Essential Movies

Here’s my current list of essential movies, with links to reviews where I have them. All reviews are free from major spoilers unless marked. Bear in mind I’m still working on reviewing movies, so some of them don’t have links yet.


Title Length Director Year Category Rating
12 Angry Men 1:36 Sidney Lumet 1957 drama PG
2001: A Space Odyssey 2:41 Stanley Kubrick 1968 sci-fi G
A Christmas Story 1:34 Bob Clark 1983 Christmas PG
A Fish Called Wanda 1:49 Charles Crichton, John Cleese 1988 comedy, crime R
A Fistful of Dollars 1:39 Sergio Leone 1964 western R
A Hard Day’s Night 1:27 Richard Lester 1964 comedy, music G
A Streetcar Named Desire 2:02 Elia Kazan 1951 drama PG
A Trip to the Moon 0:13 Georges Méliès 1902 comedy NR
Airplane! 1:28 Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker 1980 comedy PG
Akira 2:04 Katsuhiro Ôtomo 1988 action, animated, sci-fi R
Alien 1:57 Ridley Scott 1979 horror, sci-fi, thriller R
Aliens 2:17 James Cameron 1986 action, sci-fi, thriller R
Almost Famous 2:42 Cameron Crowe 2000 adventure, comedy, music R
Amelie 2:09 Jean-Pierre Jeunet 2001 adventure, romance R
American Beauty 2:02 Sam Mendes 1999 drama R
Annie Hall 1:33 Woody Allen 1977 comedy, romance PG
Apocalypse Now 2:33 Francis Ford Coppola 1979 drama, war R
Back to the Future 2:00 Robert Zemeckis 1985 adventure, comedy, sci-fi PG
Ben-Hur 3:44 William Wyler 1959 adventure, epic, historical G
Black Swan 1:48 Darren Aronofsky 2010 drama, indie, thriller R
Blade Runner 1:57 Ridley Scott 1982 film noir, sci-fi R
Bonnie and Clyde 1:52 Arthur Penn 1967 crime R
Bottle Rocket 1:31 Wes Anderson 1996 comedy, crime, indie R
Breakfast at Tiffany’s 2:10 Blake Edwards 1961 comedy, romance NR
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1:50 George Roy Hill 1969 biopic, western PG
Carrie 1:38 Brian De Palma 1976 horror, teen, thriller R
Casablanca 1:42 Martin Curtiz 1942 romance PG
Charade 1:53 Stanley Donen 1963 comedy, mystery, romance G
Chinatown 2:11 Roman Polanski 1974 film noir, mystery R
Citizen Kane 1:59 Orson Welles 1941 drama PG
City of God 2:10 Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund 2002 crime, drama R
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 2:15 Steven Spielberg 1977 sci-fi PG
Colossal 1:49 Nacho Vigalondo 2016 comedy, drama, indie R
Dances with Wolves 3:56 Kevin Costner 1990 drama, epic, historical, western PG-13
Dead Poets Society 2:08 Peter Weir 1989 comedy, drama PG
Die Hard 2:12 John McTiernan 1988 action, Christmas R
Dog Day Afternoon 2:05 Sidney Lumet 1975 crime, drama R
Donnie Darko 2:13 Richard Kelly 2001 indie, sci-fi, teen R
E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial 2:01 Steven Spielberg 1982 sci-fi PG
Enter the Dragon 1:50 Bruce Lee, Robert Clouse 1973 action R
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 1:48 Michel Gondry 2004 drama, indie, romance R
Ex Machina 1:48 Alex Garland 2014 mystery, sci-fi, thriller R
Fantastic Mr. Fox 1:27 Wes Anderson 2009 animated, comedy PG
Fargo 1:38 Coen Brothers 1996 comedy, crime, drama, indie R
Fight Club 2:31 David Fincher 1999 action R
Following 1:10 Christopher Nolan 1999 crime, indie, mystery R
Frances Ha 1:26 Noah Baumbach 2012 comedy, drama, indie R
Full Metal Jacket 1:58 Stanley Kubrick 1987 drama, war R
Gangs of New York 2:47 Martin Scorsese 2002 crime, drama, historical R
Ghost World 1:52 Terry Zwigoff 2001 comedy, indie, teen R
Gladiator 2:35 Ridley Scott 2000 action, drama, epic, historical R
Gone with the Wind 3:58 Victor Fleming 1939 drama, epic, historical, romance G
Good Will Hunting 2:06 Gus Van Sant 1997 drama R
Goodfellas 2:28 Martin Scorsese 1990 biopic, crime R
Grave of the Fireflies 1:29 Isao Takahata 1988 animated, drama,
historical, war
Guardians of the Galaxy 2:02 James Gunn 2014 comedy, sci-fi, superhero PG-13
Harold and Maude 1:31 Hal Ashby 1971 romance PG
Heat 2:50 Michael Mann 1995 crime, thriller R
Hot Fuzz 2:01 Edgar Wright 2007 action, comedy, mystery R
How the Grinch Stole Christmas 0:26 Chuck Jones, Ben Washam 1966 Christmas NR
I, Tonya 2:00 Craig Gillespie 2017 biopic, comedy, drama, indie R
In Bruges 1:47 Martin McDonagh 2008 comedy, crime, drama, indie R
Inglourious Basterds 2:33 Quentin Tarantino 2009 adventure, historical, war R
Interstellar 2:49 Christopher Nolan 2014 sci-fi PG-13
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1:55 Philip Kaufman 1978 horror, sci-fi, thriller PG
Iron Man 2:06 Jon Favreau 2008 superhero PG-13
Jaws 2:10 Steven Spielberg 1975 adventure, thriller PG
Juno 1:36 Jason Reitman 2007 comedy, indie, teen PG-13
Jurassic Park 2:05 Steven Spielberg 1993 sci-fi, thriller PG-13
Lady Bird 1:34 Greta Gerwig 2017 comedy, drama, indie, teen R
Laura 1:28 Otto Preminger 1944 film noir, mystery NR
Lawrence of Arabia 3:48 David Lean 1962 biopic, epic, historical PG
Little Miss Sunshine 1:41 Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris 2006 comedy, drama, indie R
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels 2:00 Guy Ritchie 1998 comedy, crime, indie R
Logan 2:21 James Mangold 2017 drama, superhero R
Lost in Translation 1:44 Sofia Coppola 2003 drama, indie R
Metropolis 2:33 Fritz Lang 1927 sci-fi NR
Midnight Cowboy 1:53 John Schlesinger 1969 drama R
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1:32 Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam 1975 comedy PG
Moonrise Kingdom 1:34 Wes Anderson 2012 adventure, comedy, drama, romance PG-13
Moulin Rouge 2:10 Baz Luhrmann 2001 musical PG-13
Mulholland Drive 2:27 David Lynch 2001 drama, mystery, thriller R
Murder on the Orient Express 2:11 Sidney Lumet 1974 mystery PG
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 2:09 Frank Capra 1939 drama NR
My Fair Lady 2:52 George Cukor 1964 romance G
Network 2:01 Sidney Lumet 1976 drama R
North by Northwest 2:16 Alfred Hitchcock 1959 action, mystery NR
O Brother, Where Art Thou? 1:48 Coen Brothers 2000 adventure, historical PG-13
Office Space 1:29 Mike Judge 1999 comedy R
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 2:13 Milos Forman 1975 drama R
Pan’s Labyrinth 1:58 Guillermo del Toro 2006 fantasy, historical, thriller R
PK 2:33 Rajkumar Hirani 2014 comedy, romance NR
Platoon 2:00 Oliver Stone 1986 war R
Primer 1:19 Shane Caruth 2004 indie, sci-fi PG-13
Psycho 1:49 Alfred Hitchcock 1960 horror, mystery, thriller R
Pulp Fiction 2:58 Quentin Tarantino 1994 crime, indie R
Raging Bull 2:09 Martin Scorsese 1980 biopic, drama R
Rain Man 2:13 Barry Levinson 1988 drama R
Rear Window 1:52 Alfred Hitchcock 1954 mystery NR
Rocky 2:02 John G. Avildsen 1976 drama PG
Roman Holiday 1:58 William Wyler 1953 comedy, romance NR
Saving Private Ryan 2:50 Steven Spielberg 1998 epic, historical, war R
Say Anything 1:40 Cameron Crowe 1989 comedy, drama, romance, teen PG-13
Scarface 2:50 Brian de Palma 1983 crime R
Schindler’s List 3:15 Steven Spielberg 1993 biopic, drama, epic, historical R
Secretary 1:51 Steven Shainberg 2002 comedy, drama, indie, romance R
Seven Samurai 3:28 Akira Kurosawa 1954 epic, historical NR
Shaun of the Dead 1:40 Edgar Wright 2004 comedy, horror, indie R
Sideways 2:07 Alexander Payne 2004 comedy, drama, indie R
Silver Linings Playbook 2:02 David O. Russell 2012 comedy, romance R
Snatch 1:44 Guy Ritchie 2000 comedy, crime R
Some Like It Hot 2:02 Billy Wilder 1959 comedy G
Spirited Away 2:05 Hayao Miyazaki 2001 animated, adventure, fantasy PG
Stand By Me 1:29 Rob Reiner 1986 adventure, teen R
Star Wars: A New Hope 2:05 George Lucas 1977 fantasy, sci-fi PG
Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back 2:07 George Lucas 1979 fantasy, sci-fi PG
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 2:16 George Lucas 1981 fantasy, sci-fi PG
Sunset Boulevard 1:55 Billy Wilder 1950 film noir G
Superbad 1:59 Greg Mottola 2007 adventure, comedy, teen R
Taxi Driver 1:54 Martin Scorsese 1976 crime, drama R
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 2:34 James Cameron 1991 action, sci-fi R
Terms of Endearment 2:12 James L. Brooks 1983 comedy PG
The African Queen 1:46 John Huston 1951 adventure, romance PG
The Apartment 2:05 Billy Wilder 1960 comedy, drama, romance NR
The Big Lebowski 1:59 Coen Brothers 1998 comedy R
The Blues Brothers 2:28 John Landis 1980 adventure, comedy, music, musical R
The Breakfast Club 1:37 John Hughes 1985 comedy, drama, teen R
The Darjeeling Limited 1:44 Wes Anderson 2007 drama R
The Dark Knight 2:32 Christopher Nolan 2008 crime, superhero PG-13
The Deer Hunter 3:02 Michael Cimino 1978 drama, war R
The Departed 2:31 Martin Scorsese 2006 crime R
The French Connection 1:44 William Friedkin 1971 crime, thriller R
The Godfather 2:57 Francis Ford Coppola 1972 crime, drama, epic R
The Godfather: Part II 3:20 Francis Ford Coppola 1974 crime, drama, epic R
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 2:59 Sergio Leone 1966 epic, western R
The Graduate 1:46 Mike Nichols 1967 comedy, drama PG
The Grand Budapest Hotel 1:40 Wes Anderson 2014 adventure, comedy R
The Grapes of Wrath 2:09 John Ford 1940 drama G
The Great Dictator 2:06 Charlie Chaplin 1940 comedy, war G
The Green Mile 3:09 Frank Darabont 1999 drama R
The Jerk 1:44 Carl Reiner 1979 comedy R
The Karate Kid 2:06 John G. Avildsen 1984 action, teen PG
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 1:59 Wes Anderson 2004 comedy R
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 3:48 Peter Jackson 2001 epic, fantasy PG-13
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 3:21 Peter Jackson 2003 epic, fantasy PG-13
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 3:55 Peter Jackson 2002 epic, fantasy PG-13
The Maltese Falcon 1:41 John Huston 1941 film noir, mystery PG
The Nightmare Before Christmas 1:16 Henry Selick 1993 animated, Christmas PG
The Perks of Being a Wallflower 1:42 Stephen Chbosky 2012 drama, romance, teen PG-13
The Princess Bride 1:38 Rob Reiner 1987 adventure, comedy, fantasy, romance PG
The Producers 1:28 Mel Brooks 1967 comedy PG
The Room 1:39 Tommy Wiseau 2003 drama R
The Royal Tenenbaums 1:50 Wes Anderson 2001 comedy R
The Shawshank Redemption 2:22 Frank Darabont 1994 drama R
The Shining 2:26 Stanley Kubrick 1980 horror, thriller R
The Silence of the Lambs 2:18 Jonathan Demme 1991 horror, mystery, thriller R
The Squid and the Whale 1:28 Noah Baumbach 2005 drama, indie R
The Third Man 1:48 Carol Reed 1949 film noir, mystery NR
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 2:06 John Huston 1948 adventure NR
The Usual Suspects 1:48 Bryan Singer 1995 crime, indie, mystery R
The Wizard of Oz 1:52 Victor Fleming 1939 adventure G
This is Spinal Tap 1:25 Rob Reiner 1984 comedy, music R
To Kill a Mockingbird 2:10 Robert Mulligan 1962 drama NR
Tootsie 1:59 Sydney Pollack 1982 comedy PG
Unforgiven 2:10 Clint Eastwood 1992 western R
V for Vendetta 2:12 James McTeigue 2005 action, drama, thriller R
Walk the Line 2:16 James Mangold 2005 biopic, drama, music PG-13
West Side Story 2:33 Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise 1961 musical PG
Who Framed Roger Rabbit 1:44 Robert Zemeckis 1988 animated, comedy, film noir, mystery PG
Your Name 1:46 Makoto Shinkai 2016 animated, drama, romance, teen PG

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