The Most Watched Movies of All Time
I love movies. Next to a good book there is nothing that can capture your attention and fuel your emotions like a well written and superbly directed movie. In this article I have listed my personal pick of movies that are so well done and leave you feeling so good about yourself and life that you watch them over and over again.
taken liberties with the title since no one really knows which movies
are the most watched movies of all time. Gone are the days when you
could just look at how much a film took in at the box office and even
if you add the sales from DVD's and downloads and international sales,
there are still many ways a movie can be watched. In addition to
television, cable and internet places like Hulu, there are also movies
which are resold, rented, downloaded, borrowed or traded.
the thing that throws the biggest monkey wrench into the statistics is
this: Many people tend to rewatch certain movies--some an incredible
number of times and these titles, in my humble opinion, eclipse the
traditional box office hits by an enormous amount. Some online polls
have readers saying they have personally watched eclectic movies like The Big Lebowski (not on my list by the way) countless times. My daughter and her best friend in grade school watched Princess Bride (on my list) over a hundred times.
of the most watched movies are often ones you may even struggle with
the first time through and then find yourself watching again and again.
John Cusak in the movie "Must Love Dogs" is fresh from a divorce and is
seen watching "Dr Zhivago." one of his favorite movies over and over.
Ever stared at your DVD collection vainly looking for a movie that you
could tolerate seeing again? Have you picked up a movie and wondered
why you ever let yourself see it even once?
Well wonder no longer. Since no one can prove otherwise, I submit my own list as "the most watched movies of all time. " Again, let me warn you--although Citizen Kane has topped the "greatest movies of all time" for years, it will not be on the list. Sorry Orson, I don't see myself watching your movie more than once a decade.
On the other hand, here are some movies you could be stranded on an island with and as long as you have enough solar power to run your dvd player, you will never be bored--and to make sure I don't push you over the edge to a "Lord of the Flies" experience while you are stranded, Predator and Mad Max will have to wait for another time as I have chosen the titles that actually leave you feeling kindly toward life and those around you.
...rewatchable movies...speak to us in some way--usually just because they are familiar from some impressionable time in our life, but also because they sometimes deliver something emotionally resonant in surprising ways. ~ Dino, AV Club
Grosse Pointe Blank is a tour-de-force, labor of love by writer and actor John Cusak. He and long time friend Steve Pink collaborated in what could be the funniest dark humor movie ever made. Cusak's character is having angst about his career as a professional killer and decides, with the advice of his reluctant shrink played by Alan Arkin, to attend his ten year high school reunion where he reunites with the girl he left on prom night, played by Minnie Driver. Rival hit men (Dan Akroyd) and inept FBI agents liven the mix, but the flawless execution, the quotable wit, and the chemistry between Cusak and Driver make this an enormously satisfying film.
This movie is listed first because there is nothing in it to keep me from rewatching it. Every single minute of the film is flawless. I think I rewatch this movie to let me know that life, no matter how painful, cannot be taken seriously if you want to survive and to reassure me that in matters of love and happiness, all of us deserve a second chance.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off, directed and written by John Hughes is the consummate rewatchable movie. From the opening fake sickness scene with his family, to the kicking Cameron in the rear to get him going, to the "Bueller, Bueller" classroom and getting Sloane out of class, to the outsmarting Ed Rooney, to the snooty restaurant and the narrow escapes, to the singing in the parade, to the sister Jeanie with Charlie Sheen, to the race home and all the way to the credits when he walks out in his bathrobe saying "Are you still here?...Go home!" this movie is an absolutely perfect production. I don't think any of the production crew and cast ever thought this movie would occupy the place it does in movie history. No it's not Titanic, but how many times have you rewatched Titanic compared to how many times you have or could rewatch Ferris Bueller?
I rewatch Ferris to remind myself that "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you're going to miss it."
John Hughes, who died in 2009, did a few other movies that could easily be on the highly rewatchable list: The Breakfast Club, Home Alone, Some Kind of Wonderful and Mr. Mom.
The Holiday, written and directed by Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated, Father of the Bride) is a movie that brings out a surprising depth in four of my favorite actors. Cameron Diaz shows us her best obsessive and driven, yet vulnerable performance as Amanda, a movie trailer producer who cannot cry. When her boyfriend cheats on her she decides to house swap with English writer Iris, played by Kate Winslet who also wants to escape her two-timing coworker boyfriend. Amanda, too wound up for the picturesque Surrey cottage, meets Iris' brother and book editor Graham (Jude Law) and they fall in love. In LA, Iris meets her next door neighbor, the ninety year old screenplay writer Arthur (Eli Wallach), who together with a film composer Miles played by Jack Black, helps her regain her confidence.
I rewatch this movie for how the ever funny Jack Black helps in the marvelous transformation of Iris, the chemistry of Graham and Amanda and the irrepressible force of Cameron Diaz.
Runaway Bride, directed by Garry Marshall (Happy Days, Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries) is a transformation story of a chauvinistic cynical columnist (Richard Gere) who goes from being clobbered with a newspaper by every woman who recognizes him on the street to a sensitive empathatic listener when he meets the runaway bride Maggie (Julia Roberts.)
I rewatch this movie for the humor, the poignant look at what causes disfunction in a family, the redemption of the insensitive in all of us, and for the reminder that we will only be happy living our own lives.
Groundhog Day, speaking of redemption of insensitivity, with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, is a dream job for both director and actors. Because the prima donna weatherman Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, is such a horrible human being, he is somehow forced to relive one day--Groundhog Day, over and over until he gets it right. First he experiments with the hedonistic possibilities, the reckless and illegal possibilities and finally with winning the approval of the beautiful and gracious manager Rita played by Andie MacDowell. Watching Bill Murray alternatively take advantage of and eventually come to love the characters of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is both revelatory and hilarious.
Those of us males in the audience can rewatch this movie not only for the celebration of male chauvinism and debauchery, but to learn there are some very fine reasons not to be like that and maybe learn finally how to win the woman of your dreams. Women will enjoy the movie if for no other reason than to look conspiratorially at their guy afterward saying: "I told you so."
The Princess Bride,
written by William Goldman (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid) and
directed by Rob Reiner is a tale of giants, swordplay, pirates, an evil
prince and a beautiful princess with all the adventures and true love
anyone could ever want. The near perfect transitions and humor and wit
make for a truly satisfying movie watching experience.
rewatch this movie to relive the humor of Billy Crystal and the trio of
kidnappers, the witty reparte and the course of true love between Carey
Elwes (farmboy) and Robin Wright (Princess Buttercup) and for the
marvelous script by William Goldman under the inspired direction of Rob
Reiner--and to say one more time: "My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed
my father, prepare to die!"
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the ultimate blend of British reserve and absolute silliness, is a low budget quest for the Holy Grail. Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin are impossible to watch with a straight face. Consider the characters: King Arthur, the Voice of God, Hiccoughing and Swallow-Savvy Guards, Sir Lancelot the Brave, Taunting French Guard, Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Launcelot, Roger the Shrubber, Gorrilla Hand, King of Swamp Castle and Leader of The Knights Who Say NI!
There is absolutely no redeeming value type reason to rewatch this movie and a thousand nonsensical reasons to do so. No one does tongue-in-cheek better than these lads and if it deserved a place on Broadway as "Spam-a-Lot," surely it deserves a place near your DVD player.
High Fidelity, written by Nick Hornby and directed by Stephen Frears is another John Cusak masterpiece of the frustration of dating and why romance does or doesn't work. This chronicle of his top five break-ups comes with a stellar musical playlist--punctuated by hilarious music store dialogue between Cusak, Jack Black and Todd Louiso. Originally set in London, Cusak talked them into shooting in Chicago where he knew the music scene.
Even if the ex's didn't include Catherine Zeta-Jones
and Lisa Bonet, I would still rewatch this movie for the razor sharp
dialogue and comfortable identification with Cusak's coming to terms
with his own angst and why his relationships didn't work. Everyone who
reads articles on "How to Date" should watch this movie a few times to
get a clue as to what women (and men) value in a relationship.
written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder is a no-holds-barred parody of
the classic 1931 horror film Frankenstein--Brooks moved the film from
Columbia to 20th Century Fox just to be able to shoot it in black and
white and used the same lab equipment and props from the original
Universal production. Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein's grandson,
initially embarrased by his heritage, finally takes up where his
ancestor left off with hilarious results. Peter Boyle as the Monster
and Marty Feldman as Igor are wonderful, Teri Garr is charming and
Madeline Kahn almost steals the show. Supporting performances by Cloris
Leachman, Kenneth Mars, and Gene Hackman make this 1930s atmosphere
spoof a joy to watch.
I rewatch this fillm to see the "Puttin' On the Ritz" dance scene with Wilder and the Monster, the ravishing of Kahn, and for the overall joy evident in the performances. The cast had so much fun making this film that Brooks and Wilder postponed wrapping it and kept shooting scenes which were never used in the film. It is Brooks' favorite of all the movies he's made.
When Harry Met Sally is a Nora Ephron/Rob Reiner romance classic. Ephron's superb dialogue is interpreted lovingly by Reiner's direction and delivered masterfully by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as Harry and Sally who begin an ongoing dialogue about the question of whether a man and a woman can be friends without sex getting in the way. She initially gives him a ride to New York after they both graduate from the University of Chicago which ends with both being unimpressed with each other. Fast forward through their lives as they both fail in their search for love, but intersect each other time after time until they develop a close but platonic friendship. Throughout their misadventures with love, the common denominator is their ability to talk--and talk they do--about everything.
I rewatch this movie for the hilarious dialogue, the incredible fake orgasm scene, the lessons on what truly matters in a relationship, and for one of the most romantic finishes of any film.
The Philadelphia Story, with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart, is a story within a story. It is an adaptation of a Phillip Barry play based on a socialite friend of Barry's and was written for Katherine Hepburn. Hepburn was as engaging off stage as she was playing a spoiled rich girl who thinks she wants the nouveau rich "man of the people" over her wealthy but flawed ex-husband Cary Grant. Complicating matters is the scandal reporter James Stewart.
In real life, Hepburn had a few box office bombs and needed a hit to retrieve her career. Her old beau, Howard Hughes stepped in and bought the rights from Barry and gave it to her. She used her veto power over screenwriter and actors and picked two oscar winners in the process and catapulted herself to stardom. The movie was adapted into a musical, High Society with the soon-to-be Princess Grace Kelly pursued by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra accompanied by Louis Armstrong.
I rewatch Philadelphia Story for the dialogue between masters of the craft while the real story behind it plays in my head. In both the movie and the musical, art imitates life as two wealthy men are in the wings waiting for the leading lady--Howard Hughes for Katherine and Prince Rainier for Grace. (The ring she kept looking at in the movie was the enormous engagement diamond he gave her.) I recommend watching the musical at least once to remember the stunning Grace Kelly and to a lesser degree the Newport Jazz Festival and the comfortable style and musical class of Crosby, Sinatra and "Satchmo" Louis Armstrong.
Love Actually is a collection of love stories all connected and woven together to accomplish an extraordinary tribute to the premise from the opening as Hugh Grant speaking as Prime Minister says: When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around. If you watch this, fast forward through the two "downer stories"--Laura Linney's and Emma Thompson's martyr love episodes and what remains is a remarkable film you could enjoy every time you need a reaffirmation of the power of love. Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightly and Hugh Grant are wonderful in their roles and the movie is almost stolen by the irrepressible Bill Nighy and the marvelous love-struck performance of Liam's son--Thomas Brodie Sangster.
I would rewatch this movie just for any one of these scenes: the opening wedding scene, Bill Nighy's tv interview, Colin Firth's stumbling Portuguese proposal, Hugh Grant's dance after becoming Prime Minister, the "caroler" at Keira's door, and for Sam saying to his father (Liam) "Let's go get the s--- kicked out of us by love."
So I Married an Axe Murderer, stars Mike Myers as Charlie, a San Francisco poet who fears commitment and finds something wrong with every girlfriend until he meets the delightful butcher Harriet (Nancy Travis.) With help from his Mom (played by Mike's real-life mother Brenda Fricker,) and her tabloids, Charlie begins to suspect Harriet is the infamous "Axe Murderer" who does her grooms in on their wedding night.
I rewatch this movie for humor of Mike Myers, the hilarious butcher shop scene, Myer's priceless dual role performance of Charlie and Stuart MacKenzie, the engaging courtship of Harriet and delightful cameos of Alan Arkin, "Kramer" from Seinfeld and Stephen Wright.
Romancing The Stone is arguably one of the most romantic and entertaining movies of all time. Kathleen Turner as the best selling romance writer Joan Wilder, never looked better as she goes off by herself to Columbia to rescue her sister from kidnappers (Danny De Vito) and is herself rescued by Jack Colton, played by Michael Douglas at his best "bad boy" charming self.
I rewatch this movie to enjoy Jack's romancing of the stone, a fabulous emerald, from Joan, who is pluckier than she looks, for the action and suspense and for the inspired antics of Danny De Vito who is both competing with and trying to avoid the sinister Colonel Zolo.
The Shawshank Redemption, neither a romance nor a comedy, is still imminently rewatchable. This film validates my theory about "Most Watched" movies. It barely made enough money to cover its budget at the box office and yet has achieved a phenomenal life in disc sales or rental, tv, cable and internet views and consistently is on any great movies list. Adapted from a Stephen King novella, the film is the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins,) a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife. Andy handles his time in prison with remarkable confidence and class, even though the warden forces him to help with a money laundering operation. He becomes friends with a fellow inmate, Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman,) and finds himself protected by the guards and other prisoners.
I rewatch this film to remind myself of the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit and for the outstanding performances of Robbins and Freeman. Triumph over adversity is a theme I can identify with at most stages of my life and this movie delivers with uncommon style.
BBC's Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, is not the first version of Jane Austen's masterpiece nor was it the last. It was just simply the best. The three main characters were just offered the roles while the casting director scoured the industry to find the rest of the cast who "not only had the wit and charisma to do the script justice, but also had the right period air." The performances and cinematography transport you back to a period where class and money ruled and women were to be charming and marry well. The pride and prejudices of both Elizabeth and Darcy undergo a tumultuous and yet satisfying transformation.
I rewatch this because of the solid platinum roles of Darcy and Elizabeth, the awesome cinematography which makes me feel as if I have taken a time travel vacation, and the authenically delivered dialogue--not the least of which is the droll humor of Lizzie's father played by Benjamin Whitrow.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith, with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is a complete contrast to the Jane Austen style of romance. This fast moving action script follows two driven and secretive rival agents who are drawn to each other but cannot allow themselves the kind of trust that would make the marriage work. Once they have a breakthrough (I am stopping here to laugh at the "breakthrough" which involved breaking the house and themselves, but ending in one of the more passionate scenes in the movies,) their relationship finally has a chance.
I rewatch this film for the intellectual stimulation--ha ha--no for the raw intensity of the couple who find that the truth is more exciting than secrecy and for the fight scene/dance at WalMart accompanied by the wonderful Joe Strummer's Mondo Bongo.
Although they are each rewardingly rewatchable in their own way, Ghostbusters, Music and Lyrics, Notting Hill, O Brother Where Art Thou, Disney's Aladdin, Dave, Adventures in Babysitting, UHF, Sabrina (both versions,) Elizabethtown, Just Like Heaven and 50 First Dates will have to wait for a sequel.
More by this Author
I saw Midnight in Paris tonight. and I finally experienced what I have been wanting for years--a superbly written Woody Allen script with him forgoing the acting role to concentrate on directing. Allen was able to...
What if you knew a secret that few others knew or could even understand. What if there was something in your life that so captured your hopes, dreams and imagination that you risked everything to see the dream develop...
Ok, the wet shirt scene made women swoon, but that's not the only reason. What makes this man the heartthrob of millions of women and the grudging hero of the many men whose significant other made them watch or read it?...