Everybody loves the classics. We here at Goliath sure do. But what exactly makes a classic, anyways? There’s something to be said for a movie that’s funny, or tense, or really nice to look at. But what gives a classic the staying power it has? What ensures a film will be remembered not in five years, but in thirty? It’s a question worth thinking on, and in thinking on it the staff around these parts couldn’t help but wonder what contemporary movies people might look back on and ultimately deem classics. We wanted to keep this list just that, contemporary, so we’ve chosen to include movies from the last five to eight years, and we’ve got a great assortment of flicks here that we think sort of define the generation they are attached to. So without further ado, here are 10 recent movies that are destined to be classics.
10. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
What it means to be an artist is a rapidly changing construct in the contemporary world. The advent of digital technology has made it easier than ever to create and display art in the public forum, but what does that mean for those individuals who call themselves artists? Exit Through the Gift Shop, the absurd, bizarre and endlessly intriguing film from noted street artist Banksy looks to understand these questions by telling the story of Thierry Guetta, a man who gets so involved in documenting the street art world that he begins to partake in it, although whether his art is of merit is very much up for discussion. It’s a strange and fascinating tale made all the more intriguing by Banksy’s shrouded and cynical presence in the film. We’re liable to think that of all the documentaries that have come out of late, this one is likely to have the most staying power as more and more individuals begin to question what really counts as art.
9. The Avengers (2012)
We’re currently living through the golden age of superhero films, and we’ve no doubt that there are some terrific ones to come, be it Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, or some other to be announced epic that sees friend and foe battling it out for the forces of good and evil. That said, we’re fairly confident that the superhero movie that will best stand the test of time will be Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, both in novelty and in content. It’d be cheap to suggest that the film’s staying power will derive from the fact that this was the first time we saw a “cinematic universe” come together, but it’s undoubtedly a factor. However, Whedon’s film happens to be a breathtaking action adventure that’s as smart as it is super, with a sure-to-be iconic set piece that dominates the last 45 minutes of the film. Is it the best comic book movie of all time? Probably not, but we’re thinking it’s the one audiences will repeatedly circle back to when they start discussing the “superhero classics.” Man, those will be the days.
8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Edgar Wright remains one of Hollywood’s most unique and exciting young directors, and we’re happy to have included one of his films on this list. After all, we’re pretty sure he’s one of the true auteurs of his era, and we’re positive he’ll be a hot topic in film schools in decades to come. That said, we’ve chosen an unorthodox film of his to include on this list, that being 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. With cult classics like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to his name, why would we choose Scott Pilgrim, you might ask? It has everything to do with the film’s content and aesthetic. Perhaps better than any other contemporary film, Scott Pilgrim incorporates the nuances of different medium (in this case, video games) into its creative fabric, an astounding achievement which makes the film a wholly unique viewing experience. Plus, it’s just plain awesome.
7. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
There’s going to be a time when people look back on the filmography of Quentin Tarantino and isolate a tipping point, a moment where he got far, far too into himself, resulting in films that aren’t really all that great, but they are most definitely “Tarantino Films.” Call us crazy, but we’re liable to think that we may have already reached that tipping point, with Tarantino’s 2009 war film Inglourious Basterds rating as the last true stellar achievement in Tarantino’s creative catalog. That’s right, we weren’t huge on Django Unchained, primarily due to the fact that the entire film felt like one excuse after another for Tarantino to indulge his own shenanigans. That said, those very same shenanigans work to great effect in Inglourious Basterds, a film which sees a very ornery Brad Pitt leading a group of Jewish soldiers on a bloody warpath through Nazi-occupied France.
6. Her (2013)
It’s no secret that technology is advancing at a rapid rate and now, more than ever, technology factors into the way we interact with each other romantically. The questions posed in Her, the 2013 film by Spike Jonze which stars Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, tend to revolve around the idea of what happens when technology itself becomes capable of romance. Following the story of Theodore, a young man who falls in love with the artificial intelligence he tasks with running his life, Her is a heartbreakingly beautiful film that perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to meet someone, fall in love, and struggle ultimately when things don’t work out as planned. With a masterful performance from Johansson on hand (she’s never seen in the film, but her voice work as Samantha is among her finest work), Her ought to be remembered as one of the most poignant representations of romance seen during this decade.
5. The Master (2012)
We’re double dipping on the Joaquin here, but we don’t mind since the man’s a terrific actor who consistently chooses to be a part of great projects, not the least of which is Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 film The Master. Also starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master is loosely inspired by the story of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Following a troubled young man as he becomes more and more involved with a suspicious group known as “The Cause,” led by a charismatic but insidious leader (Hoffman), The Master is as beautifully acted a film as the modern generation has known, and it’s absolutely stunning to look at as the cinematography and writing are quite simply off the charts. A master class in technical filmmaking, The Master will be remembered as one of the finest films of its generation and a sure fire classic down the road.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Wes Anderson has made many incredible movies in his filmmaking career, but it’s his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel which has catapulted him into the mainstream. While some of Anderson’s earlier work was a bit too strange to connect with general audiences, he broke through with this film, which follows a young migrant worker named Zero through his employment as a lobby boy at the titular hotel. While there, he’s taken under the wing of a Mr. Gustave (played gloriously by Ralph Fiennes), an eccentric and charismatic concierge who’s most excellent at his job. Whimsical, beautiful and bittersweet, The Grand Budapest Hotel will be remembered as the film that brought Anderson, cinema’s obscure auteur, into the limelight.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Creative types reading this article will no doubt be aware of the crisis that faces many individuals looking to express themselves via music, art or literature; there simply isn’t a whole lot of money in pursuing it. Herein lies the central quandary of Inside Llewyn Davis, the 2013 film by Joel and Ethan Coen that stars Oscar Isaac as a struggling folk musician in 1960s Greenwich Village, New York. Inspired by true tales of tired musicians, Inside Llewyn Davis takes a deeper look at what it means to be an artist and just how hard it can be to eke out a living making art, even if you’re damned good at it. While the film may be a little slow for some, we’re liable to think that its understated cool (not to mention Isaac’s breakout performance) will help cement it as one of the true classic films from its era.
2. WALL-E (2008)
We’re not lying when we say this lovable little movie might be our favorite of the last eight years. We’re fairly convinced WALL-E, Pixar Studio’s film about a lovable robot on a quest for love (who just so happens to save humanity along the way), is a masterpiece. Before the film came out, we couldn’t have imagined a movie meant for children that includes almost no dialogue for the film’s first 40 or so minutes, and yet, here we are praising a movie that does just that. WALL-E, which was a massive critical and commercial success for Pixar, easily ranks ahead of most other Pixar movies in our mind (although we’re positive that Finding Nemo, which was released in 2003, will also go down as a classic film of its era), and we’re certain the movie will take up an important place in the annals of cultural history when historians and film critics look back on the movies of this decade.
1. The Social Network (2010)
Like it or not, the current generation is one that’s defined by the internet; they came of age with it, they use it more (and better) than anyone before, and it’s likely to be the defining technology of their era. While we both like and respect The Social Network (finding it to be a blisteringly paced and well-scripted drama steeped in the technical precision of its director, David Fincher), the true reason it’s the number one film on this list of future classics is its place as the preeminent tale of the internet age. Following Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during his years at Harvard and through the inception of the world’s largest juggernaut social media experience, this flick will go down in history as one often cited as tapping into the “zeitgeist” of the time; given the movie’s stellar quality, we’re absolutely alright with that fact. Complete with an incredible soundtrack (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross can do no wrong when it comes to scoring films), top notch acting and one of the most historic rises in the history of technology, The Social Network is one film we feel confident saying will still be discussed thirty years down the road.