Preferring quality over quantity, Irish filmmaker Martin McDonagh has made a selection of the most critically acclaimed movies of contemporary cinema, bringing sharp wit and tight storytelling to each of his releases. Ever since his debut work, Six Shooter, won Best Live-Action Film at the 2006 Academy Awards, the director has been considered one of the most exciting filmmakers of the modern era alongside his similarly talented brother, John Michael McDonagh.
Since his Oscar win in 2006, McDonagh has consistently impressed, releasing the comedy crime drama In Bruges two years later, collaborating with such stars as Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, among others. The Belgian city of Bruges has never looked better than in McDonagh’s violent thriller, which tells the amusingly plodding and somewhat quaint story of two hitmen who retreat to the peaceful city after a job gone wrong.
The comedy crime caper Seven Psychopaths followed in 2012, whilst the two-time Oscar-winning 2017 drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took the director to new commercial heights. Now, his latest movie, The Banshees Of Inisherin, is in poll position for awards greatness, too, with his latest drama consolidating his talent for nuanced character-led storytelling.
His style becomes more apparent when you consider his picks for the ten greatest movies of all time, as submitted to the most recent Sight and Sound poll of the best films ever made.
Packed with cinematic greats featuring some of the strongest characters in cinematic history, McDonagh’s list includes films from the likes of Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Sergio Leone, Martin Scorsese and Akira Kurosawa. On top of this, the director has included two movies from Terrence Malick, Badlands and Days of Heaven, a filmmaker we can assume is one of his greatest inspirations.
His pick from Scorsese’s filmography is 1976s Taxi Driver, a film that follows Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a mentally unstable man working as a taxi driver in New York who reaches breaking point and attempts to help liberate an underage prostitute (Jodie Foster). With help from a powerhouse performance from De Niro, the film became an uncompromising psychoanalysis of a man whose mental scars form a fascinating exploration of the struggles and pessimism of the 1970s.
Martin McDonagh names the 10 best movies of all time:
- A Matter of Life and Death (Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell, 1946)
- Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
- Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
- Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
- The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966)
- The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
- Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
- Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
- The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
As for Kurosawa, McDonagh opts for Seven Samurai, a definitive film of the samurai genre. Becoming the basis for the American western, samurai movies established a narrative basis that focused on good vs. evil, where the everyday civilian is forced to fight against oppressive leaders. Kurosawa’s iconic 1954 film would go on to directly inspire the likes of George Lucas, Sergio Leone and John Sturges, as well as the celebrated 1960 movie The Magnificent Seven.
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Martin McDonagh names the 10 greatest movies of all time
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