A list of must-watch movies and television series, all according to me of course! There are so many more movies that should be on this list, but all of these have some special meaning for me. All cover photographs and descriptions are borrowed from IMDB.com.
The Fountain (2006)
As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi.
Why I like it: The Fountain is like an epic love poem about impermanence and death.
Inherit the Wind (1960)
Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.
Why I like it: Inherit the Wind highlights some important aspects of the debate about evolution and creation.
Fight Club (1999)
An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.
Why I like it: Fight Club touches on a lot of concepts that deal with the downsides of capitalism and society.
The Matrix (1999)
A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
Why I like it: The Matrix is a nice introduction to some of the basic ideas that comprise a study of metaphysics.
During the early 16th Century idealistic German monk Martin Luther, disgusted by the materialism in the church, begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation.
Why I like it: Luther highlights an incredibly important period of Western history.
Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
English teacher John Keating inspires his students to look at poetry with a different perspective of authentic knowledge and feelings.
Why I like it: Dead Poets Society is a celebration of life and is a testament to the importance of the Humanities.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.
Why I like it: Requiem for a Dream exposes the dark side of drug use and abuse, both illicit and pharmaceutical.
V for Vendetta (2005)
In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter, known only by the alias of “V”, plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman.
Why I like it: V for Vendetta presents in a fictional model the possibilities and dangers of authoritarian government.
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
A husband-and-wife team play detective, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the happy duo helps others solve their existential issues, the kind that keep you up at night, wondering what it all means.
Why I like it: I Heart Huckabees is a hilarious examination of existentialism and existential psychology.
Back to the Future (1985)
Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.
Why I like it: Back to the Future opens up the imagination to the possibilities of scientific discovery.
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
A troubled boy dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.
Why I like it: The NeverEnding Story was a movie that I watched many times as a child and it holds a deeper meaning about nothingness and human creativity that I probably did not comprehend as a child.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Fraternal twins set out to rid Boston of the evil men operating there while being tracked down by an FBI agent.
Why I like it: The Boondock Saints explores the morality behind simply destroying (what we consider) evil men.
Waking Life (2001)
A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe.
Why I like it: Waking Life takes a bunch of philosophical concepts and mashes them into one artistic compendium.
American History X (1998)
A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.
Why I like it: American History X explores the ideas and dangers of blind racism.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.
Why I like it: A Beautiful Mind examines the life of an intellectually gifted man that suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
Into the Wild (2007)
After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
Why I like it: Into the Wild is all about simplifying life and finding oneself in nature.
Office Space (1999)
Three company workers who hate their jobs decide to rebel against their greedy boss.
Why I like it: Office Space offers an intensely fun perspective on meaningless labor.
In the 17th century, two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor, who is rumored to have committed apostasy, and to propagate Catholicism.
Why I like it: Silence explores the clashing of worldviews and offers a unique and insightful perspective on religion and the faithful.
The Discovery (2017)
A love story set one year after the existence of the afterlife is scientifically verified.
Why I like it: The Discovery has a very interesting premise that serves to present some even more interesting ideas.
The survivors of a plane crash are forced to work together in order to survive on a seemingly deserted tropical island.
Why I like it: Lost contains so much food for thought throughout the development of its various characters and events.
Mad Men (2007-2015)
A drama about one of New York’s most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm’s most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper.
Why I like it: Mad Men provides an interesting look into the business world and private lives of people in the 1960’s.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014)
A documentary series that explores how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time.
Why I like it: Cosmos is a great introduction to the science behind contemporary cosmology.
Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s future.
Why I like it: Breaking Bad explores in highly dramatic form the thoughts and actions of a semi-nihilistic/narcissistic man and the violent consequences of his actions.
House of Cards (2013- )
A Congressman works with his equally conniving wife to exact revenge on the people who betrayed him.
Why I like it: House of Cards offers a fictionalized look into the cutthroat world of politics.
Game of Thrones (2011- )
Nine noble families fight for control over the mythical lands of Westeros; A forgotten race returns after being dormant for thousands of years.
Why I like it: Game of Thrones is an epic tale that explores morality and politics in many forms.
The Walking Dead (2010- )
Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma, to learn the world is in ruins, and must lead a group of survivors to stay alive.
Why I like it: The Walking Dead offers some insight into the human condition and explores what lies at the heart of humanity.
Westworld (2016 – )
Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, explore a world in which every human appetite can be indulged without consequence.
Why I like it: Alongside raising questions of human nature, Westworld explores the complications involved in the development of artificial intelligence ranging from ethical to existential concerns.
Black Mirror (2011- )
A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.
Why I like it: Black Mirror takes some really interesting ideas and presents them as possible technological disasters in the near future.
I could keep going and have probably missed some real gems, but that’s all for now! Maybe I’ll do books next time… or video games?