Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Presenting and dissecting: the Empire top 500

Two events preceded my dismemberment of the Empire top 500. The first was my mum saying "you won't like what number 2 is" (Titanic? Godfather 2?). The second was the news about Paul Newman, which must have hit thousands of people harder than it did me (friends, family, costars, people who actually knew him), but has left me something of a blubbery mess. And unlike Heath Ledger, where my first guilty concern was "How will Terry Gilliam finish his movie?!", it's not even the fact I'll never get to see the much mooted reteam with Robert Redford. I just feel genuinely crushed, on a personal level, not a cinematic one.

I'm upset, and I'm prepared for the worst - therefore, my criticism may be a bit more angry than usual. Let the dissection begin.

Bets for winner - Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Empire Strikes Back, Kane. Maybe Shawshank. Probably not Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, though we live in hope. LOTR will be in there, but lower down than in previous years.

499 Saw - glad to see this in here. It means the original has risen above the crud that followed, and its survived the hype as a respected film. I still think it's a powerful piece of cinema with a lot of merit, even if it is responsible for starting a hatewave of similar gorenos. But Saw knows, the way only a trendsetter can, that it's a great film not for the amount of blood it sheds (its far more tame, visually, than you'd expect of a film with this reputation), but the expectation of bloodletting it toys with from the moment those hacksaws come out of the toilet.

497 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - interesting to note this has been overtaken by the wushu craze it spawned. I assume Hero and Flying Daggers will be higher up the list.

490 Sweeny Todd? Really? I have a Depp-loving music-fanatic friend who instantly replaced American Beauty with this as her favourite film.

489 Brick - yay, my sister will be happy - this was her top vote.

469 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - first Gilliam movie. I'm happy to see this here, not because I particulalrly like it (though I do), but because it proves that Brazil and Twelve Monkeys have to be on the list in a higher position.

465 Twelve Monkeys, as if on cue. And the first of the ones I've voted for.

458 Batman - after sitting through the cinematic heart attack that was Batman Forever, I'm even more keen to see any part of that franchise which can make it onto a top anything list in a non-ironic way.

457 Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick is love!

455 Top Gun - my mum is one of the many many people responsible for getting this on the list.

453 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. What is this doint here?! Who voted for it? Certainly no one I've ever met, all of which loudly criticise it at any oppertunity.

452 Unbreakable - YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No I didn't vote for it, but hot damn I love this film. Top-whatever lists are always more fun, because I could recite the top 100 films on this list for you as we sit here. The top end of lists are always more offbeat.

448 History of Violence - I'm happy that films this quiet can make it onto the list.

444 Hairspray. I'm a massive fan of the new movie, and I'm suprised to see any version of it on this list. So now I'm even more keen to see this, the 88 Waters edition.

438 LOST BOYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn't vote for this, as I didn't expect it to make the list! Now I feel really bad - this film is brilliant!

429 Danger: Diabolik - I've been meaning to see this since forever.

405 Dirty Dancing - I'm very happy to see this on the list, because it really does have an indefinable something that puts it one above everything that's come since. Even I like it!

401 Batman Returns - yet another of the Burton Batman franchise! These I have to see...

388 The English Patient - this is the first film on the list I've seen and thought "what's this doing here?". It conforms exactly to the Out of Africa Oscar success equation (spoilers for both), but that doesn't make it good. I thought the characters were unsympathetic, and a romance doesn't work if you're too busy thinking "you filthy adulterers!" and feeling sorry for the spurned husband.

383 Serenity - yes it's a good film, but I'd sacrifice it without thinking for another series of Firefly.

382 Cache - reviewd this for CineGuernsey, favourably. I could see what it was trying to do, but I didn't really get it until I saw the directors comments on it afterwards, at which point I appreciated it far more - but I still didn't like it.

374 Hot Fuzz - I voted for this! I didn't take it with me to university! I really want to watch it now!

355 Sunshine - aka the ultimate sci fi movie. Like your science fiction 2001 blend, with silent sequences and arty posturing? Or do you prefer final-frontier style exploration? Or are you more a fan of post-Alien "it's coming to get us" cinema? Watch Sunshine - you get it all. I wouldn't call it derivative, though, because it manages to blend all these things so you never feel bored. And I loved the ending.

354 Un Chien Andalou. In case you haven't heard the story of the time I watched this at the Tate modern, in a room filled with unsuspecting members of the public on a day out with their children, in full knowledge of what was going to happen the moment that thin cloud streaks across the moon - now you do. Those kids will be scarred for's good, but it's a funny thing for the list as it's not exactly favourite movie material.

354 Bugsy Malone - this is a pleasant suprise to find on the list.

351 Zulu - frankly, I'm relieved to find my second-favourite-movie-of-all-time on this list at all, never mind so high up! It kinda confirms that Navarone won't be on here, however - I find it hard to believe that it would be better loved than Zulu. Who feels like a celebratory sing song?

343 Monsters Inc - is this the highest Pixar? No, Toy Story is still to come - but I'm happy to see it beating The Incredibles and especially the overrated Finding Nemo. True fact: this film makes me cry.

339 Spirited Away. One of my favourite Studio Ghiblis, I'm happy to see it beating Princess Mononoke. Also, I think my sister voted for it.

337 300. I'm glad to see this here - it seems in vogue to criticse it, which is a shame considering how much fun it is. Yes, it lacks historical accuracy; but if you've ever read fictional epics The Aeneid or the Iliad, you'll recognise the narrative tradition of heroes going on one-man killing sprees (particularly books 10-12 of the Aeneid - Aeneas is Leonedas) Think of it - if a few more had voted for it, it might have been in position 300...

336 Titanic! How does it feel now, you barstool, to be be beaten by LA Confidential? Not nice, is it? Confidential is more of a film than you will ever be!! HA!

333 Sixth Sense was always inevitably going to be the most popular M Night movie, so I'm not expecting Signs - the one I voted for - on the list now. I'm still happy to see it though, and I'm chuffed that Unbreakable got on too.

329 The Lives of Others. I watched a lot of films when reviewing for CineGsy, and it was sometimes hard to find positive things to say. Often, I had to go to IMDb to see what people found so appealing about them. Not so this - a very, very awesome piece of cinema.

325 Kill Bill vol1 - I just want it logged that I thought part 2 was better.

322 Aladdin - true story: I only saw this film earlier this year. I have seen barely any Disney. Parents, you have failed me!

285 Solaris - the original, and a film I have to see, on account of having adored the remake

282 Godfather Part III - returned to the fold at last! I am extremely happy to see this. Yes, it was a disappointment compared to parts I and II, but the number of films that aren't can be counted on the fingers of one hand. It's still a worthy piece of cinema, and seeing Michael come to terms with his crimes and losses makes it a fitting coda to the trilogy.

276 Layer Cake - I know it's good, but I had no idea it was this popular.

275 My Neighbour Totoro - beating out Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, this is a film I must see.

268 The Lady Vanishes - heaps of Hitchcock are inevitable on any such list, normally near the top. I thought this one was excellent.

262 The Virgin Suicides won my JFK award for best film I've only seen half of last year. I've seen the first half again since then, I've seen it five or six times, and I'm always interrupted. Pity - the start really is bloomin ace.

251 Darling - very very interesting. We studied this for Film Studies, so I'm aware of how technically impressive is, but I had no idea it was well enough liked to reach so high. Darling is such an unpleasant main character, it's hard to have any sympathy for the film as a whole.

237 Delicatessen - I'm into my surreal stuff, but bizzare cinema still has to have something at its heart, and this bounced off me entirely. I felt nothing, even as I appreciated the interesting ideas and nice cinematography.

235 Battle Royale - I am still dying to watch this film.

230 Howl's Moving Castle - I'm even more suprised to see this beating the three previous Ghibli's on the list.

215 Jackie Brown - I could have easily predicted that the QT movies would have lined up like this (Res Dogs - top thirty, Pulp Fiction - top ten, probably top five), but it's still nice to see Jackie get some love.

197 Point Break - very suprising pick. I can't believe, for example, it's more popular than Top Gun. It was good, and the foot chase was one of the greatest I've ever seen, but when you look at the films its beating, I can't imagine any real people saying "This is a better film than Mean Streets, than Fargo, than The Departed" or whatever.

193 Ed Wood - this is my favourite Tim Burton film, and I'm happy to see it so high up.

188 School of Rock. Wow, who saw this coming? When narrowing down my list, I concentrated my votes on things I thought were in with a chance - like Guns of Navarone and Signs - and didn't vote for things like this and Lost Boys which I decided were unlikely to succeed. I can't believe it's here, and I can't believe its so high.

186 United 93. When ticking off films on a list, you always find yourself wishing you'd seen films you turned down the chance to see. It wasn't that I thought this was distasteful - cinema should be allowed to show anything - I just didn't want to watch it. I've no problem with other people doing so. It's an hour and a half of my life, and respect or no respect, I'd much rather spend it listening to music, watching Doctor Who or reading graphic novels than thinking about 9/11.

185 Paths of Glory - it was good, but Full Metal Jacket (no. 457) was better.

167 Don't Look Now - though it thoroughly deserves its spot, I'm suprised it is well enough loved to get so high.

159 The Royal Tenmbaums, another nice suprise. We watched this in a double bill with Von Ryan's Express, then went to bed at 11:30. Genuinely probably my best New Year's Eve ever.

158 Unforgiven - just a wonderful piece of cinema.

157 True Romance - Oh I am happy to see this here! It's easily overlooked, but it's also one of QT's most charming scripts. Cameos by the ghost of Elvis? A cast of characters who drift in for one scene then vanish? That lovely theme tune, the scariest Christopher Walken scene ever, the theme from Lakme (and British Airways, you plebs), not to mention it's really really romantic.

156 Saving Private Ryan -watch Band of Brothers, and then tell me this is a good film. Yes, Omaha is a raw piece of cinema, but the music is cheesy, and the movie can't decide which message its pushing. Is war a tragic waste? A violent mess? or something noble to be proud of. Between the graveside salutes, heroic rescues, flagwaving and stirring trumpet theme, I couldn't be sure whether this was anti-war at all. Not that pro-war films are bad, but it sat uncomfortably with the leftie-leanings also in the script.

150 The French Connection - it was hot stuff at the time, but has been bettered by what has come since. Seeing this has reminded me that Rififi has not made the list; it's also temporarily made me question whether LA Confidential will be here after all.

149 The Red Shoes - never seen it, but if the film is anything like the creepy-pantomime-surreal picture, then I really want to.

138 Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman. I'd forgotten in the middle there. Now I've remembered. I need to see this film, I hate the system as much as anyone.

136 Amadeus - nice to see it here.

135 Duck Soup - ditto. This is a deliciously silly film.

130 The Man who Would be King - if I'd been in Guernsey one week longer, I'd have taken it out of the library, as I've had my eye on it for ages. Buddy war movie better than Zulu, than Bridge over the River Kwai they say? Must see!

129 Harvey is one of the most wonderful films ever made. I particularly like the ambiguity - Harvey is cute, and also scary, and also the product of a deranged imagination, or too much alcohol, and at the same time terribly wonderfully real. It's all in the twitch in the corner of James Stewart's eye.

127 The Sting - another wonderful movie. I've anticipated this morning's news for a while, and I'm about as upset as I expected to be, no more or less.

118 Withnail and I. True fact: lead actors Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant have both played the Doctor. Really. McGann was in the 96 Fox TV movie, and Grant did the role for about a minute in the Comic Relief spoof episode.

117 Miller's Crossing. Seeing this here confirms my other favourite Coen, O Brother Where Art Thou, will not make the list.

101 Raising Arizona better than Miller's Crossing?! Never!

97 Reservoir Dogs - told you it'd make top 100. Probably my vote that did it. It also gives me licence to hate everything that comes after it. Hereon in, we have all the predictable films to look at. And Butch Cassidy still hasn't hit the list; neither has L.A. Confidential, and I don't believe either are more popular than Dogs...

84 L.A. Confidential - but I was wrong, deliciously beautifully wrong. It is probably a better film too - TAKE THAT TITANIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

83 Brazil - oh joy, now I'm in a brilliant mood!

76 Manhattan - expected this to be higher.

75 A Matter of Life and Death - this has the potential to turn into a real favourite movie, give it a few more months. I've been itching to see it again. So glad to see it so high.

69 Three Colours Red - my sister voted for this. Wonderful film, but I'm sure Blue must be on here and higher.

54 The Two Towers - interesting. My favourite is Fellowship; the public's fave is normally Return of the King, but I've always thought this one was best. I'm getting sick of writing - I just want to find Butch Cassidy on the list, and see what's come top now.

53 Donnie Darko - a favourite film I didn't bother to vote for, knowing it would be on the list.

43 The Big Lebowski -I kinda knew this one would be on here. Great film.

37 Clockwork Orange -oh horrorshow - not that I didn't know it wouldn't be on here, but I'm happy to see it.

34 Return of the King - interesting, very interesting. Will this be the highest? my hunch says Fellowship will still be higher.

32 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - when I had all but given up on it. I am absolutely delighted to see it so high up! My favourite movie of all time, making the top 40. Grin like an idiot, remember and feel a bit downcast again.

30 Aliens beats Alien, which is what I always thought anyway. I can see what Alien is trying to do with the "quiet menace" thing, but it's been done since and better; or at least, done since that the original is no longer original at all. But Aliens is scary.

28 Citizen Kane - just because I can, look here it is! Not at the top - what a relief. Not that it ain't good, i still ain't seen it. It's just so tedious when it does.

24 Fellowship of the Ring does get a look in after all - I've always thought it was the best. Its just so pretty!

21 The Third Man I probably love enough to add to my fave movies list sometime soon. Greene, what a genius!

20 Blade Runner! Which I am going to see on a massive frack-off screen tomorrow!

19 Godfather Part II, where it belongs, lower than Part I. Guernsey has just opened up the coolest Godfather pizzaria - showing the film throughout the meal, and serving things like Connie meatballs, or Five Families pasta.

15 The Dark Knight - I genuinely expected this to make top 5, but 15 is impressive for a film this recent. But not this overhyped. Not saying it's not brilliant, I just mean the hype is astronomical.

14 Once upon a Time in the West - happy to see it beating tG,tB, tU - what a piece of cinema.

13 Chinatown - can't believe I still haven't seen this.

And here we go for the top 10. We're still sans Pulp, Fight Club, Goodfellas and two Starwarses.

10 Fight Club - lower than usual.

9 Pulp Fiction - again, suprisingly low. Star Wars has to win now. Still haven't seen Shawshank either. I'm not sure we're missing any significant Hitchcocks.

8 Singing in the Rain - proving the top ten hasn't been exclusively voted for by angry young men, this is a terrific film - far less cloyingly sappy than you've been lead to believe. It's actually very witty.

7 Apocalypse Now - probably the highest of my favourites to hit the list.

6 Goodfellas - sorry, Rob; I can see what this film was trying to do, but it didn't work for me. I need to see it again, in a different mood. Guess this means Age of Innocence is off the list.

5 Jaws - yes, this is better than you think it is - it's a buddy movie, not a monster movie - and thoroughly deserves its spot.

4 Shawshank Redemption - here it is. What's the other film then? Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and...the one my mum said would make me angry.

3 Empire Strikes Back - ooh, I expected Star Wars to be here and Empire to win. I still prefer Star Wars, though, darker be damned.

2 Raiders of the Lost Ark -aha, I kinda lost count of my Indies - there's been a lot on here, so I forgot about this one. When we watched this in class, Friend 2 was amazed by the amount of action - it really is non-stop. You couldn't get away with it in a modern film, but this does it with a lot of wit and charm, and it's bouyed up by memories of that childhood summer when you went to see it with your dad. So. It is Star Wars, right?

1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Must have missed the 'Wars further up the list; how could I forget this was here? It had to be THE GODFATHER, didn't it. Vastly superior to Part II in so many ways, I voted for it, wonderful piece of cinema that it is.

It also means that the total number of films off this list I've seen is 187/500. Less than I expected - most lists nowadays I've seen just under half. Now there's a challenge.

So there you go. I'm happy. I wish Run Lola Run had been there; I bet wrongly when I voted for Guns of Navarone, and am still suprised by School of Rock's high placing. I suppose Signs was always a long shot, but I loved it too much to skip it entirely. And especially in light of this morning's bad news, I couldn't be happier by how high Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has come.


Anonymous said...

But School of Rock's a blockbuster! Why are you surprised?

Ninquelosse said...

Just struck me as quite a small, bizzare choice to be on there.

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