These Classic Films Are Hitting Major Milestones In 2021

Movies are like time capsules, especially the classics that bring up nostalgic feelings for so many. It’s hard to believe that the famous Rocky franchise started almost half a century ago! Even more amazing is that Charlie Chaplin’s legendary silent film, The Kid, is officially 100 years old. You may feel aged when you realize that more modern flicks like Mission Impossible and Space Jam are a quarter-century old. Read on to see what milestones Dracula, Labyrinth, West Side Story, and more are hitting in 2021.

Rocky Is 45 Years Old

Rocky
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

Sylvester Stallone knew what he was doing when he combined the rags to riches premise with a sports drama to produce one of the most adored American Dream tales around. Considered one of the greatest sports films ever made, Rocky earned ten Academy Award nominations, winning three.

The classic is also preserved in the National Film Registry and launched Stallone into international stardom. Made on a $1 million budget, the film went on to be the highest-grossing movie of 1976. Its numerous sequels have made the franchise a lasting success for the past 45 years.

Citizen Kane Is 80 Years Old

Apic/Getty Images
Apic/Getty Images

Orson Welles is today considered one of the best filmmakers of all time, and his masterpiece, Citizen Kane, is often deemed the greatest film in history. Welles co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the movie, which was his first-ever feature.

Though the film wasn’t a box office success at first, it gained more attention a decade later due to a re-release and critic praise. The film has been cited by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, and many others as an influential work.

Taxi Driver Is 45 Years Old

Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver
Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

Even 45 years later, Taxi Driver is a familiar title thanks to the film’s hard-hitting performances and social commentary. The movie garnered Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, along with the award for Best Picture.

It is preserved in the National Film Registry and was deemed the 31st best film ever by the British Film Institute’s magazine, Sight & Sound. There’s nothing like seeing a young Robert De Niro descend into insanity, especially given the actor’s brilliant improvisation skills.

Beauty And The Beast Is 30 Years Old

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Walt Disney Pictures/MovieStillsDB
Walt Disney Pictures/MovieStillsDB

Beauty and the Beast was Disney’s 30th animated feature film, so it’s only suiting that we highlight its 30th anniversary in 2021. The movie was also the first animated film to win a Golden Globe in the category of Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy.

The classic also won Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song. The 2017 live-action version was one of the most expensive movies ever made, with a quarter of a billion-dollar estimated budget. The adaptation made it all back when it broke $1 billion at the box office.

The Kid Is Officially A Century Old

Mondadori via Getty Images
Mondadori via Getty Images

The Kid was the first full-length feature film that comedy legend Charlie Chaplin ever directed. The silent film was preserved in the United States National Film Registry in 2011, and as of 2021, it is a century old!

The story consists of Charlie Chaplin’s character coming across a young orphan boy who he ultimately takes on as a sidekick. The heartwarming tale made it the second-highest-grossing film of 1921. Fun fact: the actor who played “the Kid” would go on to star as the famous Uncle Fester in the 1960s series The Addams Family.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark Is 40 Years Old

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

George Lucas, the mastermind behind Star Wars, proved he was a franchise-making machine when he came up with Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film stars Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones and features Steven Spielberg as the director.

With so many legendary names behind the project, it was destined to attract an enormous audience. Still, no one could have foreseen the film playing in movie theaters for over a year straight to meet such high demand. It was the highest-grossing film of 1981 and is still admired four decades later.

Dracula Is 90 Years Old

Portrait of Bela Lugosi as Dracula
Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Dracula started out as an 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. It was then adapted into a 1924 play by Hamilton Deane. The famed vampire reached new levels of recognition when it became a film in 1931.

Though many Dracula movies have come out since, the first one is what made the Count a cultural icon. Bela Lugosi’s performance gave way to the archetype vampire, making the film a classic. In 2000, it was added to the National Film Registry and in 2021, it will be 90 years old!

Mission: Impossible Is 25 Years Old

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Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB

The first Mission: Impossible movie came out 25 years ago, but the franchise is still hot as ever. The seventh film is set to come out in 2021, and Tom Cruise is still reprising his role as spy Ethan Hawke.

The films are a continuation of the 1960s series of the same name, which aired for seven seasons. With a worldwide gross of more than $3 billion, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this franchise carry on for as long as the James Bond films have.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Is 35 Years Old

Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB

Considering that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off made it into the National Film Registry and grossed more than $70 million, it’s hard to believe that John Hughes wrote it in under a week. His quick turnaround may be explained by his enthusiasm for Chicago, which he showed off throughout the film’s wild adventure.

The movie stars Matthew Broderick as a clever teen who ditches school for a day to live it up with friends. The brilliant ways Ferris gets away with his schemes make the film a dream for many high school students, even 35 years later.

It’s A Wonderful Life Is 75 Years Old

Donna Reed and James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life
Getty Images
Getty Images

It’s A Wonderful Life transformed Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol into a unique tale about mental health and self-worth. Though the film was initially a flop, it received praise in hindsight and is today considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Despite critics and audiences being initially reluctant, the film was nominated for five Academy Awards and is now preserved in the National Film Registry. Many families still watch It’s A Wonderful Life every holiday season, even 75 years later.

Top Gun Is 35 Years Old

Top-Gun
Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Paramount Pictures/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Though Tom Cruise’s acting career began in the early ’80s, it was the 1986 film Top Gun that elevated him to superstar status. Despite mixed critic reviews, the film brought in a whopping $356 million at the box office and made it into the National Film Registry.

Top Gun is a classic that’s still remembered almost four decades later. The film is so popular that a 3D IMAX version hit theaters in 2013. Fun fact: the movie was based on the article “Top Guns” that was published in California magazine three years prior.

West Side Story Is 60 Years Old

Richard Beymer And Natalie Wood In 'West Side Story'
United Artists/Getty Images
United Artists/Getty Images

West Side Story took the premise of Romeo and Juliet and twisted it into a New York City tale that made a huge splash on Broadway. After garnering six Tony Award nominations and being performed thousands of times around the world, Hollywood turned it into a 1961 box office smash.

The film received outstanding reviews and was the highest-grossing film of the year. It also won ten out of the eleven Academy Awards it was up for, making it a record holder for the most wins for a musical.

The Silence Of The Lambs Is 30 Years Old

the-silence-of-the-lambs
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MovieStillsDB
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MovieStillsDB

The Silence of the Lambs was among the highest-grossing films of 1991, and it went on to become the third movie to ever win an Academy Award in all top five categories. The film was based on a novel of the same name and starred Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

Jodie plays Clarice, an FBI trainee who solicits the advice of a prisoner (Anthony Hopkins) to better understand the criminal she is hunting down. In the 30 years since the film’s release, producers have come up with one sequel and two prequels that were also highly successful.

Fargo Is 25 Years Old

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PolyGram Filmed Entertainment/MovieStillsDB
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment/MovieStillsDB

Fargo was so well-done that it earned lead actor Frances McDormand directors Joel and Ethan Coen their first Academy Awards. The 1996 film has been fondly remembered for the past 25 years, partially thanks to the series it inspired.

The flick stars McDormand as a Minnesota police chief out to catch the criminals behind a ransom gone wrong. The movie was so critically-acclaimed that it’s preserved by the National Film Registry. It also received a total of seven Academy Awards and made it onto the American Film Institute’s list of 100 greatest American films in history.

A Clockwork Orange Is 50 Years Old

FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

A Clockwork Orange is a film that doesn’t hold back in any sense, and that’s precisely what makes it so talked-about even half a century later. Based on a 1962 novel of the same name, the movie takes the concept of a dystopia to such extremes that it was even banned in some countries.

Despite mixed critical reviews, the film garnered numerous award nominations, including four at the Oscars and three at the Golden Globes. It was also added to the National Film Registry in 2020, a year before its 50th birthday.

Jerry Maguire Is 25 Years Old

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TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures/MovieStillsDB
TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures/MovieStillsDB

Of all the movies Tom Cruise has starred in, Jerry Maguire has to be among the most quotable of them all. Many of us have exclaimed, “You had me at hello” or “Show me the money!” even 25 years after the film’s debut.

The box office success raked in $273 million and co-starred Renée Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. Tom Cruise played a sports agent loosely based on the real-life Leigh Steinberg, who represented more than 300 pro athletes over the course of his career.

A Streetcar Named Desire Is 70 Years Old

Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando in a scene from the movie 'A Streetcar Named Desire'
Mondadori via Getty Images
Mondadori via Getty Images

A Streetcar Named Desire started out as a 1947 play that garnered Tennessee Williams a Pulitzer Prize. Its success on the stage made it a shoo-in for Hollywood, and the 1951 film even featured almost all of the original cast.

The film is preserved in the National Film Registry and was the launching pad for Marlon Brando’s six-decade career. A Streetcar Named Desire also won four out of its twelve Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress.

Labyrinth Is 35 Years Old

TriStar Pictures/MovieStillsDB
TriStar Pictures/MovieStillsDB

For those who adore Labyrinth, it may be surprising to hear that the musical fantasy film was a flop at the box office and received mixed reviews. Between executive producer George Lucas and lead David Bowie, you’d think the film was a shoo-in for awards and acclaim.

The creative minds behind Labyrinth should be happy to know that the film still has a cult following 35 years later. Between its mastery of puppetry, Bowie-led soundtrack, and impressive performance by a young Jennifer Connelly, there’s plenty for fans to fawn over.

The Maltese Falcon Is 80 Years Old

Photo of Humphrey Bogart
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Humphrey Bogart is still one of America’s most iconic leading men of Hollywood, and The Maltese Falcon was one example of his early work. It was among the first 25 movies preserved in the National Film Registry.

Humphrey portrays a private investigator as he deals with three parties all on the move to obtain a valuable falcon statuette. Upon its release 80 years ago, the film garnered three Academy Award nominations and has since been recognized as the first major film noir.

Thelma & Louise Is 30 Years Old

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MovieStillsDB
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MovieStillsDB

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis starred in the road trip classic Thelma & Louise. The 1991 feminist film is preserved by the National Film Registry and went up for six Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Original Screenplay.

The movie was also one of Brad Pitt’s first major roles. Interestingly, the original leads were Jodie Foster and Michelle Pfeiffer. Both dropped out, enabling Foster to star in The Silence of the Lambs. Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn were then considered before Sarandon and Davis snagged the roles they’re still fondly remembered for 30 years later.

M Is 90 Years Old

Peter Lorre in M
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images

M is a classic that set thousands of thriller films are modeled after. Some consider the film to be one of the best of all time. It utilized cinematic innovations of its time and was the first sound picture that the director, Fritz Lang, ever did.

The film follows the search of criminal Hans Beckert, portrayed by Peter Lorre. The breakout role led to Beckett being typecasted as a villain, and he went on to star in Crime and Punishment and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Space Jam Is 25 Years Old

Warner Bros./MovieStillsDB
Warner Bros./MovieStillsDB

In the ’90s, combining live-action and animation was all the rage, especially when producers got the bright idea to throw a famous athlete into the mix. The result was Space Jam, a movie about Michael Jordan helping the Looney Tunes win a high-stakes basketball game against aliens.

Between the legendary basketball star, nostalgic cartoon characters, and funnymen Bill Murray and Wayne Knight, the film was bound to be a slam dunk. While critics weren’t sure how to feel about the film, it brought in $230 million at the box office. The sequel, which stars LeBron James, is debuting amid its 25 year anniversary.

Boyz N The Hood Is 30 Years Old

boyz-n-the-hood
Columbia Pictures/MovieStillsDB
Columbia Pictures/MovieStillsDB

Boyz N The Hood was the movie that made Cuba Gooding Jr. a star, and launched then 23-year-old John Singleton’s award-winning directing career. Singleton even became the youngest person to ever be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards.

Three decades later, the film is recognized for its authenticity and cultural significance, earning it a spot in the National Film Registry. The movie also stars Ice Cube, whose N.W.A song is referenced in the title.

Scream Is 25 Years Old

Dimension Films/MovieStillsDB
Dimension Films/MovieStillsDB

Scream revolutionized horror movies as we knew them, bringing a delightful self-awareness to the cliche-riddled genre. In the 25 years since the satirical film hit the scene, many horror flicks have followed in Scream’s footsteps, such as the Scary Movie parody franchise.

Fun fact: the film was originally named Scary Movie! It also features director Wes Craven, the mastermind behind A Nightmare on Elm Street, one of the films Scream ironically makes fun of. The star-studded cast is reuniting once again for a fifth installment, set to release in 2022.

Legally Blonde Is 20 Years Old

legally-blonde
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MovieStillsDB
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MovieStillsDB

Legally Blonde was one of those films that could have flopped if it wasn’t executed as brilliantly as it was. The flick flips the dumb-blonde stereotype on its head, starring Reese Witherspoon as a sorority girl with all the cliche characteristics plus Harvard-level smarts.

Her genuine character was written and performed so authentically that audiences found themselves empathizing with this privileged underdog. Though the film is 20-years-old, it’s far from forgotten, with a second sequel written by Mindy Kaling debuting in 2022.

Donnie Darko Is 20 Years Old

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Flower Films Production/MovieStillsDB
Flower Films Production/MovieStillsDB

Donnie Darko is one of those films that flopped at the box office, but became a cult classic to those who deem it brilliant. The sci-fi thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a teenager who discovers the complexities of time after surviving a freak accident.

The film’s innovative approach makes it one of those movies viewers either love or can’t stand. It’s a far cry from the typical flick, making it a unique watch that people are still grasping at two decades later.

Twister Is 25 Years Old

Warner Bros./MovieStillsDB
Warner Bros./MovieStillsDB

Twister was the second highest-grossing film of 1996, proving that audiences love a natural disaster film. A quarter of a century later, we’re still enamored with the flying cow cameo that made tornadoes a smidge humorous.

Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt starred as a couple going through a divorce while trying to keep their heads on straight as they approach a tornado to employ a research device. Other stars included Jamie Gertz, Cary Elwes, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Contagion Is A Decade Old

contagion
Warner Bros./MovieStillsDB
Warner Bros./MovieStillsDB

After all that happened in 2020, the film Contagion feels like it came out yesterday. In actuality, it’s already a decade old. The thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh stars Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet as public health officials seeking to contain a worldwide pandemic.

Other members of this all-star cast include Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Bryan Cranston, and Gwyneth Paltrow. The film was critically-acclaimed and praised for its scientific accuracy, making it as intriguing to watch these days as ever before.

Romeo + Juliet Is 25 Years Old

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Twentieth Century Fox/MovieStillsDB
Twentieth Century Fox/MovieStillsDB

Though Romeo and Juliet is one of the most overdone Shakespearean plays in existence, director Baz Luhrmann somehow managed to make it feel fresh. The 1996 rendition, Romeo + Juliet, placed the archaic story in a contemporary setting.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes played the star-crossed lovers and were so compelling that they won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award. The film grossed $151.8 million at the box office and is still a reference for high school students 25 years later.

Casino Royale Is 15 Years Old

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Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures/MovieStillsDB
Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures/MovieStillsDB

James Bond has been one of the most recognizable characters in all of film history, despite having numerous actors fill the role over the years. In 2006, Daniel Craig took over as the famous 007 in the film Casino Royale.

Fifteen years later, Craig is making his last appearance as James Bond in the film No Time To Die. In the meantime, we’ll be patiently waiting to see who, if anyone, takes over as the beloved spy in any future sequels.