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Find a Great Movie to Watch Right Now

Updated on August 10, 2020
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I wrote film reviews for over a decade in a variety of formats.

A scene from American Astronaut
A scene from American Astronaut

Find Something Awesome Fast

Need something to watch? This article will help you find a great movie. You can easily base your choice on your mood. Or you can base it on the type of film you want.

Having been a film critic for over twenty years, people often ask me for suggestions. Likewise, many sites dedicate themselves to providing movie ideas based on viewer preferences. The reason? People are desperate to find movies to watch. So, I'm going to try to provide short lists in various categories. I hope this will give you 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 lists: "Birdy".

I don't remember what year I first saw "Birdy". It's a 1984 Alan Parker film starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine. However, I remember exactly how I ended up watching it. I had the perfect unexpected movie experience. So, I hope my ideas provide that kind of experience for somebody else.

I came home late and turned on the TV. I had no idea what I was watching. However, the movie enthralled me with its offbeat story. Peter Gabriel's music gave it 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, it blew me away with its peculiar, funny ending. The experience of seeing "Birdy" was unique. It was 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.

A scene from Birdy
A scene from Birdy

What Genre Are You In The Mood For?

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.

Below are some movie choices organized by themes. Choose wisely!


Catharsis involves the purging of emotions. Maybe you're feeling glum. Or maybe you're feeling like the curve of life is flat. Know what I mean? 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)


An epic transports you somewhere else. You want to live, breathe, experience another world, another existence. You want to feel like you are somewhere else. You need an intellectual escape.

  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. You want to finish a film thinking: "How have I never seen that before?"

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

Guilty Pleasures

You're not in the mood for anything too serious, but you'd like to feel like your time was well spent. These movies are satisfying and fun, but not heavy. The fourth film, btw, is a thriller/horror.

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


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 Lynchian

You like David Lynch. You like that whole vibe. You want a film to challenge you. You like a film that makes you think WTF?

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


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)
  6. John Wick (2014)


You want to get on that ride and not get off for two hours. You want to breathe in and forget you even breathed out. You want two hours to go by in a flash.

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

A scene from The Shawshank Redemption
A scene from The Shawshank Redemption


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)


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 and 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. Or feel free to suggest films I can add to these lists. There's no harm in making them longer.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Allen Donald


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