2001: A Space Odyssey

Now approaching the age of 50, the reputation of Stanley Kubrick’s voyage into the past, our solar system and the human psyche only continues to strengthen. Untarnished by countless imitators and parodies, 2001 continues to resonate thanks to vastly influential production design, our distrust of machine intelligence, and an impactful climax that maximises cinema’s ability to communicate non-verbally, even subconsciously.



Spielberg used primal fear and Hitchcockian suspense to turn a monster movie into the highest grossing film ever (at the time), create the blockbuster and change the way movies are made. Co-screenwriter Carl Gottlieb says, "That notion of selling a picture as an event, as a phenomenon, as a destination, was born with that release."

Watching it now, the fakeness of that big 'ol rubber shark is hard to ignore, but it's a testament to the quality of filmmaking that you it doesn't detract from your engagement, or the scares.



He’s never exactly beaten around the bush, but with Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese surpassed himself. Ultra-violent, profane, bleak, hilarious and seriously stylish, this is the gold standard of gangster cinema, and an utter vindication of Scorsese’s decision to marry directorial liberties and cinematic flourishes with the true story of a real-life wiseguy – using all manner of tricks to capture the essence of organised crime and delight in unsettling audiences.


Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump’s mum always said “Life was like a box of chocolates… You never know what you’re gonna get.” Unlike a list of favourite films - because you’re always guaranteed to see this history-hopping charmer pop up. In one of the few cases where the film was WAY better than the book, Gump oozes charm every minute, squeezed for everything it’s worth via Tom Hank’s perfect puppy dog performance.


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Hype was huge around Peter Jackson’s ambitious adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s classic, harbouring a wealth of excited fans as well as a glut of pessimistic naysayers unconvinced that the novels could ever work on film. But with The Fellowship of the Ring, Jackson made believers of us all, delivering a rousing fantasy adventure that defined ‘epic’ (a word the internet would later dilute).


The Dark Knight

“Why so serious?” asked Heath Ledger’s Joker, in what would become a tragically career-defining performance that brought even more real-world gravitas to the ambitious Gotham built by Christopher Nolan. With the strongest blend of superhero antics and grimy drama of Nolan’s trilogy, a bleak tale to tell, and rare praise from the Oscars, The Dark Knight succeeded in legitimising superhero movies as sophisticated drama, if inspiring much brooding in its wake – not to mention gruff-voiced Bat-imitators.


Pulp Fiction

Fewer films had people quoting the Bible like Quentin Tarantino’s chronologically-cluttered comedic crime masterpiece. Constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed in a way that demanded numerous re-watches, the film embedded itself into the psyche of instant fans who can recite the script on request. If your friend knows what a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is called in Paris, it’s not because of Wikipedia – it’s because of Pulp Fiction.


Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars blew moviegoers’ minds thanks to George Lucas’ cunning idea to set the adventure of a Saturday morning serial in a galaxy far, far away. If people weren’t expecting Star Wars, they certainly weren’t anticipating The Empire Strikes Back, with new locations and Empire armaments dropping jaws, a darker tone infusing proceedings, and the unexpected happening throughout – including the mother (father?) of all plot twists to leave everyone hanging.


The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola created a gangster drama that all other gangster dramas referred to as Don. Oscillating between two messiahs of acting, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, The Godfather crisscrosses two poignant character arcs – one that sees Don Vito Corleone exit the darkness while his son becomes accustomed to it. Even then, this is the cherry to a rich cake of cinema that invites anyone to chow down.


The Shawshank Redemption

Though it was nominated for seven Oscars, this movie adaptation of Stephen King’s short story claimed none. But what it did claim is a universality that places it as number one on both this list and IMDb’s Top 250. Through masterful use of all the elements that define cinema – acting, screenwriting, cinematography, editing, music, sound – The Shawshank Redemption is a pure storytelling force of nature that can sweep up anyone.