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:
29) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
With a timely chemistry, Paul Newman and Robert Redford, as Butch and Sundance, respectively, gave birth to a film generation of wisecracking anti-heroes. It may be a Western, but it probably had a greater influence on heist films, those charisma-riddled vehicles where it’s cool to root for the bad guys.
28) Apocalypse Now
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” That’s the line that gets all the credit, but Apocalypse Now is full of memorable quips that slyly acknowledge the derangement of the Vietnam War, both its violence and its psychology. My favourite is “Charlie don’t surf.” Napalm all around, and they’re thinking about surfing. Apocalypse indeed.
This may, to some, be the biggest head-scratcher on our list. But we had to save a place for a Canadian tour de force. And we give Incendies the honour of greatest Canadian film. Or at least, greatest Canadian film that only partially takes place in Canada. Suspenseful, mysterious, and ultimately gut-wrenching, Incendies may not be for everyone, but there’s no way you will come out of it feeling nothing. If you do, find a soul!
26) Die Hard
We know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. Die Hard is the greatest action film of all time. Think of all the tropes that came after, and you can most likely trace it all back here—the hostage situation, the take-over, the body count, but most of all, the hero who is more concerned with making wise-cracks than saving the day. This is also where Alan Rickman started his tradition as the go-to villain in Hollywood, and he always played it well, but never as good as this.
Endless iconography. The shower scene, the shrieking score, and “mother.” It is grade A material, and yet I’d almost argue that Pyscho is the greatest B movie of all time. Or maybe it’s just the first B movie, which makes it more than worthy of its revolutionary status.
Scorsese’s crackerjack gangster drama, starring Ray Liotta as an up-and-coming mobster, is the filmmaker’s prime showcase. It includes his perfectionist craftsmanship (those tracking shots!), his morbid sense of humour, and his tendency, almost need, to make mobsters sympathetic.
23) Schindler’s List
Steven Spielberg’s black and white, documentary-style portrait of the holocaust is, 23 years later, still the quintessential film about genocide. It, better than any other film, shows the holocaust as a time when a group of people unshackled their ids and let true evil become a tangible reality. Liam Neeson, as Oskar Schindler, has never been better, partly because he understood that keeping Schindler’s motivations enigmatic is the film’s prime strength. It allows history to speak for itself—the ultimate “show; don’t tell.” Spielberg showed us the holocaust, and that did all his talking for him.
At once a sci-fi spectacle, a basic heist film, and a gloomy lament about family, Inception may be, at once, both Christopher Nolan’s broadest and most intimate film. It’s also his plain coolest!
21) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
For years, Jim Carrey just threw himself at his audience. Here, he sat back and breathed a little bit. Wouldn’t you know it?—it led to his greatest performance, and his greatest film. It’s a mind-bender, it’s sweetly romantic, but at its core is a majestically profound question: Is love powerful enough to endure even when you know its outcome? Decide for yourself.
For about a year, everyone thought Titanic was the greatest film ever made, and then, suddenly, everyone decided it was the worst. I think that’s partially because, for whatever reason, Titanic got entwined with teeny-bopper culture. I urge you to reinvestigate it and discover what is, and always was, brilliant about it—its timely view of class struggle, its eye-popping visuals, and the fact that, in a generation that tends to overcomplicate romance, Titanic dared to be innocent about love. Twenty years later, the sinking of that great unsinkable ship is one of the most jaw-dropping spectacles ever put on film, especially on the big screen.
19) Mulholland Drive
More than any other work by David Lynch, Mulholland Drive works on the level of an elegant, frustrating puzzle box (unlocked—and locked—with a blue key) and as the object of a surrendered dream. Erotic, fear-ridden, and beautiful, the primal imagery has the alluring pull of death itself.
18) The Silence of the Lambs
As the only horror film to ever win the Best Picture Oscar, you’d have to give most of the credit to Anthony Hopkins’ disturbingly controlled portrayal of Hannibal Lecter, and the beautifully antagonistic chemistry he has with Jodie Foster (they both also won Oscars for the movie). You could say the gore and the suspense are what makes it a horror film, but to us, it’s the terrifying psychological interplay between the two leads. Never before has simple banter been so scary.
17) Fight Club
Some call it the quintessential Millennial film. Wildly inventive, expertly acted, and undeniably controversial, there’s an endless list of subtexts and viewpoints which will fuel student pub debates for years. Fight Club is the rare film where the social satire actually matches that of the book it’s based on.
16) The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz is often the first “great” film that a person will see in life. That’s why countless kids can sit and watch it again and again, and keep doing it into their 80s. Knowing that it was made entirely by human ingenuity, without a single computer, makes it even more worth its marvel 75 years and an added dimension later. It’s the most magical film that has nary a trace of our present-day definition of “movie magic.”