1. Almost Famous
The exact moment I decided to be a
writer was while watching Almost
Famous. In fact I paused the film
around halfway through because I was
hit by a wave of inspiration and had to
go write something. A poem, I think.
I’d always written, but this film made
it look like something one could do as
a job, and that it might lead me on
strange and interesting adventures.
Mostly it’s a film about being
different and weird and finding
acceptance for it through your art,
and that spoke to me on so many
levels. I’m different! I’m weird! I
write! Maybe I can do this?! Thirteen
years later, I’ve still not been on tour
with a rock band, but I do write for a
living. Thanks, Cameron Crowe.
Taught me the following lessons:
Don’t do heroin.
Save your money.
Listen to your heart, not your friends.
Don’t do heroin.
Scotland is interesting.
Be careful who you pick up when you
go to a club.
Don’t do heroin.
Always use protection.
Fries are called chips in Scotland.
Don’t hang around criminals.
Don’t have kids.
And don’t do heroin.
3. Hoop Dreams
Fine Line Features
Hoop Dreams is the greatest
documentary ever made and was
what taught me to start thinking
about privilege and poverty and how
that relates to “following your
dreams” or whatever, when I was a
young stupid teenager constantly
being told to follow my dreams.
—Summer Anne Burton
4. The Breakfast Club
It will remind you that individuality is
the key to being happy. You do you.
Never pretend to be someone you’re
5. Laurence Anyways
Aside from having exceptional
cinematography and a soundtrack you
will keep listening to after the fact,
Laurence Anyways grapples with
gender identity in the 21st century
and what happens to everyone around
you when you do decide to transition.
Not only that, but Xavier Dolan was
an impressive 23 years old when he
directed this film.
6. 500 Days of Summer
Fox Searchlight Picturres, Thinkstock
I think the most important takeaway
from 500 Days of Summer for me was
there’s always going to be someone
else. I watched this after going
through a pretty shitty breakup.
When you’re young and a relationship
ends, you come out on the other side
feeling like you’re never going to feel
that way again. I think it’s important
to figure out that the end of a
relationship isn’t the end-all be-all.
Maybe you find someone else, or
maybe you learn to love yourself.
The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Persepolis is a coming-of-age movie
that takes place during the Iranian
revolution, and it really hits on issues
of feminism, finding your voice, and
staying true to your individual spirit.
8. The Outsiders
The Outsiders taught me about the
inevitable changes that can happen in
your lifetime, and the only way to
really deal with the changes is to
accept them instead of fighting
9. North by Northwest
Metro Goldwin Mayer
Everyone talks about Casablanca and
Citizen Kane as the be-all end-all for
classic film, forgetting the
awesomeness that is North by
Northwest. Though the plane scene is
no doubt iconic, most people
associate Hitchcock with dark thrillers
like Psycho. In North by Northwest,
he mixes genres so fluidly that you’re
scared, happy, intrigued, and most of
10. All The Real Girls
Sony Pictures Classics
All The Real Girls is about human error
and forgiveness and it’s depressing as
fuck but I think really “relatable” and
good for people to watch and think
and argue about.
—Summer Anne Burton
11. All About Eve
20th Century Fox
All About Eve is as relevant today as it
was in the ’50s, and could be retitled
Mansplaining. The aging theater star
Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is our
40-year-old hero while the
antagonistic twentysomething star
Eve (Anne Baxter) is our ostensible
villain, but the real villain is, again and
again, patriarchal values, stupid men
who cannot conceive of their own
advantage, and goddamn male
hypocrisy. It’s a film about two
women vying for male attention, and
yet the fight is clearly the result of a
system that sets women up to tear
each other down. It’s witty and funny
and sad and still great, all these years
12. Life Is Beautiful
It shows you how important it is to
always have a sense of humor in your
life, even in the worst possible
scenarios. Plus, it teaches you about
the Holocaust and everyone should
know about the Holocaust.
13. Requiem for a Dream
People often talk about Trainspotting
as the heroin film but fewer have
seen the incredible Requiem for a
Dream. Though bleak AF, it’s a film
that manages to capture the utter
despair of drug addiction. It’s so
criminally underrated that it makes
me cringe. It was Darren Aronofsky’s
first masterpiece, and let’s be real,
that soundtrack is the best.
New World Pictures
A dark, hilarious movie that would
NEVER get made now. Teenagers
trying to one-up one another via
elaborately maudlin suicides would
get laughed out of any movie studio.
But this perfect film laid the
groundwork for every cinematic high
school bitch we’ve seen since.
—Ira Madison III
15. I Am
Flying Eye Productions
I Am is not a flashy film. It uses stock
images and cliched songs, and some
parts are a little bit cringe. The whole
documentary circles around Tom
Shadyac (Bruce Almighty, Ace
Ventura) and his struggle with wealth
and the realization that money and
power don’t guarantee happiness.
That said, its overall message and
exploration of what’s important in this
world is paramount to the
development of a good mind and a
better soul. Shadyac interviews a
bunch of really great icons, writers,
and people, and manages to construct
a great message of moving together
as one society and helping out your
fellow man. The bits with Desmond
Tutu will make your soul flutter.
16. The Diving Bell and the
I saw this movie in high school and I
fell in love, not only with its story,
but with it’s cinematography. The
whole first half of the movie is shot
from the POV of the protagonist. I
read the book right after, and to this
day, it’s made me appreciate what I
do have and accept that everything
you know can be radically changed
unexpectedly. Jean-Dominique Bauby
wakes up to discover he’s completely
paralyzed except for being able to
blink one of his eyes. From that, HE
WROTE THE ENTIRE BOOK by
17. The Tree of Life
Plan B Entertainment
It inspires you to make your own path
in life and to work hard no matter
what your dreams are, and it shows
you the importance of keeping strong
relationships. It’s one of those films
that teaches you something new
every time you watch it.
18. The Women
Metro Goldwyn Mayor
Revolutionary for not having a single
man in it, it’s a funny ode to female
friendships and also a biting
commentary on the rivalries that
society places on women. Plus, the
one-liners are still useable even
—Ira Madison III
19. Mean Girls
Few other films capture “girl world” in
such a smart and hilarious way. And
it’s infinitely quotable. YOU GO GLEN
20. The Princess Bride
Act 111 Communications
It’s one of the greatest movies ever
made. Fact. If you want to act like you
have any knowledge of pop culture at
all it’s a must. In addition to being
incredibly funny (and highly quotable),
it has a lot of smart, sweet things to
say about love and family and
childhood and magic and stories and
life and death and MLT sandwiches.
21. Punch-Drunk Love
New Line Cinema
It made me think about all the ways
you can fall in love, and how you can
find it in the most unexpected places.
Also the composer, Jon Brion, is one
of my all-time favorites. He added a
very dreamlike quality to the film.
Also, because I studied painting I
loved the compositions in the film.
22. Starship Troopers
Epic11 / Getty Images
For whatever reason, it’s not a movie
that many people talk about. I
consider Starship Troopers one of the
best science-fiction movies — if not
THE best science-fiction movie — of
the last 20 years. It’s as relevant
today as it’s ever been before. See
23. The Iron Giant
Everyone should watch The Iron Giant
because it’s one of the most
underrated animated movies of all
time. The storyline, style, characters,
and animation are all breathtakingly
beautiful. The only reason more
people haven’t seen it is because
they didn’t do enough PR. It is some
of Brad Bird’s finest work. After
seeing the ending you’ll never be the
24. The Way Way Back
Fox Searchlight Pictures
This movie is the quintessential
coming-of-age film. It doesn’t
sugarcoat the fact that some family
situations simply suck, and some
family members are the literal worst.
But, it also gives hope that you can
(and will) unintentionally find people
who make you happy and feel whole
25. The Big Lebowski (or any
Coen brothers movie)
Working Title Films
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve
seen this movie. It’s so, so funny, and
is insanely quotable for any situation.
The Coen Brothers inspired me to get
into film, and Steve Buscemi, John
Goodman, and Jeff Bridges are
comedy gold. It also has one of Philip
Seymour Hoffman’s most underrated
roles. Everyone deserves to know The
25 Movies You Have To See Before You Turn 25
1. Almost Famous