20 Greatest Acting Performances Of All Time

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My top 20 list will probably cause some upset amongst film fans. It’s my personal favourite performances so unfortunately, you won’t find many of the conventional ones here like, Marlon Brando in The Godfather or Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Whilst, I do love these performances, they aren’t my absolute favourites. I think a lot of it has to do with the character they play too. No other actor could play my number 1 pick, for example, because the character he (or she) plays is so complex. So, please don’t have a go at me for creating such a diverse and unconventional list, but do tell me some of your favourite performances.

20. Pam Ferris- Agatha Trunchbull

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Out of all the actors on my list, Pam Ferris will probably be the most surprising, but she shouldn’t be! Her turn as the sadistic, child-hating headmistress at Crunchem Hall Elementary is truly extraordinary. The film Matilda, was a big part of my childhood. My sister and I used to watch it all the time laugh ourselves silly, and we still do twelve-ish years later! Pam Ferris is normally at ease playing cuddly gardeners/detectives like Rosemary Boxer, which is why her Miss Trunchbull is so shocking. She’s pretty much unrecognisable and completely transforms herself into the cartoonish bully. She truly is a pupil’s worst nightmare. She spits on ribbons, force feeds obese students and throws kids out the window for eating M&M’s! The best moment is when Matilda and Miss Honey are hiding from the principal in her own huge house. “WHO’S IN MY HOUSE!” She roars as she charges like a bull, destroying all her furnishings in her path and even leaping from the banister with a “TALLY-HO!” Pam’s performance is genius, totally over the top and absolutely hilarious.

Best line: “You villainous sack of gob slime!”

19. Piper Laurie- Margaret White

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I’m a sucker for a hammy performance and they don’t come much hammier than Pipers sensational turn as the Bible-bashing loon and mother of bullied Carrie White. The first time we see Margaret is on her daily rounds “spreading the good word of the Lord” to Sue Snell’s far too tolerant mother. “These are godless times, Mrs Snell” Margaret says to her, “I’ll drink to that!” replies Sue’s Mum, accidently wafting a glass of sin in her face. Piper Laurie is both hilarious and terrifying. We’re treated to what Carrie’s Mum is doing whilst Carrie’s at the prom. She’s obviously been pacing up and down around the house for hours on end, and ends randomly slicing a carrot like some sort of manic robot. Piper Laurie’s totally OTT performance reaches its peak towards the end though, which I won’t spoil for people who are still yet to see this masterpiece. Carrie is a film full of great performances, but Piper’s stands out as the most gloriously in your face.

Best line: “I should’ve given you to God when you were born, but I was weak and backsliding. And now, the devil has come home!”

18. Gloria Swanson- Norma Desmond

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I said that performances didn’t come much hammier than Piper Laurie’s in Carrie, because Gloria Swanson’s IS the hammiest. Sunset Boulevard is an undisputed classic of cinema and way ahead of its time. Part of its appeal is the show-stealing Gloria Swanson who manages to be hammier than a pork chop tied to a pig’s ankle. I mean that in the best way possible though. Her intense stares and outrageous arm movements dare you not to take your eyes off the screen. The unhinged fading film star was pretty much the perfect role for her and she completely laps it up. Unfortunately, she lost out to the Academy Award, but in our hearts she won it. Much like Piper Laurie’s performance, it’s both hysterically funny and creepy, which is a difficult mix to master and is the reason why Gloria makes my list of favourites.

Best line:  “All right, Mr. DeMille. I’m ready for my close-up.”

17. Robin Williams- Daniel Hillard/Euphegenia Doubtfire

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Here’s another childhood favourite. My sister and I used have Mrs. Doubtfire on a loop! It’s probably the film I’ve watched the most, however I’m still far from fed up with it. It’s the funniest film I’ve seen and is by far my favourite comedy film. At the centre of it all though is Robin William’s tour-de-force performance as the lady in question. As the judge quite rightly puts it, Robin Williams fools us into believing he’s a 60 year-old woman! Most of the lines are improvised and all of them are side-splittingly funny, “I’m melting like a snow cone in Phoenix!”. Two cameras were used when filming because the production crew never knew what Robin was going to do next! It makes his recent passing all the more tragic. Robin Williams was one of the most genuinely funny people on the planet and Mrs. Doubtfire shows that fact off to its full effect. His performance is also surprisingly heartfelt at times, especially in the end scene. Who would’ve thought that Robin Williams dressed up as an old Scottish nanny could also be so moving!

Best line: “Oh, thank you dear! Yes, touch me again, and I’ll drown you, ya bastard.”

16. Bette Davis- Baby Jane Watson

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Here’s another queen of ham, the brilliant Bette Davis. For some reason Whatever Happened to Baby Jane seems to get overlooked in the horror community. Other horror classics from Hollywood’s golden-age such as, Psycho and Les Diaboliques always get talked about, but Baby Jane doesn’t. It’s a shame because it deserves to be! The film pitches two actresses (who genuinely despise each other) together and it makes for truly extraordinary viewing. They played tricks with each other on set all the time and Bette is clearly loving every minute of it! Just look at her jovial face when she gives Joan the rat! Bette Davis won two Oscars in her prolific career, however I don’t think she’s ever been as good as she is here as crazy woman-child, Baby Jane. She suits the deluded and psychotic character perfectly. Her natural OTT acting also really suits the role. There’s also a tinge of sadness to her character towards the end where she finally turns completely bonkers. Bette makes the role funny, scary and tragic.

Best line: “Oh really! Did she like it!?”

15. Johnny Depp- Sweeney Todd/Benjamin Barker

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Johnny Depp has played his fair share of pale-faced weirdos (thanks to his best friend Tim) however, none have been as brilliant as Sweeney Todd. I’m most definitely biased here as Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is quite possibly my favourite film of all time and so I know Johnny’s performance inside-out, and I love every second of it. I love the way he takes his jacket off whilst saying, “It’s Todd now. Sweeney Todd. And he shall have his revenge!” I love his sullen look in every scene, I love his look of calculated surprise when he sees Judge Turpin first enter his establishment, I love the way he screams, “BENJAMIN BARKER!!” Towards the end and I love the tragic look in his eyes when the film reaches its shocking climax. Johnny’s performance is full of tiny details which all help to bring the wonderful character to life. It’s a deliciously dark role, and is completely different to say, Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka, yet he kills it. Almost literally.

Best line: “At last! My arm is complete again.”

14. Emmanuelle Riva- Anne Laurent

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The most recent performance on my list is this one from Michael Haneke’s masterpiece, Amour. For those of you who don’t know anything about it, it follows an elderly couple who bobble along happily in life until Anne is viciously attacked by a stroke at breakfast time. It leads to a slow and unbearable deterioration of her body and mind, right in front of her loving husband’s eyes. It’s probably not everyone’s idea of a good time at the movies, but Michael Haneke never gives  the viewer an easy time in his films. At the centre of it all though is Emmanuelle Riva’s extraordinarily moving performance. I believed that she really was dying before our eyes. The scene where she’s trying her hardest to talk to her daughter (played by Isabelle Huppert) but only gibberish is coming out is both moving and powerful thanks to just how convincing Emmanuelle is! It also helps that Michael Haneke hardly moves the camera, so that we can really soak up her exceptional performance. She even lived on the set during the entire shoot! I’m unashamed to admit that Emmanuelle did move me tears, and I don’t cry in films! I haven’t seen Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in The Silver Linings Playbook, but I doubt that she deserved the Oscar over Emmanuelle Riva.

Best line: “It’s beautiful. Life. So long.”

14. Linda Blair- Regan Mcneil

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From the oldest girl on the list, to the youngest. Linda was only 11 years-old when The Exorcist was filmed and clueless about what half the filth that came out her mouth actually meant! Unlike most child stars, she didn’t grow up to be a tree hugger or drug-addled wild child, she has continued to act and has appeared on over 70 films (and counting)! However, she did peak in The Exorcist playing the innocent girl who’s violently possessed by an ancient demon. Her performance is now the stuff of legend. Whilst the special effects do help towards making the film so convincing, it’s Linda Blair who seals the deal. We feel her pain as Holy Water is sprinkled upon her, and her tongue wiggle is second to none! Linda gives it her all during the infamous exorcism scene, anyone would’ve believed that poor old Linda was actually possessed! It’s undeniable a fantastic performance. Once again she lost out at the Oscars to someone no one remembers.

Best line: “Your mother sucks cocks in hell!”

12. Naomi Watts- Diane Selwyn/Betty Elms

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It’s a travesty that relative newcomer, Naomi Watts, didn’t even receive an Oscar nod at the 2002 Academy Awards. In fact, it’s a travesty that Mulholland Drive didn’t at least receive an Oscar nod in every single category, because it deserved to win them all! David Lynch’s masterpiece is  one of the finest films to be shown on the big screen, and Naomi Watts’ beautifully layered performance is all part of that. She plays chirpy Hollywood hopeful Betty Elms, on her way to become a big star (ironically just like Naomi Watts at the time) however, she gets herself embroiled in a mystery and passionate romance whilst she’s there too. If the audition scene was a short film then Naomi would’ve deserved to win an Oscar. It’s such a compelling and powerful moment, made all the more extraordinary once the film reaches its shocking revelation. I won’t spoil it for anyone who’s yet to see it, but once Mulholland Drive reaches its bemusing/moving climax, David Lynch makes sure that he squeezes out everything Naomi has to offer and it’s intense to watch.

Best line: “It’s strange calling yourself.”

11. Christoph Waltz- Colonel Hans Landa

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It’s strange to think that until Quentin Tarantino threw Christoph Waltz into the limelight in 2009’s Inglorious Basterds, Christoph was a relatively unknown star in TV. Now he’s one of Hollywood’s finest actors with two well-deserved Oscars under his belt. He’s played some great characters, however Hans Landa AKA ‘The Jew hunter’ has to be his most memorable. Christoph deserves his Oscar for the opening scene alone where he slyly intimidates a French farmer who’s hiding Jews under the floorboards. It’s an exhilarating scene packed full of tension thanks to the enormous presence of Hans Landa. Because of this, the spirit of Hans is lurking in every scene and whenever he’s shown, we duck our heads in fear! Christoph relishes the role and adds a darkly comedic edge to it too. He’s quite obviously playing an unashamedly cartoonish villain and that’s exactly how he plays him.

Best line: “Ooh! That’s a bingo!”

10. Anthony Hopkins- Hannibal Lecter

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Famously, Anthony Hopkins stars in The Silence of the Lambs for only 16 minutes, however if anyone ever utters the title of the film, all anyone ever thinks of is Hannibal Lecter. Anthony completely owns the role as the creepy cannibal. However, he doesn’t play him as a complete cardboard cut-out. During the scene where Hannibal escapes (the best scene EVER!) we’re almost rooting for him, and we don’t really know why. He’s a cold, calculated and supremely cool villain. Anthony’s portrayal of him is chilling. We hang on every word he says and are completely glued to the screen whenever he’s on it. Just like Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, he makes such a first impact that his presence is still looming in every single scene. It’s absolutely no surprise that he won an Oscar, because they’d be total uproar if he didn’t! Anthony Hopkins brought a unique life to role and has made it utterly iconic.

Best line: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti

9. Dennis Hopper- Frank Booth

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Whenever someone mentions Blue Velvet, chances are that Frank Booth immediately pops into your head. That’s only of course if you’ve seen David Lynch’s seminal masterpiece, otherwise you probably just think of… Well… Blue velvet. The late and great Dennis famously got the role by going up to David Lynch and saying “I AM Frank Booth!” Which is a brave and frightening thing to admit to, giving the fact that Frank is sweary, nitros-oxide sniffing, misogynistic, murdering rapist! Dennis Hopper manages to bring a sympathetic layer to the role by playing him as a big toddler. You almost feel sorry for him when he’s sat in tears, whilst watching Isabella Rossellini sing in The Slow Club. Dennis Hopper does play him as a mass of unpredictable energy for the most part though, and it’s both frightening and compelling to watch. Dennis Hopper’s performance is intense and powerful. He becomes the character and it’s a marvel to behold.

Best line: “DON’T FUCKING LOOK AT ME!”

8. Heath Ledger- The Joker

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Part of what makes Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight so acclaimed is Heath Ledger’s legendary performance as The Joker. There are a few cynics who think that he only won the Oscar because he died shortly after the film was released, however I think that’s nonsense. You’d have to be blind (or a little bit thick) not to see the just how incredible Heath is in the role. He completely transforms himself into the psychotic clown, looking and sounding completely different to himself. Who would’ve thought that pretty boy Heath would be so terrifying! Everything thing about the performance is phenomenal, from the constant tongue wiggling to the Chicago accent, it’s just brilliant. Heath completely trumped Jack Nicholson’s performance, which was no mean feat! I often wonder which films today will be seen as iconic in twenty or thirty years’ time, and I have no doubt that The Dark Knight will, largely down to Heath. He’s intense to watch, darkly humorous and utterly compelling. Heath Ledger’s Joker will be forever cemented into pop culture.

Best line: “Come on hit me! HIT ME!”

7. Jack Nicholson- Jack Torrance

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Here’s yet another classic on-screen psycho. The Shining was slated when it was first released, but thankfully it has been hailed as a masterpiece and possibly even the finest film the horror genre has to offer. Stephen King was infamously disappointed with the film and didn’t think that Jack Nicholson suited the role. He was wrong. Jack Nicholson looks so utterly psychotic because Stanley Kubrick drove him to it! Apparently, he made them do each take about thirty or forty times, so Jack and the other actors would start doing crazy things in the takes, and these are the takes that were used in the finished film. Jack Nicholson’s performance is probably my favourite performance in a horror film ever. He’s just so convincing and really digs his feet into the character’s deranged shoes. He certainly more than makes up for poor old Shelley Duvall’s hysterical performance!

Best line: “Heeeere’s Johnny!”

6. Laura Dern- Nikki Grace/Susan Blue

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David Lynch campaigned for Laura Dern to be recognised by the Academy for her performance in INLAND EMPIRE by going on the Hollywood walk of fame with a cow. Unfortunately, even this bizarre act didn’t land her an Oscar nomination, because she should’ve been nominated and she should’ve won too! She had no idea what was going on in David Lynch’s ultimate mind f**k film, yet she plays the role incredibly. Is she actress Nikki Grace? Is she prostitute Susan Blue? Or is she someone else altogether? You’ll need a lot of patience to work out what’s going on, but it’s completely worth it. Laura Dern has never been finer and shows more range in this film than she has done her whole career. She sucks us into the film and we feel like we’re stuck in a strange labyrinth which transcends space and time. She shows astonishing gusto and it just has to be the best performance in a Lynch film!

Best line: “Damn! This sounds like a dialogue from our script.”

4. Ellen Burstyn- Sara Goldfarb

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Requiem for a Dream is in my top 10 films ever! It’s a huge leap from the stylish, yet problematic Pi for Darren Aronofsky. Part of what makes Requiem for a Dream so powerful and emotionally devastating is Ellen Burstyn’s outstanding performance as Sara Goldfarb. She’s the mother of heroin addict, Jared Leto, however little does she know that soon her life will spiral out of control due to addiction. Sara gets addicted to slimming pills, thanks to a careless doctor, and the results are profoundly haunting. Ellen’s performance is the definition of ‘powerhouse’ and the way she slowly becomes insane is so convincing and moving. Things get almost unbearably intense in the last thirty minutes, where Sara becomes mentally unhinged and grinning like a madwoman on the tube. “I’m going to be on television!” She says with a childlike excitement, and your heart just breaks a little for her. I won’t spoil it, but the ending will certainly leave a mark and not only is due to the exceptional writing, directing, editing and music, but it’s also Ellen’s heart-breaking lead performance. How the heck did Julia Roberts win an Oscar over her!?

Best line: “I like thinking about the red dress and the television and you and your father. Now when I get the sun, I smile.”

4. Emily Watson- Bess McNeil

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The second part to Lars Von Trier’s ‘Golden Hearts Trilogy’ is often referred to as his best. Whilst I personally still prefer the cinematic cannonball-to-the-gut film that is, Dancer in the Dark, there’s still no denying the extraordinary power of Breaking the Waves. Emily Watson’s first role was that of Bess McNeil. A simple-minded young Scottish woman who is madly in love with Stellan Skarsgard until he suffers a horrific accident which leaves him paralysed and slightly groggy. He convinces Bess to have sex with other men, which leads her down a tragic road of prostitution and degradation. Interestingly, Helena Bonham Carter was Lars’ original choice for the role, however she felt uncomfortable with the amount of sex, luckily for us randy Emily Watson wasn’t bothered at all! What makes Breaking the Waves so powerful and unbearably sad is how likable Emily makes Bess. We want nothing but the best for her, but nothing but the worst happens. Lars films it like a documentary too and Emily Watson brings a quality to her performance which is all too real! As good as Frances Mcdormand was in Fargo, she still had nothing on Emily Watson.

Best line: “Everyone has something they’re good at. I’ve always been stupid, but I’m good at this.”

3. Natalie Portman- Nina Sayers

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Black Swan is a sensational film, full of sensational performances. The most sensational of them all, however, is Natalie Portman! Who would’ve thought that old Nat had it in her? Known for her wooden acting in Star Wars and crappy rom-coms, Darren Aronofsky must’ve seen some potential in her, and he certainly dragged it out of her. Natalie trained in ballet for months and went on a strict and intense ballet-dancer diet to get a long and lean body. She also actually injured herself many times on set and the scene with the medic is actually real! Natalie completely gives it her all as the loopy ballerina and completely sells it to the audience. Her transformation from timid, childlike young lady to full-on aggressive lunatic is incredibly convincing and often intense to watch. Portman totally loses herself in the role almost like Nina loses herself in her role! Even the Academy couldn’t screw up the winner in the best actress category on this one! Apparently, bookies banned anyone placing bets on Natalie winning the Oscar because it was that obvious she was going to win.

Best line: “I was perfect.”

2. Isabelle Huppert- Erika Kohut

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Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher is a similar tale to Black Swan, although a lot more detached. It tells the tale of Erika, an uptight piano teacher who lives with her overbearing mother. She has some seriously strange fetishes behind-the-scenes though which include self-mutilation and watching people have sex in their car. Everything gets a little too weird though when she develops feelings for her handsome pupil, Walter, which I shan’t spoil. The Piano Teacher is one of Haneke’s finest and it’s largely thanks to Isabelle Huppert’s extra extra-ordinary performance as the title piano teacher herself. Isabelle completely becomes the role and you end up thinking that what you’re watching is real! The entire film is seriously uncomfortable to watch and is enough to make your toes curl. It’s all in the eyes with Isabelle though! The looks she gives are intense and it dares you not to look away. You can see the internal conflict behind her face which makes Erika one of the most fascinating characters to be put on film. Most of the time she remains completely expressionless, yet somehow you can see what she’s thinking and it’s incredible to watch. Isabelle carries such a powerful presence that will leave you feeling breathless and bemused.

Best line: Forget lines! Isabelle’s wordless final scene is one of the most haunting things to ever be captured on film!

1. Daniel-Day Lewis- Daniel Plainview

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Here it is! The greatest screen performance of all time, according to me, is Daniel-Day Lewis in Paul Thomas Anderson’s seminal masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. Daniel is probably the greatest actor on the planet. He literally becomes the role and goes to extreme lengths to appear as convincing as possible. In Gangs of New York he regularly chopped up meat behind the scenes, as he was playing a psycho butcher, and in Lincoln he made out letters to people using a quill feather. I wouldn’t like to be friends with Daniel when he was playing the scheming madman that is, Daniel Plainview. Absolutely no one could play the role, because the character is so complex. Paul Thomas Anderson even said that he wouldn’t go through with the film if Daniel didn’t accept the role. Thank god he did though, because There Will Be Blood is one of the greatest films of all time. Right down to the voice, and the walk, Daniel-Day Lewis becomes Daniel Plainview in every fibre of his body. It’s frigging intense to watch at times! The baptism scene gives me chills just thinking about it! It’s in the last half hour though when Daniel completely knocks it out of the park and into the stratosphere. He transforms himself into an old bitter and loony mad man, yet he does it in the most convincing way. The bowling alley scene is now infamous and by far one of my favourite movie scenes ever, and it’s all down to Daniel’s performance. The way he delivers his lines is just incredible, “I drink your MILKSHAKE!! I DRINK IT UP!! SHLUUURP!” and the way he slurs his lines is classic, “You’re my competitooorr”. The bowling alley scene is so so intense and much of it is improvised. Paul Dano screaming and running is NOT acting! It’s genuine fear! Did you think that he was supposed to throw those pins at him!? NO! I know my explanation has sort of turned into a passionate rant now, but it’s just how I feel. This is my favourite performance ever and I don’t think it’ll be beaten… Unless there’s a There Will Be Blood 2.

Best line: “I’m finished.”

And what an apt quote to finish on! I hope you’ve enjoyed my list. Please feel free to verbally bash me in the comments 🙂

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100 Greatest Movie Moments

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Movies are essentially made up of moments. Below are some of my favourites. Now, some are there for different reasons, some make me laugh, some make me cry, some scare me or disturb me and some just hold a certain emotional power. They are in no order (although the last 20 would be my top favourites) so don’t have a go at me for putting Hocus Pocus above American Beauty! It was a surprisingly easy list to make. The scary thing is that I could probably do another 100 more because there are so many movie moments I just love. As to avoid spoilers, I haven’t said what films these scenes come from. Please let me know if you’re desperately looking for what film a scene is from and I shall tell you. So without further ado (hopefully all the images have loaded for you) let’s delve into my twisted world.

100. May’s creation moves

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99. The power of love

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98. Randy’s last jump

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97. Sara’s eaten by her own fridge

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96. Patsey’s whipped

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95. Candieland shootout

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94. Betty auditions

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93. Do the locomotion

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92. “One day more…”

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91. Kevin Specey’s final monologue

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90. A casual trip to the skies and back again

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89. Monica Bellucci gets raped for 10 minutes straight!

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88. Ulrich Mühe breaks down for 10 minutes straight!

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87. Laura Dern’s clown face

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86. The scariest movie moment ever!

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85. “Give me the bat.”

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84. “Call it.”

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83. Chainsaw ballet

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82. Travis goes mental

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81. Isabelle Adjani goes mental

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80. “The dark knight…”

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79. “Abracadabra.”

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78. Norman in drag

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77. You talkin’ to me?

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76. 360 degree taxi slash

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75. Teddy’s tragic flashback

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74. The last shot

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73. Sister Mary Clarence pats a dog

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72. “Detective… DETECTIVE!”

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71. Penthouse reveal

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70. Margaret White goes barmy

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69. Drew Barrymore screams

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68. Swimming pool saga

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67. “BASTARD FROM A BASKET!”

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66. Lighthouse woes

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65. Head cases

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64. Girl/thing in the loft

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63. Lawnmower man

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62. Foetal position

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61. Wrong place and wrong time

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60. Shock suicide

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59. George’s story

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58. Polish poem

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57. “Heeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”

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56. “A candy coloured clown they call a sandman.”

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55. “Those were dummies!”

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54. Laura dies

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53. “Silencio…”

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52. Nina’s swansong

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51. “You mean, all this time we could’ve been friends?”

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50. George and Peppy’s last dance

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49. John Merrick dies

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48. Beatrix Vs. Elle

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47. Tragedy in the mist

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46. Time destroys everything

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45. Hannibal escapes

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44. Selma’s last song

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43. The bells toll

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42. “I’ve abandoned my child!”

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41. “Game over!”

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40. “In heaven, everything is fine…”

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39. Adam meets the cowboy

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38. Mrs Doubtfire cooks

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37. Table saw kill

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36. “At last… My arm is complete again.”

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35. The hunchback

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34. Kagutaba lives!

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33. “I loved you”

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32. Erica stabs

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31. Hans Landa hunts after a glass of milk

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30. Winkie’s Diner

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29. Batman atones

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28. Lucie’s memories

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27. Intense dinner

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26. Intense dinner

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25. Intense dinner

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24. Opening montage

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23. The world ends

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22. Bat brutality

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21. Satan’s house

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20. “WHO’S IN MY HOUSE!!”

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19. Nothing is left

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18. The world’s most gruelling exorcism

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17. Hallway hammer brawl

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16. “HELLOOO!”

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15. The ancient ones rise

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14. Jamie Lee Curtis’ mother takes a shower

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13. “DON’T FUCKING LOOK AT ME!”

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12. Kitchen fight

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11. Rock-a-bye-baby…

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10. Chainsaw chase

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9. Cobb comes home

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8. “Lovely lovely voice…”

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7. “Llorando”

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6. “I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!”

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5. Tunnel chase

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4. “Keep doubting”

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3. Bride Vs. Crazy 88

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2. Sweeney’s tragic end

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1. “I was perfect”

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My Top 10 Films Thus Far

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I thought that it might be fun to do a list of my top ten films as of now. Perhaps, when I’m 50 and remember writing a stupid movie review blog I can look back and laugh at my ridiculously poor taste in film back then. And that’s only if I ever make it to 50 of course! As of now I am a 19 year old male (you never know, I might have a sex change in the future) just months away from turning 20 (eek!) and have developed a love for directors such as: David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, Michael Haneke, Quentin Tarantino and Lars Von Trier. I’m also massively into horror and foreign films. Whilst compiling my top 10 list, I was happy with my top 5, but not so happy with 6-10. I’m still not sure about the order they should go in, and I have a horrible feeling that I’ve missed some gorgeous films out! But anywho, here is my ten list in 2014:

10. Martyrs

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I can’t wait for the American remake of Martyrs to come out, just that I can spit on it. I first discovered Martyrs when I was going through my French horror new wave phase. I heard about three films in particular and they were: Inside, Martyrs and Frontiers. I saw Inside first and was totally blown away. It was the first foreign film I had ever seen and my obsession began! Since then I’ve seen pretty much every French horror film and I pretty much adore them all. I especially adore Martyrs though. Martyrs is a notoriously draining and disturbing experience. Many people, even the hardest horror nut, have admitted to having to pause the film to just give themselves a break from the unrelenting distress. I understand that this would be many people’s idea of a bad time, but I love gruelling films. Films that make you feel are the best for me and this one certainly does that.

Those who haven’t seen it should avoid any plot summaries and reviews at all costs. It’s a film best experienced with as little knowledge as possible. The plot twists and turns several times. It makes three major turns within the first 15 minutes! Just when you think it’s going one way, it surprises you and it doesn’t do it in a contrived way either. What starts out as a child’s ghost story in the style of The Orphanage turns into something very profound indeed. Many people attack the infamous final 30 minutes but I think it’s what makes Martyrs so special. It’s one of the most gruelling half an hours you’re likely to sit through and it never fails to almost move me to tears. The score over this part is also one of the best I’ve ever heard. Some people call it torture-porn, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Never does Martyrs glorify violence or make it look cool. It shows violence for what it is. Ugly. The acting is also sensational across the board. Horror is my favourite genre and I think that Martyrs is the very best that the genre has to offer. It’s brutal, but it’s worth it, and you come out slightly different somehow. If you don’t think that Martyrs is one of the greatest horror films of the past century then… Keep doubting.

9. The Dark Knight

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I was actually quite late on the old Nolan Batman revamps. I first saw Batman Begins in 2011 and was bowled over by Christopher Nolan’s dark vision of the superhero. I’d never bothered with it before because I just expected some cheesy fan-boy fest in the vein of X-Men but what I actually got was something very mature, gothic and not entirely suitable for children. In 2012 I finally saw the much-hyped, The Dark Knight. I bought it nice and cheaply on eBay because I wanted to see it before The Dark Knight Rises hit our big silver screens. I slipped in the blu-ray and sat dumbfounded for pretty much the entire 150 minutes. The Dark Knight blows Batman Begins to pieces and in my opinion, completely deserves all of its overwhelming praise. Christopher Nolan has become the saviour of the blockbuster by adding his own intelligent, arthouse spin on big-budget action fests.

The Dark Knight is an enthralling crime epic. It’s far too dark and mature to be called a ‘comic book’ movie and feels more like a gadget-filled vigilante film with a psychopath who likes to dress up as a clown. Everyone goes on about Heath Ledger so I’ll just skim around him and say that he’s phenomenal, legendary and reminiscent of Daniel Day Lewis at his best. I’m skimming around Heath because there’s so much more about this film which makes it so great. The Nolan brother’s excellent writing skills are showcased here and what makes the joker so memorable is not just Heath’s performance, but because the character is so wonderfully written. The infamous interrogation scene is just so beautiful to behold. On top of that, Chris directs the action so that you’re not just watching it, but living it. During the exhilarating tunnel chase scene you can actually feel the chill of the breeze and heat of the explosions, capturing the intensity gorgeously. He also makes sure not to use lots of shaky cam and quick cuts which so many action films tend to do. The handheld camera also drops us right into the action, thus heightening the tension and intensity. It’s a truly gripping and exhilarating saga and scores top points on every level including: direction, screenplay, acting and score.

8. Inception

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Chris’ follow-up to The Dark Knight had big shoes to fill but he filled them in every way. Anyone who sees it for the first time is guaranteed to be utterly bemused by the too-clever-for-its-own-good plot which features dreams within dreams and spinney tops, but you can’t help but be floored by the rich world that Chris has created! Some people attack it because they say it has no heart but I beg to differ. Any scene that features Cobb and Mal never fails to move me and the reason we’re so involved is because of Cobb’s tragic story. We want to see him get back home to his children. It’s definitely the best screenplay Christopher has ever written, even though some people call it a simple heist movie. Erm… What?

It’s beautifully made and I love the build-up to the actual heist itself. We get to know all about the world of dreams and learn all about Cobb and his past before delving into the thrilling heist. Once it starts it’s pretty much 90 minutes of non-stop thrills. Even after seeing it for a fourth time recently, it’s still as thrilling and intense to watch as ever. The way Chris handles each level of the dream is also brilliant and a masterclass in editing. The film also looks amazing too from the hotel halls to the snowy wilderness! On top of it all is an incredible score by Hans Zimmer which heightens the action to monumental heights. The ending is chills-inducing and when it’s all over you feel like you’ve just been on a massive adventure and struggle to catch your breath. Inception isn’t just a film; it’s an experience, and what an experience it is!

7. The Dark Knight Rises

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It’s suddenly become cool to spit hate on The Dark Knight Rises which saddens me because when it first hit our screens, it was smothered by sensational reviews and quite rightly so! I’m in the rare camp that thinks that The Dark Knight Rises is even better than The Dark Knight and possibly even Inception. Everyone points to the plot holes such as, how did Bruce travel manage to travel so far? But whatever happened to good old imagination? Perhaps he never even made it back, Bane blew up Gotham and the rest of the film is fantastical dream by the dead citizens. People get so hung up on plot holes that don’t really matter, that they fail to see everything that makes the film so insanely great! People also say the film lacks Heath Ledger, but I think Tom Hardy’s, Bane is more than enough compensation. It’s a stroke of genius to have a baddie completely different to the frenetic and borderline schizophrenic Joker. Bane is a cold, calculating Marxist who not only matches Bruce’s intellect but is also superior in physical strength and Tom Hardy plays the character with such a wonderful presence, that you can’t help but feel intense threat whenever he’s on the screen.

I’ll never forget the feeling of intensity I felt seeing the film on the big screen for the first time. It’s the second best cinematic experience I’ve had, and it hasn’t faltered since. The Dark Knight Rises is a remarkable achievement and a perfect closing to a near-perfect trilogy. You can’t help but in awe of the sheer scale of the film. Christopher Nolan’s come so far since the shaky close-up fights in Batman Begins. He’s now able to direct a heist in mid-air with spectacular flair. The Dark Knight Rises is jam-packed with breath-taking moments from the incredible stadium demolition to the thrilling finale. It’s also beautifully written and largely unpredictable. I’ve never seen a superhero film where the villain actually wins! There’s a persistent atmosphere of dread and hopelessness throughout the film and it completely sucks me in to its world every time. It’s a hefty film, but at almost three hours in length it’s never boring and is practically perfectly paced! Hans Zimmer’s score is also sensational. It’s a spectacular film which not only looks good, but has plenty of heart and intelligence too. You can call me an idiot if you like, but I bloody love The Dark Knight Rises!

6. Requiem for a Dream

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Darren Aronofsky made a striking, if shaky, debut with Pi which revealed his incredible talent behind the camera in creating a disorientating vision of paranoia. All the promise Darren showed in Pi was completely and utterly polished in Requiem for a Dream, an adaption of Hubert Selby’s heroin-fuelled novel. In the running for the title of the most depressing film of all time, Requiem for a Dream is a soul-crushing masterpiece with some incredible performances by Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and especially Ellen Burstyn. Ellen Burstyn pretty much steals the entire show as Sarah Goldfarb, a TV addict desperate to fit into a red dress for her TV appearance on some crummy ‘Bid TV’-styled show where the arrogant host tells everyone to “be excited, be, be excited!” Unfortunately, this leads her to become severely addicted to slimming pills whilst her son, his girlfriend and friend all spiral into an uncontrollable heroin addiction.

Requiem for a Dream is a full-on assault on the senses. Most movies contain 600 to 700 cuts. Requiem for a Dream contains over 2,000! It’s full of frantic editing, inventive camera angles and intense dream-like sequences. The entire final third of the film is almost as dizzyingly intense as Darren’s later offering, Black Swan. It leaves me feeling completely exhausted every time I see it which is why it often appears on people’s lists of films they can only watch once. However, when something physically and emotionally moves you like this, it leaves me wanting to revisit it again and again. It’s unbelievably draining and depressing and I believe that by law, it should be viewed by every 13 year-old. For this film is far more powerful than any policeman dropping in to give you a patronising lecture about drug abuse. Ellen Burstyn’s fate never fails to almost move me to tears. It also features my favourite movie score of all time by Clint Mansell which has often been cheapened by being over-featured in slaggy programmes such as Britain’s Got Talent. Those who complain about Hollywood happy endings will certainly be more than pleased with this one. Fun fact: The word heroin is never actually used by any of the characters!

5. Kill Bill Vol.1

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Kill Bill was my first ever taste of Quentin and it left me desperately hungry for more. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually like the film because I’m not too big on martial arts and this looked like martial arts, kung-fuey to the extreme! However, as soon as I heard that siren playing over Vernita Green’s face I knew that I was in safe hands. Kill Bill is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. It doesn’t take itself seriously so neither should you! Volume one flies by at a breathless pace and the super stylish directing makes it endlessly re-watchable. At one point it drops its cartoonish tone and becomes an actual cartoon! It’s a film full of life which most films are lacking. It’s not afraid to turn black and white, randomly use a split-screen or have gallons of blood spurting from limbs.

The film culminates into the most spectacular finale you can imagine. It’s an epic kind of ‘boss fight’ where The Bride battles kung-fu master, O-Ren Ishii. She sends in her side-kicks including psycho school girl, Gogo. The film reaches its peak once the crazy 88 are sent in. An epic, expertly shot fight sequence with blood bursting up from limbs like Coke mixed with Mentos! It’s terrific fun to watch and you can’t help but be in awe at the faultless choreography. Kill Bill Vol.1 is a masterpiece and a film I can watch time and time again. Some find it shallow, but I love everything about it, including the gripping revenge plot. Whilst most people prefer Volume 2 thanks to the return of Quentin’s usual snappy dialogue, I find Volume 1 more re-playable and fun. However, if Quentin Tarantino decided to make The Whole Bloody Affair, then Kill Bill might’ve found its way even higher up on my list of favourites.

4. There Will Be Blood

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Paul Thomas Anderson is a filmmaker I greatly look forward to discovering more of. Up until a few weeks ago There Will Be Blood was the only Paul Thomas Anderson film I had seen (I saw Punch-Drunk Love which I thought was great) and I’ve heard great things about Magnolia, The Master and especially Boogie Nights; and if any of them are half as good as There Will Be Blood then I’ll be in for something special. I was very ill-prepared for the greatness of There Will Be Blood. I only discovered it last year when it popped onto BBC2. When it was over I was pretty astonished by the final thirty minutes. I was especially astounded by the bowling alley scene where Daniel Day Lewis turns into a monstrous mass of unpredictable energy. It was a haunting ending and a lot to take in. Initially, I didn’t think the film was the total masterpiece that I think it now is. I remember my sister coming down when it had finished, saying sarcastically, “was it the best film ever?” to which I said “No.” If she asked me that now I’d say, “Yes, one of!”

That night all I could think of was that third act and since then, I swear that I’ve thought about There Will Be Blood every single day since. Including today… Obviously. After about a week I realised that the film was an extraordinary, sprawling epic which featured the greatest acting performance I have ever seen. I came to realise that There Will Be Blood is a powerfully ironic rags-to-riches tale in the vein of Citizen Kane. It’s about a man who has it all and looks largely aspirational on the surface, however if you dig deep enough you’ll find a monstrous human being who’s full of greed and contempt. Daniel Plainview is one of the most interesting characters to be put onto screen and only Daniel Day Lewis could breathe such life into the complex character. It’s also beautifully made and features probably the most beautiful cinematography I’ve ever seen. Every shot has a meaning behind it too. It’s a wonderfully rich film and features some scenes of extraordinary power and intensity. The baptism and bowling alley scenes being the absolute highlights.

3. Mulholland Dr.

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David Lynch is my favourite director of all time now and Mulholland Dr. was the third film of his I had seen at the time (I’ve now seen everything he’s done apart from Lost Highway and Dune) the other two being The Elephant Man and Wild at Heart. I wanted to get more into his weirder stuff (although Wild at Heart is pretty weird) and decided to begin with his most acclaimed work, Mulholland Dr. I was utterly bemused when I saw it. I had absolutely no idea what the heck was going on, but something about it sucked me in like Winnie sucking the youth out of Max Dennison. I never thought that it was one of the best films I’d ever seen. I even remember giving it a 9/10 on IMDb. However, I was intrigued to find out what it all meant. I was so fascinated by all the theories behind it and the main theory (the dream one, which I believe) was utterly mesmerising and astoundingly clever and profound.

I soon realised that the film was a masterpiece. It grew on me massively and is my favourite Lynch film. The dreamlike power which the film possesses is just extraordinary. The scene in the Club Silencio is classic David Lynch and I regard it as the best scene he has ever crafted. The film is beautifully layered, with a sensational lead performance from Naomi Watts. Mulholland Dr. is a film like no other and it’s filled to the brim with unforgettable moments. Just check out my list of the 10 greatest moments and see for yourself!

2. Black Swan

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I will never forget the first time that I saw Black Swan. I was so, so excited because my favourite film critic (Chris Tookey- now retired boo hoo) had said that it was the greatest film of the last two decades. Tookey is wrong a lot of the time, but when he loves something (which is rarely) I tend to love it too. I had also heard a lot of rave reviews and it looked fanastic. I must’ve been about 15 or 16, sitting in the cinema at Nottingham with my Mum and sister (because I was that cool) completely unprepared for the total mind blast that I was about to receive. Black Swan is the greatest experience I’ve ever had in the cinema. I’ve never experienced intensity quite like it. I was totally captivated by the hypnotic camerawork, stellar performances and the mad mad world of Nina Sayers. When the film faded to white after that rollercoaster ending with the crowd hauntingly chanting I was convinced that I had seen the greatest film ever made.

I’ve now seen the film about 5 times and each time has still been exhausting. Despite what Nina may think, the film is pretty much perfect. Nina is an absolutely fascinating character and the amount of layers there is to the film is just sublime. Some people get frustrated with the fact that you don’t know what’s real and what’s in Nina’s head, but I adore that aspect of it. The best thing to do is to just sit back and embrace the surrealism, just as Nina does in the unforgettable third act of the film. I would later go on to discover other Aronofsky masterpieces, although none have quite reached the heights of Black Swan… Yet.

1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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Sweeney is the first film I fell properly in love with. I still remember the day me and my twin sister watched the film for the first time at the tender age of 13. We did two things I would never do now. We watched it on some putlocker-esque website and also saw it in two parts. I’m sure it was around Christmas too because we stopped it halfway to watch one of our DVD’s of The Catherine Tate Show, only to return later to Sweeney Todd and be astounded by the twist. Much like Mulholland Dr. and There Will Be Blood when Sweeney finished I never thought “Oh em gee that is the best movie ever!” I thought that it was quite something, but not the best ever.

However, the film started to grow on us. The parasite wormed its way into our little noggins and we had a sudden urge to see it again… And again… And again! Before we knew it we were pretty much listening to the soundtrack 24/7 and singing all the songs. We had to watch the film at least once a month and we never grew tired of it! We always wanted more and more. I’ve lost count now, the amount of times we’ve seen it (I stopped counting once we got into the twenties) but it’s certainly the film I’ve seen the most… Even more than Mrs. Doubtfire! These days we’re not quite as obsessive, but we can pretty much quote every word and lyric and at least watch it every year. It’s as close to perfect as a film can be in my eyes. The acting is sublime all-round, the directing is the best Tim Burton has ever been, the songs are all musical masterpieces and the central story of revenge is utterly absorbing. You can’t help but be sucked into the dark world of the film.
Sweeney Todd is a film I know every inch of, and whilst it probably isn’t the greatest film of all time, it is my favourite.

10 Incredibly Depressing Movies That Will Crush Your Soul

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Sometimes you need nothing more than to have a good cry. Unfortunately for me, I seem incapable of doing that (although two films on this list actually made me sob!). It’s not that I’m a hard b*****d or anything (I hope I’m not), in fact I like to think of myself as quite a compassionate and caring human who would mend a fly’s wing if I saw it struggling to fly. There’s something inside me that stops me from releasing my tears. Of course I welled up in Up (get it?) but I’m actually one of the few who didn’t manage to release any tears. The list of films which you’ll find below are amongst the most soul destroying films I’ve seen. Please remember that at the tender age of 19, I still have yet to see some of the most depressing films such as: Christiane F, Leaving Las Vegas, Dear Zachary and any Ingmar Bergman film, but be assured that all of these are on my list of films to see!

But without further ado, let us delve into some of the most powerful and moving experiences that film has to offer. As I mentioned before, even I managed to sob in at least two of these films, so if you don’t get choked up in any of these then you must be some sort of robot like ChatBot.

10. The Elephant Man

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David Lynch is at his best when he’s letting his unconscious thoughts run riot in my opinion. However, I understand that a lot of the more ‘normal’ members of the public prefer something that is more straight forward and easy to understand, so maybe you should check out The Elephant Man. It’s one of Lynch’s most acclaimed works and it’s easy to see why. It’s a massive step away from the ultra surrealistic and horrifying world of Eraserhead, and rightly so. It’s the true story of Victorian circus-freak, Joseph Merrick. A hideously deformed human being with a hidden heart of gold. John Hurt plays Merrick superbly and Anthony Hopkins is just as remarkable in his turn as the doctor who takes him in.

It would take the hardest of hearts not to be moved by this story. It’s the perfect film which illustrates the famous saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. No one ever gave Merrick even the chance to speak, yet when he does he’s one of the most humbling people you’ll ever witness. He’s overwhelmed with thanks at even the smallest piece of kindness from someone and it’s both delightful and heart-breaking to see. It’s the darker elements of the film that I find the most saddening though. I can barely watch the scene where Pauline Quirke and her gang of bullies break into Merrick’s room and torment him, or the famous train station scene, or the devastating ending where Merrick passes away by simply wanting to sleep like a ‘normal’ person. It’s a beautiful film sure to move the hardest of hearts.

9. 12 Years a Slave

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12 Years is definitely the most recent film on my list, but by no means the least deserving. I was pretty darn shocked to see such explicit misery caught on a mainstream film. I’m used to seeing depressing stuff, but this is normally in foreign independent films, not Oscar nominees! 12 Years a Slave deserved every one of its nominations though, and should’ve won far more than it did. It’s another terrible true story of Solomon Northup, a free man in the slave times who is captured and taken into slavery for twelve dreadful years.

In these years we and Solomon witness some of the most horrendous acts in history. The treatment of Lupita Nyong’o is particularly hard to watch as she’s raped and whipped to an inch of her life at the hand of Michael Fassbender’s sadistic plantation owner, Edwin Epps. 12 Years a Slave is quite simply a masterpiece. It’s superbly directed by Steve McQueen and features stellar performances across the board. The film really makes the viewer feel like they’re experiencing the hardship of slavery, which makes me wonder why it was such a mainstream hit. I’m glad it was though because it’s such a powerful and important film with an ending that almost moved me to tears.

8. Irreversible

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The inclusion of Gaspar Noe’s notorious rape-revenge shocker should elicit no surprise from readers who know their stuff about the disturbing side of cinema. Irreversible is one of the most unpleasant experiences you can have whilst watching a film, yet it remains as one of my favourites. The film is an extraordinary achievement and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The hallucinatory camera work is mesmerising to watch as every scene is done in one continuous shot. A method Gaspar would later use to even more mind-blowing effect in Enter the Void.

Irreversible is the tale of a couple in love (Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, real-life partners) who attend a party, only for Monica to be brutally raped and left for dead in an underpass, leaving Vincent hell-bent on revenge. What makes the film strange though is its backward structure. The film begins with the tragic ending and ends with the hopeful beginning and a title card saying ‘Time destroys everything’ which suggests that our lives all lead up to one horrifying moment. If that isn’t depressing enough for you then perhaps seeing a man’s face destroyed by a fire extinguisher and the most brutal rape scene in cinema history (it’s 10 minutes long and the camera doesn’t move an inch) will have you thanking the Lord for your joyous life… That is until, time destroys it of course.

7. Breaking the Waves

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A list of crushing films wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Lars Von Trier. Breaking the Waves is often considered his best film and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with that. Whilst my personal favourite Lars film is still yet to come (patience, my dears) Breaking the Waves definitely comes a close second for me as his best film. It follows Emily Watson on electrifying form, in her film debut (Oscar-nominated. Should’ve won.) as a simple, God-fearing Scottish woman who falls madly in love with Stellan Skarsgard’s oil-rig worker, Jan. That is until he gets bashed on the head, becomes paralysed and convinces Bess to prostitute herself.

It’s a very intense film to watch because Bess’ descent into degradation feels so natural. It’s painful because Bess is such a sweet woman and some truly awful things happen to her. The way Lars captures the love between Bess and Jan is truly inspired. It feels so natural and pure, making it all the more hurtful to watch. The film packs an incredible emotional punch with an ending that may perplex some people, but I found it quite beautiful. Breaking the Waves is no easy watch and I came very close to breaking my waves i.e. Crying.

6. Lilya 4-Ever

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Lukas Moodysson was known as the masterful Swedish filmmaker who was the king of feel-good without it feeling too corny. His second feature, Together, was a wonderful comedic drama which celebrated the Hippy movement in 70’s Sweden. That’s why it was such a shock to see him make something as unbearably devastating as Lilya 4-Ever. It’s a film set in a poverty-stricken part of Russia and follows 16 year-old Lilya (played shockingly well by the young Oksana Akinshina) whose dreams of starting a new life in America are crushed when her mother callously abandons her and leaves her to the mercy of the cruel real world.

Lilya 4-Ever feels painfully realistic with its documentary-style directing and terrific acting. It’s another film that almost moved me to tears as you feel completely immersed in Lilya’s world. What makes it worse is that she’s such a lovable character who tries to make the best out of really crap situations. Things escalate from bad to worse to the very worst. I don’t want to spoil the experience by saying what happens, but needless to say that Lilya gets mixed up in some pretty dark things. What makes the film painfully sad is that Lilya isn’t the only one to have this story. Children are subjected to vile abuse everyday and Lilya 4-Ever is a powerful reminder of this.

5. The Seventh Continent

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Michael Haneke is the king of portraying alienation. All of his films feature very long takes and aren’t afraid of showing the darker side of cinema. His most famous film is probably Funny Games which is a powerful comment on movie violence and how far you can push the boundaries. However, people seem very unfamiliar with Haneke’s debut film, The Seventh Continent. It follows an everyday family doing everyday things until it becomes clear that they’re planning something.

That’s all I’m going to say on the plot and I’d recommend not reading anything about this film. I stupidly found out the revelation before I watched it, although I’m sure it was no less harrowing to watch. The Seventh Continent will probably bore most viewers for the first hour or so, but I’d urge you to stick with it. The final 45 minutes are some of the most disturbing images I’ve ever had the displeasure of viewing. It’s an incredibly powerful and moving film and one which you’ll probably never forget.

4. Martyrs

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Oh, Martyrs… My wonderful, wonderful Martyrs! In my opinionated opinion, Pascal Laugier’s, Martyrs is not only one of the best modern horror movies ever made, but one of the best movies ever! My love for Martyrs is obvious for those who love foreign horror as much as I do, but for those who aren’t aware of this masterpiece, to outline the story would be to completely crush its genius. It basically follows a girl who broke free from a strange torture chamber and hunts down her captors. What follows is an emotional mass of unpredictability that will play on your knowledge of the horror genre in a similar (albeit, less zany) way to The Cabin in the Woods.

But Martyrs is so much more than a horror movie. Martyrs kicks an insane emotional punch and the final half hour is notoriously hard to watch and will probably be the decider in whether you like it or not. For me, the final scenes are haunting, powerful and perfect. Some call it exploitative torture-porn, but I’d have to disagree. Torture-porn is violence for the sake of violence. Martyrs is much more profound than this, and I don’t think torture-porn is supposed to make you well up quite like Martyrs does. It’s a masterpiece of a movie, and another one which almost makes me cry every time I see it.

3. Amour

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Now we arrive at one of the two films on this list to actually make me cry. Michael Haneke rears his beautiful old head again and brings two more old heads with him! Amour is his latest film and is also probably one of his best. It’s the simple tale, that we’ll all probably have to go through at some point, of watching the one that you love die. I like to think that I’ll be lucky enough to find someone to grow old with and Amour showcases this, but focuses solely on the most Earth-shattering latter years leading to death. Emmanuelle Riva (on Oscar-nominated form, should’ve won) is astonishing as Ann, the woman whose health is slowly deteriorating in front of the very eyes of the man who loves her the most.

What makes Amour stand out against Hollywood tear-jerkers (e.g. My Sisters Keeper) is that it remains completely unsentimental and detached. Haneke isn’t trying to manipulate his audience in any way, he’s just showing us what happens when we get old and it’s incredibly moving to watch. The scene that actually made me cry was towards the end when Ann (now unable to move or speak) refuses to eat because she wants to die, and Georges gets frustrated with her because he doesn’t want her to go and hits her. It’s just utterly devastating to watch and the entire film is full of this intense power that doesn’t let up until it’s over. There’s no remarkable story or anything, it’s just the story of life, and it’s a painfully haunting one.

2. Requiem for a Dream

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Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream remains in my top 10 films of all time. It often appears at the top of lists for depressing films and it’s not hard to see why. The film is basically two stories. One follows Ellen Burstyn (Oscar-nominated, should’ve won) as an elderly woman who’s looking forward to appearing on television. However, she’s determined to fit into her red dress so takes some diet pills, only to become addicted with devastating results. The other story follows her grandson, Jared Leto who has a beautiful girlfriend, Jennifer Connelly and loyal friend, Marlon Wayans. They all have a zest for life and full of dreams, but unfortunately become uncontrollably addicted to heroin, again with devastating results.

There are no happy endings here folks. Whilst the film is rated ‘18’ for its explicit sex and violence, I think it should be shown to every 14 year-old across the world, for this is far more powerful than any PSHCE lesson. It’s a highly effective and devastating watch that nearly omits tears from me every time I see it. Aronofsky’s directing is simply magnificent. It’s incredibly disorientating and intense to watch. The final half hour is almost unbearably intense to watch and will leave you completely and utterly drained of life. The way things get worse and worse are as unnerving as Eileen sitting on the wall crying. Requiem for a Dream is a masterpiece and one of the true greats of depressing movies.

1. Dancer in the Dark

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Literally every one of Lars Von Trier’s films has a heavily bleak element to it. His most hopeful films feature the end of the world and a woman dangerously addicted to sex (no joke). Dancer in the Dark however, takes the absolute biscuit as the most depressing film, not just that Lars has ever done, but I have ever seen. It’s the last instalment of his Golden Hearts trilogy (it followed the previously mentioned Breaking the Waves) and my personal favourite film of his. Dancer in the Dark actually made me sob out loud. When it was over I went straight to bed and couldn’t stop thinking about it. It haunted me for weeks and still haunts me to this day. It’s probably the most heart-breaking and powerful film I have ever seen.

Dancer in the Dark follows Icelandic pop God, Bjork (on electrifying form) in her first and only acting role (it’s been said that Lars and Bjork despised each other on set and Bjork was unfortunately put off acting for life) as a simple-minded Czech immigrant who’s slowly going blind. She does all her best to save up all the little money she has to pay for her son’s eye operation to prevent him from going blind too. Without spoiling too much, Bjork’s life goes from bad to unbearable and the only way she can escape her reality is to sing and pretend that life is a jolly 60’s Hollywood musical. The final moments in Dancer in the Dark are almost too painful to watch. Lars pulls no punches on the misery and the ending has got to be the saddest of all time. It’s the cinematic equivalent of an iron-fisted sucker punch to the gut, and it’s also a masterpiece.

So we’ve finally made it through these soul-crushing tear-jerker’s. Don’t you feel happier about your life now? Whenever you’re down, just thank God that you’re not having a life like John Merrick, Solomon Northup, Alex, Bess McNeil, Lilya, Anna, Georg, Lucie, Anna, Georges, Anne, Harry, Marion, Tyrone, Sara or Selma. That is of course unless you are a deformed, suicidal, drug-addicted, 80 year-old slave prostitute. Then you’re pretty much done for. Please let me know if you think I should’ve included anything else and thanks for reading!

Regrettable omissions: Grave of the Fireflies, Schindler’s List