Matt Abra, CONTRIBUTOR
Are these the movies that influenced Millennials the most? Are they the movies that best represent them as a generation? It may be those things, but for the most part, these are simply the 100 Greatest Movies as PICKED by Millennials. No more crotchety critics who only like black-and-white cinema verite; no more Hollywood elites who think modernism isn’t classy enough. These are the movies that affected Millennials the most, that spoke to them the most. These are the movies they liked the most. Naturally, many of the choices here will be hotly debated, but that’s part of the fun of a list like this. It focuses people’s attentions and gets them thinking about the things that really matter in film, the things that truly constitute greatness. So, without further ado, here are our first set of choices for the best movies ever made:
To say that Millennials socialize in a digital way is a gross understatement, so how can we not include the movie that explored that wireless divide better than all others? Jesse Eisenberg plays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a socially dissonant outsider who set out to rewire who we are as communicators. Did he succeed? The jury is still out, but the movie is never less than gripping.
99. Boyz in the Hood (1991)
John Singleton, who was only 23 at the time, became the first black director in Academy Awards history to receive a Best Director nomination for this youthful tale of urban America. The film spawned many imitators after its release. None were as impactful, or as good.
While still heralded by many as Wes Anderson’s best movie, we actually gave that distinction to another title that you’ll learn later. Still, this was perhaps the first time we became astutely aware of Anderson’s attention to detail, not to mention his gift for perfectly mixing the melancholic with the darkly comedic.
97. The General (1926)
The General is the oldest movie on our list, making it all the more remarkable that there is still so much to discover every time you watch it. Today, all the risk in movies has been consumed by CGI effects, so Buster Keaton’s hilarious, exquisitely timed, death-defying stunts have attained new appreciation almost 100 years later. The General is where movie magic started, and for that, we are forever in its debt.
Though loved by many, Amelie landed on us right around 9/11, when feel-good movies were, at times, unfairly dismissed by certain groups. Age has helped it achieve its appropriate acclaim. Charming and beautiful and refreshingly optimistic, Amelie is the rare movie that can make you a believer of film’s transportive power.
Westerns come with a lot of clichés, so who would have thought the genre would bring us one of the most revolutionary love stories of its time? Politically, it showed us a world we all want (or should want) to be a part of. But as a simple cinematic feat, it is just plain beautiful.
“Bueller? Bueller?” It wasn’t the first slacker film, but it remains the most influential. Writer/director John Hughes took teenage apathy and converted it into an almost philosophical treatise about how much school sucks, and made no apologies about it.
Perhaps the best representation of youth’s knowing need for profundity, especially in regard to romance, Before Sunrise is a movie about two people who talk, and talk, and talk. And in that talk is a bittersweet celebration of romantic brevity — those impassioned and fleeting snapshots of connection we experience that become lost in time.
Quentin Tarantino has been called a post-modern filmmaker, and Basterds, as dismissive of facts as it is of spelling, should be no exception. While it could be argued that Tarantino has made a film more about Second World War movies than about Second World War itself, it’s actually best watched as a historical fairy tale — entertainment for lovers of the blissfully absurd.
It’s hard to imagine our generation without The Matrix, which practically gave birth to cyberpunk culture. It made philosophy cool, it made kung fu hypnotizing, and it made Keanu Reeves passable for once. It was also arguably the first sci-fi film to adequately capture the feeling of the digital revolution. Were the “Agents” actually a precognitive metaphor for internet trolls? I think I may be onto something.
Check out the next issue of The Projector for the next installment of Matt’s Movies.