1. Senna (2011)
“The best decision is my decision!”
This documentary tells the story of the handsome, soft-spoken Brazilian triple time Formula 1 champion Ayrton Senna who died in an official competition at just 34 years old. It details his lifelong quest for perfection on and off the track and the legacy he has since left behind. The racing sequences are often heart-stopping and heart-breaking. It’s the perfect profile of a man who proved that there was no other way for him to live life, than on the extreme edge.
2. Rush (2013)
“Happiness is the enemy”
Directed by Ron Howard, Rush shows the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Pre-race trash talk, superb chase scenes and sexual tension round out this classic.
3. Drive (2011)
“There’s a hundred-thousand streets in this city. You don’t need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window.”
The “Driver” drives for hire and he has no other name. His life is driving, every day, every night. And the context doesn’t matter: he can be at the wheel of a getaway car, running from police pursuit and outsmarting pursuers, or a stunt driver for action flicks. Nothing matters as long as he’s driving. Ryan Gosling’s sincerity and charisma carry the film into the homerun category.
4. Speed (1994)
“Harry, there’s enough C4 on this thing to put a hole in the world!”
A thrilling windup plot leaves you on the edge of your seat for nearly 2 hours when Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock attempt to disengage a bomb on a moving bus. Wall-to-wall stunts, intense action and special effects make this a classic for the books.
5. Vanishing Point (1971)
“Patiently. That’s the only way to wait for somebody”
One of the greatest car chase films ever made, Vanishing Point is an existential examination of the human condition under the auspice of metaphor. Everything serves as metaphor for life and its problems: the car, the road, the landscape. The soundtrack keeps perfect pulse with the twisted plot of the film - one that car chase aficionados and fans of counterculture flicks alike will enjoy.
6. Death Proof (2007)
“Miles to go before I sleep. Did you hear me, Butterfly? Miles to go, before you sleep”
A horror-comic that pits a posse of women on a revenge rampage against a murderous, misogynist stunt-driver called Mike, played by Kurt Russell all in perfect Quentin Tarantino fashion. Need we say more?
7. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The Max Max franchise has entirely transformed the post-apocalyptic genre with vivid stunts and far-too-real special effects foreshadowing a dire future. The action sequences are a given - superb. It’s the extras that make this film absolutely stand out. From the editing to the music and sound design to the emotionally rich, complex characters, Fury Road isn’t one to miss.
8. Rubber (2010)
“Oh, God, the kid was right. The killer is a tire.”
Not exactly a car-chase movie, but this French comedy about a tire that comes to life and attempts to kill people just weird enough to make the list. It premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival to resounding positive reviews.
9. Days of Thunder (1990)
“If you’re from California, you’re not a Yankee. You’re not really anything.”
Directed by Tony Scott, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, with music by Hans Zimmer and starring Tom Cruise, Days of Thunder was destined to be a classic action movie. The on-track scenes are loud and fast and exciting. Off-track, Robert Duvall delivers a sensitive and honest performance and Tom Cruise does, well, what Tom Cruise does best.
10. Fast & Furious 4 (2009)
“I’m a boy who appreciates a good body, regardless of the make.”
You can’t have a car movie list without including the Fast & Furious franchise. And while we know it’s all open for debate on which one is the best of the series, director Justin Lin of Furious 4 has our hearts. This stand out creates a genuine car culture mise en scène fully equipped with some of the coolest drift scenes ever captured on the big screen. It is essential to the overall series as a whole, and sets the stage for everything that came after.