Following on from my list of favourite novels from a few weeks ago, I thought I’d compile a similar list of my favourite films—that’s movies to American folks. Although this website is about reading, writing, publishing and marketing of books, I feel that a post on films is nevertheless a good fit. After all, a film-maker has to pay attention to much of the same sort of thing that concerns a fiction writer: characterisation, plot, setting, and so on.
By ‘favourite’, I don’t necessarily mean the films I consider to be the best written, directed or acted, or ones that champion the highest ideals, or ones fulfilling any other objective measure of what makes a great film. Nope, I simply mean the films that left a lasting impression on me. Some of the films on this list I’ve watched over and over, and will watch again.
I did originally call this list ‘Top 50 Favourite Films’ but dropped the ‘Top 50’. There are films I’ve seen and loved that don’t appear on this list because I can’t now quickly recall them—I have seen so many over the years that I’ve forgotten loads—or because my mood when I compiled the list was such that a film didn’t make it when on another day it would have. So this is more properly a list of fifty of my favourite films, but not necessarily the first fifty and not in any particular order.
You could say I’ve cheated slightly by including Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy as one film to avoid having to bump two other films off the list. But I’ve always considered the book as one novel, not a trilogy. I believe Tolkien wrote it as one book and it was only split into three at his publisher’s insistence. Thus, the film, like the book, is one in my eyes. So there.
Since so many films have been (usually pointlessly) remade or rebooted (whatever the heck that means), I’ve included the year the version of the film I’m referring to was released.
Finally, where I’ve read the book upon which the film is based, I’m including an Amazon UK link* to the book for anyone who wants to check it out.
Enough blathering. On with the list.
1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 
2. The Darjeeling Limited 
3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 
4. Random Harvest 
5. The Longest Day 
6. Inception 
7. The Lord of the Rings trilogy [2001-03]
8. Shutter Island 
9. Schindler’s List 
10. Shrek 
11. Kill Bill Vol I 
12. Flight of the Navigator 
13. The Wizard of Oz 
14. The Life of Brian 
15. Blair Witch Project 
A Marmite film – I’m firmly in the ‘love it’ camp.
16. Gladiator 
17. The Matrix 
18. Memento 
19. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
Replacing Kill Bill Vol I as my favourite Tarantino film.
20. The Usual Suspects 
21. Airplane 
22. Se7en 
23. The Godfather 
Part II could as easily have been included.
24. The Ring 
I’ve gone with the Hollywood version, but the original Japanese version—Ringu —is as good, if not better.
25. Stand By Me 
26. All the President’s Men 
27. Three Days of the Condor 
28. Cool Hand Luke 
29. Twelve Angry Men 
30. Once Upon a Time in the West 
31. Blade Runner 
32. Interstellar 
33. Fight Club 
34. Guardians of the Galaxy 
35. Office Space 
36. The Prestige 
37. Little Miss Sunshine 
38. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 
39. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 
40. The Princess Bride 
41. It’s a Wonderful Life 
42. The Truman Show 
43. My Neighbour Totoro 
Two other Studio Ghibli animations might have made the list on another day: Spirited Away  and the utterly heartbreaking Grave of the Fireflies .
44. The Exorcist 
45. Raiders of the Lost Ark 
Happy 40th birthday! (Man, that makes me feel old.)
46. The Great Escape 
47. The Wicker Man 
Britt Ekland… sigh
48. Don’t Look Now 
49. Casino Royale 
This is the Daniel Craig version, not the wackily psychedelic 1967 version starring David Niven as Bond that has very little to do with Ian Fleming’s novel. It nevertheless possesses some charm in its own right, not least being the catchy theme tune.
50. Sideways 
* they’re affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a small amount of commission from Amazon on any sales resulting from following the links; it doesn’t affect the price you pay to Amazon