It wouldn’t be a rewatchable movies list without Groundhog Day because the entire concept of the time-loop picture sees the same events play out again and over again.
“Pain is fleeting, but film lasts forever.” That phrase has been used several times to emphasize the idea that cinema is etched in indelible ink and that no matter how challenging or grueling the process of creating a specific film is, the result is (hopefully) worthwhile. The fact is that not every movie is worth seeing again and again, and some age more gracefully than others. But one of the beautiful things about film is that it lasts forever. Movies are always there, unmodified (unless George Lucas is involved), for you to return whenever you want. Granted, in the post-Blockbuster era, this has become more difficult, however, everyone has a library of movies that they watch multiple times.
As a result, I devised a list of the top rewatchable films of all time. These are films that stand up to repeated viewings for a variety of reasons. Maybe they flawlessly express a global concept, or perhaps they’re just a lot of fun. Some were designed to intentionally reward repeat viewings with in-jokes and references echoed in subsequent disclosures. But, as we’ve said before, all of these are worth returning several times.
So, without further ado, here are the top 30 most rewatchable movies of all time.
Martin Scorsese was coming off the contentious reaction to his 1988 picture The Last Temptation of Christ and, before that, the lukewarm reception to The Color of Money when he produced Goodfellas. As a result, he had something to prove. Scorsese returned to his Italian origins to create one of the finest gangster pictures of all time, with a modern twist. As a result, the film is a rousing, dramatic, humorous, and ultimately sad account of life in the gangs, from street kid to rat.
Scorsese demonstrates his command of filmmaking with a beautifully timed picture. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco all make appearances. From the iconic Copacabana tracking shot to the frantic, visceral “coked out cooking day” sequence, the film contains many elements of movie culture. It’s undeniably entertaining, and the fact that Scorsese was able to mix such entertainment value with such a deep storyline is a tribute to his genius.
2. Just Like Heaven (2005)
David (Ruffalo) has recently lost his wife and is trying to rebuild his life. Unfortunately for him, he is stuck with a ghost (Witherspoon) who would not pass over. They’ll get into some wild shenanigans and fall in love together. But how do you love someone on the opposite end of the metaphysical spectrum?
3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would be at the top if we ranked this list based on the desire to rewatch. By 1986, John Hughes had perfected the “teen movie” genre in several ways, ranging from the female-centric youthful love of Sixteen Candles to the outsider POV of The Breakfast Club. But, in Ferris Bueller, Hughes addressed maybe his most clichéd subject yet—skipping school—and produced a masterpiece. Like all of his films, Ferris Bueller has a lot of heart, and while the titular character is a fun-loving man, it’s Cameron and Sloane who bear the heavy thematic weight.
Cameron suffers from melancholy and has a strained connection with his father, while Sloane is concerned about her future. It’s to Hughes’ credit that he was able to handle serious issues while also staging a considerable dance number in Chicago, and it’s that combination of sheer joy and terrible truth that makes Ferris Bueller so unforgettable. The film is an anti-party movie, having its cake and eating it as well, and it is beautiful.
4. Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow (2004)
When the villainous Dr. Totenkopf begins abducting people and resources with his terrible robot army, it is up to Joe “Sky Captain” Sullivan (Law), The Flying Tigers’ most okay pilot, to save the planet. Of course, he’ll need the assistance of ace reporter Polly Perkins (Paltrow) and fellow badass Commander Franky Cook (Jolie) if he expects to win the day.
Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow is a delightful 1930s sci-fi adventure, but it’s not for everyone. At the very least, this picture should be lauded for being the first to employ completely computerized sets with live performers. Also, the movie is a lot of fun.
5. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy(2004)
A film that you can quote from beginning to end is a relatively strong indication that you’re eager to watch it indefinitely. While Will Ferrell and Adam McKay have repeatedly demonstrated their strength as a team, it is their debut feature film, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, that shines the brightest. It’s a picture that isn’t afraid to be downright bizarre, and unlike Anchorman 2, which is good but doesn’t stand up to repeated viewings, it recognized that a bit of Brick went a long way. Anchorman wasn’t a big hit when it came out in 2004, but it did find an audience on home video, which isn’t unexpected. It’s a film you’ll want to possess so you can watch it again and over.
6. Cinderella Man (2005)
Cinderella Man is based on the actual tale of James Braddock (Crowe), a depression-era boxer who comes out of retirement only to embark on a whirlwind winning streak that earned him the moniker “the Cinderella Man.” Braddock goes from being a fighter with a damaged hand to defeating Max Baer in his prime, and his victories and tribulations are all documented in this work.
Ron Howard’s underappreciated masterpiece was immediately recognized as an underdog, and it’s one of the finest sports pictures of the contemporary period, if not all time. If you’re looking for motivation in your life and enjoy sports movies, this is the film to see.
7. Memento (2000)
Anyone who claims to be a Christopher Nolan fan and hasn’t seen Memento at least three times should have their Nolan card revoked. Though it was not his first feature-length collaboration with younger brother Jonathan Nolan, it was a breakthrough picture that would pave the way for his now-iconic Batman trilogy. Memento established the tone for what a “Nolan film” would be: suspenseful, intelligent, skillfully planned, charismatically performed, and precisely cut.
Memento is probably Nolan’s most brilliant picture to date, but it will have stiff competition from Inception fans and the highly studied narrative behind Interstellar. But, just like Leonard’s search to identify his wife’s killer seems like it’s part of an eternal, renewing cycle, Memento feels like it’s worth seeing again and again.
8. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The filmmaking team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg initially gained attention with their TV comedy Spaced, but it was their 2004 feature picture, Shaun of the Dead, that established them as household names. Indeed, their take on the zombie film, dubbed a “zom-romcom,” is a stunning cinematic achievement—a picture with equal parts amusing, frightening, and poignant. But it’s the brilliantly constructed nature of Shaun of the Dead (and all of Wright’s films) that makes it so rewatchable. Every camera movement is deliberate, and every word of speech is perfectly timed, resulting in a watching experience feast for the senses.
There’s a reason viewers keep coming back to this film (particularly around Halloween), and Wright and Pegg’s screenplay rewards repeat viewings with different foreshadowing—including a speech at the bar at the very beginning of the film that sets out the whole storyline of the remainder of the film. It’s no surprise that Shaun of the Dead has lasted as a new classic when so much effort is taken into producing such a rich and satisfying viewing experience.
9. Rumor Has It…(2005)
Sarah (Aniston) has just returned home for her sister’s wedding, which should be a happy occasion filled with fond memories. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees, as her grandmother (McClane) not only reveals facts that make her wonder who her true father is, but she also informs her that she may be “the” Mrs. Robinson who inspired the character in The Graduate.
10. The Social Network (2010)
The announcement that Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, was developing a film on Facebook elicited outbursts of laughter. Then, when David Fincher agreed to direct, the laughter turned to skepticism. What? Why? How? As it turned out, the team was onto something; The Social Network became perhaps the defining film of the early twenty-first century. Sorkin took the invention of Facebook and filled it with Greek Epic-scale drama, creating a type of tragedy about power and relationships.
It’s a film about being an outsider, feeling unappreciated, and the temptation of grandeur and imagined vindication. It’s also one of the most enjoyable films of the twenty-first century. Sorkin and Fincher’s unusual coupling proves to be a match made in heaven, as one accentuates the other’s most significant characteristics while suppressing the other’s worst inclinations. The creative tug-of-war between Sorkin’s romanticism and Fincher’s practicality is almost chemical, and the pure entertainment element that the two can inject into this character-rich tale makes it an endlessly entertaining picture.
11. Spirited Away (2001)
Like many of Miyazaki’s films, Spirited Away is a melty, mind-bending spin on a traditional fairy tale, but his stunning and wonderfully spooky take on Alice in Wonderland is his most compellingly rewatchable. A beautiful metaphor on the beauty and risk of growing up, you’d be hard pushed to find any Miyazaki film with such enthralling world-building. Spirited Away is complicated, beguiling, and just plain lovely, but most of all, infinitely re-visitable. It is cleverly constructed to function well for youngsters as it does for their adult counterparts due to its inclination to pierce the precious with short moments of absolute darkness.
12. Election (1999)
This is very likely the finest ’90s film ever made, but depending on your age, you may not have seen it since it was too filthy for your child’s eyes. A young Reese Witherspoon is immersed in the heated high school political environment, and Matthew Broderick plays a disgruntled instructor. It was nominated for an Oscar. Therefore that’s all that matters.
13. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
There’s a good possibility you’ve seen this movie in its entirety, but not all at once. For the last 20 years or more, cable TV networks have shown Frank Darabont’s famous version of one of Stephen King’s most un-King-like short stories. It’s an intense crime thriller with excellent character performances, but the true appeal here is the primary subject of endurance in the face of injustice and outright evil. Tim Robbins bears the weight of Andy Dufresne’s conviction on his shoulders, making us feel every hour, day, and a year building up to his hard-won escape but never giving us reason to abandon faith. It’s a redemption story, as the title suggests.
14. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Everyone has that one movie that they could watch a thousand times and never grow tired of. That’s George Armitage’s Grosse Pointe Blank for me. There is no moment when I will not watch Grosse Pointe Blank, and if it appears on television, that is precisely what I will do for the next hour and 47 minutes. It’s a funny film made expressly to showcase John Cusack’s eccentric charm (he co-wrote the screenplay with Tom Jankiewicz, D.V. DeVincentis, and long-time collaborator Steve Pink). Grosse Pointe Blank, a romantic comedy/action mix with a soundtrack worthy of the team behind High Fidelity, starring Cusack as a hit guy in the middle of a life crisis when a job sends him back to his hometown on the eve of his high school reunion.
There, he is reunited with Debbie (Minnie Driver), his first and only love, who helps him come to terms with owning up to his mistakes and valuing the value of life. Cusack and Driver have amazing on-screen chemistry, a strange mix of butterflies-in-the-stomach anticipation and lived-in friendship, and their bond carries the picture, even in the middle of one excellent action set-piece after another. Grosse Pointe Blank is ultimately a story about second chances and making apologies. It’s about getting rid of your baggage and beginning again. Haleigh Foutch is a writer from the United States.
15. The Family Stone (2005)
Everett (Mulroney) intends to take his fiancée Meredith (Parker), to meet his family (Keaton, Nelson, Wilson, and McAdams) throughout one Christmas vacation, as well as to propose to her using his grandmother’s ring. Naturally, mayhem erupts, Meredith’s sister (Danes) is dragged in for assistance, and in the end, a slew of shocks – as well as some gifts – await beneath the tree.
16. Band of Outsiders (1964)
While many of Godard’s French New Wave films are so anti-establishment that they are downright painful to watch (see: Masculin Feminin, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her), Band of Outsiders is Godard at his most emotional. Band of Outsiders is unusual in its uncommon affection and enthusiasm, with an atmosphere reminiscent of his explosive debut, Breathless, but with a passion rarely seen in his work. The picture is filled with the type of meta-movie love that the filmmaker excels at, but the inclusion of somewhat nuanced characters and a clear storyline make it an easy go-to for a joyful French New Wave fix. The presence of the beautiful Anna Karina is merely a bonus.
17. Jurassic Park (1993)
What can you say about Jurassic Park? Jurassic Park is one of Steven Spielberg’s finest films and one of the best blockbuster films of all time. It is pure cinematic beauty. It transports you to a world of wonders and terrors where dinosaurs roam. It delivers on that promise in every way possible, with groundbreaking special effects, expertly conceived set pieces (Spielberg is, after all, a master of adventure), and a cast of likable characters who feel grounded in reality. That enchantment, for some reason, never wears out. Those characters never age. And, in an age of ever-improving, stunning visual effects, Jurassic Park stands the test of time, selling the magnificence just as well as the dinosaurs.
18. Murder By Numbers (2002)
A pair of adolescent killers (Gosling and Pitt) carry out what they believe to be a “perfect crime” until an investigator (Bullock) becomes fascinated with the case and begins digging around. Bring on the mind games between the killers and the detective, as well as the murderers themselves.
This low-key adaptation of Rope is an early showcase of Pitt and Gosling’s skill, with both playing off of each other exceptionally effectively. Also, despite being wedged between some of Sandra Bullock’s more outstanding successes, this is one of her better films from the early 2000s.
19. Elf (2003)
Elf isn’t a masterpiece—silly!—but it’s a film that doesn’t have to be flawless to be rewatchable. Indeed, what director Jon Favreau accomplished with Elf is in some ways just as challenging. He and actor Will Ferrell created a Christmas classic, a picture on heavy rotation every December, and almost every family member can agree on an excellent movie-night choice. The precisely tuned chemistry that Favreau and Ferrell create in this picture is not simple to reproduce, as seen by the saccharine Broadway musical version.
The narrative is absurd, but Favreau sells it with vintage stop-motion animation techniques and empathy for every individual. At the same time, Ferrell provides a character that is absurdly nuts but not over-the-top. It’s a tightrope walk of sorts, and Elf does it flawlessly. So, no, this isn’t Goodfellas, but it’s watchable. Yes, absolutely.
20. A Few Good Men (1992)
If this is on TNT (as it always is), I generally simply watch it till the finish. Aaron Sorkin’s work is exceptionally rewatchable, but not everyone is in the mood to binge-watch West Wing episodes or embrace the horror of The Social Network and Steve Jobs. When you need the comfort of a courtroom drama coupled with Sorkin’s soaring language, A Few Good Men comes in handy. Yes, we’ve all heard the Jessup speech, but the film is jam-packed with excellent moments wrapped in the warm blanket that is the courtroom drama. It’s hardly Sorkin’s most profound or complex work, but it’s one I always like seeing.
21. The Core (2003)
The world is in danger because the Earth’s magnetic core has stopped working. This means it’s up to a rogue professor (Eckhart), a NASA astronaut on probation (Swank), and a group of eccentric geniuses (Tucci, Karyo, and Lindo) to venture into uncharted regions of the planet, restart the core, and save everyone. The science is questionable, and the scripting is B-movie at best – yet in a world where we can embrace B-movies that do their job well while being completely honest, The Core is one of the rare pioneers. They did it before it was fashionable. Tucci’s blustering scientist is also worth the journey.
22. Hot Fuzz (2007)
It was difficult not to put every Edgar Wright film on my list, but Hot Fuzz made the cut when it came down to two. Like Shaun of the Dead, this take on the buddy action film genre is carefully imagined and masterfully produced, with attention devoted to every cut, music choice, and humor. Before that incredible Wicker Man-like twist, the film plays out as a whodunit of sorts, with Wright and co-writer Simon Pegg stringing the viewer along by laying bread crumbs to the actual killer that, although they eventually pay off, don’t always go in the route one might expect.
And that’s all right—you may “figure it out,” and you’re not entirely incorrect, but you’re also not quite correct. Furthermore, the picture is a downright pleasure, with Pegg and Nick Frost proving to be a powerful comic combo with a heavy dose of heart, while Wright fills the cast with great British performers who play unexpected roles. Indeed, for the greater benefit.
23.Back to the Future (1985)
Like A Few Good Men, if Back to the Future comes on TV, I just let it play. It’s a well-paced adventure film. It’s a master class in economic storytelling (consider how much information you get about the world and the characters before the opening credits even end). While it certainly romanticizes elements of the 1950s while flirting with Oedipal subtext, it’s still an entertaining and enjoyable film. Back to the Future is a classic for a reason, and while the sequels are pleasant (Part II more than Part III), but the original is the one I keep coming back to.
24. The Matrix (1999)
Nothing beats seeing The Matrix for the first time. The closest thing to that feeling is watching it after the fact to figure out what the hell is going on in this movie. With its nested worlds, technopunk aesthetic, and fantastic action sequences, The Matrix is one of those rare films that fundamentally alter the way you watch it and the things you look for once you grasp the mechanism that drives it. Aside from that, it conveys a powerful anti-authoritarian message that is accessible beyond time, geography, and demographic barriers. It’s entertaining to watch even if you know what’s going on in The Matrix well before Neo does.
25. After The Sunset (2004)
Jewel thieves never retire; they simply convince themselves that there isn’t another score worth their attention. Max Burdett (Brosnan) is unaware of this, FBI agent Stan Lloyd (Harrelson) believes he is aware of this, and the two enemies clash in paradise. It’s worth a look on TBS on a Sunday afternoon when nothing else is on, but nothing else.
26. Groundhog Day (1993)
It wouldn’t be a bingeable movies list sans Groundhog Day, because the entire concept of the time-loop film sees the same events play out over and over. Another example of two opposing tastes colliding to produce an outstanding balance, as director Harold Ramis’ concentration on humor makes the picture entertaining, while Bill Murray’s insistence on digging into the philosophical ramifications of Phil Collins’ position adds thematic weight. This film might have quickly become monotonous, but Ramis finds a way to keep the plot new in each scene, while Murray gives one of the most outstanding performances of his career. The movie is adorable.
27. Magic Mike XXL (2015)
Watching Magic Mike XXL is like being invited to the ultimate road trip party. There’s nothing about it that isn’t enjoyable — okay, Amber Heard’s mopey, cooler-than-you hangout is a huge stumbling block, but every other aspect of Magic Mike XXL is a joyful delight. XXL is all about living large and having a good time from the minute Channing Tatum starts Pony-ing about his construction workshop in the film’s opening moments. There’s a hint of a dramatic plotline in which Mike discovers that once he cleaned up his act, acquired the lady, and launched his dream business, everything went apart. Still, XXL mainly foregoes its predecessor’s contemplation in favor of a non-sequitur.
Joe Manganiello’s Big Dick Richie (particularly his gas station dance break) is joyful and euphoric, as well as Jada Pinkett Smith’s commanding and unexpected role as Mike’s old flame, boss, and lady pimp, Rome. Her house of gyrating playboys is a marvel. And XXL is unique in that it appeals equally to men and women. One of the reasons it failed at the box office was that it was promoted solely to women, even though XXL is one of the most bro-centric films ever created about male camaraderie. Magic Mike XXL is a sensual and cheeky film (look at the title), and it’s always screwed up.
28. Harold & Maude (1971)
Though one of the more divisive 1970s cult favorites, the romantic charmer (and prominent Wes Anderson influencer) twists the weepy on its head with a May/December romance between a youthful, death-obsessed misfit (Bud Cort) and a lively octogenarian (Ruth Gordon). For sure, it’s a controversial idea – but the film’s warm heart, which drips with of-the-moment defiance and contains plenty of life-affirming and tear-jerking moments, couldn’t be more universal. Harold & Maude is a buoyant and fiercely distinctive film that gets better with each watch. (Even though you will still cry every time.) Extra points for the insanely catchy Cat Stevens soundtrack.
29. The Fifth Element (1997)
One indicator of a film’s re-watchability (technical word) is how quotable it is. Based on that criterion alone, The Fifth Element, perhaps Luc Besson’s greatest directorial effort to date, receives solid re-watchability marks. Even if you can recall every quote-worthy line of speech in tune with the performers or sing along with Diva Plavalaguna on consecutive viewings, there is still so much to appreciate.
It’s set far enough into a (presumably) fictitious future that the sci-fi aspects don’t feel old-fashioned or even familiar. The characters are delightfully weird each time they come on screen, and the scene-chewing never gets old. It also helps that the film’s effects and clothing are primarily based on practicality rather than soon obsolete computer-generated novelties. Perhaps most importantly, there is no wrong time of day (or year) to watch this thing, even if you’ve already seen it hundreds of times; you don’t even need a multi-pass!
30. The Watcher (2000)
An FBI agent (Spader) on the trail of a serial murderer (Reeves) becomes frustrated with his failure to apprehend his adversary and relocates from Los Angeles to Chicago. He goes to counseling and attempts to move on with his life, but the killer has followed him, eager to start the game they never ended.