We’re here to challenge your idea of what’s considered a classic. If someone asked you to list the best classic movies, you might rattle off titles like Casablanca, It Happened One Night, Citizen Kane, or other films from Hollywood’s Golden Age. And while those are definitely some of the best classic movies you can watch, our definition is a bit broader. Meaning, it also includes Heathers.
Think about it: What is a classic movie, anyway? For one, it’s a film that has a few years on it. (If it’s less than 20 years old, that’s basically a classic-in-training.) More important, though, it’s a movie that’s universally beloved or has etched its way into the fabric of culture in some significant way.
So without further ado, we present a new take on the best classic movies ever—one that includes your black-and-white favorites but leaves room for more modern icons, like Cher Horowitz. And the best part? Many of our best classic movies are on Netflix.
Do us favor, though: Don’t call them the “best old movies.” That’ll just make us feel bad.
Joan Crawford earned her only Academy Award for playing Mildred Pierce, the working-class waitress turned restaurant mogul who will do just about anything to please her spoiled, coldhearted daughter, Vida. It’s a melodramatic performance, filled with the lingering beauty shots and beefy monologues that became Crawford’s signatures. It’s classic Hollywood at its most grandiose and most glamorous. As far as I’m concerned, Crawford is the definitive star of that era, and Mildred Pierce is her definitive role. —Christopher Rosa, staff entertainment writer
Thelma and Louise
What’s not to love about this feminist classic? It introduced us to young Brad Pitt (bless!) and passed the Bechdel test with flying colors. Plus, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis gave such incredible performances that they were both nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars. My recommendation? Watch this incredible buddy film over Zoom with a friend you miss. —Madeline Hirsch, social media manager
You know how you think old movies are going to be all melty accents and trench coats and pearls and kissing under the moon, and the reality of old movies is that they’re often boring and really racist? You sit down to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s, thinking you’re about to be transported to a world of chic and banter-filled meals eaten in jewelry stores, and instead you’re in this interminable mumble, which is occasionally interrupted by a man in yellow face?
Roman Holiday is not like that. Roman Holiday is everything you ever dreamed of—it’s the perfect romantic comedy. It’s about if Audrey Hepburn was a princess who pretended to be a normal to see the world for the day, with Gregory Peck for her guide. It’s basically the beginning of Aladdin, or one of those movies in which a ’90s actor plays a president’s daughter who just wants to fit in, except with Oscar-winning acting. You will laugh, you will gasp, you will google “cheap tickets to Rome,” you will throw yourself back on your bed and sigh with melancholy when it is over. If you can’t travel right now, Roman Holiday is absolutely the next best thing. —Jenny Singer, staff writer