Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1995!

Lordy lordy, this is going to be a long one (that’s what she said etc). 1995 is just one of those years, both formative and just simply a bad-ass year for movies. As usual, my list is eclectic with both critical darlings, commercial hits, and lesser known or foreign curios. Enjoy!

20: Braveheart (US) Mel Gibson

This was the biggie of 1995, and a bit of a surprise, lifting Mel Gibson into the pantheon of Great Directors and showcasing his skills as a leading man. It’s not my favourite Gibson movie but it’s a sublime achievement with great, epic action scenes and famous speeches.

19: Casino (US) Martin Scorsese

Casino always felt like a lesser Scorsese movie to me, the less popular younger brother to Goodfellas. As unfair as that is, I feel like it’s true. But it’s still Scorsese, and he’s still on fire, so there are very few other directors who can touch him when he’s delivering.

18: Casper (US) Brad Silberling

Casper is better than Casino! Well no, but I enjoy it more. It’s a great lead in to Horror for kids, it feels like a mini Tim Burton movie – with a little more darkness and satire this could have been a bona fide classic. It’s Christina Ricci, so I’m in regardless, but you also get Bill Pullman and Eric Idle for some reason.

17: Jumanji (US) Joe Johnston

Jumanji is that bona fide classic family movie blockbuster – the effects for the time were great, the idea was fun, and Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst are on top form. I’m not a Joe Johnston fan – three of his movies appear on my Least Favourites lists – but this is his finest moment, mixing the story, characters, and effects seamlessly. In truth, I was always a bigger fan of the Animated TV show, but the movie is a lot of fun.

16: Dangerous Minds (US) John N Smith

It’s a stereotype now – the teacher coming in to some tough inner-city school, and turning them around thanks to a passion for (literature/art/music/dance/anything) some subject. Variants of this had been going on for decades, but this really perfected the thing. It didn’t hurt that Gangsta’s Paradise was released alongside the movie and became a worldwide smash. Great cast, great energy, and while these types of movie feel a little White Saviour-ish, I can’t help but enjoy these types of film.

15: Strange Days (US) Kathryn Bigelow

Before Bigelow became a genuine A-Lister with The Hurt Locker, she was making much more interesting high (or low) concept movies like this. This was quite revelatory in 1995 and quite a lot of the ideas and technology displayed are in regular use today. Like Near Dark, this is a gorgeous night time shot movie, albeit this one is much more focused on the indoors rather than the outdoors. Out of all of the movies on my list, this is maybe the least seen (it was a massive bomb); it stars Ralph Fiennes as a former cop/now criminal in a futuristic end of the century LA who buys and sells people’s memories (there’s a device which can record these) and who gets pulled into a wider story of love, crime, and murder. Throw in an archetypal Juliette Lewis performance, Angela Bassett, Tom Sizemore, and the always great Michael Wincott, a great mid-nineties indie/rock/techno, and at the very least you have an interesting (if cold) movie well deserving of re-evaluation.

14: In The Mouth Of Madness (US) John Carpenter

One of the last John Carpenter movies I ever got to because it’s so damn hard to find a physical copy of, In The Mouth Of Madness is one of the last great Carpenter movies. I don’t love it as much as some, but that may just be because I’m not as familiar with it. It’s unusual for Carpenter in that it’s not so straightforward – it’s a natural thematic successor to Prince Of Darkness and features a deliciously madcap Sam Neill performance as an Insurance Investigator sucked into, well, the mouth of madness. Charlton Heston pops up too. It’s very strange – there are good effects, good ideas, and Carpenter is as assured as ever, but it doesn’t always flow in a pleasing way (which may be deliberate) and the script feels lacking. But it’s still Carpenter doing Horror, and that will always be a good thing.

13: The Last Supper (US) Stacy Title

Most people have likely not seen or heard of this one, given that it is an India release with a religious sounding name. Plus, it’s a bit of a single location, very talky movie. It’s also smart, funny, and has a cool cast and even better cameos. It follows a dinner party with a group of liberal arts students whose night of privilege and culture is interrupted by the arrival of a Right Wing Desert Storm Vet with plenty of strong opinions. It amusingly breaks down barriers of class and stereotype and gets quite dark, while never losing its comedy core. Annabeth Gish and Cameron Diaz are the big names of the main players, but it’s Bill Paxton and Ron Perlman who steal the show.

12: Kids (US) Larry Clark

I don’t know many people who enjoy Kids or any of Larry Clark’s movies. I don’t know what it is – the faux realism, the dialogue, the Mean Streets style shooting, but there’s something so watchable about them to me. I appreciate that most people are going to be offended by them, and that many are going to find Kids problematic – as they should. It’s not an easy movie, dealing with a bunch of, well, scumbags, underage sex, drugs, abuse, AIDS, and other antics we don’t associate with people under 16. When’s it coming to Disney+?

11: Pocahontas (US) Disney

Pocahontas for me was a slight turning point for Disney, towards a downward turn. We’d had the second Golden Age with three legit bangers in a row. Pocahontas is not up to the same level as The Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty And The Beast, but is at least the equal to The Little Mermaid. While it was a smash, that little dip in quality continued through the rest of the decade (outside of Pixar) and not really picking up again until Princess And The Frog and Tangled. Still, Pocahontas is light years ahead of most other animated movies and always charming even if it’s not one I revisit often.

10: Mortal Kombat (US) Paul W S Anderson

Do do- do do-do do-do do do do – MORTAL KOMBAT! I was obsessed with the games at the time, so an actual big budget martial arts movie on the big screen with people shooting fireballs and spears towards four armed monsters…what more could a twelve year old boy want? Plus, I was already the biggest Bruce Lee fan in the world. It’s not the best movie in the world, or of the year, but it’s such a lot of fun and remains one of the best videogame adaptations.

9: Now And Then (US) Lesli Linka Glatter

I never understood why this one isn’t as heralded as Stand By Me and other coming of age movies. This is a near perfect movie, with a terrific cast (the kids moreso than the adults), a great soundtrack, and a funny script. It’s gentle, heartwarming, and remains a neat little secret to whip out of the back-pocket every so often and show to someone who’s never heard of it. The film follows four long-term friends who meet up to support one of the group who is about to have her first baby. The group reminisce about their childhood in 1970, with the film flipping back between both eras as they talk about life from the perspective of coming in to adolescence and approaching middle age/middle adulthood. It’s great, it’s lovely, and it stars Demi Moore, Melanie Griffith, Rosie O’Donnell, Rita Wilson, Gaby Hoffman, Thora Birch, Christina Ricci, the late Ashleigh Aston Moore, Cloris Leachman, Bonnie Hunt, Brendan Fraser, Janeane Garofalo, Devon Sawa, and Rumer Willis.

8: The Doom Generation (US/France) Gregg Araki

Now that I think about it, there’s quite a few movies on my list that many people won’t have seen or heard of. This is another example. Gregg Araki is a bit of a powerhouse in the Indie world, with The Doom Generation probably being my favourite movie of his. It’s one of those movies which gets thrown in with the post-Tarantino world thanks to a post-modern approach, lots of style, lots of violence, cool dialogue, foul language, gore, and bizarre bits and bops. Oh, and lots of sex. It follows two teenagers (Rose McGowan and James Duval) who are driving through the night and decide to pick up a drifter. There’s an accidental murder which leads to increasingly bizarre and violent encounters as the film turns into a road-movie-fever-dream-with-boobs. McGowan gives her best performance, Duval and Schaech are excellent, and there are plenty of weird cameos as every person in the film claims that McGowan’s character is some ex-girlfriend/wife/friend and it all ends in a massacre.

7: La Haine (France) Mathieu Kassovitz

Speaking of massacres, La Haine is a film constantly at boiling point, just waiting for something unspeakable and ferocious to happen. Another underseen classic, this is perhaps the one most deserving of an audience given its relevance, potency, and power, and simply because it is undeniably brilliant. A French film starring Vincent Cassel, Said Taghmaoui, and Hubert Kounde as three friends in an inner city crime-filled Parisian district who find a Police Officer’s gun in the aftermath of a riot in which a fourth friend was seriously injured. The three friends debate what they should do with the gun – one vows to kill a cop if the fourth friend dies, one disagrees, and one is a mediator. The three travel around the city talking, plotting, dealing with gangs and cops and the city is presented as a melting pot of violence ready to erupt at any moment. It’s super tense, shot in beautiful black and white, and features great performances across the board.

6: Die Hard With A Vengeance (US) John McTiernan

I’m getting to the point where these are the movies which probably made my favourites of the decade post. As I can’t recall which ones made it, I’m going to be brief on each of these – you should know them all anyway. This is the third Die Hard, the second best in the the series and almost on par with the original. It’s great, though the final act doesn’t live up to the rest.

5: Heat (US) Michael Mann

It’s Heat… it’s one of the best casts of all time, and with some terrific set pieces.

4: Mallrats (US) Kevin Smith

My favourite Kevin Smith movie, and a great, aimless hangout movie.

3: Desperado (US) Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez’s best movie. It’s perfect.

2: Goldeneye (UK) Martin Campbell

One of my favourite Bond movies, one of the best Bond movies.

1: Things To In Denver When You’re Dead (US) Gary Fleder

Another underseen classic, another fantastic cast, one of the finest movies of the decade.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2004!


As always, here is the group which didn’t quite cut it: Napoleon Dynamite is one which always makes me laugh, but there’s something so… desolate about it? The Passion Of The Christ is just a well made gore-fest, while Team America has dolls fucking. It’s not Meet The Feebles, but what is? The Terminal is one of my favourite underrated Spielberg movies, Dead Man’s Shoes is one of Paddy Considine and Shane Meadows’ best. Hellboy drops in and out of my Top Ten – it’s great fun, even if I don’t love it as much as some – probably because I’m not a huge comic book guy.

10: District 13 (France) Pierre Morel

Merging real life stunts with little or no string work or CG guff, and the parkour and martial arts skills of a talented cast, District 13 is one of the action movies I show people who claim to not like foreign movies. It blows them away, every time. It also has the benefit of having a simple plot which still pulls the viewer in to the world of an over-populated Paris ghetto. Over time, gangs take over the ghetto and the police stay out, leaving millions fighting and stealing and trying to survive. We follow an undercover cop and a brother trying to rescue his sister from one of the marauding gangs. It’s a story you’ve seen a hundred times, but it’s told at breakneck speed with likable faces. Yet, it’s the action which keeps you coming back, a world away from CG superheroes punching CG supervillains out of CG Skyscrapers.

9: A Very Long Engagement (France) Jean Pierre Jeunet

Jeunet, and Tautou’s follow-up to Amelie was always going to be an impossibility – that movie was universally loved. A Very Long Engagement is a very different story and film, a romance of sorts told with a larger cast over a number of years, against the backdrop of War. The visuals are what it has most in common with Amelie as it is one of the most delicious looking films of the era. Jeunet’s usual suspects show up, along with supporting turns from the likes of Jodie Foster and Marion Colliard in a film about undying love and hope in the face of hopeless odds and loveless tyranny.

8: R-Point (SK) Kong Su Chang

It’s still annyoing that so few people know about this film. Even plenty of my online pals who enjoy Asian horror haven’t seen it. I get that it may be a hard sell given its unusual approach and confusing plot, but if anything I liken it to something like Aliens, but with ghosts. It’s a war film with a supernatural bent, it’s like the twisted sister to Session 9, with a similar atmospheric setting. It hits a lot of my sweet notes, without giving too many spoilers away, but there may or may not be something funky going on with time, reality, madness, it has hardened soldiers going up against a mysterious foe, and it does give two shits about convention. Just go in knowing that it’s set during the Vietnam War as a group of soldiers respond to a distress call, and knowing that I’ve recommended it.

7: Shaun Of The Dead (UK/US/France) Edgar Wright

Is it Edgar Wright’s best movie? Probably. Plus it came out at just the right time, when zombie movies were suddenly popular and legitimate, but before they over-saturated the market. I was never the biggest Spaced fan but I knew Simon Pegg from plenty of other things and him and Nick’s laid-back everyman approach to the apocalypse, as well as the filmmakers obvious love for the genre made it a treasure trove for me. Great gags, kills, and plenty of hidden treats in the cast including the great Peter Serafinowicz and George Dawes. That’s right, Matt Lucas will always be the man with the scores, George Dawes, none of that Little Britain wank.

6: Spider-Man 2 (US) Sam Raimi

One of the finest examples of how to follow-up a successful debut and continue a franchise. Of course it all went horribly wrong in Part 3, but everything goes right with Spider-Man 2. It’s bigger and better than the first part, adds a terrific villain in Doc Oc, and all of the surviving players from the first film step it up here. It has everything I want in a blockbuster comic movie, with the added bonus of me actually giving a shit about what happens.

5: House Of Flying Daggers (China/HK) Zhang Yimou

Zhang Yimou had been making breathtaking movies for many years, but beyond Asian film fans like me and well traveled critics, his films were completely unknown in the west. Then Hero came along and made a lot of waves, presumably riding on the wave of success of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. That movie gave him a new status and fame across the globe and House Of Flying Daggers only spread that further. It’s an almost unbelievably beautiful film, spattered with energetic and exuberant martial arts set pieces. The use of colour, of music, puts most films to shame, and the lead trio of Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Zhang Ziyi have rarely been better. At its core it’s a love story, but in many respects the plot is irrelevant – it’s just one of the most beautiful sights to behold.

4: Saw (US) James Wan

Saw was released smack bang in the middle of ‘Torture Porn’ but while that often unfairly vilified, often admittedly vile sub-genre generally focused more on gore and effects, Saw is 100% concerned with plot and the viewer. It wants to trick the viewer and take us on a horrific, twisting journey. While the series would keep it’s increasingly nonsensical twists it would become ever more reliant on gore and unique kills and lose what made the first so special. The story is convoluted without being obtuse, it’s more of a thriller in a horrifying scenario than a straight horror, and it’s bolstered by a great cast. It introduces one of horror’s more engaging serial killers – Jigsaw – and for much of the running time we don’t know what his end-game is, beyond wanting to punish people through the lens of his twisted morality. The film becomes an overlapping game of wits and cat and mouse and we have several intertwining plots – the two men who wake up handcuffed in a room, with only a corpse and a saw between them. The cops hunting Jigsaw. A man holding a woman and child at gunpoint. These are spliced together with various flashbacks and scenes depicting other characters and victims of Jigsaw, and it’s all blended together seamlessly in a swift running time. I can’t say I love the MTV camera thrashing effects which the series is known for, but I’m used enough to those now that I don’t care anymore. For a film which is essentially an extension of one particular scene in Mad Max, it keeps the viewer guessing, and flinching throughout.

3: The Grudge (US) Takashi Shimizu

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. I loved the Japanese Grudge (and to a lesser extent the prior TV versions), I loved Ringu. I didn’t like the US Remake The Ring and I therefore wasn’t overly hyped by The Grudge getting a US remake. Over time more promising details emerged – Grudge creator Takashi Shimizu would be directing, Sarah Michelle Gellar would be starring – suddenly I was hyped. Honestly, The Grudge is on par with the Japanese originals, going for a bigger budget, more bombastic version of the exact same story. Most of the original scenes and scares are in place, but what made those effective for me is that there are slight twists on what I expected – a jump scare from a different position or moment – all enough to give me a great time viewing it. Of course I saw this in a packed screening, and people were going nuts at the scares, especially when it was obvious they hadn’t been exposed to the originals.

2: Kill Bill Volume 2 (US) Quentin Tarantino

Volume 2 is distinctly different from Volume 1. Both are great, but both have completely different styles and tones – different enough that they can be enjoyed individually. This one is interesting because it is both a slower burner than the first film, but has the benefit of also racing towards a conclusion. We get more information on Bill and The Bride as individuals, as partners, and we dispense with much of the over the top stylized sequences of the first for a more introspective, near Western style flick. As you would expect, the cast and dialogue are uniformly great, it’s funny, insightful, it has a huge rewatchability for me, and it wraps up in a satisfying way.

1: Dawn Of The Dead (US) Zach Snyder

This one made it onto my Top Movies Of The Decade post, so go read my thoughts there.

Let us know in the comments which movies you would pick!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2005!


So 2005 is another one of those years where I forgot a bunch of movies I love and didn’t include them in my original list – silly boy. I’m going to update it to 11 – adding a new film which should have knocked Land Of The Dead off the list first time round. The order doesn’t really matter anyway. In my almosts, I’m adding a few of the great films I forgot about too,

Corpse Bride is that rare ‘modern’ Tim Burton movie which reminds us that he can be a great filmmaker when he’s doing his own thing. It’s just creepy enough to make the kids snuggle up to you on the sofa, but not scary enough to give them nightmares. It has the Tim Burton look and style, and is enjoyable for the whole family. The Devil’s Rejects is also fun for the whole family, if your family are inbred murderers of the Texan variety. It’s probably still Rob Zombie’s most enjoyable movie and the distilled prime example of everything he is as a filmmaker – that Southern vibe, that 70s grindhouse look and style, sadistic characters, sick humour, and lashings of violence. It’s a sequel to House Of A Thousand Corpses – but you don’t really need to have seen it first, though it’s good too. A History Of Violence is Cronenberg, so it should be one any film fan’s list regardless. It takes him in a fresh new direction from his body horror roots, acting more like a twisting drama filled with secrets. Viggo Mortensen firmly leaves Aragorn behind with a chilling performance in this one, and everybody else is good.

Serenity was Joss Whedon’s first bash at big screen stardom, a fan-pleasing coda to the short-running Firefly. I’m not as huge a fan of the show as most, but the film is a fun watch. Election is Johnnie To’s finest work, almost up there with Infernal Affairs but focuses more on the criminal underbelly than twists and double-crosses. It’s another must watch once you get into Hong Kong cinema.

11. Noroi (Japan) Koji Shiraishi

Found footage and creepy Japanese long-haired shenanigans – that’s possibly a hard-sell. I know plenty of horror fans who dislike one or both of those sub-genres but usually I persuade them to watch by saying that while found-footage it isn’t run around the woods nausea inducing, and while there are long-haired shenanigans they are not of the Ringu or Ju-On variety. On top of that, the director had a history within the found footage genre to the extent that by the time he made Noroi he was savvy enough to deliver the unexpected, and he would go on to make the notoriously nasty Grotesque. 

Noroi follows a film-maker and documentary expert on the paranormal who is working on his latest show – investigating a curse and a number of people who claim to be embroiled in different types of paranormal activity. We see his capturing of these incidents and over time the word, or name ‘Kagutaba’ comes up repeatedly. Without getting into spoilers, the stories are somehow connected and a sordid history of abortions, theft, murder and all sorts of goodness oozes out. It’s a film which doesn’t go near jump-scares or obvious answers but instead succeeds because it’s so unnerving and goes places where few films dare to tread. It’s also one where you need to watch all the way to the end for some mid-credits extras. If you want a J-Horror film which doesn’t fit the mold and which hardly anyone knows of, you can’t do much better than Noroi. 

10: Land Of The Dead (US) George A Romero

Back to our original Top Ten – I was as hyped as anyone when it was announced that Romero was returning to the genre he created, decades after. So it’s not as good as his first three Dead movies, but it’s still a fun ride, and it’s still political. Moving the action to a more familiar location (of sorts) it’s set in the present day in a world which has learned to survive alongside the walking dead. Quite understandably, the wealthy are still safe from most of the problems the rest of the world face, living in skyscrapers while everyone else slums it on the streets, protected by the military, the average gun-toting civvy, and by a convenient river acting as a moat. Dennis Hopper is one such rich guy, hamming it up in one of his most amusing final roles, while John Leguizamo and Simon Baker play two soldiers who make dangerous journeys in a Mad Max style souped up vehicle for medical supplies and more. Leguizamo shines as the opposing force to Hopper’s white politician and there are a slew of in-jokes and cameos to enjoy. Mostly it’s an excuse to give Romero a big budget and let a master do what he pleases. In the wake of The Walking Dead it does feel a little like 1 series of that show condensed into a single movie, but it’s also a thank you to the fans.

9: Hostel (US) Eli Roth

I feel very much that this is the one film most likely to drop off my list when I get around to seeing more movies from this year. Eli Roth is always hit and miss for me – his humour is usually very misjudged though generally the ideas are sound. Hostel is notorious as a standard bearer for torture porn – an excuse to cut up nameless nobodies for our entertainment. There’s  much to be said in support and opposition to that statement, the obvious political asides being as simple as using the template as a satire on US Imperialism and as an extreme reaction to the torture tactics used by terrorists, military, and government alike. While I won’t say Hostel is clever, I will say it’s not as dumb as most people think. It’s just a bloody good time which takes mainstream US brutality to new levels as it follows a group of Millennial backpackers who are captured in Europe and find themselves as unwilling guinea pigs in some sort of Millionaire-led murder business. Basically, if you have enough money, you can pay to hurt and kill another human in whatever way you please – with our protagonists being the victims. There’s plenty of blood and to Roth’s credit the first half of the movie is spent trying to get to know these people. There’s not a lot to know about them, but at least they’re not standard slasher fodder.

8: A Bittersweet Life (SK) Kim Jee Woon

A Bittersweet Life is another prime example of the sort of boundary pushing film Hollywood used to make but seems to have given up on in lieu of treading increasingly safe and tame waters. The plot of the film itself is safe, tame – a hitman is employed by his boss to kill the boss’s cheating girlfriend, and he refuses. Stuff happens. What raises it is the fact that Kim Jee Woon directs – expanding upon his eye for detail and grim truths as exemplified in his previous film A Tale Of Two Sisters. He has found a niche in capturing breathtakingly beautiful shots against horrifying or violent backdrops and situations, and he rarely cares for conventions. Throw in Lee Byung-hun as the hitman with a change of heart who keeps everything grounded. Like any number of South Korean movies from this period – it’s a must-see.

7: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (SK) Chan Wook Park

The final entry in Park’s esteemed trilogy is maybe the weakest, probably my least favourite, but still head and shoulders over 90% of what was released this year. It may be the most accomplished and beautiful of the bunch. Like the first two films it is presented as a straightforwards revenge story, but as revenge is never clean there are plenty of twists and complexities. It follows a woman (Lee Young-ae) as a woman just released from prison for a murder she didn’t commit, and her quest to hunt down the real perp. Starting out as a seemingly reformed model prisoner due to newfound spirituality, we slide down her rabbit hole and are dragged along another characteristically grim tale. As with the above entry – this one demands your attention.

6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (US) Shane Black

Without knowing it for much of my life, Shane Black had been one of my favourite people for most of my life. Predator has been an all time favourite of mine for as long as I can remember but in my younger days, while I knew the character names, I really only remembered Arnie’s name when it came to the cast. Later he would three further all time favourites – The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boy Scout, and Last Action Hero. It wasn’t until I started to think about how movies were made and who made them that I began to connect the dots. Of course by that point he had dropped off the face of the planet, seemingly to never return. Then  it was announced he would be directing his first film – this is the result. There’s no way I wasn’t going to at least enjoy this, but it’s a typically incisive, funny, violent story with the usual macho leanings upgraded for a new decade. It’s great to see Val Kilmer back on screen, it was a launch pad for Downey Jr to get back on track. It’s more of a Noir than anything he had done till that point, but his trademark writing keeps it unique as 100% Black.

5: The Descent (UK) Neil Marshall

Neil Marshall had gained my attention a few years earlier with his debut Dog Soldiers – an adventurous werewolf movie with more comparisons to Aliens than any Universal classic. The Descent drops much of the fun of that movie, dispenses with the more macho influences, and instead gives us one of the most tense, atmospheric, and claustrophobic movies in recent years. It’s the best of a spate of similar sounding movies from the period which saw a group of travelers going into some sort of underground world and meeting with various mishaps. Where this one differs is with its reliance on character and emotion – yes it’s a film about being trapped underground, yes it’s a film about the monstrous creatures which you may find once trapped, but it’s also a film about grief and guilt, about escape and resilience, about friendship and loss. Marshall also wisely makes the first half of the movie simply about these women, their fears and motivations, and their struggles to keep it together once they head into hell. It’s a shock then when the first creature does appear, and the film takes on a new edge. My only complaint remains that the cast are too similar in features which can make distinguishing them in the gloom problematic first time around.

4: The 40 Year Old Virgin (US) Judd Apatow

Much of the comedies which have been successful this decade and up till present day haven’t worked for me, either descending or focusing on bro-bullshit or because the dialogue is delivered in this faux unscripted manner. Or simply because they’re not very funny. Judd Apatow sometimes strikes the right balance between juvenile humour and honesty, a blend smoothed out by likable performers and a solid script. The 40 Year Old Virgin is probably my favourite of his movies with plenty of zingers and a more refined Carrell who doesn’t need to do his whole straight man-The Office-shouty shtick. For the most part. Of course the usual Apatow pals show up in supporting roles but the clincher is having Catherine Keener as the object of Carrell’s affections.

3: Revenge Of The Sith (US) George Lucas

For a while it seemed like this was the end – the culmination of Lucas’s grand plan. Since then Disney has released another 15 Star Wars movies and has plans for another 83. Per year. Jokes! Revenge Of The Sith, is easily the best of the prequels. It’s not without its faults, with Padme being reduced to a birth vessel and the whole not being as emotionally powerful as it should have been. I think that’s more of a fault with how the trilogy was laid out, with casting from the outset, and an overburdened script that was never set up to allow us to scream, cheer, and cry. But still, it has some of the best action of the whole series, it does feel like the collapse of good and the success of evil, and Ian McDiarmud deserved an Oscar nomination at the very least for his performance.

2: Sin City (US) Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino

The benchmark for visually unique and authentic comic book movies, Sin City nails the tone, look, and dialogue of Miller’s series – a collage of disturbing and violent and sexually charged intersecting stories which truly does feel like flicking through the ragged pages of a seedy comic you picked up on a whim for a few bucks before the last metro home. Rodriquez and Tarantino both do their thang and pull together a terrific ensemble, including such repulsive and creepy creations as whatever the hell Elijah Wood and Nick Stahl are supposed to be. It’s a mixture of pulp, thriller, action, with obvious twisted noir principles, swept along with a cool, detached pace.

1: Batman Begins (US/UK) Christopher Nolan

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post, so if you want to read my thoughts, go check it.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: None

Let us know your picks in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 2007!


Lets begin as always with the films which just missed out on making the Top Ten. 300 took one of my favourite stories from all of the myths and legends and historical stories I read in my youth and gave it the full Zack Snyder/Frank Miller treatment. It wasn’t the first time this story had been told on the big screen, but this is an adaptation of Miller’s comic book version – as such it takes many liberties – but at its core it’s still about a relatively small number of warriors making a final stand against an overwhelming force. I’ve always loved stories like this, and films like this – Zulu, The Two Towers would be the most obvious ones until this dropped. It also works as a siege movie – Night Of The Living Dead, Assault On Precinct 13 come to mind. At the time, Snyder was fresh off the Dawn Of The Dead remake and Miller had done Sin City – both of which I loved, so it seemed like a match made in heaven. It’s everything I thought it was going to be, but with the macho and the visuals ramped up to 12. It’s just sillier than I hoped it would be – too much CG nonsense, stupid love-plots, and the dialogue doesn’t hit like in Sin City. Still, it delivers in the big men killing other big men with big swords stakes, plus it looks great.

This year saw every critic and movie goer falling into the No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood camps. As tends to be the case with Oscar hype movies, I put them on the back-burner and don’t watch for a couple of years after release when the hype has fallen away. I’m in the Coen camp in this respect – There Will Be Blood was all about the Lewis performance for me and honestly not a lot else. It’s obviously a great movie, directed within an inch of its life by Anderson, but for me it doesn’t amount to much. I feel no need to revisit it, and it doesn’t tell me anything. No Country For Old Men I rank a little higher, but I’m not some huge fan of it either. I recognise it more for its greatness rather than how much I think about it and want to watch it again. It’s the movie I’d want to rewatch least out of any in this post, but is elevated by numerous terrific performances.

Eastern Promises continued the David Cronenberg renaissance from A History Of Violence as he teamed up once again with Viggo Mortensen for another trip into non-body horror related thriller territory. It still has some notably brutal scenes – most memorably in a bath house – and also features Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel. It’s moody and shows an uncharacteristic restraint from a director known more for the outlandish. Inside is another shocking example of French Extremism – don’t watch it if you’re pregnant. It’s, on the surface, a home invasion movie with a heavily pregnant woman coming under attack from another woman but to say anymore regarding the plot would be spoiler territory. It has two alarmingly good lead performances, and it is pretty brutal. Superbad is the cream of the crop of Noughties Apatow/Rogan/Hill brand of comedy – it’s just a great hang-out movie and feels like the ‘next generation’s’ American Pie.

10: Black Snake Moan (US) Craig Brewer

Black Snake Moan feels like one of those films which is still waiting to be discovered. It got the wrong sort of attention at the time of release due to some sexualised out of context shots of Christina Ricci and the use of a chain by Samuel L Jackson (both of whom deserved Oscar nods). The film definitely feels like it was marketed incorrectly when in truth it’s more like an offboat drama focused on the relationship between Ricci and Jackson, and Justin Timberlake as Ricci’s boyfriend. It has elements of Brewer’s style which viewers of Hustle And Flow will be familiar with and it’s also very funny. It’s a film about a nymphomaniac who is beaten and left for dead, and found by a bitter old religious man with a penchant for the blues who decides to rehabilitate her. It probably will take a very specific kind of person to be pulled in by that synopsis, but with Ricci and Jackson on top form, it is highly recommended.

9: Sweeny Todd (US/UK) Tim Burton

Regular readers will know by now that I’m not a musical fan. But I am a Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fan – one of the finest cinematic partnerships since the 90s. While Burton had been hit and miss for a while, Depp was at the height of his powers and could do no wrong. I remember going in to the film expecting it to be a dark romance, and being familiar enough with the origins of the story that seemed reasonable. What I didn’t expect was that it would be so grim, so bleak. Even Burton’s darkest fantasies tend to have a happy ending, a glimmer of hope, but this has nothing of the sort. I was a little disoriented walking out of the screening first time and that feeling has never really left. I don’t have much to say about the songs – at a push I could recall one or two melodies off the top of my head – but the performances are universally terrific. It’s not a Burton film I revisit often, but it is one of his best.

8: Grindhouse (US) Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino

No cinemas near me offered the full Grindhouse experience – instead I had to see the two films individually. Planet Terror is my favourite of the two and I only saw Death Proof a few years later. Both are dirty, grimy, shlocky and peppered with the sort of violence, character types, and dialogue we know and love from Rodriguez and Tarantino. Planet Terror is basically a romance in the middle of a zombie outbreak, featuring memorable turns from Michael Biehn, Rose McGowan, and Freddy Rodriquez, with Death Proof being a showcase for stunt driving, car chases, and Kurt Russell. Stick on any film by these two directors and you’re always in for a good time, even when they’re doing little more than paying homage to their favourites.

7: Angel-A (France) Luc Besson

I still don’t really understand why Angel-A is not talked about. You take any best of list from this year and you take any person’s favourite Luc Besson movie list – this won’t be on either. It’s wonderful, both unlike anything Besson has ever done yet right in line with what he always does. It’s almost like his upturned version of Amelie. The moment I saw the poster – one of my favourites of all time – and I was sold. Based on the poster alone there was no way I wasn’t going to enjoy the film. I mistakenly went in thinking it was another sci-fi film, the lady towering over the man some sort of hulking feminine cyborg, but no – it’s just a romance between a complete loser and a gorgeous woman several leagues above his class. The title does give away a certain fantasy element, but that only loosely comes into play later.

Jamel Debbouze plays Andre, a pathological liar and loser who decides the world would be better of without him – and that he would be better off dead than being chased by the thugs he constantly owes money. As he prepares to kill himself by leaping off one of the many bridges over the Seine, he sees a woman getting their first. After saving her life, she pledges herself to him and they travel over Paris trying to sort out his various debts. It’s a consistently funny, charming, and visually stunning film – probably the most visually impressive work Besson has completed outside of The Fifth Element, except here there is a much lesser focus on effects. It always wows me when I watch it and it always surprises me that no-one knows it exists.

6: 30 Days Of Night (US) David Slade

Another movie based off a comic I’ll never read, this has a great premise – there is a town, little more than an outpost, so far north that once it reaches a certain part of the year it doesn’t see sunlight for a month. So? So throw in vampires. That’s enough for me, but also add Ben Foster, Josh Hartnett, and Melissa George and we’re up another few notches. Then add the fact that it’s actually good – tense, bloody, and with vampires which feel truly demonic, animal, and we have a winner. David Slade went from some of my favourite music videos to Hard Candy, then to this. Then to the Twilight franchise, but we don’t talk about that. There weren’t many good or even interesting vampire movies in this period – 30 Days Of Night manages to be both.

5: Paranormal Activity (US) Oren Peli

Well, I had to. Say what you will about the franchise, or the trend that it started, but when you talk about the most important movies of the decade and the most important horror movies of all time – you have to talk about Paranormal Activity. Made for basically nothing, it grossed more money than The Thing, Halloween, and A Nightmare On Elm street combined (three of my favourite movies ever). It was nothing short of a phenomenon, using effective marketing and a simple premise to maximum effect – a couple notice unusual phenomenon happening inside their home and decide to place cameras around the house hoping to catch something supernatural. That’s it, and yet it spawned a series which you just know is going to be continually remade over the next hundred years. Personally, I think they perfected the formula in the second film which is essentially a remake while also acting as a prequel/sequel. But it all started here. Say what you will about the annoying characters and the stupid decisions they make, the performances, and the scares which to many amount to nothing more than a period of stillness and calm followed by a sudden jolt, but it’s one of the most effective films I’ve ever seen in a theatre at making the audience freak the fuck out and for that alone I’ll always love it.

4: 28 Weeks Later (UK/Spain) Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

I love the original 28 Days Later. It’s fun, inventive (even if it did rip off one of my own stories), and tows the line between nihilism and hope perfectly. 28 Weeks Later catches hope in bed with your neighbour, beheads it, and feeds the corpse to the neighbour’s kid. Fresnadillo has only made three films and they’re all gold – this, Intruders, and Intacto. It doesn’t relate to the characters of the first movie but rather expands the universe to show what was happening around the rest of the country before, during and after.

It begins with one of those most pulsating, heart-pounding intros I’ve ever seen – Robert Carlyle abandoning his wife when his house is attacked by hordes of the infected before running over hill and dale towards a boat. That shot of him sprinting over the fields with a number of the creatures gnashing close behind him is genuinely chilling and sets much of the tone for the rest of the film. That tone is unremittingly grim. Carlyle is great as a cowardly jerk and the main child protagonists manage to not be annoying. Aside from that opening, there are some memorable scenes – Carlyle coming face to face with someone later in the film and of course the helicopter mowing down the infected scene is gleefully silly. I understand that people will always choose the first movie over this, but don’t sleep on this one either – it’s a fun, dirty ride.

3: The Mist (US) Frank Darabont

I think by this point most people know how this movie ends. I won’t spoil it anyway, but it has gone down with some amount of infamy over the years. Everything up to that point is in many ways like the perfect horror film for me – it’s a seige movie so we have a disparate group of survivors holed up in a single location, trapped in by a mysterious, murderous force. For the King fanboy there are tonnes of crossover references, most notably with The Dark Tower, and the cast is uniformly great – it’s like a dry run for The Walking Dead before that show started killing off everyone remotely interesting and leaving us with a cast I could maybe name three characters out of. As King stories go, it’s very simple – there has been a storm, a dad and his sun go down to a local store for supplies, but a sudden all encompassing mist sweeps in and traps them inside with other townspeople. It soon becomes clear that something is in The Mist, and it’s hungry.

That’s all you need for an enjoyable, easy to dismiss movie. King and Darabont spend more time on the characters and the threat and the mystery to raise the film so that it becomes unforgettable. Tensions rise, differences are exposed, factions are drawn, and lines are crossed and before long it’s not only whatever is outside causing the danger, but the person over in the soup aisle. All of this makes that ending more effective. My only complaint is the ropy nature of some of the effects – good ideas and creature designs, but let down by cartoon effects. Apparently watching in the originally planned Black and White counters a percentage of this issue.

2: Enchanted (US) Kevin Lima

There’s really no reason why I should like this – it’s a Musical for a start. But I first saw this on a flight to (or from) Chicago (or possibly Mexico…) and I just loved everything about it. It was Disney, so it probably wasn’t going to be that bad, and the idea of an animated cliched Disney Princess coming into ‘the real world’ was fascinating – there’s so much they can do with a premise like that. Plus I recognised Amy Adams from Buffy so that helped. Within a few minutes I knew I would love it. Adams is fantastic, everyone plays up wonderfully to their tropes, Patrick Dempsey and Rachel Covey are perfectly cast as your typical work-obsessed single father and starry-eyed kid, and the whole thing is just one of the most utterly charming films you’ll ever see. Most people say the same thing about Mary Poppins or The Wizard Of Oz or something, but this is my version of those films. I shouldn’t like this, as a cynical horror fan who wants everyone on screen to die or go through horrific trauma, but there’s no getting away from how lovely this is. I even love most of the songs, and it’s a soundtrack which is in regular rotation for car journeys. It’s every bit as good and necessary as the best of Disney’s Animated Features.

1: Rec (Spain) Jaume Balaguero/Paco Plaza

While France was pumping out more and more extreme, troubling, and gore-filled movies Spain wanted in on the fun. Rec is perfect on multiple levels – a technical marvel, filled with effectively jumpscares and genuine horror created by building upon its premise and setting. The whole Rec series is worth watching, but the first is the best. It’s what I wanted the Resident Evil movies to be. It raised the bar for found-footage/POV horror, and nothing has really matched it since.

The film begins as a reporter and her cameraman are filming a documentary about a local Fire Crew – spending a night with them, hoping to catch them in again and show the dangers of the job. The crew gets a call to investigate a screaming woman seemingly trapped in her apartment so the reporter and cameraman tag along. What at first seems like a routine investigation turns violent as the screaming woman attacks. As the group tries to work out what is happening, the apartment block is shutdown from the outside by military people in hazmat suits – the documentary team, fire crew, police, and other residents are trapped inside with what appear to be people turned violent due to some zombie like infection.

Rather than having static placed cam or overly shaky cam, Rec makes more use of light – or the absence of it – and the genuine confusion and tangible fear of the characters to illicit emotion from the viewer. It’s more reminiscent of real world news stories of reporters in war zones, the ones where the reporter and cameraman are hunkered down while a gun battle goes on in the background, or running from the scene of an explosion. Even though it gets supernatural and then spreads the Rec mythology wings in its final scenes, it’s that realism which marks it out from other found footage films. The proximity to danger, the claustrophobia, the sudden violence – it all adds up to provide one of the finest horror experiences of the decade.

Let us know what you think of the films above and what your favourite films of 2007 are!

Nightman’s Favourite Films Of 2010


Okay, okay. You asked for it, you get it. Maybe no-one asked for it, but tough – you’re getting it anyway. I mentioned before that from 2010 onward I haven’t seen as many movies as previous years and there hasn’t been as much time for them to sink in to my being to say I truly love them. What that means is that these lists will likely omit a lot of great films purely because I haven’t seen them yet, and it may feel more like a simple collection of films I just happen to have seen and didn’t hate. In ten years time I imagine these lists will be different, while my lists of previous decades will likely be identical. If you’re curious as to why I’ve missed something – stick it in the comments and I’ll let you know! I’m only posting 2010 for now, then I’ll go back and redo all the previous years before I publish 2011 onward.

First, the almosts – Predators. Animal Kingdom. Tomorrow When The World Began. Predators was, for me at least, the long awaited sequel. I love the Predator franchise more than most and I even enjoyed both AVP movies – rubbish as they were. Predator is a Top Ten all timer for me and Predator 2 is decent. Predators has a great opening and some strong set-pieces, along with a strong cast featuring Adrian Brody and Alice Braga. The whole Topher Grace thing was predictable and the Lawrence Fisbourne angle ultimately goes nowhere, but it’s a neat twist on the whole ‘group of strangers working together to overcome a mutual enemy’ thing. Animal Kingdom is a film deserving a spot on any Best Of 2010 list – a supremely acted and directed crime thriller, with Jacki Weaver well deserving of that Academy nomination. Tomorrow When The War Began keeps things in Australia – it’s very YA and while I enjoyed it more at first watch than I have since, it’s still a better version of Red Dawn than the Red Dawn remake was. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to see Caitlin Stasey on the big screen – still waiting for her to go over big time.

11: Inception

It’s not the masterpiece people say it is. It’s unquestionably a great movie, inventive, well acted, brilliantly crafted. But man does it go overboard on the exposition, and it thinks it’s smarter and more groundbreaking than it actually is. Mostly it feels like a cloying teacher’s pet begging for validation from teaching staff. It’s okay – we already understand you’re good, just do your thing and we’ll still enjoy it, stop being a tryhard. Still, it sells certain constructs and philosophies to the masses who may have not been aware of such things or does it in a non-stale way. More than any other movie Nolan had directed to that point, Inception does that strange thing where scenes are edited together without the soundtrack changing, making minutes upon minutes feel like one extended scene or a montage, even though it isn’t. But lets focus on the many positives – it has a number of the best set-piece scenes you’ll ever see which are almost on par with the first time you saw The Matrix, improved by the fact that the technology used enhances the idea of what is happening on screen – the effects are integral to the plot, not just a bunch of fancy explosions. The soundtrack is great, the script is peppered with one-liners, and it all looks glorious. Like many of the best films of all time – it’s the fans who piss me off and tarnish the experience.

10: Kick-ass

The highest profile of a number of movies which came out around this time with a similar premise – what if a regular person just decided to suit up and fight crime like a superhero? Super is the other notable one – it’s great fun too – but Kick-ass has the budget and street cred and a number of memorable performances. You have Nic Cage on top form, Mark Strong in yet another villainous role, but the breakout stars are Aaron Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz as two (sort-of) normal people with a penchant for justice, however violent its pursuit may be. There is plenty of fun action and humour, with just a touch of the psychology behind the decisions each character makes, and the cocktail of style and violence is perfect – much better than that Scott Pilgrim mess.

9: The Expendables

Of course if you want violent action, you go back to the 80s Action heroes heyday. In 2010 a project which had been discussed for years, and which seemed an impossibility, finally came to fruition – a film which tried to squeeze all of the biggest action movie stars into a single story. That means we have Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham all arsing about with guns larger than most people’s arms and blasting away bad guys inside a generic ‘stop the warlord’ plot. As you would expect, it’s a lot of fun. It’s silly, but the cast all have a great time and it’s a film made purely for the maniacs like me who grew up watching them. Of course it’s a pity some of the stars are reduced to cameos, but we get Terry Crewes and Randy Couture filling in admirably, Stone Cold as a henchman, Eric Roberts as Eric Roberts, and Mickey Rourke mumbling his way through an emotional macho speech. Plus Charisma Carpenter on the big screen. It would have been nice to have seen this ten years earlier – it would have been nice to have even more stars involved – it would have been nice to have a plot more in line with something like Predator than Raw Deal, but it still happened, they still made a franchise out of it, and it;s still a lot of fun.

8: Kaboom

I’ve been a Greg Araki fan ever since I first saw The Doom Generation in my late teens. Its mix of sex, violence, humour, and post Pulp Fiction style was infused with a manic nihilism and tongue in cheek awareness that felt unlike anything else. Naturally, nobody else had heard of it and few even now know what it is. Since then he followed it up with further well-received, under-seen films with big name actors. Kaboom takes the manic qualities of The Doom Generation and ramps them up tenfold. It’s lighter in tone, more obviously a comedy, yet also a sex-filled jaunt into Science Fiction. It’s bizarre and it has a terrific ending. It’s a difficult one to summarize – it follows a University student who appears to be bisexual who has been having strange dreams which suggest he is ‘the chosen one’. We follow his sexual antics (and those of his friends) and he keeps noticing people he first saw in his dreams, in his everyday life. Plot-wise, that’s really all you need to know. But the movie moves like it’s on a combo of Ecstasy and Speed, Dekker is great in the lead role, and Juno Temple delivers the sort of performance which is deserving of an Oscar nod. It’s never going to happen for a film like this, but it put her on the map.

7: Tangled

It’s Disney’s Rapunzel. At this point it is still overshadowed by Frozen and the more ‘political’ Pixar movies, but it’s just as wonderful as those. Great songs, strong characters, lots of laughs, and a charming story – everything you want from Disney.

6: Ip Man 2

Most sequels tend to be an example of diminishing returns and the same is often more true in Martial Arts. With Ip Man 2 we get everything we loved in the original and more; more fights, more emotion, more Yen. Keeping the same cast and director as the first film it follows Ip Man as he moves to Hong Kong and sets up a new school. Sammo Hung shows up. It’s wonderful. It eschews the nonsensical fraud editing of Hollywood action and allows the camera to catch every movement of every fight, making it all the more breathtaking. It still looks glorious with a gorgeous vision of period Hong Kong and a dedicated attention to detail. For fans of Martial Arts movies, the Ip Man series is like the Holy Grail, and part 2 may be the best of the bunch.

5: The Last Exorcism

I believe I mentioned this in my review of the film many years ago, but it deserves to be said again; Ashley Bell deserved an Oscar nomination for her performance here, if not the win. She is extraordinary, easily on a par with some of the more critically popular horror performances – Kathy Bates, Toni Colette, Jodie Foster. Unfortunately the film is of a trashier, cheaper sort than others and The Academy believes it to be above such things. It’s a found footage horror movie about a charlatan exorcist who lost his faith and admits to making up most of what he previously called out as true exorcisms. He is invited to perform an exorcism on a naive teenage girl in the Bible Belt, and a film crew tag along. It is clear some sort of abuse has been taking place, but the group argues over whether it is from Nell’s father, friends, someone else inside the community,  or a genuine demon.

The film would not be as effective without Bell as Nell, but she is backed up by dedicated performances from Patrick Fabian, Caleb Landrey Jones, and Louis Herthum. Credit goes to Daniel Stamm, someone who remains little known even in horror circles, who elevates te least likely sub-genre.

4: Bedevilled

As I write up this list (29th December 2019), South Korea’s Parasite is gaining momentum as a possible Oscar Contender. In my introductions to Foreign Cinema series, I mention (in one unpublished post) that one of the great crimes and complete nonsenses is that South Korea has not even been nominated for a single Oscar before. That is quite frankly ludicrous, given the quality of output the country has been producing since 2000. If there is one thing which probably puts off the stuffy Hollywood Academy types, it’s the grim and macabre nature of the most highly regarded films, films which don’t shy away from showing violence, or sex, or the taboo. Bedevilled ticks all of these boxes and is one of the finest all round movies of the decade, yet is one which remains little known even among those who frequently dine out on Asian Cinema.

It’s a film that I would love to be widely seen almost purely to see the thoughts on any feminism and masochism which people will take from it. It’s a film concerning a woman who works in a competitive banking environment who decides to go on stress leave, taking up an offer from an old friend to visit the backwater island she grew up in. Once there, memories of her childhood and her friendships come back, and she recalls why she left the regressive, male-dominant, outsider-fearing community. Her friend has never left the island and wants a better life for her and her young daughter. To say any more would be spoiler territory.

There is a slow and steady assured direction to the film, a washed out palette, and some moments which will have you groaning in anger and shifting uncomfortably. It’s not as violent as other films of the ilk, but it’s just as shocking and pulverizing to your emotions. It probes your own morality and begs you to question how you would or could react and survive given your decisions. It’s a watch both difficult and effortless.

3: Stake Land

How many truly great vampire movies are there? There are hundreds of good ones, and many more which are entertaining and worth your time, but only a small number can be held up as great films. Stake Land should be added to that list, though it never will be, at least not until director Jim Mickle makes something which is both a widespread critical and commercial success. He has come close a few times and continues to make highly regarded films. Stake Land, while clearly appealing mostly to horror fans, remains criminally underseen even within that group. For those looking for a dark drama, there is more than enough here to seduce and provoke – for my money it’s better than The Road – a film it is often compared to.

It’s set in a post-apocalyptic USA where survivors must avoid rapists and religious cultists by day, and vampires by night. We follow Mister (Nick Damici), a vampire hunter of sorts as he takes a teenage orphan called Martin (Connor Paolo) towards a supposed last protected zone. Along the way they pick up a Nun (Kelly McGillis), a pregnant woman (Danielle Harris), and a marine (Sean Nelson) who was rescued by the cult who wanted to sacrifice him. The film moves from threat to threat with plenty of introspective chat and bleakly stunning views of a collapsed world. It’s not a pleasant, happy viewing experience – there are precious view jokes or moments of hope, but it’s never less than completely engrossing and you never feel like any character is safe. Like The Road, the film is interspersed with rapid bouts of violence – cultists dropping vampires into a survivor camp is of particular note. The sequel is worth your time too, but the original is best survived by watching the associated webisode prequel shorts.

2: Paranormal Activity 2

I said it at the time, and while I admit to it probably not being a true statement, I still kind of feel the same way – it’s the greatest horror sequel of all time. Of course, if you didn’t like the first film, you probably won’t like this one either. If you did enjoy the first, if the found footage shtick and use of shaky cam didn’t piss you off, and if the long moments of quiet followed by a thumping boom jump scare hadn’t yet been watered down to irrelevance for you, then PA2 does everything the first one does – but better. Better scares, a better story (one which expands the universe and mythology), and it is better directed. Most crucially, the characters are more likable, grounded, and not the nonsensical yuppies of the first. In fact, as the movies begin to cross over at different points, this one makes the lead characters in part one more likable – at the very least more interesting.

The film is most similar to Evil Dead 2 in its approach; it’s basically a remake, but also acts as a sequel. Not to confuse things, but it’s also a prequel. The film takes place over a number of weeks and follows the Rey family, with mother Kristi the younger sister of the first film’s Katie. The family have a new security system installed in the opening minutes due to a perceived burglary – you know what that means – beeping doors and subtly placed cameras! The family has an infant son – Hunter – and we watch their daily, and nightly, business as creepy activity increases, seemingly centered on the child. At various points the film crosses over with the first as we catch up on Katie and Micah as they too begin to experience unusual capering in their house.

While I’m not a fan of jumpscares – mainly because they are used so cheaply – that’s not the case here. Sure you know they’re coming, but the fun is in trying to work out which room something is going to happen in, which camera is going to catch a subtle movement, how long drawn out is the tension going to be? I’ve mentioned this before too, but seeing this in a Cinema was one of my best Cinema experiences as the audience was All In – people were legit screaming their heads off, shouting at the characters, and you could feel the held intakes of breath as people waited for the next fright. That just doesn’t happen in Northern Ireland cinemas and is the closest experience to to any time I’ve been in the Cinema in the US. While I admit it enhanced my love and nostalgia for the film – I would have loved it had I been there by myself. Some of the scares are completely out of the blue and the ones which are a retread of those from the first are dialed up several notches – greater impact, more visceral, more effective.

1: I Saw The Devil

South Korea strikes again. While Japan started out the 2000s as the biggest and brightest light in Asian Cinema, South Korea picked things up in the second half of the decade and that has obviously continued into the 2010s. Two of Kim Ji Woon’s previous efforts – A Tale Of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life are essentially flawless, beautiful, grim, stylish, and provocative in equal measures. With I Saw The Devil he embraces the grim and dispenses with beauty. It’s a singular viewing experience, with few easy answers, but many moments which will sit with you for years afterwards.

The film is essentially a game of cat and mouse between a cop and a killer, with escalating tension and violence. The killer, played by Oldboy’s Choi Min-Sik is utterly, thoroughly unlikable. Yet he is the mouse and by proxy, traditionally, the person the audience is supposed to sympathize with. Throughout the film he is stalked by the cop, played by A Bittersweet Life’s Lee Byung-hun. The killer brutally murders the cop’s pregnant wife in the opening moments and the cop, with nothing left to lose, becomes the killer, hunting down Sik and repeatedly beating him to a pulp, only to leave him dangling as a cat would, then hunt him down again. It’s a film concerned equally with blurring lines as it is with showcasing the director’s penchant for nihilism and inflicting pain. Both lead performers are superb, surpassing most of their prior achievements, and what they go through is keenly felt by the viewer. While the violence and tone is grisly, it is offset by just how well it is all put together, and the genuine emotional trip we are put through. There’s a fight scene inside a taxi which beggars belief, and there are a variety of side-characters and sojourns into their depraved lives which extends the running time and complicates the narrative, but it all makes up for the most devastating experience since Martyrs. There’s simply no excuse for this not to have been on the Oscar list for 2010, even if it was a particularly strong year. More importantly, there’s absolutely no excuse for this not be on your list of must see films right now.

Let us know in the comments what you think of the movies above, and feel free to share your Top Ten!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2004

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

As always, here is the group which didn’t quite cut it: Napoleon Dynamite. The Passion Of The Christ. Team America. The Terminal. Dead Man’s Shoes. Hellboy.


10: District 13 (France) Pierre Morel

9: A Very Long Engagement (France) Jean Pierre Jeunet

8: R-Point (SK) Kong Su Chang

7: Shaun Of The Dead (UK/US/France) Edgar Wright

6: Spider-Man 2 (US) Sam Raimi

5: House Of Flying Daggers (China/HK) Zhang Yimou

4: Saw (US) James Wan

3: The Grudge (US) Takashi Shimizu

2: Kill Bill Volume 2 (US) Quentin Tarantino

1: Dawn Of The Dead (US) Zach Snyder

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: x

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: None

Nightman’s Favourite Films Of The 1980s

I continue my summary of my favourite films by year and by decade with this, my favourite films of the 1980s. This is going to be tough. If I look back at my favourite all time movie list which I created on IMDB in 2002 or something, six or seven of my Top Ten movies were made in the 80s. It’s the decade I was born and grew up in, and it’s movies from that decade that always seemed to be on TV in my house right through to my early teens. As you’ll have seen from my individual year lists, there are many years where I had to list more than ten films – and those are just my absolute favourites and don’t include the ones I think are great, good, or that I simply like. I’m determined to keep this overall decade post to twenty films, but I’m writing this introduction before I’ve started to whittle any choices down, so who knows. Lets get to it.

26. Die Hard (1988)

Yeah, that went well. Most action fans list Die Hard as the greatest action movie of all time. It’s difficult to argue with that statement – it has it all; Guns, fights, explosions, stunts, thrills, suspense, a great cast, strong direction from a veteran, quotable dialogue, and iconic moments. It’s far from my favourite action movie and I don’t have the same attachment to it as most people from my generation do. As you’ll see further down my list, there are other films which are technically inferior but which I enjoy more. With that being said, I still love it. How can you not love it?

John McClane (Bruce Willis in is defining role – he’s had a few) is a wise-ass cop, husband, dad, visiting his wife on Christmas Eve at her workplace. That workplace? Nakatomi Plaza, a huge skyscraper the likes of which you just don’t get in my country (and if you had a building like this in my country in the 80s, you can be sure it would have been bombed on a weekly basis by more than Germans). She’s having an end of year party with her annoying, coked up, cliche Wall Street 80s boss, and a bunch of yuppie colleagues. While McClane meanders about, a bunch of terrorists quietly sneak into the building, seal it off, and… well, I’ve never been too clear on the whys – I guess it doesn’t matter. Basically they want money and the release of some random terrorists, and the whole thing turns into a huge hostage crisis with cops and feds eventually raining down on the place. Before then, McClane acts as the one man army – trying to stay alive while the terrorists hunt him down from floor to floor, and while he tries to contact the outside world and convince them that’s something’s going down. I’ll be saying this a lot, but if you’re reading this post you’ve already seen the movie. And yet, it’s important to keep these older movies turning in the minds of newer audiences. It feels weird saying it, but it is an old movie now – it’s thirty years old this year. Thirty years before Die Hard was 1958, so just compare Die Hard to a movie from 1958. Yippee dippy doo mother crusher and all that.

25. An American Werewolf London (1981)

The best werewolf movie of a mini resurgence in the 80s, and probably the best werewolf movie of all time. Some people point to The Howling as the better movie, but that’s blatantly false. While The Howling is more horror based, at least on the surface, this one still has the more frightening moments. It’s also funnier, sexier, has the better story, better cast, better effects while The Howling is fairly boring. And I still like The Howling.

The story here sees two friends from the US travelling through the Yorkshire Countryside – something which has almost certainly never happened, because who would ever want to do that? They find a pub – The Slaughtered Lamb – and meet the locals, including Rik Mayall and Brian Glover. They’re not local so they’re not welcome, so they leave with the warning of ‘keep to the road’ ringing in their ears. Long story short, they are attacked by something, one of them is killed, and the other wakes up in hospital with hot nurse Jenny Agutter attending to him. You can guess some of the rest – the survivor finding out he is a werewolf etc, but it’s all done in a fun and unique way. His dead friend comes to him in ever more rotted appearances, he has horrifying nightmares about Nazis, and he caper about London Zoo bare arse to the wind, all while falling in love with Agutter. It builds up to a terrific, and tragic climax. It’s rare that a film so brilliantly balances horror and humour,  but this is one of the finest examples with John Landis nearing the end of a tremendous run of form.

24. First Blood Part 2 (1985)

When people think of Rambo, this is usually the film they think about – those images of long haired Stallone all glistening with sweat, huge muscles carrying a huge gun while he galavants about the jungle blowing away faceless bad guys. While people forget that the first film was much smaller in scope and less violent, they also forget the decent and topical plot for this one. Rambo’s anti-war speech at the end of Part One segues nicely into this one as the American war mongers mislead the veteran into returning to Vietnam under the pretense of locating POWs and bringing them home. The truth is that the government doesn’t care and they’re sending in Rambo as a box checking exercise and as a handy way of potentially getting rid of an irritant. Little do they realise that there actually are a load of POWs still left behind in terrible conditions and that Rambo saves them. What does the Government/Military do? Shrugs their shoulders and leaves them behind again. U-S-A! U-S-A! I mean, it’s not exactly Shakespeare, and thank fuck for that. Plot aside, it’s still an excuse for Stallone and co to go on a classic 80s action rampage using every imaginable piece of arsenal. Stallone dispatches of the enemies with iconic aplomb and even manages to head home and make a statement on US soil. He would go one further in the next movie by helping out the Taliban, but that’s a different story. For pure 80s adrenaline pumping fun, you can’t get much better than this.

23: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

One of my absolute favourite Bond films, and the only Bond entry on this list. There is a certain group of people who don’t care much for this film and there’s even a specific technical term for them – morons. Roger Moore gets a lot of heat for being the ‘comedy Bond’ meaning that his films are more light-hearted, less serious than those of Connery or Dalton. While some of that is down to the direction Moore and the writers and directors chose to take the series, some of it is purely down to the period the movies were made in. Nevertheless, For Your Eyes Only is dark as shit. It features a revenge plot led by the brilliant Carol Bouquet, it opens with the inexplicable/don’t give a fuck killing of Blofeld, a love interest is mowed down mercilessly while Bond looks on helpless, it features Bond visiting his dead wife’s grave, and has one of the most sinister henchmen/villains in all of Cinema in The Dove. The action is more grounded, the plot is not outlandish or out of this world, and the overall villain is not as memorable as others leading many viewers to label the film as forgettable. I would argue that the film is a more realistic representation of the spy world, with flawed people racked with grief and guilt, and the bad guy is a somewhat successful twist. It also features some of the most stunning locations in the series, the action set pieces are a lot of fun, and as I keep reminding people, it portrays Bond for who he truly is – a lost, barren slave, haunted by his past.

22: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

It’s Indiana Jones – of course he’s going to be on my list of favourite 80s movies. Who didn’t grow up with these if you were born around the same time as me? There’s some slight differences between what constitutes and action movie versus what is an adventure movie. The clue’s in the name, I guess. When people say Die Hard is the perfect action movie, I say Raiders Of The Lost Ark is the perfect adventure movie. You can tell it’s a love letter to the genre, a love letter to cinema itself, and you know everyone involved was having such fun making it. Lucas and Spielberg throw as many of their personal interests a possible at the screen – history, mythology, travel, Nazis, treasure hunting, religion, but makes it all as captivating as possible by keeping the plot and action moving breathlessly and giving the viewer new twists on old action tropes. Harrison Ford is at his most dashing, there’s a great backing cast including Karen Allen, John Rhys Davis, Denholm Elliot, John Williams provides one of his most memorable scores, there are quotable lines, and there are moments which are seared into pop culture and which have been endlessly parodied – the boulder run, the whole treasure hunt intro, the pen on eyelids, the face-melting, the excavation silhouettes and more. It’s a rite of passage for everyone and it’s one of the most purely enjoyable films ever made.

21: Beetlejuice (1988)

I can’t wait till I reach the 80s in my Oscars posts. If you just happen to have landed on this page at random – in my Oscars posts I go through each year of the Oscars, starting at 1960, and give my thoughts and my picks from the Official Nominations of most of the categories, as well as giving my alternative nominations. You should read those. I’ve always felt that Michael Ketaon deserved a nomination for his work here – at times it feels like a stand-up routine but it’s so energetically acted, so funny, and iconic that he should have been in with a shout. You might see me mentioning snubs a few times in this post as there are many terrific films in this decade which were entirely ignored by the bigoted Academy. Regardless, this is a Tim Burton movie through and through with a colour palette, overall design, and plot only he could imagine. Tim Burton has one of my most loved early run of films ever, ignoring the atrocity that is Pee Wee. This film features Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Catherine O’Hara, and Winona Ryder alongside Keaton and has some great make-up and effects (dated now of course) and a decent score.

For those who may not know the story – it’s about a newly wed young couple who move into a mansion on a hill, die, and find out that the afterlife is just as bureaucratic as…lifelife. Before long a new family moves in – self centered parents and a lonely daughter. The newlyweds, now ghosts, are determined to haunt the house and scare the newbs away, but take a liking to the daughter. Having difficulty getting rid of the yuppies, they contact Beetleguese, the ghost with the most who specializes in hauntings, but he has his own agenda. Burton has great fun with the cast and the story, is as inventive as always with miniature work and visuals, and never forgets to focus on character. There are enough creepy moments to keep this somewhere related to horror, but it’s very tongue in cheek – kids should be able to watch without freaking out. It’s truly a one of a kind movie.

20: Temple Of Doom (1984)

Even with my praise for Raiders, this is my favourite entry in the series. It has a lot more horror and gruesome elements, but mostly I think it’s the one I saw most when I was younger and the simpler plot kept me interested. Raiders is the better film, but this is my personal favourite. It always seemed to be on on a Sunday night when I was young and I watched it every time. It’s plot is interesting because it doesn’t really have a true setup – just a bunch of stuff happens. Jones is doing some smuggling in China with his sidekick Skidmark (or Short Round if you prefer). The Chinese bad guys chase him onto a plane that they happen to own. The pilots jump out leaving them with ‘no more parachutes’ and they crash in India. Oh yeah, Willie, a blonde bimbo singer is picked up at some point. They find a village where they learn that all the children have been kidnapped and are apparently being inducted into a cult as slaves. Indy and pals investigate, there are monkey brains, snakes, spiders, dudes getting crushed by massive stones, dudes falling into lava, dudes getting their hearts pulled out, and it all culminates in a frenetic finale with a mine-cart chase and dizzying rope bridge set piece. I love the action in this more than its predecessor. Shorty is a fun addition, and I’ve never minded Willie though I can see why most dismiss her. The Temple bowels are fantastic and the closing 30 minutes has some of the best stunt work and exciting action I’ve ever seen.

19: Batman (1989)

Tim Burton again with arguably, still, the best comic book movie ever. While I love Nolan, Bale, Ledger etc – this will always be my personal preference with Keaton and Nicholson being my favourite Batman and Joker. While the 90s Batman movies became far too camp and entrenched in comic book visuals, Nolan’s films strive for realism. Burton’s films are somewhere in between – you can tell it’s based on a comic but there’s also something more human and universal in there. There are so many great moments in this film – the Batmobile is the best version it has ever been, I love all of the ways the Joker dispatches with people, we have Prince music in the soundtrack, Kim Basinger is great, the chase and fight in Gotham Cathedral is superb, and the opening scene and revealed back story are all handled effectively.

This film also has that ever so 80s treat of Toxic Waste – how many films feature Toxic Waste as a weapon or plot device or as the entire basis of the story? Old Jack Napier falls into this and turns into The Joker – nice we get an origin story for him too. I also used to collect Topps (or some brand) stickers and cards from this movie – you know, you buy a pack of stickers/cards from some movie and you get this pink cardboard flavour chewing gum with it? I remember the Batman ones fondly because quite a few of them were gruesome – there was a shot of Grissom burned alive and charred to a crisp that was either called ‘Fried Alive’ or else that’s just what we called it, along with various Smilex victims and assorted Toxic Waste stuff. Wait, yeah, it was definitely called Fried Alive, I remember each card had a banner around it to make it look more like a comic panel. Do such things still exist for movies? I used to spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at those, and they somehow made the film better.

18: The Hitcher (1986)

For the longest time, no-one knew about this film. I was the cool kid who talked about it and no-one had a clue. Then they remade it with Sean Bean, flipped parts of the story around, and tamed it a little. The remake is okay, but never more than that. This original film is fantastic from start to finish, moody, ambiguous, and with an epic turn by Rutger Hauer. Guess what? It’s another which deserved a bunch of Oscar nods, most obviously in the Cinematography category but also in with a shout for Hauer and for the screenplay. If you’re wondering why it looks so good – well, it was shot by  John Seale who won an Oscar for The English Patient but also worked on Witness, Gorillas In The Mist, Rain Man, Dead Poet’s Society, Cold Mountain, The Philosopher’s Stone, and Fury Road. I consider this maybe his best work. There’s so many just of twilight and dusk, sunrise and sunset that I love – momentary transitional periods which subtly suggest so much thematically. It’s another film that you can summarize in a single sentence but also write essays on, trying to break it down. It boils down to, a young man is driving a car from Chicago to San Diego and picks up a hitch-hiker – the hitcher turns out to be a little crazy and a cross country game of cat and mouse ensues. It’s fantastic. Even with the remake, this is still something of a cult gem that few people talk about. C Thomas Howell is good as the kid, Hauer is at his best as the Hitcher, and Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a pivotal role. The stunts are stunning, beautiful, and there’s that inevitability and nihilism in the plot that I love so much. I’m still amazed by the critical mauling this got – so many people completely missing the point. If there’s one film on this list more people need to see, it’s this one.

17: Day Of The Dead (1985)

Back when it used to be a trilogy, the Dead trilogy was generally known to consist of two bona fide classics, and an average gore fest. As we’ve seen above though, critics often get things viciously wrong. Day Of The Dead is not as groundbreaking as its older siblings, but its every bit as powerful and it’s still superb entertainment. The film opens with shots of a deserted city.  A lone survivor is calling out for others, but the only voices to respond come from the rotting throats of the undead. The world is seemingly lost. We learn that a small group of solders, civilians, and scientists have holed up in an underground bunker, leaving only to scavenge for supplies and survivors. Various psychological problems seem to be setting in, caused by  isolation, paranoia, and fear. We have soldiers, bossed by Captain Rhodes, scientists led by Dr Logan, and a handful of civilians caught in the middle. As time has moved on, relationships have broken apart – they group has lost contact with other outposts and supplies are dwindling quickly. The soldiers are pissed off that they are the ones placing themselves in danger while the scientists apparently sit around running pointless tests, while the scientists are pissed off that the soldiers are trying to order them around like subordinates rather than fellow humans. It quickly becomes clear that both sides cannot co-exist, that both leaders are bat-shit, and that the million or so zombies in the vicinity are going to get in.

There are maybe a handful of film in existence that wow me from a technical or from a special effects perspective every single time I see them. There are a few of them on this list – an older one would be 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a more recent one would be Gravity. Day Of The Dead fits the bill. I don’t know what it is about modern effects – all the overblown Marvel films and Transformer types – I understand that a hell of a lot of work and time and money goes into them, but they either look shit, or they look amazing but leave me cold. I’ve seen skyscrapers collapse so many times now that it’s all so bland and safe. Day Of The Dead is jaw-dropping. There are effects shots here that you won’t believe. Even as a seasoned Walking Dead fan (Greg Nicotero stars and works here), Day Of The Dead contains work that has either been aped by that sister show or has effects that have yet to be bettered over thirty years later. Remember, thirty years before 1985, your best effects were a guy in a silver suit and a paper plate on a string. That is a huge expanse of time in technology, and yet Day Of The Dead destroys 99% of today’s input.

Beyond the effects and make-up, the sense of isolation and claustrophobia here is superb. Romero provides us with another no name case – no stars, no recognisable names, just regular working joes like you or I who may be lucky or unlucky enough to survive the apocalypse. As it’s Romero, there’s a a fair amount of satire and political stuff going on here – the argument between science and the military still raging on today. Naturally it’s taken to extremes, but you can see what Romero is saying and to be fair, no side gets off Scot-free. There are Oscar snubs here to be sure, but you’ll have to wait until I get caught up on those posts. This is an underrated beast, and yet it’s nowhere near the epic which Romero originally envisioned.

16: Near Dark (1987)

Near Dark is one of the greatest vampire films of all time; sexy, dark, violent, great cast, great director. And still it’s not even my favourite vampire movie of the year. At it’s core, Near Dark is a love story. Not a romance, but a love story nevertheless. Love between near partners, love between father and son, and familial love as we meet a band of marauding nomadic vampires who have been together for several decades, maybe much longer, as they try to recruit a new member. I mentioned The Hitcher having sublime cinematography – Near Dark is another contender with shot after shot of seductive shadows and expanse. Adam Greenberg provides the beauty here, a man known for The Big Red One, Ghost, and both Cameron directed Terminator movies among others. There are many, many Cameron crossovers with this film – it’s directed by his one time wife Kathryn Bigelow and features Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jennete Goldstein. It has a nifty score by Tangerine Dream, and it portrays vampires in a way you don’t often see – as characters with their own history, but beneath it all, killers. Even though this is also a cult hit it still feels like not enough people, especially outside of horror circles have seen it. Do yourself a favour and rectify that.

15: The Lost Boys (1987)

Where Near Dark strives to be a ‘mature’ vampire film, The Lost Boys aims for the MTV audience – it’s a teen movie through and through, yet it’s no less clever or entertaining for it. Like Bigelow’s film, the vampires here are depicted both on human terms and as vicious, vindictive killers. Though the style has long since been vanquished, it’s unquestionably stylish. The humour is still sharp, the twists still work, the cast – the two Coreys, Keifer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest, Jason Patric, and others – are great, and it’s another film which looks fantastic to this day. Naturally you have those 80s quirks like BMXs, comic stores, DIY home protection, and muscle-bound saxophone players, but what can you do? It’s a classic of the genre and the era.

14: The Goonies (1985)

Who grows up in the 80s or 90s and doesn’t see The Goonies? The film has become somewhat overly glorified, taking it out of context for what it really is. It’s a slice of Spielbergian entertainment – fast moving, loose, action-packed, filled with laughs, iconic moments, great characters, and quotable dialogue. You guessed it – it’s another film that seemed to be on TV every half-term so that on those inevitable rainy holidays every single kid in class would watch it. Again. Most people remember that the film is about a gang of kids who go on an adventure to find pirate treasure. Some people forget that the reason they are doing it is because they are about to be evicted and their homes replaced by condos or a mall or some shit. You may forget the criminal element too as the Fratelli family, on the run from the law, chase the kids who accidentally stumbled upon their hideout. The names have become legendary in their own right – Sloth, One Eyed Willy, Mouth, Mikey, Chuck, and people have been unnecessarily crying out for a sequel for decades. Let it go, as a one off slice of 80s magic. Richard Donner was on an incredible roll, and the soundtrack is pretty tasty too. Another vital part of my generation’s childhood.

13: Back To The Future (1985)

The undoubted classics continue. There are few films about time travel as smart or as entertaining as this. It’s a film you think you know off by heart, but that you’ll find new things in each time you watch. Marty McFly, ‘great Scott’, DeLorean, Biff, Enchantment Under The Sea, the clocktower – any mention of these things will evoke fond memories and misty eyes. It was a simpler time, a more fun time… all you needed was a little confidence. It’s such a smart film in the way it’s constructed, glossing over potential plot holes and murky details with energy and workarounds. Throw in superb performances from top to bottom, great dialogue, great soundtrack, and Zemeckis in total control and you have another film that was unnecessarily snubbed at The Oscars.

12: Big Trouble In Little China (1986)

It’s Carpenter time again, and as we always say when we talk about John Carpenter movies, this one was a cult film which has since found a wider audience and greater acclaim. Where do you even begin with this? It’s an action movie with fantasy elements, but there are also monsters, demons, gangs, and martial arts. The fantasy element sees Chinese Elemental Gods coming to Earth in search of green-eyed women for…. nefarious purposes? Jack Burton somehow gets roped into saving the day – a trucker with a John Wayne swagger and drawl – a man who knows all about reflexes but little else. This film was made for around 20 million, but somehow only made around 10 at the box office – WTF? To compare, in the same year Stallone’s Cobra made 15 million in one weekend. It’s a mystery why this wasn’t an immediate success – I could say that for at least five other Carpenter films. Kurt Russell is on epic form here, while everyone else hams the shit out of it – Kim Cattrall, James Hong, it’s really funny – funnier that most actual comedies, it has nifty effects, and you’ll be quoting it for the rest of your life. It’s another one of those movies that everyone watched and talked about the next day in school, inevitably acting out our favourite scenes at lunch time.

11: The Road Warrior (1981)

As much as I love Mad Max, this sequel ups the ante in every respect; Bigger, better. Apparently Miller wanted this to be his version of The Illiad. That’s a bit of a stretch, but the story goes; Max, still Mad from the events of the first film now travels the wasteland in his Interceptor, stopping for supplies where and when he can. He meets a fellow scavenger who travels by gyrocopter and tells Max of a nearby refinery – all the gas and oil a man could ever want. Naturally, Max finds that the refinery acts as a compound of survivors too and it is under siege from a massive biker gang who just slinked out of an S&M cosplay club. Max decides to help the compound get rid of the gang in exchange for some petrol of his own. Chaos ensues.

Up until the release of Fury Road, I cited The Road Warrior as the best car chase movie ever made – best car stunts too. Fury Road certainly goes bigger but there’s still something even more visceral about this one. Every single vehicle is a unique character, and each vehicle houses a unique character. Most are crushed to pieces. The action is pounding, frenetic, and ridiculous. Gibson is strong again as Max, ably backed by a cast of weirdos including Virginia Hey, Vernon Wells, Bruce Spence, and Emil Minty. The world of the first movie, broken and bizarre as it was, has since moved on and we appear to be left with desert – desert and scattered outposts. It didn’t take humanity long to descend to primal, feral types or adopt bizarre and impractical clothing. The atmosphere that I spoke of which oozes from the first film is replaced by something else here – another unique atmosphere, but one less unsettling and grungy. There’s a sense of desolation, but you get the feeling that there is still hope – hope in the individual. This is unquestionably one of the greatest sequels ever made, and bonus points for featuring a bad guy called Lord Humungus and for having a scene where a guy has fingers chopped off by a boomerang. Australia – where everything will kill you.

10: Commando (1985)

Man, this is a long post. Arnie again, and the second film in a row featuring Vernon Wells. Wells is Bennett, an ex Special Forces guy who has been going around killing all his old friends. He works with a wannabee dictator (Dan Hedaya) who plots a coup but needs someone to assassinate the man in charge. Arnie fits the bill – the boss of the Special Forces team who Bennett is offing and who has a relationship with the country where the coup is to take place. Really though, all that matter to us now is Jenny – Arnie’s daughter. The bad guys kidnap her to force Arnie to carry out the assassination, but he escapes and seeks revenge. It’s 90 minutes of Arnie slaughtering everyone in sight, and it’s beautiful. I’d pick this over Die Hard (often rumoured to originally have been a sequel to Commando) every time. I used to watch this movie at least once a week when I was young – for at least a couple of years. It’s a film that made me want to be a solider, and when I eventually became sort of part of the military and saw how boring it actually was, I was disillusioned. I just wanted to blow shit up and kill bad guys.

So many action movies have followed this format, but almost all have fallen far from the heights this one reaches. It’s dumb, but it’s fun and doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is. We have a tonne of one-liners, a cast of entertaining familiar face bad guys waiting to be destroyed – David Patrick Kelly and Bill Duke included – and the action stuff is over the top without being ludicrous. Arnie fighting his way through mall security guards, dropping Sully off a cliff, gearing up for war, and talking out a small army singlehandedly are all memorable moments. When I was young a small group of friends would copy these scenes, buying camo make-up from local Army surplus and camping shops, covering our skinny arms and faces, and hiding in bushes ready to snap the necks of unsuspecting dog-walkers and pensioners. This is a film where necks snap like twigs, punches sound like gunshots, and gunshots sound like the end of the world, yet all rub off the shoulders of the hero like dust from a… hero’s shoulder. Bonus points for the similarities in the score between this and the 48 Hours series – all James Horner.

9: The Thing (1982)

This top ten, by and large, represents films which have each shaped me as a person. Not only my taste in film, but my wider interests and in some cases my attitude to, well, existence. Any day of the week, any one of these could be placed differently in my top ten, except maybe for the number 1. The Thing is a film I knew about for year but could never get to see it in whole until after every other film on this list. Baring in mind I saw every other film on this list before I was ten. I saw snippets of this in friends houses, and knew I had to see it from start to finish. I knew I would love it long before I saw it. John Carpenter’s remake is frequently and rightly cited as one of, if not the best remake ever. It surpasses the original, which I like, in every aspect. Most crucially, it remains terrifying. Like Day Of The Dead, the effects work here is incredible. Carpenter hands over the scoring tools to Morricone who scribes one of his most startling and unusual works. If I have one gripe in the film it’s that quite a few of the cast members feel and look too similar. We don’t necessarily need big names here – indeed the facelessness adds to the paranoia and confusion – but some more variety would have helped. By the time we get down to the final survivors, things are more clear. That’s a minor thing, and goes away with multiple viewings.

The filmed is framed in a very similar way to the original – a group of scientists and researchers are working in a remote Antarctica station. An alien craft is found, some form of alien lifeform is uncovered, and it wreaks havoc. In this version, the Thing they uncover can take on the exact form of another living creature, be it dog or human. As the people in the station realize what they are up against, they can’t be sure that the person beside them is human or alien, and it’s clear the alien wants to survive, spread, and kill. Kurt Russell and Keith David, among others, are superb here, but it’s the effects and the direction which make it the undoubted classic that it is. It’s the little things – the shadows, the slow fades and pans, the snippets of dialogue, but then you have the action – the petri dish scene, the final fight, the nihilistic ending, the uncertainty, and the rewatchability. It’s a film you watch again and again trying to understand who is The Thing at any given time. One clue is in the eyes – Carpenter shot each face in such a way that only those with light visible and reflecting in their eyes could be human – watch closely. The film was ripped to shreds upon release – audiences gorged over Spielberg’s enjoyable fluff ET instead – and critics were apparently falling over themselves to get in the best barb. If you ever need reassurance that maybe the human races needs to be taken over by aliens, or has been already, then look at the reception for The Thing – one of the best movies of all time, barely making back it’s 15 million budget. It’s easy to see why the effects, gruesome as they are, might put some people off along with the film’s ambiguity – but would you really want to befriend someone who feels that way? The Thing is the perfect mix of sci-fi and horror, and a masterpiece from top to bottom.

8: Aliens (1986)

While we’re on the subject of top to bottom masterpieces, James Cameron looked at Ridley’s Scott’s classic and thought ‘yeah, I’ll have some of that’. Cameron is known to be a bit of a perfectionist, and also adept at creatively overcoming any obstacle – two factors ensuring that Aliens is every bit as good, if not better, than the first part. After Ripley survived her encounter with the Xenomorph in the previous film, she has been floating in hyperspace for years. Decades in fact. She is picked up, learns how long she has been asleep and that in the interim her daughter has heartbreakingly grown up and died after a long, peaceful life. ‘The Company’ grills her on the rundown of events – namely that her crew was wiped out by an unknown lifeform and the only way she could kill it was to blow up her ship and blow it into space. They would like to know who’s going to pick up the bill. Elsewhere, a mining colony has been living on the planet that Ripley found the Alien on, but has recently stopped communicating. Uh oh.

The Company decides to go down to the planet to check on Ripley’s claims and to check on their mining folks, taking with them a team of badass marines and Ripley herself. Finding the base deserted, but with evidence of a battle, we find that the Aliens have been busy making babies. There are so many things I love about Aliens – the same things everyone loves. From the dialogue to the characters to the performances to the action, it’s perfect. I’ll focus on two things I enjoy which rarely get mentioned – the pacing, and the fact that everything seems to go wrong progressively. Those are key to the film’s success. If the pacing was off, you’d risk boring the viewer – this is a long film, even without the director’s cut. It’s a long time before we get any action, but once it kicks off it rarely lets up. Cameron ensures those early scenes have enough tension, sadness, and intrigue that we are invested in the characters long before all hell breaks loose. I’m not sure if it’s a trope, but those films where the plot moves along by virtue of the situation for the characters continually getting worse, that’s a favourite of mine. The characters even reference it here, tongue in cheek. They land, they search for the aliens, they are attacked. They can’t fight back because they risk blowing up the entire planet. They lose their command, they lose their pilot, they are blocked from their means of escape, they are betrayed, they are trapped, they are outnumbered, and they learn the planet is about to explode anyway. Everything that can go wrong, does. It keeps you on the edge of your seat like few films do. We’re now firmly in the list of films where, even though I may own it on DVD, Blu Ray, VHS, or all – if it’s on TV when channel hopping, I still watch it.

7: Police Academy (1984 – Top Ten Of All Time)

A ridiculous choice for most, no doubt, but it’s a personal list. I’m not sure any film series has made me laugh as much as this one, and while the sequels hit an inevitable decline it’s easy to forget that the first one is actually good. It’s not a work of art by any means, and you’ll never hear me call any of the sequels ‘good films’, but I love them dearly. The film follows the same sort of story as any number of other late 70s, early 80s films a person or a group of misfits enter a world they would normally have no business with – fish out of water – and we watch their antics. Here, it’s a group of small time cons, crooks, and losers who decide (or are forced to) join the local Police Academy.The characters are colourfully drawn, the humour ranges from slapstick to sight gags, to dated offensive stuff, to the just plain weird, but I will never not laugh. I’ve never been particularly high brow in my sense of humour, but if there’s one thing lacking in today’s painful world of attempted gross out humour – it’s heart. Maybe soul too. Police Academy, weird as it may sound, has heart. The cast is great, the characters iconic in their own way, and the soundtrack deserved an Oscar nomination. Give it a chance if you’re looking down your nose at it – you may be surprised. Probably not, but at least you’ll get to see an old guy being sucked off in front of a crowd. You see? Heart. 

6: The Empire Strikes Back/Jedi (1980/83 – Top Ten Of All Time)

So, this is a cheat. But not really, because I’ve always considered the original trilogy as a single entity, just in three distinct parts. That IMDB list I made had the Star Wars Trilogy at number one. I’m a rebel in that Jedi is my favourite of the bunch. I’m not going to put them at number one here, though everything in this Top Ten could switch around at a whim – it’s not important. Empire is the ‘dark one’, Jedi is the ‘fun one’ even though it has plenty of dark moments too. If you’re reading this and you’ve never seen these movies, then I’m not really sure what to say. I can’t tell you to go watch them, because you’ve probably entrenched yourself into a foolish decision to never see them, in which case you’re an idiot. Watch them. Only then can you moan about them. They are all essential – essential to us as movie fans, essential to us as humans.

5: Conan The Barbarian (1982 – Top Ten Of All Time)

I’ve always been an Arnie fan. I remember having an argument with a friend (RIP Scott) in P3  – for any foreigners reading, that’s our third year of school so I must have been 7 or 8 – over who would win in a fight, Bruce Lee or Arnie. Then, I was on the Bruce Lee side of the debate, but came to the conclusion that if guns were involved, then Arnie would win. I hadn’t seen Conan yet, so maybe that would have swayed me if we’d brought swords into the argument. It took me the longest time to see Conan. For whatever reason it was both difficult to come by and I’d dismissed it. I know I’d seen Red Sonja, which is crap, and probably assumed Conan was more of the same. I saw it first in my early teens, maybe slightly earlier and boy was I wrong. Directed by the legendary John Milius, based on the stories by Robert E Howard and with a script from Oliver Stone and Milius, it isn’t you’re standard sword and sorcery affair. The cast includes James Earl Jones and Max Von Sydow. Sandahl Bergman is terrific. Mako and Gerry Lopez provide able back-up. Can you imagine a better Conan than Arnie? The score by Basil Poledouris is, without a doubt, the greatest movie score in history. There are perhaps more one-liners here, or at least memorable dialogue, than in any other Arnie movie.

The plot boils down to an origin and revenge story – it’s Batman but without the body armour. We meet Conan as a child, his father explaining the Riddle Of Steel to him, shortly before his family is slaughtered at the hands of Thulsa Doom and his followers. Conan and several others are taken away to be slaves, Conan outlives them all before being trained as a gladiator/arena killer. Eventually earning his freedom Conan befriends a group of like-minded warriors and rogues and they embark on a series of adventures before being drafting into saving a Princess who has been captured and indoctrinated into Thulsa Doom’s cult. It’s a mish mash of Howard’s character’s, places, stories, and themes, but as a tale of violent revenge there are few better. The film has lately received more acclaim for its performances, music, dialogue, and action but I feel that even among Arnie fans it’s a little underrated. Buy the movie, buy the soundtrack, and let them tell you of the days of high adventure.

4: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984 – Top Ten Of All Time)

My favourite horror movie ever. It wasn’t the first horror movie I ever saw, but it (and the character of Freddy) was the first to intrigue me. I’ve told the story before, of how I would always be drawn to the horror section of the video store – the faces of Krueger staring down at me from all angles. I’ve still no idea what it is about his image that both haunts and yet pulls so many in like a siren call. Is it the disfigurement? Is it the glove? Is it the unspoken threat of violence and sex? This is a film I had discussions about in Primary School before I’d ever seen it. I’d caught snippets of it, and they stayed with me up until the point I watched the whole thing. I’d somehow seen the ending, or at least the scene where Nancy dispatches of Freddy, before I’d seen the movie. The scene where Freddy stretches his arms, the bath scene, and several others I had seen images of and was familiar with for years before sitting down to watch.

What’s not to love? A great idea fleshed out with fervent imagination, and featuring a neat little cast, Craven’s macabre humour, visuals, fascination with the relationship between parent and child, and one of horror’s most effective fairy-tale like scores, A Nightmare On Elm Street, remains a unique mixture of slasher tropes and dark fantasy. For me, Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy was the first strong female character of an age I could relate to. She wasn’t superhuman, she wasn’t obviously smart, she was just a teenage girl in terrible danger whose friends were being killed and whose cries were being ignored. Rather than sitting back or hoping someone else could rescue her, she puts her own plan into action as everyone else continually lets her down. I love the ambiguity here, how the Nightmare scenes versus reality are at first obviously separate visually and tonally, but how they begin to merge into one as Krueger’s power grows. They give just enough back story to leave thing’s interesting – the sequels would become more convoluted as they sought to ‘explain’ – and even the standard shock horror ending is more bizarre than usual, leading most to utter a variance of WTF. As a hardened horror fan and a fan of this for decades now, it’s hard to say whether today’s generation would find it scary. I’d say there are genuinely frightening and expertly creepy moments, and the idea of a creature stalking you in your sleep is still ripe for exploration and is inherently scary. I think it’s by and large true that what one generation finds scary, the next doesn’t what with changing trends

3: Predator (1987 – Top Ten Of All Time)

I said Conan The Barbarian has plenty of quotable dialogue. Predator might top it for sheer one-liners. Some of them are your standard action movie quips such as ‘knock knock’ and ‘stick around’, but it makes you wonder what makes a line quotable. For me, it has to be funny, snappy, or insightful, and make you immediately recall the movie or scene it’s from. If you think of something like ‘here’s looking at you, kid’. There’s nothing funny or insightful there – it’s no different from ‘knock knock’, except that the latter might give you a cheap giggle. ‘Here’s looking at you, kid’ just happens to be from one of the most iconic movies ever made, even though it doesn’t make a lick of sense. It’s also repeated ad nauseum – imagine if Arnie repeated it after he killed every bad guy. What on Earth am I on about?

Predator sees John McTiernan looking at the badassery of Aliens and thinking ‘yeah, I’ll have some of that’. He takes the hardcore Marines, makes them all men, and dumps them in a jungle. They are supposedly sent in to retrieve a hostage taken in hostile territory, but in good old First Blood Part 2 fashion, the CIA doesn’t give a shit about any hostage and that it was really about retrieving classified information. The team isn’t impressed by this lack of transparency and general treachery, but before they can spank each other they discover that they are being hunted by an unknown and unseen assailant. As they get picked off one by one, they learn that their enemy may not be of this world.

Predator is a full blown masculine shitshow. The muscles are monstrous, the machismo is twelve inches long, and the only thing bigger than the balls are the guns. It’s fantastic. This, along with Commando I often watched as a double bill at least once a week. It was my prepping for the upcoming day or weekend’s play – spending all day with toy guns building bases and lurking in hideouts in our local forests, parks, streets, fields. If we lived in a warmer climate, I have no doubt we would have camped out more, stayed in our makeshift bases, and covered ourselves in mud to avoid detection (read – covered ourselves in mud and run through innocent neighbours’ backyards hootin’ and a hollerin’). I wanted to be half as badass as the guys in this film – Dutch, Billy, Mac, Dillon, Blain… maybe not Hawkins or Poncho. Me and the friend I spent most days watching the double bill with both signed up for military duties at a young age, but soon found out that it was all balls.

Stan Winston shines once more in Predator – his effects and makeup work being state of the art for the time, and still holds up in places today – certainly in the context of the film everything works. You have Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves and Shane Black (who also worked on the script, naturally). Elpidia Carrillo holds her own. The Predator is a fantastic creature. There are so many great moments here – each kill is well thought out, the action is lethal, the final showdown and other moments are executed with smarts and racked with tension. The scene where the team effectively takes down an entire rainforest with their guns is possibly my favourite scene in any movie.

2: RoboCop (1987 – Top Ten Of All Time)

Where to begin with this one? I still argue it’s the most quotable movie of all time. It’s certainly rare that a day passes where I don’t quote it – it’s become so commonplace that I do it subconsciously. It’s got to the point where I quote it so much that people who I know haven’t seen the film or are even aware that what I’m saying is from a movie have adopted the dialogue and quote it too. The film is your traditional tale of young, ambitious cop who moves to a dirty, deadly district to try to clean it up but ends up being shot to (literally) pieces on his first day only to be resurrected as an unstoppable human-robot hybrid. What shouldn’t work on paper ends up being infinitely more than a sum of its parts – Paul Verhoeven doesn’t hold back with the violence, filling it with scene after scene of bloody carnage, he makes it a biting satire on justice, corruption, and The American Dream, throws in the odd Christ metaphor, and shoots the film with a mixture of the real and the outlandish. You’ve got to love all those news and advertisement intermissions.

Peter Weller gives a superb performance and was unfortunate not to get an Oscar nomination – not that they’d ever nominate something like this, and he’s backed up by the ever game Nancy Allen and the finest group of villainous scumbags you’re ever likely to find including Ronny Cox, Kurwood Smith, and Miguel Ferrer. You also have yet another classic Basil Poledouris score, a psychologically complex story boiled that you can still boil down to revenge action thriller standards, and on top of it all you have wonderful, ludicrous action. The guns are deafening, the swibs have gallons of the red stuff ready to explode at a whim, and you have any number of legendary characters and moments. Some people can’t handle the amount of swearing in the movie – don’t worry, there are plenty of re-dubbed versions where they replace the pesky f-bombs with more creative snippets which have in turn become even more quotable than the originals – ‘fuck you’ becomes ‘why me’ or ‘for you’ or ‘damn you’, ‘asshole’ becomes ‘airhead’, ‘bullshit’ becomes ‘baloney’, ‘fucking’ becomes ‘freaky’, and of course ‘you’re gonna be a bad mothercrusher’. Yes, there are of course versions with much of the violence removed, but why would you want to watch that? Instead, watch one of the several amazing fan edits out there, some of which go far beyond the boundaries of creative taste… taste? Tastes like baby food. Knock yourself out.

1: The Terminator (1984 – Top Ten Of All Time)

Was there ever any doubt? It’s always a toss up between this and T2 as my favourite film ever – doesn’t really matter though as they’re both perfect. You must know the story by now? In the future and artificial intelligence known as Skynet turned against its human overlords and kicked off a nuclear war which wiped out most of mankind. The survivors live in a desolate wasteland, hiding from and fighting back against the machines which Skynet has built to kill them. One such machine is known as a Terminator – a cyborg which can look and act human, but is essentially an unstoppable killing machine. Unable to eradicate the human resistance, the machines somehow build a time machine and send one such Terminator back to 1984 to kill the mother of the future resistance – a man named John Connor – before he can be born. In the future, the humans learn of this plan and manage to send someone back too, a protector known as Kyle Reece. So begins a race against time as both Kyle and The Terminator try to find Sarah Connor – a bumbling waitress with no idea what is in front of her.

I can’t be certain, but I think this was the first Arnie film I ever saw. I was pretty young, like maybe seven. I’ve been obsessed ever since. It’s safe to say the movie has had a massive influence on me personally, the notion of a selfless hero, of putting the greater good before the self often shaping the decisions I’ve made. I’m in no way a hero, but if there’s any character in a movie I’d want to be like it would be Reece. Linda Hamilton grows into the role as Sarah understands her position, and by the end she’s a beast. The three leads here are extraordinary. Cameron directs like his life depends on it, bringing sci-fi into realms previously unexplored. The film still looks stunning. The main soundtrack theme, in all of its guises, is maybe my favourite piece of music ever written. This is a chase movie, a cat and mouse movie, a dark and neon drenched thriller that seduced me at first sight. There are deleted scenes in the movie that are more vital and important than the entire filmography of other directors and actors. The film handles the mixture of action, violence, horror, tension flawlessly, while never forgetting that the characters are paramount. I’ve argued that it’s the greatest love story ever told. It’s a line I’ve used a few times in this post- that the effects may be dated in places but by the time you reach those moments you’re already invested in the story so that these can be ignored. Most of the time the effects work very well, the practical work more tangible than today’s rubber CGI. There are so many moments I could mention here as to why it’s my favourite movie ever, but you should just watch and pick your own, after all, there’s not fate but what we make for ourselves.

Well, that was a beast of a post. I’ll keep this bit short then – let us know in the comments what your favourite films of the 1980s are!

PS – Look what I found!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1984

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Ghostbusters (US)

9: This Is Spinal Tap (US)

8: Starman (US)

7: Beverly Hills Cop (US)

6: The Karate Kid (US)

5: Gremlins (US)

4: Temple Of Doom (US)

3: Police Academy (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

2: A Nightmare On Elm Street (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

1: The Terminator (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: The six top grossing movies.

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Zero

Nightman’s Favourite Films Of The 1970s – Stats Roundup

Greetings, Glancers! So, older readers of my Oscars posts may recall that I tried to give some stats at the end of the year. It became too difficult to gather metrics and I become too lazy, and lo the posts migrated to the Hades Of Blogs like so many before. The same will likely happen to these summary posts – where I give some ‘interesting’ stats on my favourite films of each decade. It doesn’t mean anything, you won’t gain any insight or pleasure from reading them, and they will be painful to write. Why do it? Well shucks, I’ve always had a thing for hurting myself. ‘Enjoy’!

Number Of Best Picture Nominees: Twenty three (Out of a possible fifty)

Number Of Best Picture Winners: 7 (Out of a possible ten)

Number Of Movies In The Top Ten Grossing of The Year: Thirty three (Out of a possible one hundred)

Number Of Movies Which Were The Top Grosser: Five (Out of a possible ten)

The number of films nominated for Best Picture this year is unsurprisingly high. In this decade The Academy and myself largely saw eye to eye thanks to a new wave of American directors whose films gained critical attention and personal adoration. Special mention goes to 1975, which may be the only year where all five films nominated for Best Picture appear in my personal Top Ten, as well as three of the Top Ten Grossing movies. Not only that, 1976 followed with 4 of the nominees making my list, as well as being one of the few years to have a clean sweep by country – all ten movies in my list are from the US. 1978 actually also has 10 US movies, though Superman is classed as being US/UK/Switzerland/Panama. By and large The Academy got it right this year, with seven Best Picture winners making it to my top ten lists – I don’t think we’ll get such a high number again and I anticipate the 80s being much lower. Twenty three out of the fifty total nominees made my list, that’s up from the 60s and the 50s.

In terms of top grossing movies, five of the top grossers made my lists, which is up from the 60s but down from the 50s – I put that down to the 60s having many successful costume epics and musicals, not my favourite genres, and me being more familiar with 70s movies and enjoying movies further outside the mainstream than what the 50s had to offer. Just to confuse things though, the thirty three films in the Top Ten grossing movies by year is higher than the 50s, but lower than the sixties…. so I’m not sure what to make of the stats. I will say 33 out of 100 is lower than what I expected but that I anticipate the 80s to be much higher.

Movies By Country In My Top 10:

USA: Seventy three

UK: Nineteen

Italy: Seven

Japan: One

France: Three

Germany: One

Australia: Four

Hong Kong: Five

Thailand: One

Canada: Two

Netherlands: One

Switzerland: One

Panama: One

The USA dominates again with a whopping seventy three films out of 100, one less than the 1950s. I was expecting this decade to be high as it is really when most of my favourite US directors and performers were hitting their peaks. Aside from the US, we have a few notable changes, namely Japan falling from grace and Spain disappearing completely. Japan had ten entries in the 50s, five in the 60s, but only one in the 70s. Don’t worry, that will pick up again. The UK drops down to nineteen, an expected drop after the swinging sixties, while Italy dropped a little to seven – held up by a new wave of horror movies. France stays consistent with single figures, Canada returns with a couple, but the newbies on the list are Australia with four and Hong Kong with five – Bruce Lee on the latter and a few up and comers for the former.

Movies By Director:

Robert Altman: Four

Dario Argento: Three

Walter Hill: Three

Francis Ford Coppola: Three

William Freidkin: Three

Sidney Lumet: Three


Bruce Lee: Two

Mel Brooks: Two

Guy Hamilton: Two

Sam Peckinpah: Two

Nicholas Roeg: Two

Lo Wei: Two

John Carpenter: Two

Bernardo Bertolucci: Two

John G Avildson: Two

Stanley Kubrick: Two

Terry Jones: Two

Don Siegel: Two

Steven Spielberg: Two

Martin Scorsese: Two

Clint Eastwood: Two

George A Romero: Two

Richard Donner: Two


Michael Cimino: One

Philip Kaufman: One

Jeannot Szwarc: One

John Milius: One

Irvin Kershner: One

Alan Parker: One

Kevin Connor: One

Ridley Scott: One

George Miller: One

David Lynch: One

Frank Roddam: One

Lucio Fulci: One

Michael Wadleigh: One

Michaelangelo Antonioni: One

Mel Stuart: One

Peter Weir: One

George Lucas: One

Lewis Gilbert: One

Sylvester Stallone: One

Terry Gilliam: One

George P Cosmatos: One

Mike Hodges: One

Richard C Sarafian: One

Alan J Pakula: One

Milos Forman: One

Paul Verhoeven: One

David Cronenberg: One

Brian De Palma: One

Michael Anderson: One

Arthur Hiller: One

Disney: One

Terence Malick: One

Tobe Hooper: One

Nobuhiko Obayashi: One

Franklin J Schaffner: One

Michael Winner: One

Sandy Harbutt: One

Bob Clark: One

Bob Rafelson: One

Brian G Hutton: One

Wes Craven: One

Gordon Hessler: One

Roman Polanski: One

John Boorman: One

Roy Ward Baker: One

Douglas Trumbull: One

Robert Clouse: One

Robin Hardy: One

One hundred films, seventy one directors. That’s down slightly from the sixties – most of the guys who were prominent in the previous decade are here again. The biggest changes this decade are that Hitchcock has completely vanished – he made a few decent films but none which I enjoyed sufficiently to include here, and Kurosawa. While Hitchcock is dead by the time the 80s roll around, Kurosawa was still going. In addition, Disney only made a single inclusion as they entered a bit of a dark age before their second Golden Age would begin later in the 80s. There are no obvious standouts from a director standpoint, though Robert Altman claims the top spot with four. We have a group on five with three movies each – Freidkin, Argento, Hill, Coppola, Lumet, and a bunch with two. A few directors making their debuts in my lists this decade will go on to greater success.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1969

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Carry On Camping (UK)

9: The Damned (Italy/Germany)

8: They Shoot Horses Don’t They (USA)

7: Marlowe (USA)

6: Easy Rider (USA)

5: Midnight Cowboy (USA)

4: The Italian Job (UK)

3: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (UK)

2: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (USA)

1: The Wild Bunch (USA)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Four (Including the top grossing)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two (Including the winner)