A film can entertain us, teach us, and open our eyes to a new perspective. Many films have the power to do much more than that – they define a generation. These films feature iconic Hollywood actors and actresses at their best and are recalled fondly by fans of all ages even decades after their release. Here, we’ll rank some of the best films that defined our generation.
The Godfather is an American crime drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and released in 1972. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan all star in the film which tells the story of a crime family based in New York City. As an early example of the “Hollywood mafia film”, The Godfather became a hugely influential film as it set a new precedent for on-screen characterization, dialogue, and brutality. It’s a must-see for any film fan.
Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece Pulp Fiction was a groundbreaking film in its own right. It tells intertwining stories of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of desperate robbers, all set in the tumultuous world of Los Angeles. The film stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis and features an array of memorable scenes, dialogues, and ultimately, an unforgettable experience.
The George Lucas-directed space opera proves that no list is complete without mentioning the juggernaut that took popular culture by storm since 1977. Star Wars forever changed the why many of us look at cinema, making it a part of our lives beyond entertainment and into spiritual fandom. The original trilogy, following the journey of Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill) as he battles the Empire to save Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), remains a classic memory for many.
The Silence of the Lambs
This 1991 psychological horror film set the bar for psychological thrillers and crime dramas. Directed by Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs stars Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling. The film follows Clarice as she pursues a serial killer while using the assistance of Lecter, an incarcerated serial killer and cannibal.
This 1994 movie starring Tom Hanks tells us the heartwarming story of Forrest Gump (Hanks), a slow-witted but kind man, who despite his substandard intelligence, achieves many incredible accomplishments in his life, with the help of his best friend, Bubba. It may not seem like a revolutionary film at first glance, but it’s a beautiful film that defined a generation with its portrayal of optimistic perseverance.
James Cameron’s 1997 epic Titanic set out to recreate the historic sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. Starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as Rose and Jack, it tells the heartbreaking story of their romance on the doomed voyage. It’s an emotional tale of star-crossed lovers as well as an impressive technical achievement due to its special effects and great attention to detail.
Lord of the Rings
Released in four parts from 2001 to 2003, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy follows a hobbit (played by Elijah Wood) and his quest to destroy a powerful ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord, Sauron. It is an imaginative and epic depiction of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved books, featuring some of the best on-screen battles and characters we’ve ever seen.
James Cameron’s 2009 Avatar is a groundbreaking sci-fi fantasy film exploring the relationship between humans and aliens on the fictional planet of Pandora. It uses groundbreaking special effects to bring audiences into the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) as he finds and bonds with his Avatar. It remains one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
This 2018 Marvel superhero film proved that a movie can become wildly popular with a predominantly black cast. Black Panther follows the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as he returns home to Wakanda to become king and faces a powerful adversary intent on destroying the kingdom. It’s a monumental achievement for Hollywood and film in general, and its success was met with an outpour of celebration.
The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Dark Knight follows Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) as he struggles to protect the city of Gotham from a psychotic criminal, The Joker (Heath Ledger). Ledger won a posthumous Academy Award for his performance, making him the only actor to have won an Academy Award posthumously since Peter Finch’s Oscar. It was a revolutionary superhero film and its success has forever changed the way we look at the genre.
Hollywood has produced some amazing films with iconic Hollywood actors and actresses. Each of these films has had a profound impact on audiences and influenced the way future films will be made. Whether it’s The Godfather’s influence on crime drama or the revolutionary special effects used in Avatar, these films stand as a beacon of influence in the way that stories are told. As we’ve seen, the top films that defined a generation are The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars, The Silence of the Lambs, Forrest Gump, Titanic, Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Black Panther and The Dark Knight.