You’re Trapped on a Desert Island. You Get Five Movies. What Five Do You Take?

Now where did I put my DVD player?

There is a reason people who watch a lot of movies have a hard time telling you what their favorite movie is… IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! I know this is just a silly little article I have put together and it really doesn’t mean much, but for some reason I take things like this seriously and this was the single hardest list I have had to put together. As a matter of fact I’m still not entirely confident it reflects what I may say should someone ever leave me stranded on a desert island and be caring enough to let me choose five movies to watch for the rest of my life (or at least until I rope myself a couple of sea turtles and escape on a raft). But can anyone ever be sure of such things when it comes to their favorite movies?

As far as the decision process and choosing five films, a major factor in the process was staying away from films that were too somber. I mean, I’m already stranded on a desert island, who wants to watch a depressing movie over and over again?

So, to put my list together I began looking at dialogue driven films, action films I felt held up to repeated viewings, films from a favorite actor/actress/director and some that just lightened the mood a little.

I have listed my five choices with a bit of reasoning as to why each was chosen directly below along with three alternates for each (you know, just in case my kidnapper’s DVD collection is missing a title or two). After checking out my list, think on it for a minute and share your list in the comments below. It’s a wild exercise if you try and take it seriously.

Before Sunset (2004)
This list isn’t in any specific order, but the more and more I think on it Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset is slowly becoming one of the ten-or-so films I list when asked what my favorite movies are. I could watch this movie (as well as its predecessor Before Sunrise) on a loop and never tire of it. I love everything about this movie and it was the only real no-brainer on this list.

Of course, my alternates are three personal favorites as well, but they just can’t stand up to Before Sunset in this case.

Three Alternates: Breathless (1960), Love Actually (2003), Amelie (2001)

The Thing (1982)
I went back-and-forth between The Thing and Alien on this one and went with The Thing only because I felt it had more of a popcorn feel to it and therefore would live up to an excess of multiple viewings slightly more, but in truth I wouldn’t complain with either selection. A Clockwork Orange would also be a satisfying alternative merely for the film’s genius script and McDowell’s performance not to mention everything else I love about that film. And finally, it’s a hard commitment to make, but Rebecca is close to being my favorite Hitchcock feature… close

Three Alternates: Alien (1979), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Rebecca (1940)

Rear Window (1954)
My favorite Hitchcock is undoubtedly Rear Window. This wasn’t a hard film to add to the list with the talent of Hitch at the helm, Stewart in the passenger’s seat and Grace Kelly’s beauty and talent diverting our attention.

As for the alternates this time around, Dr. Strangelove actually came close to being my selection only because I felt it was one of the only comedies I respect enough and continue to laugh at that would hold up to a lifetime of lonely island viewing. It’s a hard one to leave behind.

Three Alternates: Casablanca (1942), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Manhattan (1979)

Chinatown (1974)
Roman Polanski’s Chinatown narrowly edged out Blade Runner in this case. While Blade Runner is a film worth exploring over and over again, the atmosphere and performances found in Chinatown made for what I believed to be the best moody addition to the list. Strangely enough, I didn’t actually like Blade Runner the first time I saw it and am starting to absolutely love it… perhaps if I took it on my island retreat I would end up calling it Wilson and damn near lose my mind… Perhaps it’s best I leave it behind.

In the alternates, Kurosawa’s Yojimbo was nipping on the heels of Blade Runner and would have been a great addition (not to mention a little more comedy) and if it ever came to it, perhaps a movie I would regret leaving behind.

Three Alternates: The Godfather: Part II (1974), Blade Runner (1982), Yojimbo (1961)

Spirited Away (2002)
I needed an animated film and it came down to selecting between Pixar, old school Disney and the unique stylings of Hayao Miyazaki. I would be happy with any of these four selections, but in terms of repeated viewings, a Miyazaki feature seems like the obvious choice. Had I had more alternates My Neighbor Totoro would have been next on the list… probably followed by WALL•E, but the number two film just missing out on the top spot was Disney’s Robin Hood… I really do love that film.

Three Alternates: Aladdin (1992), Robin Hood (1973), Ratatouille (2007)

So there you have it. You’re stranded on an island, all the rum is gone and you get five films to accompany you for eternity… What five do you choose? Comment below.