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15 Great Cult Hollywood Movies You Must Watch Before You Turn 30

June 22, 2017
9 min read

Is there a certain age before which you should watch certain films? Answer is: yes and no. Yes, because there are films that will hold you good in good stead later in life. No, because you can enjoy the same films even if you didn’t watch them when you were relatively young. My motive behind this article is to bring to your attention those films that I think can particularly be enjoyable –and beneficial — if you watch them young. Of course, you can enjoy these films even if you are over 30. But, I doubt if the learning and the joy would be the same. With that said, here are 15 great cult (or soon going to be cult) Hollywood movies you must watch before you turn 30.

15. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

A remarkably powerful and moving love story of two cowboys may not have won the Best Picture Oscar, but it surely did win hearts. Never bending down to cliches of a homosexual love story, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ plays more like romance of two humans. Its fable-like quality only adds to its charm so much so that it will linger onto your minds long after the film is over.

 

14. The Matrix (1999)

Way more than just a movie, ‘The Matrix’ has been nothing short of a phenomenon. It changed the way people looked at the world around them and even turned them cynical. Directed by the Wachowskis, the American-Australian movie could very well be described as a living nightmare. A film that virtually introduced the rather terrifying concept of simulated reality, it asked a number of vital philosophical questions about humanity and its actual purpose. Till today, not every question that the film asks has been answered.

 

13. The Big Lebowski (1998)

A box office bomb, Coen brothers’ ‘The Big Lebowski’ turned out to be a cult classic subject to its unconventional storyline, peculiar dialogues, uncanny characterizations and surreal sequences. The film could be categorized as a dark comedy with the primary plotline centering on mistaken identity and the hoopla around a suitcase carrying ransom for releasing the medal wife of a billionaire. Starring such acting bigwigs as Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Steve Buscemi; the movie could also be considered to be a parable for casual crime and unintentional misdeeds.

 

12. The Tree of Life (2011)

There is an essence and a feeling that you associate with every memory of yours — I am talking about nostalgia. I can’t think of a single film that so effectively captures the feeling of nostalgia the way ‘The Tree of Life’ does. And that’s what is so special about the film — Malick doesn’t just try to capture memories, but the feelings evoked by the act of memory. It doesn’t just ask its audience to observe, but also, reflect and feel. At its simplest, ‘The Tree of Life’ is a story of the journey of finding oneself. At its most complex, it is a meditation on human life and our place in the grand scheme of things. In the end, ‘The Tree of Life’ might change the way you look at life; it changed me. How many films have the power to do that? Read More ..

 

11. The Godfather (1972)

‘The Godfather’ is a film that would teach you the true meaning of the art of cinema. It tells the story of an aging gangster who gets shot by his rivals as fate would have his most beloved, youngest son being pulled into the dark, tragic world of crime and violence for the sake of protecting his family. What follows is one of cinema’s most haunting and iconic character transformations of all time as the family’s pampered little boy goes on to become the most immoral, ruthless gangster. Although the film was bettered by its darker and more complex sequel, ‘The Godfather’ remains much more accessible film due to its simplicity and linearity.

 

10. Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood’, more than just a film, is an observance. An observance of a 6 years old boy growing up to become an 18 years old adult. An observance of what a mother has to go through to raise children. An observance of what a father means to his children and vice-versa. An observance of a family and their struggles, their joys, their sorrows. ‘Boyhood’, in a way that very few films do, transcends the boundaries of cinema and becomes a tiny part of our own existence and experience. Linklater, again, shows why he is the best in business when it comes to telling simple stories about ordinary people. Read more ..

 

9. Blade Runner (1982)

Ridley Scott in the form of ‘Blade Runner’ directed one of the most iconic science fiction movies of all time. The film is a visual poetry that also has a grace — it has to be seen to be believed. The opening cuts between and eye and the haunting hellworld of Los Angeles circa 2019 (give Trump time); spilling into noir-esque interrogations, stunning chases through neon-drenched streets and a beautiful, genuinely frightening finale that sees rouge replicants Roy Beatty cement himself among the highest criterion of cinematic villains.

 

8. Lost in Translation (2003)

‘Lost in Translation’ is the single greatest movie ever made about what it feels to feel nothing — or what we commonly refer to as “ennui”. Based on an exquisitely rich screenplay by Sofia Coppola, the film is a deft balance of humor, poignancy and melancholy. Rarely, will you see film that rests with you for days. In ‘Lost in Translation’s’ case, it has never left me since I first watched it — and later re-watched it several more times. Every once in a while, a moment or an expression or a line from the film crops up in my head, just like that, out of nowhere, mostly, in my own moments of … ennui.

 

7. Memento (2000)

‘Memento’, in ways more than one, is a landmark film. It re-shaped the concept of story-telling in cinema. It teased, tested and challenged its viewers like very few films manage to do. Though, the ultimate strength of ‘Memento’ may not actually lie in its jigsaw narration, but rather on how surprisingly affecting it is — a quality that Nolan always tries to bring in all his films, even though with not as much success. ‘Memento’ is also a template of filmmaking that proves big doesn’t always mean better; small can be great too. And if you don’t to look like a loser in front of your Nolan-loving friends, you should watch this as early as possible.

 

6. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

If you don’t want to a butt of jokes in front of your cinephile friends, then you better watch this. The reason of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’s popularity lies in how much and how well  conveys about life in the most simple but effective way. It is a film that you can learn so much from that if not a movie it could easily have been a “guide to life” book. And the most important lesson that you learn from the film is that in your darkest and most difficult moments, it is important that you stay true to yourselves; because in the end, even if everything is taken away from you, you still will have your “will” and “courage” that you can hang on to and fight back. Therefore, never forget “you” are your biggest strength.

 

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

Stanley Kubrick, through his non-verbal style in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, manages to break any barrier there is in art; the movie connects directly with your subconscious, both metaphysically and philosophically. There is no pretense, no artistic flourishes; everything is stripped down, displaying art at its purest. When ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ released, nobody had ever seen anything like it before. 48 years have passed; and we are yet to see anything like it since.

 

4. Pulp Fiction (1994)

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There are very few directors in the history of Hollywood that have had as staggering impact as Quentin Tarantino. The self professed movie geek exploded into American cinema with this extraordinarily confident second film, a crime picture that merges several stories together, taking its time with a broken narrative, bolstered by brilliant performances from the entire cast but most notably John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. You can feel the explosion of energy in the film with its opening credit sequence and it just never lets up. The movie all but vibrates with a giddy joy in the pure pleasure of filmmaking.

 

3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

The dizzying, surreal epiphany of love and heartbreak has never been explored in the manner and to the degree of success with which this film does. Penning a compelling spin on an unconventional love story with a stroke of ingenious madness and an emotional payoff, the real star of the show is the screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman.  He and director Michel Gondry have created a film that is not only unique in its own way but also endlessly re-watchable with something new to be found within every viewing. See, live and experience, arguably, the finest film of this century.

 

2. Fight Club (1999)

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David Fincher directs the film with aggressive power, challenging his actors to take a journey with him, inviting the audience to experience a film, not merely see it. Tyler Durdan is an anarchist, refusing to accept all things that we would call normal, despising anything fake, believing in the ultimate truth at all times. He takes our unnamed hero along with him, the two of them defying life with their every move. A stunning seething wth anger, and dark comedy as black as Tyler’s soul. You would commit a crime if you don’t watch this film before you turn 30.

 

1. The Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)

There can be an argument made that since the films deal in not just love but also marriage and break-up why watch them before 30. My counter-argument is .. well, you should watch them because of exactly that. Why make the same mistakes that Jesse and Celine made in the film? There is beautiful line in ‘Before Sunset’ that goes “when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you’ll connect with. Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times”. That perfectly sums up why you should watch all the three films of the Before Trilogy before you turn 30.

Read More: The 25 Best Hollywood Directors Working Today

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