New movies can be hit or miss. Sometimes you find on a stellar piece of cinema, but often you reach the end of the film wishing you could get back the last two hours. When it comes to picking movies, most people like to look for something they have never seen before. You might seek out classics from a genre that you like, or wait for new movies to come out.
But some movies are meant to be replayed.
When a well-written film contains important life lessons and themes, you can re-watch it over and over. Sometimes you’ll see different aspects of the story, or your opinion about the film will change depending on what’s happening in your life. As your perspective alters, what you take away from the movie changes.
A second viewing can reveal plot points that you didn’t catch the first time. The best movies can be watched repeatedly because you get something new every time you see it—a fresh perspective, new opinions, and new emotions arise in subsequent viewings.
You may be wondering where to find movies that have a strong replayability factor. I’ve compiled a list of the best movies to watch over and over.
1. The Prestige
Two magicians become embroiled in a rivalry to create the best magic trick. Follow them on their harrowing quest to devise the ultimate illusion.
The Prestige (2006) is an electrifying tale that’s sure to leave you questioning the line between reality and stagecraft.
Watch The Prestige to see how this feud unfolds.
2. Black Swan
Nina is vying to play the lead in Swan Lake. Her entire life revolves around ballet, and though she dances beautifully, she only embodies the attributes of the White Swan. She has a tenuous friendship with a talented new dancer who embodies the darker aspects of the Black Swan.
Black Swan (2010) shows us the cost of perfectionism. Watch it a second or third time to see if you can spot where things start to unravel.
Find out more about the dark side in humans in Black Swan.
3. Lost in Translation
Bob, an aging actor, and Charlotte, a newlywed, strike up an unlikely friendship while staying at a hotel in Tokyo.
Watch Lost in Translation (2003) a second or third time to see if hindsight changes how you interpret the interactions between the lead characters.
Lost in Translation reminds us that often the best bonds come from happenstance meetings and in unexpected ways.
4. Pulp Fiction
Jules and Vincent are hit men who undergo a series of bizarre events in the line of duty. Pulp Fiction (1994) follows the hit men through several different vignettes of violence and dark comedy.
Expect all the grittiness and brilliance of a Tarantino film in Pulp Fiction. This movie is loaded with nods to the classic pulp fiction style of storytelling.
See something new every time you watch Pulp Fiction.
A serial killer stages his crimes so that the victims represent the seven deadly sins. After a detective figures out the criminal’s modus operandi, authorities rush to stop the killer before he can carry out more murders.
Se7en (1995) is not a film for the faint-hearted, but it will make you think. Hit replay on this one to think about human nature.
Se7en will keep you on the edge of your seat—even after you know how it will end.
6. In the Mood for Love
A man and woman bond when they suspect that their spouses are having extramarital affairs. They grapple with temptation and morality as their relationship develops.
In the Mood for Love is visually stunning and full of an old Hollywood romanticism that is sure to keep you entertained for many viewings.
Watch In the Mood for Love to consider interpersonal boundaries.
7. Before Sunrise
Two strangers form a bond as they take a train from Budapest to Hungary. Though they can only be together for a short time, they make the most of it.
Before Sunrise (1995) reminds us to treasure every second we have with the people we love.
Pay attention to the conversations these two strangers have in Before Sunrise and you’ll be inspired every time.
8. The Pianist
Wladyslaw Szpilman is one of the greatest pianists and composers of his time, but World War II forces tragedy upon him. This true story follows a musician through the depths of despair and the heights of triumph.
The Pianist (2002) is a moving drama that will inspire you to appreciate the gifts that you’ve been given.
Watch The Pianist when you need to see a story about hope.
Our world exists in a constellation of networked devices, but what would happen if you fell in love with an AI? In Her (2013) a writer does just that, and then must grapple with the consequences.
Contemplate the nature of love and loneliness when you watch Her. Regardless of where you are in your life and relationships, this film will have an emotional impact.
Think about how you define love when you see Her.
10. White Oleander
When Astrid’s mother is convicted of murder, she goes into the foster system. She endures a series of trials as she learns to stand on her own.
White Oleander (2002) is a coming-of-age story that highlights the different approaches that people have to life. This film will help you appreciate the depth of the human experience through the eyes of a young girl.
View White Oleander to remember that everyone has a complicated story.
11. Billy Elliot
Billy, a boy from a working class family, discovers that he is a dancer. He must buck the traditional paradigm for males in his social class to pursue his dreams.
When you have a gift that you need to share with the world, people may try to hold you back. Billy Elliot (2000) is a reminder not to give up on our dreams.
Watch Billy Elliot whenever you need to feel inspired.
12. Spirited Away
A wrong turn leads Chihiro and her family into a world inhabited by beasts and spirits. Chihiro must figure out how to navigate this complicated world, and along the way, she finds out who she is.
Spirited Away (2001) is a beautifully animated story with a powerful message. Watch it whenever you face a challenge and put your life into perspective.
Get Spirited Away by this fantastic tale.
13. Princess Mononoke
A young man is caught between humans and the gods of the forest. He meets a fierce warrior, Princess Mononoke, who was raised by a wolf-god. After seeing the good that exists on both sides of the dispute, he does his best to negotiate for a peaceful outcome.
With so much divisiveness in the news today, it’s important to have movies like this to remind us that every conflict can be viewed through multiple lenses.
Watch Princess Mononoke whenever you need to think about the big picture.
14. Good Will Hunting
Will is a janitor at M.I.T. with a brilliant mind. Despite his intellect, he feels stuck with his lot in life. He befriends someone who pushes him to dream boldly.
Sometimes someone else’s belief in you can compel to to do great things, and sometimes, you can inspire others with your belief in them. This film is a reminder of the ways that we can lift each other up to achieve incredible things. Good Will Hunting (1997) is perfect any time that you need encouragement to dare greatly.
Get inspired with Good Will Hunting.
15. The Green Mile
The guards on death row deal with inmates that have been convicted of horrible crimes. They have to question all their assumptions about their prisoners when they meet John Coffey, a man with supernatural powers.
You can find magic in unexpected places in The Green Mile (1999). Watch this film any time you need to remember to find the beauty in dark times and withhold judgement until you have the full story.
Take an emotional journey when you see The Green Mile.
16. Schindler’s List
Schindler’s List (1993) is set during World War II. This film recounts the true story of a man who used his wit and resources to save over 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust.
Sometimes we are faced with challenges that seem insurmountable. Oskar Schindler defied all odds and risked his life for the sake of others. We need to see this story over and over so that we can remember to have hope in times of despair.
Watch Schindler’s List when you need to be reminded of the impact that one person can have on the world.
17. The Shawshank Redemption
When Andy is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, he befriends an older inmate. They navigate the difficulties of the prison system together, and Andy hangs onto hope that he will be free again.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) encourages viewers to “get busy living, or get busy dying.” It’s worth rewatching because it shows us that freedom is a state of mind, and that there’s power in hope.
See The Shawshank Redemption when you need to assess what it means to be free.
18. Life of Pi
When Pi’s ship full of exotic animals goes down, he must fight for survival. He escapes on a lifeboat with a surprise companion, and the two endure many trials together.
Life of Pi (2012) is a visually stunning survival story. We could always use a reminder to have hope in difficult situations, which makes re-watching this film a natural choice.
Watch Life of Pi a few times and you may have different interpretation of the story every time.
Dominic Cobb uses a technology called “inception” to steal secrets from people’s dreams. He’s an excellent thief, but if wants a shot at redemption, he has to pull off his most complicated mission yet.
Inception (2010) is a cerebral thrill-ride. Watch this more than once to get a clearer understanding of the distinction between dreams and reality.
Inception will keep you thinking about the subtle differences between perception and real world.
20. Shutter Island
A rookie U.S. Marshall, Teddy Daniels, takes a missing persons case at a mental hospital for the criminally insane. He encounters many challenges on Shutter Island as he and his partner work to locate the murderess.
This psychological thriller has more twists and turns than a country road. Shutter Island (2010) is the kind of film that you watch over and over to see what you missed on the first viewing.
Question if seeing is believing on Shutter Island.
When Earth is on the brink of becoming uninhabitable, an astronaut embarks on a mission to find humans a new home. He has to fight to complete his work to ensure the future of humanity.
Interstellar (2014) is a story that reminds us to have faith and continue to push forward, no matter how impossible the odds are. Quitting is not an option in this story, and we could all stand to be reminded of that once in a while.
The relations between humans, time and universe are what make Interstellar worth re-watching.
22. The Matrix
The Matrix (1999) is the science-fiction equivalent of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” As the characters discover the nature of their existence, they must grapple with the age-old question, “Is ignorance really bliss?”
The Matrix is a classic, and not just because the special effects dazzled us when the film came out. We live in a world where most of our perceptions of others are based on an identity that they’ve constructed. This movie reminds you to question what you see.
Watch The Matrix for a mind-bending experience.
23. La La Land
An actress and a musician struggle to eek out their existence in LA. The journey toward success is paved with obstacles, and they have to work to define their dreams and what they mean to one another.
La La Land (2016) takes us into the lives of hungry performers trying to make it in their respective fields. We get insight into how brutal show business can be, and we see the importance of perseverance.
Watch La La Land to see what the path to success looks like.
All the films on this list have a great replayability factor. Each time you watch them, you’ll gain some insight or experience some aspect of the work anew.
Keep this list handy for your next movie night. You won’t go astray watching (and re-watching) these tried-and-true titles.