The Top 250

It’s nothing dodgy, honest. If you think it is, you probably watch too much Californication.

I love films. Always have. I did a film degree, and an MA in screenwriting, so it’s probably obvious. My first job was in a cinema.

So my New Year’s resolution for 2016 was to watch the top 250 films of all time as chosen by IMDb. I like a challenge, and ‘forcing’ myself to watch all of these was a bit of a challenge, simply because some of these were a bit worthy (read: Oscar-bait), and it can be hard to catch up on movies just because, well, life, really. When you have a busy job, and a family to see, and try to write a lot, and go running, and sometimes travel, catching up on movies can be tough.

It’s not tough. It’s the easiest thing in the world.

Two things to bear in mind – 1) I wasn’t gonna watch the films I’d already seen, which was about 175 of them. Yeah, okay, that’s only 75 films in a year, but that’s still an ask! 2) the IMDb list is live, so I went old school and printed it off. This made it ridiculously satisfying, because I could literally tick the films off that I’d watched and start filling in the gaps.

So here’s what I learned. I’m not going to list all the films I watched – go check out the list here if you want an idea of what it looks like – it won’t be exactly the same because, as I said above, it’s live, but you get the idea. Anyway, some (not all) of my conclusions below:

  • I never gave Studio Ghibli films a chance before. I think it’s because I’m not nuts about Manga (aside from obvious hits like Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Perfect Blue). I’m an idiot. They’re folks tales. They’re Disneys. I’m going to see as many as I can now. Personal favourites were My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke.
  • Charlie Chaplin was a rather clever man.
  • Les Diaboliques is the greatest Hitchcock film Alfred Hitchcock never made, and proof old movies can scare the piss out of you.
  • Also, turns out there were lots of good Hitchcocks I never saw.
  • Some of these movies were really, really long. I’m looking at you, Das Boot, Fanny and Alexander, and Underground.
  • Witness for the Prosecution was a bit too good. But it’s a Billy Wilder, so…
  • Akira Kurosawa. The sole reason to get a free BFI player account for a month.
  • If any other Bollywood films are as good as 3 Idiots, I’ll give more of them a try.
  • Hachi: A Dog’s Tale does not play fair. At all. I didn’t realise my body could hold that many tears.
  • More people need to see The Wages of Fear.
  • How did I not know about It Happened One Night?!
  • I didn’t really care for The Battle of Algiers as much as I probably should have, sorry.
  • I was pleased to see James Stewart was in a lot of these films. Good.
  • Westerns are a bit underrated in the 21st century.
  • Between Netflix, Amazon, Now TV, YouTube, and the generosity of work colleagues and friends, it’s actually quite easy to see the bulk of these for free.

Next (2017) I’m doing the Rotten Tomatoes top 100. I’ve only 18 on there I haven’t seen. I may need to supplement it with another list…

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