25 Must-See Movies That Even the Toughest Film Critics Can’t Help but Love”

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Some films are so good it’s impossible not to appreciate them for the tears, suspense, head scratches, or gut-busting laughter they offer. The internet has spoken, and these are the movies that you should be able to enjoy whether you’re a film enthusiast or not. Did any of your favorites make the list?

1. Princess Bride (1987)

The Princess Bride Cary Elwes, André René Roussimoff, Mandy Patinkin
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox and Interaccess Film Distribution.

The Princess Bride is an excellent fairytale movie that makes you feel good. It gives you a bit of romance, adventure, magic, and some comedy along the way. The story is intriguing enough to keep you engaged, and the happy ending lets you see the characters reach their full potential while searching for true love. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but many users on the online forum thought it was the perfect comfort film.

2. Back to the Future (1985)

Back To The Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The biggest strength of Back to the Future that makes it a timeless film is the amazing chemistry between the actors. Marty McFly and Dr. Brown work well off of one another. There were so many funny moments, iconic quotes, and an overall awesome performance. The movie is innocent but still has a certain energy that makes you feel like it’s for all age groups. Beyond that, the storyline is fun and keeps you entertained.  

3. Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Jurassic Park is one of my childhood favorites. Even as an adult, one forum member commented that there’s plenty of dinosaur action and ferocious combat to satisfy everyone’s inner child. Still, aside from that, the movie explores other themes as well. When you get a little deeper into movie meanings, you realize there was commentary embedded in the film about ego, greed, power, and the separation of man and beast. On top of that, the CGI was phenomenal.

4. A Knight’s Tale (2001)

A Knight's Tale Heath Ledger
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

A Knight’s Tale is a charming, easy-going, action comedy film that highlights various anachronisms while merging the old and new. The cast is solid, and from the beginning of the movie, you can start to see similarities that have evolved yet remained a unifying agent, like sports and fashion. It’s one of those fun films to watch when you want to unwind and get a good laugh. 

5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is an exciting movie with cool action scenes and amazing fights. The way everything looks and moves will make your heart race because it feels like you’re right there. What else do you expect from Indiana Jones? 

The special effects might seem a bit old compared to what we have now, but they still give you the feeling of seeing real stunts instead of computer stuff. It’s a film that grabs your attention and takes you on a thrilling adventure you can’t help but enjoy.

6. The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show Jim Carrey
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

With the prevalence of commercialism and reality TV, The Truman Show presents things from an interesting perspective. The movie uses things like making fun of people/ideas, saying things opposite to what you expect, and talking about the film itself to make its point. 

The movie’s pace is just right, the actors are excellent, and the character development is spot-on. It’s not just a good movie to watch; it also provokes deep thought. Despite Jim Carrey being a pillar of comedy, he knocks this performance out of the park. 

7. My Cousin Vinny (1992)

My Cousin Vinny Marisa Tomei
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The realism and accuracy of legal proceedings, trials, and the system overall is impressive in My Cousin Vinny. Some parts of the film are silly and contrived, yet the actor’s performances and the movie’s pacing make it feel like you can still believe what you see on the screen and enjoy it. After three decades, multiple respondents note that it’s still one of the sharpest and funniest comedies from the 9ps that they still watch today. 

8. Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

With countless references being made to the film today in various sitcoms, Ghostbusters remains a classic. It’s an expert balance between comedy and horror; even side characters like Louis Tully keep you captivated. 

Aside from the on-screen chemistry, the special effects are pretty neat, even for a movie from the 80s. One contributor says, “I can’t say there were any scenes I didn’t enjoy. I can recite about 90% of it because I’ve seen it so many times. That’s a testament to its greatness!”

9. As Good As It Gets (1997)

As Good as It Gets
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Is anything with Jack Nicholson in it not enjoyable? We really ought to give him bis roses while he’s still here! He’s been in so many great movies, and As Good As It Gets is amongst my favorites. 

He begins the film as a socially inept, short-tempered author with no chill, and ends up showing us how even the grumpiest curmudgeons are capable of love. This rom-com reached Oscar-caliber territory, and I’m always down to grab a bowl of popcorn and tune in.

10. The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Big Lebowski Phillip Seymour Hoffman, David Huddleston
Image Credit: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.

The Big Lebowski is a clever film that makes fun of other movies in a witty way. Not to mention, it’s hilarious. It has become the kind of movie people love and still talk about today because of its brilliance. 

Not many movies can be smart, funny, and have this special “cult” status all at once. The Big Lebowski has jokes that might be offensive, a story that keeps you guessing, and some deeper ideas about life. It’s not afraid to say things that are bold or go against what you expect.

11. The Godfather (1972)

I'm Going to Make Him an Offer He Can't Refuse.- The Godfather (1972)
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

There are a ton of reasons why The Godfather is a masterpiece for the ages. Some of the online forum members mentioned the iconic score, impeccable casting, and excellent cinematography, to name a few. The movie has depth for a basic story about an aging mafia boss handing the keys to his untrained son. 

Only a few films have had such a massive impact as the Corleones gave us, on both pop culture and the industry. A few users said almost everyone remembers that “Revenge is a dish best served cold” because of this classic. 

12. Rocky (1976)

Rocky IV Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire
Image Credit: MGM/UA Entertainment Co. and United International Pictures.

Rocky is not just another sports movie. Though I also loved Creed, which features Rocky taking on more of the trainer role, there’s nothing like seeing him run up the steps and jump up and down with his arms raised in the air. The film has serious and emotional parts that are even better than most sports movies and dramas. 

It’s about someone nobody expects much from, showing everyone what he’s made of. Some of the movies even end with the main character losing, but he still overcame in some way. That’s what makes it so enjoyable time and time again. 

13. Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump Hanna Hall, Michael Conner Humphreys
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Forrest Gump is a touching and emotional movie about a guy who may not be the smartest, but he has a huge heart. It’s also a story that shows how good things tend to happen to good people, and bad things happen less often. While that’s not entirely true, it’s a feel-good movie that offers hope in a sometimes bleak world. 

Users said they loved this movie because Forrest is a kind-hearted person who keeps going no matter what. The film also makes us think about how our country went through a lot of changes in the 1960s and 1970s, but we kept moving forward.

14. The Fifth Element (1997)

The Fifth Element Milla Jovovich, Bruce Willis
Image Credit: Gaumont and Buena Vista International.

The Fifth Element offers a nice mix of flamboyance and griminess. Thankfully, the jokes reflected that and flowed seamlessly within the film. It seems like this is one of those movies that people either love or hate, but the consensus on the forum was that it’s a keeper.

Corbin was really sarcastic with a knack for hilarious one-liners, while Zorg showed us that even bad guys can have a dark sense of humor. Not many science fiction movies can combine romance, comedy, and action in a way that feels real, but this one did a great job. 

15. Shrek (2001)

Shrek Mike Myers
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

For starters, Donkey is one of the main reasons I can always watch Shrek and enjoy it no matter how old I get. Eddie Murphy’s iconic voice and ability to make you laugh never gets old, and I can’t get enough of the love-hate relationship between him and Shrek. 

Aside from that, the movie is well-made, entertaining, and teaches valuable lessons. A member stated that fans always notice how amazing the writing and narrative are when rewatching. The jokes, clever hints, and engaging characters make it one of the best animated movies to enjoy with friends and family.

16. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a movie centered on enjoying life while you have a life to enjoy. A big part of what made it so charming was that people watching could imagine themselves in Ferris’ shoes, having exciting adventures with their friends. 

The film made you feel like you were right there with them, experiencing all the thrills and excitement. It was the perfect fantasy of escaping from everyday life and doing something fun. Ferris also taught us an important lesson about living in the moment and appreciating what’s happening before it passes you by.

17. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption
Photo Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment.

If you like powerful movies with a strong message and anything that features Morgan Freeman’s mesmerizing voice, then The Shawshank Redemption is an instant classic. The storyline is incredibly well-written and manages to be both personal and relatable to everyone. 

It’s disheartening to see what the main character goes through, but the movie shows us that he never gives up hope and keeps going with a positive attitude. The friendship between Andy and Red is one of the best parts of the movie. They have a special connection that makes for a pleasant watching experience.

18. Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

I’m not sure I know anyone who hasn’t seen the movie Goodfellas. The main character, Hill, talks a lot throughout the film, but his narration isn’t overbearing; it feels necessary and fluid. 

The characters also give you a semblance of realism in that they speak loudly and quickly, and sometimes they even talk over each other, just like in real life. The movie starts in the middle of the story, then returns to the beginning, and jumps around a bit. It’s not told in a straight line, which makes it unique and keeps you on your toes. 

19. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) 

The Pursuit of Happyness Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Probably my favorite movie on the list, The Pursuit of Happyness, is a beautiful story of overcoming adversity and achieving one’s dreams. Seeing the struggle of Will Smith as a single father after his marriage falls apart and doing everything he possibly can to survive is both heart-wrenching and incredible to witness. 

His determination to succeed and his will to get out of his current circumstances, some of which include homelessness, little to no food, and the inability to explain that to a child, keep me coming back from more. I literally never get tired of this movie!

20. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

Many commenters from the online forum attributed the credit to Pulp Fiction as the movie that made Quentin Tarantino an excellent director. It has some stand-out features, like the story not following a straight line. Instead, it weaves together three different stories that are full of action, but somehow they all fit together very well. 

Instead of following one protagonist and one antagonist and understanding their story, you have to keep up with multiple characters and what’s going on with them all at once within various plots. The fast pace and intriguing nonlinear style of this film make it rewatchable over the years. 

21. The Green Mile (1999)

The Green Mile Tom Hanks, David Morse, Barry Pepper, Michael Clarke Duncan
Image Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment.

The cinematography in The Green Mile is simply stunning. While it is emotional, the film forces the audience to confront the moral dilemma that the death penalty presents. As you’re watching the movie, you acknowledge that sometimes innocent people can be put to death, and the real criminal may never be found. 

It’s a lot to think about. John Coffee also has some special abilities to heal people and understand their feelings. He’s not like other inmates, and the police officer, Paul Edgecomb, starts to really care about him. It’s a film that makes you wonder where you stand on certain issues, and it’s a great watch. 

22. Titanic (1997)

Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox.

I’m not sure that Titanic really needs much of an introduction in terms of its impact or how people credit James Cameron for such a meaningful film. I wouldn’t necessarily describe this as a movie that you can enjoy per se, mainly because of how tragic it was, but the love story within it is truly beautiful.  

Notwithstanding, as far as modern history goes, the loss of life on a grand scale and the dramatic eyewitness accounts place it amongst the most well-known occurrences. Cameron paid so much attention to every little detail in the movie, and even though it’s three hours long, it feels like it goes by really quickly.

23. The Sixth Sense (1999)

I See Dead People.- The Sixth Sense (1999)
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

The Sixth Sense has some chilling scenes, and Haley Joel Osment is one of the best child actors I’ve ever seen. The special connection between Malcolm and Cole is perfect on the big screen. Malcolm teaches Cole important values, and at the same time, he’s trying to move on from the world of the living. 

Even without the big twist at the end, the movie would still be delightful (from a cinematic appreciation standpoint) because it works from an emotional perspective. It doesn’t rely on cheap thrills or jump scares; it’s a deep story that stays with you.  

24. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan Matt Damon
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

Saving Private Ryan portrays the brutal realities of war in a raw and unflinching way. The intense battle scenes, coupled with the sound design, put audiences right in the middle of the chaos and devastation. If you want to cry, I suppose this is a film you’ll watch because you appreciate the reality that it discusses. 

The film also explores themes of sacrifice, brotherhood, and the value of human life, prompting deep reflection on the cost of war. The character development is so well done that it allows you to re-engage in the story, even after you’ve seen it a few times,  

25. Cast Away (2000)

Cast Away Tom Hanks
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures and 20th Century Fox.

Cast Away is a beloved movie that people still enjoy two decades after it first came out. It features a captivating and transformative performance by Tom Hanks that takes audiences on an emotional journey as his character battles loneliness, despair, and the will to survive. Not to mention, we all fall in love with Wilson as well! 

It’s a somewhat disturbing and simultaneously beautiful symbol of companionship, the human need for connection, and the lengths one may go to preserve their sanity in isolation. Ultimately, one user says that Cast Away is a deeply engaging and memorable film experience. 

Source: Reddit. 

Entertainment Writer at Wealth of Geeks | + posts

Creshonda Smith is a creative writer that thrives on learning something new everyday and sharing that knowledge in a way that captivates others. She has 15 years of experience as a freelance writer for various companies, but she was previously a Clinical Social Worker, having obtained her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from The Ohio State University. After nearly 10 years in the field, she decided it was time to return to one of her childhood passions—writing that inspires. Creshonda will tackle any topic, but she prefers lifestyle articles centered around Health & Wellness, Parenting & Family Advice, Food + Drinks, Personal Growth, and Traveling. She has four beautiful children and has been married for a decade. Her favorite hobbies include traveling to anywhere there's a beach, reading, writing, and playing UNO! Creshonda has been a contributing writer for Wealth of Geeks since June 2023.