50 Movie Recommendations - My Personal Favorites
I'm a degenerate list maker. I can't help myself. The result is this list of my top 50 movies, each of which I think is a 10/10 experience in its own way. Each movie has been tagged with its genre along with a short one sentence description. My hope is that you find at least a few movies that you'll be able to enjoy yourself.
A few notes on the list:
- In order to help you find unseen gems, each tier is organized from least popular (at the top) to most popular (at the bottom).Movies are not ranked within tiers in any other way. Beware: the titles at the top of each tier's list are also more likely to be polarizing.
- In order to indicate that some movies are more offbeat, I've used the term "Arthouse" in the genre tag. Doesn't literally mean they are made by arthouse production studios or are only for art school students.
- In order to have more fun, I made a rule that each director can only have one film on the list.
- In order to make it easier to confirm I'm not crazy, I've linked each title to the Rotten Tomatoes page.
The Tribe [Arthouse Ukranian Crime Thriller]
- A gang of deaf-mute teenagers integrate a new student at their school. Entirely told in sign language with no subtitles.
In the Mood for Love [Arthouse Hong Kong Romantic Drama]
- Love, distilled, by the master of of Hong Kong cinema, Wong Kar-Wai.
The Act of Killing [Arthouse Documentary]
- The perpetuators of the 1960s Indonesian genocide are given the tools to make a movie about their experience. This is the documentary about the making of their movie, and its astonishing and brutal in equal measure.
Glengarry Glen Ross [Drama]
- Perhaps the greatest script ever written. The desperation and exhilaration are incredibly relatable for anyone who has ever made or sold something.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [Romantic Sci-Fi]
- Who knew Sci-Fi could make you cry like this? Charlie Kaufman is a genius.
Chinatown [Mystery Thriller]
- Roman Polanski's masterpiece, this neo-noir mystery leaves you feeling like you've been punched in the stomach.
Children of Men [Sci-Fi Thriller]
- A perfect movie. Compelling as a blockbuster popcorn movie, as an arthouse film, and as a reflection of society.
There Will be Blood [Historical Drama]
- A bunch of PTA movies could have made the list, but in the end there's no substitute for Daniel Day Lewis saying "I'm an oil man" over and over again.
The Social Network [Drama]
- Fincher's camera and sadistic directing style were the only way to bring out the greatness of Sorkin's script. Perhaps my most re-watched movie. Zodiac might be better directed, but this one is more fun.
Godfather Part II [Crime Drama]
- Breaking news: it's great. So perfectly balanced between the rise and downfall of the two main characters.
A Separation [Arthouse Iranian Drama]
- Moral nuance aplenty in this deeply absorbing drama about a middle class family that ends up revealing much about life in modern day Iran.
Yi Yi [Arthouse Taiwanese Drama]
- Life-affirming, devastating, small and huge simultaneously. The little boy is the key to the movie. Definitely not for everyone, but if you've ever heard of this movie and debated watching it because its run time is 3 hours - go watch it. It is worth the time investment.
Victoria [Arthouse German Crime Drama]
- Shot in a single uninterrupted take, this is the most impressive movie I've ever seen. Stick with it past the first 45 minutes and you won't let go.
A Prophet [Arthouse French Prison Drama]
- Tahir Rahim's breakout role, incredible depth to this simple prison story.
Green Room [Thriller]
- Punks vs. Nazis. What could be more fun than that? I love everything Jeremy Saulnier makes.
Oldboy [Korean Thriller]
- One of the finest mind-fuck movies ever created. Not for the faint of heart.
In Bruges [Black Comedy]
- Two Irish hitmen grapple with guilt, fate, and the redemption in the idyllic town of Bruges, Belgium. Shockingly funny and weighty. Seven Psychopaths is also very good.
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy [British Spy Thriller]
- Very active watching required to understand this quiet double agent story, but the reward when you understand what's happening is worth it.
Pans Labyrinth [Fantasy Horror]
- One of the first "great" movies I ever saw, the fear and the visuals of the movie stick with me to this day.
Royal Tennebaums [Comedy]
- Wes Anderson at his best. Quirky in all the right ways, indelible characters, a dollhouse of a film. Would put Rushmore 2nd among his films, with Grand Budapest 3rd.
- It might take you more than one watching, but its worth it. The fact that the cast didn't get the script in advance means the reactions and confusion you see on their faces is real.
Logan Lucky [Crime Thriller]
- Ocean's 11, but with hillbillies instead of George Clooney. Sheer delight.
Swiss Army Man [Arthouse Comedy]
- George Saunders once said "part of the pleause of art is watching someone be audacious". This film about a magical farting corpse starring Dan Radcliffe is audacious, if nothing else.
Starred Up [British Prison Drama]
- I'm a sucker for father-son stories, for prison movies, and for british accents. This was made for me.
Minding the Gap [Documentary]
- A disaffected skater kid makes a documentary about his friends and ends up delivering piercing insight into the core of America. Truly exceptional. Couldn't stop thinking about it for days.
City of God [Brazilian Crime Thriller]
- Structurally dazzling and filled with characters that leap of the screen, this Brazilian film about the underworld of Rio de Janeiro is magic.
The Prestige [Mystery Thriller]
- Unpopular opinion, but this is Chris Nolan's best work for me. Twist after twist after twist. Dunkirk a close second though.
- Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. That is all.
Inglorious Bastards [War Thriller]
- Pulp Fiction is more inventive, Reservoir Dogs is more impressive, and Kill Bill is more ambitious. But of all of Tarantino's work, this is the one I keep coming back to.
No Country for Old Men [Thriller]
- Enough has been said about the Coen Brother's masterpiece that I don't have to say anything at all. Just go watch it. Miller's Crossing is my second favorite by them.
Dogtooth [Arthouse Drama]
- The film that made Yorgos Lanthimos a star, and still my favorite. Set in a bizarre authoritatian household where the father lies to his children about the definition of words.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Frost [Historical Drama]
- So slow, so visually stunning. Brad Pitt is exceptional.
The Lives of Others [German Historical Drama]
- The East German secret police hunt a dissident writer. Powerful, but quiet. Similar to Tinker Tailor Solider Spy in its mood and pacing.
Anomalisa [Animated Drama]
- "Languishing", made into a movie. Will make your heart soar (for a time).
The Lighthouse [Arthouse Drama]
- I still re-watch scenes of this bizarre black and white drama about two slowly maddening lighthouse keepers because of the rhythm of the language.
The Florida Project [Arthouse Drama]
- Hard to understand how Sean Baker was able to infuse such a harsh world with such magic.
Goodfellas [Crime Thriller]
- Mean Streets would be a more fun choice for Scorecese - it's rawer, less refined, and more giddy than the rest of his work. But Goodfellas is objectively better and more rewatchable for me.
Arrival [Sci-Fi Thriller]
- Very difficult to pick between this and Sicario from Denis Villeneuve, but the former linguistics student in me gave the edge to Arrival.
The Other Guys [Comedy]
- The funniest movie I've seen. Michael Keaton gets me every time.
Minority Report [Sci-Fi Thriller]
- One of the few Spielberg movies I loved, but you can see traces of it everywhere in the world around us today.
Leviathan [Arthouse Russian Drama]
- Devastating portrait of modern Russia, shown through the lens of one man against the machinery of corruption and greed.
Animal Kingdom [Australian Crime Thriller]
- The youngest in a family of criminals attempts to find his way. Ben Mendelsohn is electric.
Citizen Four [Documentary]
- Edward Snowden filmed himself during the pivotal week when he first went public in 2013. This is an astonishing piece of history.
The Guilty [Danish Thriller]
- You won't breath for 90 minutes in this gripping film about a police hotline worker responding to a crisis. Severely underrated film.
Cold War [Arthouse Polish Romantic Drama]
- Achingly beautiful, spare, and singular romance story about two lovers in 1950s Poland.
This is The End [Comedy]
- The apex of the Apatow comedy cycle. Star studded and consistently hilarious.
The Bicycle Thief [Arthouse Italian Drama]
- Neo-realist masterpiece set in post-WWII Italy.
Snatch [British Crime Comedy]
- Guy Ritchie at his rollicking, hilarious, and frenzied best.
Roma [Arthouse Mexican Drama]
- Poignant portrait of Mexico in the 1970s, told through the eyes of the housekeeper to a middle-class family.
Parasite [Korean Drama]
- Not many directors could pull off the kind of tonal shift Bong Joon-Ho did in this film. Love the climate change interpretation, as well as talking about who the villians of the film truly are.
Phew! That's a lot of movies. Hopefully you find something you enjoy - if so please do drop me an email and let me know!
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