Making a selection of the most iconic movies to watch at least once in a lifetime is really difficult because cinema over the years has given us a series of films that have made history, becoming real generational cults and milestones.
Some stand out for their direction, others for the great interpretation of the cast, while others for their themes and the way they are dealt with: what is certain is that the most iconic movies are many and very different from each other. Below you will find a small collection that you can enrich with those that you think are worthy to enter the category.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Director: Blake Edwards
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
A cult film of female cinema is definitely Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a movie by Blake Edwards who made the history of cinema, played by the unforgettable Audrey Hepburn and the charming George Peppard. The film is taken from the novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote and is still considered one of the most famous films of the twentieth century, thanks also to the iconic look of the protagonist played by the fabulous actress. The soundtrack won an Oscar in 1962.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
Genre: Crime, Drama
The Godfather is a trilogy that has made the history of cinema. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and played, among the others, by Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and James Caan, The Godfather is set in New York after the war, and tells the story of the Corleone family, an Italian-American mafia family that over time became one of the most powerful criminal organizations. The film was acclaimed by audiences all over the world and had such a strong cultural impact to have two sequels, The Godfather – Part II in 1974 and The Godfather – Part III in 1990.
Director: George Lucas
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Genre: Action, Adventure , Fantasy
Star Wars one of those cult movies that will never die and that has been able to thrill the audience for four decades. It belongs to the genre space opera and is one of the key titles for any lover of adventure and science fiction. The whole saga must be seen in its entirety. Star Wars, in fact, consists of an “original trilogy”, a “prequel trilogy”, and a “sequel trilogy”, the last episodes of which will be released at the end of 2017 and in 2019.
Back to the Future
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Comedy
Back to the Future is the first film of one of the most successful trilogies in the world of cinema. One of a kind, the film, directed by Robert Zemeckis and played by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, is still considered one of the most iconic movies of the 80s and has been very successful internationally. Two years ago, on the date of the journey to the future of the protagonists – October 21, 2015 – the film was re-released in cinemas around the world, receiving a warm welcome from many fans.
The Silence of the Lambs
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama
The Silence of the Lambs is a thriller-horror cult movie directed by J. Demme and starred by a young Jodie Foster and talented Anthony Hopkins. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris and on the serial killer Hannibal Lecter, played by the great Hopkins. The film won the five most important Oscar nominations: best film, best director, best actor, best actress and screenplay.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson
Genre: Drama, Crime
Pulp Fiction is a cult movie of the 90s that you can’t miss. Directed by the great Quentin Tarantino with the unique interpretation of John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis and Tim Roth, it is one of those films that many know by heart: its lines, most significant scenes and soundtrack. After more than two decades of its release in the US, Pulp Fiction is still considered one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of the world of cinema, as well as shaping a whole generation of directors and influencing the cinema of the following years with its genius soaked with black humor and splatter scenes.
Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Matrix is a science fiction film directed by the Wachowski brothers and starred by Keanu Reeves. The film is the first of a trilogy – Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions – and has had such a strong cultural impact as to be a reference for numerous subsequent works. The film has a complex philosophy that emphasizes the virtual simulation we all live in, within a cyberspace where the world is not as we believe it is.
Director: Emile Ardolino
Cast: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach
Genre: Music, Drama, Romance
Ever wonder where that dirty dancing pose come from? Yup, you guessed right, from this very same movie. This is the story of Frances spending the summer in Catskills resort with her family and unintentionally falling in love with the camp dance instructor, Johnny Castle. Oh summer lovin’.
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Emperor’s corrupt son gets enraged and jealous when he is passed over as heir in favour of his father’s favourite general, kills his father and the general’s family, while the general himself is sold into slavery. However, the general returns as a gladiator to seek revenge.
A Clockwork Orange
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
Genre: Sci-Fi, Crime, Drama
If you’re in the mood to a dark dystopian movie, then A Clockwork Orange it is. Set in future England, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for Ludovico behavior modification technique, things obviously do not go as planned.
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of The Ring
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Drama
The future of civilization rests in the fate of the One Ring. But fate has placed it in the hands of a young Hobbit named Frodo Baggins. He becomes the Ringbearer and is set out on a journey to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom to save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.
Gone With The Wind
Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor
Cast: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell
Genre: History, Romance, Drama
The Oscar-winning film Gone With The Wind is about Scarlett O’Hara struggling to find love during the Civil War times.
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
Genre: Drama, Romance
Titanic is the all-time most iconic and romantic movie there probably is. This is the story of an aristocratic girl who falls in love with a third class artist while on board the luxurious ill-fated Titanic.
Life Is Beautiful
Director: Roberto Benigni
Cast: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Ready to shed some tears? Because you won’t stop by the end of this movie. Life is beautiful is about a Jewish Italian waiter who wins the love of a pretty school teacher and they eventually get married and have a son. But their happiness and love are abruptly interrupted when the father and son are taken to a concentration camp. Doing what a father does best, he tries to shelter his son by convincing him that their time in the camp is a game.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Oskar Schindler, a greedy businessman who unlikely feels compelled to Jewish protect his workers and his factory in operation. And by doing so, he then realizes that he is turning his factory int a refugee camp for the Jews and saving innocent lives. Based on true stories, he saves more than 1100 Jews from being gassed in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Director: William Wyler
Cast: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert
Genre: Romance, Comedy
One of Audrey Hepburn’s classics, the Roman Holiday. Hepburn plays the role of a suffocating princess that takes off for a night while in Rome while being on a sedative. When the medication kicks in, she falls asleep on a park bench and is found by an American reporter who takes her back home for safety. Only then the next morning, the reporter realizes who the girl was and promises his editor to get and exclusive interview with her.
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Cast: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell
Genre: Thriller, Action, Drama
Despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople, Marshal must face a gang of deadly killers at high noon.
Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Genre: Sport, Drama
A small-time boxer gets an opportunity of a lifetime to fight a heavyweight champion and he is willing to take the risk just to earn that respect.
Director: Randal Kleiser
Stars: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
Genre: Musical, Romance
Goodie two shoes Sandy and greaser Danny fall in love with each other over the summer. When they unexpectedly discover that they are now attending the same high school, will they be able to continue their romance despite their different cliques?
Director: Mel Gibson
Cast: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Catherine McCormack
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
This epic war film is about the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England, which was led by a 13th-century Scottish warrior William Wallace. Mel Gibson directed the movie and also played the role of William Wallace
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Action
Set in the mid 22nd century, humans have exhausted Earth’s natural resources, and a group of scientists are sent to planet Pandora to explore its Biosphere. Sam, a disabled marine is torn between following orders and saving mankind.
Director: David Lean
Cast: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin
Genre: War, Romance, Drama
Doctor Zhivago is based on Boris Pasternak’s book about a married Russian physician and poet who fell in love with a political activists’ wife and his life during the Russian revolution. The book was banned in the Soviet Union, and scenes from the movie were filmed in Spain rather than the Soviet Union.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
Genre: Family, Sci-Fi
A 10-year-old boy develops psychic connections with a friendly alien stranded on earth and summons up the courage to help it return to its home planet. Steven Spielberg directed the film and got the concept from an imaginary friend he had after his parents’ divorce.
Enter The Dragon
Director: Robert Clouse
Cast: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly
Genre: Crime, Drama, Action
This film is one of the best martial arts films of all time as well as the last complete film Bruce Lee appeared in before he died at the age of 32 in 1973. Enter The Dragon was selected for conservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004 for having cultural, historical and aesthetical significance.