aNewDomain — If you’re a movie fan, then there’s a good chance you have seen at least one of the movies on the following list. But probably you haven’t seen all of them. This is not a list of bizarre, unknown art-house movies that hold no appeal for the general movie buff. It’s an essential list of movies that all movie lovers should see.
If you haven’t seen one or more, it’s time to look them up on Netflix or your favorite streaming service. So sit back and bask in the knowledge that you’ve got a handful of excellent hours before you. Here’s my list of essential movies you need to see but maybe haven’t.
The Essential Movie List
The full list of movies I think everyone should see is actually rather long, but I pared it down to these 10 (for now). Here they are, listed in no particular order:
1. “Blood Simple” (1984) — This the Coen Brothers’ (Joel and Ethan) first major release and is one of their best. It represents Film Noir, but it has modern sensibilities and was shot in color. In it, a rich guy hires a PI to kill his cheating wife and her lover. But nothing about this task is easy. Notable line: “I ain’t done nothing funny.”
2. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) — If you’re looking for something to blame for the coming zombie apocalypse, this movie by George A. Romero is it. The film consists of a group of people hiding in a farmhouse, afraid for their lives and limbs as the walking dead creep in. This film establishes the zombie as a movie metaphor for the slow but relentless destructive force that is eventually going to consume society. The source of the metaphor may change with the times, but never the zombie.
3. “The Player” (1992) — Looking for a movie about the behind the scenes workings of Hollywood without the “Entourage” self-referencing humor? This Roger Altman movie is for you. A producer rejects a script and begins to receive death threats, which devolves in a shady exchange of information and blackmail.
4. “To Have and Have Not” (1944) — The off-screen chemistry of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall oozes on-screen for the first time in this movie. Set during World War II, an out-of-work boatman decides to help a fugitive flee the Nazis while becoming entangled with a lounge singer. Lauren Bacall’s character is one of the sexiest ever filmed. Notable line: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? Just put your lips together and blow.” Hubba hubba.
5. “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) — Sergio Leone has made several classic westerns, but this is my favorite. Charles Bronson is a mysterious, bad-harmonica-playing drifter with a dangerous past looking for an evil, murderous villain, played wonderfully by Henry Fonda. The first 10 minutes is one of my favorite movie sequences of all time.
6. “The Professional” (1994) — Leon, played by Jean Reno, lives a quiet life as a professional assassin. One day Leon’s simple life is disrupted when he takes mercy on the 12-year-old Mathilda, played by a surprisingly young Natalie Portman, after her family is murdered by a corrupt DEA agent, played with great zeal by Gary Oldman. The movie mixes violence, humor, revenge and misguided love to create a classic film experience you won’t soon forget.
7. “Touch of Evil” (1958) — Orson Wells made one of the most iconic movies ever made, “Citizen Kane,” but this is the one that sticks out in my mind. The story of a corrupt cop in a corrupt border town drenches the viewer in ominous shades of black and grey in one of the finest examples of Film Noir anyone can find.
8. “Kung Fu Hustle” (2004) — I have seen many Kung Fu movies in my day, and there are certainly plenty worthy of making this list, but this one is just too much fun to ignore. Directed by and starring Stephen Chow, this movie includes over-the-top comedy intermingled with great fighting scenes and stunts. Describing it in words just does not do it justice — you’ll have to see it to understand.
Video: Kung Fu Hustle – Trailer
9. “12 Angry Men” (1957) — Some movies are about action, others are about subtle interaction that relies on superb acting and captivating dialogue. The best example of a movie requiring exceptional acting for me is “12 Angry Men.” This is one of the greatest collections of character actors ever assembled for a movie. As the jurors decide the fate of a murder suspect, they touch on social problems such as race, poverty and the judicial system.
Video: 12 Angry Men (1957) Trailer
10. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014) — Wes Andersen makes the most quirky, indescribable movies you will ever see. While the rest of the movies on this list are at least several years old, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was released in 2014 and nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Even with that honor, not enough of you have seen it. It tells the tale of a legendary, defunct hotel, the man who owns it and a bellhop that helps to steal a famous painting.
What unique movies would you add to this list? I can think of many other movies I think people should see, but I would welcome your suggestions. What’s your favorite off-beat movie?
Images in order: Now Showing by D Daun via clker.com; “To Have and Have” not via Public Domain; “Touch of Evil” via Public Domain