The Rundown: Movies You Have to See, No Matter What

Above (clockwise): The Godfather, The Matrix, When Harry Met Sally and Pulp Fiction
Movies You Have to See No Matter What

So a couple weeks ago, I’m listening to Bill Simmons talk to Katie Nolan on his new podcast and some how they got around to a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off reference, saying there are people who are have no clue about what they’re talking about because the movie is damn near 30 years old now.

Then Nolan makes a great point, saying there are some movies, like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, that you just have to see, regardless of how old you are and when it came out. They’re classics and if you have a remote interest in movies or pop culture, you have to see them, period.

With that as the inspiration, here’s a look at 10 Movies You Have to See, No Matter What.

Please note: this isn’t a “these are the best movies ever” list or anything like that, just a collection of long-term standouts that everyone needs to see at some point along their journey.

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

Paul Newman and Robert Redford made a great team and this is one of the best “buddy movies” of all-time. There is so much awesomeness contained in this outlaw picture about the tandem train robbers who eventually flee to Bolivia. From the “1-2-3 Go” to start a fight to everything about the scene where it looks like they’re pinned down, this is a masterpiece that you must watch, regardless of how old you are.

The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is one of the best tetra-packs of films in the last 50 years because none of them come up short. But of the group, The Dark Knight is the standout effort of the bunch and it’s not even close. Heath Ledger’s Joker is scary, but somehow understandable in his madness, Christian Bale stands tall as Batman and the little moves like replacing Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal took this film to the next level.

The Godfather, Part One and Two

These two are going together because you need to sit down and watch them back-to-back with no real breaks. There might not be a better one-two punch in cinematic history and as much as Part Three can be painful to watch at times, it doesn’t take away from how close to perfect this two-piece is. There are just so many amazing performances and so much magic contained in these films.

The Matrix

Neo and Morpheus and Trinity and Agent Smith and The Wachowskis flipped the script with this one. This was a sea change in both the sci-fi world and the effects world (Hello Bullet Time) and came out of nowhere to kick people in the teeth when it was released. Even if you’re not a big sci-fi fan, this is one of those “you just have to watch it” movies because of how much it shifted the game.

Pulp Fiction

Does this really need an explanation? Quentin Tarantino had already made waves with Reservoir Dogs, but this is the one that really set things off for him, for John Travolta’s return, for Sam Jackson being the coolest MF on the planet and making it cool to have campy dance moves in a throwback diner. It also was one of the first – and is probably still the best – movie that told its story in a non-linear fashion.

Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick kept it raw with this one and while there are plenty of strong war movies that have come and gone, the recruits in basic training piece of this movie is still the most jarring, memorable bits from a war movie ever committed to film.

Raging Bull

Robert DeNiro as Jake LaMotta under the direction of Martin Scorsese, in black and white. Both of those men have a lot of amazing efforts in their respective oeuvres, but this might be the best each has ever been. For real.

The Usual Suspects

You just have to do it. You have to. It’s such an inventive, creative, catch-you-off-guard flick that you can’t ignore it and take an “I’ve never seen it and I don’t think I will” stance on this one. You have to see it, period.

When Harry Met Sally

This is a different kind of rom-com and one that stands the test of time. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan form an off-center, but somehow perfect pairing as the titular characters in this film that asks “Can men and women just be friends?” and explores the answer over a number of years and through different stages of life, most of which everyone has experienced. It’s a classic and certainly worth your time.

(500) Days of Summer

Let’s close things out with an unconventional rom-com that is fairly recent and unconventional, employing a non-linear timeline and garnering great performances from leads Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. It’s not shiny and glossy and neatly arranged, which is what makes it perfect and a movie everyone must see at some point.

Tags: Jake Gyllenhaal

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