The Curator

Emma Thompson’s Favorite Movies, From ‘Mary Poppins’ to ‘Life of Brian’

Emma Thompson, the Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter whose latest film, ‘Beautiful Creatures,’ is in theaters February 14, curates her favorite movies, from ‘The Princess Bride’ to ‘Babe.’

Nick Haddow

1. Babe: From the moment that pig opened its mouth I was transfixed. Funny, touching, and immortally wise. This is my favorite fantasy movie of all time.

2. The Princess Bride: Sly, irreverent, witty, tongue-in-cheek but managing romance and adventure at the same time, Reiner’s take on Goldman’s brilliance has produced a classic one-of-a-kind fantasy.

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark: Spielberg at his best. Ford at his best. Story at its best. And great, unfluffy heroine who can drink and shoot.

4. Mary Poppins: A childhood favorite. The Sherman brothers soundtrack is a work of wonder, Julie Andrews’s first film performance a lodestone of noble clarity.

5. It’s a Wonderful Life: Where the fantasy is dark and dangerous and the heroism of an ordinary life well lived made sparklingly and thrillingly clear. Absolutely the film version of Oscar Wilde’s dictum that it is every little action of every little day that makes or unmakes character.

6. Life of Brian: Blissfully atheistic and the essence of reason, a real slap in the face to the fog of superstition and has jokes in actual Latin.

7. Fanny and Alexander: I don’t know if this counts but it’s Bergman’s ode to the fantasies (the very real fantasies) of childhood. A remarkable portrait of inner life.

8. Young Frankenstein: My favorite version of Shelley’s fantasy, Brooks on the top of his form, a combination of sinister silliness and great storytelling with the charismatic insanity of the glorious Gene Wilder at its heart, I fell in love with it and him at 16 and never fell out again.

9. Being John Malkovich: My favorite film by my favorite modern fantasist, Charlie Kauffman, a kind of genius.

10. The Singing Ringing Tree: This was actually on telly and on when I was a child, in black-and-white on a TV that had to be warmed up. All about a beautiful but selfish princess who was made ugly and—discovering kindness and humility—became beautiful again. Its power resonates down the decades, a truly remarkable, groundbreaking fantasy, full of cruelty and wonder.