10 Best Films of All Time: Mark Carnochan

8. Daisies (1966)

When it comes to cinematic new waves, most would point you toward the Nouvelle Vague, claiming the work of Jean-Luc Godard to be revolutionary, with films like Breathless apparently changing cinema as we know it right in front of our very eyes. If you ask me, if you’re looking for cinema, international or not, that feels truly revolutionary and that embodies the true spirit of breaking all the rules in the book, then Věra Chytilová’s Daisies is the film to watch.

Coming in at only one hour and sixteen minutes, Daisies is a briskly paced tidal wave of feminist filmmaking at its finest, taking the art form of film through celluloid and quite literally cutting it to pieces, crafting iconic imagery that will never leave you on top of a damn good time at the movies.

Throughout the film, Chytilová makes excellent use of colour to portray when the leading ladies feel at their brightest; using beautifully vibrant colour film whenever they are alone together and shooting in black and white film whenever they are viewed through the male gaze. Not only does it allow for some gorgeous photography, but it works as a clever way of portraying the way in which women feel seen by men.

Most importantly, however, it’s just a damn charming time, both lead characters taking us by the hand and allowing us to skip through the daisies with them, taking us on their crazy adventure that is this film.

7. Toy Story 2 (1999)

Everyone has those movies they have loved ever since being children. Although Disney seems to have a bit of a stranglehold on this idea, with classics like The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella, I was always more of a Pixar fan growing up. With that in mind, considering I was born in 1997, there were only really a handful of Pixar projects released by the point I had tuned in: A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., and of course Toy Story.

Whilst the first movie may have revolutionised animation, Toy Story 2 takes it to the next level and is all the better for it. The opening in which we see Rex’s playthrough of the Buzz Lightyear video game alone is a sequence that simply would not have been possible when the first picture was released.

With this in mind Pixar really upped the ante with this sequel, ultimately making for a much more fun and exhilarating time with Buzz, Woody and the gang.

6. Persona (1966)

No matter how much you love cinema or how much you study film, it is terribly easy to slip into dissatisfaction with the craft. Not in that they bore you or you now hate movies you once loved, but in that you feel you have seen everything there is to see. You’ve watched Le Voyage dans la Lune to The Birth of a Nation to Casablanca to Jurassic Park to Avengers, you know the history and evolution of the cinematic form. Entering my final year at university, this was where I was, mentally, with my love of film. But, just as often as this slump in your love for cinema comes around, so too does a film that completely reinvigorates your passion for it. For me, that film was Ingmar Bergman’s Persona.

Bergman makes use of a Brechtian style of filmmaking (making us aware that we are watching a film). This is evident from the very beginning in which the film opens with a film projector snapping into action and we are overwhelmed by a barrage of images. Immediately we are slapped in the face, not only to grab our attention right away but to remind us that this is a film. Bergman wants us to remain aware of this fact at all times.

It is a method that he would make use of throughout the film, literally burning the celluloid on screen at around the halfway mark when we are most engaged in the story of the film, simply to remind us that we are watching a fictional piece of work shot on film.

Not just some pretentious arthouse schtick, this choice from the director actively engages you with the material. Famed stage actress Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann) has suddenly gone mute and must be cared for by a young nurse, Alma (Bibi Andersson), who confides in her – we are left to consider if what we see is fact or fiction. Is Elisabet really mute? Do the characters truly care for one another? Are the stories they tell true, or merely a lie? 

Just as Bergman’s use of the Brechtian method keeps us second-guessing everything we see on screen, it further adds to the insanity the director hopes to replicate within the story. Although we struggle to understand, each and every single one of us still leaves with our own theory or idea of what the film was saying.

The best films are the ones you can watch one hundred times and still find new details or information within the frame that allow you to appreciate it more each time. With Persona, you see an entirely new film every single time.

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  • <cite class="fn">Jacob</cite>

    Mark, I love your list! I couldn’t believe 5, expected 4, and you chose a single LotR film unlike some people…

  • <cite class="fn">Margaret Roarty</cite>

    Truly my only beef with Barbie is the idea that The Godfather is somehow overrated. It IS the best – that’s just a fact!

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