Must-Watch Movies for Every University Student

The college years are a time of immense personal growth and discovery. Academics keep students busy, but it’s important to also make time for fun extracurricular activities. Watching movies is a great way for university students to relax, be entertained, and gain new perspectives.


As university students explore a diverse range of must-watch movies, they may find inspiration to write an essay delving into the cinematic themes and narrative techniques that resonate with their academic interests and personal experiences. Certain films provide valuable life lessons or touch on themes that strongly resonate with the college experience. This list of must-watch movies covers comedies, dramas, documentaries, and more – there’s something for every taste and mood. Any university student would benefit from watching these diverse cinematic gems.

Inspirational Dramas

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

An intense, well-acted drama starring Will Smith that is based on a true story. It focuses on a struggling single father who refuses to give up on his dreams of creating a better life for his son. The Pursuit of Happyness is an inspirational reminder that with perseverance and hard work, you can overcome difficult circumstances.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Matt Damon gives an outstanding performance as a gifted but troubled young man from a working-class Boston background. He begins to re-evaluate his own potential after being pushed by an unconventional therapist played by Robin Williams. This profound drama emphasizes the importance of not letting your past define you.

The Social Network (2010)

This critically acclaimed film depicts the origins of Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. It’s an engrossing look at ambition and ingenuity in tech that highlights how a single idea can change the world. The Social Network inspires viewers to think big and innovate.

Lean on Me (1989)

Morgan Freeman stars as a principal who takes drastic measures to improve a struggling inner-city high school in New Jersey. This inspiring film sends the message that every student deserves a quality education and the chance to succeed if given the right guidance.

Rudy (1993)

The ultimate underdog story. Rudy passionately chases his dream of playing college football for Notre Dame despite lacking athletic talent and the grades for admission. His perseverance finally pays off when he gets the chance to play in one game. Rudy is a reminder to keep chasing your goals no matter how impossible they may seem.

Thought-Provoking Dramas

As university students embark on a cinematic journey exploring these movies, those seeking assistance in articulating their insights and analyses can rely on the support of top paper writing services to craft well-researched and expertly written reflections on the cultural and artistic significance of these films.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

A mind-bending sci-fi romance starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. They play a couple who undergo a procedure to erase all memories of their relationship after a painful breakup. The film intricately explores love, loss, and regret through fragmented flashbacks. Eternal Sunshine digs deep into the human psyche and the complicated nature of relationships.

American History X (1998)

Edward Norton gives a searing performance as a former neo-Nazi skinhead trying to turn his life around and prevent his younger brother from following the same hate-filled path. This gritty, unflinching film will make students reflect on the dangerous consequences of prejudice, anger, and intolerance.

Her (2013)

Set in a near-future Los Angeles, Joaquin Phoenix plays a lonely writer who develops a relationship with an intelligent computer operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson. This unconventional sci-fi love story touches on modern isolation and our relationship with technology in nuanced, thought-provoking ways.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

This John Hughes teen classic shows five high school students from different walks of life forced to spend a Saturday in detention together. Over the course of a day, the initially disparate group finds they have more in common than they thought. The Breakfast Club explores issues of identity, peer pressure, and stereotypes faced by young people.

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Set during the Holocaust, an Italian father uses his vivid imagination to shield his young son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. This painfully poignant film juxtaposes comedy and tragedy to provide a unique perspective on enduring humanity in the darkest of times. It will spur discussions about morality, family, and hope.

Fun Comedies

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

The Monty Python comedy troupe skewers the legend of King Arthur in this clever parody brimming with their signature absurdist humor. University students will laugh out loud watching Arthur and his knights’ silly misadventures and outrageous encounters with killer rabbits, catapulting cows, and more.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

“The Dude” just wants to go bowling and relax, but he gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity in this Coen Brothers cult classic. An eccentric cast of characters and endlessly quotable dialogue make this one of the funniest films for any laidback university student with an offbeat sense of humor.

Legally Blonde (2001)

Reese Witherspoon shines as bubbly sorority president Elle Woods who decides to win back her ex-boyfriend by getting into Harvard Law School. Elle refuses to be underestimated while staying true to herself. This fun, fiercely empowering comedy is a must-watch for all college women.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Matthew Broderick plays the ultimate slacker hero in this beloved coming-of-age comedy. Intelligent but mischievous Ferris fakes sickness to have an epic day of fun and adventure in downtown Chicago with his friends. Ferris Bueller captures the carefree spirit of youth and seizing the day.

Clueless (1995)

Alicia Silverstone delivers an iconic performance as Cher, a popular high school girl more concerned with fashion and her social life than academics. When she gives a makeover to new student Tai, things don’t go as planned. This charming twist on Jane Austen’s Emma is a fun look at wealth, popularity, and finding your way.

Eye-Opening Documentaries

Super Size Me (2004)

This provocative documentary sees filmmaker Morgan Spurlock eat only McDonald’s food for 30 days straight. By documenting the drastic effects on his health over this period, Super Size Me serves as a wake-up call about America’s fast food culture and the obesity epidemic. It will make students think more carefully about their own diets.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

When a French shopkeeper decides to film street artists and make a documentary, he ends up being encouraged to try his own hand at graffiti art despite a lack of experience. This fascinating film questions the concept and commercialization of art. Viewers will gain insight into the world of underground street art.

The Corporation (2003)

This hard-hitting Canadian documentary examines the nature and rise of corporations, analyzing them as disturbingly psychopathic entities. It makes a compelling case that unchecked corporate influence threatens people’s rights and the planet. The Corporation will prompt students to scrutinize and debate the power structures that shape our world.

Blackfish (2013)

Blackfish tells the shocking story of Tilikum, a killer whale at SeaWorld who was involved in the deaths of three people. It makes a damning case that keeping orcas in captivity is unethical and incredibly dangerous for both humans and whales. This persuasive documentary is eye-opening about animal welfare and corporate greed.

Spellbound (2002)

This charming film follows eight teenagers who advanced to compete in the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee championship in Washington D.C. Viewers get to know the diverse array of kids and their hopes, struggles, and perseverance in pursuing spelling excellence. Spellbound highlights incredible ambition and talent in an unexpected arena.

Quintessential Classics

The Godfather (1972)

Francis Ford Coppola’s gangster epic is a towering cinematic achievement that remains captivating decades later. The film centers on the Corleone crime family and has become ingrained in American pop culture for its iconic characters, memorable dialogue, and sprawling story of power, loyalty, and corruption. A must-see.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino’s cocktail of violence, dark humor, and non-linear storytelling shook up Hollywood. This stylish crime film weaves several eclectic tales in the Los Angeles underworld. Pulp Fiction features a hip soundtrack and star turns from John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Samuel L. Jackson that helped define 1990s cool.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

This psychological horror masterpiece sees FBI trainee Clarice Starling tap the twisted mind of imprisoned serial killer Hannibal Lecter to catch another murderer on the loose. The chilling performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs make it a landmark in suspense cinema.

Fight Club (1999)

Brad Pitt and Edward Norton deliver electrifying performances in David Fincher’s controversial satire about an insomniac office worker who starts an underground fighting ring with a devil-may-care soapmaker. Fight Club has entered the pop culture lexicon for its gleeful anarchy, social commentary, and shock value.

The Graduate (1967)

Dustin Hoffman has a summer affair with an older woman, the wife of his father’s business partner, before falling for her daughter in this classic coming-of-age comedy-drama. The Graduate captured the alienation of youth and the cultural divide between 1960s youth culture and the older generation. Its ending is one of the most famous in cinema history.

Other Noteworthy Picks

  • Goodfellas (1990) – Martin Scorsese’s gritty mob masterpiece.
  • Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending sci-fi thriller.
  • Apocalypse Now (1979) – Francis Ford Coppola’s surreal Vietnam War epic.
  • Psycho (1960) – Alfred Hitchcock’s groundbreaking suspense horror.
  • Do the Right Thing (1989) – Spike Lee’s racially charged drama.
  • Almost Famous (2000) – Fun coming-of-age story about a teen music journalist.
  • Citizen Kane (1941) – Orson Welles’ landmark feature debut.
  • The Matrix (1999) – Revolutionary sci-fi action film.
  • Star Wars original trilogy (1977-1983) – The classics that started a franchise.
  • Back to the Future (1985) – Robert Zemeckis’ delightful time-traveling adventure.


The university years offer wonderful opportunities to broaden your horizons through film. Take a break from studying to watch some of these diverse must-see movies recommended for college students. They inform, entertain, inspire, and provide cultural touchstones that will stick with you long after graduation. Cinema transports us to different worlds, perspectives, and periods of history – tap into its magic and let your imagination soar.