If you’re a budding cinephile, it can be difficult to know where to start or even to find a baseline. Cinema becomes more daunting every year as new films are released and old films are reappraised. With this in mind, the staff of Collider.com has collaborated on 100 movies we think every film fan needs to see.
To be clear, this list is not an ending, but a beginning. It’s meant to serve as a starting point. Just because a movie didn’t make this list of 100, that doesn’t mean it’s “inessential.” Rather, we wanted to provide a good foundation that would spark a person’s curiosity about where to go next. Additionally, while many essential movies were done by white, male directors because historically those are the people who have had power, we didn’t want to neglect international cinema, female filmmakers, or filmmakers of color, and we have sought to include their work here.
Another group of film fans could come up with their own “Essential 100” and make a strong argument for it. However, we didn’t create this list to spark an argument, but to spark curiosity. If you look at this list as a guide rather than an end-point, then it should set you on a path to building your knowledge and appreciation of cinema.
Also, it should be noted that this list is organized alphabetically. We have not ranked these movies against each other because part of the purpose of this list is to get you to start with any film that piques your interest and see where it leads you.
Below is an overview of our list, and you can click on each title to read our justification for why it’s essential. But if you want the complete experience, scroll through the complete version of the list at the bottom. And if you want to test your progress, here is a checklist of all 100 movies. Make sure to let us know how many you’ve seen so far!
For additional curated recommendations from the Collider staff, check out our lists for the best comedy films of the 21st century, best documentaries of the 21st century, and best war movies of the 21st century so far.