Editorial – Best Of Thirty

Welcome to a hugely self-indulgent Editorial. To mark the 30th birthday of yours truly I threw out the following quandary to a couple of film writers and commentators: Name the best film of the last thirty years. In a tweet (140 characters). The question was deliberately broad in scope, and while ultimately an impossible one to answer, would hopefully prove a lot of fun to think about. As with any question of this ilk, some took “best” to mean favourite, while others went for the definitive approach*. Without further ado, here are the correspondents. My thanks to all who contributed, just click on their name to be taken to their Twitter profile.
  • Neil Alcock, the brains behind The Incredible Suit, and contributor to Empire Magazine – Back To The Future: Adventure, wit and charm spill out of every frame; a masterclass in screenwriting with flawless performances. Perfect.
  • David Arrate, Writer, My Kind Of Story – From 1982 to 2012, Mad Max 2  a mutation of my favorite genre, featuring my favorite car chases ever—continues to thrill me like no other movie.
  • Marcelline Block, Writer on Film, Literature and Art. Author of World Film Locations:Paris – Midnight in Paris for various reasons: the setting, its representation of the great artists and writers of the early 20th century, its use of music and time travel, and the cast is brilliant.
  • Ashley Clark, Editor of Permanent Plastic Helmet, and contributor to Sight & Sound  – Do The Right Thing: stylish-but-raggedy, politically-driven cinema. Opened my eyes to beauty of ambiguity. Plus music/clothes/cinematography. A genuine one-off that can provoke a wildly different reaction with every watch.
  • Martyn Conterio, Editor Of Cinemart – I will choose Blue Velvet: it’s sexy, pervy, dangerous, highly quotable and gorgeously photographed by Frederick Elmes. A true art work.
  • Mark Cousins, Author and filmmaker, contributor to Sight & Sound and creator of The Story Of Film – Mother+Son is gentle,like a landscape painting or your mum dying. It’s a hammer-blow, a reveille, as delicate as life + love.
  • Patrick Gamble, Freelance film writer, contributor to CineVue and member of Criticwire – Werckmeister Harmonies: A truly poetic and meditative piece of cinema that unfolds like a hypnotic spell. Stripping life down to its cold, bare bones, Tarr’s masterpiece transcends its medium to be something more than just a film.
  • Rob Girvan, Contributor to Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second – The Last Of The Mohicans – Michael Mann’s masterpiece is about love, war, the end of one world, and the start of a new one. It is magnificent.
  • Peter Gutierrez, Contributing Editor at Metro (Australia), critic at TwitchFilm.com, OFCS member. My favourite is Oldboy: Intense, vivid, shocking, direct… and yet precise, measured, mysterious, masterful. Plus the most unforgettable fight scene in all cinema.
  • Simon Kinnear, Editor of Kinnemaniac.com and freelance writer for Total Film magazine – Chungking Express: youth (fast food, pop music, stalking) grows up over the course of 30 days’ worth of nearly-expired pineapple chunks.
  • Jon Lyus, Big cheese at Hey U GuysBrazil: A sublime tangle of past & future showing the power & futility of the human spirit. Eternally relevant and bejeweled with ideas and dreams.
  • Ian Mantgani, Founder of MABTIC – I’d have to say Goodfellas, which I saw when I was 12 and taught me that the camera could move like my imagination. Endlessly quotable too.
  • Neil Mitchell, Editor Of The Big Picture and The Fourth Wall –  Magnolia: A multi-stranded, three hour ensemble drama that is intensely intimate. A musical number and Biblical finale show bold ambition.
  • Craig Skinner, Freelance writer for Bleeding Cool, HeyUGuys, and Craig Skinner On Film  – Chungking Express: A multi stranded narrative revealing multi layered themes. The beauty of love & loss so exquisitely laid bare. Magical.

My own choice for favourite film of the past 30 years is Francis Ford Coppola’s One From The Heart. It’s the perfect example of everything I love about cinema: ambitious yet deeply personal, technologically-innovative yet never at the expense of the creative vision. It’s a unique film too, which is miraculous in itself, and sums up the cinema age of my post-Birth perfectly, with the techniques developed by Coppola during that production ones that would come to define the cinema of the modern age.

Adam Batty – Editor-In-Chief

* To further confuse matters, I myself blurred the line between favourite and best when asking the question. Some I asked for their favourite, others, the best. 

Further Reading

Critical Reassessment: ‘Heaven’s Gate’ And 11 More Films That Have Been Reconsidered Over Time. The Playlist use Heaven’s Gate as a jumping in point for examining other works that have been re-evaluated over time.

Francis Ford Coppola Returns To Epic Filmmaking. The most exciting news of the Winter?


My entry for last weeks IndieWire Critics Survey On The Best Performance Of The Year.


One Comment

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  1. Happy birthday! Best film of the last 30 years? I’d have to say for second for second quality rather than being clouded by any personal meaning or circumstance it’s PTA’s There Will Be Blood.

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