Whether you fancy romance, comedy, drama—or any genre in-between—there are certain films that are undeniable must-sees. Some are important because they make you uncomfortable (but have plenty of teachable moments), others entertain, but above all, this particular set will make you think. And thinking is what you're supposed to do as a real-life adult, no?
This list may be long, but FOMO is eternal. Here are the 81 essential movies every woman should see.
Audrey Hepburn won an Academy Award for her turn as a princess who ditches her schedule (and her entourage) in favor of exploring Rome, only to fall asleep on a bench and get rescued by a hunky American reporter played by Gregory Peck. A classic romance film.
Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis play rival ballerinas in this creepy psychological drama about Swan Lake and harnessing your darker side. Portman won an Oscar for it, so you know it's good.
In this swooningly romantic movie from Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke play a pair of travelers—she French, he American—who have a chance meeting in Vienna and decide to spend the evening before his departing flight walking around the city and talking to one another. In 2005, the sequel Before Sunset continues the story, and then in 2015 the trilogy is wrapped up with Before Midnight. All of them are worth watching over and over.
Carey Grant and Rosalind Russell play a formerly married couple—he an editor, she an investigative reporter—who have to team up for one last assignment. Of course, the fact that he hired her only after finding out she was engaged to someone new might have something to do with it, but Russell is hilarious and their chemistry is bananas in this romance.
The filmmaking in this sequel to the Australian dystopian road movie for the 1980s simply has no right being as good as it is. Not only that, but this tale of a wasteland populated by bloodthristy (literally) driving gangs ends up being a pretty feminist tale when all is said and done (thanks, Charlize Theron!)
Sissy Spacek is the one true Carrie—a bullied young woman who develops telekinetic abilities just in time for a prank prom invite to turn into a full-fledged bloodbath. I know we shouldn't condone violence, but it's hard not to root for poor Carrie after her classmates dump pigs' blood on her in her prom dress, right?
Just in time for the Steven Spielberg remake, revisit the classic movie adaptation of one of the most beloved musicals ever. Based loosely on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, two rival Harlem gangs try to keep Tony and Maria apart. The music is amazing.
Scout Finch tells the story of how her father, Atticus, a smallt own lawyer in the rural South, defended a wrongfully accused black man in this adaptation of Harper Lee's beloved novel. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is how most people who've seen this movie think of the character, and you will too when you see it.
An alien story like you're never seen it before, Arrival has one of the best reveals in modern movie history. Less a sci-fi thriller and more a linguistic mystery that unravels into a beautiful story about love and survival. Plus, Amy Adams is the hero we deserve.
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (lovebirds in real life) play a couple of feuding corporate employees. She's the head library reference clerk, heading a team of brilliant women who can answer factual questions at the drop of a hat, while he plays a computer expert sent to automate her department. Sparks fly in this rom-com tale of woman against machine.
Notorious rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis take turn devouring the screen (and, off-screen, devouring tabloid pages) playing two aging child star siblings with a disturbingly toxic relationship.
A classic and super relatable movie if you've ever attended sleepaway camp (or you know, have a twin you didn't know about then make a plan to reunite your divorce parents then live happily ever after). Prepare to get all the feels watching Lindsay Lohan in her glory days playing both (yes, both) Hallie and Annie Parker alongside Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson. #DreamFamily
The MarieClaire.com team is *very* passionate about this movie, and for good reason. Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, the 1998 drama/romance tells the story of two neighborhood bookstore rivals who absolutely hate each other in real life, then fall in love online, and well...we won't spoil the rest for you. (The good ol' AOL days.)
If we had a penny for every time somebody raved about this movie, we would be *very* rich. Gump takes us through his life, which will have you continuously alternating between laughing, crying, and smiling. A must-see that will continue to make its way to people's screens for years to come.
Julie Andrews plays an Austrian nun during World War II in the Academy Award-winning film. When she comes to the villa of retired naval officer Captain Georg von Trapp to be governess to his seven children, she begins to realize how much the family means to her. The latter part of the movie has an unexpected twist and displays the unfathomable truth of what it was like living through Nazi Germany.
It's not often that a movie so perfectly taps into the spirit of the times, but in a year where Trump's presidency has sparked tense discussions about police brutality, race, and false liberalism, this was the breakout movie that did the job—in the horror genre, no less. Director Jordan Peele turns the typical horror script on its head with this blend of cultural criticism and horror tropes.
Yes, you've heard all the buzz about this movie. But if you haven't seen it yet, make room in your schedule. Moonlight is a beautifully filmed coming-of-age story of a gay black boy growing up in a housing project in Miami. The many-layered film sheds light on aspects of black identity that are rarely spotlighted on film and was a truly watershed moment at the Oscars.
This hilarious romantic comedy spins laughs out of an unconventional feminist narrative about a woman getting an abortion. Jenny Slate plays a hapless twenty-something comedian who falls pregnant after she meets a nice guy in a bar. The story is compelling for its honesty and how it makes room for female characters to be unabashedly bawdy and comfortable in their own skin.
This riveting newsroom drama, based on real events, follows the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Spotlight" team as they investigate cases of sexual abuse by the Catholic church in the Boston area. Expert performances from the well-rounded cast (including Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams) plus an examination of the career-defining journalism undertaken here make this a must-see.
Though its direction was very controversial, this French film redefined the modern love story with an examination of all the beauty and pain of falling in and out of love. The impeccable acting from ingenues Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux put them on the international map, and their emotional performances are well worth the watch.
J.Laaaaaw. What looks from the outset like a typical rom-com delves deeper into the motions of mental illness, as a bipolar man tries to reconnect with his estranged wife following his release from a psychiatric ward. He meets a recently widowed woman (Jennifer Lawrence) with her own problems, who convinces him to join a dance competition with her to help him win his wife back.
If you've ever wondered what #RelationshipGoals look like, check out Wes Anderson's sepia-tinted childhood love story that's full of charm (pastel colored record players and knee high socks abound) and an all-around outstanding cast that features Tilda Swinton and a very off-brand Edward Norton.
Every millennial needs to see this heartwarming film about a girl finding her way in New York, getting her sh*t together, living month-to-month (Okay, I see you), and learning to be self-sufficient. All the laughs, all the feels, Greta Gerwig at her best, and it's all filmed in black-and-white.
No movie has ever spoofed high school culture as brilliantly as Mean Girls, whose hilarious script by Tina Fey has become iconic, bringing the phrases "so fetch," "I know, right?" and "cool mom" into our modern language. It lives on in countless memes and GIFs, even though the movie's more than 10 years old at this point.
One of the smartest love stories ever written (it won best screenplay at the Oscars that year) captures a couple who both undergo a treatment to erase each other from their memories following a breakup. The dream, right? Not so, as they revisit their life together in woozy flashbacks and realize that they're not ready to let go just yet.