Shifting Expectations’ list of 50 essential movies was initially constructed algorithmically with data gathered on the commercial success, critical reception, and accolades of over 1,500 films from over the 100+ year history of film. Although some subjectivity was used in narrowing the list down from 75 to 50 films, each film on the list qualified for its place in at least two of 5 categories: Most Awarded, Stellar Acting, High Grossing, Critical Acclaim, or Cultural Impact. Once the list was constructed a watch order was randomly generated, with only minor tweaking to accommodate seasonally appropriate films. The list of films as presented here indicate the order we will be watching or have already watched and when each is watched. Feel free to watch along with us and share your experiences with us during the week we watch a film on social media (or whenever suits you). 50 movies is one a week to finish in a year. We think that is a reasonable pace.

Watch WeekEpisode DateMovieRelease YearQualifying Categories
Dec 29 – Jan 04Jan 28Casablanca1942Stellar Acting, Critical Acclaim, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Jan 05 – Jan 11Jan 28One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest1975Stellar Acting & Most Awarded
Jan 12 – Jan 18Jan 28Jurassic Park1993Highest Grossing & Cultural Impact
Jan 19 – Jan 25Jan 31Seven Samurai1954Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Jan 26 – Feb 01Feb 4The Wizard of Oz1939Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Feb 02 – Feb 08Feb 11Titanic1997Highest Grossing & Most Awarded
Feb 09 – Feb 15Feb 18It Happened One Night1934Stellar Acting & Most Awarded
Feb 16 – Feb 22Feb 25The Dark Knight2008Stellar Acting, Highest Grossing, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Feb 23 – Feb 29Mar 3Raiders of the Lost Ark1981Most Awarded & Cultural Impact
Mar 01 – Mar 07Mar 10Citizen Kane1941Critical Acclaim, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Mar 08 – Mar 14Mar 17A Streetcar Named Desire1951Stellar Acting, Critical Acclaim, & Most Awarded
Mar 15 – Mar 21Mar 24From Here to Eternity1953Stellar Acting & Most Awarded
Mar 22 – Mar 28Mar 31Taxi Driver1976Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Mar 29 – Apr 04Apr 7Star Wars1977Highest Grossing, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Apr 05 – Apr 11Apr 14Singin’ in the Rain1952Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Apr 12 – Apr 18Apr 21Ben-Hur1959Stellar Acting, Highest Grossing, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Apr 19 – Apr 25Apr 28All About Eve1950Stellar Acting, Critical Acclaim, & Most Awarded
Apr 26 – May 02May 5Jaws1975Highest Grossing & Cultural Impact
May 03 – May 09May 12Pinocchio1940Critical Acclaim & Most Awarded
May 10 – May 16May 192001: A Space Odyssey1968Most Awarded & Cultural Impact
May 17 – May 23May 26Rocky1976Stellar Acting, Highest Grossing, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
May 24 – May 30Jun 2The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King2003Highest Grossing, Critical Acclaim, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
May 31 – Jun 06Jun 9Toy Story1995Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Jun 07 – Jun 13Jun 16Rear Window1954Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Jun 14 – Jun 20Jun 23Apocalypse Now1979Critical Acclaim, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Jun 21 – Jun 27Break WeekCatch up or watch your favorite movie!2020You!
Jun 28 – Jul 04Jul 07Gone with the Wind1939Stellar Acting, Highest Grossing, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Jul 05 – Jul 11Jul 14The Silence of the Lambs1991Stellar Acting, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Jul 12 – Jul 18Jul 21The Avengers2012Highest Grossing & Cultural Impact
Jul 19 – Jul 25 Jul 28On the Waterfront1954Stellar Acting, Critical Acclaim, & Most Awarded
Jul 26 – Aug 01Aug 04Schindler’s List1993Stellar Acting, Critical Acclaim, & Most Awarded
Aug 02 – Aug 08Aug 11Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon2000Most Awarded & Cultural Impact
Aug 09 – Aug 15Aug 18Avatar2009Highest Grossing, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Aug 16 – Aug 22 Aug 2512 Angry Men1957Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Aug 23 – Aug 29Sep 01Pan’s Labyrinth2006Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Aug 30 – Sep 05Sep 08The Sound of Music1965Highest Grossing, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Sep 06 – Sep 12Sep 15Double Indemnity1944Critical Acclaim, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Sep 13 – Sep 19Sep 22Lawrence of Arabia1962Stellar Acting, Critical Acclaim, & Most Awarded
Sep 20 – Sep 26 Sep 29 Spirited Away2001Critical Acclaim & Most Awarded
Sep 27 – Oct 03Oct 06The Godfather1972Stellar Acting, Highest Grossing, Critical Acclaim, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Oct 04 – Oct 10Oct 13Cabaret1972Stellar Acting & Most Awarded
Oct 11 – Oct 17Oct 20Psycho1960Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Oct 18 – Oct 24 Oct 27Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban2004Highest Grossing & Cultural Impact
Oct 25 – Oct 31Nov 03Network1976Stellar Acting & Most Awarded
Nov 01 – Nov 07Nov 10Bonnie and Clyde1967Stellar Acting, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Nov 08 – Nov 14Nov 17My Fair Lady1964Stellar Acting & Most Awarded
Nov 15 – Nov 21 Nov 24The Treasure of the Sierra Madre1948Stellar Acting, Critical Acclaim, & Most Awarded
Nov 22 – Nov 28Dec 01E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial1982Highest Grossing, Most Awarded, & Cultural Impact
Nov 29 – Dec 05Dec 08City Lights1931Critical Acclaim & Cultural Impact
Dec 06 – Dec 12Dec 15Kramer vs. Kramer1979Stellar Acting & Most Awarded
Dec 13 – Dec 19Dec 22It’s a Wonderful Life1946Most Awarded & Cultural Impact