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Alex Garland names his five favourite films of all time


You may not know it but screenwriter Alex Garland is behind some of the most enjoyable films of the 21st century, lending his hand to genre movies and intricate dramas. Often collaborating with director Danny Boyle, Garland has penned the scripts for such critical and commercial successes as 28 Days Later and Sunshine, as well as other Hollywood movies including Dredd and Never Let Me Go.

In recent years, however, Garland has taken to directing his own scripts, a recipe that has resulted in consistent cinematic feats such as the Oscar-winning 2014 film Ex Machina and the Lovecraftian sci-fi Annihilation with Natalie Portman. Quickly becoming one of the most beloved filmmakers of contemporary cinema, Garland has become a leading visionary in the science fiction genre. 

His latest movie, Men, starring Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear is due to be released in cinemas in early June, with the peculiar science-fiction horror looking as if it will provide the same intelligent thrills as the director’s previous filmography. Telling the story of a young woman who goes on a vacation to the English countryside after the death of her ex-husband, Garland’s new film looks to be a dark, mysterious journey into creepy psychological terror.

Watch the creepy new trailer for Alex Garland film ‘Men’

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Speaking to Rotten Tomatoes earlier this year, the writer and director revealed his top five favourite films of all time, with his fondness for a variety of genres being reflected in his eclectic personal choices. 


Starting on a somewhat heavy note, Garland’s first pick goes to the brutal Russian WWII movie Come and See, telling the story of a young boy who signs up to join the Soviet army, only to witness the true horrors of war. Describing the film as playing “a really complicated game between the absolute sharp edge of reality and the strangeness of interior surrealism,” the director finds the film “extraordinarily powerful,” and recommends that anyone watch the film ahead of any other on the following list. 

Taking to a more modern era of filmmaking, Garland’s second choice goes to the 2019 movie, The Lighthouse directed by Robert Eggers and starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. “There are some amazing people working today, and I think [Robert Eggers] is one of them,” the director states, sending a significant amount of love to the American filmmaker who has also helmed The Witch and The Northman. Gushing over the 2019 movie, Garland further adds, “I thought The Lighthouse was fantastic. It was incredibly funny and strange but most of all, incredibly original”.

“The thing I loved about Parasite was that it felt complicated and profound and really, really surprising,” Alex Garland said of his third choice, the Best Picture and Palme d’Or winner by Bong Joon-Ho. Calling the film “inspiring,” the filmmaker pointed to the obscure storytelling structure of the movie as one of his favourite aspects, adding, “I just thought Parasite was a really good instruction in terms of how free you can be in film. It made me think about how inhibited and traditional I am by comparison”.

“I really love animation,” Garland says before naming the Studio Ghibli movie Spirited Away as his fourth pick, explaining, “It’s got probably close to among the most striking imagery I’ve ever seen in a film. It got under my skin in a particular way”. Taking him back to the feeling of exploring new imaginative worlds as a child, the director adds, “As sheer pleasure, it’s probably the film on this list I’ve enjoyed the most”. 

The final film to bookend Alex Garland’s list of five favourite movies of all time is the 1971 Nicolas Roeg epic Walkabout, telling the story of two siblings who get themselves lost in the Australian outback. “It’s virtuoso filmmaking,” Garland states, with much praise for the film as he adds, “It has one of the strangest unannounced or unanticipated scenes in any kind of film I’ve ever seen. It can be really shocking, but it’s also really touching and very sort of oddly charming”.

Take a look at the full list of Alex Garland’s five favourite films of all time, below.

Alex Garland’s five favourite films of all time:

  • Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)
  • The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
  • Parasite (Bong Joon-Ho, 2019)
  • Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
  • Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971)