Whether you watch movies in a theater, from a DVD, Blu-Ray, stream them from the Cloud, or even dust off that old VHS or Laser-Disc, there are plenty of avenues from which to enjoy long-form storytelling in video form.
In the interest of full disclosure, I had the idea for this post at least a year ago, and I made the list then. Now, coming into it and adding the meat I ended up changing some of the letter selections. But I maintain that this list, like those of the music playlist variety that have already been a part of this site, will maintain based on your mood, disposition, and even perhaps what you’ve watched more recently.
With that in mind, no matter the form you choose, here are 26 movies from A to Z (or A to Zed if you prefer) that I suggest you watch… You will be entertained.
A – A Shock to the System
Remember in the nineties when the original “you don’t understand” class was the Yuppies? If you don’t, maybe you should skip this movie. If you do, this is the other side of Wall Street. And Michael Caine plays a vengeful stuffed shirt after he gets passed over for a promotion he’s been waiting too long to get. Sure it’s of its time, but it’s still really good.
B – Blow-Up
“Nothing like a little disaster for sorting things out,” is one of my favorite lines of dialog. But beyond that, Antonioni’s mystery set amid the swinging sixties is a fun romp any way you look at it. As one of the taglines relates; “Sometimes reality is the strangest fantasy of all.”
C – Cashback
The lead character Ben takes a late-night shift at a local market to deal with insomnia from a painful breakup. From there he further develops his artistic skill and the ability to freeze time, which I guess you can infer is not a superpower, but something more like powerful observational skills, but either way, I really like the sentiment of this film on the whole.
D – Dead Alive
This Peter Jackson helmed picture is one that a few of my friends and I still quote to this day. (“I kick ass in the name of the lord!”) Is it good? That’s not the point. It’s fun. It’s an over-the-top B-movie zombie flick, that was released in 1993 before the whole “zombie” trend became a trend!
E – Elizabethtown
Cameron Crowe has done quite a few films over the years, but his 2005 piece of work about life and death, road trips, music, and being alone with yourself is one of the shortest heavy two hour and three minute movies I’ve ever seen… And yes, I have watched it many times.
F – Fanboys
Before Ernie Cline was a best-selling author, he wrote this fan film which may in fact be the best fan film ever made with a real budget! And while it’s easy to focus on the excellent writing, the cast is phenomenal, too! This isn’t your standard everyday fan film…
G – Ghostbusters
Ritman, Aykroyd, Ramis, Murray, Weaver, Moranis, Potts, Atherton, and Hudson. The cast is phenomenal, the writing is on point and the plot works. And just like Star Wars and Kiss, Ghostbusters launched a brand, but the original maintains its authenticity.
H – Heavy Metal
When you give Ivan Reitman the keys to the Heavy Metal back catalog and have him produce a series of shorts for a feature-length film, what do you get? You get an 86 minute epic animated classic with one of the better soundtracks ever collected.
I – The Italian Job
Not the first classic swingin’ sixties film on this list, but that era made some great features. And while this isn’t quite the same as Blow-Up, the two would make a fantastic double-feature! Michael Caine and his gang of misfits attempt the crime of the century and it’s the classic MINI Coopers that steal the show.
J – Jurassic Park
Somehow, this was the first movie I remember seeing at a drive-in movie theatre, but that aside, you never forget the first time you saw those dinosaurs on the screen. Maybe in hindsight, with better CGI that has come since, you rewatch it and you see some of the flaws, but it will forever be your first, and as adaptations go, Spielberg did really well with Crichton’s words.
K – Kong: Skull Island
I knew of King Kong. I watched a few movies here and there, but Kong: Skull Island is one of the more recent, and if I’m being completely honest, the only, Kong movie that I didn’t get bored watching. As far as Legendary’s “MonsterVerse” is concerned, I think both this and the Godzilla have been well done.
L – Legend of the Drunken Master
I enjoy a good “kung-fu” as much as, maybe more, than the next guy, but if I had to choose one it would be this 1994 sequel because, on every beat, the action, the humour, the plot, the stunts, it’s just always better than the 1978 original Drunken Master.
M – The Man Who Would Be King
There are not many certainties in film. But for me, John Huston adapting and directing a Rudyard Kipling novella starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine with Christopher Plummer is a can’t miss. And while it runs at over 2 hours, you should be prepared for that from the last few Disney franchise movies that are over two hours as well.
N – Ninth Gate
Johnny Depp as a rare book dealer Dean Corso is looking to track down a copy of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows of which only three exist. Part mystery, part thriller, all dark, this film is not light material but it is good and Depp is fantastic.
O – Ocean’s 11
While the modern remakes are good, the classic is great. The cast is the original Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr, Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford. There are cameos that are basically a who’s who of anyone who was anyone of the time (the film was released in 1960). But what really sets this apart from the remakes and makes this one that much better… This one has a better ending.
P – PCU
Before the world became what it is, or maybe because of where the world was going, PCU (a 1994 released film) which is “an exaggerated view of contemporary college life” has in some ways become relevant again. But more than that, it has a stellar cast, great music, and a great script.
Q – Quiz Show
Based on a memoir that I hope to read, this film chronicles the Twenty-One quiz show scandal and is produced and directed by Robert Redford and stars John Turturro, Rob Morrow, and Ralph Fiennes, with Paul Schofield, David Paymer, Hank Azaria, and Christopher McDonald rounding out the cast. And if that’s not enough to intrigue you, know that there is government overreach in the story, if that stirs your drink.
R – Real Genius
Maybe my favorite movie of all time, but certainly my favorite of the geek/nerd genre, because in this film the geeks overtake the geeks. This is smart on smart. And while Val Kilmer does steal the show, the real star of the film is the script.
S – Suddenly
Frank Sinatra is an assassin who takes over a house with the perfect view of the president’s train to assassinate the president in this 1954 classic that is much better than it has any right to be. I know and have watched this film because of Sinatra, but I would urge you to find any reason to watch this film.
T – Transformers: The Movie
Orson Welles as the voice of Unicron is to me, one of, if not the best villains of all time. Plus, it’s just great animated fun and, most importantly, you don’t have to be a superfan of any kind to enjoy it. It just works, whether you’ve never seen the cartoon, or if you know most of the dialog.
U – Universal Soldier
As far as cryogenically frozen 90’s flicks go, there are two that go hand in hand. One is Demolition Man, which is fantastic, but for very different reasons so is Universal Soldier, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren with Roland Emmerich directing, this is a blast from the past.
V – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
I thought that Luc Besson’s adaptation of his favorite childhood comic was not only brilliant, but it also put the graphic novels on to my “to read” list. And while I know much of what was on screen was based somewhere else, it was handled in a way that I felt this movie got a raw deal when it came to its reception at the box office.
W – Wizards
This is arguably my universal favorite film by one of my favorite creators of all time Ralph Bakshi. Sure, sometimes I am in the mood for one of his other films, but I’ve never tired of it, and it never ceases to fail to inspire me on many different levels. I still put in on and watch in awe. What more could you ask for of a film?
X – X-Men
Before the MCU took off, there were two large superhero franchises. Mainly this was Batman until 2000 when the X-Men franchise kicked off. And it was really good. It’s not the foundation of the MCU, but it did establish that mainstream audiences were ready for non-Batman heroes. Plus as a bonus, it still holds up.
Y – Young Frankenstein
As classic comedies go, Mel Brooks has created quite a few and Young Frankenstein is decidedly among them. Gene Wilder as the titular Frankenstein, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is not only a superb lead but he plays off of the surrounding and supporting cast as effortlessly as is humanly possible on film.
Z – Zombieland
Zombieland isn’t on here because there aren’t a lot of good Z movies, at least for me it could have been Zulu in this place, but I hold Zombieland in high regard because it is a zombie-flick that knows what it wants to be and does it very well. It’s superbly written and well-cast, and while the plot is fairly good, I’ll forgive it for the fun dialog along the way.
What’s on your list?