My Top 5 Films

by | Apr 3, 2023 | Screenwriting

As a screenwriter, I get asked this a lot.

I have hundreds of favourite films, so it’s impossible to say which are my top 5. But these are some of the films that I have a special relationship with and probably shaped me as a writer.

Private Benjamin

I must have watched this film fifty times as a young teen. At one point, I knew all the words. I loved how Judy, played by Goldie Hawn, was an outsider and then one of the group. She found her home in the army, and I loved that. I genuinely believe that if the British Army had had the kind of recruitment advertising back then that they have now, I would have joined the army. The idea of being Private Rich really appealed to me!

An Officer and a Gentleman

When I was 13 years old, my friend had this movie on VHS and we would often go to her house after school and watch it. It feels like we watched it a hundred times. Whatever it is about the love story (and Debra Winger is superb in this film), when Richard Gear says: “I’ve got no place else to go,” that’s the whole movie right there. And it still gets me every time. He needed, above all else, a place in the world. Years later I discovered I’d never seen the first ten minutes of the film showing the back story. My friend’s VHS recording began with Richard Gere arriving at the navy academy on a motorbike. I have to say, the movie worked just as well without it.

The Great Escape

I watched a lot of war films growing up, mainly because they were on television a lot in the 80s and I loved them. I also listened to a war films vinyl soundtrack too! But The Great Escape was my favourite of all time. I loved the tension and the group working together to plan their escape. And the distributing of the dirt around the grounds of the prison is referred to in screenwriting to this day as a metaphor on how to deal with exposition in a story.

Withnail & I

This film was like nothing I had ever seen before. I loved the honesty and rawness of these struggling actors. I spent a lot of my university days quoting Withnail, like everyone else as it rose to cult movie fame. But more than that, it has great teaching in it: Don’t let disappointment get you down. Bitterness is not pretty.

Terminator 2

I simply have to include this movie. Not only is Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor an all time bad ass hero of mine (we first meet her doing chin-ups in a high-security state hospital – what’s not to love?), but this is the only movie I have ever been to see where I have forgotten to eat my popcorn.

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I’m not on social media but my friends and family have shown me the pictures online and these are some of my favourites.

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