Backlist movies I want to watch in 2021

There’s 17 movies on this list, which might seem like a random number, but it’s what I’ve been doing for the past few years. I watch one movie every month and then an extra one in June, July, August, November, and December — aka summer and the two months with holiday breaks.

2021’s list is a mash-up of movies I’m pretty sure I’ll like (aka sports, rom-coms, and documentaries) and films from the American Film Institute‘s list of best American movies. And I’m also finally watching Your Name, the movie friends have been telling me to watch for months.

Notes: 1. All the links lead to Youtube trailers 2. The Rotten Tomatoes numbers are the critic score/audience score 3. I will be updating this post over the year as I watch the movies.

1. Your Name

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 52m
Rotten Tomatoes: 98/94
Release Year: 2016

Two teenagers who have swapped bodies decide to meet each other.

2. Hoosiers

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 55m
Rotten Tomatoes: 89/88
Release Year: 1986

A not-very-successful coach struggles to lead his basketball team to victory.

UPDATE (Someday in February): If I say, that I neutrally liked this movie, do you get what I mean? Besides that, two other thoughts: Truly, I thought that McFarland, USA took a similar movie plot and did it way better. And Coach Norman Dale is a great example of Malcolm Gladwell’s disagreeable people.

3. Star Wars IV

Rating: PG
Length: 2h 5m
Rotten Tomatoes: 92/96
Release Year: 1977

Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and R2D2 go to rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader.

4. Dr. Strangelove

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 42m
Rotten Tomatoes: 98/94
Release Year: 1964

A US general goes insane and sends bombers to destroy the USSR.

5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Rating: unrated
Length: 2h 10m
Rotten Tomatoes: 96/94
Release Year: 1939

A rookie Senator stands up against the other corrupt members.

6. Rebel Without a Cause

Rating: PG-13
Length: 1h 51m
Rotten Tomatoes: 94/88
Release Year: 1955

A new kid has problems fitting into town.

7. Saving Private Ryan

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

A group of soldiers go behind enemy lines to save Private Ryan.

8. West Side Story

Rating: R
Length: 2h 50m
Rotten Tomatoes: 93/95
Release Year: 1998

Romeo and Juliet music but with New York street gangs.

9. 500 Days of Summer

Rating: PG-13
Length: 1h 37m
Rotten Tomatoes: 85/84
Release Year: 2009

A guy’s who been dumped tries to figure out what went wrong with his relationship.

10. Back to the Future

Rating: PG
Length: 1h 56m
Rotten Tomatoes: 96/94
Release Year: 1985

A boy gets transported from the 1980s to the 1950s, where he has to make sure his parents fall in love. And then he has to return and save someone else.

11. Lawrence of Arabia

Rating: PG
Length: 3h 48m
Rotten Tomatoes: 97/93
Release Year: 1962

A British soldier is sent to Arabia, but when he gets there, he goes against orders from above.

12. On the Waterfront

Rating: unrated
Length: 1h 48m
Rotten Tomatoes: 99/95
Release Year: 1954

A boxer is persuade to purposely lose a fight, but then decides to testify against the man who persuaded him.

13. My Fair Lady

Rating: G
Length: 2h 52m
Rotten Tomatoes: 95/90
Release Year: 1964

An arrogant professor believes he’s so good at what he does (studying speech) that he decides to change a Cockney girl’s accent into a high society one.

14. War Photographer

Rating: unrated (documentary)
Length: 1h 37m
Rotten Tomatoes: 80/93
Release Year: 2001

Documentary following war photojournalist James Nachtwey.

15. North by Northwest

Rating: unrated
Length: 2h 16m
Rotten Tomatoes: 99/94
Release Year: 1959

A business man is relentlessly chased by a spy because the spy thinks he’s a government agent.

16. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Rating: G
Length: 2h 44m
Rotten Tomatoes: 92/89
Release Year: 1968

Astronauts find themselves fighting a computer system that’s gone rogue.

UPDATE (3/7/21): On last year’s list, my least accurate summary as to be the Fight Club one. And even though this is only the second movie I’ve watched this year, 2001 has to be the winner for 2021. Ok ok, I know this is named as one of the best movies of all time, but I’m clearly not a sophisticated film watcher. This movie is supposed to be an experience, but I just got bored during it.

17. Rocky

Rating: PG
Length: 2h 2m
Rotten Tomatoes: 94/69
Release Year: 1976

A low-level boxer is randomly chosen to take on the world heavyweight champion.

Have you watched any of these movies? Okay, I have a vague memory of watching Star Wars when I was younger, but I also remember being confused at what was going on. And I have no idea which one I watched, or if it was even Star Wars and not another space movie.
What’s something you watched recently? This morning I watched the first episode of Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything on Netflix. It was really interesting. The host, Latif Nasser, is already becoming one of my favorite journalists.
Do you have documentary recommendations?
What’s something you want to watch soon? I’m seeing good reviews of Wonder Woman 1984 everywhere, but I still need to watch the first one, so maybe both of them.

P.P.S. My movie lists from 2019 and 2020.

15 thoughts on “Backlist movies I want to watch in 2021”

  1. This post is very interesting. I’m always intrigued by your varied taste (which I think is really cool)
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a classic in my family and it’s very good.
    I look forward to checking back to this post throughout the year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Back to the Future and the original Star Wars movies are family favorites, so I’ve seen those a bunch of times. 🙂
    I’ve been wanting to watch Saving Private Ryan and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington too! They’ve been on my radar for a while now, but I haven’t gotten to them yet.
    Recently I watched The Promised Neverland (and then showed it to my sister and then showed it to my cousins…so a total of three times) and I’m not obsessed…but maybe I am. Okay, sure. I am obsessed.
    I am excited about seeing the movie adaption of Flora and Ulysses that’s coming out early next year, though I am worried that they won’t do it justice.


  3. I saw Hoosiers once a long time ago and remember nothing about it except that I was incredibly bored the whole time. I need to watch it again though, because I really was too young to understand what was going on, and I’ve heard that it’s actually really good. Ah, I love Back to the Future! I love the ridiculousness of the time travel, and Doc Brown and Marty McFly are such a dynamic duo. I haven’t seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but it’s been in the back of my mind as something I want to watch for years. I love Jimmy Stewart, and my grandpa said it’s one of his favorite Jimmy Stewart movies. Need to watch it someday!
    I recently watched the show The Promised Neverland with my sister. It’s the first anime show we’ve ever watched and…it’s kind of one of my new favorite shows XD I love all the characters and the intricacies of the plot.


      1. i saw a bit of gregory peck stuff and sound of music (ofc), but other than that not really XD i’d love to get on it, there’s a lot of good ones out there. what are your favorites?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ohh, the two movies I watched with Gregory Peck are To Kill a Mockingbird and Roman Holiday! Hmm, I think my favorite classics are ET, Twelve Angry Men (I actually watched this in school but it’s stuck with me ever since), and All the President’s Men. And of course the two Gregory Peck are in.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only seen one movie on this list! But it seems like a really good list, with a lot of notable movies. I will definitely be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on them all. :))
    The only one I’ve seen is Back to the Future- which I watched fairly recently, and only because I was coerced into it by a friend who was shocked that I had never seen such a classic and made me watch it with him. I ended up liking it and I think you will too! It wasn’t mindblowingly amazing but it was just good entertainment, and gave me that feeling of satisfaction I get after I watch or read a classic and finally feel as if I can fit in with other people who have seen it and am finally in on any jokes about it…or is that just me haha?
    I kind of want to watch a James Dean movie…that seems like another classic thing to do. Also, ooh, West Side Story! I also want to watch that. I was supposed to see it on Broadway on spring break, but Broadway actually closed down two hours before my show, so the extent of my West Side Story knowledge comes from Glee.
    Right now I’m watching a few things: first, I’m finishing Gossip Girl (my friend and I only have eight more episodes, but we also have to finish before 2021 since it’s leaving Netflix), and then I just started watching The Crown, and I’m also watching The West Wing with my mom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh, I completely understand that. I’ve haven’t had the exact same experience yet, but I’ve had friends with similar reactions when I’ve told them I haven’t scene certain movies — I’m pretty sure it happened recently with Titanic. I don’t know what it is about that movie, but I’ve never been that intrigued by it. Oh, actually, I probably do know. It’s that I already know the ending. YES, that’s exactly the feeling. When it gets referenced and you know what they’re talking about! (OH, I forgot to put this in my Evermore comment — when you described your experience reading the book like being wrapped in misty fog on a cliff of a magical island — I completely know what you’re talking about to. When a book just so fully in.)
      Oh my goodness, yes, I remember you talking about how you were in New York City right before everything shut down.
      WOW, you guys are so close!!! Ohh, are you liking The West Wing so far? I’ve always been interested by it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t seen Titanic either! Everyone also has that reaction when I say that, too. I think my reason for not watching it yet though is that I know I’ll cry and get really sad, and….well, that doesn’t necessarily sound appealing to me, haha. YES, yes!! Ahh, I love the evermore side note too. That’s why I like reading fantasy sometimes even though I prefer contemporary- I feel like fantasy really lets you get into the book.
        I really like The West Wing! It’s so, so good. It got taken off Netflix sadly, but my mom and I both got each other DVDs of it from Half Price Books for Christmas (somehow it worked out where I got her season 1 and she got me season 2) so thankfully we can keep watching. I find it so interesting and I think you would like it too! It’s really cool to be inside the white house for all their important decisions, even though I’m sure it romanticizes a lot of it. It’s also one of those shows with tons of witty, funny dialogue.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, that’s what I love about fantasy too. The world building and magic forces me to slow down.
          Oh I didn’t know it got taken off! Wow, where are all these Netflix shows going? I wonder if those big streaming companies feel these big surges of pride when they steal popular shows off of another platform. AHH I love that you and your mom’s presents matched so perfectly!! Yes, that does sound so interesting. Is it about actual presidents, or is it all fiction people?

          Liked by 1 person

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