So many amazing movies have been produced over the last few decades that it’s almost impossible to sift through them all. That’s where this list comes in! I’ve rounded up some timeless, classic movies – both old and modern classics – for you to watch. Whether you like old musical films (The Sound of Music), gripping crime dramas (The Godfather), modern classics (Salem), or Bollywood movies (3 Idiots), there’s sure to be something you’ll love on this movie list!
These are 15 best classic movies that everyone should watch in their lifetime. They’re a mix of romantic movies, horror movies, animations, comedy movies, and even, intl. movies from around the world!
These movies are not all classic movies – in that they’re 25 years or older – they’re just some really great movies that are genuinely entertaining, that I’ll recommend to anyone!
Whether you’re a movie junkie who spends hours a week watching your favorite movies, or perhaps you only watch movies once a month, you’ll definitely find something to love in this list of best classic movies of all time!
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1. The Sound of Music (1965)
Based on a true-life story, The Sound of Music is a classic musical drama starring Julie Andrews as the free-spirited Maria and Christopher Plummer as the widowed Captain von Trapp. It follows the story of Maria, a postulant at an abbey in Austria who’s sent to be the governess of the Captain’s seven children, but falls in love with him, amidst the German invasion by Hitler’s forces. The Sound of Music is an incredible, classic movie with beautiful cinematography, some of the best soundtracks ever produced, and an awe-inspiring performance from one of the greatest actresses of this age. It was the first film to gross $100 million in North America and if you’ve not – for some reason – watched this movie at least a dozen times, go watch it again!
2. The Godfather (1972)
It’s impossible to create a list of classic movies to watch and not include The Godfather. An elegantly-criminal Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, gangs, violence, etc etc. I don’t think there’s a single soul above the age of 20 who hasn’t watched this. Now I’m going to say something – please don’t kill me – the first movie in the trilogy was a masterpiece, no questions asked but it steadily devolved into something very close to mediocrity with each subsequent film, and the introduction of an incest storyline (somewhere in the second or third film) made me want to strangle the writer. Anyway, it still ranks among the top 25 highest-grossing films of all time, and it’s a must for your watch list.
3. Get Out (2017)
One of the most celebrated and meme-d movies of the 2010s, this directorial debut by Jordan Peele is a satirical horror movie that deserves a place on your watch list. It follows Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) as a Black man who visits his white girlfriend’s parents and finds himself trapped in a horrifying situation. The major reason why this movie was so popular was that it took the classical horror genre, and made it more… infusing statements about race relations in America, and white, liberal racism. It’s a definite must-watch for everyone.
4. The Handmaiden (2016)
This is one of those underrated movies that deserve far more hype! The Handmaiden is a psychological thriller set in Japanese-occupied Korea. It follows Sook-Hee (Kim Tae-Ri), a pickpocket who has been hired by a con man under the name of Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo) to help him seduce a Japanese heiress, Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) so he can marry her and steal her inheritance. This is the most basic plot I can give without spoiling this classic movie, but expect lots of revenge, betrayal, sapphic love, and an incredible plot twist that will leave you reeling. CW for child abuse and sexual assault.
5. Cloud Atlas (2012)
One of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations of all time, Cloud Atlas is an epic sci-fi movie, traversing six different timelines from slavery-era 1849 to futuristic 2321. Each of the timelines has its own story, but all these stories are linked to each other with the characters meeting in these different lives. With a star-studded cast comprising Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Bae Doona, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant, and more, Cloud Atlas is one of those unforgettable, epic movies of the decade.
6. Moonlight (2016)
Another highly-celebrated movie, Moonlight is a coming-of-age story about a Black, gay boy, Chiron living with his addict mother (played by Naomie Harris), while navigating his sexuality, and dealing with bullies and abuse from his mother. Set in three different timelines, it stars Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes as the child, teenager, and adult Chiron respectively. It also stars Mahershala Ali as Juan, Chiron’s father figure, Janelle Monae as Juan’s girlfriend and it helped to shoot Jharrel Jerome (who played the teenage love interest, Kevin) into the spotlight. Moonlight explores the intersection between Blackness, queerness, and masculinity with the nuance and care it deserves, and if you haven’t gotten to it yet, now is the time!
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7. Taare Zameen Par (Intl: Like Stars on Earth, 2007)
I can’t create a list of classic movies to watch without mentioning this one. Produced and directed by Aamir Khan (star of 3 Idiots), Taare Zameen Par is an Indian movie that explores the life of Ishaan (Darsheel Safary), an 8-year-old dyslexic boy with a talent for art. He is frequently mocked and belittled by everyone until he meets an art teacher, Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) who recognizes his disability and helps him overcome it. This is an incredibly emotional movie that encourages kindness and empathy and will leave you sobbing.
8. Rafiki (2018)
Set in Nairobi, Kenya, Rafiki is the story of two girls, Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) who fall in love despite the religious and homophobic society they live in. It shows the abuse and hate they receive from their friends, family, and neighbors, and how they endure despite that. Rafiki was the first Kenyan film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
Not-so-fun fact about this movie: It was initially banned by the Kenyan Film Classification Board who asked the film director, Waniru Kahiu to change the ending – due to its homosexual theme and positive ending – and was only allowed to be screened in Kenya (four months after its Cannes screening) after Kahiu sued the Kenyan government. It still sold out hah!
9. The Avengers (2012)
The first of Marvel’s The Avengers (a series of four of the best movies of all time), The Avengers (2012) needs no introduction. This is the third-highest-grossing film of all time, and unarguably, one of the greatest movies of the 21st century. If you haven’t heard of this yet – maybe you’re just visiting Earth – The Avengers is a superhero movie about a group of powerful humans (and non-humans) who must work together to prevent the Norse god, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from subjugating Earth. What made this movie so popular is that it’s not just a lot of punching and CGI, there’s heart involved; friendship, belonging, and found family.
10. Parasite (2019)
If you were anywhere on social media last year, it would have been impossible to miss this classic movie! Called a gasp-inducing masterpiece, a boundary-smashing stroke of genius, a phenomenal thriller movie, and more, Parasite swept awards at the 2019 Golden Globes, Oscars, Palme d’Or, Screen Actors Guild, and more. In fact, for a while, it was the only movie everyone was talking about! If you missed the entire buzz, here’s what it’s about: a South Korean black comedy thriller film, it follows the members of a poor family who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating their household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals. It’s directed by Bong Joon-Ho – whose Golden Globes speech about “overcoming the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles” broke the Internet – and stars Song Kang-Ho, Lee Sun-Kyun, Cho Yeo-Jeong, Choi Woo-Shik, Park So-Dam, Jang Hye-Jin, and Lee Jung-Eun.
11. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
I know what you’re thinking: an animated movie on a list of best classic movies?? Yes, it deserves this spot; fight me. The first animated movie in the Spider-Man franchise, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse features a Black, Puerto-Rican teenager, Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) who gains spider-like abilities and has to work with other Spider-People from other dimensions to stop the bad guy, Kingpin from accessing parallel universes to bring back his dead wife and son.
Tbh, this movie needs no introduction. It won several awards including an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. It’s a beautiful, visually-stunning masterpiece with some of the most detailed art I have ever seen in animation. If you haven’t watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse yet, I don’t know what to say 😂😂
12. Selma (2014)
Ava DuVernay’s biopic is based on the historic 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights by civil rights protestors. In recent months, as the BLM protests reached a peak, Selma also became more popular due to an increase in “anti-racist” movie lists. Starring big-name actors like David Oyelowo (as Martin Luther King, Jr.), Carmen Ejogo, André Holland, Tessa Thompson, Common, Lakeith Stanfield, Oprah Winfrey, and more, this 2014 classic movie is one you should watch again and again.
13. Burlesque (2010)
Burlesque stars Christina Aguilera as a jobless singer, Ali who ends up at a burlesque club while searching for a job. She meets Tess (Cher), the owner who mentors her and gives her a chance to shine. The movie also stars Stanley Tucci as Sean, the manager of the club, and Kirsten Bell as Nikki, the lead performer. Although this classic movie is not very popular, it’s still one of my favorite movies of all time. Cher and Christina are such amazing artists and performers. Add Burlesque to your watch list ASAP!
14. Coco (2017)
Based on the Mexican holiday, Dia de Los Muertos, Coco is an animated film about Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young musician who is banned from playing by his family. He is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician ancestor to return him to his family among the living and to reverse his family’s ban. Featuring a majority-Hispanic cast, Coco is a classic movie with beautiful visuals and an emotional, heartfelt story that you’ll never forget!
15. 3 Idiots (2009)
Yet another Aamir Khan film, 3 Idiots is a coming-of-age movie about three students, Rancho (Aamir Khan), Farhan (R. Madhavan), and Raju (Sharman Joshi) who meet in an engineering college and become friends amidst the social pressures under an Indian education system. It’s a very emotional movie that sheds light on the suicidal rates of students in India, without being overly preachy and boring. It also stars the beautiful and amazing Kareena Kapoor as Pia, a doctor, and Rancho’s love interest.
So, that’s the end! If you’re interested in classic, iconic movies of the 90s, as well as modern classic movies, I hope this list helps you find the perfect movie to watch!
Have you watched any of these movies? What do you think of them? What are some of your favorite classic movies of all time?
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