Essential Movies – 1964

Greetings, Glancers! We’re back again to check which classic movies should be considered essential within each category of viewer. Check out my 1964 Oscars posts for more on some of these movies, otherwise lets go.

Becket

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Richard Burton. Peter O’Toole. John Gielgud. Nominated for 11 Oscars, winning one.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s an old, very theatrical film about a period of time few people will be interested in.

What I Think: As far as costume dramas go, there were plenty to chose from during the Sixties – I’m ambivalent towards all of them and would suggest that anyone not interested in the style needs to only see one of them. This is as good as any, but it’s not to my personal tastes. Essential only for critics and wannabees.

Dr Strangelove

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Kubrick. Peter Sellers. Dropping the bomb. Top 15 grossing film. Nominated for four Oscars.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: We’re distant from the time of release that was being satirized now, so much of the comedy may not hit the mark. Sellers can be an acquired taste. Many people don’t like political humour. Black and white, which will put off many modern viewers.

What I Think: It’s going to be eternally ranked among the best, most important comedies of all time. Even if the specifics are dated, a look at the world today shows that the satire still works. All Kubrick movies from Spartacus onwards (if not all, period) should be considered essential by critics, wannabees, nerds, and fans. Casuals with an interest in the director, the stars, comedy, or politics will enjoy it.

Goldfinger

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Bond, one of the most successful and highly regarded of the series. Shirley Bassey. Most people would include this in the top five must-see Bond movies. 2nd highest grossing movie of the year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: If you’ve seen any other Bond and you’re not a fan, then you likely won’t care to see this.

What I Think: It’s Bond, so I automatically consider it essential. It’s arguably the most iconic entry in the series, what with the song, the quotes, the bad guy, the henchmen, Pussy Galore, the car etc. Still, growing up more with Moore I find myself watching the Connery movies less than others. Should be essential for everyone down to Casuals, and essential for them if they like Bond.

A Hard Day’s Night

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s The Beatles. It’s one of the first movies of its type. It showcases a specific time and place and energy like few films or documents do.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It will be too wacky and displaced for some. If you’re not interested in The Beatles, or music, it won’t be of interest.

What I Think: It’s weird and energetic and doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you place it in the context of the time and the surrounding hysteria. It gives insight into the minds of the Fab Four, their creativity, and is a valuable artifact as well as being a lot of fun. Great music too. Essential down to Casuals, essential for Casuals who like the band.

Mary Poppins

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s Mary Poppins. You’ve seen it. Disney. Supercali, chim chimeree, lets fly a kite etc. Third highest grossing film of the year. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nominated for thirteen Oscars, won five.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s a musical. It’s essentially plot-less. It’s too long and drags on endlessly.

What I Think: Have you watched it recently? It’s pretty bad. It’s not just the Van Dyke accent that we all know about – for me it’s not that the accent is nothing like Cockney – it’s that you literally cannot understand 95% of what he says. His character is unnecessary too, aside from a few cloying nods in the pseudo-redemption arc. It’s takes a hell of a long time to get going, the kid actors are annoying though it’s unclear why they need a Nanny in the first place beyond the fact that their parents are terrible human beings. By the end of the film, no-one has learned anything – the kids have lost the only person who showed them some passing interest, the mother doesn’t change whatsoever, and the father clearly suffers some sort of breakdown. Some of the songs and scenes go on for far too long and the humour is worse than swallowing a fart. While obviously dated, it is still wildly inventive. Having said all of that, I’m clearly in the minority and there’s no doubting it’s essential given the cultural impact, though a modern viewer who hasn’t seen it will likely not be as impressed as the person forcing them to watch it.

My Fair Lady

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Audrey Hepburn. Loverly. Rain In Spain. Highest grossing movie of the year. Best Picture winner, along with seven other Oscar wins.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s a musical. Those accents. Rex Harrison is a dick.

What I Think: Although this defeated Mary Poppins at the box office, it has fared less well in terms of impact. It’s still talked about, it’s still iconic, but to a much lesser degree than Poppins. Again, for someone who largely despises musicals, it’s a struggle to get through it, only kept from shutting it off by Hepburn’s charm. Regardless, it’s essential for Critics, Wannabees, Nerds, Fans and Casuals can give it a go if they like Hepburn or musicals.

The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Catherine Deneuve. Nominated for five Oscars (over a number of years)

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s foreign, most viewers won’t care about the director or cast. Not a top grossing movie.

What I Think: As you should know by now – musicals are not for me. This is the bets musical of the year. It’s as charming as Mary Poppins is bad, it’s as enchanting as My Fair Lady is annoying. However, given the choice, the average fan will pick a different musical to watch from this year, in that case probably only essential for Critics and Wannabees, though geeks and musical fans should give it a go.

The Woman In The Dunes

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: One of the best films from the Japanese New Wave, nominated for two Oscars, gorgeous music and cinematography. 100% Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old, black and white, Japanese, weird.

What I Think: Alienating, yet beautiful. Haunting, sad, creepy, yet definitely an acquired taste. Only for connoisseurs of Japanese cinema.

Zulu

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Michael Caine’s first major role. A cast of British icons starring in a film about a pivotal moment in British history. A John Barry score. One of the most successful and enduring British films of all time, still shown regularly on TV. Influenced many later war films and battle scenes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Outside of Britain, nobody really cares. It wasn’t one of the highest grossing films of the year outside of Britain, and critical reception was and remains divided – is it racist or not, is it good or not? It didn’t win any awards of note.

What I Think: This has become less essential with time. Even though I still think it’s a great film, and that more movie fans outside of Britain should see it, there’s maybe not enough incentive within the cast or via the director to encourage viewers. The action and tension remain fresh and modern viewers will recognise its influence. Critics and Wannabees need to see it, but I imagine my generation of film fans born in Britain will be the last to consider it essential.

A Fistful Of Dollars

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s Sergio Leone. It’s Clint Eastwood. It’s Ennio Morricone. They are three of the biggest names in their respective fields, and they’re together, making possibly the first film which enabled their legend status. It introduced The Man With No Name, both as a character and a character type. One of the first Spaghetti Westerns which reinvented a dying genre and took it onto darker, more violent territory. It was a Top Ten Grossing Movie that year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: British and US critics were not impressed upon release. The non-traditionalist, cheaper, more European feel may put some viewers off.

What I Think: While not as good as, or essential, or iconic as The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, it came first and laid the groundwork. It kick-started a number of careers who would each become superstars, and it defined a genre. Essential for Critics, Wannabees, Nerds, and Fans, and even with its age modern virgin viewers should get something out of it.

Zorba The Greek

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Stars Anthony Quinn. Was a Top 20 Grossing film. It won three Academy Awards, and was nominated for four others, including Best Director and Best Picture.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Like most romances and comedies from a particular era, it hasn’t aged well. The stars probably aren’t recognisable enough to your average modern film fan.

What I Think: It has aged, but it still has good performances and at times is more like a buddy comedy/odd people romp than a romance. It was nominated for Best Picture, but didn’t win and has since become just another near-forgotten film. Critics and Wannabees should see it eventually, but for anyone else it’s only essential if you’re a fan of the cast.

Let us know in the comments which films above you would rank as essential, and which films of 1964 you would put in that category!

Bill & Ted Face The Music

Bill & Ted Face the Music': Third Time's a Most Excellent Charm, Dude – Rolling Stone

Growing up, there were a handful of movies that I repeatedly came back to not only on my own, but with friends; Predator, T2, Wayne’s World, and the Bill And Ted series. Even in this age of any and all commodities, however barely remembered, being remade or franchised to further dilution, I never imagined I’d see a Bill & Ted sequel. Sure, we’d had the short lived animated series, and every few years we’d hear a rumour of a new script being proposed, but it seemed like the ship had sailed. No-one was interested in rock music any more, never mind movies about rock music, so why would anyone take a chance on releasing a movie which was barely marketable?

Yet here we are, decades later, with an older and somewhat wiser Bill and Ted tasked with saving the world, again. What’s more, the prophecies outlined in the previous movies didn’t really come to pass. Bill & Ted’s band had some success, but like most guitar bands of the era, they split up and are now seen has has-beens barely able to play in a bar to 20 people. They’re still married to their respective babes and they even have daughters, daughters who also aspire to being kick-ass musicians, but all is not rosy; there’s a chance their wives may leave and there’s a chance the world may end. Enter the daughter of Bill and Ted’s old pal Rufus, who takes the lads to the future where they learn that, if they don’t write the perfect song by that evening, all time and reality will collapse. Bad news. There is also a time-travelling Terminator robot sent to destroy them. Luckily, they have their own time machine to try to travel to potential futures to hear the song they haven’t written yet, while their daughters use another time machine to go back and recruit some of the greatest musicians of all time. It’s incredibly convoluted and seems ready to fall apart at any moment.

And yet, it works. It knows it’s silly and it leans into the ridiculousness of it all. It’s funny, it’s nostalgic, and most of the cast members from the originals return. It’s a bit of a shame that the music isn’t great and that they didn’t lean into how metal has changed in the years since the early 90s, but my overriding thought is that I was happy it even existed at all and that it isn’t crap. We still have plenty of modern bands and artists making an appearance, but the script is less interested in the name-dropping and culture surrounding the music. Reeves and Winter initially seem a little awkward in their roles, but this seems to shed over the course of the film and they eventually revel in it. The returning performers equally enjoy themselves, and most of the newcomers are fun too.

The film will likely be completely bewildering for any number of factors to anyone who has not seen the previous movies, but it was made for the fans and those fans should get plenty of enjoyment out of this belated sequel. Let us know what you think in the comments!

She Dies Tomorrow

She Dies Tomorrow (2020) - Projected Figures

I try to watch as many Indie/under the wire horror movies as I can get my hands on as that’s often where the most innovation and passion can be found. The Evil Dead? Halloween? Night Of The Living Dead? I have faith that the next classic could be right around the corner, being made by some unknown team. Trawling through a load of Indie films also comes with its risks – many of them are absolute dreck, badly made, badly acted, and with an unfortunate focus on bad special effects and make-up. Those are of course the extreme edges of the spectrum, with the vast majority of the films I’ve seen lurking somewhere in between, mainly ranging from inoffensively forgettable to great ideas lacking in the final execution. She Dies Tomorrow falls squarely in the middle of this category.

There is a great idea at the centre of She Dies Tomorrow – that of a woman who suddenly acquires the crystal clarity knowledge that she is absolutely going to die tomorrow. The kicker is that, when you express this knowledge to someone you pass it on to them. It has loose connotations to Rimgu, It Follows, and Pontypool. It’s a great group to be part of, and it’s a great idea with a hundred different ways to possible tell that story. The problem is, we take a decidedly arthouse approach and don’t really tell any sort of story. It’s not a horror movie by any stretch and instead revels in a stasis of naval gazing and half monotonous adventures. It’s partly amusing to see these generally irritating characters’ non interactions, the ‘disease’ being passed on, and their reactions. But it serves little purpose, not from a plot perspective and seemingly not from any wider social context. At a stretch you could argue it’s about mental health – but what’s the message? Talking about your depression makes others depressed? That everything is pointless? That we shouldn’t worry so much? That death is horrible? That filmmakers shouldn’t be left to their own devices if this is the end result?

It’s certainly a slow watch, and right or wrong the film is being promoted as something it’s not to an audience who will likely despise it both for what it is and for this trick of marketing. It’s worth a watch for those who like to ponder, and there are a few laughs and decent performances, but it’s so hollow that you think it’s the sort of film that anybody could have made with any set of actors – there’s no voice in front or behind the camera discernible through the thoughtless-provoking meandering.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of She Dies Tomorrow!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Movies Of 1986!

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: Highlander (UK/US)

There can only be one! Except they followed it up with a bunch more and a TV series, and probably an 80s animated series that no-one remembers. It’s the Camp special on the list – it even features Queen all through the soundtrack. It also stars Sean Connery at his hammiest, and a French bloke as a kilt-wearing, sheep-bothering Scotsman. Yet somehow it’s cool. It’s the 80s high concept-ness of it all – a race of immortals battle their way through time until there is only one left, the only way they can be killed is via sword beheading for some reason. Queue lots of dubious sword fighting choreography and neon lit shenanigans, with some sort of love story at the heart of it all. There’s interesting lore, from Quickenings to Gatherings, but as a kid it was the idea of immortals sword-fighting which sold it for me – I’ve always loved the idea of someone living through these major historical times, existing from century to century accruing all of this knowledge and wisdom, while whipping out a sword every so often.

9: Stand By Me (US)

A contender for the best Stephen King adaptation and the one best cast, Stand By Me is a gripping drama, a coming of age story like no other, and an all to human story regardless of the time and place in which it is set. River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, Keifer Sutherland, Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, and Richard Dreyfuss all star, in another story which looks to the past as four friends embark one long summer day on a mission to see a dead body.

8: A Better Tomorrow (HK)

Hong Kong was knocking it out of the park in the late 80s, making steps away from the straight kung fu movies of the previous decades. It was all guns and gangsters now. A Better Tomorrow is an archetype for this, setting out various tropes which would be copied for years after with John Woo directing Leslie Cheung, Chow Yun Fat, and Ti Lung as three men connected by blood or through their work with the Triad.

Lung is a low level manager type in the business, Fat is his charismatic best friend, while Leung is his younger brother training to be a cop. After a botched job, Lung takes the fall letting a younger Triad member called Shing get away. We flash forward to Lung getting out of prison, only to find his brother cannot forgive his him for his life of crime, and that Shing has become a ruthless leader casting Fat out of the group. It’s typical masculine, violent John Woo stuff, and it’s fantastic. While Woo would further hone his style, this was a huge smash and turned the cast into stars overnight. It still holds up as an action movie today, with plenty of visceral stunts and slow mo, and a plot which you know will lead to one final nail-biting, gun-pointing conclusion.

7: Blue Velvet (US)

David Lynch’s fourth film saw him returning to what he did best – small town stories told through his unique noir-tinged lens. Eraserhead was his nightmarish vision of this model, The Elephant Man was his Oscar bait big league shot, and Dune was his big budget Mr Hollywood show. Blue Velvet is unfiltered Lynch, writing and directing a story the way he wanted to. Starting out innocently enough – a severed human ear being found by an All American Boy returning to his All American Town – it ramps up into an alien crime drama where seedy truths and shocking violence ooze from the ground. Kyle MachLaclan,  Laura Dern, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Stockwell, and an unhinged Dennis Hopper lead the cast in Lynch’s alluring, horrible fable.

6: Platoon (US)

Arguably Stone’s finest film, and undoubtedly one of the best War movies ever made, Platoon reflects Stone’s own experiences in Vietnam in an uncompromising way, never showering the US troops in the glory they had been used to in prior Cinematic depictions. These soldiers are flawed men in a worthless war, fighting for nothing, and frequently there for nothing more than their own ego or trying simply to survive when death could come at any moment from any side. The war and its fighters are ugly, and as we observe it through Charlie Sheen’s eyes, we are left bruised and battered by the end, having learned or re-learned that old adage of there being no good guys in war, only victims.

5: Police Academy 3 (US)

It’s only on this blog that you can follow a critically revered classic like Platoon with something as worthless as Police Academy 3 – a film I rank higher. You come for the content, and stay for the disbelief. In this entry, the team is tasked with training a batch of new recruits to the Police Academy, knowing that if they fail they’ll be shut down. This leads to the likes of Zed, Fackler’s wife, Sweetchuck, Nogata, and another love interest for Mahoney all signing up and getting into all manner of silly japes. It’s more of the same, and as my comedy brain never matured being the age of 5, it’s perfect.

4: The Fly (US)

David Cronenberg’s crowning achievement, bringing his body horror obsessions to peak grotesque levels in the midst of a steady character based narrative which never feels like it’s slipping out of reach. It would be easy, and unfair, to speak of the visual effects as the star of the show given that Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis both give star-making performances.

3: The Hitcher (US)

The Hitcher, in spite of its remake, remains an underrated film and the very definition of a Cult movie. We get right to the point in the opening minutes, and from there the tension and action doesn’t let up. It’s opaque in its character moments, its story can be taken directly or broken down into complex themes, it has several iconic scenes and set pieces, it has terrific action and a superb performance from Rutger Hauer, and its visual style is as close to what I want a film to look like as it’s possible to be.

2: Big Trouble In Little China (US)

John Carpenter’s ‘All In’ movie. Horror? Sure. Martial arts? Why not? Slapstick comedy? It’d be rude not to. Kurt Russell and a mullet? Obviously. It’s the most successful mish-mash of multiple genres ever committed to screen and one of the most fun movies of the 80s.

1: Aliens (US)

James Cameron knows how to make heart-pumping action, knowing that the key to making us care about the action is to make us care about the characters. We already had an in with Ripley, and we already understood the lore of the universe, so Cameron takes everything else up a notch by pitting Ripley alongside a group of tough-nosed marines who are no match for a colony of Aliens. Cameron has a track record of making perfect sequels – will he keep it up with the new Avatar movie – and Aliens remains a prime example of how to respect an original and take the story to the next level.

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: One – the winner

Essential Films – 1963 – Alternative View

For my original post explaining my criteria – click here!

Rules: Ten films which, in some way, show our history and culture reflected in film and  film’s growth and change as a medium. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best 10 films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. 

  1. Cleopatra (Top Grossing Film Choice)

2. The Haunting (Top Critical Choice)

3. 8 And A Half (Academy Award Winning Choice – Best Foreign Picture)

4. The Birds

5. The Great Escape

6. Jason And The Argonauts

7. From Russia With Love

8. Shock Corridor

9. The Pink Panther

10. The Sword In The Stone

Essential Movies – 1962 – Alternative View

For my original post explaining my criteria – click here!

Rules: Ten films which, in some way, show our history and culture reflected in film and  film’s growth and change as a medium. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best 10 films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. 

  1. Lawrence Of Arabia (Best Picture option)

2. The Longest Day (Top Grossing Option)

3. How The West Was Won (Best Film Critical option)

4. Lolita

5. Cape Fear

6. Dr No

7. The Mutiny On The Bounty

8. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

9. The Manchurian Candidate

10. To Kill A Mockingbird

Which 10 films would make up your Essential list?

Essential Movies – 1961 – Alternative View

For my original post explaining my criteria – click here!

For the mainstream view – click here!

Rules: Ten films which, in some way, show our history and culture reflected in film and  film’s growth and change as a medium. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best 10 films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. 

  1. The Hustler (Best Picture Winner)

2. West Side Story (Top Grossing Movie)

3. 101 Dalmations (Best Film Critical Choice)

4. The Guns Of Navarone

5. Breakfast At Tiffany’s

6. Yojimbo

7. The Innocents

8. Judgement At Nuremberg

9. One-Eyed Jacks

10. The Pit And The Pendulum

Essential Movies – 1961

Greetings, Glancers! Welcome back to my series of posts examining those movies intelligent people call Essential – and whether the rest of us should agree.  Check out my explanation post for more info, and have a look at my 1961 Oscars posts if you have additional time to waste. Onwards!

A Raisin In The Sun

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the first films to feature a predominantly African American cast including Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier. Preserved by the USA National Film Registry.

Why It May Not Be: Dated even though still topical, no-one remembers it, didn’t do huge business.

What I Think: Even Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds will likely miss out on this one, probably essential for Fans of the cast.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Blake Edwards, one of the most iconic Romances of all time. Top 15 grossing movie that year. Won two Oscars, nominated for three others. Moon River. Preserved by NFR.

Why It May Not Be: It’s old?

What I Think: One of the most obviously all around Essential Movies of the 60s. You don’t get to be a Critic, Film Nerd, or Film Fan without seeing this. Casuals and Careless will know it and should see it.

Fanny

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture and Actor.

Why It May Not Be: It has an unfortunate name. Most people won’t care about the cast. It wasn’t successful. I don’t think anyone remembers it outside of devout stage fans.

What I Think: Essential only if you’re determined to see every film nominated for Best Picture. No-one else needs to seek this out, as enjoyable as it may be.

Judgement At Nuremberg

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Preserved by NFR. Top 15 Grossing film that year. The most famous film about one of the most important Court Cases ever. Stanley Kramer directs. Spencer Tracey, Burt Lancaster, Max Schell, Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich appear among others – some of the biggest names in Hollywood History. Nominated for 11 Oscars with Schell winning Best Actor.

Why It May Not Be: It’s old and modern audiences may not know all of the historical nuances.

What I Think: Essential for Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds. Should be essential for Film Fans – a must see for Courtroom Drama fans or fans of the cast. No-one else will be interested in finding it.

Last Year At Marienbad

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Directed by Alain Resnais. Masterpiece of surrealism. Influenced David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, nominated for an Oscar two years after release.

Why It May Not Be: Surrealism is a tough self and this is ambiguous as films get. There are no easy answers and most people like a beginning, middle, and end with clear structure.

What I Think: Essential for Wannabe Critics. Film Nerds should give at least one Alan Resnais film a go, so why not this. Surrealist Fans should see it. No-one will care.

La Notte

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Antonioni, Mastroinanni, Jeanne Moreau.

Why It May Not Be: Who?

What I Think: A dense Italian drama about a collapsing relationship – not going to be an easy sell to a modern audience. Wannabe Critics should see it, Film Nerds should try, if you’re not a fan of Antonioni or the cast you’re not going to chase it down.

Lola

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Jacques Demy. Anouk Aimee.

Why It May Not Be: Again, who?

What I Think: If you’re not a fan of Demy or Aimee, or a devotee of the French New Wave you won’t care.

Lover Come Back

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Nominated for an Oscar. Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Screwball comedy in an world of Executives.

Why It May Not Be: Old, dated, corny, not well remembered.

What I Think: Only essential if you like the two stars.

One Eyed Jacks

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Directed by and starring Marlon Brando.

Why It May Not Be: Other than the above, there isn’t much to recommend it to people.

What I Think: An interesting curio and essential for Brando fans. Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds should be aware of it and therefore should see it, but wouldn’t class it as essential for them.

One Hundred And One Dalmations

Why It May Be Considered Essential: It’s Disney. Cruella De Vil. Spawned a Live action sequel or two. Top 10 Grossing Film of the year.

Why It May Not Be: It was during a dark period for Disney where their films were not doing so well, critically or commercially and suffers from being a little dull. The songs aren’t great.

What I Think: Even though Disney films were not great during this time, this one proved they could still make a lot of money on a small budget. Aside from the wacky and dark story, it’s quite a plain story but as it is a Disney animated movie it should be considered Essential for almost everyone. The Casuals may have seen it when younger or if they have kids of their own, and same goes for The Careless – not as vital as some Disney movies, more important than others – so somewhere in the middle.

Splendor In The Grass

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Natalie Wood. Warren Beatty. Elia Kazan. Top ten grossing film of the year. Won one Oscar and nominated for another.

Why It May Not Be: Teen drama from an era long gone. Most modern audiences won’t care about the cast. Stupid name?

What I Think: A fine school-based drama with good performances and timeless arguments, but a setting and style and period which will not resonate as easily with modern viewers. Only essential for fans of the cast, not essential for Film Nerds and not high up the must see list for Wannabe Critics.

The Exiles

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the first films of its kind, a pseudo-documentary, but based mostly on the lives of young Native Americans who have left their reservations and moved to the big city.

Why It May Not Be: See above. No-one has ever seen it.

What I Think: I have no idea.

The Guns Of Navarone

Why It May Be Considered Essential: 2nd highest grossing movie of the year. Gregory Peck. David Niven. Anthony Quinn. Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Score, Writing, and others and won for Best Visual Effects.

Why It May Not Be: In the pantheon of great war action movies, this one has maybe been overshadowed by some others. Modern audiences looking for action aren’t likely to look so far in the past.

What I Think: One of the finest WWII era action movies and a perennial seasonal British favourite. Essential for Film Nerds more than Wannabe Critics, but both groups should see this. Essential for War fans, interesting enough that channel surfers may catch it and be drawn in by the cast and the action.

The Hustler

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Paul Newman. Piper Laurie. George C Scott. Nominated for Best Picture and 8 other Oscars, winning for Set Decoration and Cinematography.

Why It May Not Be: Old and Black and White?

What I Think: One of the best Sports movies ever with some iconic performances and characters. Essential for Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds, and fans of the cast. Fans of Pool and Snooker should consider it essential. Likely too distant now for Casuals or Careless to go looking for it.

The Innocents

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the finest ghost/haunted house movies ever, dense and gothic.

Why It May Not Be: Old, BW, not many obvious scares, and probably too stodgy and sterile for modern audiences.

What I Think: A classic in the British horror genre, but a slow-burner which only certain horror fans will appreciate. Essential for Wannabe Critics, less essential for Film Nerds and horror fans, not essential for anyone else.

The Ladies Man

Why It May Be Considered Essential: A Jerry Lewis comedy.

Why It May Not Be: Not many modern viewers will care about the above.

What I Think: Only essential for Lewis fans.

The Misfits

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Miller. Huston. Gable. Monroe. Arguably more famous for the Production issues than the end result. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be: Monroe may remain a household name, but how many modern viewers have actually seen one of her films? If they have, it’s not this one. A flop on release.

What I Think: Filmed as Miller and Monroe were separating and Huston was drinking heavily. Monroe was in rehab during production. Gable died days after filming finished, Monroe a year later. An interesting film to be aware of due to its troubled history, so Essential for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics. Essential for fans of the cast due to strong performances. Not essential for anyone else.

Through A Glass Darkly

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Bergman. Won Best Foreign Film Oscar. Harriet Andersson. Max Von Sydow. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be: See above.

What I Think: Bergman, so again if you want to be a critic or call yourself a Film Nerd, you have to have seen a few Bergman films. This one is a good mixture of accessibility, art, and heavy themes. Essential for Bergman fans – no one else will give a damn.

Viridiana

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Bunuel. Won the Palme d’Or.

Why It May Not Be: See above.

What I Think: Same as Bergman – you need to see some Bunuel and this is as good a place to start as any. Again, no-one else will care.

West Side Story

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Best Picture winner, top grossing film of the year, won Oscars for Best Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and six more. One of the most famous and popular musicals of all time.

Why It May Not Be: Musicals. They’re balls.

What I Think: Arguably the end of the traditional epic Hollywood musical – what more could be done after this? If you’re going to watch one, it may as well be this. Essential for Film Nerds, Wannabe Critics, and Fans – Casuals and Careless will be aware of it and may as well see it but depending on preferences may not seek this out.

Yojimbo

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Kurosawa. Mifune. Swords. Basis of A Fistful of Dollars. One of the best Samurai movies ever. Influential.

Why It May Not Be: Old. BW. Foreign.

What I Think: Essential for Film Nerds, Wannabe Critics, and Kurosawa fans. Like Japanese movies? Then this is essential. Casuals and Careless will not care unless they happen to like old Samurai movies.

Let us know in the comments which movies of 1961 you feel are Essential viewing – feel free to borrow my categorizations or choose your own definitions!

Nightman’s Updated Top 17 Movies Of 1993!

17: Falling Down (US/France/UK) Joel Schumacher

Schumacher continued the 80s success of the likes of The Lost Boys and St Elmo’s Fire into the 90s, with Falling Down probably his best film of the decade. It reinvented Michael Douglas, casting him as a classic anti-hero and the sort of bloke we have all wished we would like to be at some point. Maybe that’s a tad too far, but which of us have not wanted to just say ‘fuck it’ and go on a rampage around the city? Schumacher nails the atmosphere of sweaty 90s LA, a boiling pot of race, pressure, and violence, and manages to make the film action packed, violent, funny, and smart all at once.

16: Mrs Doubtfire (US) Chris Columbus

It’s a family film with its fair share of risque humour thanks to a tour de force performance from Robin Williams. Not all of the jokes land, as it always the case when Williams was given free reign, but when there are so many and when they are delivered with such pace, you barely notice. It’s also another charming watch and kids and older members will find plenty to enjoy.

15: Schindler’s List (US) Steven Spielberg

A contender for the finest war movie ever made, and for the best movie of the decade, Schindler’s List is obviously an exhausting, difficult, but important watch. There are two must watches for everyone on my list today – both are by Spielberg, and this is one of them.

14: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (US) Lasse Hallstrom

Johnny Depp’s star was on the rise, and this was another notch on his bedpost. Lasse Hallstrom was looking for a US hit while Juliette Lewis was another hot property. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was not the sort of film which was ever going to be a hit, but even before it took on a cult status it was clear to any viewer that it was a powerful and humble and perfectly well made and well acted drama. Naturally it was the film which broke DiCaprio, his film stealing performance earning an Oscar nomination. People have maybe forgotten this one now, but with the star power involved its a hidden gem which will continue to be discovered.

13: Cliffhanger (US/France/Italy) Renny Harlin

Arnie had exploded into the new decade making sure that the 80s action hero still had a place in the new, more self aware era. His 90s exploits had not been successful so he found a new action vehicle with up and coming director Renny Harlin. It’s basically Die Hard on a mountain, but it has plenty of action, plenty of violence, a classic batch of hammy villains, and lots of one-liners – in short, everything you want in an action movie, with the added bonus of great scenery and spectacle.

12: Benny And Joon (US) Jeremiah S Chechik

Another offbeat character for Depp to tackle, this is the less mainstream version of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? It’s one of a select few romances or Rom Coms that I hold dear, and another film for people who have maybe forgotten what a great actor Depp is should check out.

11: Dazed And Confused (US) Richard Linklater

Linklater always makes watchable movies, regardless of genre, but his best movies are those which feel like a group of best mates hanging out – with Dazed And Confused being the prime example. Like the movie itself, you can stick it on and just chill. The various characters, the various groups all somehow feel like personal friends and Linklater has a way of making you feel like part of the gang, even as a guy from Northern Ireland who wasn’t alive in the time period predicted. You don’t even need the performances to be good – they are – but you do need the soundtrack and the setting to echo the vibe – it does.

10: The Vanishing (US) George Sluizer

Frequently named as one of the, if not worst, but least most unnecessary and least interesting remakes of all time, The Vanishing still remains for me a gripping and eerie watch. Sure, it’s not as powerful as the original but I saw this one first and those first impressions are hard to shake. Remember, this is a favourites list, not what I think is the best. What I still love about this remake is the cast – Bridges, Sutherland, Bullock, and Travis are all committed and Sluzier does a great job of maintaining the mystery and tension of the original. While the ending is a prime example of Americanisation, I don’t necessarily mind. Sure it would have been cool if they’d shot alternative endings or went with something similar to the original, but the original is still there to enjoy in all its bleak glory.

9: Carlito’s Way (US) Brian De Palma

Carlito’s Way is one of those latter day Mafia movies which was still flying the flag for the sort of violent stylized thriller which would become out of vogue once Pulp Fiction came along. It’s not as good as Goodfellas, and not as memorable as Scarface, but it’s just as engaging with the benefit of being more underseen – get ahead of your mates and stick this one on your movie night list once Lockdown is over and enjoy Pacino, Sean Penn and Leguizamo, acting to Eleven while De Palma cranks up the tension.

8: The Nightmare Before Christmas (US) Henry Selick

I’ve spoken about this movie plenty of times on other lists on this site; it’s great.

7: A Perfect World (US) Clint Eastwood

Clint had been directing for about 80 years by the time he made A Perfect World, and had been acting for roughly 300 years on top of that. His follow up to the universally acclaimed Unforgiven is a light crime drama which I prefer to his masterful Western. I’ve always suspected the light tone came from Kevin Costner’s involvement and that another actor may have brought a more cynical vibe, but Costner and Eastwood were a perfect match and foil for one another, and created one of the least seen finest movies of the 90s. Assuming most reading this list may not be familiar with this movie – it follows two escaped convicts in early 60s Texas who pick up a hostage in the form of a young Jehovah’s Witness boy completely innocent of the ways of the world. What begins is a road movie mixed with coming of age mixed with buddy comedy mixed with violent thriller as Costner learns responsibility from the boy and the boy learns right and wrong from the criminal, all while Texas Ranger Eastwood and criminologist Laura Dern chase them down. It’s an incredibly, unforgivingly (ha) underrated film with a terrific cast, nuanced, funny, touching, and never bogged down by its 2 hour plus running time.

6: Demolition Man (US) Marco Brambilla

I’ve spoken plenty about this one on the blog before – it features in my Top Ten Stallone movies.

5: Last Action Hero (US) John McTiernan

I’ve spoken plenty about this one on the blog before – it features in my Top Ten Arnie movies.

4: Body Snatchers (US) Abel Ferrara

It gets undue hate for not being as good as the 70s or 50s version. Don’t sleep on it. It’s in my favourite movies of the decade list… I think. If it’s not, it’s fantastically grim vision of the famous story with a more claustrophobic setting.

3: True Romance (US) Tony Scott

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

2: Tombstone (US) George P Cosmatos

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

1: Jurassic Park (US) Steven Spielberg

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

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!