“What’s your favourite film?” is simultaneously every cinephiles favourite and least favourite question. This question gives the receiver opportunity to share their most loved films but can also induce panic as they can’t choose just one. Someone’s favourite films can tell you a lot about them – what they loved as a child or what aspects of film they value most highly. I love hearing about people’s favourite films and watching them knowing it’s so special to someone. So, I would like to share my favourite films (in no particular order) and implore you to watch them yourself.
C’mon C’mon (2021) dir. Mike Mills
C’mon C’mon shows us the bonding between journalist uncle Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his troubled nephew Jesse (Woody Norman) as Johnny travels the states interviewing children about their thoughts and concerns with the changing world. Heart-warming and intrinsically introspective, C’mon C’mon is the hidden gem of 2021 cinema. The soundtrack provides a fresh take, combining classical and synth sounds which perfectly background the American cities, and the black and white aesthetic gives onus to the emotions and relationships on display.
Mary and Max (2009) dir. Adam Elliot
Inspired by real events, Mary and Max is the story of an eight-year-old lonely Australian girl and a forty-four-year-old anxious and obese American man who through unlikely events become pen pals and then friends. It is a beautiful stop-motion film about the complexities of growing up, battling mental health issues, and navigating relationships (romantic or not). Mary and Max uses humour to explore dark and taboo aspects of society and the human psyche such as neglect and addiction. Completely heart-breaking and inspiring, Mary and Max shows us the importance of being kind, while understanding ourselves and each other.
Corpse Bride (2005) dir. Tim Burton
As a big Tim Burton fan, it only makes sense that two of his films make this list. Corpse Bride is based off Jewish folklore and follows Victor as he accidentally marries a skeleton and is transported to the underworld. Within its short runtime of 74 minutes, this dark fantasy stop-motion manages to pack in multiple original songs and voice acting appearances from Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Joanna Lumley.
My Neighbour Totoro (1988) dir. Hayao Miyazaki
My Neighbour Totoro is a Studio Ghibli classic in which two young sisters befriend a large cuddly creature from the forest. Totoro is a spirit that helps in bringing the girls joy as they deal with their mother’s absence while she is in hospital. The film is partially autobiographical as the director reflects on his childhood when his mother struggled with spinal tuberculosis. The adorable characters, stunning animation, and magical soundtrack continues to win hearts after nearly 20 years.
Rocketman (2019) dir. Dexter Fletcher
The musical biopic based on the life of Elton John gives us an in-depth look into the effects of this demanding industry and the problems faced by a homosexual man during the 70s. Rocketman delicately deals with Elton’s history of drug abuse while not shying away from its life destroying consequences. With bright colours and extravagant costumes, Rocketman perfectly reflects the energy and nature of this beloved icon. Taron Edgerton performs all Elton’s biggest hits throughout the film flawlessly until the credits roll with an original song written and sung by Elton for the film.
Cars (2006) dir. John Lasseter
I was raised on Disney and thus their early 2000s films became very nostalgic and comforting to me – Cars especially. This film was a favourite of mine and my brothers growing up, so it would regularly be watched to avoid conflict. With some of the greatest Disney supporting characters of all time (Mater, Guido, and Luigi) and humour that is timeless, this film emigrates itself into pop culture (‘kachow’). Although its descendants leave much to be desired, Cars will continue to be what I turn to when I’m not feeling my best.
Call Me By Your Name (2017) dir. Luca Guadagnino
Well known for catapulting Timothée Chalamet’s fame, Call Me By Your Name is the story of an intimate summer romance between Elio and Oliver set in beautiful Northern Italy. Call Me By Your Name explores the thin lines between lust, love, and admiration as Elio learns who he is and becomes acquainted with his sexuality. The film also deals with familial expectations and religious pressure in the form of Oliver, an older man who comes to stay as Elio’s father’s assistant. Based on the book of the same name (despite not being the most faithful adaptation), Call Me By Your Name perfectly translates the beauty, complexity, and delicacy of the book.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) dir. Tim Burton
The second Tim Burton feature on my list is a musical, again starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. The two team up to kill men as they enter Depp’s barber shop and then mince them down into pies for Bonham Carter’s bakery in a story dating back to the 19th Century. With further melodramatic performances from Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman and Jamie Campbell Bower, Sweeney Todd is camp and bloody, often seeing its characters sing passionately about murder and revenge.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) dir. Celine Sciamma
Marianne is a painter who meets Héloïse in 1770 France when she is commissioned to paint a wedding portrait of Héloïse. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a deep look at women in love – how they observe, how they care and how they long. Its characters show the innocence in desire and the longevity in love while reminding us of the beauty in the things we feel. The scenery and sparse candlelight present Portrait of a Lady on Fire as poetry. This is a quiet and intimate piece of cinema that will leave you in tears.
Coraline (2009) dir. Henry Selick
Coraline is one of the most acclaimed and popular stop-motion films, and I am no exception to falling for Coraline’s genius and charm. Coraline transports you to another world filled with talking cats, other mothers, and circus mice. Based on the Neil Gaiman novella of the same name, Coraline demonstrates perfect storytelling as the audience becomes ravelled up in the sinister secrets of this idealised world alongside Coraline herself – understanding and sympathising with her struggles along the way.