8 classic must-see movies (if you haven’t already)

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We’ve all been there before. Sitting around the dinner table with our friends when someone references a movie and everyone seems to get it—except you. Instead of admitting that you have no idea what they’re talking about, you nod and smile, maybe even laugh along, but on the inside, you feel completely in the dark. Memorizing every line from every movie ever made probably isn’t a realistic goal, but seeing the movies listed below is a pretty good start!

Annie Hall

A scene from the movie Annie Hall

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Whether or not you’re a Woody Allen fan, Annie Hall is one of the director’s most famous films—and often gets referenced in popular culture today. In the TV show Friends, Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) reluctantly tells Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) that he chose Diane Keaton’s suit to wear to a movie premiere. Diane Keaton is known for feminizing (and rocking!) men’s apparel and it stems from the beloved movie Annie Hall. It’s also just wildly witty and hilarious. We promise that once you see this flick you’ll find that love is too weak a word for how you’ll feel about it. You’ll “luuurve” it, “loave” it even—don’t get it? Give it a watch.


A scene from the movie Jaws

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Often credited with the reason why beachgoers won’t set foot in the water, Jaws is a Steven Spielberg masterpiece. The special effects are arguably better than some of the ones seen today and even when the film’s mechanical antagonist wasn’t properly functioning (over the loudspeaker: “The shark’s not working, I repeat, the shark is not working”), Spielberg still managed to evoke its fearful presence. If you haven’t seen this classic film, you may not have even realized that you’ve come across references to the famous line: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”—a line reinvented many times over in both literature and pop culture.

Dirty Dancing

A scene from the movie Dirty Dancing

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“Nobody puts baby in a corner.” It’s more than likely that you’ve heard this famed line before at least once. If you haven’t, you better watch Dirty Dancing—and soon. This ultimate chick flick is known for its steamy dance routines and passionate love story, and will have you swooning over Patrick Swayze’s masculine appeal and impressive moves—both on and off the dance floor. Disclaimer: serious chick flick territory.


A scene from the movie Tootsie

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We would bet that when you think of actor Dustin Hoffman, the words bold and beautiful don’t exactly come to mind. But in the film Tootsie, that’s exactly what he is. Well, maybe not beautiful, but a handsome woman most certainly. In a desperate attempt to find work, Michael Dorsey (Hoffman) auditions for and wins a part in a soap opera as actress Dorothy Michaels. As he falls for his cast mate played by Jessica Lange, his big lie begins to unravel and comes to light in the most surprising (and comical!) way. It’s not to be missed. Plus—if you’ve seen and loved Lange in Grey Gardens or American Horror Story, you’ll want to see how fresh and brilliant she is in Tootsie.

When Harry Met Sally

A scene from When Harry Met Sally

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One of the best scenes in movie history may just be the one where Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) fakes an orgasm at the diner to prove her point. Nora Ephron’s 1989 romantic comedy, which stars the hilarious Billy Crystal, is as witty as it is relatable—and is the kind of movie you’ll watch again and again because it’s just that good. Fun fact: The woman who famously says, “I’ll have what she’s having” after Ryan’s convincing (and very public) big O performance is actually director Rob Reiner’s real-life Mom.

The Exorcist 

Scene from the movie The Exorcist

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Classic horror movies should really have its own dedicated list and some folks aren’t such fans of the horror genre, but if you had to pick only one to watch, it should be the Exorcist. More recent adaptations of the original and similarly themed movies on demonic possession don’t quite measure up to the 1973 supernatural-horror drama. Based on the New York Times bestselling novel by William Peter Blatty of the same name, the Exorcist will terrify you with its iconic instrumental theme song and brilliant cast performances. You’ll also get to see why actress Linda Blair subsequently never got hired for any other gig thereafter. And, did you say you liked pea soup? Not anymore.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

A scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Starring Jack Nicholson in his acting prime, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is considered to be one of the greatest American films ever made and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry circa 1993. Based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, this film explores the complex life inside of a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s. Ever heard of the name Nurse Ratched? The fictional character and film’s antagonist (played by Louise Fletcher, who won an Academy Award for Best Actress) became the archetype of the battle-axe nurse.

The Godfather

A scene from The Godfather

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If you want to impress any male figures in your life, quote The Godfather. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” (said in the famous Godfather-style voice, while grazing your chin with your fingertips), for example. The early ‘70s classic helped shape and create new expectations for American cinema. The thought-provoking story line will make you laugh, but it’ll also make you weep. Haven’t yet witnessed the scene with the horse head in the bed? Stop what you’re doing and watch it. Right now. Oh, and by the way, the horse head is the real deal!

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