Being a film enthusiast, one of the hardest questions I’ve been asked is “What is the best movie of all time?” It’s tough, because there are far too many great movies, far too many almost-flawless masterpieces.
I once had a debate with my friend on what the greatest movie of all time was, and after arguing for 8 hours straight and gulping down 11 Iced-Chocolates, the only result of the debate was the café manager giving us weird looks and a very expensive bill (11 Iced-Chocolates per person ain’t cheap).
So how about we don’t go down that road again, and instead, I give you a list of my favourite movies of all time. Movies that you must watch before you die. Because it doesn’t matter if you’ve won an Olympic gold medal, trekked Mount Everest with one hand tied behind your back, slept with Jennifer Lopez or visited the moon with a rocket ship you built in your backyard. Unless you’ve watched these movies, your life isn’t complete and, when you’re on your deathbed, it wouldn’t be your life that flashes before your eyes, but this article, and you will regret not listening to me when you had the chance.
So, without further ado, here are 15 great movies you simply have to watch before you die (in no particular order).
15 Fight Club (1999)
*Insert do not talk about Fight Club joke here*
Every film buff probably has that one movie that made him/her go from a casual movie watcher to “OMFG! FILM IS LIFE!!!” To me, that movie was Fight Club.
Many people assume that Fight Club is about a bunch of topless men beating the crap outta each other. While the movie does contain exactly that, Fight Club is so much deeper. This is a movie about capitalism and how most people are nothing but mindless slaves to the system. A random thought just popped into my head: Fight Club is kinda like The Lego Movie, except for adults.
Fight Club is also the movie that put David Fincher on the map as an ingenious director, after his debut film Alien 3 was a giant mess.
Oscars: 0 (As I said, the people in charge of making these decisions are morons).
Much more important award: The movie that made David Fincher God!
14 Oldboy (Korea, 2003)
Whenever I try convincing people to watch Oldboy – the Korean version btw, not the crappy American remake – people either give me the “get the f*ck outta here” look, or they send me the homophobic seal meme. Because people tend to associate all things Korean with either pretty boys, Barbie doll girls, a lousy episode of Boys over Flowers OR, what’s that game show where celebrities play games and go full retard? Running Man?
Guys, no. The Korean film industry churns out some of the best films you’ll ever lay your eyes upon. And the granddaddy of this industry, is none other than Park Chan Wook’s masterpiece, Oldboy. Perfectly written, perfectly directed and perfectly acted, Oldboy will leave your balls empty for a week straight.
Oldboy is also one of those movies where the less you know going into it, the better. So, I’ll just say this is the best revenge film you will ever watch in your life. It is impossible for anyone to ever make a revenge film that is better than Oldboy. It’s not just your typical action-revenge film, though the action scenes here are top notch as well – there is a legendary one take fight scene that has inspired an entire generation of filmmakers. But though the action scenes are great, I will mostly remember Oldboy for how uncomfortable it made me feel throughout. Genius!
Much more important award: Showed the world that there's more to Korea than just "Sorry sorry sorry sorry!"
13 Blue Valentine (2010)
Two things come to mind when I think of Blue Valentine.
One, Ryan Gosling is a genius and it’s sad that most people know him because of his worst movie till date – The Notebook.
Two, more often than not, I find romance movies to be absolutely ridiculous, yes, and that includes 500 Days of Summer.
Blue Valentine though, is a romance movie that is disturbing, often times uncomfortable to watch and most importantly, it’s realistic. This isn’t a story about boy meets girl under a beautiful rainbow while fireworks light up the night sky with simultaneous jazz music playing in the background. Blue Valentine may be romance, but it’s definitely not a movie you’d watch on your first date, not unless you have a fetish for depression.
Beautiful script, great directing by one of my favourites, Derek Cianfrance, and phenomenal acting. This is a romance film unlike any other.
Oscars: 0 (1 nomination – Michelle Williams; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role).
Much more important award: Successfully causing 3 million married couples to get divorced in 2010.
12 The Incredibles (2004)
Say what you want about The Lion King, Mulan, Toy Story and Finding Nemo, which are all great movies. The Incredibles though, is on an entirely different level. I have watched most animation movies over and over again. But, The Incredibles is the only one that I can watch over and over and over and over and over and over again. You know what, I’m going to watch it again right now.
It’s not just the greatest animation film of all time, it’s one of the best superhero films of all time, right up there with The Dark Knight Trilogy, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Captain America: Civil War.
The fact that they didn’t make a bajillion sequels or heck, spinoffs and universes baffles me. Thankfully, we’ll be getting the long clamoured for sequel in 2019, 15 bloody years after the original.
Much more important award: Best damn animation movie ever.
11 Whiplash (2014)
I wrote an article on Whiplash last year. I think I’ll just quote myself, because I’m cool like that.
“This movie should have won the best picture award at the Oscars. Take nothing away from Birdman (which is an amazing movie), but Whiplash is just amazingerer? I know amazingerer isn’t an actual word – I can see the squiggly red line on Microsoft Word – but that’s what Whiplash is: amazingerer; more amazing than normal amazing.
Whiplash is the best sports movie I have ever watched (and yes, this includes Rocky), except it’s not about sports, but music. I honestly don’t think there is a better way to describe this movie.
Whiplash is one of those movies where it’s best you go in knowing nothing more than what the IMDb synopsis tells you. It is a contest between Ireallywanttobeagreatdrummer Andrew, played by Miles Teller – who ironically also acted in this year’s biggest letdown, F**ktastic 4 – and his Hitlerian coach, Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons. The acting in this movie is flawless, their chemistry, even more so. I had already watched Whiplash three times and after watching it again last week, I was still captivated by the performances by these two. Perfect.
Acting is one thing, the message behind the unfolding events is even better. This is a movie so profound that by the end of it, I don’t even know if I’m inspired or disheartened.” – Me
Oscars: 3 (should have won the big one).
Much more important award: Best sports movie that isn’t about sports.
10 Casino Royale (2006)
Casino Royale is to the James Bond franchise, what Batman Begins is to the Batman movies. Just like how Batman & Robin sucked, so did Pierce Brosnan’s final Bond movie, Die Another Day. Casino Royale needed to be good, no, great or else it could have quite possibly meant the end of James Bond.
Not only did Casino Royale surpass expectations, it destroyed roofs and blew people’s minds. Martin Campbell is arguably the best Bond director of all time. He understands the essence of the James Bond character and knows what it takes to make Bond truly great.
Casino Royale has the best pre-credits scene in the entire Bond franchise. It’s black and white, emitting a sorta film-noir vibe. This scene is so concise and yet so strong, telling you everything you need to know about the James Bond character – an efficient, heartless, cold-blooded killer.
Everything else from that point on is brilliant as well.
Oscars: Too cool for Oscars.
Much more important award: Causes grown ass men to orgasm by watching other men play poker.
9 Pulp Fiction (1994)
The fact that Pulp Fiction did not win Best Picture is perhaps the biggest crime against humanity committed by the people at the Academy. Don’t get me wrong, Forrest Gump is great, but better than Pulp Fiction? No way.
Let me tell you what’s great about Pulp Fiction.
One, it comes with the best piece of dialogue written in cinema history and it’s basically just two grown men talking about cheeseburgers.
Two, John Travolta does the twist in this movie.
Three, it’ll make you realize that in 1997 Uma Thurman was held at gunpoint and forced to act in Batman & Robin.
Four, you can watch the movie a ton of times, but you’ll never be able to remember the sequence of the scenes.
Five, Tarantino humour.
Six, Tarantino violence.
Seven, Pulp Fiction is the movie that made Jesus bow down and say, “Hey Quentin, you deserve this position more than I do.”
Oscars: 1 (Best Screenplay, should have won Best Picture too).
Much more important award: Nobel Prize for best contribution towards society since Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid movement.
8 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption is an interesting movie because it doesn’t resort to cheap tricks – over dramatization, tear jerker nonsense – to captivate the audience. This isn’t a movie that plays dramatic music at the specific points to tell the audience, “Oi! It’s time for you to hug your crying girlfriend and possibly get laid later.” The Shawshank Redemption is much deeper than that. It wants you to observe patiently, the fine details that transpire in between the prison walls and understand that there’s sense of community and brotherhood within these walls.
This is one of the most well-acted movies I’ve ever seen in my life. Mostly because none of these actors scream, “Hey look at me! I’m Oscar worthy.” The performances are subtle. These actors understand the psyche of their characters well, and not once do they do anything more than what their characters would do if they’re people in the real world. Leonardo DiCaprio grunting on snow, eating bison liver is fine, but Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins’ work in Shawshank Redemption, is what great acting is all about.
It’s a bummer that director Frank Darabont isn’t directing movies anymore (yes, I watched The Majestic. I know it’s garbage).
Oscars: 0 ('Cause apparently Forrest Gump is a better movie).
Much more important award: Birth of Morgan Freeman’s famous voice of God.
7 The Matrix (1999)
Whenever I write anything about The Matrix, I always begin with this Roger Ebert quote.
“It's kind of a letdown when a movie begins by redefining the nature of reality, and ends with a shoot-out.” – Roger Ebert
Because while The Matrix will mostly be remembered for how its characters use various yoga poses to dodge bullets, that’s not what makes The Matrix truly great. This is in fact, one of the smartest movies I have ever watched. It is the kinda genius where when the end credits start rolling, you start wondering, “what if it’s real?”
Watching this movie again many years later, a couple of thoughts come to mind.
- This still remains to be the most unique sci-fi film of all time.
- This is perhaps the biggest fluke of the century, because there’s absolutely no way anyone on earth can go from making The Matrix to Jupiter Ascending.
Oscars: 4 (Didn’t even get nominated for best picture).
Much more important award: Biggest fluke in cinematic history.
6 The Sixth Sense (1999)
Speaking of biggest fluke in cinematic history, another director comes to mind - M. Night Shyamalan. How does one start his career by making films like The Sixth Sense and then go on to make The Last Airbender?
The Sixth Sense is undoubtedly the best horror movie of all time. But perhaps calling The Sixth Sense “horror” wouldn’t be accurate. While The Sixth Sense does have ghosts in it and the lead character, Cole (Haley Joel Osment) has the ability to see ghosts, that isn’t the point of this movie.
This movie focuses on a young boy suffering because of his abilities and how he learns to cope, by interacting with his psychiatrist. The Sixth Sense isn’t interested in shocking the audience by using loud noises and jump-scares. But rather, this well acted and perfectly directed masterpiece will send shivers down your spine from the first minute till the last.
This is not a popcorn flick, this is not the kinda movie where you take pee breaks and snack breaks in between. This is the kinda movie you should watch in silence, eyes glued to the screen for 1 hour and 47 minutes.
Oscars: 0 (6 nominations but still a blasphemy. American Beauty is great, but it’s no Sixth Sense).
Much more important award: The movie that made all my friends change from casual movie watcher to film lover.
5 Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Guys, I have to say this: I’m all for “to each their own” and respecting other people’s opinions. Really, I am. I know a lot of people who love Minions - I question God’s existence because of that, but I still sorta kinda am able to see why KIDS would like that movie. If you say you hate Mad Max: Fury Road, I will pretend I do not know you for a week and we’ll call it even. But if you walk out of The Force Awakens saying you dislike this movie, then you’re really pushing it. Because I am certain, the existence of Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is what Martin Luther King and Gandhi fought and died for.
Having purchased the rights to Star Wars from Lucasfilm, Disney had a tall task. Not only did they need to erase the travesty of the prequels from our memories, Disney also needed to bridge two different generations of Star Wars fans. Needless to say, Disney, along with J.J. Abrams, did so and so much more.
Oscars: 0 (Because the people who make these decisions are vile creatures).
Much more important award: Successfully erased George Lucas’ farcical prequels from our memories.
4 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t just the best action movie of all time, it is one of the best films of all time, period. Okay, I just realized how I didn’t need to mention that it’s one of the best films of all time, considering the title of this article. No sh*t, Sherlock!
Seriously though, this movie has everything a perfect movie should have – Female cyborg, pregnant chicks with guns, autistic half naked zombies speaking gibberish, grandmas riding motorcycles better than Valentino Rossi and a villain who looks like the by-product of Bane and Darth Vader. If that isn’t enough to sell the movie, then this fact should: Mad Max: Fury Road also comes with the single greatest fictional character of all time – The doof warrior, also known as THE ZOMBIE WHO RIDES A GIANT TRUCK MADE OUT OF AMPLIFIERS, PLAYING THE MOVIE’S THEME SONG ON A MOTHERF*CKING GUITAR FLAMETHROWER!
If you’re still doubting the awesomeness of Mad Max: Fury Road, then you’ve just discovered the reason why you have not gotten laid in 10 years. Get outta here, loser.
Oscars won: 6 (a bunch of boring ones nobody really cares about).
Much more important award: Successfully giving every single audience member (both male and female), boners for two hours straight.
3 The Social Network (2010)
We have a ton of major global issues right now. ISIS, global warming, Donald Trump running for president. But you know what’s the biggest problem with the world right now? The fact that the single greatest director of all time has yet to win a single Oscar. Seriously, how on earth does David Fincher not have at least 575 Best Director Oscars? I know, he’s only made like 9 movies (Alien 3 was made by his retarded twin), but he’s so awesome he deserves 50 Best Director Oscars for each movie.
The Social Network is easily my favourite David Fincher movie of all time. Here’s the interesting thing. Despite my opening paragraph which borderline worships Fincher, the true MVP of The Social Network is screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin has always been known to be excellent at writing smart characters, but here, he proves why he’s probably the best screenwriter of the now. Like the Mona Lisa is to Da Vinci, The Social Network is to Aaron Sorkin.
Don’t believe me? Just watch the video above – I consider that to be the best opening scene in film, of all time.
Oscars: 3 (Including Best Adapted Screenplay).
Much more important award: Best opening scene of all time.
2 The Dark Knight (2008)
In an age where comic book movies have become the single greatest gift towards mankind, it’s hard to imagine that about two decades ago, the idea of comic book movies in the modern world was completely butchered by Batman & Robin.
Batman & Robin sucked so much, that from 1997-2001, the world suffered from what they called “Global A*s Deficiency Crisis (GADC).” It was at that point where people carried giant signboards and pitchforks in front of Hollywood, screaming, “No more comic book movies! No more horse poo!” It was also a point in time where geeks and comic book enthusiasts were hung on flag poles by their underpants.
In 2005, a missionary named Christopher Nolan directed a film called Batman Begins and suddenly there was hope for comic book films once again. Then in 2008, the kind activist Christopher Nolan made The Dark Knight and now geeks are hanging jocks on flag poles. The Dark Knight changed the status quo, bro. Having comic book knowledge is the new “six pack.” I owe my virginity to Christopher Nolan.
Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (RIP Heath Ledger).
Much more important award: Literally altering the very fabric of reality.
1 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Till this day, The Return of the King remains to be the only summer blockbuster movie (although it wasn’t released in the summer), to win like a bajillion Oscars. Usually, the old farts at The Academy watch a blockbuster movie and think: *note that you have to read to following lines of dialogue imagining a rich old white man holding a cuppa tea in his pinky* “Pfft! These aren’t movies. Action scenes? Disgusting! Fantasy? Gross!”
However, a trustworthy inside source tells me that when Elrond said, “They will answer to the King of Gondor! Put aside the ranger, become who you were born to be,” the old farts at The Academy ripped their shirts off and started doing one-arm pushups. They then proceeded to give almost every single Oscar award there is to The Return of the King. The only reason this movie didn’t win literally every award is because the people at The Academy wanted the masses to think that they’re still level headed. The truth is, once those guys watched The Return of the King, they didn’t even bother watching any of the other films.
Oscars: A Bajillion.
Much more important award: Guinness world record for most number of times people clenched their fists and shouted “Yeah bit*hes” during a movie.