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Since the first movie theater opened in 1905, the cinema has captured the hearts, minds and imagination of people all over the world. From terrifying horror movies to suspenseful thrillers to sappy, sweet rom coms, movies make us laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between.

Moviegoers in North America spent 11.32 billion dollars at the box office in 2019, which just goes to show how much we love movies as a form of entertainment. But let’s be honest, there are thousands of movies released around the world every year and a lot of them that just aren’t that good.

But those aren’t the movies we’re talking about today. Today, we’re talking about the ones that are good – and good for a very specific reason:

Because they make you think.

Here are 13 movies from 1990 to 2019 that will make you think about love, death, the future, the planet and everything in between.

Parasite, 2019

There are a lot of reasons why Parasite won the Oscar for best picture at the 2020 Academy Awards – and one of those reasons is that this movie makes you think.

Parasite tells the story of the Kim family, a foursome fed up with their low-paying jobs, lack of Wi-Fi and the tiny basement apartment in which they live. With a bit of luck (and a bit of deceit), they get hired, one by one, to work for the Park family, who lives in a stunning, sprawling home with floor-to-ceiling windows.

This is a story about class, economic disparity and what drives people to want to move up and out of their current social status. As the two families live intertwine, we’re left to wonder … who among us, if any, are the real parasites on society?

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

Gone Girl, 2014

Gone Girl is the story of a wife who’s gone missing and the husband who’s suspected for her disappearance. At the beginning of this movie, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the husband did it.

We learn that the missing wife is pregnant. We also learn that the husband has a girlfriend on the side. It’s all very reminiscent of the Lacey Peterson murder, so it’s easy to understand why the police, the media and everyone else assumes that he's a murderer.

But then you start to realize that not all things are as they seem... 

This film will make you ask yourself two questions: how far would you be willing to go to seek revenge, and do we ever really know what anyone’s capable of?

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

Children of Men, 2006

Children of Men is a dystopian depiction of an infertile future where women can no longer birth children. In this film, no child has been born for twenty years, and the end of the world as we know it is looming. Until there is a glimmer of hope.

There is one woman, somehow, who is pregnant with a child. At that point, the focus of the film becomes less about how the world is doomed and more about how there might actually be hope ahead. 

This movie will make you think about the end of days, but not in the sense of a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion. It also makes you ask yourself an interesting question: would you be willing to step up to change the future and save the world if given the challenge? 

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

The Notebook, 2004

Oh … The Notebook … perhaps the one great film that can bring both young girls and grown men to tears. It’s a story of young love, complicated love, lost love and undying love. We watch as the two main characters, Noah and Allie, go through a series of make-ups and breakups, only to learn that their love was more genuine than we ever could have imagined.

The Notebook isn’t thought-provoking in the way that so many sci-fi films and suspense thrillers are. It’s more of a straightforward love story that unravels and twists and turns before our eyes.

But when you finish watching this film, it makes you think about your own ability to show love and what side of the equation you’re on. Are you the Noah who’s willing to spend every moment of every day showing his heart? Or are you the Allie who just takes the love and doesn’t even realize it?

Watch on Amazon Prime Video  

Being John Malkovich, 1999

Being John Malkovich sheds some light on what it might be like to live inside another person’s mind and body. Through a hidden door in his office, the main character, Craig, is able to access the mind of actor John Malkovich. He sees through Malkovich’s eyes and actually starts to infiltrate his mind – and Malkovich knows it.

This movie doesn’t just make you think – it forces you to think. What would it be like to be someone else? How far would you be willing to go to manipulate another person’s thoughts and actions? What might the repercussions be of trying to get into someone else’s head or put thoughts and ideas in their mind?

This one is a real mind-bender – the kind of movie you might need to see twice to appreciate and understand fully.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

The Virgin Suicides, 1999

If there was ever a movie to make you grateful for getting through your teen and adolescent years, it’s The Virgin Suicides. This dark story tells the tale of the Lisbon sisters, seemingly ordinary suburban teens who, one by one, all commit suicide in different ways.

The parents become incredibly overprotective of the remaining girls after the first sister’s death. The girls no longer attend school, are not allowed to go out, and become sheltered in their home, by their parents. It's not hard to see why they're suffering and why they ultimately do what they do.

The neighbors turn a blind eye, but for a group of teenage boys who try to befriend the girls and instill some normalcy back into their lives. This movie will make you think about who is really important in your life, what role they should play and how crucial it is to have a sense of freedom.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

Life is Beautiful, 1998

Life is Beautiful tells the gripping story of a Jewish family imprisoned in a concentration camp by the Nazis. But it's actually more of a story about children than it is about war. 

Instead of allowing his child to be separated from him in the camp, one man sneaks his son into the adult male barracks. He keeps the child quiet and hidden by making him think that the entire experience is a game.

How the father protects his boy from the horrors of the Nazis is nothing short of a miracle. It makes you think about what’s really important in life – your children, your family and how far you’ll go to protect the ones you love.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

Primal Fear, 1996

Edward Norton is incredible in Primal Fear as a quiet altar boy charged with murdering a priest. Norton’s character is timid, scared and unassuming … until he’s not.

Primal Fear has a major twist, and seeing it unravel really makes you think about what human beings are capable of. You'll think about how deceitful people can be and how we’re never really able to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

The Usual Suspects, 1995

The twist that comes at the end of The Usual Suspects will leave you thinking two things: OMG and how did I not see that!

This movie focuses on a federal investigation of a heist and a bombing. Luckily, for the feds, there is one person who seems to know an awful lot about the crime and who is responsible for it. Kevin Spacey’s character tells the feds about the crime boss who’s guilty of the entire thing… but the truth as he tells it is far from what actually happened

The Usual Suspects make you think throughout the entire film, as you play mini-detective and try to piece together the events. But when you learn the truth, you’re left to think about how sometimes the most obvious things aren’t what they appear to be.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

12 Monkeys, 1995

In 12 Monkeys, Bruce Willis travels back in time from the 2030s to the 1990s. His goal is to try to prevent the events that led to a massive plague that wiped out most of the world’s population. While in the past, he learns about the army of the 12 monkeys, how they played a role in the apocalyptic future and tries as he might to put an end to their plan.

The very premise makes you think about the possibility (or impossibility) of time travel – but there’s more to it than that. It’s just as much a commentary on how even the smallest of our actions can have a significant effect on future events. You’ll be left thinking about how one small act you do today just might turn the entire planet upside down.  

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

Natural Born Killers, 1994

Before mass shootings became a part of daily life, Natural Born Killers introduced us to Mickey and Mallory. These two young lovers kill Mallory’s abusive father then go on a crime spree, killing pretty much anyone that gets in their way. And they become wildly famous while doing so.

This movie will get you thinking about how childhood traumas can turn you into someone you never wanted to be. It will also get you thinking about how the news and the media has a way of making celebrities out of people who should absolutely not be celebrated.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

Pulp Fiction, 1994

Pulp Fiction plays out like a series of mini-movies within one larger story, perhaps because it’s not told in a linear order. Intertwining the lives of some pretty unsavory characters, this movie jumps back and forth in time, forcing you to pay attention just to follow what's going on. You’ll watch a scene and then think, oh, so this actually happened before the scene we a few minutes ago, and so on and so on.

Pulp Fiction may be one of the greatest movies of all time. 

Watching it is sure to spur endless hours of thought, conversation, and disagreements among friends. What does the Band-Aid mean on the back of Marcellus Wallace’s head? What’s really in the case?

This film leaves some questions unanswered. It also shows how even slight connections between individual people can have major consequences.

Watch on Amazon Prime Video  

Total Recall, 1990

For the most part, Total Recall is a sci-fi, almost fantasy-like mystery. But if you really think about the concepts at play in this film, it’s downright terrifying.

In this Schwarzenegger film, a company called “Rekall” has the ability to implant fake memories into your brain. You can, for example, have all the memories of taking a trip to Mars without ever having actually to go there. Arnold’s character signs up for the Mars implant, only to realize that it doesn’t work.

Why? Because the entire life he’s living is a false memory – he isn’t at all the person he thinks he is, and nothing about his life is real, not his wife, not his job, nothing. This movie has the ability to send you down an existential rabbit hole. It will leave you wondering, am I really free and in control of my own will or is something bigger and more nefarious at play?

Watch on Amazon Prime Video 

What Movies Make You Think?

With the exception of a laugh out loud comedy or a saccharine sweet romance, good movies, like good books, will always make you think. Think about life and death. Think about love and misery. Think about the future or reflect on the events of the past.

Between feature films, big-budget releases, independent shorts and original Netflix flicks, there’s never a lack of new movies to see. But if you haven’t already seen the movies on this list, you might want to skip the theater this weekend and check out one of these films from the comfort of home.  

You might also be interested in: 

Movies You Grew Up With That You Need To Share With Your Kids

The 15 Best Movies Of 2019 [And Where To Stream Them]

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Posted 
Feb 19, 2020
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