I’m always on the lookout for new sources of inspiration. Music is my favourite go-to, but I’m a firm believer that visual storytelling can be just as inspiring as words on the ear.
Script-writing was something I never enjoyed during university. The intensive formatting rules were far too bureaucratic, and, in my opinion, had far too much sway on overall grades.
There is also one other small detail, which is that I was particularly awful at writing scripts.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the work of others, and as different as scripts and novels are, it’s hard to deny that films can serve to inspire writers in other formats.
I find few things get me more in the mood for a night’s penmanship than a good film, so without further ado, my top five, at this moment, off the top of my head. Here we go, with trailers…
1. Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), starring Sigourney Weaver
It’s an old one, but as much as I love Star Wars and Star Trek I think in terms of sci-fi Alien is hard to beat. If you haven’t seen it you’ve missed out on one of the best movies out there. Bizarrely unique thanks to the designs of H.R. Giger, this film plays on the subconscious to create a truly creepy film-going experience. It also has one of the most badass protagonists, and a cat you’ll really be rooting for.
2. Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas (2012), starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry (among others)
I swear I have never cried at a film like I cried at the end of this one. Masterful and moving, Cloud Atlas is a thought-provoking adaptation of the novel by David Mitchell. I do think this is a rare instance in which the movie beats the book. I certainly found it had far more emotional impact in a visual portrayal. The main themes of this complicated film are reincarnation, love, and fate. It also boasts what I think is one of the best soundtracks in modern cinema.
3. Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai (2003), starring Tom Cruise
A based-on-a-true-story historical epic, The Last Samurai is not without its problems (for one thing, Tom Cruise’s American character is fictitious. His real-life inspiration was a Frenchman, fighting in a different war). Cultural ethics aside, however, in terms of drama and the quality of acting, this film deserves an Oscar. A classic tale of the conflict between the old world and the new, this film is a powerful critique of western interference in the traditions of eastern culture. Its soundtrack is also very impressive (and has the power to make me well up!)
4. The Wachowski brothers’ The Matrix (1999) starring Keanu Reeves
If you haven’t seen this film it does beg the question ‘where have you been?’ Some of the CGI is starting to date, and Keanu Reeves’ remains a divisive actor (personally I think he’s pretty good in this one), but The Matrix remains the ultimate sci-fi action movie, and it is that thing which I think all good movies should be – a gripping story. With an excellent supporting performance from Hugo Weaving, this is a classic you shouldn’t skip over.
5. Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables (2012), starring Hugh Jackman (among others)
Last but not least, a musical. This is the film of the stage musical, of the book by Victor Hugo (a 1400 page monster I have yet to finish!). I do think this one has been something of a victim to over-exposure, which has detracted from its success. Seriously, this is an amazing film, and it makes my list for its pure artistry, and bravery. Who knew Hugh Jackman had a voice like that?!
And that’s the end of my list. I’m always on the lookout for new films to watch, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!
I’ll probably do another top five soon, but for now, ta-ta.