Here at ODEON, we thought long and hard about how best to celebrate our 90th birthday.

Cake is fun but doesn’t last, and cinema chains don’t wear socks. Besides which, we wanted to mark the occasion with you wonderful people. So we asked you to tell us your top 10 films in nine super-popular genres and assembled this: the 90 best films to watch.

We hope you enjoy the list. It’s all killer, no filler – brimming with movie magic and 100% chosen by you.

90 best films to watch: Your 10 must-watch movies in 9 genres

90 best films to watch: Top 10 Action films

Three of your all-time favourite films are so good they feature in two categories each. Because of this – and because ‘87 best films to watch’ isn’t as snappy a title – we’re adding three more 'Honourable mentions' to complete the 90.

Honourable mention

Speed (1994)

The first of these is Speed. Directed with bracing efficiency by Jan de Bont, its high-concept premise – a bomb on an LA bus will detonate if it drives below 50mph – should be laughable.

And yet, the film’s action is so tightly plotted and brilliantly executed that you’ll be gripping your armrests from the opening credits to the final kiss.


10. John Wick (2015)

How many gangsters will Keanu Reeves kill to avenge his dead dog? A lot, as it turns out.

John Wick is an undeniable modern classic, spawning an exciting new franchise while still telling a complete and coherent story.

Honestly, the only bad thing about the film is the tragic, plot-propelling loss of Daisy the dog.


 

9. The Raid 2 (2014)

The Raid 2 is everything the first Raid wanted to be but didn’t have the budget for.

It’s bigger, ballsier, and bloodier, with a sprawling plot and more of the madcap action audiences loved from the first.

Come for that insane fight in the restaurant kitchen, stay for baseball bat guy and hammer girl.


8. Aliens (1986)

More acid-for-blood xenomorphs means more guns, and Aliens does not do things by halves.

James Cameron’s film is so good, in fact, that it earned Sigourney Weaver an Oscar nod and also meant that none of the later films quite lived up to this one.

Clearly for Aliens it isn’t game over yet.


7. Commando (1986)

Commando is easily one of Arnie’s sillier roles but it’s absolutely one of his most enjoyable.

This is a movie that knows exactly how ridiculous it is and has the guts to have fun with itself – a rarity for the era.

Director Mark L. Lester also has a serious thing for guys flipping other guys over their shoulders, if that tickles your fancy.


6. The Matrix (1999)

Perhaps more so than any other film on this list, The Matrix revolutionised action cinema.

By combining the dramatic gunplay of filmmakers like John Woo and combining it with state-of-the-art camera tech that still holds up twenty years later, the Wachowski sisters really did the action world a favour.


5. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

It’s rare that the fourth entry in a franchise manages to be the best, but that’s exactly what the spectacular Mad Max: Fury Road did.

George Miller’s film is basically a two-hour action scene with barely a moment to breathe, and it’s all the better for it, especially given how gloriously unhinged the film's visuals are.

Flamethrower electric guitar, anyone?


4. The Raid (2012)

Gareth Evans’ Indonesian action flick is perhaps the most visceral entry on our action list.

The martial arts movie pulls no punches when it comes to its brutal combat and heart-stopping tension.

If it’s beautiful action choreography you’re after, The Raid more than has you covered.


3. Predator (1988)

The second John McTiernan movie on our list (see the number 1 spot below!), Predator is yet another classic of the genre.

Misunderstood at the time of its release, it has since gone onto become an action/sci-fi staple.

Arnie’s bulging biceps are put to the test as he’s faced with a fearsome alien hunter in the mother of all grudge matches.


2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

James Cameron’s Terminator sequel is yet another all-timer: Sarah Connor is an action heroine for the ages, and the bond between Arnie’s T-800 and the young John Connor is sure to leave you misting up.

Combine that with revolutionary mimetic polyalloy SFX and a ton of jaw-dropping practical action set-pieces, and impending nuclear armageddon never looked so good.


1. Die Hard (1989)

It’s little surprise to see John McTiernan’s Die Hard top this list: it made Hollywood stars out of its two leads, Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, and influenced countless action movies for decades to come.

It’s relentless, claustrophobic, surprisingly funny in places and iconic as hell, thanks to its amazing action and even better cast – yippee ki-yay for Die Hard.


90 best films to watch: Top 10 Horror films

Honourable mention

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Our second honourable mention is The Blair Witch Project – a grungy, low-budget horror film whose maverick style – lots of improvised terror and shaky-cam found footage – had cinemagoers simultaneously wondering if it was based on real events and fervently hoping it wasn’t. It wasn’t of course, but that’s scant comfort once you get caught up in the doomed group’s journey into the woods.


10. Scream (1997)

It takes a true master to play with horror films’ stalest tropes – ‘let’s split up!’ – and turn a whole new generation on to the jump-scare thrills of the slasher movie.

Wes Craven’s Scream is knowing, funny and frightening, and full of surprises.

An absolute classic.


9. The Conjuring (2013)

Horror is all the more chilling when it’s based on fact, and the case files of real-life demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren inspired James ‘Saw’ Wan to craft a masterclass in understated possession horror that worms its way under your skin and won’t let you be.

Prepare for more terror with this year's sequel, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.


8. The Evil Dead (1983)

Far funnier and gorier than anything that preceded it, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead is a gross-out thrill-ride, shot on a modest budget but with a surfeit of virtuoso filmmaking.

It made an instant icon of its wisecracking chainsaw-wielding hero Ash.

As the great man himself would say, ‘groovy’.


7. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1976)

45 years after its initial release and Tobe Hooper’s mother of all slasher films is still not for the faint-hearted.

Fully terrifying and jaw-droppingly gory, it introduced a squirming world to one cinema’s all-time great monsters – Leatherface, and for that alone it deserves its classic status.


6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1985)

A decade (and change) before reinvigorating the horror genre with Scream, Wes Craven created Freddie Kreuger, a demonic slasher who could pursue his victims into their dreams.

And while this made sleep a memory for millions of cinema-goers, horror fans wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.


5. Alien (1979)

If anyone comes at you saying ‘Alien isn’t a horror film’’ challenge them to sit in a darkened room and watch it on their own.

Thought so.

Ridley Scott’s lean and mean body-horror survival classic shows that creaky old houses don’t have a monopoly on scares – space ships have plenty of dark corners and you never know what horror might be lurking there.


4. Halloween (1979)

For a horror icon that limits themselves to one night a year of slaughter, Michael Myers certainly slashes above his weight.

Silent, savage, and seemingly unkillable, John Carpenter’s creation is an inspired blank canvas upon which generations of horror fans and film-makers have poured their fears.

And he’s not done – Myers will return in Halloween Kills.


3. The Thing (1982)

Essentially an original-eclipsing remake of 1951’s The Thing From Another World, John Carpenter’s The Thing pops a shape-shifting alien among an isolated bunch of Antarctic researchers and – with the help of some of the most stomach-turning practical effects you’ll ever see – lets murderous paranoia spread like a pathogen.

It’s genius.


2. The Shining (1980)

It’s said that Stephen King loathed Stanley Kubrick’s version of his novel but history (and your votes) seem to be against him on this one.

Filmed with Kubrick’s meticulous detachment, there’s little humanity or warmth in Stanley’s Overlook Hotel, and that makes Jack Nicholson’s method-unravelling all the harder to endure.


1. The Exorcist (1974)

As timeless as films (in any genre) get, William Friedkin’s supernatural horror classic retains phenomenal power to shock and frighten.

Indeed, watching it even now almost feels like an invitation to something dark and and unholy, so completely does its tale of demonic possession grip you.

And that’s the best compliment for a horror film we can think of.


90 best films to watch: Top 10 Animated films

10. The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

The animation may not be the sharpest by today’s standards but when it comes to high-stakes storytelling and awesome casts The Transformers: The Movie will happily go toe to toe with any of Michael Bay’s live-action kaboom-fests any day of the week.

And, yes, that is the voice of cinematic legend Orson Welles, you hear, in his last ever role.

Glorious.


9. The Iron Giant (1999)

Brad Bird’s (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) directorial debut is as beautifully animated as it is moving.

It’s based on poet Ted Hughes’ 1968 novel The Iron Giant and blends Cold War paranoia with themes of what it means to be both part of humanity, but also an individual striving to forge your own path through your actions.

Watch it. You’ll be glad you did.


8. WALL-E (2008)

Is WALL-E the best Pixar film to date?

Undiluted by sequels, bold in its storytelling – there’s not a word of dialogue for the first 22 minutes – funny, heartfelt and gorgeously animated, it isn’t just a phenomenal animated film, it’s a classic of capital ‘C’ Cinema.

And, thanks to its climate crisis theme, it’s more relevant now than ever.


7. Spirited Away (2003)

Led by animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli’s films are unapologetically steeped in Japanese Shinto folklore.

They are also masterworks in storytelling – neither too sweet nor too dark. Miyazaki fan Pixar's John Lasseter understood this and helped to bring the utterly magical Spirited Away to Western audiences.

The rest is history.


6. Beauty and the Beast (1992)

What can we say?

Blessed with a (mostly) hand-animated look that is timelessly charming, an extraordinary collection of songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, and perfect casting that includes Angela Lansbury as Mrs Potts, it’s no surprise that Beauty and the Beast was the first ever animated film to get nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.


5. Toy Story 2 (2000)

Toy Story 2 is a near-perfect sequel – evolving what was most magical and entertaining about its predecessor without losing anything in the process.

It’s also a film that only grows in power the older you, the viewer gets.

From exhilarating adventure to thoughtful meditation on the things we retain (and relinquish) as we grow into adulthood – it’s all here.


4. The Lion King (1994)

For anyone who thought the death of Bambi’s mother in 1942 was as shocking as Disney could get, The Lion King’s stampede scene was a brilliant, bruising wake up call.

But then, The Lion King gets everything right from its Hall of Fame villain, Scar (Jeremy Irons) to infectiously singalong musical numbers, courtesy of Elton John and Tim Rice.


3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Produced by comedy/animation legends Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of those rare animated features that positively delights in its genre.

Packed with wildly creative visuals from start to finish, the big-screen debut of Miles Morales/Spider-Man is a genuinely breathtaking blend of top-flight storytelling and animation expertise.


2. Akira (1991)

Almost single-handedly responsible for waking up Western audiences to the idea that animation could be a medium for telling grown-up stories and not just a cul-de-sac of Saturday morning kids’ ‘toons, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira is fierce, focused and visually spectacular.

It’s been a gateway to the best of anime for generations, and for good reason.


1. Toy Story (1996)

Those who are old enough to remember animation before Pixar’s first feature came to cinemas will recall how Toy Story’s CG changed everything.

But, technological watershed aside, Toy Story is above all else an extraordinary piece of storytelling, voiced to perfection, funny and affecting.

Magnificent.


90 best films to watch: Top 10 Thriller films

10. North by Northwest (1959)

Not many thrillers from the 1950s still hold up today, but Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest is definitely one of them.

If nothing else, it’s worth watching for its often-copied but never-bettered crop field chase, that sees Cary Grant pursued by a plane whose pilot is intent on shooting him dead.

Iconic stuff.


9. The Prestige (2006)

The Prestige is a Christopher Nolan film that sometimes gets lost in the wake of his later and larger films, but it’s easily one of his best.

With rival magicians, twists galore, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, The Prestige has everything you could want from a good thriller – after all, we all want to be fooled, don’t we?


8. Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan’s amnesia thriller was one hell of a calling card for the then emerging director.

Its double-ended structure keeps the audience guessing right until the end, and Guy Pearce puts in a fantastic shift as its protagonist.

Don’t trust Teddy, but trust us: Memento is more than worthy of your time.


7. Psycho (1960)

Psycho is perhaps Alfred Hitchcock’s crowning achievement.

Groundbreakingly scary at the time of its release and still shocking over 60 years later, it’s a classic of the genre elevated to Cinema masterwork by its fiendishly iconoclastic director and a never-better Anthony Perkins.

Fun fact: it was also the first American movie to show a flushing toilet on film!


6. Fight Club (1999)

David Fincher’s Fight Club is an incredible achievement.

Disarmingly political, visually anarchic and thoroughly engaging, the tale of the Narrator and his ‘complex’ relationship with Tyler Durden remains an all-time great: the next time you watch it, see how many times you can spot frames of him spliced into the film!


5. The Usual Suspects (1995)

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And the greatest trick this movie ever pulled was that incredible twist.

Subsequently problematic director and narrator aside, The Usual Suspects remains a fantastic thriller that keeps its cards firmly against its chest, playing mind games with you until its closing moments.

And just like that – it’s gone.


4. Nightcrawler (2014)

Where’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s Oscar for Nightcrawler?

His portrait of a dodgy journalist doing extremely unethical things is easily a career best: helped along by Dan Gilroy’s amazing screenplay and fantastic support from Bill Paxton and Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler is a film that deserves to be in every film-lover’s top 10.


3. Prisoners (2013)

Denis Villeneuve is quickly becoming a genre-hopping master, and Prisoners is no exception from his run of intelligent, entertaining hits.

Bolstered by incredible performances from a steely Jake Gyllenhaal and an unhinged Hugh Jackman, Villeneuve’s film is one that’ll have you gripping the edge of your seat and yelling at the screen for things to turn out alright in the end.


2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs walked so TV’s Hannibal could run – but as good as Mr Mikkelsen is as the titular cannibal, no one compares to Anthony Hopkins.

His every line sends chills through your bones and (even behind a plexiglass wall) he’s a dangerous foil for Jodie Foster’s FBI rookie.

Might put you off your dinner, though – pan-fried liver and fava beans, anyone?


1. Se7en (1996)

Widely regarded as director David Fincher’s best film to date, there are few who would disagree with Se7en’s brilliance.

A series of gruesome deadly-sin-themed murders wrapped up in a sick game accompanied by a truly twisted final reveal make this a brilliantly bleak masterpiece.

What’s in the box? You don’t want to know but you’ll be unable to tear yourself from the screen.


90 best films to watch: Top 10 Fantasy films

10. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

What happens when you give a director known for wacky indie movies a Hollywood budget and the keys to the world’s largest cinematic universe?

The answer: a Nordic space comedy that bounces from armageddon to failed geological revolutionary subplots.

Taika Waititi’s entry to Marvel’s ever expanding universe managed to transform Thor from puffed-up Avenger to overpowered loveable rogue.


9. Princess Mononoke (2001)

Through the complexly profound artistry unique to Studio Ghibli’s work, Princess Mononoke is ultimately a story of Man vs. Nature.

Released in 1997, where traditional animation stood at the precipice to modern technology, this film demonstrated the indelible value and beauty of hand-drawn animation when it comes to mesmerising world-building and storytelling.


8. Avatar (2009)

Released at the height of 3D cinema, James Cameron brought the lush green alien world of Pandora to life as a sci-fi Pocahontas.

Its release saw huge public praise, with it breaking the record for highest grossing movie ever, a title it recently grabbed back from Avengers: Endgame.


7. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Set just after the Spanish Civil War, Pan’s Labyrinth is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Through a child's perspective on a strange maze of mythical creatures, this film deals with issues of politics through the world of dark fantasy.

Incidentally, Guillermo del Toro’s initial vision for the film had been collected in a notebook he carried around with him for 20 years, which he almost lost in a London cab.


6. Labyrinth (1986)

This musical puppet madness remains a thoroughly wacky, yet entertaining fantasy story.

The brainchild of Jim Henson (creator of the Muppets), Terry Jones (of Monty Python), George Lucas and more, it takes a head-first dive into the depths of their combined imaginations, resulting in wonderfully weird monsters, and a musically villainous David Bowie in a fright wig and questionably snug tights.


5. The Princess Bride (1988)

Perhaps the archetypal damsel in distress story, The Princess Bride’s marvellous world of swashbuckling princes and romance is one that hasn’t become dated.

As the story is framed and narrated by a grandfather to his dismissive grandson, it holds a knowing intelligence and delightful self awareness that stops events from ever going over the acceptable limits of cheesiness.


4. The Harry Potter series (2001-2001)

Seven books, eight films, and the mystery of the boy who lived.

As time progresses through the wizarding world of wands and brooms, the series transforms from the lighthearted magical adventure of three school friends, into an epic saga of tragedy, loss and sacrifice.

And while the franchise would later switch composers, John Williams’ bewitching original score is one of cinema’s greatest.


3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Translating the grandfather of the fantasy genre’s vision into movie-form was no easy feat.

Yet, Fellowship brings Tolkien’s universe of elves, hobbits, wizards and more to life through a Hollywood lens with phenomenal success.

Fun fact: Sean Bean’s refusal to fly had him actually hiking up mountains in full armour before shoots. After all, one does not simply helicopter into Mordor.


2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Building on the world established in the first film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers sees the now split fellowship exploring new environments and confronting ever more perilous challenges in their enduring quest.

With more stunning sweeping shots of New Zealand wilderness, it also brings the first taste of huge-scale battles of swords, catapults, elves, (and tossed dwarves).


1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Retaining its record for most Oscar wins (11), and [cough] the highest number of endings within one film, The Return of the King brought Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth trilogy to a wholly satisfying conclusion.

Despite juggling complex narratives across multiple characters, it successfully lands multiple payoffs, solidifying itself as the standard-bearer for all-encompassing fantasy storytelling.


90 best films to watch: Top 10 Comedy films

10. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Don’t you wish you could go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for this all to blow over?

Shaun of the Dead’s ultimate message of going to hell and beyond for friends and family during a pandemic has become eerily apt in today’s day and age.

Director Edgar Wright’s tightly choreographed zombie-bashing to ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ would also plant the seeds that would later bloom in 2017’s Baby Driver.


9. Some Like It Hot (1959)

One of only three films from Hollywood’s black and white era to make it onto the 90 Best Films list, Some Like It Hot is a joyous masterpiece that sees two musicians trying to avoid the attention of the mafia while simultaneously trying to get Marilyn Monroe’s.

With Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon and its heart, it’ll have you non-stop belly laughing for two hours as it playfully navigates character identity and more.

“Nobody’s perfect, after all.”


 

8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

“I am your King!” “Well I didn’t vote for you.”

The Holy Grail is one of Monty Python’s crowning jewels, striking their signature balance between political and philosophical thought with the profoundly ridiculous.

In true Python style, its infamous use of coconut shells was actually a necessity, as they couldn’t afford real horses to film galloping around the British countryside.


7. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Part two of the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ perfects the series’ ideal injection of the insane into the mundane.

Managing to capture rural British small-town culture through an homage to action packed 90s buddy cop movies, it’ll teach you that “there’s always something going on,” as well as some interesting facts about Japanese peace lillies.


6. Blazing Saddles (1974)

Released in 1974, this Mel Brooks classic is the antithesis of the cowboy movies popularised by the grim-faced likes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

This unapologetic mockery of the seriousness of the genre uses everything from Gucci-clad cowboys to rear-ending faux horses to create a fantastically lucrious spoof that’s packed with laughs.


5. Dumb and Dumber (1995)

Take the textbook film formula of two friends travelling across a country; now replace the car with a fur-covered dog van with floppy ears and fill it with two acutely unaware obnoxious idiots.

While at times you can’t help shrinking into your chair with second-hand embarrassment, this toilet-fixated ride into the pair’s misadventures is a hilarious no-brainer.


4. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1988)

Take two American comedy greats, force them down a path of misfortune together, and you’ve got a winning formula for success.

This unforgettable journey with Steve Martin and John Candy is the ultimate Thanksgiving movie, warming the soul through endless laughs and conjuring the familiar maddening struggle to be with your family at the end of the day.


3. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

Taking their signature brand of quasi-historical satire to divine heights, Life of Brian chooses to explore the absurdity and hypocrisy of organised religion.

In fact, they were so uncompromising in their approach that, just weeks before filming, they had the plug pulled on them by their studio chairman, only for The Beatles’ George Harrison to step up and fund the film himself.


2. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1989)

Akin to Airplane!, The Naked Gun sees dead-pan comedic legend Leslie Nielsen at his best, in an 85-minute unravelling of the traditional sophistication and gravitas of police procedurals and spy movies through goofy sight-gags and laugh-out-loud dialogue played absolutely straight.

Many films try and nail laugh-a-minute parodies but few have ever done it as deftly and as joyously as The Naked Gun.


1. Airplane! (1980)

Often cited as the greatest parody film of all time, Airplane! is an unforgettable ride of quick quips and timeless gags from start to finish.

Through Leslie Nielsen’s deadpan delivery, it remains the gold standard for comedic cinema through showing and not telling.

It also single handedly reduced the chance of anyone ever being named Shirley again.


90 best films to watch: Top 10 Adventure films

10. The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014)

That Peter Jackson chose to spin J.R.R. Tolkien’s slender novel The Hobbit over the same three-film span as his adaptation of the gargantuan Lord of the Rings was initially surprising.

But by blending Bilbo Baggins’ youthful adventures with existing Tolkien lore and original elements, Jackson once again conjured riveting Middle Earth magic.


9. Jumanji (1995)

In an alternate universe, Bruce Willis and not Robin Williams would have starred as Jumanji’s child-trapped-in-a-supernatural-board-game, Alan Parrish.

Happily for this delightfully wild adventure Williams stepped up, adding his unique blend of comedy and emotional authenticity to the role, and elevating Jumanji to classic status.


8. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Updating the original Jumanji’s lost-in-a-game premise for the console generations, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle didn’t just retain its predecessor’s gleeful high-concept adventure, but evolved the whole premise, bringing in an inspired ensemble-cast body-swap dynamic that delivered tons of laughs as well as some genuinely moving character development.


7. Jurassic Park (1993)

“Welcome to Jurassic Park…”

It’s a testament to Steven Spielberg’s genius that his original dino-epic’s 28-year-old CGI stands up as well as it does.

But then, this is the work of a master storyteller who makes every jaw-dropping moment count, enhancing his digital dinosaurs with phenomenal practical effects and amazingly real performances from his cast.


6. Pirates of the Caribbean Series (2003-2017)

Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t the only film inspired by a Disney theme park ride but it’s easily the most successful, spawning a superbly swashbuckling five-film franchise (with two more films in the works), and creating one of cinema’s most endearing rogues – Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).

Think you’re not into pirate films?

With sly humour, spectacular set-pieces and gripping stories awash with seafaring mythology, Pirates of the Caribbean will pressgang you into fandom before you can say ‘Davy Jones’ locker’.


5. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

It’s funny how the passage of time shifts the way we see films.

Considered by many to be way too scary on its release, Spielberg’s follow-up to the all-time adventure classic Raiders of the Lost Ark has matured into its role as ‘the interestingly edgy one’.

The fact is, though, it’s always been a stonking old-school adventure, flawlessly thrilling from start to finish.


4. The Mummy (1999)

We still don’t know what was going on with 2017’s bleak Mummy update.

Happily, though, we have Stephen Sommers’ reassuringly traditional take on the classic monster movie tale of desecrated tombs and ancient Egyptian curses.

The perfect rainy Sunday film, The Mummy is fun, thrilling and nicely frightening in places, and what more could you want?


3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The Raiders threequel aimed to recapture the spirit and tone of the original film.

It did this by a.) making WW2 Nazis the villains again, b.) having them race with Indy to locate a powerful supernatural artefact (the immortality-granting Holy Grail), and c.) bringing Sean Connery in as Indy’s domineering dad.

It succeeded beyond all expectations.


2. The Goonies (1985)

Part coming-of-age-film, part fantastical adventure, The Goonies takes a bunch of well-worn movie tropes – treasure maps, booby (booty?) traps, bickering siblings, and criminal gangs – and remixes them to create a brilliantly exciting, high-stakes adventure comedy.

And while the fashions and references may age, The Goonies’ ‘never say die’ spirit is eternal.


1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Paced to perfection and packed with intrigue and amazingly orchestrated set-pieces (any one of which most modern films would kill for), Raiders is an unashamedly old-school adventure with nuance-free good guys and bad guys, exotic globe-trotting, and – in Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones – one of the all-time great big-screen heroes.

Flawless.


90 best films to watch: Top 10 Drama films

10. Casablanca (1943 )

Filmed and set during WW2, Casablanca is pure class – a drama infused with love, unlikely heroism and personal sacrifice.

The finely-honed script is endlessly quotable for good reason, the cast from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman to Claude Rains is fantastic, and the ending is one of the finest you’ll ever see on the big screen.

“Here’s looking at you, kid…”


9. Forrest Gump (1994)

Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, The Polar Express, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) has an extraordinary talent for employing state-of-the-art technology in the service of storytelling.

In Forrest Gump he uses it to place his unwitting hero (played by Tom Hanks), in archive footage of pivotal historical events, making his and lifelong love Jenny Curran’s stories a metaphor for the two sides of the modern American Dream.


8. Goodfellas (1990)

Even by auteur Martin Scorsese’s exalted standards, Goodfellas is a masterpiece – an Italian American gangster epic spanning decades, with script, cast, production design, soundtrack and director as close to perfection as they get.

Commercial and uncompromising, this is cinema that leaves you inspired and changed for the better.

Unforgettable.


7. Schindler's List (1994)

Steven Spielberg’s film of Robert Keneally’s Booker Prize-winning novel (inspired by the life of the real Oskar Schindler) is a frequently harrowing watch – and essential viewing for precisely that reason – in its portrayal of the horrors of the Holocaust.

It is also, coming from Spielberg, an extraordinarily accomplished and gripping piece of filmmaking.


6. 12 Angry Men (1957)

With the possible exception of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), 12 Angry Men is the finest courtroom drama ever made.

From a surprisingly self-contained premise – 12 jurors in a murder trial deliberate over their verdict around a table – writer Reginald Rose and director Sydney Lumet create a magnetic drama fueled by prejudice, opinion, morality and conflict.


5. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Elevated by Peter Weir’s (Gallipoli, The Truman Show) sensitive direction, a fantastic young cast, and a standout, subtle performance by Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society is one of those inspirational films that, once experienced, resonates for a lifetime.

If you’ve yet to watch it yourself – or haven’t in a while – what can we say other than, ‘seize the day’?


4. The Godfather: Part II (1975)

If you only know The Godfather: Part II as an answer to the quiz question ‘name a film sequel that’s better than the original’, it’s high time you watched it and made up your own mind.

Whatever you decide, there’s no denying that this is Francis Ford Coppola in complete creative control – a mafia epic that expertly weaves two timelines into one uncompromising masterpiece.


3. Titanic (1998)

Say what you will about Titanic’s occasionally clunky dialogue – the film is as accomplished and sweeping an epic drama as you’ll ever hope to see.

By rooting the historical in the deeply personal – Rose and Jack’s ilicit, doomed but ultimately eternal love – the audience is swept along by the unfolding tragedy both above and below the waterline.


2. The Godfather (1972)

Brilliantly cast and acted, paced to perfection and exquisitely shot, The Godfather is so much more than the sum of its extraordinary parts.

Epic in every sense, its three-hour running time never once feels self-indulgent.

And that says everything you need to know about the quality of The Godfather’s storytelling.


1. The Shawshank Redemption (1995)

It’s hard to believe, but while many now regard The Shawshank Redemption as one of the greatest films of all time, it didn’t exactly set the box office on fire on its initial release.

However, Shawshank’s Andy Dufresne-like patience paid off, and its audience and inevitable classic movie status eventually found it.

Accessible, inspirational and capped with one of the greatest payoffs in cinema history, this is an easy film to love.


90 best films to watch: Top 10 Sci-Fi films

Honourable mention

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

It takes monumental guts backed up with incredible talent to create a sequel to an undisputed classic and come off well from the comparison.

Happily, Denis Villeneuve’s follow on to Ridley Scott’s cult classic Blade Runner does just that.

The film’s look is both utterly authentic and an evolution of the original’s, the story is both intelligent and deeply satisfying, and the cast, from Ryan Gosling’s replicant Blade Runner to Harrison Ford’s returning Rick Deckard is all in to create a modern sci-fi masterpiece.


10. Arrival (2016)

The otherworldly nature of Villeneuve’s Arrival is just one of its strengths: it’s an uneasy and unsettling watch, but one that’s ultimately an unmissable heartbreaker.

Previously better known for her comedic roles, Amy Adams’ award-worthy lead turn grounds an extremely out-there movie, and its closing reveal is sure to pull at the heartstrings.


9. Inception (2010)

Ah, Inception. The film that spawned a thousand fan theories about its ending and ultimate meaning – as well as a series of excellent Leonardo DiCaprio memes.

Its cultural impact in only a decade is incredible, and the film itself remains one of Christopher Nolan’s most thought-provoking and satisfying cinematic puzzle-boxes.


8. The Matrix (1999)

Not only did The Matrix revolutionise action cinema in Hollywood, it also made waves in the sci-fi genre.

Forcing its audience to question the world as it is and to acknowledge that our potential as humans may be greater than we imagine, it speaks to anyone figuring out their place in the world: once we take the red pill and understand what we’re capable of, there’s no telling how far we can go.


7. Back to the Future (1985)

Great Scott, it’s Back to the Future! We can’t even pretend to be surprised that it makes the cut: fun for adults and kids alike, it’s endlessly entertaining for the whole family and still holds up over 35 years on from its release. Pack your bags and let’s get moving, because where we’re going we don’t need… roads.


6. Interstellar (2014)

Some may balk at its near three-hour runtime, but there’s no denying the power of Interstellar to grip your imagination and not let go.

Despite all the dizzying theoretical space science (some of which actually helped real-world scientists figure out what a black hole looks like), at its heart it’s a story about a man and a promise to return to his daughter.


5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Easily Stanley Kubrick’s most daring work, 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most influential films of all time.

It’s a grand, sweeping, operatic film that dares not to hold its viewer’s hand, and is all the better for it.

And even half a century after its release, its special effects look as impressive as anything in a modern sci-fi film.


4. Aliens (1986)

More xenomorphs means more guns, and Aliens does not do things by halves.

James Cameron’s sci-fi actioner is so good, in fact, that it earned Sigourney Weaver an Oscar nod, and also (for now at least) cursed all of the later films in the franchise to fall short of its ballistic brilliance. As far as this one goes, it isn’t game over yet.


3. Blade Runner (1982)

Though it was many years before audiences would see its director’s true vision, Blade Runner started earning its ‘icon of cinema’ status from the get go.

Posing questions about life, purpose, humanity, and what it really means to be ‘alive,’ Ridley Scott’s film was decades ahead of its time, ensuring that it remains essential viewing nearly forty years on.


2. Star Wars Saga (1978-2019)

There’s so much to say about Star Wars that it’s impossible to do justice to the whole saga in such a small space.

Despite how divisive individual entries can be, there’s no denying how iconic and influential the series as a whole remains.

It’s staggering to think that, with one sci-fi movie, George Lucas revolutionised an entire genre and inspired generations of fans and future filmmakers.

And that’s something we can all agree on.


1. Alien (1979)

Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror remains one of the greatest films ever made.

It’s horribly claustrophobic and heart-stoppingly intense, it made a star out of a young Sigourney Weaver, and terrified audiences for decades to come.

People might not be able to hear you scream in space, but they sure can in the cinema.


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