There are some movies every guy just has to see. Many of them, you’ve probably already seen.
There are easily 150 movies that could be placed into a category of “movies for guys.” The list would include sci-fi classics such as the Star Wars trilogy, Blade Runner and Alien, as well as comedies such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Animal House and The Blues Brothers. But you won’t find any of those flicks on this list.
This list has a few obvious testosterone-laden offerings, but is mostly focused on the movies that get lost between classic guy fare like The Godfather and overrated new releases like The Hangover.
Enjoy these 22 great films, and be more of a man for doing so.
1. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Let’s just swing for the fences right out of the gate, shall we? Plenty of guts and glory in this offering. It’s a pretty perfect movie to watch post-workout, when you know you should be having something healthy like a protein shake, but you’d rather just sit on the couch and drink a beer.
2. Beautiful Girls (1996)
Beautiful Girls is easily my favorite movie on this list. It may be one of the best cast films of all-time. Bottom line, it’s probable every guy will to relate to some aspect of this incredibly well-told, fantastical slice of life. RIP, director Ted Demme.
3. Slap Shot (1977)
Hockey with plenty of goon action, a funny story, a splash of some beautiful women and Paul Newman leading the way. What else do you need?
4. Goodfellas (1990)
Martin Scorsese upped the film ante with this very attractive and terrifying look into mob life. I watched this film when I was 13 and set a record for the longest time a human has gone without blinking.
5. Swingers (1996)
I’m shocked when I speak to people who haven’t seen this film, especially when I’m talking with younger, single guys living in L.A. Jon Favreau tapped a vein of universality as a writer, strutted his stuff as an actor and offered Vince Vaughn relative carte blanche to put his skills on display. In terms of low-budget, independent filmmaking, Swingers is one of the finest examples of how amazing something can be when you put the money on the screen. It captured an era and signaled the arrival of some serious acting (Favreau, Vaughn, Ron Livingston), writing and directing (Doug Liman) talent. A great one to watch with the boys.
6. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Sergio Leone was a master. Once Upon a Time in The West is arguably his greatest masterpiece. It offered a wonderful paradigm shift in the Western movie genre. The score by Ennio Morricone is a perfect complement. Horror aficionados will enjoy knowing that Dario Argento was also a writer on this incredible piece of old-West bad-assery.
7. Risky Business (1983)
“Sometimes, you gotta say WTF?” Tom Cruise said it, so you can take it to the bank. For every dude who’s had his parents’ house to himself, Risky Business is a wonderful example of all the incredible potential such a situation presents.
8. The French Connection (1971)
It’s so satisfying to watch Gene Hackman kick some tail. He does a lot of it in this classic. The French Connection will make you think twice about becoming a drug dealer.
9. Apocalypse Now (1979)
“Terminate with extreme prejudice.” Now that is a mission objective. It’s crazy to think Martin Sheen led this Vietnam epic, and a mere seven years later, son Charlie Sheen landed his own epic Vietnam lead role with Platoon.
10. Taxi Driver (1976)
More Martin Scorsese on the list? Of course. Taxi Driver was quite disturbing to its original audience in 1976. With the benefit of hindsight, its foray into the life of a mentally ill, self-righteous man prone to violence is even more terrifying today. No man has or will come to understand his full dude potential until he’s looked into a mirror and enjoyed his own version of the “You talkin’ ta me?” scene.
11. Rocky (1976)
Everything about this movie is can-do, and it really does stand the test of time. Unfortunately, Rocky is often judged by the five sequels that followed. It’s not to say the other Rocky movies aren’t enjoyable (even as guilty pleasures) but there’s something magical about the original.
12. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Cool Hand Luke is quite possibly the coolest character to ever grace a screen. For you younger guys who aren’t familiar with Paul Newman, he isn’t just the guy on the salad dressing or those delicious thin-crust pizzas in the freezer section. When we lost Paul Newman to the great hereafter, we lost a little bit of our masculinity in the United States of America. He’s pure man-crush material.
13. Predator (1987)
Most testosterone on a film set, ever! I still fantasize about mounting up with that M134 Gatling (minigun) and laying waste to the jungle. If you’ve never seen Predator, I bet you want to now. “Get to da choppa!”
14. Die Hard (1988)
Let’s all say it together: “Yippee-ki-yay…” There are still dudes out there who haven’t seen Die Hard and don’t understand a well-timed reference to Hans Gruber. *sigh*
15. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
To avoid a 1,000 word review on this cinematic masterpiece, I’ll confidently state this: The Shawshank Redemption is one of the finest films ever made. It was directed by Frank Darabont, the very same fella who brought The Walking Dead to AMC. A little bonus trivia: Darabont also wrote a script for the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. Steven Spielberg loved it. I’ll give you one guess who didn’t. His name rhymes with Porge Mucous.
16. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Butch launched Robert Redford’s star and solidified the deserving celebrity of Paul Newman. Everything about this movie is classic dude: gun fire, bank robbing and some of the smartest subtle comedy in the history of cinema.
17. Seven Samurai (1954)
I often wonder how Akira Kurosawa would take advantage of today’s filmmaking technology. What he did in 1954, in black and white, remains one of the greatest films of all-time. If you’re one of those people who “can’t get into black-and-white movies,” get over yourself, and grab the Bluray of this masterpiece.
18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
You’ve seen this, yes? No!? What the heck, man? For the love of all things good in this world, please don’t say, “I saw Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and I’m just not interested in any of the other stuff.” Trust me, you’re interested. Every ounce of your remaining childhood is interested. Watch it!
19. Rio Bravo (1959)
This wouldn’t really be a list of must-see guy movies if John Wayne weren’t in the mix, now would it? Rio Bravo is a dandy. A definitive glimpse of the Western genre in the Golden Age.
20. Empire of the Sun (1987)
I know what you’re thinking: Why is Empire of the Sun on the list? It’s an underrated film that may have been made just ahead of its time. Personally, I flag it as Steven Spielberg’s best — it’s certainly my favorite of his. It’s also Christian Bale‘s first time in front of the camera in a major motion picture. The guy has some serious chops, even at 12. When you watch it, I think you’ll agree.
21. The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005, 2008, 2012)
This entry is a bit of a cheat, considering it’s three films, but for just a moment, let’s consider superhero movies. When did the paradigm shift occur in terms of how the stories are told? Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister helped a lot of guys realize their childhood fantasy of how dark and bad-ass Batman really should be. Batman Begins added a humanized element to the superhero genre that had never previously been well-explored.
22. Stand By Me (1986)
In a word: nostalgia. To borrow a quote from the script, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”