1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2005). I cannot think of a film more perfectly executed than this. All of Del Toro’s movies are great, but this was my introduction to him. Truly a fairy tale for adults, it tackles a lot of nuanced and sensitive themes in such a way that you aren’t left in any doubt as to what the story is trying to say, yet it never turns maudlin or heavy-handed in the telling. Watch it. Now.
2. And Then There Were None (1945). This was the first “old” movie I loved and to be honest, I think it’s aged the 70+ years very gracefully. No, it doesn’t have Christie’s original ending and the period it was made in means there’s nothing edgy or graphic (for a modern audience), but even after seeing (and loving) the new BBC adaptation, I don’t care. It’s a great little thriller that also serves as a solid introduction to classic films for someone who wants to reach back further into cinematic history.
3. Secondhand Lions (2003). I actually worked my way to the middle from top to bottom, so this was the last movie I picked. And I always struggle to pick the fifth out of a top five, or tenth out of a top ten, mainly because why I love say, a horror film, isn’t the same as how I love a drama. Trying to pick between them becomes almost impossible because I watch them, and therefore enjoy them, for very different reasons. Secondhand Lions has immeasurable sentimental value to me, though, so while I’ll concede it might be the artistic weak spot on my list, it’s always going to have a place in my life and if that isn’t the ultimate criterion for a favorite movie then I don’t know what is.
4. Sense & Sensibility (1995). I tried and failed to leave this off since it was on the list I was tagged in. But this adaptation is endlessly re-watchable, funny, heartbreaking, and extremely well-written with a flawless cast. I love it and it makes me happy, simple as that.
5. Midnight Special (2016). I was a little hesitant to include such a recent film I’ve only known about for months, rather than years. It’s so good though. So. Good. I think in ten years’ time, when I’ll have spent as much time returning to it as I already have with Pan’s Labyrinth today, I’m going to hold it in similar regard. Whether you like science fiction, family dramas, coming-of-ages stories, or meditations on the meaning of faith and belief, this movie will strike a chord with you. Plus it’s directed by Jeff Nichols, who was also behind Mud.