A great movie has images that stick in your mind long after you’ve seen them. They have unforgettable characters and tell moving stories. And they can even change your life.
We asked the staff at INSIDER, Business Insider, and Tech Insider to tell us the one movie that changed their lives.
For some of our writers and producers, some movies inspired a deep, lifelong yearning for adventure or a newfound love of literature. Others inspire small but important life lessons that still resonate years later. And for others yet, the experience of watching a particular movie was so powerful that they have never revisited it.
Here are the movies that changed our lives:
'Steven Spielberg's 1987 World War II epic may be one of the most unfairly underrated movies of the director's prolific career. I was 15 when I saw it for the first time and it's stayed with me ever since. It's an epic odyssey about a spoiled young British boy (played by a 12 year-old Christian Bale) who is separated from his family at the outbreak of World War Two. The scene where the POW camp is liberated by an American fighter squadron is, in my opinion, the greatest single scene ever committed to film. Spielberg's action choreography, combined with John Williams' score and Bale's frighteningly intense acting result in a truly transcendent movie moment that has yet to be surpassed.' -- Graham Flanagan, senior video producer at Business Insider
''Fruitvale Station' tells the true story of the death of Oscar Grant, a young black man killed in an act of police brutality in 2009 in the Bay Area. I saw it a couple of weeks after the Trayvon Martin case closed and George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering the black teen. I was so shocked by that case, that when I saw 'Fruitvale Station' I just sobbed in my seat for minutes when the credits began to roll because my belief in justice was totally shaken. The movie felt rough around the edges as it was Ryan Coogler's first feature film and Michael B. Jordan's breakout performance, but more than anything, I could sense the anger and sadness those two men felt because I felt it too. I learned just how cathartic films could be that day.' -- A.C. Fowler, producer at INSIDER
'I stumbled on 'Goodfellas' while it was on TV when I was in middle school. My dad told me I needed to shut it off and watch the non-edited version to fully appreciate it. He was right. It taught me the power of storytelling, showed me how beautiful film could be, and established my love for Scorsese films. I still watch it at least five times a year.' -- Anjelica Oswald, pop culture reporter at INSIDER
'Without a doubt the one film I have viewed more than any other throughout my lifetime is 1997's 'Wild America.' Three brothers who scrounge up enough money to buy a video camera embark out on an epic quest to capture (and sometimes combat) all sorts of animal life, leading up to the discovery of a mysterious den of sleeping bears. It is a perfect coming-of-age tale of adventure and brotherhood. The one film I write on every 'what is your favourite movie?' survey is a result of a very tired public library VHS tape, and the spirit to explore.' -- Justin Gmoser, video producer at Business Insider
'I saw 'We Bought a Zoo' -- yes, that one with Matt Damon -- years ago with some of my friends. At one point, Damon's character tells one of his kids, 'You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.' It can be intimidating for anyone to put themselves out there in any facet of their life, but this quote is so spot on and honest that it's resonated with me and my friends over the past few years. Is it the best movie I've ever seen? No, but it taught me really to not sweat the small stuff and some of the best things result from just 20 seconds of bravery.' -- Kelsey Mulvey, commerce reporter at Business Insider
''Stop Making Sense,' the Talking Heads concert movie from 1984, directed by Jonthan Demme, changed my life. I had missed all the great previous concert movies, like 'The Last Waltz' and 'Gimme Shelter.' This one showed me what music and film could do together and gave me strange new ways to think about life (The Big Suit!).' -- Matthew DeBord, transportation editor at Business Insider
'I don't know how or why I ended up watching 'L'Eclisse' but I walked away convinced for the first time that a film could be capital-A 'Art.' Before 'L'Eclisse,' I thought the purpose of a movie was to tell a story. 'L'Eclisse' tells a story, something about failed relationships, but while watching it, it never feels like that's its goal or purpose. It feels closer to a painting than a novel: something beautiful to contemplate over, rather than something to consume and anticipate what will happen next. After building up this relationship between two lovers, the film ends abruptly with a seven-minute montage of passive scenes from around town. It absolutely blew me away. I've never rewatched it.' -- Forrest Almasi, front end developer
'I saw 'Spotlight' in theatres pretty soon after I started working at Business Insider. I came in the next week so pumped to be a journalist.' -- Jeremy Dreyfuss, associate editor for stories at INSIDER
''Groundhog Day changed my life.' I saw it when I was young, and I started to think that maybe nothing is real and what I do day-to-day doesn't really matter, so I might as well be nice, have fun and enjoy life rather than take everything so seriously.' -- Lisa Ryan, health reporter at INSIDER
'It sounds silly, but I've seen this movie over 50 times and it never loses its charm. Underneath Will Ferrell's childish humour and the guise of a simple holiday story are some core life lessons. The Code of the Elves reminds us to 'treat every day like Christmas' and that 'there's room for everyone on the Nice List.' In other words, spread love and joy daily and remember that it's never too late to be a better person -- with or without pressure from Santa Clause.' -- Kelly O'Sullivan, health reporter intern at INSIDER
'The debut film by Czech New Wave director Jan Němec follows two unnamed boys after they have escaped a Nazi train headed to a concentration camp. Sounds straightforward right? Wrong.
What follows after the explosive and viscerally jarring opening scene is a hallucinogenic and unsettling journey through the Czech forests and countryside, as memories and flashbacks cut in and out to paint a picture of these boys before their capture. It's a stark reminder of the horrifying conditions of Nazi-occupied Europe, but a harrowing look into the minds and hearts of two friends who refuse to leave the other behind.' -- Benjamin Nigh, associate video producer at INSIDER
'Weirdly enough, 'Matilda' changed my life. There were scenes where she would carry a whole bunch of books around in her red wagon, and for some reason it made me obsessed with reading and eventually writing. I asked for a red wagon for Christmas, I got it, and started pulling all my books around in it throughout my apartment. It was the first movie I saw with a female heroine that was around my age, and it made me feel like I could make a difference, no matter my gender or my age at the time.' -- Alana Yzola, associate video producer at INSIDER
'As with any movie that has a lasting effect on you, I saw 'Kill Bill: Vol. 1' when I was way too young.
Before I saw 'Kill Bill,' I didn't know you could make a movie like this. I didn't know you could tell a story completely out of order. I didn't know you could make a beheading this hilarious. Then, after learning about all of the old cowboy, samurai, and action movies, this was based off of, it led me on a lifelong movie-watching quest. 'Kill Bill' opened up my world, and I can't help but keep rewatching it.' -- Ian Phillips, pop culture reporter at INSIDER
'Hermione Granger's character is really inspiring. She holds her own next to the male characters in the movie. Obviously she's very intelligent, and is never afraid to be herself.' -- Kristen Griffin, video producer at INSIDER
'My parents showed me Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' when I was waaay too young to see it. The movie is the satirical story of Brian, a guy who was born in the manger next door to Jesus. Brian is mistaken for a messiah and eventually crucified. Monty Python is known for goofy, surrealist humour (Ministry of Silly Walks, anyone?), but 'Life of Brian' didn't just inform my sense of humour. The film instilled a deep sense of scepticism in me regarding organised religion and figures of authority. The movie is incredibly silly, but it also has a larger message about individualism, critical thinking, and questioning authority.' -- Stephen Parkhurst, supervising video producer at INSIDER
'When I first saw 'Citizen Kane,' it was like I got a new pair of glasses and found out I've been seeing everything wrong all this time. I watched 'Kane' when I was 13 and it showed me, before I had an inkling of what film grammar was, what a movie could be. Its clever cuts and juxtapositions taught me a how stories could be told and what the visual medium is capable of.
The movie is rightfully throned as the greatest of all time (sorry, Sight & Sound, I don't think 'Vertigo' quite does it). But it's also often put behind glass. It's emotionally enriching and ethically complicated and an absolute blast to watch.' -- Jacob Shamsian, INSIDER reporter
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