HelloGiggles Team
April 28, 2015 6:00 am

There are movies, and then there are the movies that change your life. Some just have the power to do that. Whether they’re visually arresting thrillers, profoundly relatable indies, campy horror flicks that defined an era, high school comedies that spoke to our inner teenager or glorious dreamscapes we wanted to climb inside and nest in forever, movies are great, big, colorful feeling-monsters.

Because we believe in the power of movies at Hello Giggles and we also believe in doing that annoying thing when someone hasn’t seen a particular movie we loved (“Wait, you’re telling me you’ve NEVER seen The Godfather?”), we decided it was high time we shut the front door and made up a definitive list of films we couldn’t live with out.

We asked a handful of contributors and editors to submit their five favorite movies and collected them for a list so all-encompassing and truly unique, we could barely pull this thing together without taking constant Netflix breaks to catch up on the films we’ve yet to see. So without further throat-clearing, here’s our round-up of the 50 best movies you should watch in your lifetime, according to us.

1. Heathers

Heathers is basically the original Mean Girls, but arguably fiercer. Winona Ryder’s attitude and outfits were on point, and Christian Slater was a total babe (even though he was a psychopath and not good boyfriend material IRL). —Gina Vaynshteyn

2. Together

This movie is about Swedish hippies living together in a commune, I’ve seen it about 50 times and there are scenes in it that still make me laugh harder than almost anything else. (Also, if you want to go down a Lukas Moodysson rabbit hole, check out his incredible—and more recent—film We Are The Best) —Jennifer Romolini

3. When Harry Met Sally

All bow to the amazing writing skills of Nora Ephron. When Harry Met Sally might have a reputation for tackling the question of whether men and women can be “just friends,” but it’s so much more than that. It’s a fantastic character study that also examines the lies we tell ourselves and features whip-smart dialogue. Perfection. — Kayleigh Roberts

4. The Big Lebowski

Is this the best Coen brothers movie? Yes, yes this is the best Coen brothers movie. And there have been so many great ones. But The Big Lebowski gets extra credit for basically inventing the Southern California lazy crime noir (or maybe I just invented that). —Gina Vaynshteyn

5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

If you haven’t re=watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit as an adult, you’re missing out. Long before Pixar became the epitome of “fun for the whole family” movies, Roger Rabbit was delivering something for all ages. When I was four, I wore out my family’s VHS copy by rewinding to all of the cartoon sequences. In college, I wrote analysis papers on it for film studies classes. All ages, people. — Kayleigh Roberts6. The Cabin in the Woods

I’m not big on horror movies, but this film was ridiculously fun. If you’re looking for a traditionally scary movie, this isn’t it; but if you’re a fan of the genre, it plays on horror tropes and is, basically, a meta-horror film. Some compare it to Scream, but honestly, this film is the next level. —Gina Mei

7. True Romance

True Romance is my fave Quentin Tarantino film (he wrote it)! It’s so over-the-top, and I just love Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette together. Their love is impossibly rock solid, even though they’re being chased by some super angry drug dealers.— Gina Vaynshteyn

8. Wet Hot American Summer

This film is a comedy dream team. It’s totally goofy, but self-aware of its ridiculousness, and therefore, weirdly, has some really honest moments about being a teen (presented in a hilarious, not serious way, of course). Also, Paul Rudd as Andy in the cafeteria scene is everything (if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about). —Gina Mei

9. The Princess Diaries

I probably watch The Princess Diaries at least every three months. I think Mia Thermopolis is every girl’s tween guide; when we were teenagers, she showed us it was OK that our hair was frizzy, that we had glasses, and that we didn’t have boyfriends. It was ok, because we knew that someday we would randomly find out we were the princess of a made up country (or at the very least, we would learn to rock our natural hair and realize we didn’t need a boyfriend to validate ourselves). —Gina Vaynshteyn

10. Casablanca 

I realize this is on every “Greatest Films of All Time” lists, but this movie, about a club owner who reunites with an old flame, is just a knock-out. I saw it for the first time in high school and cried at the end. I still cry at the end. This movie is probably surrounded by more hype than any other, and the thing is, it lives up to it. — Margaret Eby

11. Escape From New York

This might sound like a campy choice: It’s an action movie directed by horror master John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell. But not only is it a really fun flick to watch, it’s an interesting look at the late ’70s pessimism towards cities, where Manhattan literally becomes a hopeless walled prison instead of the scrubbed, upscale playground it is today. It’s a cult classic for a reason. — Margaret Eby

12. Boyhood

Boyhood is truly something else. When my friend and I left the theater after seeing Boyhood, we were speechless and totally in a haze. There is nothing like it. It’s a beautiful and incredibly intimate exploration of growing up, of adolescence, and of life in general. Richard Linklater nailed this one. —Gina Mei

13. All About Eve

I haven’t been able to stop referencing this classic since I watched it for the first time on Netflix a few years ago. It has more power plays and intrigue than an E! True Hollywood Story and Bette Davis is at her best. — Kayleigh Roberts

14. Yojimbo

I was introduced to Japanese director Kurosawa in a college class, and this film is what hooked me. It’s the story of a rogue samurai hired as a bodyguard in a warring town, and it’s both beautiful to look at and haunting to watch. — Margaret Eby15. Marie Antoinette

Anything Sophia Coppola makes (including her wine) is untouchable. Marie Antoinette gets all the love because of the film’s soundtrack, the outfits, and Kirsten Dunst—who perfectly plays a selfish, naive, royal French teen. —Gina Vaynshteyn16. The Usual Suspects

The first time I saw this movie, I watched it twice in a row because I was so blown away by the ending. Thankfully, it hadn’t been spoiled for me when I watched it, and I hope you remain spoiler-free until you see it, too. —Rachel Paige17. The Big Chill

No, the movie doesn’t have huge action sequences or any big dance numbers, but it’s full of drama—the kind of drama that goes down at an impromptu reunion of best friends (and lovers). Plus, it’s got a killer oldies soundtrack. Double plus, Jeff Goldblum. —Rachel Paige18. The Beginners

In this pretty little movie, artist Mike Mills creates the LA I want to live in. Every flashback, every drawing, every wardrobe and set nuance has a retro-nature quality that makes me feel crazy and obsessed and in love and at home. It’s a beautiful movie visually and a moving and relatable look at love, loneliness, death and living as authentically as you possibly can. Bonus: Ewan McGregor and Mélanie Laurent are just the best. —Jennifer Romolini19. Singin’ In The Rain

I wish movies like this were still made today. Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor were triple threats as co-horts trying to make the transition from silent to talkie films. The movie‘s got a great sense of snappy, self-effacing humor that still holds up today. (“Did someone get paid for writing that dialogue?” asks an audience member in the movie within a movie.) —Rachel Paige

20. Frances Ha

I first saw this film (alone, in theaters) when I was single and figuring out my life in New York, and was floored by how good it was. It was such a charming and honest movie, and words fail me to describe how thrilled I was to find a film that didn’t have any sort of major romantic plot or subplot (the main relationships in the movie are between Frances and herself, and Frances and her BFF). It’s beautifully shot and an all around pleasant surprise. — Gina Mei

 21. The Princess Bride  

Like the tagline promises, this movie actually has it all. Sorry, Disney, but the idea of any fairytale topping The Princess Bride? Inconceivable!
Kayleigh Roberts

22. Rushmore

Wes Anderson has a lot of gorgeous eye candy movies, but this one, his second, is my favorite. It manages to capture high school angst and ambition in a novel way, and it’s also very funny. Plus: Amazing soundtrack. — Margaret Eby

23. Jaws

Little film history lesson: Jaws was the first true summer blockbuster, which is reason enough to watch it. You hear, “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” all the time but do you even realize what it means? Jaws is such a low-key terrifying movie with tons of quotable moments. —Rachel Paige

24.  The Lives of Others

When Pan’s Labyrinth didn’t win the 2007 Oscar for Best Foreign Film I was like “Are you SERIOUS, Academy? Then what DID win?” Then I saw the winner, The Lives of Others, the story of a Stasi agent in East Germany assigned to spy on a couple, but ends up falling in love with them. It’s the best foreign language film I’ve ever seen and foreign language films are basically ALL THE BEST. —Kit Steinkellner

25. (500) Days of Summer

(500) Days is the anti-romantic comedy and in all the best ways. Not only does it feature our own gloriously awesome Zooey Deschanel, but it turns the microscope on men who romanticize the idea of a woman to such a degree that they ignore the woman herself. Oh, and that Expectations vs. Reality scene will never stop being amazing. — Kayleigh Roberts

26. Jodorowsky’s Dune 

Before Star Wars was even a thing, Alejandro Jodorowsky was trying to do a film adaptation of the super famous sci-fi novel Dune and if he had been successful this film would have straight-up been the craziest movie of all time. This doc is an account of the (attempted) making of the movie and it is just the biggest love letters to artists following their dreams. —Kit Steinkellner

27. Short Term 12 

Brie Larson plays a superhero of a counselor working at a group facility for troubled teens, but when she goes home for the night, she’s got a whole bunch of deep, dark troubles of her own. This film inspires and haunts me and I will never forgive the Academy for not giving ST12 ALL the Oscars last year. —Kit Steinkellner

28. Repulsion

The year was 1965 and Roman Polanski made the scariest movie ever. It’s about a woman named Carol (played by a young Catherine Deneuve) who’s so beautiful (or is she so paranoid?) that she holes herself up in her apartment while her sister’s away and tries desperately to ward off predatory intruders from her past. The film is basically from her perspective so her anxiety is palpable and the thoughts that flood her mind are just as conflicting to the viewers as they are to Carol, herself. — Piper Weiss

29. The Royal Tenenbaums

One of the few things that everybody in my family likes is Wes Anderson movies; I watch Tenenbaums — a gorgeously art directed film about the quirkiest family in film history  and am reminded that even in the strangest situations, family can pull through. — Lilian Min

30. Harold and Maude

She’s about to turn 80, he’s so not—but, man, do they make a beautiful couple. Hal Ashby’s cult hit missed the critical mark when it was first released in theaters, but left a beautiful scar on my heart as a teenager with my own VHS player. You have to admire a woman (the ever-beautiful Ruth Gordon) who loves oat straw tea, ginger pie, posing nude for sculptors and reminding the world that nobody owns anything—especially not cars. And how about a guy (the crushable Bud Cort) who who can play Cat Stevens songs on the banjo? Oh, this movie made me want to sing out, and every time I watched it (which was every single day of my junior year in high school), I felt free. —Piper Weiss
31. The Apartment (1960)

This is the most romantic movie I’ve ever seen. Jack Lemmon is awkward and charming, Shirley MacLaine is sad and adorable, and the reason they’re not together for most of the movie is because LIFE IS COMPLICATED. That cliché about a movie making you laugh and cry was basically invented by The Apartment. —Kit Steinkellner

32. The Landlord

Director Hal Ashby’s first film deals with race and class in early 1970s New York. Funny, dark, disturbingly raw —it defies all genres and explores issues of gentrification that still resonate today. Have I mentioned I love Hal Ashby? —Piper Weiss

33. The Up Series

Every seven years director Michael Apted catches up with a group of people he began filming at age seven. Fifty-six years later, the movie continues to be a document of the human condition and the struggle for identity under the weight of public perception. Here’s a better description: If an alien needed to understand the experience of being a person in under 24 hours, I’d hand over my copy of the complete series on DVD. Yes, this alien has a DVD player, and yes I’d want the DVDs back at some point. —Piper Weiss


A beautiful, trippy, thoughtful animated film about accessing dreams and the consequences of that power, which came out 4 years before Inception. —Lilian Min

35. The Heartbreak Kid

To be clear, I’m talking about the original one, not the remake. Charles Grodin plays a newlywed who immediately regrets his decision to get married while on his honeymoon. The film feels like it starts where The Graduate left off. Grodin’s expression during most of the film can best be described as “What did I just do?” And his new wife, despite what Grodin’s character thinks, is kind of my style guru. —Piper Weiss

36. Black Cat, White Cat

I like movies about gut-punching love and original eccentrics and strong heroines and exotic places and this movie has it all in spades. It is nearly impossible to describe further, but really you should see it. It will make you feel good. —Jennifer Romolini

37. The Shining

I usually hate horror movies, but this is a masterpiece and possibly my all-time favorite movie. It’s as beautiful a film as it is a haunting and horrifying one. Jack Nicholson is at his best, Danny’s sweater collection is flawless, and the Grady twins holding hands is one of the most iconic moments in film for a reason. It’s a must-see. —Gina Mei

38. Clean, Shaven

If you’re looking for a movie that deals with profound mental illness in an unflinching, all-too-real way, nothing compares with Clean Shaven. Lodge Kerrigan’s debut ’90s indie film, about a schizophrenic father chasing down his long-lost daughter, was a critical sleeper hit. The Criterion Collection describes it as an “utterly unique, visually and aurally dazzling character stud[y]  and “a compelling headfirst dive into the mindscape of a schizophrenic” where “no one is left unscathed.” It is all that and more. —Piper Weiss

39. The General 

Buster Keaton is a comedic genius. If you don’t think a silent film can be gut-wrenchingly hilarious, you haven’t seen BK lay it down. Both this film and Sherlock Jr. are an A+ place to start if you want to get into his work, but everything is good and you can’t go wrong. —Gina Mei

40. American Graffiti

Harrison Ford’s first big role, a young Ron Howard, directed by a pre-Star Wars George Lucas and all about high school kids in the ’60s cruising the strip in gorgeous cars. Sign me up. —Elena Sheppard

41. Love Actually

This film is my not-so-guilty pleasure. It’s perfect levels of cheesy and one of the ultimate rom-coms. It genuinely makes me happy every time I watch it, and I’m not even ashamed to admit it (well, maybe a little ashamed). —Gina Mei

42. In The Mood For Love

Wong Kar-Wai’s directing style is so beautiful and distinct – both this film and its follow-up, 2046, are powerful, gorgeous films. Also, I gotta represent my Chinese half and Wong Kar-Wai hails from Hong Kong (where my family is from), so I’m possibly a little biased, but I promise you won’t regret watching any of his work. —Gina Mei

43. Princess Mononoke

Animation god Hayao Miyazaki’s work always deals with nature and femininity (by virtues of its amazing female leads), but Mononoke was one of the only times he really displayed the violence of the human and natural worlds. —Lilian Min

44. This Is Spinal Tap

This movie goes to eleven. That’s an inside Spinal Tap joke for all four people who’ve never seen this groundbreaking mockumentary. Before The Office or any other magical piece of entertainment framed as a doc, Christopher Guest and Rob Reiner joined forces for what might be the greatest fake rock band movie that ever there was. —Piper Weiss

45. The Raid: Redemption

Unlike the title would lead you to believe, this actually isn’t a sequel (The Raid was taken, so they had to expand), but this is one of the most intense action/fighting films I have ever seen. Ever. In my entire life. The fight scenes go on for so long that you actually begin to feel physically uncomfortable from how tense you are. Pretty sure this film is the definition of “badass.” Not for the faint of heart. —Gina Mei

46. Lord of the Rings

An essential part of my childhood, and my entry into serious fandom. (Clearly.) —Lilian Min

47The Godfather 

Can’t really call yourself a film buff until you’ve seen this bad boy. Actually make that bad boys: Parts I and II are a must. They go down as two of the best movies ever made. No contest. But don’t feel too bad if you skip part III.  — Elena Sheppard

48. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This is what heartbreak feels like, pure and not so simple. I first watched this on Valentine’s Day with the guy who became my high school boyfriend, and even after we broke up, I’d watch it every Valentine’s Day. I don’t do that anymore, but the film remains a sentimental favorite. —Lilian Min

49. Vertigo 

One of those movies with scenes and moments and lines that will stick in your head for the rest of time. Oh and it’s spooky as can be. Oh and it’s Hitchcock. — Elena Sheppard

50. Kramer vs. Kramer

My love of New York and of Dustin Hoffman starts right here. Also Meryl Streep and Meryl Streep’s outfits (!!!!), there are not enough capital letters nor emoji hearts to describe my feels. —Jennifer Romolini

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