29 contemporary movies that are already classics

Miramax‘Pulp Fiction’ characters and iconography are easily recognisable.

It can be difficult to guess which movies will stand the test of time, but occasionally, a film is immediately recognised as a modern classic. A recent Reddit thread plumbed this very phenomenon, asking, “What film from 1990 to present day would you consider a modern classic that will be viewed as iconic in the future?”

Here are the top answers – while also some of the most controversial – in no specific order.


“My Cousin Vinny” (1992)

20th Century FoxThe film followers two young New Yorkers on trial for murder and Vincent Gambini, a lawyer trying to defend them.

“Law school students study it. It is still cited in the courts today. [It’s] called one of, if not the most realistic portrayals of the practice of law on film.” – Jmen4Ever


“Fargo” (1996)

Fargo‘Fargo’ inspired a spin-off TV show of the same name, which premiered in 2014.

“I think most Coen Brothers films have a good chance of being regarded as classics, but ‘Fargo’ is my top pick after ‘No Country for Old Men.’ The plot of the film isn’t terribly complicated, but it’s the detail put into the characters and the events that makes it so good. For two hours you’re immersed in what you might otherwise think of as a boring, ordinary world, and yet every moment grabs your attention.” – yukichigai


“Napoleon Dynamite” (2004)

Fox SearchlightJon Heder was famously paid just $US1,000 to play the titular character.

“‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is one of the most memorable films from this era. Easy.” – unfitfuzzball


“Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

Orion PicturesAnthony Hopkins won ‘Best Actor’ for his performance in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ — which also won ‘Best Picture’ and two other awards — at the 1992 Oscars.

“This film is actively studied in major film programs. It’s not just a merit to [director Jonathan] Demme’s ability to create tension and memorable impact with characters, but even more when you realise Anthony Hopkins spends like 11 minutes on screen, yet he’s felt throughout the film. Much has to do with the famous tit for tat scene and the subtle power dynamics used with camera placement and eye line. Hopkins pierces your f—ing soul in that scene.” – CeleryStore


“The Iron Giant” (1999)

Warner Bros. via MovieClipsThe movie is based on the 1968 novel ‘The Iron Man’ by Ted Hughes.

“By and far, one of animation’s greatest tragedies but even after its tepid box office turnout this film’s significance and accomplishments are not wholly lost. The acting is on point, the animation superb and its message isn’t hackneyed or cookie cutter while also managing to explore the hysteria and anxiety of Cold War America in a manner palatable for children but cognisant enough that older viewers don’t feel talked down to.” –ParadoxInRaindrops


“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

TriStar via YouTubeThe sequel is set 11 years after the original.

“The original ‘Terminator’ is very80s. But ‘T2’ hasn’t aged a day (or at least it hadn’t when I saw it last).” – GoodLordChokeAnABomb


“The Matrix” (1999)

screenshotThe success of the film inspired two sequels.

“Came here to say ‘The Matrix’ for two big reasons. One: ‘The Matrix’ started a new type of CGI special effects, never before seen. Two: the idea of a person entering a virtual reality is old, but the idea of virtual reality tricking people into thinking they are in the ‘real world’ was a new idea. Many movies and some shows have copied that idea ever since.” – Ltfan2002


“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (2001, 2002, and 2003)

New Line CinemaAll three films — ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ ‘The Two Towers,’ and ‘The Return of the King’ — are based on one novel by J. R. R. Tolkien.

“‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy introduced the mainstream to high fantasy and revitalised the whole genre.” –PM_ME_YOUR_WORRIES


“American Psycho” (2000)

American Psycho screengrabThe story is set in the late 1980s.

“Christian Bale’s early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when ‘American Psycho’ came out in 2000, I think he really came into his own, commercially and artistically. The whole movie has a clear, crisp look, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the movie a big boost.” – OralAnalGland


“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Focus FeaturesKate Winslet and Jim Carrey star in the science fiction romance.

“I wish this movie was more popular. It does what a good movie should, which is keep you thinking about it after you’ve seen it. It genuinely impacts you.” – H-CXWJ


“Goodfellas” (1990)

Warner Bros.Derivatives of the word ‘f—‘ are infamously used 300 times throughout the movie, many of which were improvised by the cast.

“Saw in a review for, I think it was ‘Black Mass,’ that said something similar to, you can’t make a crime biopic without it being compared to ‘Goodfellas,’ and by god that is the truth.” – westham09


“Hereditary” (2018)

A24Barry Jenkins, the Oscar-winning director of ‘Moonlight,’ called ‘Hereditary’ a ‘violation of my emotional stability’ on Twitter.

“I know it’s been lauded already, but I do believe it’s the turning point for art-house horror films becoming acceptable within the mainstream audience.” – kinsarc


“Wall-E” (2008)

PixarWall-E is a trash compactor robot left on Earth after humans deserted the planet.

“Not only is it a gorgeous film, with the first half being a stellar ‘silent’ film but it carries messages of environmentalism and anti-consumerism which we are now starting to see fully the repercussions of in our own environment.” –flapjackisyum


“Schindler’s List” (1993)

Universal via MovieClipsLiam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler.

“It’s the only film I’ve ever seen where everyone stayed through the credits and everyone applauded at the end… in tears. Not a dry eye in the room. I consider it a masterpiece of film work.” – OlasNah


“Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

Buena Vista PicturesJack Skellington moves between his home in Halloweentown and his new obsession, Christmastown.

“Not just the art style, but the story and the music. It’s an incredible movie! I’m not much into scary/morbid stuff; in fact, I’ve always been a little ‘afraid’ of Halloween (due to my upbringing). This movie had a sweetness that somehow transcended that genre while becoming an iconic part of it.” – Anthonyzzzzz


“Forrest Gump” (1994)

Paramount Pictures‘Forrest Gump’ beat out ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ to win ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars in 1995.

“‘Forrest Gump’ will always be a classic. The way it was written was beautifully executed. Seamlessly transitioning through many of the most important events in history throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Each scene seemed to flow so organically and naturally into the next scene.” – Fonzie401


“The Truman Show” (1998)

Paramount PicturesJim Carrey won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Truman, a man whose entire life was documented for a TV show.

“Watch it again, for those who doubt. It’s got this timeless feel to it that I think will help distinguish it from a lot of other movies in the far future, and it’s just so relevant for our society now, and likely where it’s going.” –Baron_ass


“The Lion King” (1994)

DisneyA live adaptation of ‘The Lion King’ — starring Donald Glover and Beyoncé, among others — will hit theatres in 2019.

“I have always considered ‘The Lion King’ the zenith point of Walt Disney Animation, everything released after it couldn’t compare to it.” – queenofspoons


“Interstellar” (2014)

Paramount PicturesAnne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey in ‘Interstellar.’

“The score, the VFX, the cinematography was all amazing. It is the modern [‘2001: A Space Odyssey’] in full. It even has the confusing crazy ending that ‘2001’ had but with just a little more logic to it. By far my favourite movie of the modern era.

“I understand that it’s not for everyone. It’s slow and it can be confusing, but it truly is a masterpiece. Oftentimes the greatest works of art aren’t for mass appeal. Mass appeal usually means a happy medium where it tries to fit too many check boxes where as specific goals of a movie can turn it into something truly amazing.” – Wesus


“No Country for Old Men” (2007)

Paramount PicturesThe film is based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same name.

“Any scene with [Javier] Bardem seemed to disrupt my breathing patterns. I found myself holding my breath a lot when he was on screen just not knowing what he was about to do. One of the best villains I’ve ever seen.” – powerbrows


“Spirited Away” (2001)

Studio Ghibli‘Spirited Away’ is one of the most celebrated films from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

“I can’t stress enough that it’s traditionally animated in a world where 99% of animated films are CGI, and the line between CGI and live action is more and more blurred, a film like ‘Spirited Away’ becomes more important as it is, not only an opus of its medium, but also because the medium is dying or dead to most audiences. ‘Spirited Away’ is also approachable by and easily enjoyed by anyone. It reflects positive themes of empowerment, respect, and justice. ‘Spirited’ also manages to represent love between a male and a female that’s not romantic, but platonic and built on respect and admiration for one another.” – DrNoided


“Pulp Fiction” (1994)

MiramaxThe film stars Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis.

“‘Pulp Fiction’ has done more to shape other movies and cinema in general than I think most people realise.” –ronearc


“Toy Story” (1995)

Disney Pixar‘Toy Story’ was the first feature-length film to be entirely computer-animated.

“‘Toy Story’ will be held as the turning point for animation, when 3D digital animation became mainstream and 2D animation began to diminish. It launched Pixar as one of the most successful studios in the world.” – SilentSamamander


“Trainspotting” (1996)

MiramaxA sequel was finally released in January 2017.

“This is the film that put many people I know off of doing heroin and even other drugs. The scene where Renton hallucinates baby Dawn still sticks with me.” – KreativeHawk


“The Dark Knight” (2008)

Warner Bros.Heath Ledger posthumously won the Oscar for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his role as the Joker.

“‘The Dark Knight’ is ‘The Godfather’ of superhero films and may be the only one of our generation to stand the test of time.

“I’ve seen every superhero movie put out since ‘X-Men’ and ‘Spider-Man’ first came out. ‘The Dark Knight’ was the only one I walked out of the theatre after watching and felt like I’d seen a true work of art and not some cash grab holiday blockbuster. In the past 10 years, I’ve periodically questioned my judgement on it, telling myself it surely can’t be THAT good, so I’ll watch it just to be sure and every time I’m blown away again. I stand by the assessment, it’s an incredibly well done film.” –bupdup


“Jurassic Park” (1993)

UniversalUniversal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment bought the rights to the novel by Michael Crichton in 1990 — before it was even published.

“Ahead of its time for its minimal use of CGI, paired with its amazing use of animatronics makes it a fantastic film for the ages.” – brokendowndryer


“Fight Club” (1999)

YouTube screengrabThe film is based on a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk.

“‘Fight Club’ came along right as ‘The Sixth Sense’ had gotten people hyped for twists, then showed us that you can have a movie where the twist isn’t all there is to the film. Even if you take away the ‘twist’ of Fight Club, the film is still a fantastic exploration of things a lot of [that generation] had problems putting to words: conformity, consumerism, identity, intimacy and the lack thereof, and whether rebelling against the system is really done for your own sake or the sake of just ‘being different’ so you don’t feel like an unremarkable samey cog alongside a bunch of other samey cogs. And the best part is that it doesn’t give you an answer as to what is right, it just points out a lot of stuff that’s wrong. It leaves you with a handful of answers and a bunch of things you could ask questions about, but don’t have to.” – yukichigai


“The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)

Columbia PicturesThe film is based on the 1982 Stephen King novella ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.’

“I think I’ve come up with a good rule of thumb for if a movie even has a chance of becoming a classic: if this was on TBS at 2 a.m. for the fourth night in a row, would you still watch it? Definitely true of ‘Shawshank Redemption.'” – yukichigai


“The Social Network” (2010)

Jesse Eisenberg portrayed Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg in the early years of the website.

“‘The Social Network’ hits the big three criteria: critical acclaim, commercial success, and historic significance.” –throwaway4addy

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