When you need something out of this world:

  1. “Aliens” (1986): Our queen Sigourney Weaver vs. a cosmic queen is a sci-fi all-timer.
  2. “Arrival” (2016): Amy Adams communicates with aliens and at this point we’re envying
    her hazmat suit.
  3. “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982): Honestly, hanging out with E.T. sounds cool
    until the little guy eats all your Reese’s Pieces.
  4. “Independence Day” (1996): Will Smith clocks an outer-space creature in the face,
    more for invading Earth than eating his Reese’s Pieces.
  5. “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014): I am Groot, obviously.
  6. “Galaxy Quest” (1999): Like “Star Trek” if it was funny.
  7. “Star Trek” (2009): Like “Star Trek” if it was “Star Wars.”
  8. “The Martian” (2015): It’s nice to know that Matt Damon’s recipe for Martian poop
    potatoes is right there if ever needed.
  9. “Moon” (2009): You get two Sam Rockwells for the price of one awesomely intriguing
    lunar mission. What a deal!
  10. “Star Wars” (1977): Because who doesn’t want to learn the ways of the Force with
    Han, Luke, Leia and John Williams’ blasting score?

When you need a change in scenery

  1. “Blade Runner” (1982): Is Harrison Ford a robot or not? Feel free to think about
    that as you immerse yourself in neon noir.
  2. “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998): Going on a Vegas acid binge with Johnny
    Depp and Benicio del Toro is indeed a trip.
  3. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001): Kids going off to a magical school
    and dealing with seriously dark stuff is somehow not child endangerment.
  4. “How to Train Your Dragon” (2010): A Viking boy having a scaly best friend is totally
    OK, though.
  5. “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001): A three-movie, 11-
    hour trudge through Middle-earth to drop a ring into a volcano needs to start somewhere.
  6. “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015): Ride eternal, shiny and chrome into a splendiferous
    post-apocalyptic wasteland with Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy.
  7. “The Matrix” (1999): You’ll want to choose the red pill because Keanu Reeves’
    cyberpunk kung fu is top notch.
  8. “The NeverEnding Story” (1984): Come for the flying dragon dog, stay for that cult
    tune the “Stranger Things” kids sang.
  9. “The Princess Bride” (1987): Head to Florin, save Princess Buttercup and, most
    importantly, have fun storming the castle!
  10. “The Wizard of Oz” (1939): Good friends, cool shoes and Midwestern chutzpah are
    a must along the Yellow Brick Road. (Which has more flying monkeys than Fury Road.)

When you need family bonding time

  1. “Back to the Future” (1985): Teenage kid travels back to the 1950s to make sure his
    parents fall in love and Mom hits on him. That’s some future therapy bills right there.
  2. “Father of the Bride” (1991): Steve Martin’s overprotective patriarch is a must-see
    for the dads with daughters out there.
  3. “Frozen” (2013): From wanting to build a snowman to letting it go, Anna and Elsa are a
    sister act for the ages. (All ages, in fact.)
  4. “The Incredibles” (2004): With a bevy of superpowers and dinner-table issues, the
    Parr clan’s tale is the best Fantastic Four movie ever.
  5. “The Godfather” (1972): But don’t forget about the Corleone family, whose business
    involves betrayal, crime and murder. So that’s less than fantastic, in terms of the law.
  6. “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006): The Hoover family is crazy dysfunctional – and just
    plain crazy – but man, can they bust up a pretentious kid beauty pageant.
  7. “Mary Poppins” (1964): The Banks family is a hot mess when Julie Andrews thankfully
    flies in on her umbrella.
  8. “Meet the Parents” (2000): No one’s in-law circle of trust can compare to Robert De
    Niro whipping out a lie detector or discussing his nipples.
  9. “The Sound of Music” (1965): Even though there are Nazis, there’s plenty to sing
    about for the tuneful Von Trapps.
  10. “Step Brothers” (2008): Sorry, Anna and Elsa, as a sibling duo Will Ferrell and John
    C. Reilly are much more fun in that nunchucking, boat-crashing, man-child way.

When you need a belly laugh

  1. “Animal House” (1978): It would never be made in the #MeToo era, but the
    Deathmobile, the food fight and John Belushi in a toga destroying a guitar still have no
    college-comedy equal.
  2. “The Blues Brothers” (1980): While the guys in the suits and shades get the title
    love, praise the gods of country and Western for a scene-stealing Carrie Fisher, Aretha
    Franklin and Ray Charles.
  3. “Booksmart” (2019): The female-centric standout proves teen travails are just as
    relatable now as they were when “The Breakfast Club” was in session.
  4. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986): Save Ferris! That’s it, that’s all you need to know.
  5. “Ghostbusters” (1984): A reminder that things can always be worse – in this case, full
    torso apparitions, a Sumerian god of destruction and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
  6. “Groundhog Day” (1993): Bill Murray refuses to let a bucktoothed critter upstage
    him. Respect.
  7. “The Hangover” (2009): Mike Tyson singing Phil Collins isn’t even in the top five
    nuttiest moments in this bachelor-party-gone-wrong classic.
  8. “Old School” (2003): Indefinite self-isolation might make one ponder founding their
    own fraternity in their house. Just don’t go streaking, please.
  9. “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984): It’s the rock mockumentary that goes to 11, and the
    sting remains from “Big Bottom” not snagging an original song Oscar nod.
  10. “Young Frankenstein” (1974): A Mel Brooks marathon is guaranteed to lift all spirits
    but do start with the one starring Gene Wilder as a lovably kooky mad scientist.

When you need a good scare

  1. “Evil Dead II” (1987): The splatter-fest teaches you the essential lesson that if
    your hand gets hacked off, attach a chainsaw.
  2. “The Exorcist” (1973): The dreadful thought of the devil possessing a young girl is
    even more unnerving seeing it unfold in front of you.
  3. “Get Out” (2017): Good luck ever forgetting the image of Daniel Kaluuya’s teary
    horror upon realizing he’s in the Sunken Place.
  4. “It” (2017): A coming-of-age story first, a clown-laden fright fest second.
  5. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984): Slasher villain math: Freddy Krueger > Michael
    Myers > Jason Voorhees.
  6. “Psycho” (1960): Still an effective deterrent to showering, six decades later.
  7. “Se7en” (1995): A splendid smashup of genres (detective, noir, horror) and an eerie
    exploration of the seven deadly sins, but don’t look in the box, Brad Pitt!
  8. “Shaun of the Dead” (2004): If you’re going to watch a freaky outbreak movie in the
    time of coronavirus, at least make it a seriously funny British joint.
  9. “The Shining” (1980): OK, maaaaaaybe not the greatest film to watch in a time of
  10. “The Witch” (2015): If a goat named Black Phillip asks you, “Wouldst thou like to live
    deliciously?” just say no. (You might want to avoid talking goats in general.)

When you need a super-duper hero

  1. “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986): Only Kurt Russell could sell being the twofisted, macho-talking, truck-driving sidekick in his own movie.
  2. “Black Panther” (2018): Wakanda – and Chadwick Boseman’s phenomenal royal warrior
    – forever!
  3. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014): A well-crafted, outstanding political
    thriller in which Chris Evans just happens to be wearing star-spangled tights.
  4. “The Dark Knight” (2008): Heath Ledger’s Joker for the absolute win. (Christian
    Bale’s Batman is all right, too.)
  5. “Flash Gordon” (1980): He’ll save every one of us. It’s right there in the song.
  6. “The Goonies” (1985): Let’s see Batman or Captain America try to do the Truffle
  7. “Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003): Clad in a Bruce Lee jumpsuit, Uma Thurman’s The Bride
    marries the look of a fashion icon with supreme sword-swinging vengeance taking out
    umpteen goons.
  8. “Rocky IV” (1985): Sure, Sylvester Stallone’s first “Rocky” was “the good one.” He
    pretty much has to take on the whole Soviet Union in this one, though!
  9. “Superman” (1978): Nobody has ever worn superhero threads – especially those of
    the iconic big blue boy scout – the same way as Christopher Reeve.
  10. “Wonder Woman” (2017): Gal Gadot’s ridiculously powerful Amazon princess learns
    that humanity is a bunch of warring jerks and helps out anyway.

When you need a history lesson

  1. “All the President’s Men” (1976): Whether you see shades of the past now or not,
    crusading journalists taking on a corrupt administration is simply riveting.
  2. “Amadeus” (1984): Mozart could write a mean classical tune, and his rivalry with
    Salieri here is a symphony of hedonism and drama.
  3. “Ed Wood” (1994): Tim Burton turns in a fascinating retro ode to the B-movie
    filmmaker and angora sweater aficionado.
  4. “Hidden Figures” (2016): One way to honor NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson, who
    died death last month at 101, is to watch Taraji P. Henson in this rousing civil-rights tale.
  5. “Lincoln” (2012): Man of many hats Daniel Day Lewis rocks the stovepipe headwear of
    the 16th president especially well.
  6. “RBG” (2018): Worried about the health of 87-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg? This
    documentary shows the notorious Supreme Court justice is made of the sternest stuff.
  7. “The Right Stuff” (1983): More than three wondrous hours detailing the backstory –
    in epic Hollywood fashion – of our first trip to space.
  8. “1776” (1972): Just think of it as the prequel to “Hamilton.”
  9. “Spartacus” (1960): Fun fact: Kirk Douglas was leading slave revolts when “Gladiator”
    Russell Crowe was a preschooler.
  10. “Straight Outta Compton” (2015): O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays dad Ice Cube in the
    N.W.A. biopic that’s a delight even if you aren’t into hip-hop.

When you need a great movie

  1. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969): Find yourself a ride-or-die BFF like
    Paul Newman and Robert Redford as infamous Old West outlaws. (But don’t do all the
  2. “Casablanca” (1942): Hey, kids! If you ever wondered why Humphrey Bogart was a
    thing, watch this.
  3. “Chinatown” (1974): Jack Nicholson’s busted face is a signature look for a sublime
    L.A. film noir.
  4. “Citizen Kane” (1941): The greatest film ever made is actually pretty good. The hype
    is real!
  5. “The Departed” (2006): Leo, Jack and Damon in a Boston-set Scorsese mob movie?
    That’s wicked smaht casting.
  6. “Die Hard” (1988): It should be everyone’s goal to have the self-confidence to
    trudge across broken glass, take on a snarling Eurotrash supervillain and save the day, all
    on Christmas Eve.
  7. “Jaws” (1975): The first summer blockbuster is the mack daddy of man-eating shark
  8. “North by Northwest” (1959): Getting embroiled in a case of mistaken identity and
    getting chased by a crop-dusting plane equals a very bad, no-good day for Cary Grant.
  9. “Parasite” (2019): The South Korean movie just won best picture so maybe getting
    stuck at home is the best time to catch up? (Warning: It might cause paranoia about your
  10. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981): The perfect action film with an imperfectly
    flawed, square-jawed protagonist.

When you need a not-so-great movie

  1. “Armageddon” (1998): Let the record state that Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck were
    Space Force before it was cool.
  2. “Cobra” (1986): Crime is a disease, Stallone is the cure and this violent extravaganza
    is a transfusion of guilty pleasure.
  3. “Con Air” (1997): Much of Nicolas Cage’s whole career could fill this space, however,
    only one flick has characters named Diamond Dog, Swamp Thing and Cyrus the Virus.
  4. “Highlander” (1986): Ridiculous cheeseball plot, immortal warriors and killer Queen
    songs strangely go together.
  5. “The Last Dragon” (1985): We dare you not be earwormed by DeBarge’s “Rhythm of
    the Night,” the infectious tune that reflects the overall cult-movie mix of kung fu,
    romance and ‘80s style.
  6. “Mommie Dearest” (1981): Yes, it’s the one with “No more wire hangers!” But there’s
    much more melodrama throughout the bonkers Joan Crawford biopic as Faye Dunaway
    gives a masterclass in overacting.
  7. “Over the Top” (1987): The underdog plot centered on arm wrestling is nonsensical
    and yet completely rousing. It’s also proof positive that turning your trucker hat around
    always means business.
  8. “Road House” (1989): The one where Patrick Swayze rips a dude’s throat out.
  9. “So I Married an Axe Murderer” (1993): Forget “Wayne’s World” and “Austin
    Powers.” This is Mike Myers’ greatest hit, as a beat poet afraid of commitment and even
    more fearful of his maybe-a-killer new love.
  10. “Xanadu” (1980): The splashy, post-disco pop musical was made to be played on
    repeat constantly at roller rinks.

When you need your heart warmed

  1. “About Time” (2013): Domhnall Gleeson is a time-traveling dude, Rachel McAdams is
    his soulmate, and all the feels will be had.
  2. “Field of Dreams” (1989): The magnificent baseball film embraces the power of
    faith, belief and having one last catch with your dad.
  3. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946): Not just for Christmas anymore!
  4. “Jojo Rabbit” (2019): Taika Waititi plays Hitler in a satire focusing on human love
    over learned hate.
  5. “Notting Hill” (1999): You, too, will believe a regular schmo could date Julia Roberts.
  6. “Rudy” (1993): The best football movie’s most impressive trick is making you believe
    Sean Astin would survive two seconds on the gridiron.
  7. “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012): Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence together are
    an A-list romantic pairing – he plays a bipolar Eagle fan, she’s an acerbic widow – as well as
    a sizzling dance couple.
  8. “Sing Street” (2016): An Irish teen in the ‘80s forms a band to win over his crush
    and discovers no woman can truly love a man who listens to Phil Collins. (Sorry, Mike Tyson.)
  9. “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994): A memorable jailbird bromance from the mind
    of Stephen King.
  10. “You’ve Got Mail” (1998): The swoon-worthy Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan jam that feels
    ancient with the AOL email chime yet is oh-so-timeless.