An explanation of this post’s title: I know all the movies on this list are famous, but I feel like they’re famous in different worlds: the documentary world, the Bollywood world, the classic high-school world, the general young public world, and the general older public world. There’s only one movie on here you’re probably guaranteed to know of, but my goal is to have at least one you’ve never heard of.
Hoop Dreams // sports documentary
Length: 2h 55m
Rotten Tomatoes: 98/93
Release Year: 1994
The people who created this documentary made it by following the lives of two high-schoolers for five years, like The Office but for real. The documentary is long, but I remember finishing it and not believing that three hours had passed. There isn’t fast action every two seconds—it’s quiet and filled with daily moments—but it’s absolutely dramatic. It’s because this movie is about so, so much more than basketball. It’s about two kids chasing after huge dreams with everything they’ve got even as life does its very best to stop them.
I can’t exactly describe the feeling I had after watching this. The best way I can put it is that my heart felt so full—not in a happiness sort of way, but just full. It made me want to be a documentarian (documentarist? documentarier?), it made me fall in love with Story for the thousandth time, and it made me want to change the world. None of that is an exaggeration.
Three Idiots // Bollywood, comedy & drama
I didn’t include the trailer for this one because I think it’s better to go into this movie blind.
Length: 2h 50m
Rotten Tomatoes: 100/93
Release Year: 2009
This is my favorite movie of all time. I love this movie. If I was talking to you face-to-face, those two sentences would be so chock full of exclamations and all-caps. It would be like this: I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!! And probably accompanied by some excited hand-waving too.
The reason why it’s my unquestionable favorite is very simple: it’s the only movie that a) I’ve watched multiple times (at least three, maybe four) and b) has been just as good every time. I can’t think of another movie besides this one that I’ve wanted to rewatch. It’s so weird, so long, and SO GOOD. This movie has truly influenced my philosophy on life.
10 Things I Hate About You // romantic comedy
Length: 1h 39m
Rotten Tomatoes: 68/69
Release Year: 1999
I watched this one two weeks ago and it was the inspiration for this post. This movie is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, which I’ve never read, but I feel like you can’t talk about this movie without including that fact.
The movie has some sort of magical ingredient that I can’t name, but I know it’s there because theoretically, this movie should be terrible. It’s full of Extremely Unrealistic High School Scenes and Tropey Characters. But somehow—inexplicably, illogically (which I just learned is not a real word), unreasonably—it makes me so happy and I’m in love with it.
The Marvel movies // superheroes, sci-fi & action
If you want to watch the Marvel movies, but don’t know where to start, this is the order I watched them in.
If you asked me to choose my favorite Marvel movie, I would give you one (or more realistically five) after long internal debate, but I prefer to think of all the movies as one humongous movie.
I love the Marvel movies because they managed to created characters and a universe that I got so attached to that after watching Endgame (the final movie of the “first series”), I got stuck in a semi-faze for two or three days because a good part of me just wanted to return to the world.
And because so many other people love Marvel. There’s something awesome about being able to walk into any room of American kids and banking on the fact that most likely someone else also loves Marvel. In other words, I like being a part of a fandom even if I will never make it into the echelon of serious fans. I love Percy Jackson and Harry Potter was so good, but Marvel’s the only series that I have a Pinterest board for and that I’ve watched so many interviews of.
So to all the people who say the Marvel movies are just unoriginal and money-makers, my response is: Are you going to hate on restaurants for offering french fries because they know it makes money even if it doesn’t match their menu? (I don’t know if that’s a good analogy, but I just thought of it.)
But then I would continue to say: I see what you’re saying, but even if they’re “bad” movies, they’re good at making me watch them.
All the President’s Men // political & historical drama
Length: 2h 18m
Rotten Tomatoes: 93/92
Release Year: 1976
I saw multiple websites describe this movie as a “political thriller”, but I think that’s misleading. Well, in the literal sense of the word “thriller,” I guess it’s true, but not really. I didn’t know this until today, but there’s actually specific differences between “thriller” and “horror”. Horror is unrealistic and scary, but thriller is realistic and not necessarily scary. Thriller just means there’s suspense. (Apparently some people say The Odyssey was the first true thriller? But this other post pushed back against the very idea that there should even be a separation, sooo.)
The movie is about journalists breaking Watergate, the biggest news story ever broken in US history, but the heart of this movie is still journalism. Actually, the entire movie is about journalism. Which means that 99% of the movie is two guys researching, scribbling notes, clacking on a typewriter, and talking to people who don’t want to talk to them.
If that sounds boring to you, don’t watch this movie. As for me, I thought Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were as amazing as any of the Avengers. I didn’t love this movie in the same all-caps way that I loved the rest of this list, but I love it in a “ahhh journalism!!!” kind of way.
Have you watched any of these before?
What are your favorite movies?
Do you have different but famous movies to recommend?
Last movie you saw?