The love between Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) is complicated by the mores of the time and their need to marry their respective girlfriends. It’ll break your heart and offer hope all at the same time, and the film ended up scoring Best Adapted Screenplay, Music and Directing Oscars. When the first Paddington was on the way, early trailers didn’t look entirely promising. Yet co-writer/director Paul King delivered a truly wonderful film bursting with joy, imagination, kindness and just one or two hard stares.
Stanley Kubrick once described Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel as the best film ever made – though having previously topped this list, this time it falls to bronze position. At once an art movie and a commercial blockbuster, The Godfather marked the dawn of the age of the mega-movie. An icon of the gangster genre, its imprinted in popular culture – “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes”, the horse’s head in the bed – but the first instalment of Brando’s cotton-cheeked patriarch’s fight for power is so much more than those moments. With performances, style and substance to savour, it’s managed to both smash box office records and live on as a staple of cinematic canon. Horror and thriller films do something to us that no other genre of films do—they terrify us.
It’s a fairly simple premise, but in Steven Spielberg’s hands, it becomes one of the most beloved films of all time. Is one of those movies that you’d watch over and over again if it didn’t make you cry so much. Plus, it features an adorable 7-year-old Drew Barrymore and practical effects that hold up pretty well even today. When Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) visits his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) family for the weekend, he’s understandably worried about how he’ll be received as a Black man…and telling you anything else would be robbing you of an excellent plot twist, so I’ll stop there. Jordan Peele won an Oscar for his screenplay and established himself as a horror auteur with Get Out, a movie that more than lives up to the hype.
Of course, use your judgment when choosing whether to go back to the movies or not, but there’s an ever-growing percentage of vaccinated moviegoers who are champing at the bit to get back in front of the big screen. After years of neglect at the hands of his aunt and uncle, Harry Potter finds out he’s secretly a wizard in line to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. I dare you to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and not get sucked into the famous series.
Scout Finch tells the story of how her father, Atticus, a small town lawyer in the rural South, defended a wrongfully accused black man in this adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved novel. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is how most people who’ve seen this movie think of the character, and you will too when you see it. One of the smartest love stories ever written (it won best screenplay at the Oscars that year) captures a couple who both undergo a treatment to erase each other from their memories following a breakup. Not so, as they revisit their life together in woozy flashbacks and realize that they’re not ready to let go just yet. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, the highest-grossing Indian film of 1995, is an absolute delight. The Bollywood rom-com about two young star-crossed lovers who fall in love despite their parents’ critiques ended up winning 10 Filmfare Awards—India’s Academy Award equivalent—and changed the game forever.
In fact, several Star Trek cast members have spoken about how much they love it. Sigourney Weaver’s casting is also particularly genius, since she’s playing a woman who is once again beset by aliens but could not be more different from Ripley. Aspiring filmmaker Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) has a strained relationship with her technophobic father Rick (Danny McBride)—not helped by his accidentally destroying her laptop right as she’s about to begin film school in California. In an effort to salvage their relationship, Rick decides to take the entire Mitchell family on a cross-country road trip to see Katie off. Unfortunately, this road trip coincides with a robot uprising that the Mitchells escape only by chance, leaving the fate of the world in their hands.
In all seriousness, you’ve probably seen at least one of the many, many zombie movies that are out in the world, but you haven’t seen one as smart and unique as Train to Busan. Taking place almost entirely on a zombie-infected train, Train to Busan has a cast of characters who represent the very best and very worst of humanity as they run out of time (and space!) to escape the zombies. Don Lee charmed the world as Gilgamesh in Eternals, and he brings the same heart to his breakout role here. In 1981, Monica and Quincy meet as children, and both want nothing more than to be professional basketball players.
A Chicago family, the Youngers, are about to receive a windfall that will change their lives, but they have different ideas on how to use the money. An adaptation of the Lorraine Hansberry play made with the original cast, this film questions who is allowed the American Dream. If you love superhero movies, this Spider-Man standalone may become your favorite of them all. The Oscar-winning animated film follows Miles Morales’ origin story with a multiverse twist that has multiple Spider-Mans (Spiders-Man? Spider-Men?) popping up in his world. You’ll never think of coconuts the same way after watching this silly British slapstick comedy set in the time of King Arthur and the fabled Round Table. God sends a group of knights on a quest to find the Holy Grail, where they encounter several nonsensical obstacles along the way—a classic Monty Python premise.
It was hard to pick just one Pixar movie, but WALL-E is the winner due to sheer originality. The first 20 minutes don’t have any dialogue, and the hero doesn’t speak a single word for the whole movie. Sweet, sweet WALL-E is the last remaining robot of his kind after the destruction of Earth until he meets EVE, another robot sent to search the planet for signs of sustainable life. Things really kick off when WALL-E, having bonded and basically fallen in love with EVE, follows her back to her ship.
It soon emerges their spouses are having an affair, and a romance of stolen glances and intimate longing begins to emerge. Love stories are rarely as ravishingly beautiful (or deeply influential) as this. His movie about the 1912 sinking of the world’s biggest cruise liner was the most expensive ever made, suffered a difficult, overrunning shoot, and was predicted to be a career-ending flop. But it turned out to be one of the most successful films of all time (in terms of both box office and Awards), and made him King Of The World.
With Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman at the helm, two detectives investigate a number of grisly murders inspired by the seven deadly sins, and boy, do things get dark. There’s plenty of symbolism along the way for you to connect the dots, but still bet you’ll be shocked by the now-memeable ending. Anthony Hopkins’ performance in this film made Hannibal Lecter the creepiest villain of the past few decades, who isn’t even the actual villain of this film. Lecter’s influence is felt in many horror baddies who have come after, but there’s nothing like hearing the original say “fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
As anti-war, civil rights, and hippie activists involved in the protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the Seven (theoretically eight) were picked as convenient scapegoats after the unrest was crushed at the behest of Mayor Richard Daley. Centered on the eponymous Berlin nightclub, this documentary explores the lives of LGBTQ+ people during the interwar years, from the roaring 1920s through the rise of the Nazis and into the horrors of World War II. It’s an ode to what was lost, but with an eye on the bizarre contradictions of the age, where openly gay club-goers would wear their own Nazi uniforms as the years went by. Everything the Nazis Hate is emotionally challenging viewing in places, but it serves up an important slice of queer history that many will be completely unaware of. There is so much happening beneath the surface in Saint Omer, documentarian Alice Diop’s narrative debut.
Sign up for our Watching newsletter to get recommendations on the best films and TV shows to stream and watch, delivered to your inbox. Across theaters, streaming, and on-demand, these are the movies Rotten Tomatoes users are checking out at this very moment, including Killers of the Flower Moon (see Martin Scorsese movies ranked), Old Dads, and The Burial. In Oscar-winning Iranian film A Separation, a marriage is sent into turmoil when the couple has to choose between leaving the country and staying to care for an ailing relative. An unemployed family of four slips into the lives of the crazy wealthy Park family. Then, there’s an incident that can’t entirely be cleaned up in a cleaning shift. Long after the credits roll, you’ll be questioning the ending and mulling over the tough, important themes.
The film follows Lizzy (Michelle Williams), a dour sculptor who works at a small Portland arts college, in the leadup to a new exhibition. Showing Up captures the realities of a working-class art-making process—the distractions, frustrations, and sporadic victories—better than any movie I can recall. Williams and Hong Chau (who plays her landlord and a fellow artist) are both better here than in their respective Oscar-nominated turns from last year. A pleasurable as the bulk of the movie is, the quietly transcendent ending is what moved me from a place of simmering enjoyment to full-boiled enthrallment.
Mila Kunis co-stars as the resort receptionist who presents a new opportunity for love; Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd and Jack McBrayer turn up in small but uproarious supporting roles. Kumail Nanjiani wrote and stars in The Big Sick, the real-life story of how Nanjiani met and fell in love with his wife, Emily. The film feels familiar in its sincerity but brings a twist to the rom-com with clashing cultures. Eighty years after its release, this classic still deserves every bit of its perfect Rotten Tomatoes rating. There’s still a wedding at the end of the movie, but we won’t spoil who ends up as the groom.
But it’s really about prejudice and stereotype and the assumptions we carry with us every day without realizing it. Less of a genre and more of a distinction, we define “classic movies” as the kind of film that changed their respective genres forever. Being familiar with the films on this list will set you apart from the casual pop culture fan and put you on the road to becoming a movie buff. For a film to be a classic in our book, it needs to have some years on it (all of these films on our list came out before 1990), be universally loved, and had a major cultural impact. Sometimes, we all need a little cheering up, and what better way to do that than with a feel-good movie that makes you laugh?
These comedy films are guaranteed to bring a little levity to your evening, whether it be through jokes or characters in insane situations. With typically universally relatable stories, comedy movies remind us that it’s okay to poke fun at ourselves once in a while. Set in 18th-century France, a young painter named Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint the free movie sites wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), the daughter of a French countess, only she must keep it in secret. By day, Marianne and Héloïse spend time together and eventually grow a mutual attraction, while Marianne attempts to paint Héloïse at night. Each shot of this rich period piece is like a painting itself, and the love story is so intimate to watch unfold.