There’s a unique pain in choosing a top five out of the seemingly endless favorite films I have, as probably everyone on FilmEra can agree to. My passion for cinema experienced a resurgence in 2015 after several years of dormancy, and the past few years of my journey of fully diving into the art of film have been the most creatively and intellectually fulfilling of my life. While my “top” favorite films shift in taste and dynamic depending on the mood I’m in at a given time, hopefully this list will give you an idea on where I’m at in my taste. Without further ado:
5. Deep Red (dir. Dario Argento)
Black leather gloves, disco, and killer dolls. The crown jewel of giallo pictures, and quite possibly of Argento’s career, Deep Red left an indelible impact on horror films that few, if any, have been able to replicate. Everything that’s addictive and seductive about Argento’s films can be found here: stunningly fluid camera work and a score seemingly designed by science to get stuck in your head almost immediately. On top of all of that, the film manages to be genuinely frightening on top of having a certain amount of fun with itself. Deep Red is what kickstarted a fascination of Italian horror films (and by extension, spaghetti westerns) for me, and it’s a fascination I don’t see stopping any time soon.
4. Blade Runner (dir. Ridley Scott)
My life would look very different without this film. One of my first cinematic rites of passage as a child proved to be my most melancholy, as I had never been exposed to a film with such a stark atmosphere that affected me at such a visceral level. Every scene in Blade Runner flows like a beautiful, bad dream. No matter how many times I see it, its spontaneity and allure captures me just as harshly as it did when I was a kid. To this day, I can smell the fog and rain, feel every pulse of Vangelis’ immortal score. Its influences in my life most likely reach far beyond what I expect, as I suspect I wouldn’t even be here writing this article if it wasn’t for Blade Runner and its impact.
3. Once Upon a Time in the West(dir. Sergio Leone)
I’m a sucker for myths: Greek, Nordic, what have you. But nothing truly captures the grandiose spirit of the myth quite like the Western Film. Once Upon a Time in the West is unique in not only being a piece of pure campfire tale art, but it also digs deep in the genre and examines the era of the West for what it really was: a purgatory of violence filled to the brim with human beings with a bottomless capacity for cruelty. None captured that essence more than Henry Fonda as Frank, and it’s quite telling of the era at the time that the characters who opposed him weren’t exactly saints either. This is the pinnacle of everything I love about Westerns. It’s in a league all its own.
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick)
2001: A Space Odyssey
This is where things get tricky. My top two as of this moment both represent different aspects of my taste, so take the placements of #2 and #1 a bit lightly. But no top ten or top five list is complete without the science fiction film. A million words could describe 2001. Miraculous, unimaginable, gargantuan. But I could never try to describe this film. It’s simply something one must absorb through osmosis. You don’t watch 2001 as much as you let it overtake your body, mind and spirit. If we as a species were to launch one film into space on the off chance intelligent life were to find it, I couldn’t think of a better film to showcase our history, the wonderful and terrible things we’re capable of, and what could be possible for us in the future.
1. Let the Corpses Tan (dir. Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet)
We all have films we’ve seen that we wished we’d made. Something that spoke to our every sensibility, every cell in our body. Let the Corpses Tan feelslike the last movie ever made. Every possible element of filmmaking comes together—sound, image, light—and morphs into something wholly unique and seemingly impossible. A spaghetti western/giallo/poliziotteschi murder-party love letter (released in 2017!) that manages to transcend all genre conventions into completely its own beast of raw form and emotion. It’s no surprise this is one divisive film, with some calling it mindless pastiche. They wouldn’t necessarily be wrong in their subjective opinion, but to me, Forzani and Cattet took everything that’s irresistible about 60s/70s eurocrime and made it into their own singular, insane vision. It makes my eyes all sweaty to know filmmakers haven’t given up on making something like Let the Corpses Tan, and while my taste in film may shift to where this might not be #1 one day, it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart where no other film can touch it.