I watched the Back to the Future trilogy this weekend. Great movies, and modern classics. It got me thinking about those truly classic movies that people talk about, and quote and reference, forever. Another good example is the Princess Bride. In the latest Dresden Files novel by Jim Butcher, Harry references the classic quotes “Never start a land war in Asia, and never go against a Sicilian with death on the line”.
So what were the last classic movies? The Matrix in 1999, Gladiator in 2000 both probably qualify. If you’re willing to considered animated, which you probably should, I think Shrek in 2001 qualifies as a classic. Finding Nemo is another one to consider from 2003. I’d like to mention that Harry Dresden references The Matrix in the latest book as well.
I don’t count movies based on books. The Lord of the Rings movies were great, but they were part of the a greater set of lore than just a movie. Some of the comic book movies, like Spider Man, have been great but are part of something bigger.
Another movie, or movies, that I’m on the fence about is Kill Bill. Great movie in my mind but I don’t think it has quite the mainstream staying power that a true classic would have. Quentin Tarantino is a well known and famous director, but the violence and target audience make it more of a cult classic than a mainstream one.
I want to include Avatar, but even though it made so much money and everyone saw it it was more about special effects than it was about the story itself. Without an interesting and captivating story, I don’t think a movie can count as a classic.
So that’s that. I think you can make a very strong case that the ‘reigning modern classic’ is about a fish lost in the Pacific Ocean.