10 Best Films of All Time: Emily Nighman

Creating this list is no small feat. There are thousands of movies to choose from and many have had a lasting impact on the course of film history due to their style, narrative, or themes.

Since this is a subjective list of the films I personally find great or important, I am limited by what I have and have not seen. Unfortunately, you will not find Lawrence of Arabia, On the Waterfront, or Jeanne Dielman on this list as I have yet to watch them (and I intend to).

You will find a few classics that I and dozens of other critics, academics, and audiences agree are cinematic masterpieces, as well as some beautiful, thought-provoking modern classics that I believe are worthy of sharing their company.

Without further ado, let’s dive into this list of the 10 Best Films of All Time.

10. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

Wes Anderson is one of the most distinctive directors in history and The Grand Budapest Hotel is the crown jewel of his oeuvre. The film follows a legendary European hotel concierge, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), and his loyal lobby boy, Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), who become embroiled in a scandalous art theft. The newfound friends must find a priceless painting while dodging persecution by the growing power of a fascist regime. The A-list cast of quirky characters includes Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, and more.

The film is Anderson’s magnum opus and a masterpiece of narrative storytelling. The auteur’s unique style is front and centre with his characteristic symmetrical framing, deadpan delivery, and whip pan transitions in collaboration with cinematographer Robert Yeoman. Adam Stockhausen’s production design and Milena Canonero’s costumes bring the film’s whimsical, visually stunning world to life. With an offbeat score by Alexandre Desplat and makeup and hair by Frances Cannon and Mark Coulier, this expert creative team earned the film four Academy Awards.

The BBC and IndieWire have both named The Grand Budapest Hotel one of the best movies of the 21st century, an important honour for a comedy, which is a genre that often goes overlooked by hard-hitting dramas.

Recommended for you: Wes Anderson Movies Ranked

9. Arrival (2016)

‘Arrival’ and the Language of Cinema

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s name has become synonymous with slow-burn science-fiction and there is no better example than his 2016 film, Arrival.

Starring Amy Adams as linguist Louise Banks and Jeremy Renner as physicist Ian Donnelly, the story follows their efforts to communicate with extraterrestrial beings who have arrived on Earth. This tale of contact with alien life forms forces us to re-examine our own human relationships with each other and our world, and challenges our perceptions of war, peace, space, and time.

There are several important science fiction films that could be included on this list, such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. However, until I see these critically acclaimed films for myself, Arrival remains one of the best films I have ever seen. It profoundly changed the way I think about my place in time and space.

The power of Villeneuve’s directorial style is his meditative pacing and sweeping visuals that force you to grapple with the challenges of what it means to be human. Critics and academics have also praised the film for its accurate representation of language and communication. The film was honoured with seven Academy Award nominations and one win for Best Sound Editing, no doubt in part for its genius use of silence.

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