Nowadays, many people with a fleeting or passing interest in cinema may wonder to themselves, “Where should I begin in regard to watching great movies? Why was this particular movie so influential? What made this movie so great?”
Well, below is a list of 10 films that any person with a real interest in cinema should watch at least once, and why.
This great film changed and renovated cinema, audiovisual communication, science fiction, popular culture, contemporary narrative, and even predicted the iPad and many of the other advances in technology that we take for granted.
Kubrick managed to paint a beautiful fresco of the History of the Universe and the History of the Human Species, where the groundbreaking narrative encompasses man’s preternatural hubris, destructive, and self-destructive impulses, his continuous struggle for advance and discovery, his preoccupation with death, and the unspeakable vastness of our universe along with its infinite mysteries.
This film inspired an incredible number of filmmakers, such as Steven Spielberg, Sydney Pollack, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Woody Allen, and Federico Fellini. It paved the way for great films such as “Blade Runner”, “Alien”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and “Solaris”.
This is Fellini’s masterpiece. After the great success of “La Dolce Vita” three years earlier, the Italian Genius set out to make a film about what it’s like to make films.
The result is a bittersweet ode to cinema, but also an examination of the creative mind and how the creative man deals with it. Over the course of the film, we follow the protagonist, the successful and desired filmmaker Guido Anselmi, as he tries to manage his complicated life, come to terms with his mistakes, losses and selfishness, and face the responsibilities that come with being an artistic genius.
This is the movie that turned cinema from an occasional diversion for some people into what it is nowadays.
To call this film groundbreaking would be understatement of the century. It showed that cinema could be an exciting medium for entertainment, narrative, and art. All of them, all at the same time. Griffith introduced narrative and technical innovations that helped shape the medium of cinema like no other film.
This was one of the first Surrealist films ever made and it is without doubt the most notorious film of its era, and the most influential Surrealist movie of all time.
Based on a screenplay by the director himself and Salvador Dali, this film is more a collection of images and shots than an actual plot and has actually been called the first music video ever, as it used all the conventions and stylistic devices that this medium has always utilized, decades before it came into existence.
It also introduced violence to cinema like no other film before. It’s most famous clip, by far, is when the character played by Buñuel takes a razor blade, holds a young woman’s head steady, opens her left eye wide, and after the film cuts to a close-up of the eyeball, slits it open with the razor.
This film, Bresson’s first masterpiece, was what inspired Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”
At the time of its release, it was praised in part for the performance by its protagonist, Claude Laydu, the country priest in the title, of course. However, what Bresson always looked for in his films were, for want of a better word, anti-performances. Laydu wasn’t an actor before he was cast in this film, and out of the whole cast, only one was a professional actress.
What we have in this film is an unforgettable and scarring look at isolation, pain, despair, doubt, misery, and an extremely profound and poignant examination of what human beings must do in order to achieve redemption and grace.
This is the first ever “respectable” sequel. In fact, it was the film that popularized sequels and the first film to use the phrase “Part II” in its title.
This masterpiece shows, in great detail, Michael Corleone’s “moral” downfall as a human being and the absolute hypocrisy of his very existence, alongside his triumph over his enemies and obstacles, and his father’s rise to leader of the Sicilian Mafia in New York.
To put it simply, this is the greatest gangster movie ever made, even though such a statement is terribly reductionist, as this film is much more than that. Those who have seen it endless times will agree with this.
This film is an extremely powerful ode to the love between a father and his son.
A single mother is discharged from hospital with a newborn baby. She decides to abandon the child and writes a note begging whoever finds him to love and care for him. Our beloved little tramp is the one who finds him and reluctantly takes on the responsibility.
Five years later, they’re a lovable pair of partners in petty crime, until a series of unexpected and sad events changes their lives forever.
One of the first ever vampire films and the first “Dracula” cinematographic adaption ever.
Perhaps one of the greatest horror films of all time, it shows Expressionism in all its glory through cinema. Lacking the rights to the Bram Stoker novel, Murnau changed the title and the characters’ names. Nevertheless, Stoker’s estate sued and won.
All copies of the film were ordered to be destroyed; however, one copy survived and was then copied and bootlegged all over the world.
This has been touted as the first American modern film. It was enormously groundbreaking in its depiction of violence, sexuality, and the points where they meet and intersect in mainstream entertainment.
Marion crane steals money from one of her boss’ associates, and as she’s trying to escape, she ends up in the Bates Motel, where there are 12 rooms and 12 vacancies. She’s tended to by Norman Bates, the son of the owner, Mrs. Bates. She goes for a shower and then, well, we all know what happened next.
This is now considered to be the perfect slasher film, and it’s one that forever changed and reshaped cinema, especially horror movies.
This was one of the first action movies as we know them today, and it’s an epic adventure drama about loyalty, bravery, trust, honor, and teamwork.
A group of poor villagers hire the seven samurai to help and protect them against some thieves who terrorize them and steal their crops. Astonishing from the very first frame to the last, this epic leaves viewers speechless time and time again.