40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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1951: Marlon Brando and Kim Hunter (1922 – 2002) in a dramatic scene from ‘A Street Car Named Desire’ written by Tennessee Williams and directed by Elia Kazan. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

With so many movies to choose from, it’s easy to stick to the years you know. Here are 40 classic movies from each decade to broaden your film horizons.

Just as it’s said that if one doesn’t learn from history they’re doomed to repeat it, that can also be applied to film. In order to appreciate the movies you love so much today, you have to look at the world of film that preceded it.

It’s hard to convince people to move out of their comfort zone and watch movies made before they were born or, worse for some, in black and white. But to say classic cinema isn’t valuable is to say movies themselves aren’t valuable. And with the rise of niche streaming sites like FilmStruck — a must-need service for every fan of film — it’s easier than ever to get a film education without ever leaving your living room.

The world of classic cinema, the further back you go, is nothing short of magical. Stars like Marlene Dietrich, Gene Tierney, and Natalie Wood could have only been presented in a time before CGI and big budget egos. As Norma Desmond says in Sunset Boulevard, “we had faces then,” and it’s true. But where should one start with so many films to choose from — action, horror, period dramas? The world of film is wide and diverse.

Culturess has you covered listing the five must-watch features from each decade — the ones you remember like yesterday and the ones you always wished to live in. (Note: this list is not definitive but is meant to act as a way to get you started.) And to aid you in your quest to become a movie buff we’ll also include links to where you can stream or watch these movies.