Five Ewan-tastic Films

Rotten Tomatoes asked Ewan to choose 5 of his favorite movies. Granted, I thought I was clicking on the website’s list of their favorite Ewan McGregor films, but Ewan’s list was by far more interesting. Never has anything truer been uttered by a human being: “But you should make sure that it’s five of my favorite films,” he qualifies, “and not my top five films. It’s definitely not my all-time favorite films, ’cause then I would have to sit down and think about it more clearly.” YES. How can anyone ask this question? Especially if one is a movie buff? Being asked for your favorite film must always come with some sort of qualifier.

In solidarity, I decided to make a quick list of some of my favorite Ewan McGregor movies. Rotten Tomatoes set the rules at 5 so I will stick with that. Before deciding, I can guarantee they won’t all be the most award-worthy candidates and I can certainly confirm that these aren’t my only favorites. After spending over half my life dedicated to following this guy’s career (I mean, Episode I came out when I was in 5th grade), I have seen a lot of his films and most of them occupy the bit of my heart dedicated to my love for movies.

Moulin Rouge!

If Episode I was the equivalent of my gateway drug to Ewan McGregor, then Moulin Rouge led to my full-blown addiction. Being, like I said, a 5th grader when I was introduced to the padawan version of Obi-Wan, I was not very well-versed in the idea of seeking out further Ewan films. (Probably a good thing that got tabled until a few years later…). I was obsessed with young Obi-Wan but for the next few years my Ewan interaction was contained to me exclaiming his name whenever I saw the preview for Night Watch on my Scream VHS. But then Moulin Rouge was released to rent and I saw Ewan McGregor staring back at me on the cover at Blockbuster. That set it off.  I was ready to fully acknowledge the potential Ewan fan within myself. And what can I really say about Moulin Rouge? Great soundtrack, funny, and very watchable years later.

A Life Less Ordinary

My continued interest in Ewan was furthered by my discovery of this gem in the $5 VHS section in Suncoast. I think it’s great. Sometimes you just want a movie to surprise you, ya know? The plot of this one is actually insane, in the kind of way that you have never seen anything like it before. And the whole plot stems from angels that need to ensure at all costs that Ewan’s character and Cameron Diaz’s character find true love. And the means by which this is achieved makes everyone go off the deep end. As I tended to do in middle school, I watched and quoted this movie ad nauseum. Luckily I found a fellow Ewan fan in 7th grade to join me on the journey that is Ewan’s filmography…which we were very unprepared for.  However deep down the rabbit hole we ended up going, A Life Less Ordinary was a main stay of my get-togethers.


As I have gotten older, this movie continues to increase in its emotional impact. Not only was it an education in heroin, it was a great showcase for some of Scotland’s best exports to date. Kevin McKidd, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, and (okay non-Scot) Jonny Lee Miller all join Ewan in spiraling down into addiction. Deeply depressing yet oddly joyful, I find something new to take away every time I watch (because this isn’t exactly the kind of movie I sit down and watch a lot). And man, what a soundtrack! (Just realized I have 4 out of 5 soundtracks on this list). Bitter memory: in junior year of high school in my English class, somehow Trainspotting was brought up (not sure if I did or someone else) and the teacher was absolutely shocked that some of us had seen it. Like, almost outraged (and he was a fairly young guy). Now I don’t know what kind of world this guy grew up in or what his feelings are about the film but at that point I had been watching it since 7th grade. Odd to remember; I am still annoyed at that guy.

Velvet Goldmine


This movie has everything: Ewan’s version of Iggy Pop, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ take on David Bowie, Christian Bale living the dream of every fanboy, and a brilliant soundtrack. This is the Stefon of movies. It also features a performance by Ewan early in the movie that…”glitters” in one’s memory, especially at an impressionable age. It also involves faked death, aliens, and shock therapy so…there’s that.


The only recent Ewan movie to make the list, Beginners affected me on multiple levels. Whereas my older choices clearly hold a special place in my heart, Beginners is a movie that wouldn’t have resonated with me when I was twelve. Luckily it came out during a time in my life where I can relate to the themes, especially in places so nuanced, and yet I saw pieces of my own life depicted on the screen. Christopher Plummer got the credit, and the Oscar, but Ewan is also at his best here.

List takeaway? If I like the movie, I own the soundtrack (maybe later, Beginners). Also, I can’t stay away from Ewan’s (usually) dulcet voice: Moulin Rouge, A Life Less Ordinary, Trainspotting, Velvet Goldmine.



About Staciellyn Chapman

Grad student at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. This blog is an attempt to condense the craziness that is my TV viewing habits (with the occasional aside into film, music, and general life).

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