In the growing age of cinema, it feels as if we are compelled to visit the theater less and less, especially when there are plenty of alternative platforms from which to watch. But sometimes, a larger-than-life film doesn’t deserve anything less than an big, freakin’ IMAX screen.
Whether it’s an anticipated sequel, a surprising new film or an animated adventure, some films are just meant to be shown on the big screen, and seeing it any other way doesn’t quite explore the film’s visual brilliance. While there are hundreds of films that fit this bill, these are just a few of the most talked about, aesthetically large films that fall into this outstanding category.
Here are 14 Movies You Have To Watch On The Big Screen.
14. Apollo 13 (1995)
Telling the real story of the doomed spacecraft and its crew, this film follows astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) as they undergo a mission 1970s Americans are disenchanted with, considering it a “routine” mission. However, this mission is anything but routine as the unlucky 13 has plenty of surprises in store for these astronauts.
The film’s space sequences are big, beautiful and absolutely breathtaking, and the bold, 70s décor back on Earth is no visual letdown. Not only are the visuals amplified, but the big screen also drives the touching, emotional plot forward, leaving audiences with the feeling they’re experiencing the doomed mission first hand.
13. Avatar (2009)
The 2009 James Cameron film took audiences for an overwhelming 3-D adventure, leaving many people depressed at the less than enchanting real world. The plot follows an injured marine as he is tasked with a unique mission that takes place on the moon Pandora, a location that will make him question everything on Earth.
The serene, peaceful scenery on Pandora stand in stark contrast with the violent, dull surroundings of Earth to create a visual rollercoaster that’s made much more overpowering by the scope of a big screen. While the plot is enough to keep you interested, it’s the visuals that matter in this film, and as far as that goes, the bigger the better.
12. Braveheart (1995)
Set under the tyrannical rule of England’s Edward I, William Wallace (Mel Gibson), a Scottish rebel, revolts against the crown after his wife is murdered by an English soldier who tried to rape her. Once his anti-war mentality is changed, following the death of his wife, there isn’t anyone who can stop him.
One of the most powerful, emotionally charged and incredibly tragic war films ever created, Braveheart is undoubtedly fit for the big screen. Between the beautiful, heartbreaking love story and the cruel brutality of the war, this film’s immense agenda shouldn’t be seen any other way. Smaller screens just don’t do the film justice.
11. Fantasia (1940)
This animated film, set to Western classical music played by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski, was groundbreaking, putting stunning visuals to some of the most well-known, classical music of all time. This visualization of sound is surprisingly captivating, allowing the music to tell the story while keeping audiences engrossed.
Covering the wide array of emotions evoked from the music, each song has an animated story to tell, something only Disney could successfully accomplish. The images, along with the music, need to be experienced on the big screen to get the full, all-encompassing feel of this brilliantly constructed film.
10. Finding Nemo (2003)
The story of lost clownfish, Nemo (Alexander Gould), and his father’s (Albert Brooks) mission to find him is equal parts humor and raw emotion, making it a film for audiences of all ages. And with fun characters such as Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a forgetful blue tang, this film is one of the liveliest Disney films of all time.
Still, it’s the vast ocean scenery that lands the film on this list, as the big blue sea feels so much grander when experienced on the big screen. For an animated film, the ocean scenery is so lifelike, as all aspects of the ocean are accounted for and it’s easy to feel the enormity of the environment.
And with the sequel, Finding Dory, to be released in June of this year, you can bet there will be another addition to this list.
9. Gone With The Wind (1939)
Based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel of the same name, Gone With The Wind is a civil war love story, complete with manipulative southern belles, handsome men, the violence of battle and heartbreaking loss. Starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, this classic film is absolutely timeless.
Still, it loses something when viewed anywhere but the big screen. The beautiful landscape of Scarlett’s (Leigh) beloved Tara, the dark war sequences and the powerful romantic gestures are all made so much more vibrant on the big screen. A story this large deserves the big screen, if not just for the iconic moment when Rhett (Gable) carries Scarlett up the stairs.
8. Gravity (2013)
Gravity follows a medical engineer and an astronaut as they must work together in space to survive after an incident leaves them both stranded. However, the feelings of urgency and fear aren’t so much played up by the plot, but rather through visual effects and sound design.
The Sandra Bullock and George Clooney space film won big at the Oscars, bringing home a grand total of seven awards, including Best Effects, Directing and Cinematography. And honestly, a film that visually powerful deserves the largest of screens. The isolation and vastness of space is best depicted on the big screen, which is why that’s exactly where it should be watched.
7. Interstellar (2014)
Another star-studded space film, starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and released just a year after Gravity, Interstellar is a much more emotional film, relying on the contrast between space and Earth as well as the heartstring tugging of the plot. Still, visually, this film is a masterpiece.
While it only won one Oscar (for Visual Effects), the film, about an attempt to find an alternative home to the deteriorating Earth in a wormhole in space, is far more breathtaking on the big screen than it is anywhere else. The quiet of space in comparison to the bustle of Earth puts viewers in the action, making Interstellar far more than just another space film.
6. Jurassic World (2015)
A sequel fans have been waiting to see for over ten years, Jurassic World did not disappoint. While we saw the return of some of the more popular dinosaurs from the first three films, there were new, genetically modified, additions and expanded stories that livened a film that could easily have been nothing more than a reiteration of the first three.
But just like the original trilogy, the sequel is best viewed on the big screen. Not only because it’s more thrilling to watch the extinct animals at large in front of you, but also because of the film’s action-packed sequences that are amplified when splayed out on a movie theater screen.
5. King Kong (2005)
Film producer Carl Denham (Jack Black) and the star of his film, Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), travel to the mysterious Skull Island for the film, though they quickly find themselves at odds with the massive gorilla hidden away on the island as he falls smitten with Darrow and takes her.
A remake of the 1933 classic, the film has bits of love, action, raw emotion and amazing visual effects, all adding up to the perfect film to watch on the big screen. And as if Kong himself wasn’t enough to entice viewers to want to watch the film on the big screen, the mysterious setting and other, unsettling creatures, all add to the enormity of the film.
4. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
A man described in many different ways, a hero, an impostor, flamboyant and even a sadist, just to name a few, T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) is a conflicted British military man who fights both for the Arabs and for the British. The film follows his life’s adventures in a flashback, retelling his story after his death.
This retelling of the life of Lawrence is too big for the small screen. The epic scenes of battle, the dry scenery of the Arabian Desert, and even the larger-than-life, complicated characters all deserve to be seen on the big screen. Otherwise, you’re missing out.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron as Max and Furiosa respectively, Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the most epic action films ever created. The story is set in post-apocalyptic Australia, where Furiosa aligns with Max to escape a tyrannical ruler in one of the most intricate, action packed races for freedom that’s ever been shown on the big screen.
And shown on the big screen it should be. The impossible-seeming stunts in conjunction with the cinematography make this a stressful, thrilling film that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. So to see the film on anything less than a movie theater screen would just be flat out wrong.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Breaking box office records left and right after its December release, the newest Star Wars film did not disappoint. Taking place three decades after the events of Return of the Jedi, this film follows several new characters (along with some familiar faces), including a loner by the name of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and a traitorous stormtrooper, Finn (John Boyega), as they try to prevent a takeover by The First Order.
While all previous Star Wars films should also be watched on the big screen, the newest film stands out in particular, not only for that nostalgic rolling of the opening credits, but also because the action-packed, brilliantly put together, new Star Wars film is just that good.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
A race between computers and humankind to find a monolith placed on Earth will determine the next steps in evolution. The film is science fiction to the core, and over the years, has become a classic. The well thought out, story of evolution is engaging, suspenseful and brilliantly put together.
With the space setting, the dark, eerie sequences and the cinematic brilliance that viewers can rely on Stanley Kubrick for, this film is one of the best to see on the big screen. Often considered one of Kubrick’s best works, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a strong, amazing science fiction film that’s filled to the brim with material meant for the big screen.
Any larger than life films we’re missing? Let us know in the comments!