What's essential to have in a HD movie collection?
November 12, 2008 8:06 AM   Subscribe

What do you consider to be the best or most important movies of the past 20 years, whether Hollywood or international? I'm rebuilding much of my movie collection in 720p H.264 (approx 5GB each) or 1080p and want to be sure I don't miss anything.

There's a lot of content from the 1990s I want to keep on hand in a high quality format, from a variety of genres... Everything from Gattaca to Baraka. Can anyone suggest some 'essential film' lists or provide input from their personal collections?
posted by thewalrus to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Color Purple. Amazing!
posted by pearlybob at 8:12 AM on November 12, 2008

Life is Beautiful is probably #1 on my best movies list.
posted by Grither at 8:16 AM on November 12, 2008

posted by bonobothegreat at 8:18 AM on November 12, 2008

Here is the AFI Top 100 List
posted by pixlboi at 8:25 AM on November 12, 2008

Schindler's List and Shawshank Redemption.
posted by xbonesgt at 8:29 AM on November 12, 2008

The IMDB Top 250 is a great place to start.

Metacritic has a similar list.

This list isn't bad, either; I used it for a film crit paper I wrote a few years ago.

Everyone's got their own idea of what the best movies are, so no list is all-inclusive. In the end, what goes into your personal movie collection should be the movies you like, even if they're not on one of these lists.
posted by indiewizard at 8:32 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pi is one of my personal favorite indie films.
posted by wavering at 8:33 AM on November 12, 2008

posted by sephira at 8:45 AM on November 12, 2008

Gattaca as an example makes me think we share tastes a little, but only the past 20 years? Important sci-fi, I'd include 2001:A Space Odyssey, Star Wars original trilogy, Close Encounters, etc, all older than 20. For horror, I'd include Carpenter's The Thing, American Werewolf in London, The Exorcist, The Omen, a few others. Westerns, Outlaw Josey Wales is a must (1976?). The lists linked above are all good, and Googling "best " or "top ten can lead to tons of good lists too, but I've also found a lot of movies I'd otherwise have not been alerted to by checking the personal lists folks post on Amazon. hth
posted by Argenteus at 8:49 AM on November 12, 2008

I would include Rushmore and/or Wes Anderson's other films. I realize opinions vary on those, but I found them to be important.

Also: Grave of the Fireflies was released seven months too early, but it's worth mentioning.
posted by kidbritish at 8:58 AM on November 12, 2008

Speaking of Pi, there are many of us who feel that The Fountain is one of the most gorgeous, thoughtful films of all time.

There Will Be Blood
is amazing as well, beats me that it didn't win over No Country For Old Men at the Oscars last year...
posted by dbiedny at 9:11 AM on November 12, 2008

The Mummy
Malcolm X
Tr2n (it's not out yet, but really, yeah)
posted by cashman at 9:21 AM on November 12, 2008

Schindlers List
Saving Private Ryan
The Shawshank Redemption
The Usual Suspects
Pulp Fiction
Edward Scissorhands
Dances with Wolves
Cool Hand Luke
Erin Brokovich
The Silence of the Lambs
Sixth Sense
The Matrix
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Remains of the Day
Jean de Florette
Like Water for Chocolate
posted by ceri richard at 9:24 AM on November 12, 2008

Dead Man Walking
posted by Sassyfras at 9:26 AM on November 12, 2008

Hmm, some people have an interesting definition of "20 years."

Agree on "Life is Beautiful." "American Beauty" suffered a backlash i don't really get, but it's a great film. "Gladiator" is everything a Hollywood epic should be- big without being dumb, and brilliant performances, especially Joaquin Phoenix. "Rushmore" is indeed great, and "Royal Tennenbaums" is probably the most visually amazing film of our era.

"Office Space" is probably the iconic comedy of the last 15 years or so. And some may snicker, but "Wayne's World" is one of the greatest film comedies ever made. It really is.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:26 AM on November 12, 2008

Oh and don't forget Charlie Kaufman, especially "Adaptation" and "Eternal Sunshine."
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:29 AM on November 12, 2008

I guess i would suggest something from the following producers, writers and directors.

Ridley Scott - Bladerunner / Alien / Black Hawk Down / Gladiator
Stanley Kubrick - A Clock Work Orange / The Shining / Lolita / Full Metal Jacket / Dr Strangelove
Wes Anderson - Royal Tennabaums / The Life Aquatic
Tim Burton - Edward Scissorhands / Big Fish / Nightmare Before Christmas
Quentin Tarantino - Reservoir Dogs / Pulp Fiction / Natural Born Killers / Jackie Brown / Kill Bill / Grindhouse
Francis Ford Coppola - The Godfather, Apocalypse Now
Coen Brothers - Fargo, No Country for Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Though, The Big Labowski

other possible movies:

Braveheart, The Shawshank Redemption, Taxi Driver, American Beauty, Forest Gump, Matrix, oldboy

Hmmmm, I just noticed you said the last 20 years...some of the above are not from that time period but if you don't have them in your collection you are lacking!
posted by Black_Umbrella at 9:33 AM on November 12, 2008

Speaking of Pi, there are many of us who feel that The Fountain is one of the most gorgeous, thoughtful films of all time.

I completely agree, the amount of stunning effects that aren't computer generated really make you believe that cinematography isn't just a measure of how good your cgi artists are.
posted by wavering at 9:43 AM on November 12, 2008

Following up on Black_Umbrella's approach, Paul Greengrass has put out some great stuff: The Bourne Identity/Supremacy/Ultimatum and United 93 were all terrific.
posted by brandman at 9:54 AM on November 12, 2008

I'll add a couple of disturbing films that came out around the same time; Pan's Labyrinth and Tideland. Really visionary cinematically and by their content, but not for everyone.

And for sheer audacity and genre-pushing originality, Brick.
posted by elendil71 at 9:56 AM on November 12, 2008

It would be unforgivable not to include Unforgiven.
posted by dinger at 10:20 AM on November 12, 2008

posted by gyusan at 10:29 AM on November 12, 2008

Check out the Criterion Collection and you can organize them by date. They are starting to release on Blu-Ray as well.
posted by dino terror at 10:54 AM on November 12, 2008

"Amelie" and "Requiem for a Dream", for some of the neatest cinematography and photography I've seen in a movie.
posted by archagon at 11:34 AM on November 12, 2008

A few more:

"Persepolis" was excellent and underrated.

"Man on Wire", but it's still in theaters. One of the few movies that left me completely dazed.

"More" by Mark Osborne is my favorite animated short. You can buy the DVD off his website, or watch it on YouTube for free.
posted by archagon at 11:44 AM on November 12, 2008

Near the top of my list would be The Lives of Others. Other favorite foreign films of the past decade or so:
Aldomovar's Talk to Her and All About My Mother
Burnt by the Sun
Three Colors trilogy: Blue, Red, White

A few others I don't think have been mentioned yet:
Hoop Dreams
Heavenly Creatures
Gods and Monsters
Dangerous Liaisons
Henry V
The Remains of the Day
posted by scody at 11:49 AM on November 12, 2008

All of the movies I've seen and rated five stars from the last 20 years:
American Beauty (1999)
Batman Begins (2005)  
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset (2004)
Best in Show (2000)
Big (1988)
Borat (2006)  
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Boyz N the Hood (1991)
Braveheart (1995)
Clerks (1994)
Contact (1997)
Crash (2005)  
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
The Fog of War (2003)
Frailty (2002)
Gattaca (1997)
GoodFellas: Special Edition (1990)
Grumpier Old Men (1995)
Grumpy Old Men (1993)
Hero (2002)
Hotel Rwanda (2005)  
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
I'm Not Scared (2003)
In America (2002)
King Kong (2005)
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
The Lion King: Special Edition (1994)
Malcolm X (1992)
The Matrix (1999)
Memento (2000)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)  
Millions (2005)
Mystic River (2003)  
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Office Space (1999)
Once (2006)
Philadelphia (1993)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Roger & Me (1989)
Schindler's List (1993)
The Secret Lives of Dentists (2003)
The Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition (1994)
A Simple Plan (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Sling Blade (1996)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Tombstone (1993)
Touching the Void (2003)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Wag the Dog
posted by cnc at 12:10 PM on November 12, 2008

Braveheart: A great steaming rotten bag of haggis.
posted by Neiltupper at 12:31 PM on November 12, 2008

Seconding "Requiem for a Dream", nthing "Pi", and adding in "American History X".

IMHO "Toy Story" was important if surpassed since by other Pixar efforts.

Switch gears a little: "Ghostbusters" and "Caddyshack" need to be included.

Also, "Dead Poets Society", and reiterating "Schindler's List".
posted by pkphy39 at 12:54 PM on November 12, 2008

American History X, Sex Lies and Videotape, Indochine, Brazil, Snatch, Minority Report, Bladerunner, Shall We Dance, Strictly Ballroom, Kolya, Mongol, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, Notes on a Scandal, The Pianist, The Accused, Raising Arizona, eXistenZ, The Fly, Crash (Cronenberg), The Crying Game, The English Patient, Strange Days.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 12:59 PM on November 12, 2008

I love, love, love The Player, IMO Robert Altman's last great film.
I also love, love, love Bob Roberts, which, IMO, may be Tim Robbins' only good film (that he's directed).

Seconding on Heavenly Creatures.
Being John Malkovich
I'm Gonna Get You, Sucka
The Crying Game
Auto Focus
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
LA Confidential

Oh, I'll stop.

There's just so many movies, you know?

Per usual in these matters, YMMV.
posted by droplet at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2008

American History X, Sex Lies and Videotape, Indochine, Brazil, Snatch, Minority Report, Bladerunner, Shall We Dance, Strictly Ballroom, Kolya, Mongol, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, Notes on a Scandal, The Pianist, The Accused, Raising Arizona, eXistenZ, The Fly, Crash (Cronenberg), The Crying Game, The English Patient, Strange Days, Rumble fish.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2008

City of God
Run Lola Run
The Lives of Others
posted by pwicks at 1:24 PM on November 12, 2008

Wim Wnders' Wings of Desire and Faraway, So Close
Most of Jim Jarmusch's films, but especially Dead Man, Ghost Dog and Broken Flowers
And I know it's just outside the last 20 years, but Spinal Tap is essential.
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 1:46 PM on November 12, 2008

I kind of hate answering this sort of question, but here it is. The best new film I've seen in the last few years was Four Months, Three Weeks, and Two Days.

I almost never have that 'IMDB message board' experience that makes people insist that "If you don't like this film then you don't get movies." Obviously, it's an inane thing to say...but this film tempts me to say it.
posted by Beardman at 2:13 PM on November 12, 2008

posted by pompomtom at 2:35 PM on November 12, 2008

Oh elendil71 was right, I can't let Brick get missed in this soon to be very large answers section.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 4:02 PM on November 12, 2008

Wings of Desire
Pulp Fiction
posted by neuron at 5:09 PM on November 12, 2008

criterion top ten lists. foreign and domestic alike, although some are a bit older than 20 years. lots of list from different people gives you a lot of movies to choose from. These are, hands down, some of the best films in the world.
posted by slograffiti at 9:38 AM on November 13, 2008

Time of the Wolf

City of God

Barton Fink

Buffalo '66

Dancer in the Dark

Blue (and possibly Red)


Punch-Drunk Love (and possibly Magnolia)

Being John Malkovich



Welcome to the Dollhouse

Synecdoche, New York


anything from Gus van Sant
posted by coizero at 2:00 PM on November 13, 2008

Also, I would have mentioned Wings of Desire and Blue Velvet as well, but you specified movies from the past 20 years.
posted by coizero at 2:02 PM on November 13, 2008

Personally, I would skip anything that's a comedy. It's really action movies and dramas that you'd want to see in High-def. This is a personal preference, but most of the movies I'll shell out extra money for to upgrade to blu-ray are "epic" movies.

Movies to get in HD:

**Planet Earth
Star Wars (not yet released on blu-ray)
Indiana Jones (soon to be released on blu-ray)
The Lord of the Rings Troligy
The Departed
The Rock
Bourne Trilogy
The Matrix (I would only buy the original, unless you like the 2nd/3rd films as much)
X-Men (only #3 has been released on blu-ray, the others are soon to come, I expect)
V for Vendetta
Casino Royale
Black Hawk Down
Blood Diamond
Mission Impossible
Con Air
Saving Private Ryan
Batman Begins
The Prestige
Die Hard 1 & 3
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the best HP film to date)
Terminator 2 (if you're a fan)
City of God
Back to the Future (again, don't buy comedy DVDs, but you probably have seen this on VHS most of your life.)

posted by mtphoto at 3:48 AM on November 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

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