Get ready to dive into a cinematic time machine with these 24 Films we so desperately wish we could watch again as first-time viewers. We're about to revisit those unforgettable movies that left us in awe. A quick heads-up: if you haven't seen these, there might be a few spoilers.
So, if you're up for reliving those first jaw-dropping moments or experiencing them for the first time, let's hop in the cinematic time machine!
1. Harry Potter Franchise (2001-2011)
Join young wizard Harry Potter as he embarks on a spellbinding journey through a world of magic, friendship, and adventure. From discovering his identity at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to facing dark forces threatening the wizarding realm, Harry's destiny unfolds across eight films of enchantment and courage.
What I would give to experience Prisoner of Azkaban for the first time — I remember being a little girl watching it in the theater and being utterly mind-blown by the time turner.
2. Clueless (1995)
Beverly Hills socialite Cher Horowitz takes center stage in this charming modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. Cher's well-intentioned matchmaking and fashion-forward escapades lead to unexpected romantic twists and heartfelt realizations about friendship and self-discovery as she navigates high school life.
Clueless and its peak 90s culture never get old, but there's something more somber looming over its viewings today. Whether it's our mourning of the simpler pre-social media times or knowing that Brittany Murphy is no longer with us, I will always cackle at the line, “You're a virgin who can't drive.”
3. She's The Man (2006)
Viola Hastings disguises herself as her twin brother, Sebastian, in this hilarious comedy. Enrolling in his school to pursue her soccer dreams, Viola finds herself entangled in a web of mistaken identities, comedic mishaps, and unexpected romance as she navigates the soccer field and matters of the heart.
The early 2000s were Amanda Bynes' heyday. If a movie starred Bynes, you knew it was an instant hit that would have your sides in stitches. Since she's retired from acting, watching She's the Man makes me long for the early 2000s.
4. Mean Girls (2004)
Cady Heron's transition from homeschooled student to high school life takes a wild turn when she befriends the Plastics, the school's most popular clique. Navigating a world of teen politics, gossip, and social hierarchy, Cady learns valuable lessons about authenticity and the perils of mean-spirited behavior.
5. The Notebook (2004)
Set against a backdrop of enduring love and memory, this poignant romance traces the story of Noah and Allie. Their passionate summer romance evolves into a tale of heartache and fate as an elderly Noah recounts their love story to an Alzheimer ‘s-afflicted Allie, reminding us of the timeless power of love. 2004 was quite a year.
6. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the enigmatic hacker Lisbeth Salander join forces to solve a decades-old mystery involving a wealthy family. As they uncover dark secrets and complex connections, their paths converge in a suspenseful, gritty tale of crime and intrigue.
I remember the first time I saw this film on a frigid winter's night. It captivated me and left my eyes glued to the screen. It gave me an even greater appreciation for David Fincher's directing. I still mourn the sequels that never came to fruition.
7. Scream (1996)
A series of gruesome murders plague a small town, and high school student Sidney Prescott becomes the target of a relentless killer who seems to be following the rules of horror movies. This self-aware slasher film revitalized the genre by blending horror and humor in a twisted survival game.
8. Jaws (1975)
My family had some sick and twisted minds because they thought watching Jaws and all the succeeding films when we went to the shore was appropriate. I have such vivid summer memories of sitting in a beach house at night, excited for the next day of fun at the beach, only for the image of a relentless oceanic beast to gnaw through a guy's leg. Try having that imprinted on your childhood psyche.
9. 12 Angry Men (1957)
In a tense and gripping jury room, twelve jurors deliberate the fate of a young defendant accused of murder. As the deliberations unfold, conflicts, biases, and personal struggles come to the forefront, challenging the jurors' perspectives and highlighting the complexities of justice.
10. It Follows (2014)
After an encounter, Jay is stalked by a supernatural force passed on through contact. The only way to escape the shapeshifting, unrelenting entity is to pass it on. She and her friends try to escape and outsmart the entity before it gets to them.
The first time I saw It Follows, I was fully immersed in the suspenseful, nerve-wracking atmosphere. Each moment was filled with tension, and the eerie visuals made the experience all the more unsettling.
11. Interstellar (2014)
In a future Earth devastated by crop failure and environmental disaster, Professor Brand, a visionary physicist, devises a plan to save humanity. He sends former NASA pilot Cooper and a team through a wormhole to distant planets, seeking a new habitable world for humanity's survival.
Most of us didn't expect the film to be so emotionally moving with its awe-inspiring depiction of love defying the cosmos and the hair-raising score that blared through our eardrums. Most left the theater with tears streaming down their faces.
12. The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix was a revolutionary movie that led you through an unparalleled journey into a world of cybernetic intrigue and philosophical wonder. It was the first introduction of the red pill/blue pill dichotomy. It spearheaded a genre of sci-fi philosophy movies that played on reality as a simulation.
13. The Lord of The Rings Franchise (2001-2003)
Set in the mythical realm of Middle-earth, Frodo Baggins embarks on a perilous journey to destroy a powerful ring before it falls into the hands of the dark lord Sauron. This epic trilogy, complete with epic battles, rich characters, and breathtaking landscapes, brings J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece to life. Most The Lord of the Rings fans would do anything to witness the grandeur and epic storytelling of Tolkien's world for the first time, where each quest and battle resonates with newfound wonder.
14. The Dark Knight (2008)
Gotham City faces chaos as the Joker, a psychopathic criminal mastermind, wreaks havoc. Batman, aided by Lieutenant Gordon and a morally conflicted Harvey Dent, must confront their limits in this dark and gripping installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. This was the movie that made Christopher Nolan the powerhouse director in the industry that he is.
15. Back to The Future (1985)
Inadvertently transported to the 1950s by a quirky time machine, teenager Marty McFly faces a task of paramount importance: ensuring his parents' love story unfolds as it should. This heartwarming fusion of science fiction and comedy follows Marty's adventures as he races against time to mend the past and secure his way back home. Back to the Future is a classic film in American cinema, beloved by all.
16. Get Out (2017)
Get Out follows Chris, a young Black man, as he visits his white girlfriend's family estate for a weekend getaway. However, what seems like a friendly gathering turns sinister as Chris uncovers disturbing secrets and realizes he's trapped in a nightmarish web of psychological manipulation and racial horror.
17. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day follows Sarah Connor and her son, John, as they are pursued by a highly advanced killer robot, the T-1000, sent from the future to eliminate John. To protect John's future role in preventing a war against the machines, they are aided by a reprogrammed Terminator, the T-800.
18. The Fifth Element (1997)
In a futuristic world, The Fifth Element revolves around a cab driver named Korben Dallas, who unexpectedly becomes the guardian of a mysterious woman named Leeloo, the fifth element essential to saving the Earth from impending doom. The movie was significantly impacted when released by seamlessly fusing imaginative world-building, thrilling action, and dazzling visual effects.
19. The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network explores the origins of Facebook through Mark Zuckerberg's journey from a Harvard student's idea to a worldwide social media giant. Amid friendships, betrayals, and legal battles, the film delves into the intricate web of ambition, innovation, and the unforeseen impacts of achieving digital dominance.
20. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Silence of the Lambs follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling as she enlists the help of the brilliant yet twisted Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer, to catch another elusive murderer. This psychological thriller weaves a suspenseful narrative of crime, investigation, and intricate mind games that captivate and disturb.
21. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Quentin Tarantino‘s alternate history war film follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers on a mission to assassinate high-ranking Nazis during World War II. Interwoven with the story of a French-Jewish cinema owner, the film is a rollercoaster of tension, humor, and revenge.
22. The Sixth Sense (1999)
In The Sixth Sense, child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe endeavors to aid a troubled young boy who asserts he can communicate with the deceased. As Crowe delves into the boy's extraordinary encounters, he confronts his haunting history, leading to a gripping narrative that climaxes with a revelation that has become an iconic hallmark of cinematic storytelling. The film put M. Night Shyamalan on the map as a premiere director in the industry.
23. American Beauty (1999)
Lester Burnham, a middle-aged man disillusioned with his life, embarks on a self-discovery journey involving an infatuation with his daughter's best friend, rebellion against societal norms, and a rekindling of passion. This darkly comedic exploration of suburban life confronts us with questions of the pursuit of happiness, identity, and beauty.
24. Hereditary (2018)
After the death of her secretive and mysterious mother, Annie Graham begins to uncover unsettling family secrets that unearth a terrifying supernatural presence. As the Graham family's reality fractures, the film delves into themes of grief, trauma, and the eerie intersection of the mundane and the otherworldly.
Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.
At Wealth of Geeks, Jaimee places an emphasis on film and television analysis, ranking the best [and worst] in media so you can find more diamonds in the rough and waste less time on box-office duds. You can find her articles on politics and culture in Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, Lotus Eaters, and Her Campus. You can also find her find her episode of Popcorned Planet, where she analyzes the Johnny Depp & Amber Heard trial. She has written extensively about due process, free speech, and pop culture.