5. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The movie: The first of Peter Jackson’s SIX movies set in Middle-Earth is a jaw-dropping piece of cinema. It remains even now, nearly two decades after its initial release, a captivating tale. The story of an unlikely hero, the young Hobbit Frodo, as he bands together a fellowship to journey across the world to save all of Middle-Earth is… well, it’s about as cookie-cutter as you can get. But there’s nothing common about Jackson’s fantastical retelling of the Tolkien classic.
Why it’s worth watching: Bold, exciting filmmaking that weaves character, action, plot, heart, and some mightily ambitious world-building? That’s what you’re getting with the first chapter of the Rings trilogy. It’s a reminder that despite The Hobbit trilogy’s misfire, Fellowship is the real deal.
4. The Sixth Sense (1999)
The movie: "I see dead people." That's the line everyone remembers from The Sixth Sense, and, that one iconic line kinda sums up the film. Cole (Haley Joel Osment) is a sensitive kid who indeed does see ghosts. His mom (Toni Collette) sends him to see a therapist Malcolm (Bruce Willis) to help with his visions and social anxieties, all the while his experiences with the dead continue to grow more violent...
Why it's worth watching: This is the reason everyone pays attention when Shyamalan releases a new movie. The Sixth Sense set the standard high and I'm not even talking about the twist. It packs in a raft of creepy moments, making it one of the most chilling flicks ever made, and somehow also manages to be a massive tearjerker at the same time. Toni Collette's last scene? Try not to blub.
3. Heat (1995)
The movie: What do you get when you unite two of cinema’s most iconic actors in the same film? Michael Mann’s Heat. Of course, to say this is essential for any film fan purely because of that would be to discount everything else that makes this one of the best action films ever made. The best part is, it’s also a heist flick, that finds Robert De Niro cast in the role of criminal mastermind Neil McCauley, who’s out to do “one last job” with his crew before calling it a day. On the other side of the law, is Al Pacino’s Lieutenant, who is eager to bring down McCauley and his team.
Why it’s worth a watch: De Niro. Pacino. They’ve since appeared together onscreen, in the not-so-bueno Righteous Kill, but seeing this pair work their magic for that one particular scene is dazzling. Oh, and the shoot-outs? Epic.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The movie: A reboot/sequel that never takes its foot off the gas, this is perhaps one of the rare cases when a follow-up betters the original. Fury Road takes place in an arid, apocalyptic wasteland, where the big bad Immortan Joe keeps people in line using his vile brand of tyranny, until Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) helps Joe’s five wives escape. And so they go, across the desert, for the duration of the film that’s best described as an epic car chase broken into three acts.
Why it's worth watching: Miller completely reinvigorated the action genre, which is amazing because no-one really knew it needed a kickstart. Taking every part of what made the original Mad Max outings so successful, Miller took an absolute shedload of risks, putting stuntmen where they’d never gone before, crafting insane, lengthy action sequences, and wrapping that all together into a visually-arresting story that just so happens to have a slew of kick-ass female characters. Get it watched.
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The movie: Still one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever made, it's hard to believe Frank Darabont's film was a flop in cinemas. Luckily, this modern classic found its audience on home entertainment, with audiences lapping up this tale of Andy Dufresne, a banker wrongly charged with double homicide. His ambitious goal to break out of prison serves as the main driving force, but as fans will attest, this is more than a mere 'prison break' movie.
Why it's worth watching: Tim Robbins delivers a career-best performance and Morgan Freeman sets himself up as the voiceover artist in every movie made since. If those two leading turns aren’t enough to satiate your movie needs, then what of the film’s central lesson, “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’”? What's not to love about this movie?