40 movies you must watch before you dieby akshay-mamidi | created - 08 Nov 2015 | updated - 3 months ago | Public
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1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
R | 142 min | Drama
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
Votes: 2,135,421 | Gross: $28.34M
Who'd have thought a story by Stephen King, more over a short story, would do so well both commercially and critically? Well, this is what you get when you get Frank Darabont to direct a movie with Morgan Freeman in it.
2. Good Will Hunting (1997)
R | 126 min | Drama, Romance
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.
Votes: 781,435 | Gross: $138.43M
Biased here. Not everybody loves this movie, but it's on the top of my watch list purely because of the rawness and emotion of the scenes with long strips of conversation. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's screenwriting debut, which they co-won an Oscar for. If only Titanic did not completely eclipse this movie in 1997, this movie would have won much more than the 4 academy awards than it did.
3. Forrest Gump (1994)
PG-13 | 142 min | Drama, Romance
The presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, the events of Vietnam, Watergate, and other history unfold through the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75.
Votes: 1,643,438 | Gross: $330.25M
I don't have to elaborate, do I?
4. Pulp Fiction (1994)
R | 154 min | Crime, Drama
The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
Votes: 1,675,942 | Gross: $107.93M
Ok, many people would find this movie weird, because of its weird chronological sequence and generally random themes and events that don't really connect or have significance as a whole. Well that's the point here. Narrowing down on scenes and having long, conversational scenes where gangsters discuss philosophical ideas isn't what you'd usually expect of them. Not to mention Samuel Jackson's Oscar-Worthy acting. Tarantino's best.
5. American Beauty (1999)
R | 122 min | Drama
A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.
Votes: 1,002,017 | Gross: $130.10M
Kevin Spacey's voice is probably my most favorite voice in the world. He has just the right tinge of timbre in a background of this alto voice that is exceptionally soothing. The theme of this movie is not what you'd expect it to be, and the turning point appears gradually, ending off in an ultimate climax with, again, Spacey's voice as the backdrop of the finale.
6. The Usual Suspects (1995)
R | 106 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller
A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.
Votes: 920,851 | Gross: $23.34M
Another one of Kevin Spacey's big roles during his "prime" of the late 90s. An interesting story, with a slightly predictable twist.
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
R | 108 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.
Votes: 837,358 | Gross: $34.40M
I had nightmares for 3 days after watching this. Don't use that as an excuse not to watch it though. It's excellent, really.
I watched this again recently and I realised what I wrote above doesn't do much justice to the movie. The scenes are beautiful; the way the memories were removed were extremely well thought out, the slow fading of the details from the backgrounds were the little facts I loved about the movie. I should probably move this up to my top 5. Yes, I should.
8. The Green Mile (1999)
R | 189 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy
The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.
Votes: 1,037,261 | Gross: $136.80M
The second of Stephen King's works to make it big commercially and critically. Frank Durabont should really be the only one allowed to make his books into movies, with the success of The Shawshank Redemption.
9. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
R | 102 min | Drama
The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.
Votes: 710,505 | Gross: $3.64M
Officially the most disturbing movie I've ever watched. This would not have been without the excellent cinematography and lightings. Although you'd think a movie discouraging the use of drugs by showing its terrible effects would deter the individual, it made me want to try them even more. JK, heh.
10. Fight Club (1999)
R | 139 min | Drama
An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soapmaker form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.
Votes: 1,707,140 | Gross: $37.03M
Brad Pitt + Edward Norton + Soap = Legendary
11. Memento (2000)
R | 113 min | Mystery, Thriller
A man with short-term memory loss attempts to track down his wife's murderer.
Votes: 1,044,411 | Gross: $25.54M
Just why this movie is so unknown and underrated, I don't know. What I know is that Jonathan Nolan is equally, if not, more talented than his older brother for coming up with a plot so elaborate, perfect and thought provoking 10 years before Inception. The brothers were already *beep* people since the beginning of the 21st Century and only got found out after Inception.
12. The Pianist (2002)
R | 150 min | Biography, Drama, Music
A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.
Votes: 657,038 | Gross: $32.57M
Adrien Brody did himself, his Jewish ancestors, and all the Jews in the world a great justice by his performance in the pianist. Scorsese's Schindler's List, if you please.
13. Schindler's List (1993)
R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History
In German-occupied Poland during World War II, industrialist Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.
Votes: 1,108,341 | Gross: $96.90M
It'll probably be the same description as The Pianist so I'll just say - Spielberg's Pianist in conclusion.
14. Confessions (2010)
Not Rated | 106 min | Drama, Thriller
A psychological thriller of a grieving mother turned cold-blooded avenger with a twisty master plan to pay back those who were responsible for her daughter's death.
The freakiest psychological thriller I've ever seen gosh this was a beautifully scary movie I think I got scarred for a few days after watching it
15. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
R | 153 min | Adventure, Drama, War
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same.
Votes: 1,148,946 | Gross: $120.54M
This really seals the deal of me being a complete Tarantino fan I mean... I just love all his works and I can't find any redundant scene in this one, as well as his other works. Favourite scene would be the bar scene of course - "Say auf wiedersehen to your nazi balls" LOL I could watch that a million times over
16. Django Unchained (2012)
R | 165 min | Drama, Western
With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Votes: 1,236,038 | Gross: $162.81M
Tarantino does it again with his spaghetti western style incorporated into a very realistic take on the slavery situation in the states before the civil war. Christof Waltz does an amazing job again with his meticulous (I would like to hear him say that word in character) acting and attention to every single action or word he says. And you'd love tarantino's cameo in this one
17. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
R | 111 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
After awakening from a four-year coma, a former assassin wreaks vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her.
Votes: 923,628 | Gross: $70.10M
And Vol. 2 as well (Counting the both of them as one movie for the purpose of this list)
Tarantino... I should just stop there. You see the trend
18. Gattaca (1997)
PG-13 | 106 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.
Votes: 264,026 | Gross: $12.34M
Highly underrated sci-fi movie that first explored the complex nature of identity theft and DNA manipulation. I love how detailed it got at some parts; they really didn't overlook much. I still wonder why it never got the fame it deserved.
19. Secretary (2002)
R | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one.
Votes: 77,973 | Gross: $4.06M
This is the only movie in which I have seen the concept of sadomasochism and BDSM explored. It is really quite disturbing in a way but so artistic and absorbing that you just lose yourself in the movie. And the main actor looked like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, if that's a bonus.
20. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
PG-13 | 106 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A delusional young man strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet.
Votes: 132,430 | Gross: $5.97M
One of Ryan Gosling's arthouse films that allowed me to conclude that this man is a real showman and deserves much more admiration and fame that he, of course, already has
21. In Bruges (2008)
R | 107 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.
Votes: 367,186 | Gross: $7.76M
I'll be honest with you - this was the movie that surprised me at the most random moments; Colin firth's excellent Irish drawl fits in with his funny villain persona that he pulls off excellently. And you'd want to visit Bruges after watching this movie.
22. Blue Valentine (2010)
R | 112 min | Drama, Romance
The relationship of a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.
Votes: 172,211 | Gross: $9.74M
Raw, refreshing and real. I can't put into words how well Gosling and Williams acted in their roles, it's one of the few moments I feel as though I'm watching characters living their lives rather than actors acting as characters. Brilliant screenplay and touching scenes. Top 5.
23. Submarine (2010)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
15-year-old Oliver Tate has two objectives: To lose his virginity before his next birthday, and to extinguish the flame between his mother and an ex-lover who has resurfaced in her life.
Votes: 80,654 | Gross: $0.47M
I'm only 20 mins into this movie and I'm loving it. The delivery is flawlessly deadpan and hilarious at the same time, I don't know what to make of it. Cameras are perfect too, every best matches in with each motion and screenplay couldn't be better. Extremely relevant scenes and done in a very "indie" way, of course.
24. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
R | 139 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
In late 1950s New York, Tom Ripley, a young underachiever, is sent to Italy to retrieve Dickie Greenleaf, a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy. But when the errand fails, Ripley takes extreme measures.
Votes: 164,307 | Gross: $81.30M
"my funny... Valentine..." the eerie music always seeps into my head when I think about this movie. One of Matt Damon's best and again, underrated movie that deserves more light. Philip Seymour Hoffman's in it too, if that's a bonus.
25. An Education (2009)
PG-13 | 100 min | Drama
A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.
Votes: 123,918 | Gross: $12.57M
This was my Carey Mulligan phase so I just liked nearly every movie she acted in. Fanboying aside, this was a really brilliant movie and should be watched when you feel like ditching your studies and taking a train to nowhere with a stranger you think you trust.
26. Big Fish (2003)
PG-13 | 125 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
A frustrated son tries to determine the fact from fiction in his dying father's life.
Votes: 393,450 | Gross: $66.26M
The attitude of story telling to convey messages of one's life was truly exemplified through this movie. Scenes are odd, heavily exaggerated and obviously false but it's all in the image of story telling. Burton does it again by getting the viewer so engrossed in his plot, which, without fail, never fails to surprise an audience. Expect a bizarre ending, that's what I can say for a Tim Burton movie. It's his style and there's nothing wrong about it. But it's the message that he's trying to get across that matters. A small, but sweet and poignant one.
27. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)
Not Rated | 155 min | Comedy, Drama
Three friends decide to turn their fantasy vacation into reality after one of their number becomes engaged.
Votes: 60,156 | Gross: $3.08M
My favorite Hindi movie of all-time! The Akhtar siblings are so bloody talented I don't know how they do it so well. The acting, screenplay and direction was just perfect in this.
28. Barfi! (2012)
Not Rated | 151 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Three young people learn that love can neither be defined nor contained by society's definition of normal and abnormal.
Votes: 69,932 | Gross: $2.80M
Another good Hindi movie (good ones are honestly rare, some people wouldn't agree). But it is a must watch for Kapoor's beautiful acting. Now this is called acting, because as a deaf and mute person, he has to convey all his feelings and emotions purely through body language and expression.
29. The Departed (2006)
R | 151 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.
Votes: 1,093,453 | Gross: $132.38M
Irish gang stories began with this movie. The Boston accent was honestly rather exaggerated in the course of the film but hey, who's complaining? Just park the car in the car park
30. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
R | 169 min | Drama, War
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.
Votes: 1,131,574 | Gross: $216.54M
31. Gladiator (2000)
R | 155 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A former Roman General sets out to exact vengeance against the corrupt emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery.
Votes: 1,232,713 | Gross: $187.71M
Russell Crowe... You just made me cry
33. Shutter Island (2010)
R | 138 min | Mystery, Thriller
In 1954, a U.S. Marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderer, who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.
Votes: 1,024,994 | Gross: $128.01M
34. Drive (I) (2011)
R | 100 min | Crime, Drama
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor.
Votes: 528,767 | Gross: $35.06M
Nothing special about the script or acting, but the neo-noir feel, the cinematography and the score was brilliant. Gosling lived up to his role again.
35. Being Flynn (2012)
R | 102 min | Drama
Working in a Boston homeless shelter, Nick Flynn re-encounters his father, a con man and self-proclaimed poet. Sensing trouble in his own life, Nick wrestles with the notion of reaching out yet again to his dad.
Votes: 15,918 | Gross: $0.53M
36. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
PG-13 | 135 min | Biography, Drama
After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.
Votes: 782,560 | Gross: $170.74M
37. Black Swan (2010)
R | 108 min | Drama, Thriller
A committed dancer struggles to maintain her sanity after winning the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake".
Votes: 656,992 | Gross: $106.95M
38. Inception (2010)
PG-13 | 148 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a C.E.O.
Votes: 1,872,843 | Gross: $292.58M
39. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
R | 122 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
Votes: 626,718 | Gross: $132.09M
I didn't like the idea of this movie when I heard of the plot and storyline. I mean, how different can a standard love/hate movie get right? The plots of these kind of movies are awfully predictable and contain nothing new and refreshing. Playbook is not one of these movies. The stereotypes don't apply here. Jennifer Lawrence ensures that. She beat nearly every contender at the Academy Awards and truly deserved her award for her role here. Not to mention that trip of hers that she so elegantly got over.
40. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
R | 136 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi
In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.
Have I mentioned how much I love Stanley Kubrick? Not just as a director but even as a person, in general. His ideas were totally out of the world (in a good way, of course), but I’ve not included many of his movies in this list because they aren’t “must-watches”. They’re kind of at the top of “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” with respect to movies.