Need something good and worthwhile to watch for your next movie night at home? This list of movie night suggestions has something for everyone, no matter what genre you love. Make some popcorn, get cozy and enjoy one of these excellent movies on a Saturday night.
Those of you who’ve followed my blog over the years know that I keep a birthday tradition around here. Yes, I love traditions, even in my online home! My birthday tradition is to write a list-style blog post that helps you get to know me better. Last month (I’m a bit late) I turned 31, so that’ll be the number that guides this list. These lists are getting longer, aren’t they? The first year I did one I was 25!
This year I thought it would be fun to share 31 movie night recommendations. There are so many low-quality movies these days–I don’t mean low budget, but low quality…something that’s not worth your time. Just scroll through Redbox’s offerings and you’ll see what I mean!
If you’ve ever been in the mood for a movie night but feel like there’s “nothing to watch,” perhaps this list will give you some inspiration. I’ll give you the title and an uber-brief synopsis, but you can click the title to read the Amazon reviews if you want to learn more, or to rent online.
It’s funny–I thought it would be difficult to come up with 31 movies I really love, but actually I came up with about 50 and had to narrow this down to my current age(; And it’s quite eclectic, as some of these movies are childhood favourites, while others are very recent discoveries.
31 Movie Night Recommendations (that aren’t R rated)
Based on Patrick O’Brian’s nautical series set during the Napoleonic Wars, I adore this movie for the beautiful tall ships, the sea, the score, the friendships and choices, and for the chase as the Surprise seeks to track down the Acheron. This is one of the few movies I could literally watch any time and not tire of.
I love Master and Commander for the sea, but there’s something about space that draws me deeply, too. Interstellar is a powerful and beautiful science fiction that feels rooted in reality.
I know it’s melodramatic, but I love the Gothic-ness of this lush, sweeping musical. And I’ve seen it twice on stage, so there are so many good memories for me tied up with this tale.
Ah, how can I not love this forever? I watched these movies in my formative high school years, but knew the stories from much earlier than that. And I agree with most other fans that The Two Towers has some unfortunate changes, but ultimately they nailed this trilogy through and through.
My favourite animated movie! It’s witty, well done, not run-of-the-mill. The Swan Princess is actually based on Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake, which is based on earlier folk and fairy tales.
And this might be my favourite musical! I admire Julie Andrews tremendously, and I love the story and the songs (except perhaps the boring “Climb Every Mountain” and the cheesy “Something Good”).
Like Interstellar, this realistic-feeling sci-fi is both beautiful and haunting. We read no synopsis ahead of time, and had no idea where it was going. I recommend you come to it the same way, if you can.
What a perfect cast, and what a gorgeous retelling of Austen’s classic! This one stands the test of time very well.
Eric and I have watched and loved many of the animated films from director Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. There are breathtakingly gorgeous with a deeply imaginative, dream-like quality. They’re very different from Disney or other American-made animated films.
10. Captain Blood
This black-and-white swashbuckler definitely inspired Pirates of the Caribbean! It’s so much fun for a family movie night!
11. Henry V
Kenneth Branagh has made some excellent Shakespeare adaptations. What makes this one a top choice for me is some of my favourite Shakespeare lines, the courtship scene, and Patrick Doyle’s famous “Non Nobis Domine” battle chant.
This movie managed to be both earthy and exquisite. I think the score is what really seams it all together, but everything is so well done.
13. Time Bandits
If you want something really quirky, give this time-travel fantasy movie a watch. My siblings and I loved this when we were little. Actually, I think the low-budget qualities helped to capture our imaginations even more than “glossier” movies.
This lesser-known musical follows the life of the Smith family over the course of a year during the turn of the century. And for what it’s worth, it’s got a 100% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That doesn’t happen very often!
I love a good action thriller, but not many such movies make it onto my favourites list. This one’s different. It’s cerebral, tight, easily re-watchable, and masterfully orchestrated by an excellent director-producer team.
16. Les Miserables
I appreciate it when a film can move me deeply, and this one does. It’s powerful and redemptive, and feels archetypal. Also, I love that the actors sang the parts on set, and without autotune.
This is a very fun Audrey Hepburn thriller-romantic comedy. It’s completely unpredictable and the excellent cast, script, and sets make it always fresh for a re-watch.
18. Babette’s Feast
In this Danish film, a Parisian refugee comes to an isolated seaside town to serve as cook for two spinster sisters. The straight-laced villagers are suspicious at first, but Babette may hold the key to something they’ve lost–their joy.
Although quite different from the book, I’ve always adored this imaginative and highly-singable musical!
20. Little Women
It’s such a treat to have your favourite books made into good movies, and this 90s version of Little Women succeeds in so many ways. (By the way, here’s how I think the BBC miniseries version compares.)
I believe this is what critics like to call a “delightful romp.” In this film, Audrey Hepburn’s character tries to protect her art-forger father from jail by attempting to steal a statue (fake, of course) that he’s loaned to a museum.
22. Spy Kids
Another childhood favourite, this movie inspired my siblings and I to fill backpacks with “spy gear” and go on missions through homemade obstacle courses. I can’t wait til my boys are old enough to watch this classic!
Yes, it’s made with Muppets, but this movie manages to nail Dickens’s novel where many other versions miss the mark.
24. 12 Angry Men
Twelve jurors arguing in a room doesn’t sound like a promising premise, but this excellent movie is tight, tense, contained, and totally hooks you.
25. The Parent Trap
Haley Mills is one of my favourite classic actresses. I love the camp setting and the now-vintage costumes and props.
I enjoy animated Disney movies, but I mostly feel nostalgic for the ones I grew up with. However, Moana is my favourite contemporary Disney animation. The setting captivated me, as did the fact that the story is an epic. (Scroll down to the Characteristics section of this article to see how Moana matches up!)
Although not typically a horror fan, I enjoy many of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies for his signature twists, the atmosphere he creates, and the psychology and personal journeys of his characters. I love the questions Lady in the Water brings up about calling, purpose, and our place in a larger story.
28. Jane Eyre
The novel Jane Eyre has had so many adaptations, but this one is the best, in my opinion. Also, it boasts the same composer who did the 2005 Pride and Prejudice–Dario Marianelli.
This story about a sheep-herding pig is a family classic. The movie has certainly made this Dick King-Smith’s best-known work.
This is my favourite Harry Potter movie. The book it’s based on isn’t as long as the later novels, so the movie doesn’t have to cram and crunch so much. The director does an artful job making it a tight, contained story, important to the overarching story but a nice gem on its own.
We watched this comedy ghost story over and over as kids. It managed to both scare us and make us laugh hysterically. Don Knotts steals the show, as always(:
Bonus Round: My favourite TV movies and miniseries
I’m not going to go into all the various seasons-long TV shows I’ve enjoyed, but there are a few closed-circuit miniseries and made-for-TV movies that are near and dear to my heart. At the top of that list are:
For even MORE quality movie suggestions, read my post on 20 Good Period Films for Your Next Girls’ Movie Night.
Other “birthday posts” from the archives
When I turned 25: 25 Things About Me
When I turned 26: 26 Things I Need to Nail Down Before I Get Any Older
When I turned 27: My 27 Favourite Heroes, Heroines, and Villains from Classic Literature
When I turned 29: 29 Habits, Recipes, and Things That Simplify My Life
When I turned 30: My 15 Go-To Skincare and Makeup Products