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Norman's Fave

Films 

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Film buff - 'Norman' bring us his list of top 20x Films of all time, that  will inspire you to pick up your remote control and get comfy in front of your own television.

1 - The French Connection (1971)  

In my opinion the greatest thriller feature film ever made, full to the brim with grit, determination and anxiety.  You'll never see a car chasing a train done any better than this! Gene Hackman's finest hour directed by William Friedkin the x5 Academy Award winning film is an absolute must for anybody interested in this genre of film.  My personal #1 favourite film of all time.

2 - The French Connection II (1975)  

           

Almost certainly beats Godfather II in many respects as a ‘best sequel’ (even though Godfather II is in fact a prequel!) explosive grit and passion as in the first film which retains all the elements of suspense, this time directed by John Frankenheimer but the technical elements and storying technique are seamless.  The best closing sequence and filmic crash to black you’ll ever see!

3 - Withnail & I (1987)

Certainly, in the top 3 greatest British films ever made and now deservedly a cult classic. There is even a Facebook forum for fans that speak to each other in bastardised clips of the films dialogue (and yes, I am a member!)   There is no in between you either get it or you don’t! (and many don’t) The hilarious carrying on of a pair of failing actors in mid-60’s Britain.  Superb individual performances.  Script writing genius.

4 - The Deer Hunter (1978)

The most perfect film ever made that portrays the devastation and effects of the Vietnam war upon a group of close friends from Midtown America with individual acting performances so truly immense they will bring you to tears every single time you watch it.  Simply superb film.

5 - Life of Brian (1979)

 

One of many films that I know every single beat and word of dialogue by heart!  Lost count of the amount of times that I’ve seen it! Comedy perfection.        

6 - The Day of the Jackal (1973)     

Out of the same story suspense stable as The French Connection, fantastic film adapted from the Frederick Forsythe novel of the same title.  Edward Fox’s finest hour as a quintessential and charming British assassin with cameos by Ronald Pickup and Cyril Cusack who are both superb. Brilliant film that should not in any way be compared to the 1997 remake which is unequivocal garbage!)

7 - Kes (1969)

Another for the top 3 contention of the greatest British films ever made. This Ken Loach masterpiece and double Bafta winning story, is an absolute must see for any fan of true classic British cinema. Superb story, honest and realistic performances throughout. The feel of the grime of palpable.  Superb film.

8 - Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

 

The superb Alec Guinness leading off a star-studded ensemble cast, including William Holden and the superb Jack Hawkins, in this 7 Academy Award winning epic WWII story, about prisoners of the Japanese army that captures the unequalled spirit and effective stubbornness of the British soldier. Essential war film viewing.

9 - The Cincinnati Kid (1964)

 

Steve McQueen the king or cool and the president of presence!  Simply one of the most naturally gifted actors of all time, had the ability to say a hundred words of dialogue by simply looking across a table.  Wonderful pairing of McQueen and Edward G. Robinson; great story, superb performance.  A must see for any student of acting.​

10 - The Godfather (1972)                  

 

What can be said about this incredible story that hasn’t already been said a million times before!  Hard to believe that Marlon Brandon was choice #5 to play Vito Corlene in which he is casting gold.  With a supporting cast of Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall and the immense John Cazale make this epic film thankfully nigh impossible to remake.  A true benchmark of film-making.​

11  -  Midnight Express (1978)

The only film that I have ever seen that got a standing ovation in the cinema!  I have also read the book 4 times, both are incredible.  The true-life story of Billy Hayes an American teenager caught smuggling hashish out of Turkey and sentenced to 30-year life imprisonment, this is the story of his incarceration and eventual escape. A story of hope and abject despair.  Way beyond immense.

12  - Carlito’s Way (1993)      

              

One of Al Pacino’s finest in my opinion; released from a 30-year prison sentence on a technicality he decides to walk away from his former gangster lifestyle, reconnect with his girlfriend played by the lovely Penelope Ann Miller with an almost unrecognisable Sean Penn who very nearly steals the film!

13  - The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

 

Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood break all screen chemistry boundary’s in this beautiful story that will break the hardest of hearts, expertly crafted and directed also by Eastwood who has the unique ability to direct himself yet remain devoid of any ego whatsoever.  Delightful, thoughtful film set over four days in the mid-60’s and beautifully photographed by the supreme DP Jack N. Green.         

 

14 - Manchester by the Sea (2016)

 

Hard to accurately describe the level of acting genius by both Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams; a story of life, tragedy and acceptance that is a masterclass in acting and script writing alike.  An acting-level benchmark of a film that is an absolute must for anybody considering a front-of-camera career. I am quite sure that I never took a single breath for the entire duration of this film.  A masterpiece!

 

15 - Wind River (2010)

Jeremy Renner is superb in this slow-burning thriller and pitches him in a justifiable Hollywood acting force, Elizabeth Olsen likewise; truly incredible cinematography.  A film that very nearly passed me by, so very glad that it never. My personal film of year so far (2020) some 10 year after its release!

16 - Blue Valentine (2010)   

Worth every second just to see the gorgeous Michelle Williams dance in a doorway to a ukulele!  A truly delightful bittersweet story about love and life slowly falling apart.  Wonderful direction and editing.

 

17 - The Big Lebowski (1998)

The bizarre and either ‘get or don’t get’ Cohen Brothers now cult classic with the almost impossible knowledge that Jeff Bridges was in fact the fourth choice to play The Dude a role for which this wonderfully versatile actor was unequivocally born to play!  With a co-cast of John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Juliette Moore and a simply fantastic short cameos by John Turturro as The Jesus and Sam Elliot as the genial bass toned Stranger this hilarious and often trippy tale will have you reflecting time and again.  Genius and a firm comedy favourite.                             

18 - The Great Escape (1963)          

                  

Steve McQueen steps once again into the top 20 and easily steals the movie completely!  Was always screened as the terrestrial TV Christmas movie every year and rightly so.  Great film overflowing with great characters that I can never tire of watching: I must have seen this at least 20 times to date!  Essential WWII fun!

19 - Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Glorious pairing of the gorgeous and delightfully kooky Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as the bi-polar court-restrained co-cast who are drawn together in this barbed wired yet heart-warming story that has a mental health thread.  Screen chemistry central as these two will make you both laugh and cry.  Lovely film. Great writing and direction.              

 

20 - Mississippi Burning (1998)     

                   

Ending the first 20 where I started with Gene Hackman paired with Willem Dafoe along with the repeatedly superb Frances McDormand and the truly immense Brad Dourif in this Alan Parker directed hard-hitting missing person story set in the America’s deep south.  With a 2-shot scene featuring Frankie Faison and R. Lee Ermey that is one of the most intense in cinema history.   Hackman’s brilliant no-bullshit approach is supremely intense in this movie that has echoes of The Heat of the Night yet remains completely unique.  An absolute and total must see.

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