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The 25 best black and white movies you should watch

15. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Everybody lost their collective shit when Mad Max: Fury Road hit our screens. A production besieged by setbacks and reshoots, it couldn't turn out well could it? It turned out to be one of the few films in recent years that received an equal measure of love from both critics and fans: it's that good. Imagine everyone's delight when director George Miller revealed plans for an even grittier version - the black and chrome edition of the movie. It's hard to find fault with the original take on this feature-length car chase through an apocalyptic wasteland, but the black and white version somehow makes it even more compelling.

14. La Haine (1995)

Meaning 'hate' in French, this Gallic monochrome thriller follows the lives of three early twentysomethings (Vincent Kassel, Hubert Kounde, Said Taghmaoui) attempting to survive in a low-income zone on the outskirts of Paris. The action unravels over the course of a day in the aftermath of a riot. Director Mathieu Kassovitz was inspired by the true-life case of a young man who was shot dead in 1993 while in police custody. The monochrome visuals have serious heft - they afford Kassovitz's film a raw edge that will leave you breathless.

13. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Set during the 1920s Prohibition-era, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play a couple of musicians who opt for a spot of masquerading when they find themselves at the wrong end of the mafia's wrath. Instead of high-tailing it abroad, the duo dress as Josephine and Daphne and successfully join a travelling women's musical troupe - Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators. Curtis and Lemmon spar back and forth some of the pithiest and filthiest banter, all the while trying to win over Marilyn Monroe's singer. It's a true comedy classic. 

12. The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

The Coens show what they do best in this underrated gem. The Man Who Wasn't There mashes together the Hollywood crime genre of the 1950s with quippy Coen dialogue and quirky Coen characters. The noir style is what makes the decision to go black and white seem completely natural. Watching Billy Bob Thornton's troubled barber dealing with the woes of life, from his crook wife, to her crook brother, to the advent of a new invention called dry cleaning, it's as if we're enjoying a slice of cinema history from the last century.

11. Frances Ha (2012)

A joyful romp through the world of struggling dancer Frances (Greta Gerwig), whose days lurch fitfully from one encounter to the next as she attempts to figure out this game called life. It earns favourable comparisons to Woody Allen's Manhattan - director Noah Baumbach captures modern-day New York in gorgeous, poetic monochrome. Also, the scene in which Frances dances through the city to the beat of Bowie's Modern Love is pure, unadulterated happiness.

10. Sin City (2005)

Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez direct a movie adaptation of Miller's graphic novel series. Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen and Jessica Alba all play residents of Basin City, a place where misery rules and hyperviolent brawls and unsavoury types reign supreme. Setting aside the fact that the original comic was drawn that way, the black and white gives Sin City a deliciously pulp-y noir vibe. By using a special type of processing to It also makes the splashes of colour really pop.

9. The Apartment (1960)

The Apartment follows Jack Lemmon's likeable Bud Baxter. An insurance salesman whose life is falling flat, Bud's bosses are less interested in forwarding his career and more concerned with borrowing his apartment to entertain mistresses. And his love life? Non-existent. That is until he meets the dry-witted elevator operator Fran (Shirley Maclaine). The Apartment was a turning point for director Billy Wilder. After churning out some of Hollywood's finest screwball comedies, it was time for something a little darker.

8. Ed Wood (1994)

Johnny Depp plays the infamously shoddy filmmaker, reteaming with his Edward Scissorhands director Tim Burton. The film follows his relationship with Bela Lugosi and Dolores Fuller, plus his attempts to make films like Glen Or Glenda and Plan 9 From Outer Space. Burton was adamant that the film "had to be in black and white", no doubt because Wood's own films were shot that way - which means as well as the film looking fantastic, it also taps into Wood's own creations on a visual level.

7. Dr Strangelove (1964)

Think of Stanley Kubrick and your mind goes to several things: his meticulous attention to detail, his somewhat gruelling treatment of actors, and err... his super-sharp sense of humour? Despite his reputation, Kubrick's black and white tale of Communist politics is a laugh riot. A jet-black comedy that's lent a skewed degree of realism because of his decision to lens the whole thing in black and white. Peter Sellers tackles multiple roles, with the best arguably being a seriously unhinged US General who believes Russia is out to poison Americans and so launches a nuclear attack against them. 

6. Clerks (1994)

Kevin Smith's slacker comedy - and only his second time behind the camera - is a super-relatable, super-funny look at young life in the age of the VHS. It takes place over the course of 24 hours as the lives of Dante and Randal, two store clerks, wax poetic and deal with the public. Smith reportedly shot on black and white because of his limited budget (just $27,575). The black and white might have been chosen out of necessity, but it gives Smith's film a rough, documentary-style feel that's massively endearing. It's almost like we're watching these guys on CCTV.

Gem is GR+'s west coast entertainment news reporter. She’s a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator.