Important Films Of the Past and Present

A compiled list of films I love and think are important in their own merits (storytelling, cinematography, vfx etc.) and/or future classics. This is coming from a film students perspective.
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1.
Cloverfield (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack. (85 mins.)
Director: Matt Reeves
 
2.
Prometheus (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Following clues to the origin of mankind, a team finds a structure on a distant moon, but they soon realize they are not alone. (124 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
3.
12 Angry Men (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence. (96 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
 
4.
Drive (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor. (100 mins.)
 
5.
Alien (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious life-form, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (117 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
6.
The Birds (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. (119 mins.)
 
7.
Blade Runner (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator. (117 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
8.
The Grey (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step. (117 mins.)
Director: Joe Carnahan
 
9.
Super 8 (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town. (112 mins.)
Director: J.J. Abrams
 
10.
The Hunter (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Martin, a mercenary, is sent from Europe by a mysterious biotech company to the Tasmanian wilderness on a hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger. (102 mins.)
Director: Daniel Nettheim
 
11.
Touch of Evil (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town. (95 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
 
12.
Taken (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A retired CIA agent travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris. (93 mins.)
Director: Pierre Morel
 
13.
The Avengers (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Earth's mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity. (143 mins.)
Director: Joss Whedon
 
14.
The Hunger Games (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death. (142 mins.)
Director: Gary Ross
 
15.
One Hour Photo (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A mentally unstable photo developer begins to attack a middle-class family after his obsession with them becomes more sick and disturbing than any of them could imagine. (96 mins.)
Director: Mark Romanek
 
16.
TRON (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A computer hacker is abducted into the digital world and forced to participate in gladiatorial games where his only chance of escape is with the help of a heroic security program. (96 mins.)
 
17.
Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of former UVF member Alistair Little. Twenty-five years after Little killed Joe Griffen's brother, the media arrange an auspicious meeting between the two. (89 mins.)
 
18.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
160 elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and find themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis. (144 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
19.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor. (103 mins.)
Director: Shane Black
 
20.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he's poised to begin a life-changing professional career. (117 mins.)
 
21.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods. (95 mins.)
Director: Drew Goddard
 
22.
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre. (75 mins.)
Director: S.M. Eisenstein
 
23.
Song of the South (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The kindly story-teller Uncle Remus tells a young boy stories about trickster Br'er Rabbit, who outwits Br'er Fox and slow-witted Br'er Bear. (94 mins.)
 
24.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen. (137 mins.)
 
25.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
With the assistance of the Enterprise crew, Admiral Kirk must stop an old nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, from using the life-generating Genesis Device as the ultimate weapon. (113 mins.)
Director: Nicholas Meyer
 
26.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. (169 mins.)
 
27.
The War of the Worlds (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A small town in California is attacked by Martians. (85 mins.)
Director: Byron Haskin
 
28.
Psycho (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
 
29.
Total Recall (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real - or does he? (113 mins.)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
 
30.
Schindler's List (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans. (195 mins.)
 
31.
Aliens (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The moon from Alien has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? (137 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
32.
The Great Raid (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Taking place towards the end of WWII, 500 American Soldiers have been entrapped in a camp for 3 years. Beginning to give up hope they will ever be rescued, a group of Rangers goes on a dangerous mission to try and save them. (132 mins.)
Director: John Dahl
 
33.
TRON: Legacy (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father's corrupted creation and a unique ally who was born inside the digital world. (125 mins.)
Director: Joseph Kosinski
 
34.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
"The Dude" Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it. (117 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
 
35.
RoboCop (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories. (102 mins.)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
 
36.
Jaws (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers, until a local sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down. (124 mins.)
 
37.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims. (118 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
 
38.
Jurassic Park (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok. (127 mins.)
 
39.
RED (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants. (111 mins.)
 
40.
Secretariat (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Penny Chenery Tweedy and colleagues guide her long-shot but precocious stallion to set, in 1973, the unbeaten record for winning the Triple Crown. (123 mins.)
Director: Randall Wallace
 
41.
Remember the Titans (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit. (113 mins.)
Director: Boaz Yakin
 
42.
Dirty Harry (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
When a mad man calling himself 'the Scorpio Killer' menaces the city, tough as nails San Francisco Police Inspector Harry Callahan is assigned to track down and ferret out the crazed psychopath. (102 mins.)
Director: Don Siegel
 
43.
Inception (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
A thief, who steals corporate secrets through use of dream-sharing technology, is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. (148 mins.)
 
44.
Michael Collins (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Neil Jordan's historical biopic of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, the man who led a guerrilla war against the UK, helped negotiate the creation of the Irish Free State, and led the National Army during the Irish Civil War. (133 mins.)
Director: Neil Jordan
 
45.
Toy Story (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy's room. (81 mins.)
Director: John Lasseter
 
46.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest. (149 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
 
47.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A high school wise guy is determined to have a day off from school, despite what the principal thinks of that. (103 mins.)
Director: John Hughes
 
48.
Flyboys (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
The adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, young Americans who volunteered for the French military before the U.S. entered World War I, and became the country's first fighter pilots. (140 mins.)
Director: Tony Bill
 
49.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
After Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically altered spider, he gains newfound, spider-like powers and ventures out to solve the mystery of his parent's mysterious death. (136 mins.)
Director: Marc Webb
 
50.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods. (238 mins.)
Director: Victor Fleming
 
51.
Hugo (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In Paris in 1931, an orphan named Hugo Cabret who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton. (126 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
52.
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In November 1984, the Soviet Union's best submarine captain in their newest sub violates orders and heads for the USA. Is he trying to defect or to start a war? (135 mins.)
Director: John McTiernan
 
53.
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study. (79 mins.)
Director: Jack Arnold
 
54.
Rambo (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In Thailand, John Rambo joins a group of missionaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit. (92 mins.)
 
55.
Starship Troopers (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Humans in a fascistic, militaristic future do battle with giant alien bugs in a fight for survival. (129 mins.)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
 
56.
The Woman in Black (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A young solicitor travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals. (95 mins.)
Director: James Watkins
 
57.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
While Frodo and Sam edge closer to Mordor with the help of the shifty Gollum, the divided fellowship makes a stand against Sauron's new ally, Saruman, and his hordes of Isengard. (179 mins.)
Director: Peter Jackson
 
58.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring. (201 mins.)
Director: Peter Jackson
 
59.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle Earth from the Dark Lord Sauron. (178 mins.)
Director: Peter Jackson
 
60.
Die Hard (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. (131 mins.)
Director: John McTiernan
 
61.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. (115 mins.)
 
62.
Star Trek (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time. (127 mins.)
Director: J.J. Abrams
 
63.
Red Dawn (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
It is the dawn of World War III. In mid-western America, a group of teenagers bands together to defend their town, and their country, from invading Soviet forces. (114 mins.)
Director: John Milius
 
64.
Clerks (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof. (92 mins.)
Director: Kevin Smith
 
65.
Flatliners (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Four Medical students experiment on "near death" experiences that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives. (115 mins.)
Director: Joel Schumacher
 
66.
Evil Dead II (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack. (84 mins.)
Director: Sam Raimi
 
67.
The Evil Dead (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons. (85 mins.)
Director: Sam Raimi
 
68.
Argo (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. (120 mins.)
Director: Ben Affleck
 
69.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011. (157 mins.)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
 
70.
Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Railroad executive Dagny Taggart and steel mogul Henry Rearden form an alliance to fight the increasingly authoritarian government of the United States. (97 mins.)
Director: Paul Johansson
 
71.
Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
Railroad owner Dagny Taggart and steel mogul Henry Rearden search desperately for the inventor of a revolutionary motor as the U.S. government continues to spread its control over the national economy. (111 mins.)
Director: John Putch
 
72.
Evil Dead (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. (91 mins.)
Director: Fede Alvarez
 
73.
Vertigo (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. (128 mins.)
 
74.
Godzilla (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast. (96 mins.)
Director: Ishirô Honda
 
75.
Skyfall (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Bond's loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. (143 mins.)
Director: Sam Mendes