Backlist movies I want to watch in 2020

UPDATE: The movies I liked on this list were Groundhog Day, All the President’s Men, The Emperor’s New Groove, 10 Things I Hate About You, Roman Holiday, and E.T.

My family doesn’t naturally watch movies, so for the past two years, I’ve kind of tried to educate myself in the world of movies. In 2018, I caught up with all the Marvel movies. In 2019, I watched a bunch of movies that were either famous or ones people on the internet/in real life seemed to keep mentioning. This year I’m doing the same thing. Next year I’m thinking about watching the Star Wars movies? But that is to be decided.

Here is my list for 2020.

Note: For the Rotten Tomatoes’ numbers, the first one is the critics’ score and the second is the audience score.

Fight Club

Rating: R
Length: 2h 31m
Rotten Tomatoes: 79/96
Release Year: 1999

Two weird guys become friends and create an even weirder club for guys who want to secretly fight.

UPDATE (1/17/20): This movie was so so weird. The people behind this movie purposely tell you to expect something totally different than what this movie actually is. Have you ever heard that internet myth that if you tell somebody with their eyes closed that they’re about to drink orange juice but then give them milk, they’ll gag? It kind of felt like that.

The first rule of project mayhem is you do not ask questions.
The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about fight club.

Groundhog Day

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 42m
Rotten Tomatoes: 96/88
Release Year: 1993

A weatherman keeps living Groundhog Day over and over and learns stuff.

UPDATE (2/27/20): I watched this movie because I had never heard of it before and then suddenly I kept hearing about it. Well, it seemed sudden because two of the blogs I always read both wrote about it in the span of a few months. One was Austin Kleon and the other was Kottke. In Austin Kleon’s post, he linked to an older piece he had written where he explained in-depth the connection he saw between being an artist and being Phil Connor. In Kottke’s post, Groundhog Day was described as being “a nearly perfect little movie.” I had to see what they were talking about. If I had watched it with none of this knowledge, I definitely wouldn’t have seen all this deeper meaning that people have found in this movie, but I’m glad I watched it.

The Dark Knight Rises

Rating: PG-13
Length: 2h 45m
Rotten Tomatoes: 87/90
Release Year: 2012

Batman is forced to come out of retirement because duh, there’s more bad guys.

UPDATE (3/12/20): School is canceled today because of coronavirus, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to watch a movie. While searching The Dark Knight Rises on Amazon, I realized that it’s actually the third movie in the Batman trilogy, so I watched the first movie–Batman Begins–instead. I liked the characters and the one-liners: “at least we’ll have spares–Yes!”, “I’ve got to get me one of those”, Gary driving–“sorry” and “YES!”. But overall, I thought it was just okay. Not the greatest superhero movie I’ve watched. However, I get why Batman is cool now! I’ve always been like, what in the world, Batman? Now I get it.

I wanna borrow it. For, uh, spelunking. Yeah, you know, cave diving.

All the President’s Men

Rating: PG
Length: 2h 18m
Rotten Tomatoes: 93/92
Release Year: 1976

The movie adaptation of Watergate.

UPDATE (4/13/20): My one-line description of this movie is inaccurate. This movie is about journalism. It’s about two insanely determined journalists who just would not stop until they broke the story. There’s a lot of shots of phone calls, the newsroom, and talking/cajoling/slightly-manipulating to sources. The point of the movie isn’t really about what Nixon was doing and who was involved—I’m still murky on that. The real point of the movie is how Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein figured it all out. My favorite things about the movie: seeing their very different personalities; the messy notes they took; and them being so persistently persistent.

Follow the money.

Emperor’s New Groove

Rating: G
Length: 1h 18m
Rotten Tomatoes: 85/83
Release Year: 2000

A jerk of an emperor gets turned into a llama and learns things.

UPDATE (5/3/20): Hahah, it felt like the animators and creators of this movie had a really good time making a Disney movie that was straightforward and basic but also ironic and irreverent.

Boom, baby!


Rating: R
Length: 2h 28m
Rotten Tomatoes: 96/97
Release Year: 1990

A guy in a mob finally climbs to the top but then problems happen.

UPDATE (7/4/20): I didn’t really like this one. I would describe it as what you would think of when I say “mobster movie” (aka murder, crimes, language, and more murder), but for some reason, there’s a lot of voice-over and freeze frames and what to me feels like cheesy editing. But the craziest thing is that all of it is based on a true story!

*shooting noises*

10 Things I Hate About You

Rating: PG-13
Length: 1h 39m
Rotten Tomatoes: 68/69
Release Year: 1999

Modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. A girl who seems very unlikely to date might date?

UPDATE (7/4/20): This movie has so many insanely strange scenes (maybe like twenty times I said to myself, this cannot be happening) but it is so good. SO GOOD. Ahhhhhh. This feels like a movie that could so easily be terrible (and from the Rotten Tomatoes score, it seems that some people already think it is), but I loved it. One of my top ten favorite movies.

But mostly, I hate the way I don’t hate you, not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
I know that you can be overwhelmed and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?
And hell is just a sauna.
Well, she is or she isn’t.
Expressing my opinion is not a terrorist action.
But then, you know, there’s always drums, and bass, and maybe even one day a tambouri
Yeah, but I screwed up. I, um, I fell for her.

Dead Poets Society

Rating: PG
Length: 2h 20m
Rotten Tomatoes: 84/92
Release Year: 1989

An English teacher tries to get his students to think for and be themselves.

UPDATE (11/14/20): I was expecting this to be a huge, dramatic movie that swelled. But it wasn’t really that. The storyline was quieter, slower, more indirect than I expected it to be. The English teacher, Mr. Keating, is inarguably the point of the movie, but to me, the emphasis on thinking for yourself was less than half of the story’s moral. I think that Dead Poets Society was even more of a critique on parents unnecessarily pressuring their kids to be someone they simply are not.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 32m
Rotten Tomatoes: 97/95
Release Year: 1975

A weird modern-day version of King Arthur and his Knights figuring out a murder investigation.

UPDATE (7/17/20): I don’t know how to describe this movie? If you’ve ever seen Princess Bride, it feels like that weirdness but times a thousand. There’s not really a plot. As far as I can tell, this movie is a comedic classic because it takes nothing seriously and flies in the face of all conventions. It breaks the fourth wall, it breaks timelines, it breaks between animation and acting. To give you a glimpse of how strange this movie is, King Arthur and his Knights pretend they’re riding horses, but they’re actually just galloping themselves. And behind them on-screen are people following them clacking coconuts together to simulate the sound of hooves.

Oh! Now we see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I’m being repressed.
I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!
We are the Knights who say Ni!
Look, that rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide! It’s a killer!

Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.
A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Rating: R
Length: 3h 6m
Rotten Tomatoes: 97/97
Release Year: 1966

Two guys in the west during the Civil War are friends and then not friends and then friends again.

UPDATE (12/26/20):
1. Did you know there’s a category of movies called “spaghetti westerns”? Sergio Leone (the director of this movie) was Italian, and after his westerns were extremely successful, he created a whole style of Italian westerns, or “spaghetti westerns.”
2. It’s really long and not a lot happens. I would say it’s a slow movie.
3. During the movie, there were certain instances when it felt like the words didn’t match the people’s lips, and I would think the sound was off, but then it would go back to normal. But then, while looking the movie up afterwards, I learned that the movie is dubbed?? I’m still confused which parts were exactly dubbed because I think there’s a difference between two versions of the movie, but I guess in both there are parts where it’s visibly off.

Sweet Home Alabama

Rating: PG-13
Length: 1h 49m
Rotten Tomatoes: 38/78
Release Year: 2002

A woman living in New York gets engaged but first goes back home to Alabama to figure some things out.

UPDATE (7/17/20): I’m not sure how to explain my feelings without making it sound like I didn’t like this movie or that I really did. For movies, I think I have a wide range of “good” in between “not good” and “SO GOOD.” This was in that “good” range.

So I can kiss you anytime I want.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Rating: PG
Length: 2h 1m
Rotten Tomatoes: 98/72
Release Year: 1982

A nice alien is stuck on Earth and makes a friend. But then he gets sick and the government wants to get involved and problems.

UPDATE (1/4/21): Reese’s pieces. The biking parkour! “This is reality, Greg.” A movie about how kids are so much cooler than grown-ups.

Wolf of Wall Street

Rating: R
Length: 3h
Rotten Tomatoes: 79/82
Release Year: 2013

Guys on Wall Street cheat and lie and basically do whatever they want, but then the government starts to investigate him.

UPDATE (12/26/20): At the most basic level, this movie is weirdly similar to Catch Me If You Can, the next movie on this list. They both have Leonardo DiCaprio as the main protagonist who breaks the law and is caught by the FBI. But from there, the similarites stop. When this movie is rated R, it’s really rated R, emphasis on all four words.

Catch Me If You Can

Rating: PG-13
Length: 2h 21m
Rotten Tomatoes: 96/89
Release Year: 2002

A FBI agent is on a mission to catch a guy who’s illegally pretended to be so many false jobs/people, but the guy’s pretty good at not being caught.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that this movie is based on a true story. It’s crazy. Frank Abagnale successfully pretends to be an airline pilot and doctor, and he steals millions of dollars from check forgery. (Oh, and he does all of this as a teenager.) He’s really good at forging checks, but he’s even better at acting. I think most of us change ourselves a little bit in regular life to fit specific situations, but Abagnale takes that to a different plane. But don’t worry, this movie has a good ending.

Roman Holiday

Rating: ?
Length: 1h 59m
Rotten Tomatoes: 98/94
Release Year: 1953

A European princess and an American reporter meet each other accidentally and then fall in love accidentally too.

UPDATE: AH THAT ENDING. This movie is so happy.


Rating: R
Length: 1h 38m
Rotten Tomatoes: 93/93
Release Year: 1996

A guy struggling for money sets up a pretend kidnapping of his own wife to get ransom money from his father-in-law but then things get too real.

UPDATE: I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel this way, but all the characters in the movie felt slightly off to me — kind of like they were caricatures? They just didn’t feel like real people. This movie seems like it’s going to be a tragedy, but it end up feeling tragedy/comedy by the end.

Citizen Cane

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 59m
Rotten Tomatoes: 100/90
Release Year: 1941

A reporter investigates a famous, mysterious man who died with his last word being “Rosebud.”

UPDATE (12/31/20): How had I never heard of Orson Welles until this year?

Have you watched any of these movies?
What’s something you’ve seen recently?
I watched Frozen 2 on Sunday. I do have to admit it wasn’t as good as the first one, but the first one is one of my favorite movies of all time so that’s not saying too much. I did think it was kind of weird though. (If you’ve watched it, I’m talking about Kristoff’s song and the plot in general. Anna and Olaf also felt different.)
Favorite movies of all time? I’m looking at what I put for my favorites last year, and it’s still the same. Frozen, Big Hero 6, Tangled, and McFarland, USA are my favorite Disney movies, and Three Idiots is my favorite movie of all time. I watched it again over break with my friends for either the third or fourth time, and all it did was remind me of how amazing it is.
It’s a Bollywood movie with subtitles and it’s so strange and beautiful and brilliant and Rancho and aghhhhh. If you have Netflix, it’s ON THERE. My friends who are guys think it’s funny to joke about how the first test for a potential girlfriend is seeing how well they can wash dishes. I think my test will be watching this movie.

32 thoughts on “Backlist movies I want to watch in 2020”

  1. i have only watched a couple movies of this list, but i’m not exactly into cinema, so i’m not surprised. 10 things i hate about you is a classic rom-com that set up a lot of tropes, so i ofc love it a lot. since i’ve watched this movie, every time i see joseph gordon levitt in something else, i still call him cameron – his character in 10 things, lol.
    emperor’s new groove is one of the best disney movies of all times. i was obsessed with the show on disney channel too.
    i watched frozen 2 as well, and i felt the same way. it didn’t captivate me as much as the first one did, not even in the soundtrack. i also thought it was quite confusing and olaf’s humor was a little bit off for me. i really liked seeing more of elsa, though. she’s such a great character and i think it was really important for her to learn more about her backstory and her powers. she totally went to the top of my list of favorite characters after this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought Joseph Gordon Levitt sounded familiar, and then I looked him up and realized he was also in Inception! Have you watched that? I watched it last year. Ohh, now I’m excited to see him in 10 things.
      Wait, there’s an Emperor’s New Groove show?? Niceee.
      Okay, I can’t say much about the soundtrack because movie soundtracks never absorb me the way they stand out to some people. Do you pay attention to soundtracks? Yes, I thought Olaf’s humor was different too! I liked Elsa in this one too. She was so much more comfortable with her powers and herself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do! I love soundtracks! And that’s why I was so excited for Frozen 2, because I loved the soundtrack for the first movie. But now that I’ve been listening more and more to it, I’ve actually found a couple of hidden gems and I’m enjoying it a lot more!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ohh, which are the ones that jumped out for you after listening to it more? I think I mentioned this in my physics post, but my physics teacher has played LOTR soundtrack music before class a few times.


  2. AAA I didn’t realize I wasn’t following your blog!! Well that’s resolved now 😅

    My family doesn’t really watch movies either, but I HAVE seen The Emperor’s New Groove! It’s pretty hilarious and I enjoyed it. I don’t really know what I want to watch this year; I don’t actually like watching movies all that much. TV Shows I’ve been watching, though, are A Series of Unfortunate Events and Miss Marple, both of which I’m enjoying very much.

    Happy 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHH haha, thank you!!!

      Ohh, so you fall on the TV side of the movie vs. shows debate? Is it because they’re shorter and it’s more fun to get invested over many episodes, or something else? Wait, I just looked up Miss Marple, and Agatha Christie has an elderly, female sleuth?? Whaaat.

      I hope you’re having a great 2020 so far!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I think TV shows are just easier to digest, and I can stop halfway through but completely through a story. And YES, Miss Marple is Agatha Christie’s old lady sleuth!! She’s ADORABLE and I love her 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The movies that I have seen off this list: The Dark Knight Rises (pretty decent movie, especially since Alfred exists), The Emperor’s New Groove (FANTASTIC and HILARIOUS and UNDERRATED), Dead Poets Society (Very well done and an excellent story), Sweet Home Alabama (I remember NOTHING about this one, but I did watch it), E.T.-at least most of it (um…just weird and boring. I know it’s a classic, but I didn’t get it AT ALL), Catch Me if You Can (I LOVE this movie! It’s a perfect mix of lighthearted heist type movie and deeply emotional drama).
    Recently I have been watching the Stranger Things TV show on Netflix and loving it.
    Favorite movies of all time is HARD. I like so many for different reasons. A few that come to mind are The Help, Inception, Monsters Inc, That Thing You Do, and Glory. There are so many though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, thank you for your mini-reviews. They are much appreciated. Okay, I haven’t got several classic movies I’ve watched. Most notably, Napoleon Dynamite. That movie is SO WEIRD. Princess Bride is also weird, but I loved the book. Fight Club is also insanely strange, but in a different way than the other two. Yes, I knew you loved Emperor’s New Groove and Catch Me if You Can! Your opinions over the blog posts have definitely impacted my choices :))
      Inception left me with my mouth dropped open for a good two minutes afterward. Do you have an opinion on the ending? We watched part of Glory in class. Whoa.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t get Napoleon Dynamite either! It just wasn’t my style, I guess. But I DO live Princes Bride, both the book and the movie version.
        The first time I watched Inception I was SO CONFUSED. But I loved it, and I’ve watched it many times since. There is so much to process. My opinion about the ending is that he finally figured out how to sort dreams from reality (this is shown in the scene where he confronts dream-Mal about how she isn’t real) and so he was able to go back to his family and live a normal life- in the literal sense that he was able to physically make it back into the country and also in the figurative sense that his mind was able to let go of the dreams. The whole movie shows him grappling with dream vs. reality, so to me that makes sense. The fact that he doesn’t even obsess over whether or not the top fell over at the end shows that he is more grounded. He didn’t need it, because he knew what was real. Some of my friends think he was dreaming in the end, but I refuse to believe that. Besides, the top started to wobble. What did you think?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yayy, you feel the same way about Napoleon Dynamite!
          Inception was insane. Ohh, that’s interesting. You’re right, he did figure out that dream-Mal wasn’t real. Your argument is very good. What do you think about the opposing argument that he just wanted it so badly that he decided to believe it, and that’s why he left the top? I have no idea what to think except that I don’t think I want to know what the directors intended. Ahhh, did the top start to wobble??? I feel like I could talk myself into seeing either.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I am not big on the opposing argument that he wanted it so badly that he just decided to believe it, though I can see where people are coming from with that. If he was going to abandon reality, why wouldn’t he have just created a world where Mal is still alive AND he gets to see his children? He proves again and again throughout the story that he can’t live a lie like that. Fake Mal, fake kids, fake world- he couldn’t do it, even if he wanted to. Because he can’t recreate them as they really are. Also, if he wanted to believe it so badly, he WOULDN’T just leave the top spinning on the table like that. He wouldn’t have spun it at all. When Mal chose to abandon reality for the dream, she locked the top away, and it wasn’t spinning. When Dom set it spinning again, it was like an itch she couldn’t let go of. He wouldn’t start the top spinning and then let it spin and spin. That would just remind him that he was dreaming. Because if it’s a dream, it’s all just an extension of his mind, and he can FEEL the top spinning, whether or not he is conscious of it. So it doesn’t matter if he is watching it or not.
            Aside from all that, I think it’s too depressing for him to give up and decide to live in a dream. So there’s that.
            YES, the top did start to wobble. But yeah, you really can decide whatever you want about it. It’s that kind of movie.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Okay, your arguments are overwhelmingly convincing. Duh, of course it wouldn’t make sense for him to spin the top in the first place if it was a dream. The only thing that makes me hold out is that it feels like too perfect an ending! Which I can’t believe I’m saying because I love happy, pretty endings. In one way the not knowing tension for me seems like the perfect ending to this movie.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Emperor’s New Groove is a CLASSIC. I grew up watching it and my sisters and I are always quoting it to each other. There are so many excellent funny lines. Catch Me if You Can is one of my favorite movies! It has that perfect combination of being really funny but also making you want to cry. I also really love Dead Poets Society and the Dark Knight Rises. I hope you get a chance to watch all these!
    (Also, I saw Frozen 2 with my sister and I agree that some of it was kind of strange. I honestly don’t even know what to think about Kristoff’s song.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha, yes! I think the plot of Emperor’s New Groove is pretty unique from Disney movies. Ahh, really funny and also making you want to cry is a great combination. I will be watching these this year, you can 99% count on it. And you can maybe 1% count on me doing reviews? I tell myself I can just do them at the end of the year but then it’s really hard.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yessss. Christopher Nolon’s batman trilogy is absolutely a m a z i n g.
    Groundhog Day is fun, and so is Emperor’s New Groove! My family quotes that one all the time in our family.
    Catch Me If You Can I have only seen once but it was really good. Something I want to watch again. I just read All The President’s Men but haven’t gotten around to the movie yet, though it’s something I have also wanted to watch.
    Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am very excited for the batman movies. Have you watched Marvel movies?
      Hahaha, I love that you mentioned that! The Temperamental Writer said she quotes Emperor’s New Groove regularly as well.
      Yes, I saw you read All The President’s Men in your post! The book is on my to be read list as well.
      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ahhhhh definitely want to watch some of these soon! My family isn’t a big-movie-watching family but some of these movies I might be able to convince them to watch! Roman Holiday looks like a movie I would really like, I LOVE old movies like that! They’re clean and funny and just good in general! My friend’s friend told her that Olaf dies in Frozen 2?!?!? I’ve heard he doesn’t actually die 9from other friends) but I was kinda annoyed my friend spoiled! I want to go see it soon though, its a pretty monumental movie xD
    enjoyed this post xx!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve only watched a small handful of old movies-To Kill a Mockingbird, Casablanca, 12 Angry Men-but I’ve liked all of them. Hahaha, I will avoid saying one thing or the other about Olaf :)) Ohh, I hope you like it if you do!

      Liked by 1 person

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