Filth (main image) is released in cinemas here in the UK in a couple of days. It’s yet another film based on a book by Irvine Welsh, and it’s yet another film based firmly in Scotland. A lot of Scottish cinema seems to show sex, drugs and violence recently, but we also try to remember to show the negative stuff. Here is a list of my favourite Scottish movies through the years.
#10 Outcast (2010)
Yes, I am starting things off with a modern movie that a lot of people may have forgotten about already. Not only was Outcast made by friends of friends of mine, as I found out (to my joy), but it’s a bloody fantastic horror movie that strives to be a bit different from the norm. The full review is here and I still encourage everyone to seek it out.
#9 New Town Killers (2008)
Far from perfect, this is a surprisingly enjoyable thriller set in Edinburgh that, essentially, provides viewers with yet another variation on The Most Dangerous Game. Everyone does a great job onscreen, but you really can’t watch this movie without being blown away by Dougray Scott; not only does he get the majority of the best lines but he delivers them so brilliantly that he really is the focal point of every scene he’s in. One monologue, in particular, stands out for me as one of the best and most jaw-dropping in modern cinema. It really is THAT good.
#8 Orphans (1998)
Reviewed here, Orphans is most certainly worth a watch for any fans of the actors involved. And Douglas Henshall shouting “I want my mammy” is as heartbreaking as it is childish and futile (which is the whole point of that moment, really).
#7 Brave (2012)
I really liked Brave, as you can tell from my review here. It may not have a real version of Scotland onscreen but it beautifully evokes the stunning visuals and sense of mystery that anyone can get from a trip to the Highlands. It was Pixar mixing their DNA with standard Disney fairytale material, but it was all put together with the love and care that audiences have come to expect from the company. And most of the accents were pretty good, too.
#6 Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself (2002)
A fantastic look at severe depression and how it affects loved ones (a subject close to my heart, and something I always try to raise awareness of when I have the opportunity), Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself is also perfectly blended to provide viewers with an experience that is bittersweet and surprisingly optimistic, given the title.
#5 Local Hero (1983)
Written and directed by Bill Forsyth, this is a classic tale of a big city man who finds himself at odds with small town life. Peter Riegert plays the representative of the Texas oil company wanting to buy the village of Ferness, and he puts in a fantastic performance as the likes of Peter Capaldi, Fulton Mackay, Rikki Fulton and others do their damnedest to keep their village life as it is.
#4 The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)
Dame Maggie Smith portrays the titular character, a woman as caring as she is, seemingly, stern. It’s a fantastic central performance in a film that impresses by not trying too hard. And it features a great supporting role for the city of Edinburgh.
#3 Restless Natives (1985)
This is when people start to get upset with me. How dare I put this ahead of other established Scottish classics. Well, I have no problem with that. Restless Natives has been a favourite of mine for some time. It showcases both beautiful Highland scenery and also some aspects of Edinburgh that no longer exist (though it’s wonderful to also see just how much is still the same). Decent central performances, and a sterling supporting cast featuring the likes of Ned Beatty and Bernard Hill, and a fun script make this a fine, quirky, crime comedy as “The Clown” and “The Wolfman” start robbing tourists in the Highlands and become an unexpected attraction themselves. Check it out, I don’t think many people will be disappointed.
#2 Whisky Galore! (1949)
A classic, and one that I almost put into the number one spot (many others will, I have no doubt of that). A bunch of islanders find themselves in whisky-drenched heaven when a stranded ship unloads 50,000 cases of whisky. Based on one of those brilliantly bizarre true stories, Whisky Galore! is full of warm humour, great characters and a fine dram or two. Or three.
#1 Trainspotting (1996)
And so we end where we came in, with an adaptation of a novel by Irvine Welsh. I’m keen to see Filth, but it will have to really go some to outdo this movie in terms of energy, style and warped brilliance. Despite the fact that most of the people involved already had the foundations for a decent career, Trainspotting launched Danny Boyle and co. to great heights, and deservedly so. The subject matter may be distasteful to some, but the sheer CINEMA of it all is flawless, which makes it my favourite Scottish film of all time.
Note: I WANTED to include The Wicker Man, but decided against it. Claiming the national identity of any movie is tricky, I am sure that a few here are films that wouldn’t even be considered by others making such a list, but this selection, for me, shows the diversity and quality of Scottish cinema throughout the years. Other notable omissions include The Angel’s Share and Braveheart (yes, I really do love Braveheart, but I didn’t want to risk hearing screams echo around the internet).
Until next time, ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road . . . . . . . . . . . And I’ll get to Scotland afore ye.