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Movies That Make You Think

Updated on April 5, 2015
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando | Source

Apocalypse Now (1979): Based on the book by Joseph Conrad, Apocalypse Now takes viewers on a dark journey to find Col. Kurtz, portrayed by the great Marlon Brando, who establishes himself as a god to people of the Congo. Those who set out to find him end up finding something else: the horrors of war and its effect on the helpless. Roger Ebert proclaimed, “…“Apocalypse Now" is the best Vietnam film, one of the greatest of all films, because it pushes beyond the others, into the dark places of the soul.” Rated R.


Memorable Clip from Apocalypse Now (1979)

Platoon (1986)
Platoon (1986) | Source

Platoon (1986): A semi-autobiographical account of Oliver Stone’s time in Vietnam. Written and directed by Stone, the Academy Award winning film stars Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, and Charlie Sheen. Intense and nerving, this film lays out what Vietnam was like for American soldiers. When American involvement in Vietnam started in the 60’s, most of America was against our hand being in the fight. When this movie was released years later, many Vietnam vets praised Stone and his efforts to show America what our involvement was like, the questionable conditions the soldiers endured, and the mental austerity they experienced. Rated R.

Clip from Platoon (1986)

Clockwork Orange
Clockwork Orange | Source

A Clockwork Orange (1971): Written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, this film bravely goes where no, or few, films have gone before. The story is centered around Alex DeLarge, a young delinquent in futuristic Britain. Alex and his “Droogs” spend most of their time engaging in “ultraviolence”, from gang raping an innocent woman to bludgeoning a Cat Lady. Alex is eventually arrested and is introduced to a form of aversion therapy. The therapy causes immediate onset nausea with the enforced viewing of films about violence; essentially he is a product of scientific brainwashing. The story makes you question whether it is better to be bad of your own free will, or to be good as a product of government-sanctioned brainwashing. Though a very dark and disturbing film, it opens your mind and forces you to re-evaluate conformity imposed by the state. Rated X.

Buy it now: A Clockwork Orange (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Ultraviolence Scene from Clockwork Orange (1971)

Psycho (1960)
Psycho (1960) | Source

Psycho (1960): Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho is an American classic. Hitchcock, known as the “master of suspense”, delivers a chilling story of mental instability and viewer manipulation. Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, is the friendly proprietor one would expect at a roadside motel, and Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) was easily charmed by his hospitality as she stopped during her road trip. Though the audience soon comes to find out that things, or rather people, are not always what they seem. Rated R.

Buy it now: Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection - Limited Edition

"mother" Scene from Psycho (1960)

Oldboy (2003)
Oldboy (2003) | Source

Oldboy (2003): A Korean film directed by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy takes viewers on a journey of confusion, sympathy, intrigue, frustration, and even sorrow. One of the best films I have ever seen, Oldboy is about a kidnapped and imprisoned man who, upon his abrupt release after 15 years, sets out to find his captor and to learn why he was taken. However, he soon realizes that his captor has much more in store for him than he ever imagined. Is ignorance bliss? Or does the truth, no matter how horrible it may be, need to be told? Rated R.


Fight Scene from Oldboy (2003)

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Angry Men (1957) | Source

12 Angry Men (1957): Directed by Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men takes you inside the juror room of a group of individuals who must decide whether an 18 year old is guilty in the murder of his father. Engaging viewers in a highly intelligent plot, the story delves deeply into the analytical aspects of crime interpretation. Henry Fonda stars as the quiet, yet reasonable juror who forces his fellow men to think outside of the box in the quest for justice. Rated G.


Knife Scene from 12 Angry Men (1957)

Leon: The Professional (1994)
Leon: The Professional (1994) | Source

Leon: The Professional (1994): Directed by Luc Besson, this movie reaches down into the world of true crime and young revenge. Leon is a New Yorker known for his “cleaner” abilities and soon takes the role, though reluctantly, as custodian of 12-year-old Mathilda. Watching every one of Leon’s moves, Mathilda starts to follow in suit. Starring Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. Rated R.


"one Minute Past" Scene from Leon: The Professional (1994)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Jacob's Ladder (1990) | Source

Jacob’s Ladder (1990): A chilling and horrifying film of delusion, deception, and disassociation, Jacob's Ladder follows Jacob, played by Tim Robbins, a Vietnam vet who is having terrifying dreams and remembers little about his time at war. While trying to recollect his path, he starts to believe that there were some horrible things that happened to him and his fellow soldiers. With an incredibly brilliant plot, Jacob’s Ladder engulfs the audience with a deeply twisted story and forces them to examine the frightening idea of manipulated aggression. Rated R.


Memorable Scene from Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | Source

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): Starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine takes you on a journey of love, adventure, heartbreak, and the feats some take to heal the wounds of the soul. Carrey is remarkable in this film, playing a soft-spoken, easy-going man who falls in love with spunky, eccentric, and impulsive Clementine, played by Winslet. Both offer a stupendous performance and provoke viewers to question the depths of love and the bittersweet paths of destiny. Rated R.


Snow Scene from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975) | Source

Dog Day Afternoon (1975): Starring Al Pacino and John Cazale, Dog Day Afternoon is a true story of a man robbing a bank in order to finance his lover’s operation. Starting out as a simple robbery, the day manifests itself into an unpredictable hostage situation and media frenzied event for justice. Pacino is on top of his game, as always, and delivers one of the best performances of his career. Rated R.


Memorable Tv Scene from Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Requiem for a Dream (2000) | Source

Requiem for a Dream (2000): One of the darkest films of all time, Requiem for a Dream follows four individuals whose lives take unpredictable turns, all for the pursuit of drug-induced fulfillment. Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans, each of their stories are unique, but so incredibly intertwined. Disturbing, and yet chillingly intelligent. Rated R.


Scene from Requiem for a Dream (2000)

The Game (1997)
The Game (1997) | Source

The Game (1997): Starring Michael Douglas, this film delves into the deepest parts of your mind. What is real? What is pretend? Douglas plays a successful business man whose birthday means the beginning of a life-changing sequence of events. Surprising him for his birthday, Van Orton's (Douglas) brother presents him with a live-action game, only to completely overtake Van Orton's life - almost tragically. A surreal movie that prompts so many questions all the way through. Rated R.


White Rabbit Scene from The Game (1997)

© 2013 Marissa D. Carnahan

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    • ienjoythis profile image
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      Marissa D. Carnahan 3 years ago from Nevada

      Crystal, you should definitely check out these movies! They are very good. There are so many that I would like to add to this list. Thanks for commenting!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      I've seen many a movie but it's hard to believe, Ive never seen any of these classics! I need to find out what all the fuss is about I suppose! Happy to have found you on HubPages and will be following you from here on out.

    • ienjoythis profile image
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      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      Brandon, Platoon is a great film! It's a definite classic, as it truly allows the audience to feel the action, drama, suspense, and intense difficulties of war. Thanks for reading!

    • toptengamer profile image

      Brandon Hart 4 years ago from The Game

      Platoon is one of my favorite movies. What a great list.

    • ienjoythis profile image
      Author

      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      Jim, thanks! Yes, they are all great movies. I'll be adding more to this list, hopefully some lesser known ones that people can give a shot! I know Oldboy is not a widely known one here in the states, but one that shouldn't be overlooked.

    • jimmyglaughlin profile image

      Jim Laughlin 4 years ago from Connecticut

      Good list. Great movies, all of them!

    • ienjoythis profile image
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      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      Thief12, agreed. Definitely a great film.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      ienjoythis, Oldboy is a very unique film. Very intriguing all the way and the twist really caught me off guard.

    • KNelson1227 profile image

      KNelson1227 4 years ago

      Looks like I have a few movies I need to watch... Just let me finish this delicious knuckle sammich.

    • ienjoythis profile image
      Author

      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      Thanks, Thief12! Yes, Jacob's Ladder is definitely one to re-watch. What do you think of Oldboy?

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      A great list of great films. The only one I feel like I owe a rewatch is Jacob's Ladder. Haven't seen it since the late 90's. The others would probably make my Top 100 or 50 or whatever :-D

    • ienjoythis profile image
      Author

      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      I think a lot of people around my age are so caught up with today's big blockbusters that they don't give older movies a chance. Most young people probably only have the slightest idea of who Marlon Brando was, in which they would rightly deserve a knuckle sandwich :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, I've seen them all except for OldBoy, so I guess I'll have to follow your recommendation on that one because you are right on with the rest. Great list of great movies.

      I hope you have a great weekend my young friend.

      bill