Most Thought-Provoking Films

by Jarod_Rebuck

Created 08/28/12

Edit List
  • David Cronenberg's Videodrome has much to say about the politically corrupt new age of brainwashing mass-media and its deteriorating effects on the psyche and, therefore, the body. Visionary and innovative. Original and insightful. A cerebral masterpiece!

  • One of the most powerfully stimulating films about human existence, Bergman's The Seventh Seal deals unabashedly with compelling questions orbiting around life and death, and radiates in its profound musings about the meaning, and absurdity, we find in our mortality. I adore this film.

  • Stephen King once said that writing is like bleeding on the page. That simile perfectly describes the ill-fated writing career of William S. Burroughs. In Naked Lunch, David Cronenberg brilliantly weaves the real life of his subject with a handful of the writer's fictional manuscripts, resulting in the most illuminating account ever filmed about the career of writing. Both hilarious and depressing. Superb!

  • Chaplin wonderfully satirizes the drudgery of the working class. Modern Times is a timeless comedy classic!

  • Life imitates art. This Oscar Wilde quote, a major theme of the film, reminds me of the potent piece with Sydow being pressured to work his magic by answering the prayers of a despairing mother who lost her child in an unforgettable scene in Ingmar Bergman's The Magician, where the magic of art is put to the ultimate test. Dr. Albert Vogler and his traveling troupe contend with intolerant Councillor Vergerus who looks upon their dubious profession with disdain. Our heroes are forced to prove the value of their practices or suffer imprisonment if found guilty of charlatanry. The final magic trick at the end is one of the most memorable scenes ever filmed, and speaks greatly about the power and merit of art.

  • One of the best horror films ever made, this effective adaptation of H. G. Well's classic involves infamous Dr. Moreau and his rapacious thirst for experimenting with his latest scientific discovery -- catalyzing organic evolution through vivisection! Brilliant film about greed and inhumanity.

    Watch Island of Lost Souls! That is the law!

  • Mighty Kubrick picture about the political insanity of war, those who thrive on it, and those ground up for worm food in the name of nationalism, a.k.a. ventriloquism. Paths of Glory is a treasure!

  • Polanski's ingenious filming of schizophrenic beauty hasn't aged a bit in the frightening Repulsion. I admire the way Polanski never settled with explanations as to the cause of Carol's psychosis, which leaves plenty of room for our own interpretations. I like to play with the idea that the Carol character, who's a foreigner, I should mention, has been induced to this state by what Jean-Paul Sartre calls "nausea."

    Empowered by its minimalism, realism, subjective approach, and refusal to use blood and guts for cheap shock effect, Repulsion remains one of the finest psychological horror films of all time.

  • Like Naked Lunch, Terry Zwigoff's Crumb wonderfully documents the life of an immensely talented artist tormented by personal demons who uses his adversities to fuel his creative drive. That artist is the great Robert Crumb. Also explored are his nearly equally talented brothers, memorable Max and Charles, both more incomparably doomed by family ills than Robert, who blossomed financially because of his work. I love how the bleak presence of the fascistic father is felt throughout the film even though he's dead and only shown through old family photographs.

  • Well-made Cronenberg classic about a pair of twin gynecologists, both of whom beautifully played by the great Jeremy Irons, intertwined in a bizarre symbiosis. Fascinating study about human relationships gone awry.


  • By SputnikSweetHrt
    November 07, 2012
    05:24 PM

    I've seen everything here except Modern Times, Paths to Glory and Crumb (although I just got it from the Barnes and Noble half-off sale!) and I have to agree--these movies really make you think. I've seen Videodrome so many times and every time I catch something new!
  • By A. R. Fodor
    November 07, 2012
    08:11 PM

    This is a great list. I am also interested in David Cronenberg`s middle period work symbolism and I see you completed well with Bergman, Kubrick, Chaplin and Zwigoff to whom art is a strange and magical way of developing characters. I am surprised that you didn`t chose "2001" which is more representative for thought-provoking films, Paths of Glory is important for his humanistic Weltbild like Barry Lindon, but I still choose Full Metal Jacket (1987). If you will expand the list what other examples would you choose? Mines are: Adaptation (2002), Synecdoche, New York (2008), Hunger (2008), Primer (2004), Contact (1997), Gatacca (1997), El laberinto del fauno (2006), Fight Club (1999), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Mystic River (2003), Silence of the Lambs (1991), Requiem for A Dream (2000), Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972), M (1931), Crash (1996), Mysterious Skin (2004), Eternal Sunhine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Persona (1966).
  • By Joseph Burris
    November 07, 2012
    09:04 PM

    What I love and find interesting about this list is the amount strange genre films make it. Horror, sci-fi, and fantasy are far too underrated by the film elite. These movies are proof of how meaningful and powerful they can be. Good stuff!
  • By Kent
    November 08, 2012
    03:09 PM

    Discovered Bergman's The Magician due to this list. Thank you kindly.
  • By Scooter
    November 09, 2012
    10:35 AM

    Fantastic list, I've seen all these movies except for Crumb and Repulsion but have had them on my list for a long time, will definately be seeing them now. These movies are wonderful and I would go so far as to say that some of them are the greatest films I've ever seen. However, Island of Lost Souls didn't connect with me, I guess I wasn't paying enough attention to the film and was busying working on writing papers. Is this film worth giving another view?
    • By Kent
      November 22, 2012
      01:41 PM

      For sure give Island Of Lost Souls another look. It's short and has a wild ending. Creepy too.
  • By Sam Rasnake
    March 06, 2013
    10:47 AM

    Great choices - especially the films by Bergman, Cronenberg, Polanski, and Kubrick. The Magician is such an underrated work by Bergman.