Director Joel Coen once quipped that “every movie ever made is an attempt to remake The Wizard of Oz.” The love that people feel for this extraordinarily enduring production, and the influence it has had on the art of filmmaking, cannot be underestimated. Beginning in drab black and white and transitioning into magnificent colour, Dorothy's journey down the yellow brick road is a rejection of realism and a love letter to cinema's ability to conjure the state of dreams.
“Why so serious?” asked Heath Ledger’s Joker, in what would become a tragically career-defining performance that brought even more real-world gravitas to the ambitious Gotham built by Christopher Nolan. With the strongest blend of superhero antics and grimy drama of Nolan’s trilogy, a bleak tale to tell, and rare praise from the Oscars, The Dark Knight succeeded in legitimising superhero movies as sophisticated drama, if inspiring much brooding in its wake – not to mention gruff-voiced Bat-imitators.
Fewer films had people quoting the Bible like Quentin Tarantino’s chronologically-cluttered comedic crime masterpiece. Constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed in a way that demanded numerous re-watches, the film embedded itself into the psyche of instant fans who can recite the script on request. If your friend knows what a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is called in Paris, it’s not because of Wikipedia – it’s because of Pulp Fiction.
The hills were, are, and will always be alive with the sound of music. The sight of Julie Andrews twirling around on a grassy hill became permanently emblazoned in every viewer's psyche. So did the songs, of course (from Climb Ev'ry Mountain to Do-Re-Mi) which are either wonderful or intolerably cheerful depending on your age and state of mind.
Forrest Gump’s mum always said “Life was like a box of chocolates… You never know what you’re gonna get.” Unlike a list of favourite films - because you’re always guaranteed to see this history-hopping charmer pop up. In one of the few cases where the film was WAY better than the book, Gump oozes charm every minute, squeezed for everything it’s worth via Tom Hank’s perfect puppy dog performance.
Epic in every sense of the word, Gone with the Wind is a large, rich and opulent drama that runs for a butt-flattening 221 minutes. That obese running time however did not deter audiences from the story of Scarlett O'Hara (the daughter of a plantation owner) and her romantic pursuit of a married man. Quite the contrary. In the hearts of many movie fans, this is the mother of all Hollywood studio productions.
Francis Ford Coppola created a gangster drama that all other gangster dramas referred to as Don. Oscillating between two messiahs of acting, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, The Godfather crisscrosses two poignant character arcs – one that sees Don Vito Corleone exit the darkness while his son becomes accustomed to it. Even then, this is the cherry to a rich cake of cinema that invites anyone to chow down.
The most expensive movie ever made (at the time of release) about a boat that sinks? In the lead-up to Titanic’s release many people thought James Cameron had gone completely loco. But naysayers ate humble pie when this beautiful beast of a movie wowed audiences across the world with its blend of good old-fashioned tearjerking and jaw-dropping spectacle. As much as it is a film about big moments, there are lots of small touches. Let's not forget that hand sliding down the foggy car window.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away, an innovative young upstart by the name of George Lucas entered the land of Hollywood and changed the course of pop culture history. The initial script for the first Star Wars movie drew from many sources, including Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress. Visually it belonged to a world of its own, setting the golden standard for special effects in movies.
Though it was nominated for seven Oscars, this movie adaptation of Stephen King’s short story claimed none. But what it did claim is a universality that places it as number one on both this list and IMDb’s Top 250. Through masterful use of all the elements that define cinema – acting, screenwriting, cinematography, editing, music, sound – The Shawshank Redemption is a pure storytelling force of nature that can sweep up anyone.