I’m going to draw a distinction here between films that I enjoy watching, and films that I think are “good” in some kind of objective sense. To take an extreme example, I think The Blair Witch Project is a unique, original, and extremely clever film, but I have no intention of ever seeing it again. (The final scene haunted me for months.)
So, to start with, these are the films that I could watch over and over. Put them on back to back, and when they’re all over crank them round again–I’ll be happy.
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
John Cusack stars as the Martin Blank, the hit man who comes back to his high school reunion, and rekindles his romance with ex-girlfriend Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver). I love the way how no-one believes him when he explains what he does for a living. I love Joan Cusack’s supporting role as his kindly/scary secretary. I love the quirky love story. And of course, the soundtrack kicks all kind of 80s ass.
Favourite moment: The scene at the disco where Martin exchanges a moment with the baby, to the tune of Bowie & Queen’s “Under Pressure”.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Bill Murray at his finest. Not only is this a sweet love story, it’s also a “Christmas Carol” type moral tale about a man who is forced to reassess his life in the face of extraordinary circumstances. And it’s incredibly funny.
Favourite moment: “Ned? Ned Ryerson?” Punch
Pretty Woman (1990)
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. Romance doesn’t come any sweeter than this. As Vivian says towards the end, “I want the fairytale.” This is a modern fairy tale. Cinderella does get to marry the price at the end. Richard Gere has never looked more handsome, and Julia Roberts has never looked more beautiful than in this film. They’re the perfect on-screen couple. (Pity about The Runaway Bride, then.)
Favourite moment: Hard to pick just one, but the shopping scenes are extremely sweet and funny.
Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor in a musical spectacular about a musical. Another sweet, funny love story, mixed with unforgettable songs and fantastic dance numbers. It just sticks with you.
Favourite moment: “Good mornin’, good mornin’!”
A Bug’s Life (1998)
The first time you watch this, you’re wowed by the computer animation. But after that, it’s the story and the characters that shine through. Every one of the bugs is unique, and fully rounded. The voice acting is excellent, and the comedy is several layers deep, so that the film is just as accessible to children as to adults. But more than that, it’s just so much fun!
Favourite moment: “It’s a rock…”
Few films can touch this one in terms of how it ratchets up the tension right to the very end. The sense of claustrophobia you get from the ever-shrinking environments, from the small island, to the boat, to the cage, is intense and brilliantly realised. Sure, the shark effect looks a bit dodgy these days, but most of the time you never even see it–you just know it’s there. Roy Sheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw all put in terrific and totally plausible performances. Just all-round excellent.
Favourite moment: The scene where they exchange scar stories, and the subsequent realisation that the shark is right there with them.
Chasing Amy (1997)
This one has only recently jumped onto my favourites list. It’s a bittersweet love story, embedded in a bitingly funny comedy about love, sex, and homosexuality. Ben Affleck gives one of his best ever performances, as does the criminally under-used Jason Lee. The story is at times harsh, even cruel. The humour is raw, and alsways close to the bone. The film doesn’t pull any punches, and consequently it feels very real. It’s not a fairytale, but you do end up feeling intimately close to the characters.
Favourite moment: Holden’s declaration of love for Amy. Even if the rest of the film were rubbish, this piece of dialogue alone would make it worth watching.
More to be added sooner or later…