When you look at lists of the greatest driving movies ever, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Hollywood doesn’t make films about cars any more. Typically dominated by classics like The Driver (1978), Bullitt (1968) Duel and Vanishing Point (both 1971), it might seem like the genre peaked decades ago. So, we thought it was about time to set the record straight. Yes, no matter how many imitations come along it’s unlikely that the original films will ever be knocked from pole position, but here are ten films from
this millennium that could give them a run for their money.
1. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) – IMDB Rating: 6.5/10
Based on the incredibly strange 1974 original, the watchability of this remake very much depends on your ability to stomach Nicolas Cage and a blonde, almost-dreadlocked Angelina Jolie. If you can tolerate the cast, it’s worth it for the cars. The premise of the film is that a retired car thief (Cage) has to steal 50 exotic and vintage cars in a window of 96 minutes, with a line-up of vehicles that would delight and excite any petrolhead. Of course, it’s “Eleanor”, the 1967 Shelby Mustang that truly steals the
2. Cars (2006) – IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
It’s rare to find a great car movie that the whole family can watch, but Pixar’s Cars absolutely nails it. The main character is Lightening McQueen, an anthropomorphic hot-shot racing car, voiced by Owen Wilson. On his way to prepare for the biggest race of his life, McQueen gets waylaid in the small town of Radiator Springs, where he ends up befriending the local vehicles and learning what it really takes to become a winner. In classic Pixar tradition, this movie is completely kid-friendly but also packs in lots of adult jokes and clever references that will have you re-watching it on your own later!
3. Death Proof (2007) – IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
Consider that Death Proof is a Tarantino-directed homage to cult car movies and Grindhouse-slasher flicks, and you should already have a good idea about what to expect. The film is based around a warped stuntman (played by a gristly Kurt Russel), who gets his kicks from killing young women by the carload. In typical Tarantino style, Death Proof takes an age to warm up but with tantalising, kick-ass performances from Zoë Bell and Rosario Dawson, you’re in for a hell of a ride that’s absolutely worth the wait.
4. Gran Torino (2008) – IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
As a director and performer, Clint Eastwood lends his undeniable star quality to this exceptional 2008 flick, named after the main character’s prized wheels. The story follows an aging patriot who has just lost his wife and is struggling to reconcile with the multi-cultural changes infringing upon his home and family. Well, that’s a nice way of putting it. Eastwood’s character is simply a raging, war-shaped racist who has his habits and crankiness eventually shaken up by a young boy that moves in next door. While this film isn’t all about the acceleration, the Gran Torino is not only a thing of beauty but pivotal to the plot.
5. Senna (2010) – IMDB Rating: 8.6/10
Focusing on the exhilarating life and death of Brazilian F1 extraordinaire, Ayrton Senna, this documentary was exceptionally well-received as a fitting tribute. Beginning at the start of his career in the mid ‘80s, the film covers Senna’s relationship with his track nemesis, Alain Prost, as well as his response to the politics of the motorsport world and his humble passion for his home, Brazil. The film ends with his tragic, fatal crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Cut together from hundreds of original footage and newsreels, this telling of Senna’s story is visceral, gut-wrenching and absolutely thrilling.\
6. Drive (2011) – IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
Taking a leaf straight out of the film noir handbook (and no doubt 1978’s The Driver), Drive is less about watching fast cars hurtle around a city and more about capturing the way that it feels to be behind the wheel. With a sultry, ‘80s-inspired soundtrack, the main character (played by Ryan Gosling), barely utters a word throughout the film and focuses instead on being a brooding badass that will make you want to go out and practice your own stunt driving. Well, now you can actually practice those skills and be a total badass, with these stunt-driving and drifting lessons at Into the Blue. The storyline is your basic heist-gone- wrong, with Gosling falling for his neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and stepping in when her husband (Oscar Isaac) gets entangled in mob politics. Also, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman get involved. What’s not to love?
7. Fast & Furious: Fast Five (2011) – IMDB Rating: 7.3/10
Focusing on the subculture of street-racing, the Fast and Furious franchise offer a thrilling, rubber-burning escape with every sequel. With 10 films spanning almost twenty years, it’s with careful consideration that we deem the fifth installment to be the one most-worthy of this list. Why? Arguably, it’s this title (and its director, Justin Lin) that pushes an enjoyable franchise about cars, babes and guns into a franchise into an international phenomenon. The well-curated cast have grown into their roles and ooze charisma, bringing their audience along for some of the most exhilarating chases in the entire F&F series.
8. Rush (2013) – IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
Another film based on real-life racing drivers, Rush is a biopic (rather than a documentary) about the rivalry and friendship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, played by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl respectively. Whether you relate to the careless glamour of Hunt or the meticulous precision of Lauda, the classic tale of obsessive competition is made all the more edge-of- seat exciting by its basis in reality. The film is excellently composed by writer Peter Morgan and director Ron Howard, who do a fantastic job
of re-telling the dangerous and seductive Hunt/Lauda legend.
9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – IMDB Rating: /10
Where some car movies try to cover up their lack of plot, the 2015 edition of Mad Max makes absolutely no bones about the fact that it’s about style over substance. In a nutshell, the story is that, in a dystopian future, Max and Imperator Furiosa (Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron) lead a rebellion against a tyrannical leader. It’s the way in which they do it that makes this film a great car movie, with every set of characters getting their own customized death-machine that charges through the desert to an intense electric soundtrack. It’s rugged, it’s grim and, despite having very little storyline, it remains relentlessly fast-paced from start to
10. Baby Driver (2017) – IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
Comparable to Drive, Edgar Wright (the guy that brought us Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) brings his buzzy, playful energy to the driving movie genre. In a story about a young, music-obsessed getaway driver that’s caught up with a mob boss, Wright blends the action/comedy/musical/romance genre almost seamlessly, in a film that’s heart-warming, thrilling and fun all at once. The action sequences were choreographed to fit seamlessly with the soundtrack, somehow making the chase scenes much more intense than your average sequence.