An idea I “borrowed” from another blog. Not ripped-off as Van Sant did with Psycho, but paid homage to, like 97.3% of filmmakers have done with It’s a Wonderful Life.
Below is a list of my favourite movie from every year I’ve been alive; 1978 until 2011. I’m fairly sure some will be laughed at, reasonably positive others will be agreed with and at least one that will have you thinking I’m taking the piss! I’m not, by the way.
I’ve also added a few near misses to illustrate just how hard it is to pick a single film from each year.
So go get your popcorn ready as the feature is about to begin…
1978 – Watership Down
Just missing out: Superman, The Buddy Holly Story and Days of Heaven.
This animated gem wins out the award because it is one of the few films that genuinely freaks me out. My parents – bless ‘em – made me watch this as a youngster and the feuding rabbits have scared the crap out of me ever since. Cue empathy with Buffy’s Anya.
1979 – Alien
Just missing out: Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Apocalypse Now and Manhattan
One of my favourite science fiction films of all time. Ian Holm is adorable, the design incredible, the direction, perfect. The reason this beat Life of Brian is simple; I wanted to have Monty Python and the Holy Grail but alas I was not born in time.
1980 – Superman II
Just missing out: Fame, Flash Gordon and The Elephant Man
Until Spider-Man 2 came out this was my favourite superhero film of all time. In my opinion it’s better written, more assured, funnier and just plain superior to the original. I was so tempted to have Flash Gordon win purely because of its camp genius (Timothy Dalton, that torture scene, Brian Blessed) but alas, nothing could best Superman this year.
1981 – Gregory’s Girl
Just missing out: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Das Boot and Time Bandits
One of my favourite films of all time, and easily my second favourite Scottish film of all time. However much I love Indy’s debut adventure, this gem of a movie will always remain close to my heart.
1982 – Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Just missing out: Poltergeist, Fanny and Alexander, E.T and The Dark Crystal
One of the absolute best 80s movies. What with stars Nic Cage, Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates (swoon) all nailing it and the great Cameron Crowe on writing duties, this is easily one of the greatest flicks ever!
1983 – Local Hero
Just missing out: Videodrome, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and Wargames
Nothing could beat this film. Until 1999 it was my favourite film of all time and to this day continues to hold the number two slot firmly. Everything about this film – from the beautiful location filming, to Peter Capaldi, to Bill Forsyth’s spot-on direction to Mark Knopfler’s superb soundtrack – is perfect.
1984 – The Karate Kid
Just missing out: Gremlins, Nausicaa: of the valley of the wind and Amadeus
The film that began my lifelong obsession with Elisabeth Shue and a film that saw me get into lots of trouble as I roamed around the house kicking and chopping things. A true classic.
1985 – The Goonies
Just missing out: Back to the Future, The Sure Thing, Young Sherlock Holmes and The Breakfast Club
The greatest family movie ever made. If you’ve seen it, you’ll understand, if you haven’t, you’ve never lived.
1986 – Blue Velvet
Just missing out: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Great Mouse Detective, Highlander and Mona Lisa
The great David Lynch doing what he does best. Not a difficult choice this year, despite strong cult competition, the birth of my Highlander love, animated mice and quality British drama.
1987 – The Year My Voice Broke
Just missing out: The Untouchables, Raising Arizona, The Living Daylights and Babette’s Feast
One of the greatest little-known Australian films ever made.
1988 – My Neighbour Totoro
Just missing out: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Short Circuit 2, A Cry in the Dark and Eight Men Out
What can I say about My Neighbour Totoro that wouldn’t make me sound like a gushing idiot? I adore, cherish, worship and love this film unreservedly. Easily the greatest animated movie of all time there is not a single cel, second or syllable that I don’t adore. From the dust bunnies to the Cat bus, from the Hisaishi’s score to the greatest female character in animated history; everything about this movie screams perfection.
1989 – Say Anything…
Just missing out: Back to the Future II, The Little Mermaid and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
I got as far as Indiana Jones and the La…before I realized that Say Anything was released this year and I couldn’t hit backspace quickly enough. Crowe’s greatest film, Cusack’s greatest film, that scene, the “I have hidden your keys!” scene, Frasier’s dad and that beautiful ending. Oh my, this film is divine.
1990 – Pump Up The Volume
Just missing out: Back to the Future III, The Witches, La Femme Nikita and Wild at Heart
Two words: Samantha Mathis. I used to have this entire film memorized and ready to real off to anyone who’d listen. Love the themes, love the acting, love the fact that it introduced me to Leonard Cohen. Love Samantha Mathis’ br…illant performance.
1991 – Slacker
Just missing out: Barton Fink, The Fisher King, Naked Lunch, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Beauty and the Beast
The film that introduced me to the beauty that is independent film-making. It was also my introduction to Richard Linklater and showed me that film could do so much more than just tell a simple A to B to C story. I haven’t seen this film for years but have missed it like I do my old friends.
1992 – Strictly Ballroom
Just missing out: Chaplin, Bob Roberts, Batman Returns and The Player
Second best Australian film ever.
1993 – Dazed and Confused
Just missing out: Benny and Joon, Jurassic Park, Farewell My Concubine, In the Line of Fire and Schindler’s List.
Another classic film from the great Richard Linklater; amazing soundtrack, great period detail, fantastic performances. It’s just bloody wonderful. Jurassic Park came so close to winning this but not even CGI dinosaurs and Dickie Attenborough can beat the cast of this film.
1994 – Exotica
Just missing out: Leon, The Madness of King George, Natural Born Killers and Quiz Show
An odd choice, I’ll admit, but this film has always held a spell over me. Picked up one day in the video shop I worked in I couldn’t help but be transfixed by the visuals and feel Egoyan created with his marvelous direction. A sadly little seen gem.
1995 – Se7en
Just missing out: Before Sunrise, Braveheart, The City of Lost Children, Empire Records and Living in Oblivion.
So many wonderful films this year but how could Se7en not triumph? Easily my favourite serial killer movie, easily my third favourite David Fincher and a film I can watch over, and over, and over, and over…
1996 – Box of Moonlight
Just missing out: Beautiful Girls, Crash and Romeo & Juliet, Love and Other Catastrophes and Hamlet.
Best film ‘few have ever heard of’ ever made. This is a film everyone should watch. Beautifully written (it was the first screenplay I ever purchased) and delightfully performed by acting legends Jon Tuturro and Sam Rockwell. I so wish this film was more widely known, but in a way I’m glad it isn’t, for it is just mine. For your information, this year was the hardest to decide as I adore every film (almost) equally.
1997 – Grosse Pointe Blank
Just missing out: Chasing Amy, Lolita, Lost Highway, Princess Mononoke and Funny Games
There is nothing I can say to justify this choice other than – c’mon people, how could you not love this film?
1998 – The Thin Red Line
Just missing out: Pleasantville, Run Lola Run, Rushmore, Last Night and The Last Days of Disco
I watched this movie in the cinema beside the video store I used to work at after a shift one day. I’m not the most ardent war movie fan but this film has haunted me for years and will no doubt continue to do so until I die. After watching The New World with an old-friend she declared her surprise at how there was a war film made in much the same style; something I myself had thought upon leaving the cinema in a blissful trance many years earlier.
1999 – Fight Club
Just missing out: Existenz, Magnolia and New Waterford Girl.
The film that knocked Local Hero from my favourite movie of all-time top spot. A movie of the like we will never see again. Pure perfection.
2000 – Almost Famous
Just missing out: High Fidelity, Battle Royale, The Dish and Wonder Boys
Cameron Crowe’s second greatest film and one so magnificent I fail to understand how people don’t like it. From the beautiful Tiny Dancer sing-along to the in-flight conversation this film reeks of brilliance. It does no harm to have a cracking soundtrack, the beautiful Kate Hudson and the best deleted scene in the history of DVD deleted scenes either.
2001 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Just missing out: Moulin Rouge, Amelie, Waking Life and Ghost World.
I saw this film on the same day as my girlfriend only at different times. She was seeing it as part of work, I needed to see it the moment it started screening. In the two hours I waited for her after the movie I was lost in a world so marvelously realized, so beautifully created I nearly missed her when she exited. As we bathed when we were home we waxed lyrical our love of this film until long after the water was cold.
2002 – Secretary
Just missing out: Spider-Man, Talk to Her, Y Tu Mama Tambien and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The existence of this film gives me hope for intelligent romantic drama. It is also a film I have a famously documented love/hate relationship with. I love (beyond reason) Maggie Gyllenhaal’s pitch-perfect performance, I love the subject matter and I love Shainberg’s direction. But my hatred of the psychological justification always (always) angers me. Hence love and hate in equal measure.
2003 – Young Adam
Just missing out: Thirteen, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Kill Bill and Bad Eggs
I saw this for the first time during the Melbourne International Film Festival with a friend of my then girlfriend. She thought it interesting, I thought it amazing. I had never read the book before this but tracked it down after scouring every single bookshop in the Melbourne area and devoured it. From the fly to the mood to the characters to that scene it easily earns its mantle as greatest literary adaptation ever.
2004 – Shaun of the Dead
Just missing out: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Spider-Man 2 and Before Sunset
So why is my favourite superhero movie not top dog? Why is the low key Paris set motion picture not winning out? Why is the magnificent dream based movie not the film of the year? Because, umm, it’s Shaun of the Dead, and easily the greatest thing ever made starring Dylan Moran and zombies.
2006 – Stranger than Fiction
Just missing out: Pan’s Labyrinth, Happy Feet and Ten Canoes.
It had me with bunch of flours. Plus, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and a beautiful original script of the like we’ll never see again.
2007 – Zodiac
Just missing out: No Country for Old Men, Hot Fuzz, Knocked Up, Transformers, Enchanted and The Orphanage.
A tough year to decide. But this true story was so impeccably made and I love it so deeply that the only serious competition came from the Pegg/Frost/Wright genius of Hot Fuzz and the Amy Adams brilliance of Enchanted.
2008 – The Dark Knight
Just missing out: Prince Caspian, The Spiderwick Chronicles, My Year Without Sex and Balibo.
Do I really need to justify this?
2009 – Bandslam
Just missing out: Crazy Heart, Inglourious Basterds, Watchmen, Monsters vs Aliens, Star Trek and (500) Days of Summer.
Do I really need to justify this?
Okay, I loved Watchmen, I did, but that lost because of the AWFUL sex scene. I cherished Star Trek, but that lost because Rachel Nichols didn’t get much to do. I adored (500) Days for the writing and that scene where Han Solo makes an appearance. I think Crazy Heart deserved all the acclaim it received and Monsters vs Aliens is one of the best CGI films ever. As for Inglorious Basterds, aside from Kill Bill, it’s really the only Tarantino film I can stomach and came so…so…close to winning but…it’s Bandslam! Greatest first kiss scene ever! Vanessa Hudgens! Crazy ska version of Everything I Own. Vanessa Hudgens. A very underrated screenplay. The bit where she falls into the fence by the tree. Yep, Hudgens whips Tarantino’s ass for me this year.
2010 – Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Just missing out: The Social Network, The Fighter and The Killer Inside Me
I wrote about this film here. Not even the great David Fincher or unsettling brilliance of Winterbottom can outshine this movie.
2011 – Super 8
Just missing out: Sucker Punch, Thor and The Tree of Life
This was one of only two films I saw in 2011 and the other was Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Umm, this one is much, much, better!
So, over to you…thoughts, opinions, movie recommendations? I’d love to hear them.