Year Released: 1954
Marlon Brando stars as an up-and-coming boxer/dockworker who gets wrapped up with the mob in this 1954 crime drama. Roger Ebert gives the film a 4/4 rating, calling Brando’s performance “extraordinary.” Neil Minow of Common Sense Media says it’s an, “excellent, thoughtful drama.”
On the Waterfront received an impressive number of Oscars and Golden Globes, including both the Academy and Globe for Best Director, and Best Picture/Motion Picture.
The Shawshank Redemption
Year Released: 1994
This film is arguably one of the best prison drama films ever made, and potentially one of the best dramas period. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins star as two inmates serving life sentences in a rough prison. Unfortunately, one of the men (Robbins) didn’t actually commit the murders he was accused of, which makes his life particularly tough.
It’s kind of surprising that The Shawshank Redemption didn’t win more awards than it received, which didn’t include any Oscars or Golden Globes. It was, however, nominated for several of each, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Year Released: 1957
This 1957 epic war film is based on the 1952 novel of the same name written by Pierre Boulle. With a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it follows a group of British POWs in a Japanese prison camp who are forced to build a bridge across the river Kwai.
The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Film, and Best Director. It also won three Golden Globes the same year; Best Motion Picture, Best Director of a Motion Picture, and Best Actor in a Motion Picture. It is widely regarded as one of the best movies of its time, and in film history, period.
Lawrence of Arabia
Year Released: 1962
Another epic war adventure film, Lawrence of Arabia is directed by David Lean, and based on the life of British archaeologist and army officer, T.E Lawrence. It follows and documents the officer’s experiences throughout the Ottoman Empire, such as his attacks on Damascus and Aqaba.
At the 35th Academy Awards show in 1963, the film was nominated for a total of ten Oscars – and won seven of them. Among the wins include the award for Best Director and Best Picture. It also took home the BAFTA Award for Best Film and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Drama.) In 2004, a Sunday Telegraph poll of the leading filmmakers in Britain named it the third-greatest film in British history.
Year Released: 1960
Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock’s most widely known and recognized film, Psycho is a classic horror-thriller that still gets played today around every Halloween. The film stars Anthony Perkins as a mentally unstable owner of a hotel who has a ton of dark secrets hidden within the building where he works.
The movie is considered one of the director’s best films and was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. Since the original’s release, it has been remade several times, both for film and television. The infamous shower scene has been the subject of all kinds of skits, as well as a documentary released in 2017 by filmmaker Alexandre O. Phillippe, called 78/52, a reference to the number of cuts and setups used by Hitchcock for the original film.