Last updated on October 10th, 2022 at 06:05 pm
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Nothing is like spending an evening with a classic movie. You might know the plot, scenes, and dialog by heart and you may watch it with a friend who does too, since classic movies are a shared bonding experience. So grab some popcorn and a drink, set aside some time for yourself, and snuggle into the couch to enjoy any of these oldies but goodies with which you are familiar.
This list reflects modern classics, meaning movies made since the 1970s, as well as older more commonly referred to classics that are on Netflix as well. These are movies that reflect the cultural sensibility of the decades in which they were produced and the issues affecting people.
The 1970s were a time when the classic movies were socially conscious and confrontational about societal structures. Most likely the civil rights battles of the 1960s inspired the films of this era.
The 1980s were a dichotomy of cynicism and optimism spurred on by the excesses of the Reagan years. They were also a time when people of color and others on the fringes gained access, becoming auteurs and creating innovative films. The classics of the 1990s reflect the audience demand for original ideas and narrative structures, and many new filmmakers did not disappoint.
Non-linear narratives, the evolution of CGI, and shockingly unexpected twists dominated popular films of this era.
What Is a Classic Movie?
There are many factors that come together to create a classic movie. The first two components are the director and writer, although the producer may also be involved in creating the ideal circumstances. The writing has to be perceptive enough to provide you with further insight into the characters.
As mentioned earlier, the timing of the classic movie’s release has to be right, and the movie should reflect the cultural zeitgeist. No matter where these movies were released they they are certainly considered the best movies of their time.
Often, these classic movies produce taglines that are used and understood many years after the release of the movie. There are examples of this from The Godfather, Dead Poets Society, and The Sixth Sense.
What Makes a Movie Classic?
Whether a movie is a classic is ultimately determined by its popularity with viewers. Classic movies are typically unlike most other films and stand out from the crowd. The movie might even catch the interest of many people at the time of its release and become a cultural touchpoint for moviegoers of that generation.
Whether these classic movies are comedy, drama, action, or any other genre they are still considered classics so there are tons of movies on this list no matter your personal tastes.
There are also the rare gems that may have been flops at the box office, but developed a cult following well after they were released. You can often tell the decade in which a classic movie was released by some of the lines that people quote from it, but classic movies never feel dated. Below are some of the more recent classic movies that can be enjoyed on Netflix.
1. Taxi Driver
If you’ve ever used or heard the phrase “Are you talkin’ to me?” then you know a little snippet about Taxi Driver. A young Robert De Niro plays a mentally unstable Vietnam vet who drives a taxi in NYC. The more he learns about his fares and the world around him, the more unstable he becomes.
Directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring not only De Niro, but Jodie Foster and Cybill Shepherd, Taxi Driver is one of those classics you can’t stop watching — it’s that compelling. Watch De Niro become unraveled as he plots and prepares for murder.
“Adrian!” There’s probably not a person on the planet who hasn’t heard of Rocky. How can you even see Sylvester Stallone without thinking of Rocky and the American Dream? You can’t. Rocky might start off as a street fighter, but he ends up the world heavyweight champ.
But that’s not the whole story. If it were, it wouldn’t be worth watching. Just like anything in life, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey to get there! Watch Rocky struggle on the road to fame and gather inspiration from his heart and grit.
And if you’ve already seen it, see it again! That’s why Rocky’s a classic — it never gets old.
In 1978, John Travolta and Olivia Newton John stole our hearts as Danny and Sandy in Grease. The soundtrack alone makes this classic impossible to forget. This love story about two young lovers from different sides of the tracks shows that despite our differences, love wins out in the end.
We dare you to watch Grease and NOT sing along. It simply can’t be done. So, step back into DAs and poodle skirts, get your dancing shoes on for some hand jive, and warm up those wind pipes for some Grease lightening. This classic is worth watching again and again.
4. Rosemary’s Baby
Maybe you’ve just heard whispers of Rosemary’s baby or maybe you’ve just heard the jist, but this classic will take you for a trippy ride and will make you ask so many questions. Mia Farrow plays Rosemary, a 60s housewife, who moves with her husband into a new apartment complex.
When the neighbors get a little too friendly and her husband’s career suddenly takes off, Rosemary begins to wonder if all is what it seems. Little by little, a pregnant Rosemary is isolated from the outside world. And when her friends finally get a good look at her, they know something is wrong with her — and maybe her baby.
But what’s wrong with the baby and who can she trust? You’ll have to watch to find out.
5. She’s Gotta Have It
This classic movie was made during a renaissance of black filmmakers that gave us the work of not only Spike Lee but also Julie Dash. In this revolutionary film from 1986, Nola Darling is a single woman who is dating three very different men. Even today, this strong female role is one that is almost never seen in a movie.
One suitor is played by Spike Lee, who has often appeared in significant roles in his own films. Last year, Netflix began airing a series version of the concept which is receiving positive critical acclaim.
There are so many things that make the movie Heathers a classic, including the writing and especially the dialogue. The direction, by Michael Lehman, is visually stunning and the design of the whole production reflects the confectionary style of fashion popular in the 1980s among the well-heeled.
The cast, shockingly enough, comes in a distant third as far as reasons this movie is a classic. This is impressive considering that the movie contained career-making roles for both Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.
High school kids can be relentless, especially if you’re different. With an abusive religious zealot for a mother who skewed Carrie’s view of the world and how she interacted with it, she never stood a chance. Lucky for her, she didn’t have to put up with bullies — for long. And once she figured out her special abilities, she didn’t have to put up with her mother either.
Watch Carrie as she gets revenge on an entire town in once gruesome night. After all, you can only push a person so far. This novel by Stephen King turned classic movie is a must watch. They have a remake too, but why go for a copy when you can have the original?
8. Daughters Of The Dust
This classic movie is a nonlinear narrative that really resonates with the place they set it in, the Gullah region of South Carolina and Georgia. It traces the history of the African Americans who remained largely isolated due to being on the islands in this region and even developed their own language.
Eula is one of these Gullah women. Set in 1902, the classic movie takes place in the period of the great migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West. Narrated by Eula’s unborn child, the movie explores many aspects of slavery and the legends that grew from the stories of confinement and escape.
The director of this classic movie, Julie Dash, continues to helm projects that focus mainly on the female experience in the African American community.
9. The Matrix
Did you ever thing there was more to this world? If the world you live in were nothing more than a smokescreen, would you want to know the truth? That’s what Keanu Reeves has to decide. Truth or blindness? Red or blue pill? Follow Neo down the rabbit hole as he learns with truth about the world we all live in.
He might be the chosen one to save our ignorant selves from the enemy we don’t even know exists. Is he that hero? Morpheus and Trinity think so. Do you?
10. Pulp Fiction
This classic might not be your cup of tea, but that doesn’t make it less classic. Quentin Tarantino brings us into multiple storylines and violence that all converge in unexpected ways. The story telling alone keeps you invested in the story, and with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis, there’s really no way this stay out of instant classic territory.
And not only can you not miss Jackson’s burger speech, but Thurman and Travolta kick it over the top with their dance at the burger joint. Noticing a pattern? You will with this classic.
11. The Parent Trap
The Parent Trap is a classic children’s film set in 1961. In it, twins are mistakenly switched in a room and discover that they have a sister. The girls devise a plan to get their divorced parents back together by switching places with each other.
However, a twisted twist ends up destroying their plan. Watching The Parent Trap is a great way to get in touch with your inner child.
“The Parent Trap” is a feel-good movie with a romantic undertone.
12. Schindler’s List
Are you looking to watch Schindler’s List on Netflix? You’re not alone! The film is one of the best World War II movies of all time, and you can watch it wherever you are, no matter where you live. The movie takes place during World War II and is available to stream from various platforms, including Apple iTunes and Amazon Video.
While Schindler’s List is a long movie, it’s one that visually captures difficult concepts. It’s recommended for viewers at least thirteen and above. It’s important to note, however, that the film is quite long, and contains scenes of bloodshed and torture. If you’re planning to watch Schindler’s List on Netflix, make sure you have a mature audience.
You’ll be able to appreciate the movie’s depth and impact on you.
13. The Irishman
Scorsese is making his first collaboration with Netflix with The Irishman, a film that spans decades and genres. This quiet, yet highly-charged experience unfolds through the dialogue of characters, but it’s also punctuated by humor. It’s so good that The Irishman could almost function as a TV miniseries.
But it’s also a powerful movie, and Scorsese pushes the boundaries of visual effects.
Among the best classic movies on Netflix, “The Irishman” combines religious themes with near-metaphysical themes. In a story that’s both bleak and engrossing, Scorsese’s film presents an existential vision of society, and the immorality of human nature. It’s also Scorsese’s most secular film, and it makes a great companion piece to “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
“The Irishman” is a masterpiece, and Scorsese has crafted some of his greatest crime sagas. It begins with a shot of a crowd. In fact, Scorsese’s other classic films have not started in a bar! In “Goodfellas,” the gangsters were all gathered in a room, and this film’s final shot is a nod to the famous gangster meeting of the same name.
Despite its name, “The Irishman” isn’t a biopic of Jimmy Hoffa. However, it features Hoffa in an important role, and has been portrayed many times in the past. Earlier in the decade, Robert Blake portrayed him in the miniseries Blood Feud, and Jack Nicholson portrayed him in the biopic Hoffa. In the coming years, Al Pacino and Danny De Vito are expected to follow them and nominate Hoffa for Best Actor Oscar. As a matter of fact, they both share the same birthday, so they would probably be a natural choice.
Scorsese has managed to spruce up the film with a rich, subtle, and well-received cast. Robert De Niro’s performance is as good as you’d expect from an actor of his stature. And Scorsese’s film is the definitive Scorsese film, despite its age. The film’s lavish budget was the result of the immense demands of making an old man look younger.
14. The Other Side of the Wind
“The Other Side of the Wind” is a acclaimed film directed by a maverick director who has spent years in exile in Europe. Now, he’s back in Hollywood and determined to make his comeback. In this adaptation of the classic novel, a young man falls in love with a girl named Ava and falls in love with her, too.
But the story of Ava and her love affair will have you questioning the character’s motivations.
The Other Side of the Wind has been available for years on the internet and in select theaters, but it is only now coming to Netflix. While the film isn’t quite Welles’s masterpiece, it’s still a brain-melting tour de force.
The film has inspired numerous character studies of the filmmaker and director. In fact, Gary Graver, who played Welles in The Other Side, was so dedicated to Welles that he would even work on porn sets to help him stay working. His devotedness to Welles was so powerful that he drove around with his late friend’s ashes for a year.
Netflix’s streaming service has been extremely generous in providing these films to Netflix subscribers, and this is one of the reasons that many filmmakers have turned to Netflix for their movies.
‘The Other Side of the Wind’ on Netflix is a classic movie that’s sure to please anyone who enjoys classics. It stars Johnny Dale, an unknown lead actress, and a movie legend. As you can imagine, this film is overstuffed with gratuitous sex scenes and violent moments.
The premise of the film is very intriguing.
15. The Blind Side
The Blind Side is one of the best classic sports movies available on Netflix, and it’s an inspiring true story, too. Based on the true story of Michael Oher, an African-American who was rescued from his broken home and adopted by a wealthy white family, the film explores the life of a young man who rises from poverty to play in the NFL.
In the process, he learns valuable lessons about himself and the world around him, and ultimately he becomes an All-American offensive left tackle.
The Blind Side is a highly-rated film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2009. The story of Michael Oher’s inspirational journey is one that has captured the hearts of sports fans for generations. The movie is filled with messages about empathy and the power of hard work. It also emphasizes the importance of family and community support, highlighting the importance of teamwork.
While the movie is based on real events, it skirts the issues of racial prejudice and is an entertaining film.
For those who love sports movies, The Blind Side is an annual tradition. The movie’s popularity has made it one of the best sports movies on Netflix.
For those of you who grew up with the original Ghostbusters, Netflix is finally streaming the movie. If you want to watch it in high definition, you can find it on the streaming service for classic movies. However, you’ll have to pay a premium price for it.
This movie is the perfect combination of absurdity and fun. The film stars Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson as a group of ghost-busting masked paranormal investigators.
Ghostbusters was an important movie for a team of science fiction enthusiasts, and it’s no wonder that it’s so popular with kids today. It’s an animated movie and, despite the sexist jokes and sexual stereotypes, it is still quite entertaining, and it’s worth watching again. The original film was made in 1984.
17. First Blood
Watch First Blood on Netlfix and relive the excitement of this action-packed film from 1982. Directed by Ted Kotcheff and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, this movie stars Stallone as Vietnam veteran John Rambo and Richard Crenna as his mentor Sam Trautman.
It is also the first in the Rambo franchise, and one of the most memorable.
The movie’s original release date was October 22, 1982, in the United States. It received positive reviews and was a box office smash, grossing over $156 million. In addition, First Blood was the first Hollywood blockbuster to be released in China, and held a record for the highest number of American movie tickets sold in that country.
The film has been re-embraced by critics, and is now considered an influential film in the action genre. The film franchise also includes four sequels co-written by Stallone, several video games, and Indian remakes.
18. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
If you are a fan of Indiana Jones, you might want to see the third installment of the film series, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Though it is an old-fashioned film, it is still a great adventure flick.
The movie is full of bad language, intense action scenes, and images of giant carnivorous red ants consuming human corpses. It also includes content about mystical alien crystal skulls, which may not be entirely biblical.
If you’re wondering whether to watch The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Netlfix, here are a few things you need to know.
The movie begins with a bang, literally. The film revolves around Indiana Jones’ quest to return a mysterious crystal skull to a Mayan temple in the Amazon. Throughout the movie, he encounters a beautiful Russian leader named Irina Spalko. She believes the skull holds mystical powers.
Netflix boasts many classic movies to choose from, and one view may not be enough; you may want to watch the same ones time and time again. Perhaps it is because of the characters, or maybe the writing really draws you in.
Maybe the tension created by your favorite thriller still gets to you every single time. Whatever your reasons are for loving classic films, Netflix classic movies will not disappoint. Choose one of these favorites and see if it becomes your classic.