Crafting a list of the top 10 films of all time is a daunting task. It’s difficult to determine the best among the countless incredible films out there, and inevitably some deserving works will be left out. To begin, I compiled a list of 35 films that could all potentially hold the moniker of ‘best ever’. After careful consideration, I was able to narrow it down to just 10.
I have approached this list in a way that focuses on the objective strengths of films as opposed to my subjective favourites. While my personal tastes undoubtedly influenced my choices, I tried to remain as impartial as possible. Therefore, I have excluded countless films that I adore which don’t quite meet the ‘best ever’ criteria.
It feels like a crime not to have a single entry by directing greats such as Orson Welles, Paul Thomas Anderson, Agnès Varda, Francois Truffaut, Masaki Kobayashi, Andrei Tarkovsky, or Céline Sciamma. Ask me on a different day and a film by them could easily be included over something else. But, as it stands today, here are what I think are the 10 Best Films of All Time.
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10. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
Koyaanisqatsi is a 1982 experimental film directed by Godfrey Reggio. The film has no plot or narrative, and instead features a series of stunning and often surreal images set to a mesmerising musical score by the legendary Philip Glass. The title comes from the Hopi language, and can be translated as ‘life out of balance’. Koyaanisqatsi explores the relationship between humanity and nature, offering a powerful commentary on the impact of modern civilization on the environment.
Reggio’s documentary is a groundbreaking work of art that challenges conventional storytelling methods. It’s a reminder that the form of cinema is so malleable and that directors should be encouraged to stray from the path most trodden. The slow-motion and time-lapse shots of urban and natural landscapes creates both a sense of awe and unease. While its lack of a traditional narrative might be too challenging for some, for me it’s a visual experience that I am completely enthralled by.
9. Princess Mononoke (1997)
I wanted to include an animated film on this list, and where better to look than to the master himself, Hayao Miyazaki?
Across his brilliant oeuvre, which includes works like Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke is the one I consider to be his best. This epic tale follows the journey of Ashitaka, a valiant warrior who becomes embroiled in a bitter conflict between the forest gods and the humans who seek to exploit their resources.
Miyazaki’s masterful direction and attention to detail have created a world that feels both fantastical and grounded in reality, and the film’s themes of environmentalism, war, and spirituality are woven together seamlessly. Its stunning visuals and richly detailed world make for a visual feast. The blending of awe (such as the forest of kodama) with spectacle (the final act) creates a unique and imaginative experience. As with all of Miyazaki’s writing, the nuanced characters are a delight to watch due to their compelling stories and fearlessness. It’s for these reasons that Princess Mononoke is not only the best Studio Ghibli film, but one of the best films of all time.
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