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SNAP, CRACKLE, & POP CULTURE: "The 100 Essential Films"

I have a scratch-off movie poster of the "100 Most Essential Films." It lists 100 films that the manufacturer deems "essential" with silver foil that you scratch off once you watch the movie. It's a ton of fun; my wife and I have a blast watching universally acclaimed movies we've never seen before. But...some of the films' inclusion are debatable and it makes me question whether entertainment should be important or entertaining in order to be "essential".

I personally believe entertainment should be "entertaining". Entertainment can take a lot of different shapes and not just nonstop "action." You can also still have fun while challenging the audience whether that be ethically, mentally, emotionally, socially...whatever, but I believe, above everything, you have to entertain. Otherwise no one will watch it and your message will be lost in an echo chamber and you will have essentially done and said nothing. One of the best examples I can think of is 12 Years A Slave; this movie is hard to watch but is so gratifying that I outwardly wept in the theater. This is on the movie poster and it absolutely should be. It is entertaining, historically, and socially important enough that its inclusion on an essential movie list is inarguable.

The poster is interesting in that the term "essential" is pretty ambiguous. Does it mean they have undenied cinematic excellence? Does it mean they're so entertaining you can't afford to not see it? Does it mean they had a giant impact on society and culture? Does it have a message you must see?

The poster starts in the early 1900's and has a few films that have stood the test of time and are properly included: The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life, Sunset Boulevard, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs amongst others. It has a small handful of films that you probably should see due to historical respect such as City Lights (so we can see what Charlie Chaplin did) and The General (so we can see what Buster Keaton did), but there are a number of films on here ranging throughout the poster that are head scratchers. As a content creator like the manufacturer who made the poster, how could you include some of these unknown, culturally irrelevant films and not include Gladiator or The Princess Bride?

Don't get me wrong, the majority of the films on there are fantastic and relevant: North by Northwest, Psycho, West Side Story, The Graduate, A Clockwork Orange, Jaws, One Flew..., Rocky, Annie Hall, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Back to the Future, The Silence of the Lambs, Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Fargo, Boogie Nights, Good Will Hunting, Titanic, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, No Country for Old Men, Get Out and so, so many others. It's a wonderful time watching these masterpieces.

But as I scan the poster, here are some questionable inclusions across all decades that caught my eye: Double Indemnity, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, All About Eve, High Noon, Shane, The Searchers, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Vertigo, Do the Right Thing (I uncluded a different Spike Lee film in my omission list), Unforgiven (I included different Eastwood movies in my omission list), The City of Lost Children, The French Connection, The Last Picture Show, Chinatown, Being John Malkovich, Lady Bird (which I love, but it shouldn't be on here), Sorry to Bother You (again, great's not "essential") amongst others. I'm sure there are arguments some people can give for them, but from an outside perspective...I have never heard them mentioned in our recent zeitgeist so why should I see them when I can watch The Dark Knight (perhaps the greatest superhero movie of all time) or Ghostbusters (whose theme song is referenced all the time)? It might be pretension that made the content creator put these films on the poster, it might be a stubborn over inclusion of our past, but either way I find it a huge disservice to the customers who want to have fantastic movie experiences.

Below are the movies that aren't on the poster, that I believe could and should be. I've divided them into two categories as to why I think they should be on there: cinematic excellence and cultural relevance.

Cinematic Excellence:

-12 Angry Men


-Kramer vs. Kramer

-The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

-Dirty Harry

-The Lion King

-American Beauty


-The Truman Show

-Shakespeare in Love

-Rain Man


-Avatar (I hate this movie but its special effects took the world by storm)

-The Dark Knight




-Everything Everywhere All At Once (it will almost certainly be included in the updated poster release and if it isn't that may be the biggest omission of them all)

Cultural Relevance:

-Mission Impossible

-The Princess Bride

-One Mel Brooks movie (take your pick, whether it's Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, etc. we need one Mel representative)

-Jurassic Park


-Die Hard

-One James Bond movie


-Home Alone

-Dirty Dancing/When Harry Met Sally/You've Got Mail...I think one rom-com needs to be included

-Fight Club (and could be in the cinematic excellence category, as well)

-The Big Lebowski

-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

-The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

-Pirates of the Caribbean

-Borat (its blurred line between documentary and mockumentary was a game changer)

-The Hangover (there are very few true comedies on the list)


-The Social Network (Facebook changed the world forever)


Entertainment needs to entertain. It can do many, many things, but entertain is non-negotiable.

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