22 unmissable number movies from the last 60 years (plus 7 hidden gems)

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Amelia Franklin

Amelia Franklin

How many movies with a number in the title can you think of? Here’s our top pick of the best number films from the last 60 years, plus 7 lesser-know hidden gems!

1960s

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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After discovering a mysterious object buried beneath the Lunar surface, The Discovery One sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from H.A.L. 9000, the world’s most advanced supercomputer.

Epic and transcendent, Kubrick’s masterpiece still feels like futurism 53 years after it’s initial release. An out-of-body kaleidoscopic experience for the mind, body and soul.

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

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Seven gunslingers are hired by a Mexican village to help defend their homes from a group of bandits led by Calvera.

Westerns don’t come much better than this Seven Samurai remake. It’s thrilling and suspenseful, with sharp writing, iconic characters and terrific performances from a star-studded Hollywood cast including Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and Eli Wallach.

36 Hours (1964)

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US intelligence officer Jefferson Pike is kidnapped by the Nazis, who have an elaborate plan to convince him the war is over, he’s in an American hospital, and has had amnesia, all to disarm him into divulging vital D-Day secrets.

If you like strategic war movies with lots of dialogue, this is it. Gritty, though somewhat preposterous, it’s not perfect but there are enough twists to keep you intrigued throughout.

Hidden gem

One, Two, Three (1961)

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In this Billy Wilder Cold War comedy, a Coca-Cola executive in West Berlin may be fired if he can’t keep his American boss’s daughter from marrying a Communist.

A super fast paced, meticulously crafted satire drama that will make you laugh again and again. Who knew capitalist propaganda could be so entertaining?

1970s

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

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In order to escape prison labour, criminal Randle Patrick McMurphy pleads insanity and is moved to the special ward for the mentally unstable. Here, he inspires fellow patients to rise up against a cruel nurse, Mildred Ratched.

Adapted from the Ken Kesey book of the same name, Jack Nicholson gives an infectious performance alongside a terrific ensemble of supporting actors including Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif and Danny DeVito. Once the credits role you’ll be totally speechless and just a little bit heartbroken.

The Three Musketeers (1973)

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In this adaptation of the classic Dumas novel, a young D’Artagnan joins three Musketeer friends to fight the forces of the corrupt Cardinal Richelieu, led by Rochefort. 

Frightfully British, The Three Musketeers is goofy and silly but oh so fun. A slapstick classic, all the characters are good-looking and dumb and sort of bad people but it’s perfect anyway. Watch this on a rainy afternoon and you won’t be disappointed.

10 Rillington Place (1971)

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A dramatisation of the real-life case of British serial killer John Christie, an unsuspecting couple, Tim and Beryl Evans, takes up a place for rent owned by a middle aged man living with his wife. 

If you’ve not heard of John Christie or his crimes, I’d recommend going in blind for this one as the trailer does give away a lot of the story. Richard Attenborough gives a standout performance in this disturbing true life tale that grabs a hold of you and simply will not let go.

Hidden gem

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

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Remaining members of a South Central gang wage war against the lone inhabitants of an abandoned police station. As the gang close in, police officer Ethan Bishop forms an unlikely alliance with a group of prisoners to defend the station and the lives of everyone in it.

Many would say that Halloween truly put John Carpenter on the map but I’d have to disagree. This tense and brutal urban-western is an underrated 70s flick that gets better and better with every watch.

1980s

Three Men and a Baby (1987)

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Bachelor Jack Holden and his friends, Peter and Michael, have their lives turned upside down when a mysterious baby appears at their doorstep.

This is a true guilty pleasure, and on rewatch probably not as good as my younger self thought it was. But it’s still a joy, Tom Selleck is daddy goals and I’m excited to see Zac Efron in the upcoming reboot.

Friday the 13th (1980)

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Camp Crystal Lake is reopened after a tragic incident forced its doors to close. As they set up for summer, a group of unsuspecting counselors are murdered one by one as an unknown killer terrorises the camp.

Whether you like this cult classic or not, the undeniable impact it’s had on the horror industry is profound. Are there arguably better slashers? Probably, but Jason is a frightening villain whose influence has endured. And Halloween just isn’t Halloween without rewatching Friday the 13th or one of its many sequels/spin-offs.

9 to 5 (1980)

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Three women working in an office stumble into the ultimate opportunity to get some pay-back on their sexist, egotistical pig of a boss, Frank.

This 40-year old gem still holds up today – it’s funny, it’s chaotic and it’s surprisingly radical. Dolly Parton as Doralee steals the show for me but Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda shine as Violet and Judy. All 3 women are strong and iconic and I want to be all of them when I grow up.

Hidden gem

Star 80 (1983)

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In this biographical drama, Paul Snider, a sleazy hustler has his life changed when he meets Dairy Queen employee Dorothy Stratten. Under his guidance Dorothy grows to fame as a Playboy Playmate. But as Dorothy’s career rises, Paul’s mental state declines, leading to the ultimate tragedy.

Devastating and emotionally bruising, this is an uncompromising look at the lure of fame and dark side of celebrity. Star 80 is not only a small masterpiece, but a relatively forgotten one at that.

1990s

Apollo 13 (1995)

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Starring Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon, Apollo 13 dramatises the aborted 1970 lunar mission that meant to land on the moon. 205,000 miles from Earth, technical troubles aboard the spacecraft risk the lives of astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigert, with the failed journey turning into a thrilling saga of heroism.

No matter how good they are, some films just don’t stand the test of time, but Apollo 13 feels as fresh as the day it was released. The tense atmosphere, gripping storyline and epic score all work together to create a surreal experience of dread – just how many factors went wrong during this harrowing journey will never cease to amaze you.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

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Bianca Stratford isn’t allowed to date until her whip-smart but antisocial older sister, Kat, is dating too. So the new kid on the block, Cameron who instantly falls in love with the popular Bianca, pays mysterious loner, Patrick to take Kat out. 

On the surface, 10 Things is just your average cheesy 90s rom-com, but oh is it so much more than that! Kat Stratford IS the blueprint, Patrick Verona IS the ideal man, and the film honestly had a bigger impact on cinema than The Godfather (no I will not elaborate). Watch it, love it and if you’re not a fan then you’re probably a terrible person.

Se7en (1995)

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The seven deadly sins inspire a serial killer’s murders. Two homicide detectives, a rookie and a veteran about to retire, tackle the grizzly case in this dark and haunting film that takes viewers from the tortured remains of one victim to the next. 

David Fincher never fails to deliver and Seven is no exception. It’s gritty, it’s dark and who doesn’t want to see Brad Pitt pointing a gun at K*vin Sp*cey and calling him a bastard? The ‘What’s in the boooox?!’ delivery hilarious and iconic – if you haven’t seen it then seriously, what are you waiting for?

Hidden gem

One False Move (1992)

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Following a series of murders, three criminals travel to a quiet Arkansas town to lie low. Small town police chief, Dale Dixon is briefed on their crimes and waits for the gang of fugitives, who have no idea what they are up against, to arrive.

Billy Bob Thornton makes his screenwriting debut in this intelligent, hard-boiled backcountry noir. The story slowly humanises and adds shades of moral ambiguity as we get to know each character. Almost released straight to video, One False Move flies under the radar and will leave you wondering ‘why have I never heard of this movie??’

2000s

300 (2006)

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Loosely based on the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, Gerard Butler stars as King Leonidas as he leads 300 Spartans to fight Xerxes and his army of Persians.

It’s one of those movies that you put on in the background and laugh at how ridiculous it is, but are still lowkey entertained by it anyway. Is it a cinematic masterpiece? No, but it’s testosterone, blood and sandals. What more could you want?

21 Grams (2003)

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Three troubled people, a mathematician, a suburban housewife and a Christian ex-convict, come to find their lives intertwined in an unpredictable way.

Deeply moving, 21 Grams is a devastating but skillfully crafted piece of filmmaking that features career-best performances from Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio del Toro. Because of the non-linear structure, it might take a while to get into, but little by little, each event begins to make more sense. Fans of gut-wrenching dramas that make you think about life should give this one a try.

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

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Not a love story, but a story about love, two employees at a card company become entwined in a relationship that ultimately leaves hopeless romantic, Tom looking back on the failed relationship with mixed emotions.

If you watched this in 2009, you might have considered Summer to be the villain. Rewatch again and discover that Tom was in fact the bad guy all along, projecting his vision of a “fairy tale” love story onto a girl that’s simply not interested in a relationship. While it might not blow you away, there’s plenty of things to love and enjoy, all whilst making you think about the much troublesome aspects of love and toxic relationships.

Hidden gem

28 Days Later (2002)

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After a killer virus, turning those it infects into homicidal maniacs, is accidentally released from a British research facility, a small group of London survivors tries to cope with the aftermath of the disaster and find security.

Great film, shockingly bad trailer. Directed by Danny Boyle, it’s as gripping and convincing as it is inventive in reimagining the notion of the living dead. Who knew Cillian Murphy could look so handsome whilst gouging an eye out?

2010s

1917 (2019)

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April 6th, 1917. Two British soldiers receive seemingly impossible orders in a race against time that will stop 1,600 fellow comrades from walking into a deadly trap.

Tense, detailed and impressive without feeling flashy, 1917 is an emotionally harrowing and memorable experience. A masterpiece of directing and cinematography that puts you literally in the trenches with these men.

20th Century Women (2016)

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In 1979 Santa Barbara, single mother Dorothea Fields enlists the help of two women — Abbie, a punk artist and Julie, a quick witted teenager — to help raise her teenage son, Jamie.

The cinematic equivalent of being hugged for two hours, Greta Gerwig screaming “I DON’T LIKE YOU” in a man’s face is the most relatable thing I’ve ever seen. If you don’t like this film then you probably have a small dick and you definitely hate women.

Four Lions (2010)

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In this satirical dark-comedy, four home-grown Jihadist extremists from Sheffield hatch a plan to become suicide bombers.

Never in my life did I think I’d be laughing at a buddy comedy about radical terrorists, but here we are. Shouldn’t work but does, Four Lions is proof that anything can be funny when done the right way.

Hidden gem

120 Beats Per Minute (2017)

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1990s Paris, during the AIDS crisis: a young man, Nathan joins a group of ACT UP activists fighting for their lives and raising awareness of the disease.

Provocative and defiant, this French drama is as infuriating as it is moving. Often overlooked as most non-English language films are, you’ll be left wondering why you haven’t taken the plunge into French cinema sooner!

2020s

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

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Following the true story of one of the most notorious trials in history, seven people are charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more, arising from the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Court films, especially when based on real events, often run the risk of either being far too intense or incredibly dull, but The Trial of the Chicago 7 manages to escape being either. A thunderstorm of excellent writing, nuanced acting and powerful editing.

76 Days (2020)

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76 Days is a raw, fly-on-the-wall documentary capturing the struggles of frontline workers and patients battling COVID-19 in Wuhan.

Perhaps too potent viewing for 2020, it’s gut-wrenching and difficult to watch, but 76 Days is an important historical document that salutes the courage of medical professionals and will be studied in classrooms for decades to come.

One Night in Miami (2020)

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Miami, February 25th, 1964: this fictional account depicts the coming together of four icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown as they discuss their roles as successful black men in the Civil Rights Movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.

With intoxicating performances across the board, this dazzling invention is stirring and powerful – one not to be missed. Regina King DID THAT!

Hidden gem

12 Hour Shift (2020)

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Bodies stack up when Mandy, a drug-addicted nurse and her crazy cousin become involved in a black market organ-trading scheme.

Pure chaos and completely absurd, Angela Bettis shines in this off-beat quirky comedy horror. It’s rough around the edges, it’s bonkers and I love it.

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