La Monde du Silence (1956)

It'd be impossible not to mention this film, because it was such an influence on the new album. When I sing "my father met Jacques Cousteau" on 'When I Was Blue', I'm not lying! He really did - around 1963, in Djibouti. Dad was in the Merchant Navy at the time (Cousteau and his crew were researching sharks in the Red Sea), and he and some others were invited onto the Calypso for a beer. I'm still bemused by the idea of my teenage dad having a chat with Jacques Cousteau - he was even shown the onboard film studio and some of the diving equipment! So the film has a personal resonance - it's like seeing a little bit of that world.

I saw the The Life Aquatic years before, with the matching hats and whimsy. But even Wes Anderson's parody-tribute can't even truly match the madness of this film. On the one hand, you're watching truly pioneering ocean exploration. The camerawork, the equipment - it's all real frontier-of-discovery stuff. And the whole thing feels space-age, but submerged; it feels like beautiful science fiction. One of the original posters actually said "space men of the sea," and that's how it feels. But then on the other hand, the day-to-day lives of the crew aboard the ship are so funny and normal, and they're often so obviously hamming it up and having the best time.

You can imagine how mind-blowing it must have been to watch this when it came out in 1956. The underwater scenes are so beautiful, but they feel unreal - the colours are intense (thanks to Eastmancolor), psychedelic almost. You really get a sense of what it must have felt like to be one of the divers. The music is great too - very dramatic. You find yourself thinking about the foley artists who had to do the bubbles and the fish sounds! I should note that there are some horrific moments of animal cruelty in this film, things you can't believe would ever have been included in what was essentially a nature documentary. I read that, later, Cousteau expressed remorse at the way they'd behaved; he became munch more environmentally conscious and strived to improve marine conservation. This is a warts-and-all documentary, and the humans in it are certainly flawed - but it's an amazing film.

Rushmore (1998)

I'm aware that the way I mentioned Wes Anderson in the bit above made it sound like I didn't like him. So, to clarify, I really do like him and Rushmore is so good! I saw it for the first time when I was about 16. And it was a pretty instant reaction. I just remember thinking "Oh right, this is brilliant." There's something about Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Olivia Williams as a trinity that just works. All the characters remind me of the Glass family in J. D. Salinger's stories. The precocious way they all talk to each other is disorientating because it's both totally impassive, and totally passionate. And that's very much the 'vibe' I wanted to create as a teenager, I think! I wanted to sound poignant and a bit scripted... But there's a kindness in the film. I don't quite know how to describe it - but there's something that's forgiving, and redemptive.

It's a really tender film. And the soundtrack is brilliant too. Originally, they wanted it all to be songs by The Kinks (which would have been amazing too). But there's only one Kinks song, then people like Cat Stevens and The Faces, and a bunch of lesser-known people from the same time like Chad & Jeremy, The Creation, Unit 4+2. Mark Mothersbaugh's brilliant baroque-tinged instrumentals have lodged permanently in my head ever since, too - I think he's been so influential on so many indie-film soundtracks that came after this.

2046 (2005)

First of all, everything and everyone in this film looks amazing. It's just gorgeous. Everything is incredibly stylised, and I guess in that way it makes you think about Kubrick's films. The director, Wong Kar-Wai, lives in Hong Kong and it feels like a love letter to the city's past. Set in the 1960s, it revolves around regret and lost love - really uplifting stuff. The main character, Chow, is a depressed journalist - living in cheap hotels, not able to connect emotionally with the women he insists on objectifying, etc. He's working on a sci-fi novel, and that parallel narrative sort of bleeds into the film; by the end, you're not really sure what's real anymore.

In that novel world, there's a train that you can board which will take you to the year 2046 to get your memories back. The main character in that world falls in love with a cyborg passenger attendant. I much prefer it to something like Blade Runner - if you like dystopian retro-futurism, this is pretty good! It's just very sad, and very Orwellian. There's a scene where there's a recording of Maria Callas singing 'Casta Diva', and you just hear her voice coming through a very thin partition wall. It's deliberately noir, but it never feels tired or cynical. It's great.

Some Kind of Monster (2004)

I'm not a metalhead, but this Metallica documentary is definitely one of the best things I have ever seen. Both because, a) it's very funny and b) it's also strangely moving. It was commissioned by the band themselves to document the recording of St Anger (which began in 2001, three years after bassist Jason Newsted left). But what begins as a well-intentioned and productive endeavour quickly degenerates into an explosion of 20 years-worth of repressed resentment and anger. Somewhere along the way, they decide to hire a therapist to help them work through the issues, and this sets the tone for the rest of the film. It's so interesting.

There's particular focus on the complex relationship between Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield but it's also fascinating to see Ulrich's father, a fairly terrifying character who continually seems to damn his son with withering praise. Like I said, at times you can't believe how funny this film is; I found myself waiting for Steve Coogan to turn up as one of the sound engineers! But as a musician, I found it incredibly poignant too. Because I think any musician could relate to some of the stuff that's shown so candidly here: the difficulty of writing, trying to balance music with other parts of your life, and the shifting dynamics between groups of people.

Unlike Anvil, these feelings of empathy are all the more surprising because of the sheer size of Metallica; you can't believe that such a massive band could be experiencing this, somehow. Whenever I watch this film, I always end up feeling really inspired by the time it's finished. It makes you want to be in a studio. Whenever I meet someone who loves this film, I know we're going to be friends. Kirk Hammett's rare interjection on how a guitar solo should simply "serve the song" is one of my favourite parts in any film!

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

I'm sad I never watched any Studio Ghibli films as a child, or even as a teenager. I know how much I would have loved them. I was 25 when I first saw one. My husband is really into Hayao Miyazaki's animation, and couldn't believe that I hadn't seen any of his films. So the first on the list he prescribed was Totoro, and I was sold. Nothing quite prepares you for the impact of the animation itself - it's like looking at moving watercolours, but really epic ones. The film is set in post-war Japan and focuses on two little girls, Satsuki and Mei, and their encounters with a series of wood spirits. There are so many iconic moments: the scene with the umbrella at the bus stop, or the Catbus. I remember finding the music quite strange at first, very pastoral and neo-classical. But it's grown on me since then.

Miyazaki is an incredibly bold film-maker; he never shies away from environmental issues, or from criticising what he sees as corruption. To be honest, it was hard to pick just one of his films. I could easily have picked Spirited Away, The Wind Rises or Princess Mononoke. But Totoro was the first one I watched. And its presentation of a child's world really chimed with me.

His films always seem to deal so delicately with that time of transition; the lonely, but lovely, experience of feeling that you can see something beyond the normal. As a child, I was obsessed with the idea of portals, and with the idea that you could find them anywhere. And I'm still totally obsessed with them - I think it's why Stranger Things had such an effect! Miyazaki's films live in those parallel worlds.

Notable mentions: American Beauty, Heathers, Marie Antoinette, Volver, Withnail & I.

Georgia Ruth's new album Fossil Scale is out October 7th on Navigator Records. Listen to 'The Doldrums' here, and 'Fossil Scale' here.