It’s well-known among movie-watchers: music can make a scene. Sometimes, scores are written just for a particular scene; but other times, a director finds a pre-existing song, one that has a life outside of the movie’s soundtrack, that fits just as perfectly. This is a list of the latter. A few ground rules. One, no matter how famous a soundtrack got, I’m not doing scores on this list. (Sorry, Rocky.) Two, it has to be a movie on my list of essential films, or a movie that will appear on my list. (Sorry, Wayne’s World.) All that said, here’s the list!
Sometimes, you just need to root for the bad guy. Crime films give us a window into the world of professional criminals—a world most of us have no experience with. The films on this list dive deep into that world and show us more than just “bad guys”—they show us real people with real goals and motivations that put them at odds with the law. If you’re in the mood to watch some crimes go down, these are some of the best films out there.
A good movie night is a great way to get friends together, and the most important part is, obviously, the movie. It has to be fun, easy to digest, and liked by almost everybody. Here are ten films that fit the bill. If you want to please a large crowd, these movies will not disappoint!
10. Some Like it Hot (1959)
Shockingly irreverent for its time—so much so that it was initially banned in Kansas—this cross-dressing comedy is one of the funniest of all time and holds up well today. Though it’s rather tame by today’s standards, the rebellious spirit of the film hasn’t lost its charm, and the script and performances are both hilarious. If you want funny and classic, this can’t be beat.
9. Roman Holiday (1953)
This is Audrey Hepburn’s first film, and, like her, the film is fun, charming, and undeniably classic. This is the perfect mix of adventure, romance, humor, and just a little heartbreak, and it hits a lot of the right notes to please a lot of people. If you’re looking for something classy and poignant, but still fun, this will probably be the film for you.
8. Jurassic Park (1993)
This film did something remarkable: it took the sci-fi formula and made it almost universally accessible without watering down what makes sci-fi great. This is just as much a thriller as it is a sci-fi, and it’s got plenty of humor and action to keep just about everyone satisfied. Plus, it has dinosaurs, which makes it at least 20% cooler. There’s a reason this was one of the biggest films of the 90s: almost everyone loves this movie.
7. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
If you want something smart to laugh at, there isn’t a better smart comedy than this one. Written and directed by comedy legend John Cleese, the script, direction, and acting all come together to create one of the funniest movies of all time. This is the perfect mix of slow-burn British humor and quick-hit American humor, and the cast is incredible in this film. It’s probably a bit too mature for the kids, but adults will love this comedy.
6. The Princess Bride (1987)
This quirky adventure film is a bit of an anti-fairytale, and it paved the way for other films like Shrek which did the same thing. It begins like a traditional fairytale, but slowly diverges and eventually throws the whole formula out the window. It’s also quite funny, supremely quotable, and surprisingly dark in some spots. This really is one that the whole family will enjoy, although I frequently watch it without kids.
5. North by Northwest (1959)
The original action film, this one blends suspense and action with humor and charm to create a fun and exciting film that stands up very well today. Classic film star Cary Grant is at his best here, and master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock doesn’t disappoint either. This is as charming as it is thrilling, and it holds up as one of the greatest and most accessible classic films of all time.
4. Die Hard (1988)
Sometimes, we don’t want cute or classy—we just want pure, badass 80s action! If you want action, this is undoubtedly one of the best and most accessible of the genre, and it’s got a good mix of humor and drama to keep things interesting between the action sequences. If most of your viewers want action but some are on the fence about action films, this offers something to both groups.
3. Goodfellas (1990)
The Godfather may be the greatest crime film of all time, but Goodfellas is undoubtedly the most entertaining. Director Martin Scorsese brings his best game for this film about a kid growing up with the mob and learning to branch out on his own with organized crime. As a crime film, it can be a little intense at times, but this is one of the most loved films in the genre and it has a very wide appeal.
2. Jaws (1975)
The original blockbuster hit, this is a film that has something for everyone. It’s tense, but not too scary; funny, but not too silly; and adventurous, but still grounded in a very tight plot. This film broke box office records because it really catered to all audiences and offered something to everyone. If you’re looking for something that’s both thrilling and fun, and suitable for just about everyone, this is probably what you’re looking for.
1. Back to the Future (1985)
One of the greatest adventure films of all time, this beloved comedy-adventure is fun every time you watch it. It has aged extremely well, and the smart script takes something complicated (time paradoxes brought about by time travel) and makes it easy to grasp and follow. This is the perfect mix of adventure, suspense, and humor, and it features some extremely memorable scenes and characters sure to please anybody.
It may or may not actually be raining, but it’s a day where you want to see something a little sad—but not too sad. Whether it’s love or loss or just human connection, you want to stay inside and feel some emotions! These movies all fit the bill. Next time you’re feeling like this, give one of these movies a watch!
10. The Deer Hunter (1978)
A war movie on a rainy day? There are few war movies—and, indeed, few movies—that have the emotional punch of this one. This one spends most of its time (about two-thirds of the movie) showing life before and after the war for the people who served, and that’s the real story here. If you want some serious action with your gloomy mood, this is the one for you.
9. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Probably Wes Anderson’s best film, this is a smart and quirky comedy/drama about a man who realizes he needs his family connections only after he’s razed them all to the ground. In an attempt to win them back, he fakes having a terminal illness, but the father, Royal, is so lacking in empathy that this proves much harder than he thought. The humor is great, but the drama is real, and there are some moments that will hit you right in the heart.
8. Amelie (2001)
In this French film, Amelie Poulain is a young woman so introverted she has trouble connecting with others, but so emotional that she has trouble abstaining. Her awkward attempts to reach out to others are fun to watch, but this is at its heart a deeply emotional film about human connection. The ending is uplifting, but you won’t be able to get through this movie without feeling some deep emotions.
7. Good Will Hunting (1997)
This film about a closeted genius with a troubled past focuses on Will Hunting transitioning from the carefree young adult life to the real world, where his hurts and hang-ups hold him back in all areas of his life. While funny at times and entertaining to watch, this is a film about healing from your pain and finding reasons to live. Anyone harboring pain of their own will find something to relate to here.
6. The Apartment (1960)
For a 1960 comedy, this film captures depression more accurately than any movie for decades afterward. Equally hilarious and devastating, it captures that love and connection can be sweet, but also difficult and even damaging in a world full of broken people. When all you want is love, but everyone’s selling something else, life is hard. This is a personal favorite of mine and I’ll watch it whether it’s raining or not.
5. Stand By Me (1986)
We all remember the innocence of our youth, but it’s very hard to figure out exactly when we lost it. One day, we’re children, and somewhere years down the road, we realize we’re young adults and we’ve lost something and will never get it back. In this film, four young boys take a short trip to see a dead body, and it captures this loss of innocence and journey into young adulthood.
4. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
A small-town cowboy journeys to the big city to realize his dreams and make it big. It’s a story we’ve seen before, but this one plays out differently. In this one, the cowboy is not at all prepared for the harsh realities of city life, and the city does not care at all about his dreams and ambitions. In fact, the city nearly destroys him. There’s also a very moving friendship between the two main characters that stands out as one of the best in film.
3. Roman Holiday (1953)
A princess in the 1950s tires of the duties of her royal life and longs for a day free from the pressures and responsibilities that weigh on her daily. She makes her escape and meets a young newspaper photographer looking for the next big story. Over one amazing day, their connection grows deep and meaningful as they adventure through Rome. This is probably my favorite classic film, and it’s as deep and emotional as it is fun.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? This film gives characters the choice after the fact with a technology that erases memories. After a failed relationship, the main character has to choose if the memories of their good times together are worth the memories of their bad times together—and if future good times will be worth the future bad times. A great film about romantic connection between two flawed characters.
1. Lost in Translation (2003)
Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room? This film shows us two lost souls who can’t find anyone who understands what that’s like—until they find each other while visiting Tokyo. Their connection isn’t romantic, but it’s so deep that neither of them quite knows what to do with it. Sometimes, being lost together can be just as sweet as being found.