10 Best Films of All Time: Mark Carnochan

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

When it comes down to selecting the ten greatest films of all time, in one way or another all of your choices will have had some great effect on you. Whether that be nostalgia or perhaps some connection with the material or simply the filmmaking prowess that is on display. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is pretty much all of the above and then some.

As a child, much of my taste in movies came from my parents, though it is fair to say my dad may have made more of an impact in that area. One such delight from the films he would take me to see was The Lord of the Rings. Whether it was my first time seeing it in 2001 or watching it again in 2023, the film has the same effect, leaving me smiling from ear to ear for a solid three hours.

Frankly, I have no connection to the original books that the films are adapted from, but it is very clear to me that this is how Middle Earth should look. The clear care and craft that has been placed into designing the world put on screen is beyond amazing and the results are spectacular, leaving behind some of the most beautiful imagery cinema has ever seen.

Of course it goes so much deeper than the sets and locations chosen to represent J.R.R. Tolkien’s original works, but so too for the character and costume designs, alongside much of the design of the weapons used throughout, all of which bring the world and the film to life, with the wonder that you can practically touch it never wearing off.

Though later films in the franchise may go heavier on the battle scenes or the story, The Fellowship of the Ring is a gorgeous example as far as world building and set up goes, all the while having its own clear story within it as well. Though the payoff of the trilogy may well be worth it, seeing it all come together in the first place is a thing of beauty.

Recommended for you: The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit Movies Ranked

1. The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather Review

Unfortunately, it is a little cliché to say that The Godfather is the greatest film of all time – Barbie hasn’t helped the matter – but as far as I am concerned it is the truth. 

First seeing the film in very early high school, it is clear looking back that I simply didn’t understand it. I didn’t appreciate the nuances of the film, the story being told or the artistry on display. I left thinking “people think that’s the best film ever?” And yet, I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it. The imagery and famous lines or scenes were constantly running through my mind. This film has latched itself onto me and would never let go.

Watching it numerous more times over the years, relentlessly studying it in my school’s English class and of course being shown clips of it time and time again on filmmaking courses, I should be sick of it by now. In many ways, at more than fifty years old I am sure many are and that is why it has become such a cliché or a stereotype to herald it as the greatest of all time. However, with each new viewing, with each new scene studied and critiqued, it only becomes clearer just how perfect it is.

When referring to filmmaking, the phrase that is often used is “every frame a painting”. Although, in the case of The Godfather, it seems as though Francis Ford Coppola made sure that every frame was the Mona Lisa. The sheer amount of detail and meticulous effort that has gone into every single shot, angle, edit, costume, lighting setup, is clear as day, and it shines through on screen to craft a film that is not only beautiful to look at but also full to the brim with subtext revealing secrets and truths about each character, their motivations, and perhaps even their fate.

The story famously goes that Mario Puzo had never written a screenplay before and decided he should learn how to write one after winning two Oscars for his adaptations of his own novels, and the first chapter read “Read The Godfather”. It is easy to see why the saga of the Corleone family is one of the greatest ever put to film.

Filled with wonderful yet morally corrupt characters, from the Corleone family themselves to the likes of Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) or Clemenza (Richard Castellano), there are a variety of stories and character developments happening in the background while the story of the five families each occur at the same time. However, it is Michael Corleone’s (Al Pacino’s) rise in the family hierarchy and his descent into evil that is so gripping. Furthermore, it is the question of whether Michael could ever escape his fate or not that allows for the story to be one of such emotional magnitude.

When it comes to the gangster genre, many can dumb it down to its violence and simplify it to how much sex is had, how many drugs are taken, and how much blood is spilled. Though there is plenty of all three in The Godfather, it is much more of a human story, one of family, human corruption and of power.

If you ask me, it is the greatest film ever made.

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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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