"Essential" Films I've Seen
kottke.org linked to a film critic's list of 102 movies you must see to be considered "movie-literate." I don't think it's necessary to see every single film on the list, I think if there are some you haven't seen you can make up for it by having seen some other greats not on the list. But I agree with his basic premise that if you haven't seen most of them, it's a lot harder for you to have a literate discussion with others about film.
Kottke went through it and made Kottke's list of the 102 "essential" movies he has seen. He's seen 40. I went through the list myself and found I've seen 86 of them. Many I saw in film classes I took as electives in college. A few, like Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Singin' in the Rain (how's that for a double-feature?), I was forced to watch by my now-spouse (didn't like Aguirre, liked Singin'). A few I haven't seen I had to look up to make sure I knew what they were. For instance I thought Days of Heaven was "that Terrence Malick film" but I wasn't sure. I had never heard of the W.C. Fields film, It's a Gift before seeing this list. I don't think I've ever seen an entire W.C. Fields movie, I suppose that's a gap in my knowledge but I've never had much appreciation for him.
My list is below the jump. The plus signs (+) are ones I've seen, the asterisks (*) are ones Kottke has seen. Sorry they're not all linkified but the original article has links to Roger Ebert reviews for every one. I can understand not ever watching old french films but how can someone in their 30s (I think that's his age range) have missed seeing Jaws on TV at some point? Nevermind that it's awesome.