Desert Island Movies

There’s a meme going around asking for people to list their desert island disc choice but, although I enjoy the music I enjoy (latest fave album Rudimental ‘Home’!) I’ve never thought of myself as a music buff of any type. I have however thought of myself as a film buff and used to religiously collect Empire magazine and devour every article – I knew every movie in pre-production, I took courses in both American and European cinema as part of my first degree and I was crushed when I found out that Empire did not take on work experience students (they might now but this was back in the early 90s!). I think its safe to say that ‘Film Critic’ would be my dream career!

At one point me and an equally movie obsessed friend used to go and see a film once a week (sometimes even an arthouse double bill) but since having children I have pretty much kissed this love of cinema goodbye (or at least au revoir) – the thought of wandering into a movie theatre and indulging in 2 or 3 hours of uninterrupted cinematic art/entertainment/culture, seems like a previously unrealised luxury!

For the time being I will content myself with sharing my top ten of all time:

  1. Pulp Fiction: One of the highlights of Tarantino’s career for me – so cleverly pieced together, out of sequence, with vivid characters, surprisingly  everyday banter and a secret at its heart (what was in the briefcase?) – I love a film (or any story) which gives the viewer or reader a denoument but at the same time leaves room for debate and interpretation – Pulp Fiction fits the bill.
  2. Groundhog Day: (which, incidentally, was yesterday – 2nd Feb!). Although I’m no great fan of insipid Andie Macdowell (probably the only disappointing casting choice in Four Weddings) Bill Murray is perfect here and I adore the fact that there is never any explanation for what his character experiences – it is just a supremely entertaining way of breaking a character down – to his lowest low – in order to reconstruct him from the ground up into a better man – and provides a surprisingly sweet, off beam romance. Unironically stands up to repeated viewings…
  3. Moulin Rouge: this one satisfies the musical-lover in me – I think Ewan Macgregor is a complete revelation as a singer and his version of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ can still make my heart soar with the possibility of a love like that! There is a magic realism to the way in which this story is presented which almost turns it into an adult fairytale.
  4. Sideways – this is the kind of film I really go for – its small scale, almost theatrical, and on paper the story seems dry – two middle-aged men on a road trip through California wine country on a tasting tour – but the characters, the script and the bloody brilliant acting by Paul Giametti and Thomas Haden Church make this completely hilarious and heart warming at the same time.
  5. Sleeper: I had to pick one Woody Allen movie as, say what you will about the man, he is a cinematic genius and if ever there was a movie to make you snort a drink through your nose (is that a recommendation??!) then this is it.
  6. Gladiator: I’m not a war movie or ultra-violence kind of girl, but despite this being a film about the shocking and appalling practice of using slaves as fodder for ultra-violent entertainment by the Romans, the story is told in such a mesmerising way, and Russell Crowe just throws his charisma into overdrive – utterly transfixing me – I actually thought I was in love with Crowe until I saw The Whistle Blower – which just shows what a great actor he is.
  7. It’s a Wonderful Life: this is surely Christmas personified. The greatest feel good movie of all time.
  8. The Departed: I also had to pick a Scorcese movie because the man is another directorial legend. A lot of his more classic stuff like Taxi-Driver is just a bit too gritty for me but this one is just super clever – and, not to sound shallow, but what’s not to like about the Matt Damon/Leo di Caprio cat and mouse game here and Jack Nicholson’s brilliant turn as unhinged Irish-American mobster Frank Costello? One truly shocking moment subverts the viewer’s expectations but leaves you no less satisfied by the time the credits roll.
  9. Back to the Future: I think that I’ve mentioned before that I saw this film ten times at the cinema alone when I was a teenager. This is both a true cinematic classic, a beautiful piece of mainstream entertainment and a coming of age nostalgia flick for me.
  10. Amelie: I’ve just realised looking back through this list that I’m clearly a bit of an old romantic! But I like it quirky (ooer!) and Amelie certainly ticks that box! The voiceover is so adorable. I think the beauty of this for me is the injection of magic into what might otherwise be ordinary lives. Its also got a lovely gentle humour to it and after the masterpiece which was “Delicatessen” the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet fulfilled his potential here.

It was really hard to narrow this list down so I have to give an honourable mention to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (such an unusual way to explore the anatomy of a relationship from start to finish and the way in which our attitude to relationships make the human condition completely unique and utterly confounding); Fargo – couldn’t forget the Coen Brothers; and the 6th Sense – Shyamalan’s finest and the best bloody plot twist ever!

Linking up to PoCoLo over at

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6 thoughts on “Desert Island Movies

  1. Loved reading this. I’d really struggle to narrow down like this, too. I love Pulp Fiction and Moulin Rouge, think It’s A Wonderful Life is the loveliest feel-good film, like you, and Back to the Future – a classic from my childhood! I remember seeing Gladiator at the cinema and being blown away by it. Great list you have there!

    • Ah! Thanks Jocelyn! I guess I’ve summed up my taste with the elements of magic realism, gentle humour, sweet romance, a feelgood element and something that’s clever and makes you think. A twist is always good and fantastic dialogue, script, characterisation and acting can’t do any harm either!

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