A few weeks ago, I wrote a list of what I called "11 Life Changing Movies," because like anybody else, I feel that my taste in everything is superior to everyone else's, especially when it comes to movies. And because my taste in movies is so incredible, I'm back with another list of 11 movies guaranteed to change your outlook on life. And if they don't, it's probably because you're the kind of person who can quote "Dude, Where's My Car" from start to finish.
11. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Easily one of the strangest movies I've ever seen. Elvis and JFK team up to stop the mummy that's sucking out their friends' souls in a retirement home in east Texas.
Trust me, I know, but it's a great movie.
Why you should watch it: At worst, the protagonists are insane senior citizens roaming around East Texas fighting a figment of their imagination. At best, it's Elvis and JFK, alive and kicking, bringing down an ancient villain. Either way, it's a surprisingly poignant film about two old and neglected men becoming friends in the face of adversity.
10. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Imagine Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence hate each other. Now imagine they've hated each other for over three decades. Now imagine someone casting them in a movie together as sisters who have had a rivalry for twice that long. That is the twisted, multi-layered magic behind this film which stars Bette Davis as "Baby Jane" Hudson and Joan Crawford as her crippled sister Blanche.
Long story short, Jane was famous and successful while Blanche wasn't, then Blanche was famous and successful while Jane wasn't, now they're old and they hate each other, Jane slowly goes insane, bam, classic horror movie/legendary sibling rivalry.
Why you should watch it: While time has definitely stripped this movie of its original horror, there is still a strong element of suspense, and Davis' downward spiral into insanity is mesmerizing. That, and it's incredible to see two Academy Award-winning legends breathe life into an otherwise cheesy script. The fact that these two hated one another for nearly all of their lives adds a new dimension of realism to the movie.
9. Carmen Jones (1954)
A lot of movies are often described as the pinnacle of excellence in black films. "A Raisin In the Sun", "Cabin In the Sky", "Porgy & Bess", all are amazing and all are well worth watching, but none of them hold a candle to the musical "Carmen Jones". In it, Carmen (Dorothy Dandridge) leads young soldier Joe (Harry Belafonte) astray. He sacrifices his fiancé, his promising future, and eventually his freedom, all for Carmen.
Why you should watch it: It's an obvious cautionary tale but every character is so nuanced, and every actor is so amazing at every aspect of performing in the film.
8. The Turning Point (1977)
Another movie about showbiz rivals, but without the murder and psychopathic rage. In "The Turning Point", ballerina DeeDee (Shirley MacLaine) leaves her dance company after getting pregnant, leaving Emma (Anne Bancroft) to take the spotlight. Years later, their mutual jealousy boils over while they both deal with changes in their own lives.
Why you should watch it: Worried about getting old? Watch this movie. Growing distant from your family? Watch this movie. Jealous of where your friends are in life right now? Watch this movie. This movie may be about two bitter, middle-aged women but it will speak to any and every college student on so many levels.
7. A Place In the Sun (1951)
George Eastman (Monty Clift) begins working in his uncle's factory. While there, he meets and starts an affair with Alice (Shelley Winters), a poor and naive young factory worker. He accidentally gets her pregnant, and while he's leading her along, he starts a serious relationship with Angela Vickers (Liz Taylor), a girl from a local wealthy family. Eventually, George does what he feels he needs to do to ensure his happiness. No spoilers, but someone dies.
I wonder who it is.
Why you should watch it: It's very easy to be an opportunist, but money and prestige can
never rarely take the place of true, grounded relationships. It's also a sharp criticism of America and the capitalist system, pointing a finger at the man who would rather commit murder to further himself and his career than own up to his responsibilities and accept his fate.
6. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
Any movie with the tagline "people are the ultimate spectacle" has to be grim, but this goes above and beyond. It follows a series of contestants in a dance competition which lasts several weeks in Los Angeles in 1932. The hours are long, the cash prize is minimal, and to spice up the event, the contest promoters force the contestants to do various publicity stunts. People die. C'est la vie.
Why you should watch it: To humble yourself. This movie is two hours of bleak existentialism, and the fact that it's set in a dance contest makes it all the more disturbing.
5. The Bad Seed (1956)
Rhoda Penmark is an adorable little 8-year-old girl with blonde pigtails and perfect manners.
She's also a serial killer.
It's a well-made movie with strong performances by every actor, and it straddles the border of (unintentionally) hilarious and horrifying.
Why you should watch it: Spank your kids or they'll murder their classmates with tap shoes. A little discipline never hurt anybody.
4. Mr. Skeffington (1944)
Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis) is the most beautiful women in town, and every man wants her goodies. To save her brother from jail, she marries his boss, Mr. Skeffington. He worships her but she doesn't love him and only stays with him for his money and the sake of their daughter, Fanny Jr (God bless any child named Fanny Jr.). They eventually split up, Fanny catches diphtheria, and loses her looks and will to live. Then her husband comes back from Europe, it turns out he went blind, and they live happily ever after.
Why you should watch it: Bette Davis. And Bette Davis. Also, it offers a great message: if you're ugly, just marry a blind person. Then you can lie like hell about how "attractive" you are.
Or something about vanity and hubris, idk, I'm not God, don't ask me about morals.
3. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
It's like Zac Efron's "Seventeen Again" if it didn't suck. Peggy Sue Bodell faints at her 25th high school reunion and wakes up in 1960. She does high school completely differently but eventually realizes that she was happy with the life she chose. Doesn't every time travel movie work that way?
Why you should watch it: It's the third best non-musical movie about high school behind "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Election", and this one has Nicolas Cage back when he was a good actor. It makes getting old seem like less of a living hell, it's inspiring, and will speak to anybody doubtful about the paths they've chosen.
2. The War of the Roses (1989)
This is how Smart Cars are made
Two young, attractive college students meet. They fall in love. They get rich. They get married. They fall out of love. They start doing everything they can to make each other miserable. Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme.
Why you should watch it: It has one of my favorite closing scenes of any movie ever. Life doesn't always have happy endings, and I firmly believe that movies shouldn't always have them, either. The close of the story is dark and hilariously tragic, a fitting end to an amazing black comedy. And, if you've seen "Peggy Sue", you get to see her be vicious.
1. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
A murderer posing as a preacher chases two children with $10,000 across the Depression-era countryside. He's slick, he's deadly, he's pure evil, and he wants that money. He fools everyone with his smooth talking and hymns except Rachel Cooper, an angel with a shotgun who takes in and cares for orphaned and abandoned children and who is one of the best fictional characters that isn't from the Harry Potter series.
The movie, despite the intricate plot, is a simple exploration and presentation of good versus evil. It's a beautiful (literally and figuratively) story told through absolutes: the absolute evil of Reverend Powell juxtaposed with the absolute goodness of Rachel Cooper.
Why you should watch it: This movie is an unbelievable masterpiece from start to finish. The cinematography is amazing even after 60 years with still-modern camera angles and exaggerated shadows (very German expressionist for all y'all film students. See? I can get technical), and Robert Mitchum (Reverend Powell) is one of the greatest actors of all time. It's a suspenseful (and surprisingly scary) movie with a very satisfying ending. I cannot recommend this movie enough.
Movies are important to me. If you make a good one, and I mean a truly amazing film, time can't touch it. These movies may be old, and they may not be as exciting as "Transformers 17: Can You People Even Tell the Robots Apart Anymore?" but if you watch them with an open mind, a critical eye, and a decent attention span, you'll be rewarded with unparalleled art.
Now I'm going to watch "The Night of the Hunter" again. It's just that good.