1) Hot Fuzz (2007)
It’s not limited to the second view either. I’ve seen it over a dozen times and still pick up new stuff. This can be said for Edgar Wright movies in general. I’ve watched Shaun of the Dead over 20 times and still catch something new every time I watch it.
2) This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Christopher Guest is a genius and can be credited with starting the the Mockumentary genre. Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and Waiting For Guffman follow the same narrative structure but stand on their own as tongue-and-cheek examinations of certain subcultures that are ripe for parody (dog shows, bluegrass music, small town acting troupes).
3) Fargo (1996)
There are many quirks and nuances in this movie that people miss the first time they see it. It perfectly captures the absurdness of violent crimes happening in otherwise peaceful places. The humor comes in how these people deal with all the violence. In classic Cohen brothers fashion, each scene means something. I catch something new every time I watch it and people who thought it was “slow” need to give it another look.
As a side note – if you enjoyed Fargo the movie then you will love the anthology series over at FX. It retains the black humor from the original and has all of the classic elements of a Cohen Brothers movie.
4) Spaceballs (1987)
Don’t expect hard-hitting social commentary in this 1987 Mel Brooks film. It’s a silly sendup of the Star Wars movies that actually ages pretty well. It’s very similar to the Zucker film Airplane! where there are so many sight gags where each watch you’ll catch something new. It also helps if you have a working knowledge of the first Star Wars movies.
5) There Will Be Blood (2007)
This is my favorite movie of all time. Yes, I think it’s better than The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Birth Of A Nation and Lawrence of Arabia. The first time I watched it I knew I liked it but I didn’t quite get it. On repeat viewing it became apparent just how political it really is. There’s all kinds of undertones – capitalism, manifest destiny, religion, business, the relationships between father and son and the anxieties of the 20th century man. Perhaps it wasn’t intended that Daniel Plainview be a character audiences are supposed to identify with but I find myself admiring him when put in the scope of how this country came to be an economic powerhouse and the men who were charged in making that happen.
6) The Cable Guy (1996)
This movie was wayyyy ahead of its time. Although not directly credited, Judd Apatow rewrote the script to include more over-the-top pop culture references that at the time (1996) weren’t usually part of American cinema. People were expecting another Ace Ventura-like character from Jim Carrey and this movie went in the opposite direction. I wasn’t old enough when this movie came out to really appreciate it but on further viewings it’s become my favorite “comedy” of all time. It’s smart, dark, funny, and sometimes downright scary.
7) Groundhog Day (1993)
The amount of detail in this movie is impressive. Each time Bill Murray wakes up to a new day everything is technically the same but certain things change each time depending on how his character affected it from the previous day. Besides being a showcase for Murray’s classic deadpan humor Groundhog Day is one of those movies that gets better with repeat viewings.
8) Fight Club (1999)
***SPOILER ALERT*** After watching Fight Club the first time we figure out that Ed Norton’s character is in fact Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). Taking this knowledge into a second viewing gives the movie a whole new meaning. You’re able to pick up on certain parts that may have confused you the first time around, especially the interactions with Marla Singer and the other members of fight club. This movie was marketed (poorly) as a fighting movie but ends up being a twisty, psychological thriller and statement about the modern man.
9) Momento (2000)
The narrative structure of this movie is dizzying to say the least. The protagonist is suffering from an advanced form of retrograde amnesia where every 15 minutes he forgets everything he’s doing. Instead of making this clear to the audience director Christopher Nolan instead uses it as a way to structure the whole movie, putting the viewer in the world as Leonard (Guy Pearce) see it. After you see it once you’re able to get the hang of how the story is told and appreciate it as an accurate representation how people suffer through amnesia.
10) The Big Lebowski (1998)
Another Cohen Brothers film to make the list. The Big Lebowski is a movie about a SoCal stoner who gets caught up in a phony ransom scheme. Watching this movie as a kid I really didn’t appreciate the nuances and quirks that make it so damn funny and rewatchable. All of the characters are so fleshed out and unique that some would even call it an ensemble cast.
11) Idiocracy (2006)
An underappreciated gem from Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge. When it first came out no one really knew about it because the studio didn’t want to spend a lot of time marketing it – which is important if you want people to see it. This movie about a post apocalyptic wasteland is more timely than ever, especially when considering today’s political climate.
12) Jackie Brown (1997)
The only Tarantino movie that he didn’t write himself, Jackie Brown has a curious place amongst his canon of films. Based on the novel Rum Punch, it’s a crime thriller where a woman must wriggle her way out of a drug bust, playing the criminals and cops against each other. Tarantino does a great job of bring the source material to the screen and deserves credit for making an otherwise lackluster story pop with his directorial flairs. The first time around the film seems to move rather slow but a second viewing gives audiences a chance to explore each character’s nuances and motivations.
13) Donnie Darko (1999)
This movie as cult written all over it. It touches on many themes – coming of age, time travel, relationships, mental health, the 80s. This movie is better on repeat viewing simply because it’s too confusing to grasp the first time around. It helps to watch it once then head to the interwebs to get a better idea of what’s going on. There are an abundance of fan theories out there and director Richard Kelly has even chimed in from time to time but it’s best to watch again and form your own opinions first.
14) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The most remarkable thing about this film is how well the special effects have held up. It’s a testament to the technical prowess of director Stanley Kubrick and the amount of time that went into recreating a future space station. The movie is so beautiful that I don’t even mind the slower sequences that seem to stretch on for 10 minutes at a time. Going into rewatches knowing what the ending is gives audiences an appreciation of the effort it took to get there.
15) Burn After Reading (2008)
God this is a funny movie. From the opening scene where Malkovich tears it up to Brad Pitt’s dopey gym trainer character Burn After Reading skewers the Washington D.C. political scene in the same way The Big Lebowski tackled early 90s America stoner culture. Like most Cohen Brothers movies it has enough absurdity that a lot of it goes under the radar the first time you see it. I felt like it was much easier to cut through all of the subtext in subsequent viewings.