Movies You’ll Continue to Think About After Watching

Some movies just stick with us after we watch them. Whether it’s because of an epic story, breathtaking cinematography, a thought-provoking message, a beautiful score, or exceptional acting, certain movies continue to occupy our thoughts long after their end credits have rolled. There are so many movies these days that are filled with fantastic visual effects and star-studded casts but are still rather forgettable and “just ok”.  By no means an exhaustive list, here are 5 movies guaranteed to stay in your head after you’ve seen them.


Sunshine (2007)
Sunshine (2007)


In his beautifully rendered sci-fi film Sunshine, Danny Boyle tells the story an eight-person crew and their one-way journey to restart Earth’s dying sun through the use of a large nuclear payload. Almost more of a psychological thriller than solely a sci-fi film, Sunshine seeks to show what happens to people when they are sent hurdling through space in an enclosed vessel with the fate of the human race resting upon their shoulders.

The film tells the story of Capa, played by Cillian Murphy, and the rest of the crew as they are forced to deal with mechanical and human errors while on board their ship, the Icarus II (in Greek mythology Icarus is the son of a master craftsman who constructs wings for him out of feathers and wax in order for him to fly across the ocean. Full of arrogance and paying no mind to his father’s instructions on how to safely make the journey, Icarus flies too close to the sun melting his wings and sending him into the sea). In the film, the flight of Icarus II follows the failure of Icarus I, a ship with the same mission that mysteriously lost contact with Earth partway through its journey. Through breathtaking visuals, stunning imagery, and a powerful soundtrack, Sunshine is sure to have you thinking both big picture and small, juxtaposing the relative insignificance of the human race with the complex psychological effects that would accompany becoming responsible for the fate of all living things Earth.


Snowpiercer (2013)

This 2013 movie from Bong Joon-ho depicts a world that has entered into a new ice age after a failed attempt to reverse climate change. All life on Earth is wiped out except for a lucky few who manage to board the Snowpiercer, a globe-spanning supertrain powered by a perpetual-motion engine. A class system emerges where the wealthy elites living in luxury and excess occupy the front of the train and the lower classes live in filthy overcrowded cars at the back barely given enough food to survive.

The film stars Chris Evans in a refreshingly darker role as Curtis Everett, a back-of-the-trainer who starts a revolution to overtake the front and gain control of the sacred engine. Curtis’s journey takes us through numerous different train cars and we are able to see that each car represents a different rung on the social ladder. The locomotive, then, acts as a microcosm of society, in that the complex relationships and interactions between and within classes is condensed to within the confined space of the train. As the story progresses, the situation on the train proves to be not as black and white as it initially seems and the characters are thrown into different lights. After watching Snowpiercer, some will be left thinking about the unique story and artsy (and sometimes strange) exterior of the film while others will ponder the nature of society itself and one’s place in it.


Drive (2011)
Drive (2011)

Drive differs from other movies on this list in that it’s difficult to describe exactly what makes it so memorable. There are no earth-shattering events or mind-bending twists, and no deep underlaying message. Drive offers instead, a very distinct feel and a dark brooding intensity. Ryan Gosling is perfect as the quiet and intense Driver, a movie stunt driver by day and criminal getaway driver by night. After becoming attached to his neighbour Irene, played by Carry Mulligan, and her son Benicio, the Driver agrees to do a job for her husband, a recently-released convict. The job goes horribly wrong and the Driver is forced to go to great lengths to protect Irene and her son from vengeful mob bosses.

While the film could be interpreted as a metaphor for the psychological drives that motivate us as human beings, it is better remembered for the stylish aesthetics and general mood. The contemporary LA setting of the film is contrasted against a synth-filled soundtrack straight out of the eighties (in addition to bright pink credits). The result is a stimulating combination that lends itself as a memorable background to Gosling’s silent Driver and the incredibly brutal acts of violence that are interspersed throughout the film. Don’t go into this film thinking you’re about to uncover some great truth about yourself or mankind, but do expect to have the soundtrack playing over in your mind while you feel the urge to adopt a serious intensity every time you step behind the wheel of a car.


Interstellar (2014)

You really can’t go wrong with anything from Christopher Nolan if you want a movie that will keep you thinking. From Memento, a movie that was told essentially in reverse, to the ever-talked about Inception, Nolan has brought us one great movie after another that keep us thinking about them for a number of reasons. Interstellar, Nolan’s latest space travel epic starring Matthew McConaughey, tells the story of an Earth that is slowly becoming uninhabitable due to a global crop blight. Cooper, played by McConaughey, is part of a small team that is sent into space to explore three habitable plants and decide which of them is most suitable to be mankind’s new home.

The visuals and soundtrack in this film are absolutely stunning and are enough to make this movie memorable by themselves. But the science in this film and the sheer enormity of the task at hand are what makes it stand out. In the movie, the astronauts are forced to travel through a worm hole, explore before-unseen planets, and experience the effects of a black hole. The complex intricacies of relativity are masterfully showcased in Interstellar, meaning some characters age faster than others, complicating the relationships between them, particularly Cooper in space and his daughter back home on Earth. Wrapping one’s head around the science in the movie is more than enough to confound the average watcher; a second viewing is a must for this film. Interstellar will leave you thinking very big picture thoughts and have you wondering about your purpose in life, what the future holds, and the mysteries of what lays in the far reaches of space.


Shutter Island
Shutter Island (2010)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo star as U.S. Marshalls Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, respectively, as they go to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess from a hospital for the criminally insane. This incredibly creepy thriller from director Martin Scorsese unveils that Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital is not as it initially seems and that the uncooperative staff may be utilizing unethical and even illegal and disturbing methods of treatment on their patients. As a large storm cuts off communication and transportation to and from the island, the situation worsens for U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels. More patients begin to disappear and an increasing number of mystifying clues cause him to second guess the loyalty of his partner, his memory, and even his own sanity.

The incredibly vivid and nightmarish scenes in this film are sure to stick with you for a long while after viewing. While definitely not a horror movie, Shutter Island features a sinister psychological element that will surely send a shiver up your spine. Outstanding performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and  Michelle Williams, who plays Teddy’s wife, bring the haunting tale to the next level, making the story very believable and adding a very human element to the psychological thriller. Shutter Island will keep you guessing the whole way through and will continue to eat away at you after the end credits have rolled.


Author: Ryan Northrup

I'm recent graduate of McMaster University's history program in Ontario, Canada and I have a passion for a good story.

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