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20 Best Movies You Must Watch in a Movie Theater

January 24, 2019
9 min read

Films today are not restricted to any limits and come in all forms. We have short films less than a minute long on one end and films stretching for more than 4 hours on the other end as well. Similarly, the scale of each film varies between extremes. There are films made especially for the smaller screens and there are some that are large-scale cinematic events. These films have amazing visuals and music scores, but the overall viewing experience is best achieved in a cinema hall. With all that said now, here is the list of top movies that you must watch in a movie theater.

20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Harry Potter recently celebrated 20 years of the release of the first book. This movie brought an end to the amazing journey. For the people who grew up with Harry Potter, this movie was one of the toughest goodbyes. ‘The Battle of Hogwarts’ is one of the best chapters in the books and this movie does complete justice to it. Apart from the final battle, the excellent sequence involving a Dragon at Gringotts, the presence of most of the loved characters throughout the series and the emotions displayed by the actors make it a treat to watch on the big screen.

19. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Wes Anderson always makes his movies look very beautiful and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is one among them. Every scene is perfect; the coloring and the lighting are spectacular. The brilliant locations and an ensemble cast consisting of Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jude Law make this movie a must watch on the big screen.

18. 300 (2006)

Our first war movie on this list, ‘300’ is a visually stunning film. The plot revolves around King Leonidas who leads 300 Spartans into battle against the Persian “God-King” Xerxes and his invading army of more than 300,000. The intricate war sequences shot in Zack Snyder’s unique style along with Gerard Butler in the lead make this movie a delight to watch on the big screen. The special effects are brilliant and the story-telling is also quite crisp.

17. Lagaan (2001)

‘Lagaan’ made it to this list because it turned every theatre into a cricket stadium. The audience cheered just like it would in an actual cricket match. Ashutosh Gowarikar’s simple story-telling technique and Aamir Khan’s brilliant acting made us feel like we were a part of the movie. The excellent locations in the movie and the overall atmosphere that was created make it a must watch on the big screen.

16. The Revenant (2015)

Alejandro G. Inarritu gave us the masterpiece that is known as ‘The Revenant’, which also finally broke the jinx of Leonardo DiCaprio and Oscars. Both Innaritu and the cinematographer for the film, Emmanuel Lubezki, won back to back Oscars, and do they deserve it! This movie is brilliantly shot, right from the battle sequence at the beginning, to Leonardo DiCaprio’s fight with a bear and to the epic finale involving the protagonist and the antagonist (Tom Hardy). Leonardo’s line ‘I ain’t afraid to die anymore, I’ve done it already’, stays with you for quite some time even after you have left the theatre.

15. Schindler’s List (1993)

The first Steven Spielberg movie on this list, ‘Schindler’s List’ is one of the finest films ever made in Hollywood history. It is the story of a man by the name of Oskar Schindler, who, using his influence, saves the lives of over 1000 Jews by recruiting them to work in his Polish factory. The excellent star cast comprising of Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley, along with the brilliant portrayal of the frightening World War 2 atmosphere, make this film truly iconic. Also, here’s an interesting fact about the movie: When Spielberg, a dropout, went back to complete his degree after almost 33 years, he submitted ‘Schindler’s List’ as his final project.

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14. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

‘Saving Private Ryan’ is set during the Normandy invasion in World War II and the first 27 minutes are among the most intense opening sequences ever filmed. The graphic portrayal of war, the excellent sound effects and a star cast containing the likes of Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Edward Burns make it a delight to watch in the theatre.

13. The Fall (2006)

‘The Fall’ is one of the most visually stunning films ever made. Made over a duration of 3 years and shot in over 20 countries, the film managed to capture the most exotic and popular locations in colorful and bright settings. It is a visual masterpiece and you must watch it at least once to imagine how amazing it would have looked on the big screen.

12. Jaws (1975)

‘Jaws’ is a complete cinematic experience. It started the trend of The Summer Blockbuster. The film managed to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats, thanks to John Williams’ excellent score and the stunning animatronics. The film released much before I was born and I only wish I could have witnessed the marvel on the big screen.

11. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-03)

After JRR Tolkien wrote the excellent books, few would have thought they could be made into even better movies. But Peter Jackson proved the non-believers wrong. All of us had pictured the interesting locations and characters while reading the books and watching them come to life was a treat. The special effects, the spectacular battle sequences (especially Helm’s Deep) and the beautiful locations (in New Zealand) make the trilogy a must watch on the big screen. Shout out to the Hobbit trilogy and its excellent Smaug sequences!

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10. Titanic (1997)

‘Titanic’ makes it to this list not only because it is a cinematic marvel but also because it is one of the first movies that used special effects to great use to tell a dramatic story. The final sequences involving the iceberg look spectacular on the big screen. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s unforgettable onscreen romance and the amazing cinematography made this film a true classic.

9. Life of Pi (2012)

‘Life of Pi’, a masterpiece from the creative genius, Ang Lee, is another movie that makes it to this list purely because of its spectacular visuals that can be properly enjoyed only on the big screen. The movie follows the journey of an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck but needs to face a hyena and a Bengal tiger on the lifeboat. The visual effects, especially the sequences with the tiger, Richard Parker, and one involving a giant blue whale are just excellent.

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8. Inception (2010)

Most of Christopher Nolan’s movies deserve to be on this list, and ‘Inception’ is definitely among them. The dream sequences involving car chases, exotic locations like snowy mountains and deserted cities, paradoxes like the infinite staircase and the overall amazing direction make this movie an absolute treat to watch.

7. Jurassic Park (1993)

A theme park with Dinosaurs as the main attraction — why not? In this 1993 movie, Steven Spielberg takes us on an amazing ride where we get to see all kinds of dinosaurs, right from velociraptors to the mighty T-Rex. For its age, the special effects are spectacular and the dinosaurs look very realistic. It is no wonder that they re-released the movie in 3D to celebrate the 20th anniversary, giving a chance to those fans who couldn’t experience it on the big screen the first time round.

6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Similar to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, this one is another must-watch on the big screen for fans of the franchise. Apart from the excellent special effects and spectacular visuals, just the appearance of well-known characters who we are seeing after a long time make the ride worth-while. The new cast fits in easily and the movie definitely lives up to the expectations, setting up the franchise beautifully for two more movies (apart from stand-alone movies).

5. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

This is the fourth installment in the Mad Max Series, directed by George Miller. The brilliant portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world, the exotic location (in a desert in Namibia), interesting characters, and an action sequence that almost spans the entire duration of the movie, make this one a must-watch on the big screen. The best attraction was the sandstorm sequence. Also, it is amazing to think how a dystopian future could be presented in such a beautiful manner.

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4. Interstellar (2014)

‘Interstellar’ is one of the finest space movies in terms of the visuals. It is definitely among Christopher Nolan’s best movies and I don’t really think I should even explain the reason for including this film on the list. Apart from ‘Gravity’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (also on this list), this is one of the few space movies to accurately depict space travel. A must-watch for science nerds!

3. Avatar (2009)

‘Avatar’ is another movie on this list that is a combination of innovative thinking and spectacular visuals. Set in the Utopian world of Pandora, it depicts the fight for resources between humans and the inhabitants of this different world. Shot in 3D, the excellent battle sequences, the amazing looking inhabitants, and the depiction of flora and fauna in Pandora make it a must watch on the big screen.

2. Gravity (2013)

‘Gravity’, unlike other movies on this list, can only be enjoyed on the big screen. The entire movie follows the journey of one lady who finds herself lost in space and depicts how she makes her way back to the earth. The brilliant cinematography and the excellent usage of 3D turn this one into a truly mesmerizing cinematic experience. Alfonso Cuaron‘s precise direction is commendable.

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1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick‘s magnum opus, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is a film that was way ahead of its time. It still would have been an inimitable masterpiece if it were released in 2001. Kubrick made sure that every frame of the film looked like a painting: just as he wanted, just perfect. The master of symmetry ensured that we saw just what he wanted us to. The groundbreaking visuals stunned the audience at the time and those who were lucky enough to witness the cinematic marvel on the big screen were in awe of it.

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