Movies to Watch


Movies to watch — an incomplete and informal list to get you thinking

Today’s movie buff has many options for viewing. With DVDs, Netflix, Hulu, cable, and the Internet, films from the entire span of movie history, across continents and genres, are readily available. Finding films to watch is easy, but finding films that may be worth your while and may expand your appreciation of film beyond the comfort zone of what you usually tend to watch may be more problematic.

I’ve been teaching a course on the history of film for a number of years and have had the pleasure of working with many students. Thanks to social media, I’m still in touch with many folks who have taken the class. Wondering what films continue to make an impression on people, I recently took the opportunity to ask them what movies they would recommend for people with a similar interest in film. Many former students graciously sent along their responses, and I’ve compiled a listing here of movies they recommend, organizing the selections chronologically. There is nothing scientific or balanced about this list, but I think it’s a good source of ideas for people wondering what films from the past they might add to viewing selections.  Obviously this list is a starting point, and many favorites do not appear here.  Admittedly, the list itself is far from comprehensive, so please feel free to share your comments and your own suggestions as a comment to this posting. I’ll update the list from time to time with new suggestions. 

– G.A.

MOVIE SUGGESTIONS (an incomplete and informal list to get you thinking)

  • 1927 – Metropolis (directed by Fritz Lang, starring Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel)
  • 1932 – Freaks (directed by Tod Browning, starring Wallace Ford and Leila Hyams)
  • 1938 – Bringing Up Baby (directed by Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant)
  • 1939 – Union Pacific (directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Anthony Quinn, Robert Preston)
  • 1939 –The Wizard of Oz (directed by Victor Fleming, starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack haley, Margaret Hamilton)
  • 1940 – The Grapes of Wrath (directed by John Ford, starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine)
  • 1941 – The Maltese Falcon (directed by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogard)
  • 1944 – Double Indemnity (directed by Billy Wilder; starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson Freaks
  • 1945 – Spellbound (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck)
  • 1946 – The Big Sleep (directed by Howard Hawks, starring Humphrey BogartLauren Bacall, screenplay by William Faulkner)
  • 1948  – Rope (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart and others)
  • 1948 – Red River (directed by Howard Hawks, starring John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru)
  • 1948 – The Bicycle Thief  (Sometimes translated as Bicycle Thieves; original title: Ladri di biciclette. Directed by Vittorio De Sica, starring Lamberto Maggiorani, Lianella Carell, Enzo Staiola)
  • 1950 – Roshomon (directed by Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô and Masayuki Mori)
  • 1953 – Pickup on South Street (directed by Samuel Fuller, starring Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter, Richard Kiley)
  • 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (directed by Don Siegel, starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Winter, Larry Gates, Carolyn Jones)
  • 1958 – Vertigo (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart. Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes)
  • 1959 — Hiroshima Mon Amour (directed by Alain Resnais, Starring Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada)
  • 1959 – North by Northwest (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason)
  • 1960 — La dolce vita (directed by Federico Fellini, starring Marcello Mastroiani, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimee)
  • 1960 – Psycho (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh. Vera Miles)
  • 1962 – Lawrence of Arabia (directed by David Lean, starring Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn)
  • 1962 – To Kill a Mockingbird (directed by Robert Mulligan, starring Harper Lee, Horton Foote, Brock Peters, Paul Fix)
  • 1963 – 8 1/2 (directed by Federico Fellini, starring Marcello Mastroiani, Anouk Aimee, Claudia Cardinale)
  • 1964 – Dr. Strangelove (directed by Stanley Kubrick; starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, and others)
  • 1966 – Alfie (directed by Lewis Gilbert, starring Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin)
  • 1966 – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (dieted by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood)
  • 1967 – Bonnie and Clyde (directed by Arthur Penn, starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard)
  • 1967 – Le Samouraï (directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, starring Alain Delon, Nathalie Delon)
  • 1969 – Easy Rider (directed by Dennis Hopper, starring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Jack Nicholson)
  • 1969  – Satyricon (directed by Federico Fellini, starring Martin Potter, Hiram Keller, and others)
  • 1970 – Five Easy Pieces (directed by Bob Rafelson, starring Jack Nocholson, Karen Black)
  • 1970 – Gimme Shelter (directed by Albert Maysles and David Maysles)
  • 1971 –Straw Dogs (directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan)
  • 1973 – Mean Streets (directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Amy Robinson)
  • 1973 – Sleeper (directed by Woody Allen, starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton)
  • 1974 – The Conversation (directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Gene Hackman)
  • 1974 – Blazing Saddles (directed by Mel Brooks, starring Cleavon LIttle, gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, and others)
  • 1975 – Nashville (directed by Robert Altman, starring Keith Carradine, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Shelley Duvall, Henry Gibson, Jeff Goldblum, and many others)
  • 1977- Annie Hall (directed by Woody Allen, starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Marshall, Shelly Duvall, Christopher Walken)
  • 1979 – Apocalypse Now (directed by Francis For Coppola, starring Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford)
  • 1979 – Kramer vs. Kramer (directed by Robert Benton, starring Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander)
  • 1984 – The Killing Fields (starring Roland Joffé, starring Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor, John Malkovich)
  • 1985 – Brazil (directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Iam Holm, Bob Hoskins, Katherine Helmond, Michael Palin)
  • 1986 – Peggy Sue Got Married (directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Sofia Coppola)
  • 1988 – Akira (directed by Katsuhiro Ohtomo, starring Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama)
  • 1988 – Thin Blue Line (directed by Errol Morris, starring Randall Adams, David Harris)
  • 1989 – Roger & Me (directed by Michael Moore)
  • 1992 – Glengarry Glen Ross (directed by David Mamet, starring Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Bladwin)
  • 1993 – Short Cuts (directed by Robert Altman, starring Andie MacDowell, Julianne Moore, Tim Robbins, Jack Lemmon)
  • 1995 – Smoke (directed by Wayne Wang, starring Harvey Keitel, William Hurt)
  • 1998 – Pi – (directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Sean Guillette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman)
  • 1999 – American Beauty (directed by Sam Mendes, starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch)
  • 2000 – High Fidelity (directed by Stephen Frears, starring John Cusack, Jack Black, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso)
  • 2000 – Requiem for a Dream (directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly)
  • 2001 – Amélie (directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, starring Audrey Tautou, Mathieu, Kassovitz)
  • 2002 – Morvern Callar (directed by Lynne Ramsay, starring Samantha MortonKathleen McDermott and Linda McGuire)
  • 2003 – The Return  (original title: Vozvrashcheniye. Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, starring Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov and Konstantin Lavronenko)
  • 2006 – Pan’s Labyrinth (directed by Guillermo del Toro, starring Ivana BaqueroAriadna Gil and Sergi López)
  • 2008 – Slumdog Millionaire (directed by Danny Boyle, starring Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla)
  • 2008 – Hunger (directed by Steve McQueen, starring Stuart Graham, Laine Megaw)
  • 2011 – Hugo (directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee)


Acknowledgements: My thanks to Dani Shirtcliff and many other former students at Montserrat College of Art and other contributors for suggesting films of this list.

Image (above): Wiki Commons, Creative Commons License

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