Top 10 Stefan Alexandrescu’s favorite FICTION films (part I)

I have had this blog for more than 2 years and I have never shared with you the ultimate top of my favorite Fiction Cinema. I start today, with the first half of the films which impressed me the most. Of course, these are not the best fiction pictures I have seen. I have seen many more, much, much better than all of these. But those are not my favorites. In my opinion, a favorite film tells something about you, it’s a film you know by heart and which marked the way you think about life and people in general. All of my favorite fiction movies have a message.

I made this important separation because the ultimate search in the non-fiction film is to depict the reality, to show us a world as it is or as it was. My quest for finding more truth about the world we live in determined me to start the Debug Your Mind blog. Its mission is to share with you the films which are worth seeing for getting more awareness, more conscience. Almost all of the films recommended there are non-fiction, and out of the those, most are documentaries.

Although, in time, my preferences varied, I must say I was impressed by each of these movies even from the first time I have seen them and I have remained constant in my preferences. My top is likely to be the same in another 5 years. I hope you will see it’s not a “scratch the top of my head list”, but one closely chosen, of the thousands I have seen – most of them, good and very good movies (for in the last 14 years of my life I have made a habit out of checking reviews before deciding upon seeing any certain film). Even if none of the stories of the 10 movies from the Top 10 FICTION actually happened, I have not chosen them over time just for entertainment, but because all of them make you think. All of them tell a lot of things within a small amount of time, they tell it great and memorable. Which are your favorite fiction stories to make you think? I lend you my list.


10. Leon: The Professional (1994)

In the ages when Luc Besson not only was writing great screenplays but also directed good movies, this was one of those who made him a classic, a very American French film. The story of the professional hitman who becomes the protector of a 14 years old girl seeking revenge is unique. Not in the sense that it hasn’t been told before, but in the depth of the characters and through the magnificent interpretations of Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. Luc Besson stakes everything on the shock card and, due to the script and the actors, he wins it all. In my opinion, it is absolutely the best film about professional assassins ever made.

It is ironic that the film has not been awarded at the Cesar awards (known as the French Oscars), but was considered the best foreign film in the Czech Republic and nominated in Japan. It is no. 33 in Top 250 iMDB, the best of all positions of all my favorite FICTION films.

original soundtrack song: Sting – The Shape of My Heart


9. Wag the Dog (1997)

This film tells the story of an American president caught in a sex scandal while campaigning in his final days before elections. A secretive spin doctor is hired to fake a war with Albania, in order to mislead the attention of the media from the real story. A Hollywood producer is hired to create the illusion of a war, just enough for the story to stick for a few days. The historical irony is that this motion picture has been released just before Christmas in the USA. In the beginning of 1998, when the Sexgate scandal started with Monica Lewinski against Bill Clinton, the real American president ordered the bombing of Yugoslavia. Those days, in Yugoslavia, “Wag the dog”  was running. Besides the 9/11 avalanche of predictions in the movies, I do not know of a better case of fiction (ATTENTION! not Science-fiction) coming to reality. The brilliantness of the film comes from is veracity and from the point of view of the wizard, the make-happener. A mandatory viewing for all those practicing or studying public relations, mass media and politics.

This is Barry Levinson’s best film in more than 20 years since his Oscar for Rain Man. He received the Silver Lion at The Berlin International Film Festival. It has been co-written by one of America’s best playwriters alive, David Mamet. He and Hillary Henkin were nominated at the Oscars, BAFTAS, Golden Globes and Writer’s Guild of America. Dustin Hoffman, for his role in the story as the producer, has been nominated at the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors’ Guild and the Golden Satellite Awards. Nominated as best picture of 1997 at the Golden Globes, at the Berlin International Film Festival, at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and by the Political Film Society.

Original Soundtrack song: Tom Bähler – The American Dream


8. Election. 

Alexander Payne’s teen satire about the politics in an ordinary high school from the USA might seem like an MTV Generation movie. But it isn’t. Its brilliance lays in the psychological depiction of characters and their mechanisms of thinking. The story has no less than 4 narrators, which offer you an insight into what it takes to get into power – and how to lose it. It’s an intelligent vice satire which reminds us of Robert Altman and Woody Allen. If you want to understand the psychology of competition, popularity and politics, this film is a great place to start.

No wonder the screenplay by Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne was rewarded with the Independent Spirit Award, Writer’s Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, 6 other awards and 3 nominations (including Oscar).

Alexander Payne also received for film direction The Independent Spirit Award and an award at the Valladolid International Film Festival.

Reese Whitherspoon received for her role 3 Awards and 8 nominations (including the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical).


7. Kill Bill: Vol. II

I know Pulp Fiction is Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, but I like better this one because it really tells with drama, satire and suspense, the story of an assassin becoming a mother and all the implications that it has brought for her. It tells the story of attaining the impossible, overcoming all obstacles and defeating one’s worst enemy: the ego of the self. Filmed in Japan and USA, this second part of the trilogy offers depth and strength to the character, making it more than a cool cartoon (which is the case of the first film – very good, but incomplete).

Uma Thurman and David Carradine both got Golden Globes nominations for the parts played here, I would say among the best of their whole careers. Another 9 wins (including for best film) and 37 nominations (including for best film) add to the prestige of this masterpiece. Place nr. 233 in Top 250 iMDB films. If you haven’t watched this movie with your soul, it’s time to give it another look.

soundtrack original song: Malcolm McLaren – “About Her”


6. The Road to Perdition

1 Oscar. 5 other Academy Award nominations (including for Paul Newman). 2 BAFTAs. Another nomination for Paul Newman.  The Director Sam Mendes has been nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice international film festival (the most important, in my opinion). Other 15 awards (including best film) and 45 nominations (including best film).

From the winner of 25 international awards, Sam Mendes, comes one of the best American gangster movies in the XXIth century. In my opinion, the best. The story is one about salvation, a spiritual story which makes this road movie memorable. It is said that one who sacrifices his own life in order for saving someone’s soul has the chance to go to Heaven. This film makes you understand why. The music, composed by Thomas Newman, offers one of the best original soundtracks this century films have to offer. It will just transpose you into another world. The sensation that you have after watching “Road to Perdition” (by the way, Perdition is a town) is sublimeness.

Original Soundtrack Song: Thomas Newman – Road to Perdition

to be continued…


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