Another tough subject, but then, I care less about film than I do about music, so this should be easier. And, in fact, I can actually narrow this down very quickly.
Every time I watch a movie, I slap a rating on it via IMDB – and I can review my vote history any time.
In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve only rarely given a 10/10 score to a film – and actually, I have the whole list at my fingertips. Here they are in alphabetical order:
Amadeus (1984) – A fictionalized account of Mozart’s life, what I love, apart from the costumes and humour, is that this film has a clear affection for music, showing how music is constructed and just how much it can mean to people.
- Baraka (1992) – A film without words, Baraka is a trip around the planet that shows what a fantastic place we live in. And the soundtrack is phenomenal. I’ve waited decades for a follow-up from this film maker, and evidently he’s working on one right now.
- City of God (2002) – It’s been too long since I’ve seen this one. I only saw it once, though, so I don’t remember much about it except that it was fantastic.
- In the Mood for Love (2000) – At its core, this Chinese film is a heartbreaking story of two people who love one another but who can’t connect. And the acting is phenomenal. This one has some of the most lush colours I’ve seen in any film.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) – Another one that was vying for top of the list. It’s one of the best musicals released in decades, with great songs, great humour, and a real sense of its main character’s development.
- Lilies (1996) – Another French Canadian film, this isn’t a film I would recommend to everyone. It’s a gay film, and probably on my list simply because of how much it touched me at the right time of my life.
- Magnolia (1999) – This one seems to be love it or hate it. I’m in the former camp. There’s nothing about it that I dislike and, while the ending can be seen as over the top, it’s one I keep going back to.
Moulin Rouge! (2001) – Again, this was a close contender for top spot – the other great musical released in 2001. By far, this is the film I saw the most times when it was in theatres – I went 5 or 6 times.
- Spirited Away (2001) – One of the greatest pieces of Anime ever, this is one of the greatest Family films I’ve ever seen.
- The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – I once took a long-haul plane ride and this was playing in a loop on their movie channel. I’m sure I watched it half a dozen times. It never gets boring.
So what gets top spot? Underground (1995)!
From Serbia, Underground won the Cannes Palme D’or in 1995. It’s gorgeous, and it goes from wicked slapstick humour to absurdness to heart-wrenching tragedy without skipping a beat. Plus it’s all set to a roiling soundtrack of Serbian Gypsy brass band music. I see it whenever I can find a screening at a rep theatre. I used to own it on VHS, but haven’t managed to get a DVD copy just yet.
If there’s anything on this list you haven’t seen, put it on your zip list/Netflix Queue. You won’t be disappointed.