With the growth of camera technology and fast digital production, there are more films in production than ever before. Multitudes of films are being thrown at blockbuster producers as well as independent. Some even go through third party means. Considered revolutionary for their time and beyond by film connoisseurs and professors alike, here are ten films that changed the game.

1. Cleo from 5 to 7 dir. Agnes Varda (1962)

Cleo is a beautiful, scandalous, young singer thrown into a scramble as she tries to accept her possible diagnosis of cancer. Director Agnes Varda is an ardent filmmaker now hailed as an early feminist and realist documentarian. Through documentary realism or Cinéma vérité, her camera work includes:
  • Objective and subjective angle comparison (switching perspectives)
  • Playful movement goes along with musical montages separating itself from the documentary plot.
  • The women’s perspective of walking down a street with all eyes on you
With all that we’re given, Varda defines the male gaze in film never seen before. She pilots cutting-edge ideas deemed controversial especially during her time. Filmmakers, professors, and lovers of film all consider Varda an acclaimed filmmaker.

2. Breathless dir. Jean-Luc Godard (1960)

Godard’s typical film usually consists of philosophy and film as a whole. Breathless is no exception save for its investigation of what makes a character. Being the landmark of the French New Wave movement, Breathless helped steer one of the most important movements in movie history. New Wave changed the way films highlight character and movement in a more natural, rogue way.
  • In Breathless, you are sure to find:
  • Strange, oblique camera angles
  • Heightened subjectivity
  • Exploration of the Character and its role in cinema
It is one of those films you will impress somebody at a bar with. Based off its sheer popularity alone, academic and cinema circles adore Godard. Godard is a movie historian’s favorite subject as well, almost like the Jack Kerouac of the beatniks—which is saying a lot.

3. Vertigo dir. Alfred Hitchcock (1958)

Hitchcock is a well-known director described as the king of suspense, directing over fifty films like Psycho, The Birds, and Rear Window. Film theorists and makers alike love Vertigo due to its complex story brimming with suspense and tension. Along with a moody, mysterious score by Bernard Hermann, the tension spins up and down in a psychological rollercoaster. Fitting for its name, we follow our main protagonist throughout the dizzy nature of the film.
In Vertigo, you’ll notice patterns like:
  • The camera following obsession and desire
  • Marriage of music and film
  • The world of displacement and repression
  • Exploration of the anti-hero, the anti-authority figure who gets away with everything

As time goes on, Hitchcock’s films receive more and more acclaim. Vertigo alters the way the noir detective goes about solving mysteries when he is caught in his very own.

4. Fight Club dir. David Fincher (1999)

One of the more well-known films in this list, Fight Club is a cult film. Fight Club derives its genius from a book written by Chuck Palahniuk is known to be challenging, unpredictable, and impulsive.

In Fight Club, the camera explores:

  • Split perspective
  • Consumerism, class warfare, and anarchy
  • Pacing and Editing

A classic film on deception practiced in a fluid, non-linear narrative that questions whether what we’re seeing is true. Filmmakers and lovers love this film for the same reason the casual movie goer loves it. Fight Club challenges us with destruction along with the enlightening ideas saving the characters.

5. Her dir. Spike Jonze (2013)

The second most recent on this list, Her explores the nearby future of technology and desire. The film has conflicting ideas on what is real and considered fake or simulated. Spike Jonze further considers the question: what does it mean to be human? The camera explores:

  • The blurring between simulation and reality
  • Crossing the lines of desire
  • The frustration of the surrogate
  • Intimacy with the lost

The camera is a product of rising technology itself. Her speaks to its electronically-hooked audience on love and displacement. Filmmakers love Her for its originality and its impeccable timing for our age. Film critics believe Her changes the dynamics of sci-fi from a space western to something right here happening amongst us all at once.

6. Chinatown dir. Roman Polanski (1974)

Being the after-effect of film noir and tough man detective movies, Chinatown changes the gender dynamics of the masculine certainty. Known for its originality against films that connect themselves close to the old noir classics, Chinatown manages to follow its own genre.

The camera in Chinatown explores:

  • The dark and seedy within power binaries
  • Mysterious atmosphere and sense of time
  • The messy, clumsy Leonardo DiCaprio as the earnest detective

Overall, critics consider Her a well-deserved classic. Polanski, in all his problematic air, sets up the foundation for a great film. Hailed by film lovers for its unmatched performance and humorous delivery, it is the unusual story of the detective who is wrong.

7. Metropolis dir. Fritz Lang (1927)

This film is for people who love special effects. Known for its explosions, flooding, transformations, cyborgs, this film has it all. Film critics love it for its sheer vagueness, what is it really about? Is it about revolution? Acceptance to be human? Even in the 20’s these questions were being echoed.

What film lovers adore from Metropolis is:

  • Its advanced skill of special effects and set design
  • Great consideration of German expressionist aesthetics
  • A Romantic Revolutionary imagination of mankind’s history
For those into the history and originations of early sci-fi film, Metropolis takes the cake. Causing mass hysteria, the unchained female robot inflames an already revolutionary state.

8. Grizzly Man dir. Werner Herzog (2005)

A favorite in documentary courses, Herzog is a master of documentary and has over seventy different credits under his name for directing, writing, and producing. Grizzly Man explores the elusive nature of truth even in documentary.

The camera shows us:

  • Footage between the deceased Timothy Treadwell contrasted with interviews and monologues with friends and family (as well as Herzog himself)
  • Cuts and post-production has the audience choose their own truth
  • A peek into the amateur, free documentary style

Grizzly Man throws the regular documentary on its head. The film follows one central question: Who is Timothy Treadwell? The rest of the film challenges the audience to figure it out.

9. Solaris dir. Steven Soderbergh (1972)

The 1972 film, not the 2002 film with George Clooney! Solaris is often accused of being slow. It does quite the obvious, challenging the audience with suspense and anxiety. With a sense of something that just isn’t right, Solaris takes you on a momentary voyage that makes you long for Earth.

What the camera catches:

  • A voyage for the senses
  • Film as poetry
  • Disconnection of reality as seen through film (cuts, flashbacks, changing perspective/truth)

Solaris is seen as an experience. It is inviting and questioning, but not manipulative in a devious way. What you get out of Solaris depends on what you bring with you.

10. Get Out dir. Jordan Peele (2017)

Finally, Jordan Peele’s latest full-length feature. Get Out examines the critical atmosphere of today’s political world. Peele calls his film a “Social Thriller” for all the right reasons. Also seen as a horror film, Get Out is praised by professors and critics alike for its roots in Franz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks” which quotes, “violence is man re-creating himself.” A beautifully emotional film, Peele later tweeted that his film should be considered as a documentary.

From the camerawork, we see:

  • The significance of the sunken place through film
  • Mixing genres between horror techniques with comedic relief
  • Post-Obama film representation

No matter your political views, sitting down and watching this film challenges you to think. In somebody else’s social and political space, film works in inventive ways in accounting the history of our beliefs and history. The movies hold a particular importance right now in storytelling and truth. As filmgoers, remembering what makes movies so groundbreaking is their direct critique of everything surrounding us and our ability to recognize the advances that got us here.