The Favorite Movies of 42 Famous People

Presidents & Politicians

What's with presidents and High Noon?

1. Barack Obama -- The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974)
When Katie Couric asked then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama what his favorite movie is, he replied, "Oh, I think it would have to be The Godfather. One and Two. Three not so much. That saga -- I love that movie. ...I think my favorite has to be, the opening scene of the first Godfather... It sets the tone for the whole movie."

2. Ronald Reagan -- High Noon (1952)
Reagan appreciated Will Kane's dedication to duty and law. (Reagan's also rumored to have been a fan of the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life.)

3. Richard Nixon -- Patton (1970)
Nixon's preference for Patton was mentioned in a 1960 1970 TIME article: "The martial epic Patton so stirs Richard Nixon that he has seen the film at least twice." According to American Experience: Nixon on PBS, "Richard Nixon loved the movie Patton and watched it again and again in the White House." The Telegraph reported that Nixon "urged aides to see the film and became, in the words of Secretary of State William Rogers, a 'walking ad' for it. He screened it three times in the weeks before the US invasion of Cambodia in April 1970..." Nixon's love for Patton was also mentioned in Woodward and Bernstein's 2005 book, The Final Days.

4. Bill Clinton -- High Noon (1952)
Clinton was such a fan of the Western that he apparently screened the film a record 17 times at the White House.

5. George W. Bush -- Field of Dreams (1989)
According to a May 2001 article in The Atlantic, "Bush's favorite movie is Field of Dreams, which made him cry, he once said, because it reminded him of playing catch in the back yard with his father—a pretty fair ballplayer himself once."

6. Dwight Eisenhower -- High Noon (1952)
Eisenhower was reportedly a big fan of the movie, screening it several times at the White House (though not quite as many times as Clinton).

7. John McCain -- Viva Zapata! (1952)
During his presidential campaign, John McCain was asked about his favorite film by Katie Couric. His response: "Viva Zapata. ...It's a heroic tale of a person who sacrificed everything for what he believed in and there's some of the most moving scenes in that movie that I've ever seen."

8. Mitt Romney -- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Romney lists these two films as his favorites on his Facebook page, followed by Star Wars and Henry V.

9. Dan Quayle -- Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
During the 1990 presidential campaign, Quayle declared Ferris Bueller his favorite movie, with the explanation, "It reminded me of my time in school."

10. Newt Gingrich -- Casablanca (1943)
When asked his favorite movie, Gingrich told the Washington Times, "Probably Casablanca."

11. Rick Santorum -- Field of Dreams (1989)
Apparently Santorum has many favorites, but, when put on the spot by the Washington Times in 2011, he named the baseball classic his favorite.

Singers & Musicians

12. Justin Bieber -- Step Brothers (2008)
In 2010, Bieber provided US Weekly with a list of "25 Things You Don't Know About Me." #17: "Step Brothers is my favorite movie."

13. Jennifer Lopez -- West Side Story (1961)
During a West Side Story-themed photo shoot for Vanity Fair in 2009, Lopez revealed that she watched the classic musical "37 times" growing up. She identifies with Anita, explaining: "I never wanted to be that wimpy Maria... I wanted to be Anita, who danced her way to the top."

14. George Harrison -- The Producers (1968)
Harrison reportedly liked the film so much that it inspired him to become a producer himself.

Actors & Actresses

Interestingly, I have never met or heard of an actor or actress choosing one of their own films as their all-time favorite.

15. Johnny Depp -- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Explained Depp: "I wanted to have a tornado sweep me up and take me away from the life I was living as a teenager."

16. John Travolta -- A Man And A Woman (1966)
IMDb.com lists Travolta's favorite movie as A Man And A Woman, also noting that he was partial to Yankee Doodle Dandy (1946) as a child.

17. Heath Ledger -- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Ledger favored the classic film because, he stated, "It was the only film my parents allowed me to see as a kid."

18. Tom Hanks -- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Hanks has frequently discussed his love for Kubrick's classic, including at a forum for the film's 40th anniversary, where he said of the movie, "You can look at it over and over and ponder its meaning." According to a Tom Hanks fan site, the actor has seen 2001 approximately 40 times.

19. Bill Paxton -- Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Harold and Maude (1971)
In a 2006 interview with TV Guide, Paxton said, "You've got to understand something about me and my career: I'm a romantic in life philosophy, in how I look at the world, the beauty of nature, of relationships. But I never got to do those roles. In my twenties, I wanted to be in a Splendor in the Grass." Paxton listed both Splendor in the Grass and Harold and Maude for Cindy Pearlman's 2007 book You Gotta See This.

20. Salma Hayek -- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
The "Times Topics" page for Hayek at The New York Times website reports: "At 6, she was smitten with acting after seeing Willie [sic] Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

21. Vin Diesel -- Gone With The Wind (1939)
In 2006, ELLE asked Diesel, "Have you ever watched a movie and identified with a character romantically?" The actor replied, "Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind. Here's this guy saying, 'I may be rough around the edges, but I'm the better man for you, and you're still locked over there with pretty boy.'" He also listed it as his favorite movie for Pearlman's You Gotta See This.

22. Tim Allen -- The Seven Samurai (1954)
AFI interviewed celebrities about their films in a lead-up to their "100 Years, 100 Movies" event in 2007. In his interview, Allen named The Seven Samurai as his favorite.

23. Lindsey Lohan -- Kitten With a Whip (1964) and Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
In 2008, Lindsay told PAPERMAG, "[Marilyn Monroe] had something that captured people. That’s the part that I love about her... I look to her in The Seven Year Itch, just like I look to Ann-Margret in Kitten With a Whip, which is one of my favorite movies, and which I’m actually trying to remake." For Pearlman's You Gotta See This, Lohan reiterated her love of Kitten With a Whip and added, "And I also love Bye Bye Birdie."

24. Owen Wilson -- Punch Drunk Love (2002) and The Insider (1999)
Wilson reportedly stated, "I loved Punch-Drunk Love. It revved me up to write something. It's a simple story, but it proves it's all in the details." He also told Glen Whipp of the Los Angeles Daily News, "I loved Punch-Drunk Love, The Insider and United 93."

25. Antonio Banderas -- Touch of Evil (1958) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Banderas is an Orson Welles fan. He listed Touch of Evil as one of his 5 favorite films (as well as the ever-popular Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather) for Rotten Tomatoes, and he listed it again for Pearlman's You Gotta See This, along with another Welles film, The Magnificent Ambersons.

26. Julianne Moore -- Rosemary's Baby (1968)
For the New York Times' "Watching the Movies With" feature, Moore picked Rosemary's Baby, stating, "This is the first movie that came to mind when I thought of what I wanted to watch," and "Wow, I love the beginning of this movie."

27. Charlize Theron -- I Could Go On Singing (1963)
For You Gotta See This, Theron told Pearlman that I Could Go On Singing is "the best movie I've ever seen," and then said--twice--"It's my favorite film of all time."

28. Shia Lebouf -- Saving Silverman (2001) and Dumb & Dumber (1994)
IMDb.com lists the two comedies as Lebouf's favorite films.

29. Richard Gere -- The Passenger (1975)
For You Gotta See This, Gere told Pearlman that The Passenger "has always been" one of his favorites.

30. Dennis Miller -- A Man For All Seasons (1966)
Miller has discussed A Man For All Seasons on "The Dennis Miller Show." He also mentioned it in an appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" in 2008 -- "My favorite film of all time is probably A Man for All Seasons."

31. Uma Thurman -- Pillow Talk (1959)
For Pearlman's You Gotta See This, Thurman revealed her favorite, explaining: "All my life I wanted to be Doris Day. One of my favorites is Pillow Talk. It’s a light, breezy romp of a film that’s so much fun to watch. I love that Doris didn’t play anyone but herself in her movies."

32. Morgan Freeman -- Moulin Rouge (2001)
In 2005, Freeman was quizzed on his favorites by IGN. For movie, he responded: "My favorite movie that I didn't work on? Moulin Rouge. I just think that movie is fabulous." Six years later, he repeated the favorite to the Rotten Tomatoes staff, stating, "I think one of the best movies ever made was Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! It was just an extraordinarily well done film. Editing, directing, costuming -- just everything about it was perfect." He also listed King Kong (1933), High Noon (1952), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), and Moby Dick (1956).

33. David Duchovny -- Chinatown (1974)
The Rotten Tomatoes staff interviewed Duchovny about his favorite films in April; he replied, "I'm gonna say Chinatown. That's just great storytelling, acting, directing. I think Polanski's an amazing director." He also listed The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974), Annie Hall (1977), and Oldboy (2003).

34. Reese Witherspoon -- Overboard (1987)
Witherspoon disclosed this factoid during the 84th Annual Academy Awards telecast earlier this year.

35. Dennis Quaid -- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Discussing David Lean, the director of Lawrence of Arabia, Quaid said, "He's always been my favourite director. Lawrence of Arabia is my favourite movie of all time."

36. Vince Vaughn -- Tender Mercies (1983) and The Bad News Bears (1976)
For Pearlman's You Gotta See This, Vaughn disclosed these two favorites, stating: "Tender Mercies is a film that I love very much because it's very simple storytelling," and "The Bad News Bears is my favorite comedy. I saw that movie as a child, and there was something very real about that movie in that it seemed to be an honest portrayal of people." He also reportedly once told Premiere magazine that Little Darlings (1980) was also a favorite.

37. Seth MacFarlane -- The Sound of Music (1964)
When interviewed by IGN in 2003, MacFarlane was asked what his favorite film is. His answer: "I gotta give it to The Sound of Music. I'm sorry. I know that's, like, a lame answer, but I f***in' love The Sound of Music. It's The Sound of Music... It's not like it's some obscure independent film. There are those who would be expecting me to say Caddyshack – which is number two..."

38. Orson Welles -- City Lights (1931)
Of the Chaplin film, Welles once said, "...but you must see City Lights... You’ll see Chaplin in City Lights."

& More...

39. Steven Spielberg -- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Spielberg helped restore the film for a 2000 DVD release; in the accompanying documentary, "A Conversation with Steven Spielberg," the director discusses the impact the movie had on his life and why it's his favorite film.

40. Thomas Edison -- Birth of a Nation (1915)
When asked about his favorite movie in a February 1930 interview with American Magazine, Edison replied, "Let’s see now–what’s the name of it? Oh yes, I remember–The Birth of a Nation, that great picture Griffith made. But who cares?"

41. Roger Ebert -- La Dolce Vita (1960)
In a 2008 column for The Chicago Sun-Times, the critic asked himself, "What is my favorite film?" The answer: "Right now, this moment, the answer that would spring most quickly to mind is Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960). I've seen it, oh, at least 25 times, maybe more. It doesn't get old for me. ...I've grown so worked up just writing this paragraph that I want to slide in the DVD and start watching immediately. "

42. Michael Phelps -- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Of Austin Powers, Phelps has said, "It’s still as funny as it was when it was released."
* * *
So, what's your favorite?

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Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.

1. IT'S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”

2. JOHN HUGHES REJECTED THE IDEA OF DIRECTING MR. MOM.

Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.

3. MICHAEL KEATON GOT THE ROLE BECAUSE OF NIGHT SHIFT.

In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”

4. THE FILM BROKE NEW GROUND.

Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”

5. TODAY, “MR. MOM” IS CONSIDERED A PEJORATIVE TERM.

More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”

6. TERI GARR DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A MESSAGE MOVIE.

The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”

7. MARTIN MULL IMPROVISED THE “220, 221” LINE.

The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.

8. MR. MOM OUTGROSSED HUGHES’S OTHER 1983 SUMMER MOVIE—VACATION.

Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.

9. THE MOVIE LED TO HUGHES BEING CALLED “A PURVEYOR OF HORNY SEX COMEDIES.”

During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”

10. MR. MOM WAS MADE INTO A TV MOVIE AFTER ALL.

In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

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