Are There Really 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die?

by Eric Melin on October 13, 2011

in Blogs

First things first. Let’s be clear right up front.


The whole reason this website got started was so I could have a place to make and compile my obsessive movie-related Top 10 lists.

So when I heard there was a book called 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, I thought: This is amazing. I must have it! And now I do. Huzzah!

In fact, the book is currently in its 7th edition in hardback, which means that each year, new movies must enter the list and old movies must exit. In that way, it reminds me of the Top 100 AFI list, which we’ve already seen two iterations of so far (and which is being swallowed up by our own intrepid columnist).

This massive, handsome, and rather well-put-together tome is a film lover’s dream. From smaller, capsule reviews to full-page appreciations, all 1001 movies have been evaluated by editor Steven Jay Schneider and his team of writers, in order of release.

The writing is uniformly good and sometimes great. Now that is saying a lot, considering that each person is going to have their own take on the movies on this list (and especially be furious at the ones that aren’t on it). What I mean to say is that, while I don’t always agree with the author’s chosen stance or cultural topic to address, I am always happy to get a sense of how the film itself fits in to the grand scheme of things.

For example, if there is a film on the list that I still haven’t ever heard of in all of my years obsessively watching and studying movies, I better know why exactly it appears on this list and what it is about that film that makes it worthy of inclusion more so than say Almost Famous, Mulholland Dr, or Children of Men. **shakes fist**

I don’t have an all-time list ranking that I keep on hand or on the site, but my Top 3 has been burned into my head since the late 90s and I am happy to say that all three movies (This is Spinal Tap, Fargo, and Do the Right Thing) appear on this list! Nice work, Steven and Company.

So now I’d like to bring up the bottom line: You read a book like this partially to see what the authors said about your favorite films and to squabble about why your other favorites weren’t chosen.

But the real reason you ought to be reading 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die is to discover a hundred or so movies you haven’t seen.

And this movie is full of them, all described in enough thoughtful and qualified detail to make me want to go and rent them immediately. (You should see my Netflix queue. If only I had the time!)

Sidenote: I have seen some people complaining online about the book containing spoilers. Get over it, people! Some of the movies on this list are 100 years old. Since the writers are exploring cultural watershed moments, they need to be allowed to write about something in the film that happens after the first 30 minutes!

THE LIST: I tried to find a complete version of the 2011 7th edition list, but I haven’t been able to. Here’s a link to the 2010 6th edition 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and all its exclusions up to that point.


Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Reed October 13, 2011 at 8:20 am

Looks like they booted Crash from their list at some point. But was it unforgivable to have it in the first place?

Great review of the book and gives me the urge to pick it up!

PS – love the site redesign.


2 Eric Melin October 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

Thanks, Reed! Yeah, there are some pretty questionable movies on the list or just recently removed. What’s interesting is to see how some of the more recent ones — like that one — were included because they had a flash in the pan cultural significance and then they disappeared. ‘The Blind Side’ anyone?

Glad you like the site design. Shoot me an email. I have an offer for you….


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