Introducing the 50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

After much deliberation, I have decided to continue the 50 Movies Project. These projects are very much what this site is all about, and I hate to break tradition. This year, I am switching things up a bit. The focus will be on contemporary films, meaning anything from 1980 to present day. It was surprisingly easy to put together a list of modern films that I missed — my first draft had nearly 170 titles! It took a while to whittle this down to 50, but I’m pleased with the end result. I tried to make a mix of popular and critically-acclaimed movies this time around, so there’s everything from Top Gun to Amour. I would love to hear your thoughts on these. Any particular titles you would recommend watching first?

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982, Amy Heckerling]
First Blood [1982, Ted Kotcheff]
The King of Comedy [1982, Martin Scorsese]
A Christmas Story [1983, Bob Clark]
The Karate Kid [1984, John G. Avildsen]
Stand By Me [1986, Rob Reiner]
Top Gun [1986, Tony Scott]
Dirty Dancing [1987, Emile Ardolino]
The Untouchables [1987, Brian De Palma]
Big [1988, Penny Marshall]
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? [1988, Robert Zemeckis]
Driving Miss Daisy [1989, Bruce Beresford]
Major League [1989, David S. Ward]
Road House [1989, Rowdy Herrington]
Say Anything… [1989, Cameron Crowe]
When Harry Met Sally [1989, Rob Reiner]
Dances With Wolves [1990, Kevin Costner]
The Godfather Part III [1990, Francis Ford Coppola]
Miller’s Crossing [1990, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen]
Misery [1990, Rob Reiner]
Pretty Woman [1990, Garry Marshall]
Boyz N The Hood [1991, John Singleton]
JFK [1991, Oliver Stone]
Thelma & Louise [1991, Ridley Scott]
Philadelphia [1993, Jonathan Demme]
Rudy [1993, David Anspaugh]
Apollo 13 [1995, Ron Howard]
Face/Off [1997, John Woo]
Armageddon [1998, Michael Bay]
Out of Sight [1998, Steven Soderbergh]
Run Lola Run [1998, Tom Tykwer]
Being John Malkovich [1999, Spike Jonze]
The Insider [1999, Michael Mann]
The Iron Giant [1999, Brad Bird]
Unbreakable [2000, M. Night Shyamalan]
About Schmidt [2002, Alexander Payne]
Catch Me If You Can [2002, Steven Spielberg]
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World [2003, Peter Weir]
Mystic River [2003, Clint Eastwood]
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl [2003, Gore Verbinski]
The Aviator [2004, Martin Scorsese]
Sideways [2004, Alexander Payne]
Good Night, and Good Luck [2005, George Clooney]
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [2007, Cristian Mungiu]
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [2007, Andrew Dominik]
The Orphanage [2007, Juan Antonio Bayona]
Gomorrah [2008, Matteo Garrone]
A Prophet [2009, Jacques Audiard]
Incendies [2010, Denis Villeneuve]
Amour [2012, Michael Haneke]

55 thoughts on “Introducing the 50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

  1. ali says:

    NOOOOOO THE ORPHANAGE WHYYY. That movie scarred me for life. XD Also Steve will throw a fit if you don’t watch The Iron Giant ASAP. It’s one of his favorites. 😉

  2. Nancy says:

    I’m glad you’re continuing on with the project and it’s an interesting list! Lots on there I’ve never seen so I’ll be glad to see what you think of those. How did you come up with the 170 movies? This is inspiring me to create such a list, maybe I’ll watch with you!
    There are quite a few in there I have really liked including Amour, Catch Me If You Can, Thelma and Louise, Dirty Dancing (of course!), Fast Times. Are you keen to start on a high or get some out of the way that you’re not really looking forward to?

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Thanks, that means a lot! My initial list of 170~ was put together mostly by looking at the different lists on For this project, I looked at stuff like the All Time Box Office Records, IMDB Top 250, Most Checked Movies, etc. That website was an invaluable resource. As for where I’m going to begin, I have no idea, haha. All I know is that I’m going to try to space out the epics this year — no more cramming in 3-4 hour films like Gone with the Wind at the very end of the year! 🙂

  3. carlosnightman says:

    An excellent list, with quite a few personal favourites: The Untouchables, possibly Dr Palma’ s finest…. First Blood, before Rambo got stupid…… some excellent King adaptations…. I too haven’t seen many of your post 1999 picks so I’ll try to give those a go

  4. Cristian says:

    Very good and diverse list. I highly recommend Incendies, it’s a stunning drama with a fantastic lead and a powerful story. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days from Cristian Mungiu from Romania, where I’m from, it’s another powerful drama. I had lots of fun with Misery and Out of Sight. Good Night and Good Luck is a film I loved a lot, very different film but I was so pleased with it. SIdeways, The Aviator and The Orphanage are great too.

  5. ruth says:

    Woo hoo!! Liking your new look here Eric! WOW, lots of great stuff on your list, some of which are my favorites, esp these:

    The Untouchables [1987, Brian De Palma]
    Face/Off [1997, John Woo]
    Unbreakable [2000, M. Night Shyamalan]
    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World [2003, Peter Weir]

    Interesting that you haven’t seen cult faves like Top Gun & Dirty Dancing, those are SOOO 80s 😀

  6. tenaciousbitch says:

    Definitely FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH! Excellent coming of age film. And no matter how many times I see it, Sean Penn’s performance never ceases to make me giggle! 🙂 Secondly, I’m torn between Sideways and When Harry Met Sally! When Harry Met Sally is the best romantic comedy ever written, but Sideways is an incredible film that could be my life if I weren’t happily married. Enjoy whichever films you end up choosing first. I hated Being John Malkovich, so I’ll be interested in your take on it since it’s a favorite among actors and other Hollyweird folk.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Ahhh, yeah I’m going to have to get to those early on! I’m not much of a rom-com guy, but I can appreciate them when they’re smartly written. As for Being John Malkovich, based on how weird it sounds, I have a feeling I’ll either love it or hate it. Hopefully the former!

      • tenaciousbitch says:

        Unlike most women, I’m not big on rom-coms either. In fact, there are many that I absolutely hated (like Ten Days to Lose a Guy), but When Harry Met Sally is very well-written. And my husband really liked it too, and he’s not a big fan of what he calls “women’s comedy”…yeah, Being John Malkovich is definitely weird…ENJOY! 🙂

  7. Paul Bowler says:

    Glad you are continuing the list, some great films on there. Some of my top choices would be Stand By Men, The Untouchables, Misery, Apollo 13, and Thelma & Louise is one of my all time fave films, I thin that’s brilliant. I also saw Dances with Wolves recently for the first time, that was really good as well. Will look forward to this new project!

  8. Morgan R. Lewis says:

    You’re going to have fun with a lot of these, I think. There are a fair number of these I’ve seen and enjoyed — though of course there are some I’m still waiting to see myself, too. (First Blood, for example.)

    Some highlights, in my opinion:
    A Christmas Story [1983, Bob Clark]
    Top Gun [1986, Tony Scott]
    Big [1988, Penny Marshall]
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit? [1988, Robert Zemeckis]
    Dances With Wolves [1990, Kevin Costner]

  9. SDG says:

    WoW! You have never seen Catch Me if You Can? How did that happen? There are quite a few good ones on this list. Incendies and Amour are my respective favourites of those years. 4 Months… was my favourite first watch of last year(You know that). I also love Good NIght, and Good Luck. I hope you’ll have a great time watching these Eric! All the Best!

    Love the new look BTW. 🙂

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Thanks! Yeah, no clue how I missed out on Catch Me If You Can. So many of these have just slipped through the cracks over the years. It’s crazy — I could easily do another 50 on top of these.

      Your praise was one of the biggest reasons I added 4 Months.. to the project. Our tastes usually align quite well so I have a feeling I will like it. 😀

  10. ckckred says:

    Nice list. I think I might have seen at least half. I would highly recommend The King of Comedy, Amour, and Being John Malkovich, those are my favorites of the movies you’ve mentioned.

  11. Dan Heaton says:

    It’s interesting. I’ve also decided to focus more on recent films this year, and am even going more towards post-2000 films. There are exceptions, though. You have a lot of great titles on your list. I’ve seen 39 of them, and several are among my favorites. I’m really excited to see what you think of Good Night, and Good Luck and Gomorrah in particular. Great stuff.

  12. John says:

    Oh wow… This is a good list, although there will undoubtedly be some you won’t like.

    Wait… you haven’t seen Major League? You have good times coming, sir.

    Also, I like the site redesign. No clue when it happened (my apologies for not visiting more frequently), but the simple Apple sans serif, gray palette is cool in my book.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Thanks! I changed the design on Sunday, so it wasn’t very long ago. I was just getting tired of the same banner and overall look so I went with something a bit more simplistic.

      As for Major League, yeah, I have no excuses. I’ve seen clips of it over the years but never the full movie. Pretty shameful considering how much I love baseball.

  13. jackdeth72 says:

    Good list of contemporary films, Eric!

    Good catches on

    Apollo 13
    Stand By Me
    A Christmas Story
    Master and Commander
    Miller’s Crossing
    Catch Me if You Can
    The Aviator

    Wait one… Godfather III?… Godfather, Godfather II, ceratinly… Part III?
    Not so much.

    Surprised to see ‘Do The Right Thing’ and ‘Malcolm X’ not on the list.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Haha, I had a feeling The Godfather III would raise some eyebrows. I included it just so I can finally finish the trilogy. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten around to it (though some might argue that’s not a *bad* thing).

      Do the Right Thing was one of my favorite films from last year’s project. I had it pegged at #2 in my overall rankings. Such a fantastic film. Malcolm X was a huge oversight on my part. That’s one I am going to make it a point to see even though it’s not on my list.

  14. Chris says:

    Another ambitious yearly project! I’ve seen about 40 of them. Look forward to reading your reviews! Those 2 Alexander Payne films are probably my favorites of those 50.
    I just saw Road House(had never seen it either), and while it is flawed, I found it quite entertaining, in a so-bad-its-good kind of way.

  15. Belial Blog says:

    Excellent list. The King of Comedy is truly one of Scorcese’s unsung masterpieces. After Hours too, if you haven’t seen it. Once getting through those, I highly recommend John Landis’ Into The Night. If ever there was the stuff of one of those three movie marathons, you’ve got it there!

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