To lift her out of her gloom, Jenny enlists her two best friends for one last adventure in New York City. Galaxy Quest is about the cast (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman) of an old TV show, also called Galaxy Quest, who resent that their careers have been whittled down to convention appearances. Everything suddenly changes when a group of aliens called Thermians ask them for help fighting an enemy warlord. See, the Thermians watched their show and think that it’s a historical document, and that the actors are real space travelers. The movie is ostensibly a Star Trek parody, but it’s such a loving parody that no Trekkie would be upset by it.
We combed through movie rankings, critical reviews, and award nominations, and spoke to fellow pop culture fans to bring you this list of crucial must-watch films. Of course, you can expect to see well-known classic films like Casablanca and The Sound of Music on this list, in addition to movies from iconic directors like Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, and Alfred Hitchcock. But modern masterpieces like Everything Everywhere All At Once and Get Out stand up just as well and are on this list, too. The latest from director Noah Baumbach has him reteaming with his Marriage Story lead Adam Driver for another quirky look at disintegrating families and interpersonal angst—albeit with an apocalyptic twist. Driver stars as Jack Gladney, a college professor faking his way through a subject he’s unable to teach and struggling to work out family life with his fourth wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig), and their four kids from previous relationships. Neurotic familial squabbles prove the least of their worries when an “airborne toxic event” hits their town, sending everyone scrambling for cover with exponentially disastrous results.
Six films in total have grossed in excess of $2 billion worldwide, with Avatar ranked in the top position. All of the films have had a theatrical run (including re-releases) in the 21st century, and films that have not played during this period do not appear on the chart because of ticket-price inflation, population size and ticket purchasing trends not being considered. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve managed to catch about two films per day. Though, that’s not because of the volume so much as it’s because of the molten, infrared tones of Harmony Korine’s Aggro Dr1ft. It’s one of the more recent movies that I’ve seen—if you can call it that.
One of the first slasher films (that launched many copycats to come) is Alfred Hitchcock’s creepy story of Norman Bates and his hotel on the hill. When Steven Spielberg made this movie, I’m unsure if he knew it would become the face of anti-shark propaganda, and make a whole generation scared to get in the water. Regardless, this movie about a sheriff, marine biologist, and fisherman hunting down a shark that’s terrorizing their beach town is a must-see.
Now rashly divorced from Helene (Edie Falco), the woman he still loves; regretting his decision to retire early; and struggling with his adult son Preston’s (Thomas Mann) battles with drug addiction, Anders is spiraling. Set in New York City in 1968, The Boys in the Band is a snapshot of gay life a year before Stonewall brought LGBTQ+ rights to mainstream attention. As the night wears on, personalities clash, tempers fray, and secrets threaten to come to the surface in director Joe Mantello’s tense character study. Adapted for the screen by Mart Crowley, author of the original stage play, this period piece manages to be as poignant an exploration of queer relationships and identities as ever. Cherry struggles with speaking to other people, preferring to share his feelings through haiku.
Hogan (“Muriel’s Wedding”) and the screenwriter Ronald Bass (“Rain Man”) allow Roberts to tinker with her audience’s expectations, complicating their assumed empathy for the actor with her character’s questionable (and even cruel) motives and actions. And Cameron Diaz is brilliantly used as the target of her ire — a character so warm and sunny, we can’t help but wonder whose side we’re really on. There is no such thing as an objective, definitive canon, no matter the medium, and no matter what a media outlet may tell you when it releases a list of, oh, say, the greatest movies ever made – present company included. But we’re not so foolish as to think of ourselves like Moses on the mountain, proclaiming these films as the best of all-time, with no room for debate. Instead, we’re merely hoping to shake up (and in some spots confirm) the conventional wisdom, introduce different perspectives and, maybe most importantly, spark passionate debate.
Things get ugly between them, and the movie doesn’t shy away from profanity, raunchiness, or toilet humor. This is probably one of your mom’s favorite movies, and for good reason TBH. Baby (Jennifer Grey) is staying at a fancy mountain resort with her family when she meets Johnny (Patrick Swayze), one of the resort’s dance instructors. When Johnny’s dance partner can’t perform with him, Baby offers to substitute for her, and you can guess where this is going. Though it’s not technically a musical (nobody sings), it does feature a lot of dance numbers, and let me tell you, it’s not called Dirty Dancing for nothing — lots of gyrating pelvises and heaving bosoms on display here.
The actors’ strong performances help the film win the day, despite a ludicrously far-fetched ending. Ari Aster’s latest is an early front-runner for most polarizing movie of the year. You’ll either get down with Aster’s sense of humor and submit to this absurd, punishing epic of mommy issues and paralyzing anxiety, or you’ll be alienated and put off by it. I erred more in the former camp—admiring the film’s abundance of detail, Aster’s visual imagination, and, yes, all the puerile humor. Aster’s use of a certain Mariah Carey track alone pays off the three-hour runtime. Easily as influential on the genre as that other summer ’08 comic-book movie, Iron Man, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins sequel works wonders because he never saw it as a superhero film.
Their performances are subtle and convincing, touching and gripping; crucially, they imbue these characters with the vivid humanity society denies them. British Iranian filmmaker Babak Jalalia’s Fremont moves slowly through carefully composed black and white frames. The film follows Donya (a wonderful Anaita Wali Zada), a 20-something refugee and former translator for the American military, as she tries to get by in Northern California.
It’s closer to a Michael Mann crime epic — except instead of Pacino and De Niro in a diner, you get a bloke dressed as a bat and a psychotic clown in a police interrogation room. After all the pre-release hype about how dark and brutal Fight Club was, one of the most surprising things to discover on seeing it was just how funny it actually was. And just as well; if you weren’t laughing at Bob’s “bitch-tits” or Tyler Durden’s human-fat soap-making antics, it would be pretty hard to process David Fincher’s bravura take on Chuck Palahniuk’s tale of modern masculinity running insanely rampant. If America were a person, then oil man Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a vampire. (A milkshake-drinking vampire, if you feel like mixing our metaphor with his own.) Which is why it’s appropriate that Paul Thomas Anderson gives the film a bit of a horror-movie vibe throughout and Day-Lewis delivers such a deliciously monstrous performance… Right up to the point where he spills literal blood in an empty mansion, haunted only by himself.
When her family moves to the suburbs, 10-year-old Chihiro finds herself in a magical realm where a witch turns her parents into pigs. She then must navigate an unknown world of gods, witches, and spirits to save her parents. Spirited Away is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s most beloved movies and makes the case that animation is not just for children. Its massive international success was also a huge win for Japanese animation, and many consider it the best animated film ever made.
Spaghetti Westerns also tended to be more dark than regular Westerns, featuring characters with murkier motivations and more bloodlust. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is also widely remembered for its iconic score by Ennio Morricone. Everyone remembers where they were when they announced the wrong winner for Best Picture at the Oscars in 2017. The movie that (rightfully) walked away with the trophy that night was Moonlight, a coming-of-age story about Chiron, who we follow from childhood (Alex Hibbert) to adolescence (Ashton Sanders) to adulthood (Trevante Rhodes). Chiron grapples with his masculinity, sexuality, and Blackness through his relationships with his father figure, his love interest, and his mother. It all leads to a final scene that’s devastating, hopeful, and romantic in equal measure.
When Steven Spielberg brought them back on Isla Nublar, we felt for the first time they could be real, breathing animals (as opposed to monsters). And that’s as much thanks to Stan Winston’s astonishing animatronics work as to ILM’s groundbreaking CGI. How two sibling indie film-makers with only a slick, sexy little crime free movie sites film to their name (Bound) created their own blockbuster sci-fi franchise. And opened up western audiences to the truth that kung-fu acrobatics are so much more fun than watching American or European muscle-men waving guns around. While also making everyone examine some fundamental philosophical questions about reality.
So one of the pleasures of The Two Towers is seeing Middle-earth truly open out after the arrival at Rohan, where the series takes on more of a sweeping, Nordic feel… Building up, of course, to Helm’s Deep, a ferocious action crescendo which features gratuitous scenes of dwarf-tossing. Which is a brilliantly weird, round-the-houses way of reminding us that heartbreak should be valued as one of the things that makes us.