'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

Over 36.1K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime
Voting Rules
Vote up the best "old" movies that came out in the '80s and '90s - the ones you think everyone simply MUST watch.

If you're a younger millennial, you've probably heard your older friends and coworkers say things like "Hey, you guys!" or "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?" or "He can't see without his glasses!" and knew that they were quoting some old movie that you've never seen (something like The Goonies, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, or My Girl). These films may have been released before you were born, but to be culturally literate, you should probably go back and watch them. This classics list is not about old old black and white movies, it's about '80s and '90s beloved masterpieces. They're the cinematic treasures that made the careers of your favorite current day actors.

You can see some of your favorite actors when they were just starting in these old movies that young people should watch. Love Christian Bale, but you've never seen Newsies? Go watch it! (fun Christian Bale fact: he hates this movie). Admire Meryl Streep? Make sure you check out Death Becomes Her. She looks so youthful!

If you ever find yourself asking, "What old movies should I watch?" just work your way down this list and knock them out, one at a time. 

Most divisive: Halloween II
Ranked by
  • Back to the Future
    14,589 votes
    Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Crispin Glover

    This sci-fi classic, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Michael J. Fox as teenager Marty McFly, is a must-see for its thrilling time-travel adventure and heartfelt explorations of family dynamics. When Marty accidentally travels back in time, he must ensure his parents meet and fall in love to guarantee his own existence, while simultaneously working with Doc Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, to return to the present. The film offers an entertaining blend of humor, action, and nostalgia that will continue to delight viewers for generations to come.

  • Ghostbusters
    11,877 votes
    Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis

    An iconic supernatural comedy film, Ghostbusters features a team of oddball scientists-turned-paranormal investigators who embark on a quest to save New York City from otherworldly threats. With Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson as the titular "Ghostbusters," their deadpan humor and camaraderie brilliantly complement the film's inventive special effects and ghostly encounters. In addition to being a beloved movie in its own right, its catchy theme song and memorable catchphrases have solidified its place in pop culture history.

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
    12,317 votes
    Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman

    This action-adventure masterpiece, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford as the swashbuckling archeologist Indiana Jones, captivates audiences with its thrilling set pieces and charismatic protagonist. Tasked with finding the biblical Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis, Indy faces a series of death-defying challenges, including booby-trapped ancient tombs, venomous snakes, and ruthless adversaries. Combining a witty script, expertly choreographed action sequences, and a timeless score by John Williams, this film remains a must-watch for fans of adventure cinema.

  • Home Alone
    12,914 votes
    Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern

    In this beloved family comedy, Macaulay Culkin shines as young Kevin McCallister, who is accidentally left behind by his family during their Christmas vacation. Forced to defend his home from two hapless burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, Kevin employs an array of ingenious and hilarious booby traps. The film's blend of slapstick humor, heartwarming family moments, and classic holiday spirit make it a timeless favorite for viewers of all ages.

  • The Shawshank Redemption
    12,890 votes
    Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton

    Based on a Stephen King novella, this poignant drama follows the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker wrongfully convicted of murder and his friendship with fellow inmate, Red (Morgan Freeman). Set in the brutal and corrupt Shawshank State Penitentiary, the film masterfully explores themes of hope, friendship, and redemption in the face of adversity. A critical and commercial success upon its release, it remains a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

  • Jurassic Park
    9,062 votes
    Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum

    Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking blockbuster brought prehistoric creatures to life through groundbreaking special effects and a thrilling narrative. When a group of scientists and visitors are invited to the eponymous theme park, they soon discover that its resurrected dinosaurs are far more dangerous than anticipated. Featuring memorable performances, heart-stopping action sequences, and thought-provoking questions about the ethical limits of scientific discovery, Jurassic Park remains a benchmark in modern cinema.