According to legend (which is at least “substantially true,” according to people who knew her) film critic Pauline Kael saw the film only once. Even though she loved a movie, she didn’t watch it again. She saw something, she wrote about it, she moved on to the next topic.
Kael was a great writer and critic, but if you ask me, that’s no way to live – or watch movies.
Besides the fact that it’s simply a pleasure to return to a movie you love again and again, in some cases, favorites actually demand multiple viewings, whether to fully appreciate the film’s nuances or buried themes, or simply because it contains a shocking twist that changes the entire meaning of the story and gives a second viewing a completely different flavor.
Below, we’ve chronologically listed some films that are greatly improved by multiple viewings. Also: A full third of the list was released between the years 1999 and 2001. Is that a coincidence, or did something happen in those years that inspired a wave of densely plotted films? (My personal guess: the advent of DVD—along with its easy ability to rewind, skip forward, go frame by frame, and own a copy of a film forever—inspired some directors to indulge their passion for complex narratives that reward ultra-attentive repeat viewership.)
Here are 15 movies that not only warrant multiple viewings — they practically demand them.
Movies you have to watch more than once
These movies are so good and so complex that a single view just isn’t enough. (There may be some minor spoilers below, but we’ll do our best to avoid anything major.)