The Green Mile (1999)

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Fantasy, Drama

Director: Frank Darabont

Writers: Frank Darabont, Stephen King

Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan


The Green Mile is a film which seems to never get boring or lacklustre no matter how many times you sit down and watch it. It is a true great, with a full display of brilliance in everything aspect from acting, writing and directing. I have to admit, this is a rare film which has brought tears to my eyes, an emotional story told with excellence from some of the best-written and most-famous characters within cinema.

The story focuses around Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), as he reminisces on his years as a death row prison officer on E block’s green mile, however one year and one prisoner sticks in his mind more than any others, 1935 the year of John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan). Coffey is massive, bigger than massive, and has been sentence to death by electrocution for the murder and rape of two little girls; however his mere presence and persona produces questions that if he is responsible for such a crime. A gentle man, a man scared of the dark and a man with a supernatural gift which stuns Paul and the guards of the green mile.

There’s so much more to the story of The Green Mile, the involvement and impact of a tiny smart mouse, the inclusion of vile prisoner “Billy the Kid” (Sam Rockwell) the relationships between the guards of E Block and the horrible, petty officer Percy (Doug Hutchison), who is in my opinion one of the most hated characters in cinema.  Paul’s worst ever urinary infection, Warden Hal’s (James Cromwell) dying wife, and the deaths of those sentence to the chair. All these people, all these stories, all affected by the presence of John Coffey, a name no one will forget.

The Green Mile has been written and adapted brilliantly by Frank Darabont and Stephen King. The characters and overall concept is faultless and refreshing. Paul is brought to life by Tom Hanks excellently, just like the rest of the cast, Paul is caring and funny, and as the audience we are moved by the moral judgements he has to make due to his job and Coffey. Michael Clarke Duncan’s John Coffey is everything we expect him not to be, simple, harmless and quite sweet for a man who seems to be the size of two people, everyone is with Coffey and no one wants him to serve his punishment, and the ending always reduces me to tears. The rest of the cast and the characters are flawless, Officer Percy is by far the vilest character and gets our blood pumping, whilst Billy the Kid is pretty much equal.  Michael Jeter also deserves a mention as prisoner Eduard Delacroix, whose time on death row and his own story again is emotional and touching. The Green Mile shows of some brilliant acting talent and equally, the writing talent of Stephen King but also the ability to adapt a source from Darabont. The structure to The Green Mile is great, the use of flashbacks, and the way that everything we are shown is linked and pays off is simply great and there’s no wonder he was awarded so many times along with the film itself.

The directing is great; Darabont’s techniques and shots when we first see John Coffey are a nice touch whilst throughout the film there are some really brilliant and faultless perfect shots. The effects are something that should be credited too and for me they stand out, when Coffey displays his gift the effects are good whilst the make-up throughout on characters, especially Hal’s wife, is faultless and completely believable.

The Green Mile is a film all about emotion, and such a great intriguing story; however it has been brought to life making it a film I can’t find faults in. Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan performances are worthy of all praise as they produce a relationship which really is iconic. The directing and writing is flawless, showing off some real talent and skill. The Green Mile is a classic film, I will never tire no matter how many times I see it, it is a must-watch and a film which will be remembered rightly for a long time to come.


My Take on The Oscar Nominations

Oscar Nominations were released today after much wait, anticipation and speculation on which big releases could and should be accredited one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. Here is the list of nominations with my own thoughts regarding who I think should and will take the award, applause and glory.


12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street.

12 Years a Slave should and probably will be accredited and named The Best Picture at the 86th Oscar Ceremony after stunning its audience and collecting much praise and plaudits.


David O. Russell – American Hustle, Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity, Alexander Payne – Nebraska, Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave, Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

This should be a close contest between Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave in my perspective as they were the two visual highlights out of the bunch. Cuaron behind one of the best visual experiences in cinematic history whilst McQueen refreshing and brilliant techniques captured so much in 12 Years a Slave.


Christian Bale – American Hustle, Bruce Dern – Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio -The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave, Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club.

12 Years a Slave’s Ejiofor should deserve to win Best Actor however with the heaps of praise and success from McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club It could be stolen away.


Amy Adams – American Hustle, Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock – Gravity, Judi Dench – Philomena, Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Amy Adams is the majority’s choice to take claim to the Best Actress award but giving the performance of her career in Gravity it would be much deserved if Sandra Bullock took the glory.


American Hustle – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, Blue Jasmine – Written by Woody Allen, Her – Written by Spike Jonze , Nebraska – Written by Bob Nelson, Dallas Buyers Club – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

Spike Jonze’s Her, I hope will get named the Best Original Screenplay ahead of American Hustle after failing to amaze me and reach expectation.


Before Midnight – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Captain Phillips – Screenplay by Billy Ray, Philomena – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, 12 Years a Slave – Screenplay by John Ridley, The Wolf of Wall Street – Screenplay by Terence Winter

12 Years a Slave absolutely amazed me, especially with its accurate adaptation, brutal realism and factual accuracy so this would be a strong shout for this award, however Captain Phillips was truly special so I wouldn’t be surprise if it stole the show here.


Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave, Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle, June Squibb – Nebraska, Julia Roberts – August: Osage County, Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence although only playing a minor role stood out amongst others in American Hustle and should easily be credited as Best Supporting Actress.


Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper – American Hustle, Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street, Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Jared Leto apparently gave a wonderful performance in Dallas Buyers Club but I can’t see anyone accept Michael Fassbneder winning and deserving this award after his performance in 12 Years a Slave.


The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

Frozen will most likely scoop The Best Animated Film award up after becoming a huge favourite, however I could see close competition from the great, Despicable Me 2.


The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners

I could see best cinematography being between Inside Llewyn Davis and Gravity but I couldn’t say which way.


Michael Wilkinson – American Hustle, William Chang Suk Ping – The Grandmaster, Catherine Martin – The Great Gatsby, Michael O’Connor – The Invisible Woman, Patricia Norris – 12 Years a Slave

American Hustle really did show off its excellence in this department and it should surely be credited by picking up the Oscar for Best Costume Design.


The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen, Cutie and the Boxer – Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher, Dirty Wars – Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill, The Square – Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, 20 Feet from Stardom – Nominees to be determined

The Act Killing is my favourite for this category.


CaveDigger – Jeffrey Karoff, Facing Fear – Jason Cohen, Karama Has No Walls -Sara Ishaq , The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall – Edgar Barens


American Hustle – Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten,  Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse, Dallas Buyers Club-  John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger,  12 Years a Slave –  Joe Walker

Gravity should have this one firmly in their grasp!


The Broken Circle Breakdown – Belgium, The Great Beauty -Italy, The Hunt – Denmark, The Missing Picture – Cambodia,  Omar Palestine

It was a big surprise to not see Blue is the Warmest Colour given a nomination for this category.


Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa –  Stephen Prouty, The Lone Ranger –  Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Dallas Buyers Club would be my favourite for this award however again its a surprise to see American Hustle not getting nominated.


John Williams – The Book Thief, Steven Price –  Gravity,  William Butler and Owen Pallett –  Her,  Alexandre Desplat –  Philomena Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr Banks would be my favourite and a winner that would be much deserved.


All Is Lost – Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns,  Captain Phillips – Oliver Tarney, Gravity –  Glenn Freemantle , The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug –  Brent Burge, Lone Survivor – Wylie Stateman

Captain Phillips has amazing score but I was very impressed by Lone Survivor it would be more than deserved if they were awarded Best Sound Editing.


Captain Phillips –  Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro,  Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug –  Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, Inside Llewyn Davis –  Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland,  Lone Survivor – Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Again this for me would be between Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor.


Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould,  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds,  Iron Man 3 –  Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick,  The Lone Ranger – Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, Star Trek Into Darkness – Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

I would like to see The Hobbit be accredited this award after the amazing appearance of Smaug however it would be no surprise to see Gravity make way with another victory.

I did miss out a few categories however these are the Oscar Nominations, there were a few shocks and surprises but I’m sure there will be plenty more upon ceremony night! I would appreciate it if you could comment below your thoughts and your favourites for the Oscars 2014.

Favourite Scenes From 2013

2013 left us a week ago now but still looking back it was a great year in the world of cinema for viewing experiences and entertainment. Regarding my 2013 Round-Up there’s not much left to conclude, so here I bring you some of my favourite and the most memorable  scenes from 2013 releases.


A scene that is truly memorable comes from the recent instalment to The Hobbit series, The Desolation of Smaug  presented us with a stunningly made Dragon which in its final scenes breaks free covered in liquid gold shaking it everywhere. An image and scene that was perfectly executed and is surely to be an award-winner. The scenes involving Smaug were all impressive.


One of the most talked about and divided film of 2013 was Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, despite dividing opinions it really made an impact on me with a brilliantly executed display. The scene I’m sure no one will forget is the long-awaited fight scene that saw Ryan Gosling in a violent display. It was my favourite scene from the film, especially with Cliff Martinez once again adding amazing score.


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was an excellent and surprising film with an almost perfect balance between comedy, drama and action. The very final scene for me was a real heart-warmer which summed up the films pleasant atmosphere! there were also many perfectly shot scenes that really glorified the captured scenery but for me the ending had a mixture of everything.


Gravity was for me the best visual experience of recent years with amazing effects and great use of 3D! A real awe inspiring scene that was a real highlight and advertisement for recent technology was the inclusion of 3D tears as Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone broke down.


Captain Phillips was crowned my favourite release of 2013 and this was mainly down to the amazing and inspirational acting from Tom Hanks. In the final scenes under examination Hank’s Phillips breaks down into shock and capture’s a breath-taking performance that I’m sure will bring many rightful awards and plaudits.

My Favourite 10 for 2013

Since I have now viewed most of the 2013 releases I had originally intended to here are my favourite 10. I know I have already posted My 2013 Awards but here is a more formal list, fortunately I don’t have a habit of going to bad screenings so my list was a bit of a headache to conclude and finalise.


“Different”, “Refreshing” and “Tense”


“Fun”, “Alive” and “Heart-felt”


“Thrilling”, “Clever” and “Chilling”


“Pleasant”, “Touching” and “Powerful”

(Reviewed Here)


“Fun”, “Entertaining” and “Brilliant”

(Reviewed Here)


“Master-class”, “Violent” and “Brave”


“Fun”, “Entertaining” and “Simply Great”

(Reviewed Here)


“Touching”, “Inspirational” and “Magical”

(Reviewed Here)


“Visually-Flawless”, “Tense” and “Special”

(Reviewed Here)


“Breath-Taking”, “Tense” and “Stunning”

(Reviewed Here)

Captain Phillips concludes my 2013 list and gets named my favourite film of the year. I only wish I had reviewed more of them but I’m sure I shall with second watches. Feel free to debate and comment about my choices and it would be great if you’d name your top 10 films of 2013 below!


The year of 2013 has been a great year for the film industry and cinema; there have been some outstanding releases that have therefore played a role in advertising cinema in all its glory; however there have also been those flops and shameful failures. I have been lucky enough to have viewed many new releases this year and more so, some outstanding ones. I have also been lucky in dodging some of the terrible showings. I will not be awarding films generic titles but ones that suit its viewing most accordingly.


Surprisingly there was no contest for this award even with Movie 43 and The Harry Hill Movie being released in the same year. Oblivion for me was the worse film of 2013 that I had paid to see and even with that in mind, I’m sure it still would have been equally terrible if it was free! The story to Oblivion really didn’t reveal itself till the end so for the most part it was Tom Cruise fixing broken droids with chewing gum and fighting his own clones in a “Tom Cruise-off”. It was just a really poor film that seemed the only purpose it fulfilled was to remind us all how egotistical Mr. Cruise is. For the majority of this film apart from planning the fire exit route home, I was actually thinking of things I could have brought instead, and yes a month’s trail of Netflix crossed my mind!


Most films I’ve seen in 3D have really not been worth that extra £1 for the glasses nor the hassle of the glasses irritating your head. However on that very short list is a 2013 release that I believe is the best cinematic viewing experience in recent years! Gravity was outstanding and its use of 3D was just brilliant. The scene that was most amazing consisted of Ryan Stone’s (Sandra Bullock) tears falling from her eyes towards your face out of the screen. Alfonso Cuarón editing and effects should be applauded. There were really no other contenders for this award, Gravity was visually faultless!


Every year a handful of “comedies” are released and only a select few manage a snigger or a laugh. This year has been slightly encouraging though with a few films being released that were surprisingly funny. This is the End was by no means special but I giggled due to the works of Seth Rogan once again, and of course The Worlds End was very good displaying that classical Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright humour. However the best comedy of 2013 for me was The Heat! It was hilarious and included amazing humour achieved by the physical display as well as the dialogue. I was actually lucky to see the advanced viewing of The Heat all the way back in February/March and I can still remember the punch-lines. There was one scene out of many that made me hysterical and I actually choked on my skittles at the time, I shall just call that “the watermelon scene”. The Heat isn’t the best film ever but it definitely succeeded at making me laugh non-stop throughout so the award was a no-brainer!


There’s nothing I find more interesting than how a film can make you feel so tense and on edge despite knowing full well it’s just fiction, it’s just a film. This year two films made me on edge, James Wan’s horror The Conjuring had one particular scene that made me amongst others a little bit clammy. However it was Captain Phillips that completely by surprise made me so tense and thrilled throughout viewing. Tom Hanks playing the lead role in a film based on the real life event of Somali pirates capturing the captain of an American cargo ship back in 2009. It had many breath taking and nervy scenes that was helped by the great performance of Tom Hanks. As well as being the tensest viewing experience of 2013, Captain Phillips is also one of my favourite releases.


No matter how old you are there will always be certain films that you can’t help but go to the cinema and watch, despite it involving being surrounded by excitable kids and their parents. Despicable Me 2 was one of those films that I had to see and it was very worth it due the minion mayhem, but it was Monsters University that was the real entertainer. The long awaited sequel to the 2001 Monsters Inc. and the film of my childhood it was one I couldn’t resist. Watching Mike and Sully back at university competing in the scare games was great and it really made me feel like a little child again. I might have looked a bit odd laughing and smiling throughout but the film was amazing. I really don’t regret going to the cinema to see it at all even I did look like a big kid and I’m sure there were many others out there just like me!


It’s always a disaster waiting to happen when a film becomes a family project. However the film that needed to ditch its father and son duo wasn’t A Good Day To Die Hard but Will and Jadon Smith’s After Earth. The father and son duo had struck lucky with The Pursuit Of Happiness but it wasn’t going to happen again. Jadon really can’t act and the storyline was so dull, at times I didn’t know what was worse. The film previously had such a huge advertisement campaign focusing on the pairing but after this display, this should be the last time we see the Smith’s on the big screen together for a while.


I had to squeeze this film in here somehow! Many will criticise and shame Nicholas Winding Refn’s 2013 Only God Forgives but for me it was a technical and visual master display. It was the unlabelled sequel to the very popular and prestigious Drive (2011) but the film itself was very different. Despite a quiet story, the technical side of Only God Forgives was amazing, the cinematography was really as good as it gets. I’ve heard this film being described as many things, but the one that was really spot on was, “Perfect photography without the caption.” Once again like Drive the soundtrack was also brilliant. Even if you don’t have a clue about what is going on you can’t shun the faultless visuals and for me it was one of the best and underrated releases this year.


2013 for horror was very disappointing in comparison to my original expectations. With big name releases like The Evil Dead and Carrie I was hoping for something else apart from just gore but that didn’t arrive. Surprisingly though it was two of the less talked about films that made the impact, Mama was especially good but James Wan’s The Conjuring for me was the best horror. It had an interesting story that was executed well resulting in a few moments where I was actually scared. The “clap game scene” especially showed that. Again it was nothing too special but it was definitely the best out of the bunch.



Usually when a bag full of sequels gets released it’s for the wrong reasons and they only produce a dent in their franchise. 2013 however was a good year for sequels with the likes of, Monsters University, A good day to Die Hard, Despicable Me 2, The Hunger Games etc. but as expected there was no contest as soon as The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was released. The prequels to the best trilogy made in Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit films were always going to have high expectations and they’ve surely delivered. Once again the entertainment flourished with a great storyline and cast recreating that much loved adventurous feel. There is no other alternative than to choose The Hobbit as the best sequel!


There are always those films and those characters that you can’t help but get attached too and this is purely down to the great performances captured by the actors and actresses. This year for me I saw two standout performances, Colin Farrell although only playing a side-role in Saving Mr Banks was absolutely brilliant. It was Farrell’s co-star Tom Hanks that gave the best performance of 2013 though, in the outstanding Captain Phillips. Tom Hanks reminded us all just why many regard him as one of the greatest actors of recent years. It was the final scene that really showed this, as a hysterical Tom Hanks captured brilliantly the feelings of Captain Richard Phillips. There will be no surprise if Hanks wins many awards for his role as without it Captain Phillips wouldn’t have been as enjoyable and as impacting.

There’s my non-generic awards for 2013, feel free to comment on all those wonderful controversial statements, or perhaps agree with my absolute correctness.


Saving Mr Banks (2013)

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) PosterGenre: Comedy, Biography, Drama

Director: John Lee Hancock

Writers: Sue Smith, Kelly Marcel

Starring: Tom Hanks. Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell


A film that blew me away completely, reaching greater expectations than I first imagined. It’s not every day you get to watch a piece of real-life cinema history unfold in front of you, nor do you get to watch such a tragic and sad story be told in such a magical “Disney” way. There’s so much about Saving Mr Banks that makes it unique and a cut above the rest. Not only does the story hold truth, engage the imagination and touch the heart but the acting is truly outstanding with cast and crew delivering to achieve such a great end product.

“It’s Mrs P L Travers” she instructs many times, and it’s this extraordinary  yet classical  “posh” British woman we follow, as she battles to keep her much loved Mary Poppins being turned into one of Walt Disney’s “silly cartoons”. Mrs Travers (Emma Thompson) is the author of the famous Mary Poppins however trying to keep a twenty year old promise to his daughters; Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has two weeks to convince her to let Mary Poppins flourish on the big screen. In 1961 after a twenty year history of constant and firm rejection Travers has no choice but to fly to Walt’s studios in Los Angeles as the battling author faces rough financial difficulties. In the hope of retaining his promise and the rights to such a classic book Walt Disney pulls out all of the stops, presenting a number of colourful pictures, toys, tours and musical performances but the non-budge author suggests “Mary Poppins isn’t for sale and she certainly does not sing!” It is then at the end of those long-winded two weeks in the rehearsal room, that we alongside Mr. Disney begin to realise that the magical nanny means more to Travers than could have ever been thought.

As Travers is forced to reflect on a rough childhood haunted by her beloved drunken father (Colin Farrell) Walt Disney gives her the chance to finally have the happy ending she dreamt of, for not only herself and Mary Poppins but for her father. It’s within Travers own story that Mary Poppins is created and it’s the flashbacks of Mrs Travers childhood that really makes the story heart-warming and that lump in your throat ever much present.  Colin Farrell plays his role as Travers’ father unbelievably well, giving an amazing performance that makes you smile yet at the same time in your eyes tears still seem to glaze over. Although just having a co-star role his performance was by far the stand out in my view. Whilst there is a sad undertone to the story there are many of laughs too, something i admired about the film is the balance between the two. Travers although maybe being stereotyped too much has great dialogue throughout; likewise with Walt himself, as the two start to find each other a little too overwhelming it leads way for some comical frustrated mutters. My favourite humour providers however are the Sherman Brothers (B.J Novak and Jason Schwartzman) as they battle to not only make Mary Poppins sing, but to make her sing made-up words. They hide “superfragicallistic” from Travers after she states “responstible? Responstible isn’t even a word, un-make it up”.  It’s hard to fault the script of Saving Mr Banks at all, with every single syllable seemingly fitting into place perfectly and suiting each and every character.

The portrayal of Walt Disney from the film itself and Tom Hanks is good; however a few lines do make the idolised figure seem rather shallow. He is funny, sarcastic but most of all caring and I couldn’t have pictured anyone but Tom Hanks playing the role. I do hope Saving Mr Banks holds a lot of truth to its story as the history of Walt Disney himself is told as he speaks of when he was just a boy with a sketch of Minnie delivering newspapers for his father. It’s the belief you have that the story is true that amplifies the magical feel to this film, and when it concerns the “magical Disney feel” you couldn’t obtain more if you tried.

The score by Thomas Newman is entertaining and utilising, making real use of engaging the classic Mary Poppins original scores into the story. Saving Mr Banks has a habit of engaging and linking ideas together as many links are used throughout on several occasions not only linking fiction to reality but past to present. It’s a film that is well adapted too; the humour and puns alongside the story can be enjoyed and felt by everyone even if you haven’t seen Mary Poppins.  Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith should be given huge credit for their ability to not only adapt this film so well, but to present it to make it so understandable and heart-felt.

The marketing and advertisement campaign hasn’t really done Saving Mr Banks justice as for me this is possibly one of the best films of the year. The execution from story to performance is phenomenal. Travers’ father explains in the film “this world Ginty, it’s just an illusion”, and in some ways if you see past what could have been a generic Disney feature, you then realise that this film is about more than the creation of Mary Poppins and Walt Disney’s and Mrs Travers battle, but their struggle and grit to hold onto memories and people. It holds real heart-warming tales and relationships in the most unlikely of places, it’s an Oscar winner and a must watch certainly.

My Top 5 War Films

#5 Jarhead (2005): At number five is the film based on the award-winning, best-selling book of 2003 Jarhead by Anthony Swofford, a soldier who served in the gulf war that expresses his feelings and tells of his experiences. The adaptation is accurate as it purely focuses on the experience of one individual serving, in the film this individual is Tony Swofford played by Jake Gyllenhaal. It isn’t action packed, or heroic but realistic and cruel showing the real doings of soldiers in the war, the harshness and the impact.

Jarhead follows the story of Swofford who after training becomes a sniper and gets sent to the Gulf War, however he doesn’t even shoot his rifle. It shows them exhausted, lonely and bored as they don’t get given an opportunity to use their training. In some respect they are their own prisoners as they stand in boiling heat and oil 24 hours a day waiting and waiting.


This is a realistic film it doesn’t glorify war and that’s I like about it, at one point Swofford explains why he served and signed up, “I’m 20 years old and I was dumb enough to sign a contract”. The other characters in this film are not as important, Swofford befriends the scout sniper Troy (Peter Sarsgaard). The other relevant character being their Staff Sergent Sykes, (Jamie Foxx) who is the polar opposite of his unit of scout snipers, he loves his job and lives for it.

Jarhead was directed by Sam Mendes and he manages to capture the direct experiences of one person in one period time unlike most films, making it somewhat unique. Jarhead deserves my #5 on this list as its hard, real and shows the change in the individual life, not glorifying war and not making action heroes.

#4 Saving Private Ryan (1998): At number four is the incredible Saving Private Ryan, rated as the 37th best film of all time it’s not only a prestigious Great War film but an all time great in general. Graphic and gruesome as they get, and action packed but at the same time presents a real life problem, the problem of the safety of those giving orders and those carrying them out.

A group of soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) have been sent of a propaganda mission to boost morale and create good press. The mission is to find Pvt. Ryan and bring him home, what they don’t know is the danger they have been thrown into and as one of the soldiers mumbles “This Ryan better be worth it”. This film has one of the most remembered opening sequences of all time, thrown straight into gunfire men debark their ship on Omaha beach, fast paced and gruesome the sequence shows blood splattering, limbs flying and the what was once blue sea turn a violent red.

The group have to decide if they want to follow orders or do what they were trained to do after saving Pvt. Ryan (Matt Damon). The film for some will just be an entertaining action packed war film just like any other but for those who see it in the real light will realise this film shows how soldiers are risked for a publicity stunt, addressing some real issues. The thing that impresses me the most about Saving Private Ryan is the ability to create that meaning but at the same time a Great War film with thrilling scenes. The characters are also well written and the acting is outstanding, the crew is on par too with Stephen Spielberg directing and Jansuz Kaminski as cinematographer. Saving Private Ryan much deserving its place on this list, after all it did win 5 Oscars.

#3 Platoon (1986): An anti-war film that’s written and directed by a Vietnam vet, Oliver Stone. Not a film of heroics, action, fantasy or fun but a film based on memories and experiences. The story follows a character based on Stone, played by Charlie Sheen, he a young soldier who volunteers for the war but upon arrival he gets told he doesn’t belong there and he’s an outcast. A film that shows the conflict within a platoon as well as the conflict with the enemy you came to fight.

The directing of this film is amazing, there’s no clear plot either making it unexpected just how Stone would have felt. There’s no clear shot of enemies and everything is rushed and disoriented. It’s a Vietnam film, the most popular topic for Americans in the last half century. It shows the impact on the soldiers, how they lost their heads as well as their lives, how they would open up and kill anyone to better them. It’s not a heroic film but a film of survival. It’s also gruesome, where most films would show action scenes to glorify war this is a film that reverses that, showing the harsh reality.

Stone eventually becomes a great soldier in the film, however not a hero and not an inspiration. Platoon doesn’t make war look fun cause war isn’t fun. It’s for me an amazing film and no surprise it’s on this list at #3, it made a huge impact on me and the world as it won 4 Oscars. It’s an exhilarating war film made even more amazing by the history and context.



#2 Full Metal Jacket (1987): Not only is this one of my favourite war films its one of my favourite films of all time. Full Metal Jacket is a film of two halves but one strong message. The first half set in the training camp where they are under the rath of the harsh mouthed Drill Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) we follow the relationship between Private Pyle and Joker (Vincent D’Onofrio, Matthew Modine). It shows how they get moulded into weapons and instruments of destruction, how their fates are decided by their actions or inaction.


The second half of the film dives into Vietnam, focusing on the test of Jokers psychical and mental strength in the face of death, facing his true test if he’s a killer. The film itself is brilliant, although Full Metal Jacket seems like an uncompleted film it represents one of Americas uncompleted wars. The first half sets up us with the unbearable terror and humiliation something many of us can relate to however the second half is completely new to most of us. It shows the harsh reality and the effect on the mind in some ways Full Metal Jacket is an anti-war film as much as Platoon.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick there’s no wonder its a prestigious film and its on my list. It’s camera work drives you straight into action making it believable, and Stanley Kubrick helped a mainstream movie take a bold step. It’s undoubtedly one of the most remembered war films, and is responsible for one of the most famous quotes “this is my rifle, there are many like it but this one is mine”. That quote in a way sums up this film as it focuses on how a war isn’t a nations war but an individuals.

#1 Apocalypse Now (1979): A film by Francis Ford Coppola who was the man behind the Godfathers. He was probably the only man at the time with the ability or guts to make a film like Apocalypse Now. A film surrounding the Vietnam War focuses on the character of Captain Willard who’s sent on a mission to assassinate a colonel who has lost his sanity and is viewed as god by the local tribe.

The film is open to interpretation and has no conclusions, that disappoints and upsets those who like their films obvious and straight forward. Some argue this isn’t a war film but a film of man, surrounding the war in Nam it’s very much a war film with a message that shows just how crazy things got. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) experiences all the things that sent Colonel Krutz (Marlon Brando) insane, graphic, gruesome and somewhat horrific it shows an inside to Vietnam.


The films number one for a few reasons, first of all the context and history surrounding the film shows just how bold Apocalypse Now is. Technically the film is faultless, from the setting, sound, editing and cinematography, finally it’s a film that leaves you with questions that you have to answer yourself, conclusions you have to make up. It won 2 Oscars and besides that is voted as one of the best films of all time. A truly one of film that concludes my top 5 and gets its deserved top spot.