Time and time again during movie discussions with friends, I would have to disclose that I never saw certain films if the topic of conversation moved to older movies. “Wait. How can you RUN A MOVIE BLOG if you’ve never seen X?!” they would say before throwing a drink in my face. The classics. You know, like Casablanca, like North by Northwest, like Weird Science.
My response, ignorant as it may be, was always the same. If I’ve made it this long without seeing an older movie then there must be a reason for that. Older movies are laced with nostalgia. Appreciation of them is often linked to adolescence and honestly if it wasn’t included in my Dad’s VHS collection while growing up then it probably wasn’t very good. 1984’s Karate Kid is one of my favorite ten movies of all time, but even I know that someone seeing it for the first time as an adult will probably enjoy it a lot less than those who grew up on it. So that was basically my thinking whenever a friend would demand I watch any movie over 20 years old. I assumed the dated pacing of an older movie just wouldn’t translate to my John Wick brain and I’d rather spend two hours assessing a new release. Boy was I wrong.
The combination of no NBA playoffs, the cancellation of summer blockbuster season, and a quarantine finally opened up my bandwidth to go back in time. Once I started with 1991’s Cape Fear I couldn’t stop. I’ve watched more movies 6 months into 2020 than I have in any full year, and while many of them were expectedly too slow for my liking, there was something so thrilling about discovering an old movie that blows you away. And sure Casablanca is as overrated as I’d assumed, but it’s still rewarding to go back and experience what older generations believed was perfection.
Here’s a list of my favorite “old” movies I saw for the first time, favorite “old-ish” movies I saw for the first time, and my favorite rewatch experiences this year. At the bottom you’ll also find the mid year Rated Greg Report Card for the condensed 2020 slate.
Rated Greg’s Top 12 “Old” Movies He Saw For First Time In 2020
- Clue (1985)*
- Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
- No Way Out (1987)**
- Body Heat (1981)**
- Terms of Endearment (1983)***
- The Vanishing (1988)****
- North by Northwest (1959)
- The Thing (1982)
- The French Connection (1971)
- From Russia With Love (1963)
- Chinatown (1974)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
*Comedies date themselves far faster than any other genre, so it’s incredibly impressive how fucking funny Clue is in 2020.
**Shoutout to the erotic thriller boom of the 80’s/early 90’s
***Move over Joker, this is my new favorite Jack Nicholson performance
****Not to be confused with the American remake from 1993. This Dutch original is far more chilling than the Kiefer Sutherland version.
Rated Greg’s Top 12 “Old-ish” Movies He Saw For First Time in 2020
- Malcolm X (1992)
- Hoop Dreams (1994)
- Wild Things (1998)*
- Cape Fear (1991)
- Lost In Translation (1999)
- Magnolia (1999)
- Mulholland Drive (2001)
- The World Is Not Enough (1999)
- The Descent (2005)
- Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
- Election (1999)
- Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
*I remember seeing the infamous scene multiple times as a kid, but I never actually sat down and watched this front to back. Wild Things is stupid entertaining.
Rated Greg’s Top 12 Rewatches in 2020
- Blue Valentine (2010)
- Prisoners (2013)
- Warrior (2011)
- Contagion (2011)*
- Killing Them Softly (2012)
- Casino Royale (2006)
- If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)*
- Midsommar (2019)
- Enemy (2013)**
- The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
- Enemy of the State (1998)***
- Basic Instinct (1992)
*A must watch double feature in 2020
**No movie on this list has climbed the charts between viewings more than Denis Villanueve’s Enemy. It was either too weird or too smart for me to fully grasp when I first saw it years ago. But since revisiting I’ve developed an increased obsession with this Hitchcockian doppelgänger thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
***One of the more fascinating pre 9/11 movies you can see in that context.