Choosing my favourite films was an incredibly difficult process as I had to narrow it down from over 30 options. Below you will find my highlights which I truly hope you enjoy as much as I do.
1. 500 Days of Summer (2009) dir. Marc Webb
This film is the definition of my perfect movie. 500 Days of Summer is so much more than your typical rom-com: it’s heart wrenchingly relatable, visually stunning (fun fact: the visuals of the film were designed specifically to compliment star Zooey Deschanel’s eyes), has a wonderfully quirky narrative style and has above and beyond my favourite soundtrack to any film.
2. Clueless (1995) dir. Amy Heckerling
An adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma with an overwhelmingly 90s aesthetic: instantly iconic. I would argue that watching this is a rite of passage for any teenage girl. It is insanely quotable and the fashion, for the most part, is incredibly enviable.
3. Labyrinth (1986) dir. Jim Henson
I can’t quite pinpoint where my obsession with this film began but I am certain that it will not be going away anytime soon. It’s quite unlike any other film I’ve ever seen to the point where describing it to someone who hasn’t watched it is practically impossible. From David Bowie’s scene stealing performance as Jareth the Goblin King to the incredibly odd creations for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and the slightly dated special effects, this film is a wild ride but certainly worthy of its place on my ranking.
4. West Side Story (1961) dirs. Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins
I pity those who did not grow up on this film. I recently watched it with my flatmates on a makeshift projector screen and I was utterly overwhelmed by the wave of nostalgia that the clicking of the opening number brought upon me. It’s an absolute spectacle and, in my humble opinion, above and beyond the best movie musical.
5. Big Fish (2003) dir. Tim Burton
As a lifelong Tim Burton fan, I am very familiar with the criticism that “all his films feel the same”, to which I respond time and time again: “Watch Big Fish, please.” It is beautiful in every aspect, and manages to completely transport me to another world whenever I watch it, leaving me with a smile on my face for a good few days.
6. The Great Gatsby (2013) dir. Baz Luhrmann
I am usually incredibly wary of book-to-movie adaptations, and deliberately held off watching this reinvention of my personal favourite novel due to hearing mixed reviews. However, once I finally decided to watch, I was not disappointed in the slightest. Despite his films not being for everyone, I believe that Baz Luhrmann was the perfect choice to direct this tragic romance. His ambitiously chaotic directing style perfectly lends itself to depicting the crazed, decadent 1920s as F. Scott Fitzgerald does so wonderfully in the novel.
7. About Time (2013) dir. Richard Curtis
I watched this with my best friend at a sleepover when we were 11 and I must have watched it at least 100 times since. I am a self-confessed romance fan, and so watching any Richard Curtis film feels like paradise to me, but this is something more. The comedy is so quintessentially British, with every beat played so perfectly. Simultaneously, it is capable of turning me into a puddle of tears after every watch. I ritually watch this film whenever I need a good laugh and cry simultaneously and so, by this point, I imagine I have it memorised.
8. Little Women (2019) dir. Greta Gerwig
Another adaptation of one of my favourite novels, and one that I trusted in Greta Gerwig’s hands. She turns a novel known for its early feminist principles into a true masterpiece, centred around women’s struggles without ever feeling preachy or forcing a political view. This is done so perfectly in Amy and Jo’s monologues that I have found myself going back and re-watching those scenes over and over again. Another true high point of this movie is the casting; it is one of the few movie adaptations where I truly believe that the A-list celebrities I saw before me were genuinely the characters that I grew up with.
9. Inside Out (2015) dir. Pete Docter
I’ll start this section by confessing that I haven’t watched this for years and don’t intend to for a while. Pixar films have a reputation for being emotional but this one goes above and beyond. Past the incredible and fun concept, this movie is a stunning metaphor for the incredibly complex mental health issues so many go through to the point where, the most recent time I watched it, I was reduced to outright weeping as it so eloquently explained what I had struggled to put into words.
10. Emma. (2020) dir. Autumn de Wilde
The second adaptation of the novel on my list and for good reason. The original story is so poignant to anyone who has made mistakes in attempting to maintain romantic relationships or friendships. Unlike how Clueless brings this into a modern context, Autumn de Wilde’s visually gorgeous reimagining evokes a strong urge to invent a time machine and travel back to a time where the most romantic thing someone could do was ask you to dance. This film also holds a special place in my heart as it was the last film I watched in a cinema before everything changed.