100th Post Special – Favourite Films 1994-2015

Ok so as I am hitting 100 posts on Shuggie Says I thought I would do something special. I have settled on the idea of going through my favourite films released each year from 1994, when I was born, to last year, 2015. These aren’t what I think are the best films, they’re my favourite (although there are times when I tried to stop being repetitive, looking at you 2001-2003, and so have mixed it up a little).

1994 – Pulp Fiction/Shawshank Redemption. So I have allowed myself ONE year when I could call a tie because I find it too hard to separate 2 films. And that happened right out the gate with Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. Though neither won best picture that year they have both gone on to be considered amongst the greatest films ever, and are both endlessly rewatchable. (Honourable Mentions – The Lion King, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective)

1995 – Braveheart. It already placed highly in my list of favourite best picture winners, so it was always going to be hard to displace it. Mel Gibson may have had his fair share of problems, but he nails it as William Wallace, and it’s something that really plays to my Scottish heritage. (Honourable Mentions – Toy Story, Se7en)

1996 – Independence Day. There are certainly better films this year, but is there any more enjoyable popcorn flick ever made? Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are both great, and Bill Pullman’s President delivers one of the greatest speeches in movie history. Despite some obvious plot holes and stupid moments, Independence Day is one of the most fun films you can see. (Honourable Mentions – Fargo, Trainspotting)

1997 – Men In Black. Will Smith was the king of the 90s, and alongside the Fresh Prince, Men In Black was one of the biggest comedy successes of the decade. As a cop who joins an alien police service Will Smith shines, as well as working perfectly with Tommy Lee Jones. The original MIB film had such fantastic comedy and a good Sci-Fi story, it’s a shame the later films have rather let the franchise down. (Honourable Mentions – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, The Fifth Element, Face/Off)

1998 – The Big Lebowski. This is the Cohen brothers right at their best. The Big Lebowski is such a cult comedy classic, and has so many wonderful performances and quotable lines. On top of that The Dude is one of the best characters ever put to screen. (Honourable Mentions – Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, A Bug’s Life, Saving Private Ryan)

1999 – The Matrix. Whilst the sequels may have gotten too far up their own arses, the original film was one of the greatest Sci-Fi films ever made. From pioneering special effects, to a career-defining role for Keanu Reeves, the Matrix was a game-changer, and one that the Wachowskis have been trying to replicate since to little success. (Honourable Mentions – Fight Club, Toy Story 2, South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, 10 Things I Hate About You)

2000 – Gladiator. As someone who has studied Classical Studies at university and wrote their dissertation on how the period is shown in film, I really appreciate when a great film about Ancient Greece or Rome comes along. And Gladiator is exactly that. Russell Crowe gives one of the best performances of his career, and we are treated to some classic and quotable lines. (Honourable Mentions – X-Men, O Brother Where Art Thou, Snatch, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon)

2001 – Spirited Away. I genuinely believe that Spirited Away is the greatest animated film ever made, and outside of the Lord of the Rings films it may way be my favourite film as well. It’s such a beautiful world that was created by Hayao Miyazaki, and has some great iconic characters that still endure in culture today, just look at No-Face. (Honourable Mentions – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Ocean’s Eleven, Shrek)

2002 – Gangs of New York. Quite possibly the first Scorsese film I ever saw, and it’s one that has stayed with me since. Daniel Day Lewis’s performance as Butcher Bill Cutting is fantastically menacing, and really makes Gangs of New York stick out in my mind. (Honourable Mentions – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Blade 2, The Bourne Identity)

2003 – Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. As I restricted myself to only including one LOTR film, I think it had to be the final part of the trilogy. It managed close out the greatest epic story ever told. The character arcs are all perfectly executed. Some may mock the amount of endings the film has, but they are needed. It also delivers one of the biggest battles ever out to screen, still to this day. (Honourable Mentions – Finding Nemo, X2: X-Men United, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Bad Boys 2)

2004 – Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg as a writer with Edgar Wright absolutely nailed this horror tribute, laced with great laugh out loud comedy. It’s funny, it hits some great homage notes, and it’s gory. This is quite possibly the perfect horror comedy, and when you throw in Nick Frost’s Ed, it has to go down as a classic. (Honourable Mentions – The Incredibles, Spiderman 2, I Robot, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Shrek 2)

2005 – Serenity. I am so glad that we got something to finish off he story that Joss Whedon started in Firefly before it was ridiculously taken from us too soon. The core cast of the show are all back and excellent as ever, especially Nathan Fillion. Chiwetel Ejiofor also joins the cast as The Operative, and provides a great villain for our last screen visit to the universe, to date at any rate. (Honourable Mentions – Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Batman Begins, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

2006 – Pan’s Labyrinth. Guillermo Del Toro has an incredible ability to tell incredible fantastical films, which are also so human and touching. Nowhere was this more apparent than with Pan’s Labyrinth. Set to the backdrop of Franco’s Spain in 1944, we follow Ofelia’s struggles in both this tense period of history and some incredible fantasy worlds. (Honourable Mentions – Casino Royale, Borat, The Departed)

2007 – 300. I was a big fan of Zach Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. This was a film that was all about visual style and flare, and Snyder does that as well as anybody. Gerard Butler is great as King Leonidas, delivering so many quotable lines, and he’s well supported by David Wenham and newcomer Michael Fassbender. I also love how much of this film you can find in the works of Herodotus. (Honourable Mentions – No Country For Old Men, Juno, The Bourne Ultimatum)

2008 – The Dark Knight. The single greatest comic book film ever made. Heath Ledger’s performance is one of the greatest ever, but the film is so much more than just that. Nolan tells a really powerful story in which Batman and the Joker wrestle to prove the true nature of people. In the end it kind of has to be said that the Joker wins as well because he succeeds in corrupting Harvey Dent. (Honourable Mentions – Wall E, Iron Man, In Bruges, Let the Right One In)

2009 – Inglourious Basterds. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Inglourious Basterds is underrated because more people out there don’t mention it amongst Tarantino’s best films. For me it’s the perfect blend of action and dialogue. And Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, like Ledger the year before, delivers one of the great villainous performances in film. (Honourable Mentions – Up, The Hurt Locker, District 9, 500 Days of Summer, Zombieland)

2010 – The Social Network. This is a film about the creation of Facebook. That sounds incredibly dull, but David Fincher however took that story and made a masterpiece. Jessie Eisenberg nails the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, and Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake do superb supporting work. (Honourable Mentions – Inception, How To Train Your Dragon, The Fighter, Scott Pilgrim vs the World)

2011 – Drive. Drive was such a great neo-noir thriller. Ryan Gosling really showed a different action side to himself after mainly being a romantic lead prior to this. Nicolas Winding Refn created such a great tone, and atmosphere in the film. And the action scenes are fantastic and brutal. (Honourable Mentions – Hanna, Source Code, Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, Bridesmaids)

2012 – The Avengers. Honestly there are better films, and films I actually love more than the Avengers from this year. But there have been very few films that have managed to make me feel as great as this did watching it on the big screen. It’s the film that really showed us just what could be done in superhero films. (Honourable Mentions – Seven Psychopaths, Pitch Perfect, Dredd, Cabin in the Woods, Silver Linings Playbook)

2013 – Frozen. Let’s be honest Frozen was such a revelation. It proved just how big the animated film market could be. It’s a lovely film about sisters, and how important family love is. It also produced one of the catchiest soundtracks ever. (Honourable Mentions – Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity)

2014 – Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson gave us one of the funniest, charming, and just all round entertaining films of the last few years. Ralph Fiennes’s performance as M. Gustav was simply fantastic and a revelation. Brilliantly stylised, completely sweet, and very funny. (Honourable Mentions – Guardians of the Galaxy, Birdman, Pride, The Lego Movie)

2015 – Inside Out. I listed Inside Out as my favourite film of last year and nothing has changed in the last 6 months. It’s beautiful, moving, funny, and shows just how great animation can be. (Honourable Mentions – Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

I hope you enjoyed this insight into my favourite films of the last 20 years or so, and thank you very much for reading my work, I hope you continue to do so. Please let me know what you think, and if there is anything you want to see from me going forward.

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