150 Movies You Really Ought to See

by Benjamin Domenech on 6:02 am August 10, 2010

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Friends come to me for movie recommendations often — I’m not sure why, given that I still think the best movie I’ve seen in the past few years is Uncharted 2. But I’ve developed a list that I think encompasses the vast majority of standard movies I think folks really ought to see. One friend is actually going through the whole list, and he’s already found some surprises that he’d never seen before.

Like any list of films, this one’s hardly all-encompassing. It is very light on Kubrick, Fellini, Herzog, Malick and a great many others. It includes several entries from Hitchcock, but not Vertigo. It leaves out a great many of my personal favorite films, which are beautiful but flawed, in favor of more popular and sometimes conventional approaches to filmmaking — popcorn and soda, not brie and chablis.* There’s nothing here with or by Woody Allen. But what this list is really designed to be is a collection of good movies — funny or fascinating, and maybe even thought-provoking — that this amateur film watcher thinks everyone ought to see.

I hope you’ll turn to this list the next time you are looking for something to fill out that queue on Netflix.

150 Movies You Really Ought to See

1. Citizen Kane
2. North by Northwest
3. Miller’s Crossing
4. Patton
5. Charade
6. Chinatown
7. Last of the Mohicans (1992)
8. To Kill a Mockingbird
9. Bullitt
10. The Sting
11. Ben Hur
12. Ronin
13. Blade Runner
14. The Godfather (1 and 2)
15. Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
16. Star Wars (trilogy)
17. Braveheart
18. Apocalypto
19. The Right Stuff
20. City of God
21. Before the Rain
22. Bridge on the River Kwai
23. The Untouchables
24. Sexy Beast
25. Kagemusha
26. Poltergeist
27. Empire of the Sun
28. Thief
29. Heat
30. Rocky
31. Apocalypse Now
32. The Getaway (1972)
33. The Natural
34. The Big Sleep
35. Unforgiven
36. The Searchers
37. The French Connection
38. Gone With the Wind
39. Psycho
40. The Exorcist
41. Taxi Driver
42. The Manchurian Candidate
43. Dr. Strangelove
44. Walk the Line
45. The Killing
46. The Killers (1964)
47. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
48. Anatomy of a Murder
49. The Third Man
50. The Maltese Falcon
51. Casablanca
52. Metropolis (1927)
53. The Great Escape
54. All the Presidents’ Men
55. The Apartment
56. Lethal Weapon 2
57. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
58. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
59. The Magnificent Seven
60. Planet of the Apes (1968)
61. Terminator (1 and 2)
62. Jaws
63. Aliens
64. The Thing (both)
65. Goldfinger
66. Indiana Jones (1 and 3)
67. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
68. The Blues Brothers
69. Groundhog Day
70. Caddyshack
71. Ghostbusters
72. Stand By Me
73. It’s a Wonderful Life
74. Henry V (1989)
75. The Silence of the Lambs
76. Reservoir Dogs
77. Pulp Fiction
78. Kill Bill (1 and 2)
79. Batman (1989)
80. The Dark Knight
81. Die Hard (1 and 3)
82. L.A. Confidential
83. Gladiator
84. 300
85. Schindler’s List
86. Saving Private Ryan
87. Goodfellas
88. The Departed
89. The Usual Suspects
90. The Prestige
91. The Hustler
92. The Wild Bunch
93. Cinderella Man
94. Master and Commander
95. There Will Be Blood
96. Snatch
97. Seven
98. Fight Club
99. Leon (The Professional)
100. The Matrix (1)
101. Memento
102. Heist
103. Touch of Evil
104. The Shawshank Redemption
105. The Incredibles
106. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
107. The Goonies
108. Toy Story
109. Wall-E
110. The Wizard of Oz
111. The Hudsucker Proxy
112. The Big Lebowski
113. O Brother Where Art Thou
114. Rear Window
115. A Very Long Engagement
116. The Last Picture Show
117. The Painted Veil
118. To Catch a Thief
119. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
120. The Life Aquatic
121. His Girl Friday
122. The Princess Bride
123. Sense and Sensibility (1995)
124. Shaun of the Dead
125. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
126. Dazed and Confused
127. Blazing Saddles
128. Predator
129. Cop Land
130. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
131. Tombstone
132. Army of Darkness
133. South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut
134. Team America: World Police
135. Dune
136. Star Trek (2, 6, and whatever the latest one was)
137. Starship Troopers
138. Juno
139. Rushmore
140. Pan’s Labyrinth
141. Nightmare Before Christmas
142. Lost in Translation
143. Double Indemnity
144. No Country for Old Men
145. A History of Violence
146. Michael Clayton
147. Glengarry Glen Ross
148. American Psycho
149. The Orphanage
150. Primer

* Of course, no one actually eats that any more. As Calvin Trillin wrote:

What happened to Brie and Chablis?
Both Brie and Chablis used to be
The sort of thing everyone ate
When goat cheese and Napa Merlot
Weren’t purchased by those in the know
And monkfish was thought of as bait.

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