It's impossible not to have a backlog of films we will eventually experience at some point. Procrastination takes its toll and we eventually have a watchlist that swells up to hundreds of movies.
Sometimes it's films that are universally beloved, award-winning, and critically acclaimed. You're worried that if you don't like them, you'll have to have a very awkward conversation with that friend who's been bugging you to watch it for years.
Members of a popular internet movie forum recently weighed in on the films still in their shrinkwrap on their shelves and cluttering up their watchlists that they need to stop procrastinating, clear their schedule, grab some popcorn, and watch.
1. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick's direction turns this Stephen King story into an engrossingly ominous affair. Jack Nicholson's performance as a writer falling into madness only enhances the effect, making The Shining one of the truly great horror flicks ever made.
2. Fences (2016)
Fueled by a timeless story from August Wilson and powerhouse performances from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, Fences is an incredible watch.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Don't wait until it's 2001st on your watchlist to check out Kubrick's groundbreaking sci-fi epic about an astronaut guided by a slightly sinister computer. It would be best if you didn't leave this movie on your watchlist, Dave.
4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
How can you sit on Shawshank? It's Morgan Freeman narrating a Stephen King adaptation. That man has a voice like slowly melting molasses; I could listen to him read the phone book. Frank Darabont's powerful prison drama about a wrongfully convicted banker's path to freedom should be on everyone's best-of lists, not I will watch it “one day” lists.
5. No Greater Love (1959)
Ideally, you'll want to watch the whole of Masaki Kobayashi's The Human Condition trilogy, but if you don't have a whole day set aside for the complete epic about a pacifist's struggle to retain his humanity amidst the authoritarianism, brutality, and horror of World War 2 Japan, at the very least start with the first part that centers around a labor camp supervisor called Kaji who attempts to make the lives better for the prisoners held in his charge.
6. Parasite (2019)
This Korean pitch-black satire about a poor family worming their way into the lives of a wealthy household is as thought-provoking as it is utterly brilliant. There's a reason it won an Oscar; the film burrows into your brain. And you should let it.
7. The Handmaiden (2016)
Oldboy director Park Chan-wook's erotically charged psychological thriller about a Korean conman's and a young pickpocket's elaborate plot to steal the inheritance of a wealthy Japanese heiress is Wook's most thoughtful and often disturbing film.
8. The Godfather (1972)
Many seem too intimidated by the legacy of Francis Ford Coppola's iconic crime saga about one dutiful son's descent from war hero to mob boss to actually sit down and watch it. Marlon Brando's Oscar-winning performance as the Corleone family's aging patriarch, Vito Corleone, is worth your time alone. The Godfather really is an offer you can't refuse.
9. Barry Lyndon (1975)
Kubrick's visually stunning period drama about an Irish rogue who climbs the social ladder in 18th-century Europe is one film you should stop saying no, nay, never, no more to.
10. Seven Samurai (1954)
Akira Kurosawa's iconic masterpiece about a group of samurai hired to protect a defenseless village from marauding bandits is one of those films that should be on everyone to watch list and then swiftly cut from it (because you've seen it.)
11. Pi (1998)
Darren Aronofsky's deeply philosophical directorial debut tells the curious tale of one reclusive mathematician's maddening obsession with recurring patterns is one mind-bending journey you should take before you start seeing it everywhere.
12. Mulholland Drive (2001)
David Lynch's dreamlike neo-noir thriller that delves into Hollywood's dark underbelly showcases Lynch's particular surreal storytelling at its finest as aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts) attempts to help an amnesiac named Rita (Laura Harring) uncover her past. Though, the real mystery is why you haven't seen this film yet.
13. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan's mind-bending, dimension-hopping, weirdly romantic masterpiece about a disgruntled laundromat owner who discovers she can hop between parallel dimensions is a movie you have seen dozens of times across the multiverse, so why haven't you seen it in this one as well.
14. Good Will Hunting (1997)
The film that finally won Robin Williams an Oscar, Gus Van Sant's tale of an angry young Janitor at MIT with a hidden talent for math whose life is transformed with the help of a kindly therapist (Robin Williams), is one of those life-affirming dramas that they'll get around to eventually, a bit like therapy.
15. Stalker (1979)
Andrei Tarkovsky's striking meditation on faith, hope, and the human condition tells the tale of the Stalker, who guides two men through a dangerous post-apocalyptic landscape known only as the Zone, hoping to find a mysterious room that is said to grant wishes. Often referred to as Tarkovsky's best work, Stalker is as beautiful as it is thought-provoking.
16. I Saw The Devil (2010)
This gripping and intense revenge thriller by South Korean director Kim Jee-woo revolves around a secret agent's quest to track down the serial killer who brutally murdered his fiancee is not an easy watch. Unflinchingly violent and morally complex, it's the kind of film you tell yourself you need to be in the right mood for. Still, no amount of mental preparation will prepare you, so you might as well press play and get sucked into the darkness with Soo-hyun.
17. Casablanca (1942)
Time goes by, and you still haven't seen Casablanca? Michael Curtiz's contemporary wartime drama about a cynical nightclub owner in Casablanca whose impartial worldview is shattered when a former lover comes to him for help while on the run from the Nazis is one film you need to start a beautiful relationship with.
18. Once Upon A Time in America (1985)
Sergio Leone's decade-spanning epic crime drama about a Jewish gangster returning to Manhattan's lower East Side and confronting the ghosts and regrets of his old life is one of James Woods and Robert De Niro's finest. You best settle in for the four-hour-long epic before we both get old.
19. Whiplash (2014)
Damien Chazelle's intense musical drama about an ambitious jazz drummer and his relationship with his demanding and abusive conductor at a prestigious music school made me afraid of J.K Simmons. He's one of my favorite actors. That's how good he is in this. It would be best if you watched this now, or I will burn your house down with lemons.
20. Phantasm (1979)
Don Coscarelli's cult horror film tells the macabre tale of a group of teenagers who run afoul of a sinister grave robber known as the Tall Man. Unsettling and surreal in equal measure, Phantasm is one trip to a funeral home you'll want to take.
21. Martyrs (2008)
Ok, you've got me. Martyrs is a tough film to watch. Pascal Laugier's brutal horror about a young woman who seeks revenge against her childhood tormentors is utterly nightmarish. I can understand why it has sat on your watch list for months, but it's also one of the most effective horror films ever made. As a horror fan, you owe it to yourself to press play but find a big pillow first.
22. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Until 1999, Kubrick's dystopian masterpiece was almost impossible to get hold of in the UK after it was withdrawn from release by Kubrick after it was linked to a string of violent crimes in the country. Thankfully, now you can easily watch Malcolm McDowell's masterful performance as sociopathic delinquent Alex DeLarge. So why haven't you? Finish up your milk and settle in for a film so controversial the director pulled it.
23. Prisoners (2013)
Denis Villeneuve's Oscar-nominated thriller about a desperate father who takes the law into his own hands after his daughter and her friend go missing is as emotionally complex as it is disturbing. Featuring Oscar-worthy performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman, Prisoners is too powerful to ignore.
24. Spirited Away (2001)
Hayao Miyazaki's Oscar-winning animated masterpiece is as captivating as it is beautiful. The story follows Chihiro, a young girl trapped in the spirit world after her parents are turned into pigs after unwittingly eating food meant for the yokai. Chihiro must work off her parents' debt at a magical bathhouse run by the malevolent witch Yubaba to save her parents and get home. This may be your first Ghibli film, but trust me, it won't be your last.
25. Ikiru (1952)
Kurosawa's poignant drama about a middle-aged salaryman who embarks on a quest for meaning after discovering he has terminal cancer is a moving exploration of human existence, the search for purpose, and the importance of living with compassion. Its most important lesson, though, is that life may be short, but there is always time to change it.
26. There Will Be Blood (2007)
This compelling turn-of-the-century Western drama directed by Paul Thomas Anderson stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, a ruthless Californian oil prospector who clashes with a charismatic young preacher (Paul Dano) over the sale of his family farm that is home to a large deposit of oil. With brilliant performances and superb cinematography, There Will Be Blood is a captivating exploration of greed, ambition, and the corrupting nature of success.
27. Baby Driver (2017)
Edgar Wright's electrifying action-comedy about a talented young getaway driver who seeks liberation from the clutches of a criminal mastermind is the kind of film that should be shown to students for how to cut a chase sequence together. Funny, thrilling, and touching in equal measure, Baby Driver is one movie you need to take for a spin immediately.