I miss going to movie theaters. There’s no substitute for watching a big screen movie on a 50-foot screen. 1917 for example. That movie probably gets a 25% big-screen premium.
An underappreciated benefit of going to the theater is it gives you alone time, which is nice. More importantly, it prevents you from checking your phone. A movie theater is one of the only places that gets your undivided attention.
For obvious reasons, I haven’t been to a movie theater in 2020. One silver lining, and I hate to even call it that because I don’t want to sound insensitive, but one silver lining in an otherwise very dark year is that I’ve had a lot of time to catch up on movies that I never got around to. Classics like The Godfather and Citizen Kane, and modern ones that I missed like Crimson Tide and The Insider.
So, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of what I think are the best movies that you probably haven’t seen. This was tricky to make because I have no way of measuring how many people saw something. I looked at the box office numbers, but that doesn’t tell the full story. American History X for example wasn’t a commercial success but I’m pretty sure everyone has seen it.
Let the record show that I don’t claim to have great taste in film. I’ve never seen a monster movie I didn’t like and on the flip side, I was bored by Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.
These are movies I enjoyed that you might not have seen. Like all lists, there will be items on here that you take exception with. “That movie sucks!” or “Everyone’s seen that!” Relax, person on the internet.
Alright, with those hedges out of the way, if you’re looking for something you may have missed, below is the list, from oldest to newest, with a one-sentence description, and my favorite quote.
If you would prefer to see it in an excel spreadsheet, Best Movies. Here we go.
A man’s long lost love comes back into his life, but she’s with somebody else.
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
The Color of Money, 1986
A couple of pool sharks partner up.
“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned”
The King of New York, 1990
A gangster gets out of prison and picks up right where he left off.
“From now on, nothing goes down unless I’m involved. No blackjack no dope deals, no nothing. A nickel bag gets sold in the park, I want in.”
Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992
Four real estate salesmen compete to save their jobs.
“Put that coffee down. Coffee’s for closers only.”
Carlito’s Way, 1993
An ex-gangster gets out of prison and tries to leave the criminal world, but it keeps sucking him back in.
“Kleinfeld was coked out of his mind”
Sexy Beast, 2000
An ex-hitman tries to retire, but his boss won’t let him.
“But quite frankly your attitude appalls me. It’s not what you’re saying. It’s all the stuff you’re not saying. Insinnuendos.”
The Rules of Attraction, 2002
College kids entangle themselves into a dark web of messed up relationships.
“I wasn’t acting on passion. I was simply acting.”
Matchstick Men, 2003
A con artist with OCD does con man things.
“I’m not a criminal. I’m a con man.”
The Squid and the Whale, 2005
Divorce is seen through the eyes of two brothers in 1980s Brooklyn.
“What is it about high school, you read all the worst books by good writers.”
Thank You For Smoking, 2005
A day in the life of a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.
“Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.”
The Mayans attempt to enslave a village leads to a 2-hour chase through the jungle.
“I am Jaguar Paw. This is my forest. And I am not afraid.”
The Prestige, 2006
Two magicians compete to be the best in 19th century London.
“Are you watching closely?”
Alpha Dog, 2007
A drug dealer is owed money from one of his customers, so he decides to kidnap his brother and hold him for ransom.
“We’re just going to take a walk. Come on, man.”
Eastern Promises, 2007
The Russian mob doing Russian mob things.
“I can’t become king if someone else already sits on the throne.”
District 9, 2009
Aliens come to earth and are put in internment camps.
“I never said anything about a way out. I promised you a way in!”
Two estranged brothers are on a collision course for the octagon.
“You don’t knock him out. You don’t have a home.”
Stuntman by day, getaway driver by night.
“You give me a place and a time, I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours. No matter what.”
The Grey, 2011
A plane crashes in the wilderness and the survivors are hunted by a pack of wolves.
“Live and die on this day.”
Killing them Softly, 2012
A couple of crooks rob a card game and the mob hires a hitman to go after them.
“America’s not a country. It’s just a business. Now fucking pay me.”
A sociopath chases crime scenes and sells his footage to a local TV station.
“What if my problem wasn’t that I don’t understand people but that I don’t like them?”
Hell or Highwater, 2016
Two brothers rob the bank that’s about to foreclose on their family’s land.
“I’ve been poor my whole life, like a disease passing from generation to generation. But not my boys, not anymore.”
War Dogs, 2016
What happens when you win a $300 million contract to deliver weapons to the military?
“Everyone’s fighting over the same pie and ignoring the crumbs. I live off the crumbs”
Good Time, 2017
A man tries to free his brother from prison after a robbery goes wrong.
“I think something very important is happening and it’s deeply connected to my purpose.”
A quadriplegic gets an implant that allows him to not just walk, but also kick some ass.
“I am STEM. The system operating your body for you. Don’t be afraid.”
Alright, that’s my list. What did I miss?
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