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Movies Everyone Should See From Every Decade

For those movie lovers out there who are at a loss on Friday nights about what to watch, personally, my favorite thing to do is to search for new films as we go through the years. But through the ’70s to now, there have been some outstanding films that I recall and mention to others and they have no idea what I am talking about. So, I decided to make a list of movies from the past four decades that I personally enjoy and think of when I reminisce of the film industry of those times. 



This was a great time for horror (this was the decade Halloween was released). Not only does my list of movies from this era have about every one of my favorite horror films, but this was a great time for comedy as well. These movies should be known and seen for all the glory they have brought to my life after seeing them: 

  • Taxi Driver 
  • The Godfather 
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest 
  • Animal House 
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show 
  • Paper Moon 
  • Foxy Brown 
  • Woodstock 
  • A Clockwork Orange 
  • Saturday Night Fever 
  • Grease 
  • What’s Up, Doc?
  • Last Tango In Paris 

I love this era more than the last, not only for the amazing actors in these films that we can still see today but also for the great screenplays that were coming around during this time. I found a love for the soundtracks starting in this generation, especially for romantic movies. Though these lists of movies could go on forever, this decade’s films hold the most special place in my heart: 

  • Tootsie 
  • Mask 
  • The Lost Boys
  • An American Werewolf in London 
  • The Princess Bride 
  • Dirty Dancing 
  • Trading Places 
  • Short Circuit 
  • Desperately Seeking Susan 
  • Labyrinth 
  • Moonstruck 
  • A Fish Called Wanda 
  • Big 
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit 

Let me tell you — this list might just be the longest of them all. The films from this time were being made faster than one can keep up, as they are still doing today. The advancement from the past two eras can be seen in how the genre of movies change throughout this decade. From more movies about 420 to more people of color casting, this decade is one for the books. My favorites in no particular order include: 

  • Poetic Justice 
  • Showgirls 
  • Basic Instinct 
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 
  • Life is Beautiful 
  • The Birdcage 
  • Run Lola Run 
  • Swingers 
  • Trainspotting 
  • Boyz in the Hood 
  • Being John Malkovich 
  • Paris is Burning 
  • Before Sunrise 
  • Boogie Nights 
  • The Virgin Suicides 
  • The City of Lost Children 
  • When We Were Kings 

The list of movies for each decade could go on, especially for the current day and age, but I decided the last film decade I wanted to discuss was the time of most advancement out of the next three. A time you might find more familiar than the rest, but let’s see if any of these on this list cause your heads to turn: 

  • Boat Trip 
  • Cast Away 
  • Almost Famous 
  • The Hours
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 
  • No Country for Old Men 
  • The Pursuit of Happyness 
  • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind 
  • The Reader 
  • Midnight in Paris 
  • Milk 
  • The Dreamers 
  • Ginger Snaps
  • Dude Where’s My Car? 
  • Girlfight 
  • Save The Last Dance 
  • Better Luck Tomorrow
  • Waking Life
  • Donnie Darko 
  • Kill Bill 
  • Little Miss Sunshine 
  • Amelie 
  • Slumdog Millionaire 
  • Sleepover 
  • Lost in Translation 

The list can keep going and going…

Even though these movies barely scrape the bottom of the barrel, they are a great start to dive into the world of what each decade was like for their films of the time. Make sure to watch these and let me know if you found any movies while learning about these that weren’t mentioned! I would love to branch out and see what movies others think accurately celebrate the decades of our time. 

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Kila Lambertt is a current junior at the university of Central Florida, is going into her second year of being a member of Her Campus Community. She has loved growing her writing through this website and hopes to continue in writing as well as Performing Arts. She is a BFA Major for the Acting Track at UCF.
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