. Claire Denis)

On the Nightshift.

2009 - RAGE (dir. Sally Potter)

Potter’s multi-vocal meditation on the fashion industry, corporatism, celeb culture, and much more besides. Also the only film so far in which you get to see Judi Dench light a joint. Reviewed here.

2010 - Le Refuge (dir. François Ozon)

Thoughts on Le Refuge here.


  1. Great stuff, yet again you surprise me with some titles I've not come across before- eager to find out more about them!

    I completely agree the village is underrated, and The Sweet Herafter was a wonderful one-of-a-kind experience. And you already know I love the shining.
    I plan to review Lost in Translation fairly soon, should you be interested.

  2. Nice list! Not the usual stuff!

  3. Great list!! Puts mine to total shame :-) So Far I still have the longest list, which I dont think is a good thing!! hehe

    Some cool additions here, and lots I haven't seen. I need to branch out more from my comfort zone

  4. Eclectic mix, I love that you have included the lesser known but excellent The Sweet Hereafter and The Deep End. Also great to see the inclusion of Almodóvar and Haneke. I must admit I haven’t seen any of the films you selected from 2006 - 2010.

  5. Forgot to say thanks for taking part.

  6. Definitely some great choices on here, and a bunch that I haven't seen. Your list reminded me that I really need to watch Buffalo 66, which has been in my Netflix queue for ages now.

  7. Cheers, guys. Glad you enjoyed the list. Fun to do, as always. I'll be sure to check yours out and post some comments.

    @moviesandsongs365 - will you be taking part? Hope so. And of course I look forward to you post on LiT. Such a special movie.

  8. I totally vote for A Private Function, To Die For and Miss Firecracker (which I can't believe I forgot, that says a lot...).

    Great list, although about a third I haven't seen yet :/

  9. Thanks, Hels. And always happy to meet a fellow Firecracker fan!

  10. Awesome list! I love so many of the movies you have included, which is great. I love the eclectic choices.

  11. C'est tres, tres Francais for the latter 6 films or so, no? Though, as has been said, definitely an eclectic list of under-the-radar stuff nearly throughout. At first glance, I thought I had seen but just a few; in fact, that number stands at 11. Reminds me how much I need to still see The Sweet Hereafter, since I'll watch anything with Sarah Polley.

  12. Forrest Gump and American Beauty--classics. Definitely two movies I've seen many times and still can't get enough of. Great list!

  13. I could discuss this list for around 4 hours over 5 pints of lager!!!

  14. Thanks for the comments, all.

    And John: you're on! ;)

  15. Liked your list of movies... I added you to our blogroll and hope that you can return the favor.

  16. I watched buffalo '66, and was impressed, some good dialogue and quirky/funny characters, will go on my A-Z of recommendations list, so thanks for sharing!

  17. Ah, so glad you enjoyed it! I also absolutely love the "look" of that movie. (Same cinematographer as Lost In Translation.)