Feature Blogs

My Top 50 Films As A Critic - Part 1


I started dishing out grades on 1 January, 1996. Since that time, I have reviewed over 1,800 films. To commemorate 10 long years of eating popcorn, I’ve come up with my top 50 films of that time. If you’re a number cruncher, this list includes less than 3% of the films I’ve seen. So it’s pretty hard to make the cut and I really do love all of these movies. If you haven’t seen them, you’ve missed out so get to the video store!


This week, I’ll start from film 50 and work up to film 11. Given time/boredom constraints, I’ll have a very brief sentence on why the film was so amazing. Next week will be more fun and I’ll list the very top 10. Onwards…


50. The Big Lebowski (1998)

How did I give this film only a B when I first saw it? I’ve seen it repeatedly since and it’s one of the biggest cult films of all time. Has Jeff Bridges given a better performance?


49. October Sky (1999)

I don’t cry often in movies but this one got to me. Not tears of sadness but tears of joy. An amazingly moving story about what one person can do when he has the determination. The break-out role for Jake Gyllenhaal.


48. The Cider House Rules (2000)

The first film I saw in the new millennium and another tear jerker. I’d read John Irving’s great book and it’s a great story about going out into the world to find the place where you belong.


47. Moulin Rouge (2001)

Not many musicals are made these days but this blew me away. Directed by Australian Baz Lurhmann, this was a modern day musical with a feast of great songs and great performances.


46. Lost In Translation (2003)

So many love stories are the same but Lost In Translation took a different approach and it felt all so more real. How could you not want to go to Japan after seeing this? Welcome back Bill Murray.


45. Go (1999)

Trendy, fast, slick, cool. One of the best, most original teen flicks ever made.


44. Almost Famous (2001)

I’ve seen this film many times and it always gets better. The fascinating funny story of a young kid who goes on tour with a rock band and becomes a man.


43. Last Orders (2002)

A story about death and the legacy we leave behind when we go. An English drama which leaves you with so much to think about…


42. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2002)

One of the best foreign language films I’ve seen. One of the best road trips I’ve seen. One of the best, most appropriate endings I’ve seen. The complete film.


41. Touching The Void (2004)

We see lots of films which show us miracles and tell us never to give up hope. It’s usually garbage but Touching The Void is a 100% accurate documentary that I will never forget.


40. Face/Off (1997)

The best action film I’ve seen in 10 years. A great concept that kept on surprising.


39. Jackie Brown (1998)

Everyone loves Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction but Jackie Brown often slips under the radar. Few thrillers have more style.


38. The Talented Mr. Ripley (2000)

The finest performance of Matt Damon’s career and a rare film which lives up to the essence of the book. Mind games aplenty!


37. Primary Colours (1998)

So much great dialogue in this political drama which saw John Travolta star in a Bill Clinton like role. If you think politics aren’t this dirty, think again.


36. Donnie Darko (2002)

Can a film blow your mind? This one did. I’ve seen both the original and directors cut in the cinema and whilst I still don’t fully comprehend it, I’m in total awe of it.


35. Bulworth (1999)

This is the best political film of the past 10 years. Warren Beatty stars as a politician who is about to die and so tells it as it is. Scathing stuff but so much of the material will be relevant for decades to come. This film was way ahead of it’s time.


34. Adaptation (2002)

Charlie Kaufman is the best writer today and Adaptation is another of his brilliant works. One of the most original films of the modern era.


33. Wonder Boys (2000)

A drama that has been smartly written. I’ve watched this DVD so many times that it’s almost worn out. I don’t know why I like it so much – it just hits the right notes with its mix of comedy and drama.


32. Memento (2001)

Guy Pearce rocketed into the international arena with this thriller told in reverse. You can’t lose concentration for a second or you’re behind the eight ball.


31. The Insider (2000)

I’m a fan of films which look at corporate corruption and their manipulation of the media. Starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, The Insider was gripping viewing.


30. Breaking The Waves (1996)

A film I caught at my second ever BIFF and my first introduction to the dogma style of filmmaking. I’ll be forever a fan of director Lars Von Trier.


29. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)

The best of the three films in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and few finer adventure films have ever been created. What an effort by director Peter Jackson!


28. Pleasantville (1999)

How smart was this film? A great comedy which saw Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire transported from the current time into a 60s black and white television show.


27. Snow Falling On Cedars (1999)

Beautifully filmed by Australian born Scott Hicks, a rare film which gets to the essence of what love can do.


26. Spellbound (2003)

The best documentary of the past 10 years. I ask, have you ever seen a more suspenseful documentary?


25. The Quiet American (2004)

A romantic drama set in Vietnam which proved that Brendan Fraser can act and that Michael Caine is one of the best.


24. The Thin Red Line (1999)

Saving Private Ryan was talked up in 1999 but The Thin Red Line was a beautifully artistic war film which left a greater impact and showed what being in a war is all about.


23. American Beauty (2000)

I love black comedies and American Beauty is one of the best ever made. The soundtrack is now famous and the film is one of the few Oscar winners in recent times that had near universal approval with both critics and the public.


22. Elephant (2004)

One of the more obscure films on my list but I like alternative filmmaking. So many people try to find sense in something when it isn’t there. This is a lesson for those people.


21. Sideways (2005)

I don’t drink wine but I wish I did after seeing this. Paul Giamatti gives the performance of a lifetime.


20. Shine (1996)

Perhaps the best Australian film ever made and it was nominated for best picture at the Oscars. Geoffrey Rush is amazing but the whole story will bring a smile to the toughest of heart.


19. Gods & Monsters (1999)

A true story and a great character study about a famous film director and his simple gardener.


18. Million Dollar Baby (2005)

This year’s best film and a great twist ending which provides more than ample dinner conversation. Glad to see it win the Oscar.


17. Chicago (2003)

I was smiling all throughout this. I haven’t seen the live version of the famous stage show but would really love to. Director Rob Marshall showed you can take a famous stage musical and improve it with the medium of film.


16. Election (1999)

What a black comedy! I remember seeing it at BIFF and laughing almost every minute. The ending is picture perfect and I’ve seen this film way too many times than I’d care to admit.


15. Fargo (1996)

Keep bringing on those black comedies. I know a lot of people didn’t get this but there are just some things about great cinema that can’t be explained.


14. Ghost World (2002)

I’ve got an original poster on my wall and I had to see it twice at the cinema it was that good. This beats Election as the film I’ve laughed the most in.


13. Traffic (2001)

A gritty look at supply and demand of drugs in the United States. Told from a variety of perspectives, it is the best work of director Steven Soderbergh (and he won the Oscar too!).


12. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Another film from the mind of Charlie Kaufman. Just when you think he can’t get any more original, he comes up with something even better. What an inspired concept!


11. The Sweet Hereafter (1998)

Just missing out on the top 10 is The Sweet Hereafter, a story which says so much justice, redemption, forgiveness and the law. I had never heard of it when I saw it but I’ll never forget it now.


Phew. Another week been and gone. See you all next week when we look at the cream of the crop.