Ever since cinema established itself as a form of art, countless films have been created; countless superb and strong and awe-worthy films.

That is one of the reasons why the choices on this list were so exceptionally hard to make. But there are some films that touch us in a secret, intimate place, deep within our heart, and after we leave the theater we are never, ever the same, not completely.

They change the way we perceive things. They change the way we see the world and the way we feel. In a way, they change our lives. So without further ado, here are the 7 films that will leave deep and lasting marks on your very soul.

1. Magnolia

Back in 2000-2001, PTA said that he believed “Magnolia” would be his best film ever. And he had a point.

A study on luck, coincidences, and the invisible forces that drive and join people, “Magnolia” is a funny, strange, and heartbreakingly human film, in which all the characters struggle for the same things we all do: happiness, redemption, and freedom.

2. No Country For Old Men

It would be overly ambitious of me to try and fit an adequate interpretation of the Coen brothers’ film into one paragraph, so all I can say is that this is a movie that has level upon level of meaning.

With Xavier Bardem fleshing out the inevitability of death and the randomness of chaos in one of his strongest performances, this movie will slam into your head one simple fact: You can’t stop what’s coming.

3. The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick’s largest and most ambitious project to date won the Palme d’Or and divided critics. Like all of his films, it’s worth watching simply for the stunning visual beauty.

However, “The Tree of Life” is much, much more than just a beautiful film. It is a cosmic, transcendental film. It searches for the meaning of life, from the beginning of creation to a small family. And it asks all the right questions.

4. Grave of the Fireflies (“Hotaru no Haka”)

This movie will not present you with existential, or large scale questions, or philosophical musings. But it will change your heart. It is the story of two siblings being orphaned and left to fend for themselves during WWII in Japan. Any further descriptions will not do the movie justice.

5. Fight Club

Ah, “Fight Club”. Where do I even begin with this one? The movie that revolutionized the way many, many men see the world. The first shock comes when you first watch it; you realize the pretentiousness and meaninglessness of consumerism and materialistic self-absorption.

The second shock comes when you realize that the ensuing “revolution” is, itself, a satire, mercilessly taunting itself. The movie will get you thinking. What am I doing? What is it that defines me? How can I liberate myself? Will it have meaning, or is everything still just a copy of a copy of a copy?

6. The Fountain

Darren Aronofsky has given us some wonderful features, that linger and haunt us long after we’ve watched them. “The Fountain” is a little gem that, because of its grandness, can easily be misunderstood.

At its core, it is a love story. One man trying across time and space to get back his love from the clutches of the inevitable; death. At the same time, it is an exploration of how we come to terms with death; decay; and our own perishing.

This balance between love and death, along with the stunning visuals, will give you an unforgettable experience.

7. Life Is Beautiful

Buongiorno, principessa!“. Decades after Roberto Benigni’s film about a father who tries to shelter his son and family from the horrors of WWII in a Nazi concentration camp, “Life is beautiful” remains relevant as a lesson on optimism and preserving one’s humanity and childlike innocence safe and intact from anything life might throw at us.

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This Post Has 93 Comments

  1. Jules

    You should have put “waking life”by Richard Linklater on this list.

  2. Me

    My most life changing films:
    The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
    Waking Life
    Kung Fu Panda 2
    Fight Club
    Enter the Void

  3. Roman

    You forgot “into the wild”

    its an amazing movie, out of the book of john krakauer,
    it inspired me a lot and i promiss you, you will like it a lot! 😉

  4. Usman

    this List is better than many lists i ever encountered. your choice is so neutral & based on merit. i really appreciate you for your sharing. i would have not known about these movies because they are a bit old and not the type they people run to watch in cinema. but they are master pieces. these days only big budget , big commercialism , big cast is discussed . no body discuss being human. i watched the movie “the croods” . it really changed me the way i see my father. my heart cried for what i have been doing with my father. now i realised why my father was so rude to me all his life. that movie is beyond words

  5. Kelly

    I love reading your articals Sophia!! Always inspiring and thought provoking 🙂 keep it up girlfriend !!

  6. Muzaffar

    commentary on Fight Club reflect my feelings , totally. It holds distinctive position which remain pivotal for serious movie lovers for very very long time. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Shawn Rebelo

    The Man From Earth

  8. Vicci

    This is a list of 7 movies yet the initial description says it’s a list of 10…

  9. Daniel Hutchinson

    Great list! I personally would have added Into the Wild to it though.

  10. Dennis

    Just had to throw in a few:
    Donnie Darko
    What Dreams May Come
    Cloud Atlas
    Apocalypse Now

  11. Ali G.

    Nice post! I should go and watch the 3rd and the 4th. The others are also in my fave list. BTW, I’d be delighted to see a similar list for literature.

  12. edison

    Need to get these movies first and check it out… Any idea where to get these movies?

  13. Nicholas Hartney

    Grave of the Fireflies was the saddest movie ever made; I don’t think I could watch it again.

  14. Night_Fox

    Great list! Esp fight club changed the way i think.

    However, I’d like to add
    ” Into the wild ” by Sean Penn.
    And “zeitgeist addendum” by Peter Joseph.

  15. Simona

    “The lives of others” and “The world is big and salvation lurks around the corner” two movies that deserve to be see and can be added to your list. 🙂

  16. Alex

    Nice list. I’d add Into The Wild…

  17. Jason Van Beurden

    Dances with Wolves would be a #1 choice

  18. Smushbush

    i definitely think te secret life of Walter Mitty should be in there, purely because it made me full so humble about absolutely everything

  19. Eliane

    I would like to add “Into the Wild” and “Dead Man”.

  20. Kasia

    Perfect choice of movies for this topic, but I noticed a lack of one special movie – “Into the wild”, which is the most powerful and clearly true in its message movie I’ve ever seen. I think it should be on this list.

  21. Dr. Acula

    WHY is Into The Wild not on this list? It should be the first one!

  22. kidindika

    Cloud Atlas should definitely be on this list, number one in fact…………..actually, 6/7ths of this list shouldn’t be on this list

  23. zomby

    “Into the wild” defently should be on the list

  24. Jennifer

    You should add The Peaceful Warrior and My Life to the list

  25. Otto

    no American Beauty?

  26. moda

    Yellow Submarine. A Story of Love.

  27. Mari Tanaka

    Reads like a pretentious film studies text book while revealing no useful information at all. Left me with absolutely no interest in any of the movies listed. In fact because of the lack of information it made all the movies seem like they would be boring movies to avoid.


    Where the hell is Taxi Driver and The Godfather?

  29. elvan

    I just wonder what is “Life is beautiful” doing on this list. And what happened to “the thin red line” and that Iranian movie “a separation” “the pianist” and the four Sean Penn movies “into the wild” and “mystic river” “I am sam” ” dead man walking”.

  30. King

    “Goodwill Hunting”, “Citizen Kane”, “Dead Presidents” and a number of other titles would make this list better.

  31. V

    ‘3 idiots’ belongs here

  32. Hector Rodriguez

    Have you seen The Fall (2006) by Tarsem? That’s one you might want to consider.

  33. Fabian

    Okay, and how exactly isnt matrix in this list?

    if you dont look at it as a stupid action-movie it has some mind-feeding stuff in it…

  34. fourky

    and “into the wild” !!!

  35. Ewi

    I would say: Children of man by Alfonso Cuarón

  36. shade45

    The bang bang club?
    This movie did not let me sleep for a night..the dedication of the characters to their field of profession will make you wana do something for youself..

  37. Beaker

    Vanilla Sky, so many conclusions…

  38. oussama

    There are many other movies that would change our way of thinking , change our behavior , ”a beautiful mind” ”forrest gump’ ‘american beauty’ ‘dallas buyers club’ and many other masterpieces

  39. Donald Nealon

    You must be kidding.

  40. ONE

    Boyhood should be on this list.

  41. Stacy

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

  42. Sid

    Where’s “American beauty”, “Cloud Atlas” and “A separation” ??

  43. Danny Jones

    A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick
    seems to be missing.

  44. Luke

    Shame on you people whingeing and moaning about what is and isn’t on this list. GROW UP! “There is always something to complain about in this world. Take note of those that don’t.”

    1. IAN

      Hey Luke! I’m wondering why you are so angry. When folk suggest their own life-changing movies, why do you need to tell them to GROW UP and stop whinging? We all need to look at ourselves before we look at what others.

    2. Katherine L

      lols@ we have a bunch of children in here!

  45. Sam

    What about Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure? The 3 Amigos or The Cowboys????

    1. Brandon

      Nothing is more enlightening than seeing who Keanu Reeves really is!

      1. shery

        wild stallions!

  46. Kala shelton

    “Spirited Away” definitely should have made this list.

  47. lavanya

    I feel it all depends on a person’s perspective totally.What one considers the best need not be another’s person’s best too.
    By the way, can someone help me find out the name of a movie ,an Australian-Newzealand production. The story goes more or less like this- a young man who is a fugitive on the run from the South to north of Newzealand . On his way, meets a 13 yr old girl who too is on the run and was to meet her father in Sydney. The soundtrack is what I am trying to get hold of. Can someone please give me the name of the movie.

    1. Tom Moore

      Star Light Hotel

    2. umamahesh

      Yes I Like Your Opinion.
      None of the two persons feelings in the world will be same.

  48. Christianleft

    Tie an HD camera to the back of a drunk baboon. Set him loose in a suburban neighborhood.

    Boom… Tree of Life.

  49. Jho28

    3 Idiots is awesome except for the dancing and the singing part. I think “Invictus” is also cool and full of life changing lesson! (just a thought) 🙂

  50. Logan

    Don’t forget ‘Van Helsing’ with Hugh Jackman. Masterpiece!

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