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The great film list

Concrete film’s class of 2012/13 nominate the films they consider to be the greatest:

Annie Hall (1977)

Annie Hall

Annie Hall has a lot to answer for. It’s the blueprint for every romantic comedy of the last 30 years. Its fussy dissection of the crippling minutiae of modern relationships has since been replicated time and time again.

Its New York-centric navel-gazing and perceptive commentary on gender politics is also performed by actors who have essentially rehashed the same tics and mannerisms ever since. But it’s also a true one-off in spite of everything it’s spawned. It is a cripplingly funny, authentic exploration of love and sex, and is breathtakingly experimental in terms of storytelling, visual effects and editing.

Woody Allen is neurotic and Jewish and everything you’d expect Woody Allen to be, while Diane Keaton makes her titular WASP-y intellectual smart and endearing, even while dressed like some kind of walking Tumblr page. Together their relationship is flawed and exhausting but uncomfortably relatable, all leading to a final chicken/egg analogy that just about cracks the mystery of why we’re even here in the first place. There’s literally nothing more hopeful, romantic or warm. Adam White

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

GBU

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is the culmination of a genre, encapsulating the violence of the frontier land. Crucially, it not only exploits death for entertainment, but also makes a unique movement towards questioning the bloody values that Westerns are based on.

As the title suggests, it is a film of contrasts. Stunning mountain ranges and barren deserts are captured with breath taking photography, but it is perhaps Leone’s skill at capturing the intimate that is most haunting. What ultimately secures this film’s place as one of the greats is its supremely tense final scene, perhaps one of the greatest last scenes of all time. A lesson in the art of suspense; a full five-minute showdown, fingers twitching at the holsters, a soundtrack that lures you to the edge of your seat.

Critically it is the shot not taken that is most important, securing Clint Eastwood’s image as one of the most iconic in film history, a hero for masculinity with a conscience, an archetype that has dominated film to this day. Andrew Hamilton

Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan’s early cryptic thriller is an endlessly fascinating drama that uses memory to question our own humanity.

The film follows Leonard, a man with a severe case of short term memory loss that rids him of the ability to form new memories. Using his tattoos, notes and Polaroid pictures, Leonard sets out with one goal: to kill John G, the man who murdered his wife.

What makes Memento so astounding is the narrative structure. Not only does it combine two different storylines, one of the storylines is told in reverse order. As a result, each scene feels like one small piece of a larger puzzle. Leonard’s motives will be completely ambiguous in one scene but are then explained and seem obvious in the next. Removing the notion of a progressive narrative ingeniously makes the audience feel that they are suffering from amnesia.

Memento beautifully combines the detective film with revenge tragedy, leaving a finale that is both deeply emotional and surprisingly philosophical. The film’s representation of memory as a self-deceiving weapon is its greatest strength. By undermining everything we know to be true in the film, Nolan pushes our mental boundaries to the limits and in doing so, creates a masterpiece. Andrew Wilkins

Forrest Gump (1994)

As we all know, life is in fact like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get. What makes Forrest Gump so undeniably brilliant is that it perfectly reproduces the unpredictable spontaneity of life.

Just for the benefit of anyone who has spent their entire life under a rock, Forrest Gump follows the world’s most endearing protagonist (Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump), through the trials and tribulations of having a below average IQ, incorporating every key event in American history from the 50s to the 90s along the way.

Including every imaginable genre, from rom-com, biopic, sports film, and war movie, Forrest Gump covers all of the bases; it may just be physically impossible to not like this film because it contains something for everybody. Not only is the score really lovely, but the soundtrack, as well, is really very good; including the best songs from each era. Tom Hanks is supported brilliantly by Robin Wright-Penn, who plays his childhood sweetheart, Jenny, and Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan.

The development of the relationships will warm your heart and probably make you weep; Forrest Gump may not be a smart man, but he sure does know what love is. Melissa Taylor

Mean Girls (2004)

A day rarely passes when a Mean Girls quote is not heard or seen. The films societal commentary on the bitchy lives of modern day American teens is edgy and provocative, reminiscent of a time before Lindsay Lohan spiralled out of control.

Following the school life of previously home-schooled Cady Heron (Lohan), the film laughs its way through teen dramas and “girl-on-girl crime” relatable to all. From the scandalous popular girls, “The Plastics”, through to the “Burnouts”, the film offers a slice of school life in which we can all associate, as it depicts the struggle of hating those at the top while desperately wanting to be one of them.

Intelligently intertwining tough teenage issues such as body anxiety, bullying, first romances, lies and secrecy with a laugh out loud script from the comical Tina Fey, Mean Girls ensures there is never a dull moment. Nearly ten years on Mean Girls is still just as striking.

With even boys owning up to love this proclaimed chick-flick, and a possible musical in the pipeline, it stands out as a classic of our time and is the quintessential teen romantic comedy that can be watched over and over again without ever feeling repetitive. Holly Wade

Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

Good Morning, Vietnam pushes its way to the forefront of this writer’s mind before any other film, every time. Indeed, anything with Robin Williams at his peak is hard to ignore. His funny, emotive, and engaging Adrian Cronauer steals a show filled with other greats, including Forest Whitaker.

But it goes so much further than that, as Williams’s military radio DJ, popular with troops but unwanted by the powers that be, subtly changes our perspectives of the world. He masterfully pulls off being endearingly positive in the face of adversity, without ever being annoyingly saccharine. Mitch Markowitz’s script draws on every emotion on the human spectrum, bringing the loyalties to either side of the Vietnam conflict into question.

It is here that the astounding performances are allowed to truly shine, crafting a film focused on its social dynamic opposed to the cinematic spectacle of war. As such we are shown the multiplicity of affects war has through a humanised standpoint, a stark rarity in Hollywood’s culture of exaggerated, romanticised and gilded emotion. Since its release in 1987 there has yet to be a film that balances comedy and the rawness of human emotion quite like this one. Jonathan Blair

23/04/2013

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