These are, for me, the 50 best movies I have watched and continue to watch over and over, without ever tiring of them. Take a look and let me know if any of these are on your “watch and repeat” list! Oh, and just so you know, I didn’t place these in any particular order of importance. Enjoy!
Bridget is an icon of my generation. The movie is a celebration of the girl next door and is all about self-love and acceptance. It’s such a funny portrait of our times, full of English humour and fantastic acting. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are just irresistible while Renée Zellweger is at her very best. I crack up every time and always leave the room lighter. I am ashamed to confess how many times I’ve watched this movie, but I’ve lost count anyways. Oh, and, have fun spotting Moaning Myrtle, Professor Slughorn and Delores Umbridge from the Harry Potter movies.
This is probably my favourite movie of all. Directed by Anthony Minghella and with an outstanding cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth. This movie is also set in my two favourite places on earth: Africa and Tuscany. The story is almost too beautiful to try to describe. The words Kristin Scott Thomas writes to the love of her life while she waits for him in a cave in the mid of the Sahara Desert are among the best poetry lines of our time. This movie resonates so much with my life and my deepest emotions that it is an all-time favourite I absolutely adore.
An unforgettable Kathy Bates going “Towanda”, and if you don’t know what I am talking about then, even more so, go and watch This amazing movie with Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy, see no. 38) and Idgie, the nicest tomboy ever, played by Mary Stuart Masterson. A beautiful story of women’s friendship such as the one between Idgie and Ruth, played by Mary-Louise Parker. An epic saga, not unlike that of The House of the Spirits or Gone With the Wind (both of which you can find on this list); a tale that takes place over time, across multiple generations as time unfolds.
You love what you connect with and my oh my, do I connect here. Mrs. Flax (Cher) resembles one of my many sides, the itinerant one for sure. Casting an always funny Danny De Vito, a very young Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci, this film is part of my family repertoire and so is the fantastic soundtrack – which I can’t seem to find anywhere by the way. So, let’s cook on the notes of Hey Mambo, mambo italiano…
Another favourite of mine starring Cher and a very sexy Nicolas Cage, together with Olympia Dukakis, Vincent Gardenia and Danny Aiello… The Italian-American community at its best, all filled with humour and wisdom. One of my favourite romantic comedies of all times.
Diane Keaton makes us laugh through a modern woman’s life and all the difficult choices that we have to make every day. The happy ending (seeing it 40 years after it’s original debut) is almost prophetic of how a woman’s creativity and ability to adapt has created a different way of doing things, allowing her to live her best life without having to decide between being a mother or a woman in business.
It may sound totally cliché, but I utterly love this movie. Probably because it reminds me so much of the short time I worked as a journalist at a magazine; maybe because I also had a horrific editor in chief that taught me a lot… Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway are incredible, but my favourite is Stanley Tucci playing the wise and funny Nigel.
Sergio Leone’s masterpiece with a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone that alone will drive you to tears. This New York gangster saga stars the holy grail cast of Italo-American mafia actors: Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci, Danny Aiello, James Wood and a debutant Elizabeth McGovern; nowadays famous as Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey.
It’s hard not to include Audrey Hepburn’s most famous movie; however, I could share several others I love. What makes this movie an evergreen of American cinematography is the natural elegance, spontaneity and naivety of Holly that so well embodies an era long gone. It’s said that Truman Capote, the author of the book the movie is based on, wanted Marylin Monroe to play Holly. Sorry Truman, but the mix of elegance and naivety couldn’t have found a better ambassador than Audrey. And the black dress designed by Hubert the Givenchy… an absolute classic.
I consider Scotland, together with Kenya, my second home. The long history of fighting between the proud Scots and the English has always fascinated me… even before I had ever been to Scotland. The character of these people was shaped by their wild and beautiful land and this movie tells that story so well; particularly when it takes the shape of a young and very fit Mel Gibson. The two female leads are also unforgettable: the angelic Sophie Marceau (I don’t think I have ever seen a woman more beautiful than her) and the young Catherine McCormac. Watch this film for an injection of energy and a reminder of what true values are and what it means to stand by them. Scotland had to wait until the Outlander series (2014) for another epic movie of similar caliber to tell the story of its wonderful land.
This is my Christmas movie, the one I watch with my daughter religiously every year during the Christmas season. It’s a good ritual because after you watch it, you do feel that love is all around and you feel a bit more at peace with the rest of the world. Light and bright, it gets you in the right Christmas mood unlike any other Christmassy thing (with the notable exception of Mariah Carey, All I want for Christmas is you). In the end, this film inspires us to dream and smile a little more, and wouldn’t the world be a better place if England’s Prime Minister really did look like Hugh Grant, dancing through the rooms of 10 Downing Street? Or if people went about their family business and difficulties with the same grace of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman and love could have the words Andrew Lincoln shows on poster boards to Keira Knightley at her door… So many beautiful stories intertwined. So, have a lovely Christmas as you watch Bill Nighy sing for you, Christmas is all around… naked.
If you love England and Jude Law, that alone would suffice to make this movie a must watch, but there is so much more. It’s funny, delightful and, well, just makes you feel like moving to the Cotswolds by tomorrow. Cameron Diaz discovering the English countryside and Kate Winslet exploring LA; the old and the new continent… it’s going to be fun!
A fairy tale of rare beauty with an unbeatable couple, Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Mysterious and exotic Vianne brings a breath of fresh air to the tiny village in the south of France where she arrives in 1959, brought by a cold wind that takes her from place to place. This film tells the tale of how chocolate becomes an alchemic transformative ingredient in the villagers life. Incredible performance by Judi Dench, who never disappoints and Alfred Molina, the hilariously serious and stuck up mayor of the town. Lena Olin playing Josephine is also another little gem of this movie. Did I mention that this film one of my favourite soundtracks ever!? Yes I love soundtracks, I think you probably guessed that by now.
Another inspired fairy tale playing at the edge of surrealism. Too peculiar and different to put into words. A beautiful story and an extraordinary soundtrack. If you don’t know it by now… I’m not sure how that can be!?… Go and watch it! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but worth finding out if it’s yours.
This is one of those movies that holds a special place in my heart and has the ability to transport me back to childhood. The director Agnieszka Holland took an amazing book by Frances Hodgson Burnett and turned it into a beautiful movie about childhood, friendship, rebirth and hope. If you love English gardens, a must watch.
Of all love stories the cinema has brought to us, this is one of my favourites because it shows the healing power of love against all odds. Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer in an unforgettable tale of finding each other and the miracles that encounters can bring.
Jack Nicholson, Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels and Danny de Vito. The list speaks for itself. Sweet, funny, sad, silly… Prepare some tissues because you will need them. And watch out for Shirley MacLaine during a certain joyride… one of my very favourite scenes… Grace Kelly would have loved it too.
A heart breaking love story with some of the best lines of all times. Debra Winger, Anthony Hopkins and Julian Fellowes… yes the Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey. This film is filled with passion, love, illness and death. I dare you not to cry…
One of the many masterpieces of James Ivory, this movie is based on the novel of the amazing Kazuo Ishiguro. If you don’t know his work, he is also the author of the more recent Never Let me Go that also became a movie in 2010 starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield; go and check it out. Set during the years that lead up to WWII, it’s the story of a grand house in the English countryside and of its domestic servants, particularly the butler, Anthony Hopkins, who is the protagonist and Emma Thompson, the housekeeper. A clear inspiration for later movies such as the Butler and Downton Abbey. A story of dedication, work ethic, long lost values and a way of life as well as the making of a war.
This movie should be shown to students in order to represent the concept of elegance. Grace Kelly was indeed a queen even before becoming one. A captivating story, Alfred Hitchcock directs Kelly and James Steward in a classic tale of detective cinematography.
My favourite among Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. Joan Fontaine, Mrs de Winter in the movie, is haunted by the presence of the deceased wife of her husband, played by Laurence Olivier. Judith Anderson is memorable in her role as Mrs Danvers, the lady in charge of the house and obsessed with her previous mistress. Manderley Mansion is the perfect romantic country estate; its rooms filled with family heirlooms and antiques and the late Mrs de Winter’s wardrobe. I’ve dreamt of it since I watched the movie for the first time as a child.
What to say about Sydney Pollack’s masterpiece? It’s simply the reason I went to Kenya and it changed my life forever. For that I can also blame or credit (not sure which) the books of Kuki Gallmann.
Is that enough explanation? Based on Karen Blixen’s novel; this movie stars Meryl Streep who plays Karen Blixen and Robert Redford plays her lover, the famous hunter Denys Finch Hatton. The flight over the Masai Mara plains is equivalent to the one over the desert in the English Patient. It gives me goose bumps just to write about it. The music is among my favourite ever and I regularly listen to it when I work. The story of the first settlers in Kenya is so fascinating and the virgin land these people found… Ok, I am going to cry. Just watch it!
The fantasy world built by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937) is reproduced admirably in this epic movie that could be praised for so many things that it’s hard to know where to start. A mention of the movie sets is certainly deserved along with the special effects and the cinematography. An admirable work based on a very complex and unique novel.
This is a very different movie from what I normally enjoy. It’s strong, violent, brutal, not recommended for kids or young boys and girls or the faint of heart. It’s a unique representation of a dramatic fall into madness, in pure French style. Remarkable also, is the soundtrack.
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in an absolute classic. “After all tomorrow is another day” is one of the iconic lines that are still part of everyday language, quoted everywhere. A milestone in the history of cinema.
Two inmates, a bond slowly built over years, patience, endurance, resilience and the desire for freedom. Beautiful, emotional, inspiring. A screenplay by Stephen King, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman tell us a story of hope and freedom, the type of freedom no one can ever take away from you.
For me, the best movie about dancing ever made. My apologies to Dirty Dancing, Saturday Night Fever and Footloose; those are great, but they can’t compare. When Jennifer dances What a Feeling by Irene Cara and Maniac by Michael Sembello the world stops. You can feel the passion and the energy as well as the magic that music and dance can conjure.
Another great movie, this one about ballet and so much more. Featuring none other than Mikhail Baryshnikov. A crude insight into the world of ballet dancers where sacrifice is daily practise and ambition is never enough; this movie discloses realistically what it takes to make it… The fight between Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine is one of those scenes you can never forget, and the dancing, well, it’s just divine.
Another favourite with Anne Bancroft, Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins. Recommended to any book worm or literature enthusiast. If you love books, you will love this movie. It’s as charming as the more recent film, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Elves, dwarves, orcs, giants and wizards… It’s difficult to write about such an epic work. From the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, which I love; this movie features Cate Blanchet as the ethereal and mystical elf Galadriel. Orlando Bloom as Legolas, whose bow is as enchanting as his agility. Liv Tyler; brave, passionate and fierce. Ian McKellen, a real Merlin-grade wizard and Gollum, the one we met in the Hobbit and once you’ve met him, you cannot forget. Clearly… my precious…
Maybe a little early to include this movie in my list. Not sure how many times I will actually watch it over time, but it’s one of the few recent movies that made an impression on me and made me smile. Check out the performance of pretty Jessica Brown Findlay and Lily James (both well known for Downton Abbey) where they play respectively Lady Sybil and Lady Rose, accompanied by Tom Courtenay (Michiel Huisman) and Katherine Parkinson. If you love books and you liked 84 Charing Cross Road, this is for you.
I love, love and love this movie. A story of missed opportunities and unplanned inconvenient turns in life that also show us that, in the end, everything happens for a reason and what seems bad now may turn out to be our good fortune later. Great story on friendship and love, featuring Lily Collins and Sam Clafin.
The title says a lot of this unconventional movie that tackles a very important and difficult question; the nature of happiness (how and where to find it) with a very humorous approach in perfect English style. Probably not a real cash maker, I loved the story and the performances of Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike. The scene where Gabrielle Rose, the French owner of a club, interrogates Hector on happiness in strong French accent is to die for.
I know some of you are now making a face and thinking… a little cliché isn’t it? I would have not included this on my list. And yes, it’s cliché and full of stereotypes, but it’s for this same reason that this movie touches some very deep cords in today’s society. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t dream of going on a trip in search of one’s self to finally find Javier Bardem? I wouldn’t mind. Lovely Julia Roberts, great Richard Jenkins playing Richard from Texas and the adorable portraits of Italy, India and Bali.
Awesome! Maybe because, just as every other mother, I have wished for a lady like this to materialise at my door so many times. Perhaps this is because when my kids were toddlers I used to watch Super Nanny or maybe it’s due to the fact that I relate to the poor father of number one and the mother of number two so much. Whatever the reason is, the movie is brilliant and of course, there is Emma Thompson!
When they say, it’s not what it is, but how you look at it. Powerful, funny and sad as life is, an incredible performance by Sam Clafin and Emilia Clarke. I struggled to choose between this movie and Intouchables (2011). In the end I think the English humour has won me over, but I highly recommend also this French alternative on a similar subject.
This movie is about the life of Stephen Hawking, played by a super talented Eddie Redmayne and his incredible wife Jane, played by Felicity Jones. Beautiful, funny, profound and super inspirational. Love can indeed move mountains.
Another top performance by the great Morgan Freeman, playing the African-American chauffeur of an old and grumpy Jewish woman, Jessica Tandy. Who said old age has to be boring? Just watch this and you will change your mind. I love also Miss Daisy’s son’s character played by Dan Aykroyd.
A French movie and a French cast; set in a boys’ boarding school. This is another beautiful story where music can save the world. Really worth watching and if you speak French, try the original version. Even better.
One of the best performances of late Robin Williams, the role of English professor John Keating seems to have been written just for him. The movie that has made the Horatian Carpe Diem famous for everyone; even those who have never studied Latin or gone near Latin literature. This film is a beautiful story of youth, dreams and aspirations and the power of literature and poetry in humanity.
41. Four weddings and a funeral (1994)
One of the best comedies ever, with all the best actors of the ‘90s: Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, Charlotte Coleman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Rowan Atkinson playing a hilarious Father Gerald. A cult classic.
Strangely, not very well know, this is one of the few movies where Rowan Atkinson plays a full role (and he is not playing Mr Bean). Hilarious and brilliant, the movie features Maggie Smith, one of my very favourite actresses, Kristine Scott Thomas and the late Patrick Swayze of Dirty Dancing. Unusual, lovely and witty.
A bunch of unemployed, unfit and not particularly young steel workers stripping and an ironic look on life. Explosive fun. Great performance by Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy and Tom Wilkinson. If you feel down, this is a total antidepressant. Promise.
Another Sydney Pollack movie, Havana tells the story of a professional gambler, Robert Redford (as charming as ever) who falls for a woman, Lena Olin, who is involved in the revolution in 1950’s Cuba. History spoken through the lives of people is always my favourite way to get an understanding of it and this movie delivers this along with beautiful stories of love and courage.
A Saga based on Isabel Allende’s novel, this movie tells us about the turbulent years of rebellions and coup d’état in South America through the lives of the Trueba’s family members. Land Owner and Senator Esteban Trueba, played by Jeremy Irons, his wife Clara, played by Meryl Streep, his sister Ferula (Glenn Close) and his daughter Blanca, played by Winona Ryders. Blanca who falls in love with Pedro (played by Antonio Banderas) a man involved in the revolution. I think there are enough credentials here. The story is truly magical.
An iconic movie of the 90’s and a real manifesto for a generation. This Ridley Scott movie throws a deep look at womanhood and sisterhood and the message is powerful. Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Harvey Keitel star near a very, very young Brad Pitt.
This is Julia Child’s story and how she started cooking, but it’s also a story about lives intertwining and how people can influence each other and inspire other people, even without meeting them. Julia is played by Meryl Streep (who else!?). Julie, the co protagonist, is played by Amy Adams, while Stanley Tucci is Julia’s husband, and he’s simply adorable. If you are interested in the early days of blogging, this is a must watch.