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Top 10 Films to be Snubbed for Best Picture at the Oscars March 10, 2013

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When thinking about the ultimate top 10 films list it is easy to look at the Academy Awards and its past winners for inspiration. But just as best film lists differ from viewer to viewer and critic to critic, so do the great films in the eyes of the Oscars. Indeed, when looking at the Best Picture winners since the Academy Awards first began, you begin to see some notable Oscar snubs. Would you believe that the film often cited as the greatest of them all - Citizen Kane - failed to win the Academy Award for Best Picture? That’s not the only classic movie to miss out on the Best Film Oscar. Check out the Top 10 Films to be Snubbed for Best Picture at the Oscars for more.

Top 10 Robert Zemeckis Films July 20, 2010

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Robert Zemeckis was once asked if television was a bad influence on children. He answered, emphatically, “television isn’t an education, but I see no reason to turn it off.” What would so many television-starved children give for Zemeckis as a babysitter, or indeed a father: ‘Can I pur-lease watch more TV?’/’Of course you can!’ He was a product of the television generation – this new visual medium that found its way into most American homes by 1960 – that threatened to unhinge cinema’s monopoly of moving image entertainment. Growing up in suburban Illinois, television was not only his outlet to the world… [More]

Click here for the Top 10

New Top 10 Lists up incl: Julia Roberts, Mark Kermode, John Waters February 1, 2010

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It’s been a busy few days at Top10Films HQ. Stephen King told us his favourite films of 2009, Mark Kermode ran down his top 10 of all time, as did John Waters. Jonathan Lynn told us about his favourite films, while Caz at Lets Go To The Movies ran down her list of favourite Julia Roberts films.

The allure of the single location movie December 17, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Top 10s , 1 comment so far

Films set in a single location (or predominantly in a single location) have always fascinated me. Perhaps it’s their theatre roots, as many single-location films derive from the work of playwrights. The consequence of that is strong characterisation, an emphasis on good acting, and tight control of plot that usually takes place over a few hours.

Another reason I am a fan of single location (and indeed single day films or those set over a short prescribed period of time) derives from my distaste for the sprawling epic and biopic. “Lawrence of Arabia” is one of the best films ever made, and “Forrest Gump” is a 1990s masterpiece, but largely, films that stretch themselves thinly across years and decades don’t appeal to me. Conversely, the snippets of characters lives in various settings hung on a plot that lacks central focus is what single location films avoid. At least the good ones do.

I’m not totally adverse to a good three-hour jaunt but put me in room with ten average epics and ten passable single-location films and the rambling story would be cast out in favour of the tightly plotted. That’s not to say films based predominantly in a single place aren’t long, rambling or indeed thinly plotted as Andy Warhol managed several times, most convincingly in his 1963 film “Sleep”. But the best display the talents of their scribes, a keen eye for authentic dialogue that works to bolster depth of character and provide momentum to the story. They also show the best of their directors – an ability to maintain pace and drama with limited manoeuvrability (there’s no easy cut to a car chase to get the audience’s attention), to get the most powerful performance possible from their actors, and the use of constricted space. [Read More]

See the Top 10 Single Location Films HERE

Top 10 Clint Eastwood Films December 12, 2009

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Clint Eastwood may be to many casual filmgoers the gun-toting authoritarian Harry Callahan from the “Dirty Harry” movies, or perhaps the man with no name from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, or more recently Frankie Dunn in “Million Dollar Baby. He’s an iconic Hollywood figure who has embodied some of the world’s most recognisable characters in many of the most prominent films of the last fifty years. But he’s also as accomplished behind the camera as he is in front of it, directing such classics as “Play Misty For Me”, “The Outlaw Josey Wales”, “Unforgiven”, and the critically acclaimed recent hits “Million Dollar Baby” (which won two Academy Awards including one for Best Director) and “Gran Torino”. The multitalented star has also composed several of his own film scores, providing the music for “Mystic River” and “Changeling”, while also recording original piano compositions for “In The Line of Fire”.

Film critic Mike Sutton takes us through Clint’s greatest films both in front of and behind the camera. CLICK HERE

The alternative Christmas film guide December 7, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Top 10s , 1 comment so far

Whimsical, feel-good festive fun. Sing-a-long musicals and family entertainment. Bumbling cartoon characters, flying reindeer, talking animals, elves making toys, angels getting wings, they are all part of the Christmas movie. But there’s another side to a Christmas sat in front of the telly. The Dark Side. Pitch black film noir, offbeat comedy, sadistic horror. Killer snowmen, drunk Santa’s, capitalist in-fighting, sex fetishes and rampant orgies, terrorists, lunatics, Christmas tree robbers, murderers hiding in the attic, marriage breakdowns and the curse of the mother-in-law. No songs in sight, no talking animals (do Gremlins count?), and maybe no happy ending. There is another way to enjoy the holidays. This is the top 10 alternative Christmas films list.

Visit Top10Films.co.uk HERE to see the alternative Christmas film guide

Top 10 American Films about Race and Prejudice November 26, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Top 10s , 2 comments

Hollywood has addressed the difficult and often destructive theme of racism and stereotypical prejudice since its early beginnings. Over the years the films themselves, the political bent, the actors and the filmmakers have changed, but the message has generally stayed the same.

Looking back at the history of the genre, I’ve discovered some wonderful movies, realising that race and prejudice has been the basis for some of the most powerful and brilliant films Hollywood has produced.

And, it really has been a trek through the ages of American cinema. D.W. Griffith got the fire started with his racist “A Birth Of A Nation” but then, unbeknownst to a lot of casual cinemagoers, we don’t then have to wait 50 years for Sidney Poitier and Gregory Peck to put the record straight in “In The Heat Of The Night” and “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Oscar Micheaux, the first African-American filmmaker, made “Within Our Gates” in 1919 as a riposte to Griffith’s depiction of African-American people in the south. Micheaux, having to work outside the studio system, continued making films about the African-American struggle with mainly black actors and crew, throughout the 1920s and 1930s before his untimely death in 1951.

And even then we have to wait for Mockingbird and Heat, with Hollywood addressing various social, class, and prejudice issues in the late 1940s and 1950s. Gregory Peck actually starred in one of these - “Gentlemen’s Agreement”, about a journalist posing as a Jew to investigate anti-Semitism in upper-class New York city.

After the golden period of Sidney Poitier in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the introduction of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, Hollywood produced literally hundreds of movies about racial discrimination, particularly concerning African-American life in urban America. These urban films, which were shot on low-budgets and quickly made, became known as Blaxploitation.

Hollywood made some of the most exhilarating films about the subject in the 1980s and 1990s, in the sense that it tried to put a positive spin on past events without diminishing the devastating effects of racial intolerance. These films were perhaps a cathartic experience for an American audience wanting to forget its links to the slave trade.

Read my more in-depth introduction to American race and prejudice cinema here.

Top 10 Anime November 24, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Top 10s , 1 comment so far

Anime - that great Japanese film genre derived from manga comics - took the west by storm in the late 1980s when filmmaker Katsuhiro Otomo released “Akira”. Today, thanks to some rather good english dubs, Japanese animation has broken through the shackles of cult status to become mainstream entertainment for both children and adults. Check out our latest feature: Top 10 Anime Films

Top 10 Steve Martin Films November 19, 2009

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Steve Martin was born in Texas, 1945. He quickly found a kinship with showmanship and entertainment by performing magic tricks, juggling, and playing the banjo to small audiences at Disneyland. Martin was, in his own words “born standing up”.

His first big break came in 1967. Girlfriend Nina Goldblatt, a dancer on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”, submitted some of Martin’s work to head writer Mason Williams. Williams liked what he saw to such a degree he paid Martin out of his own pocket. Martin, along with the other writers on the show, won an Emmy two years later. Between the end of the 1960s and the mid-1970s Martin wrote for several comedy shows, appearing from time to time in some sketches. He was also performing his own material as an opening act for [Read More]

Jump straight to the Top 10 here

Top 10 Charlie Chaplin Films November 13, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Comedy, 1940s, 1950s, Drama, Top 10s, Film reviews, Short Film , add a comment

In my latest Top 10 list I look at Charlie Chaplin’s best films from his early short silent work to the longer feature-length “talkies”.

Charlie Chaplin was not just a silent movie actor, he was an icon of early cinema. Chaplin was a writer, director, performer, producer, as well as composer, and the co-founder of revolutionary studio United Artists.

He learnt his knack for comedy working in travelling vaudeville shows, performing with musicians, magicians, dancers, comedians, and even animals. His live material would be honed directly for the cinema when he started making films for Keystone Studios in the early 1910s. Early two-reel films, which Chaplin wrote and directed such as “The Tramp” and “Easy Street”, showed plenty of potential in the man who had yet to see his thirtieth birthday. His films were based on slapstick routines that were very carefully orchestrated and performed. His unique talent had a richness of character and a rebellious yet caring heart. Read More

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