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Movies for Grownups

Must-See Classic Movies List

These 21 quintessential films are required for ALL adults to watch (no exceptions)

The Longest Day is one of the 20 essential movies for people over 50+

Robert Mitchum with cigar among group of soldiers in a scene from the film 'The Longest Day,' 1962 — Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

The Longest Day, 1962
War Remembered

Three directors tell, with documentary-like detachment, the story of D-Day from both the Allied and Axis perspectives. Accurate or not, The Longest Day recounts the story of Normandy the way those who were there wanted it to be remembered.

Grand Illusion is one of the 20 essential movies for people over 50+

From left: Pierre Fresnay, Jean Gabin in 'Grand Illusion' (aka 'La Grande Illusion'), 1937 — Photo by Everett Collection

Grand Illusion, 1937
War Reconsidered

In one of the greatest war films, barely a shot is fired. Two French soldiers are imprisoned in a World War I camp headed by an aristocratic captain (monocled Erich von Stroheim). A slave to outdated, gentlemanly rules of engagement, he clings to the grandest illusion of all: That war can ever be "civilized." 

Spirited Away is one of the 20 most essential films for people over 50+

'Spirited Away,' (aka 'Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi'), Chihiro, No-Face, 2001 — Photo by Walt Disney Pictures/Everett Collection

Spirited Away, 2001
Animation and the Dream State

Plugging directly into our cerebral cortex, Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki immerses us in the stupefying world of a bathhouse populated by grotesque river gods. The mind-boggling image of a young girl and a white-masked ghost riding across a calm sea in a trolley triggers in us a mild panic attack: "Am I dreaming this?

Metropolis is one of the 20 most essential movies for people over 50+

'Metropolis,' Brigitte Helm (front), 1927 — Photo by Everett Collection

Metropolis, 1927
The Future, Part 1

Fritz Lang's visionary story of class war in a futuristic city is enlivened by humanoid robots, sparking machinery and darkly threatening urban canyons. From Blade Runner to Batman, there's hardly a movie set in a dystopian modern age that doesn't crib from Lang's indelible first look.

A Space Odyssey is one of the 20 essential movies for people over 50+

Actor Gary Lockwood on the set of '2001: A Space Odyssey,' 1968 — Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968
The Future, Part 2

Filmgoers had never seen anything like the starkly terrifying beauty of 2001. Hitting the sci-fi "reset" button, director Stanley Kubrick hurls us into the depths of space to the strains of a 19th century waltz. Can technology be humankind's savior? HAL, the rogue computer, throws that notion right out the pod bay door. 

Next: And the top Western is ... »

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Movies for Grownups Awards

AARP honors the films and filmmakers who make the movies we want to see. Read

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100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

By Bill Newcott
E-book
January 2015


A treasure trove of delightfully offbeat recommendations for discerning moviegoers, from the beginnings of film right up the present.

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