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Film Recommendations: What Movie Should I Watch?

Updated on August 29, 2014
American Astronaut poster
American Astronaut poster

This article will help you find a great movie to watch based on your mood and what kind of movie you're looking for at any given moment.

Having been a film critic for over twenty years, people often ask me for recommendations. Likewise, there are sites dedicated to providing movie recommendations based on a viewer's preferences. The reason? People are desperate to find movies to watch. So, I'm going to try to provide a simple list of movies in various categories that should give virtually anybody something to watch in a pinch. But, before I do that, I want you to know what I think the perfect film watching experience is. It concerns a movie I'll put in one of the various lists: "Birdy".

I don't remember what year I first saw "Birdy", the 1984 Alan Parker film starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine, but I remember exactly how I saw it. It was the perfect unexpected movie experience and I hope my recommendations provide that kind of experience for somebody else.

I came home late and turned on the television. There, on cable, was a movie I had never seen. I started watching and was completely enthralled by the film's offbeat story and the Peter Gabriel music that created a completely mesmerizing atmosphere. I watched, trying to figure out where the film was going. The characters drew me in. And when the film ended, I was blown away by the peculiar, funny ending. The experience of seeing "Birdy" was completely unique for me, completely satisfying. This, I think, is what somebody is looking for when they ask: "What movie should I watch?

I hope no matter what your age, there's something in these lists for you.

Birdy poster
Birdy poster

So, decide what kind of movie you want to watch. Do you want an experience or a genre? Do you feel like a romantic comedy or are you looking to feel like you felt the first time you ever saw "Star Wars"? Think about what you want. Or maybe you just want something that you can enjoy without having to be engaged. You just want to relax. Here are a whole bunch of films and a whole bunch of situations. I sincerely hope you find something that gives you the satisfaction you crave in a film-watching experience. My suggestions won't be middle-of-the-road, but a mix of stuff you've probably heard of and stuff you've never heard of. Ultimately, I'm hoping you find one film that gives you a great, unexpected experience.

Catharsis - Catharsis involves the purging of emotions, so if you're looking for emotional satisfaction, these films are for you.

  1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  2. Terms of Endearment (1983)
  3. Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  4. Lea (1996)
  5. Birdy (1984)

Epic - You want to live, breathe, experience another world, another existence. You want to feel like you are somewhere else.

  1. The Godfather (1972)
  2. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  3. Lord of the Rings (2001)
  4. Blade Runner (1982)
  5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

The New World - You want to feel like you're the first (at least among your friends) to see it. You want that sense of discovery of newness.

  1. The House of Flying Daggers (2004)
  2. Brazil (1985)
  3. Air Guitar Nation (2006)
  4. Seconds (1966)
  5. Brick (2005)

Guilty Pleasure - You're not in the mood for anything too serious, but you'd like to feel like your time was well spent.

  1. Mr. Destiny (1990)
  2. Foolin' Around (1980)
  3. Valley Girl (1983)
  4. The Temp (1993)
  5. The House Bunny (2008)

Laugh-a-thon - You want to forget all your problems. You've had a bad day. You just want to laugh your ass off.

  1. Sleeper (1973)
  2. Raising Arizona (1987)
  3. Flirting with Disaster (1996)
  4. Young Frankenstein (1974)
  5. Office Space (1999)

Brain Bender - Your job and your life have numbed your brain and you'd like to see if it's still working. These films will get those synapses firing either morally, ethically, or technically.

  1. Unbreakable (2000)
  2. Primer (2004)
  3. Blood Simple (1984)
  4. Memento (2000)
  5. House of Games (1987)

David Lynch - You like David Lynch. You like that whole vibe.

  1. Apartment Zero (1988)
  2. Buddy Boy (1999)
  3. Don't Look Now (1973)
  4. River's Edge (1986)
  5. Videodrome (1983)

Violence - You want shooting, fighting, beatings, and you want them with style.

  1. The Killer (1989)
  2. Hard Boiled (1992)
  3. Scarface (1983)
  4. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
  5. Oldboy (2003)

Action - You want to get on that ride and not get off for two hours.

  1. The Transporter (2002)
  2. Run, Lola, Run (1998)
  3. Akira (1988)
  4. Iron Monkey (1993)
  5. La Femme Nikita (1990)

Shawshank Redemption poster
Shawshank Redemption poster

Quirky/Funny - You want something that's both great and weird. You want to have a great time and be able to tell all your friends that they just have to see this great, little film you just saw.

  1. The American Astronaut (2001)
  2. Lawn Dogs (1997)
  3. 2 Days in the Valley (1996)
  4. Rushmore (1998)
  5. Simple Men (1992)

Classic - You want to watch a great, all-time classic, but you don't necessarily want it to be something obvious.

  1. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  2. Point Blank (1967)
  3. The Conversation (1974)
  4. Killer McCoy (1947)
  5. Fail-Safe (1964)

Freaky & Messed Up - Just something mind-bogglingly weird or something where you watch and go "that's messed up".

  1. Meet the Feebles (1989)
  2. Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975)
  3. Audition (1999)
  4. I Stand Alone (1998)
  5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The Matrix - Damn it! I just want to watch The Matrix over and over again. I want another Matrix. Give me more of that.

  1. The Thirteenth Floor (1999)
  2. The 10th Victim (1965)
  3. Dark City (1998)
  4. Equilibrium (2002)
  5. Inception (2010)

If you like the lists you have seen here, feel free to suggests some original/creative/unusual categories and I will add to this article or create an entirely new article.


Submit a Comment

  • Jade Evans profile image

    Jade Evans 

    6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    A great hub. Love how you've themed your lists. It's an interesting guide and there are quite a few that I haven't seen before.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I'm always trawling through the archives rather than watching something brand new. On occasion I stumble upon a gem, the kind of film you just can't wait to tell people about. The list you've put together here includes a good few of those gems, so I'm excited to see the ones that I haven't previously heard of (The 10th Victim, House of Games etc). Voted up!


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