The Next Cult Classics – Movies You Should Definitely Watch

The Next Cult Classics

I recently read an interesting article on Collider – shout out to Ty Weinert – about what they assume would be the next inevitable cult classics. This feels incredibly apt given the Sight and Sound list has recently graced us with its presence, further reminding us plebeians that our voice as cinephiles won’t travel as far. 

With further investigation of the individual ballots of each director, we can see a rather diverse range of opinions, but the “essentials” are usually well represented. With that, the accessibility of these pieces is preserved. The number one film, Jeanne Dielman, is available on HBO Max right now. A rather difficult, long masterpiece that is available on major streaming

Many will argue the merits of said lists, but it does wonders for preserving said films. They are discussed in schools, debated endlessly online, and in turn remembered. That’s what I find so interesting about films that receive cult status. Films like Rocky Horror, Pink Flamingos, Shortbus, and The Room may be forgotten if not for the tireless effort of a very vocal minority. 

Weinert’s list only contained films released in the past couple of years. I expanded the pool to anything released in the past decade. With that being said, let’s talk about a few films I believe will receive their cult status very soon. 

BLONDE: 2022

Blonde - soon to be a cult classic

This one was divisive upon impact. I think people were expecting Oscar bait when the marketing was initially released. Something softer that would lean more biopic rather than fiction. What we received, thank god, was a two-and-a-half-hour behemoth. Its purpose was to demystify and agitate in the most campy borderline theatrical ways imaginable. This “Arthouse” film ^™ released on the front page of Netflix and sealed its fate, especially given its NC-17 rating. While I don’t think this underappreciated film will be studied for years to come in school, I and the few that love it will be harping on this one for years to come.

CLIMAX: 2018

Climax may be this generations Antichrist

You heard it here first; Climax is this generation’s Antichrist (2009). What starts as a submission tape for France’s Best Dance Crew quickly devolves into a PSA on the dangers of alcohol. Kaleidoscopic hedonistic nightmare fuel that refuses to release up until its final frames. Naturally, it wasn’t for mainstream audiences, and horror/thrillers are typically overlooked by “serious” also ^™ critics. The few that connect with this film have already rallied behind it. The only question is: for how long?

THOROUGHBREDS: 2018

Thoroughbreds has fantastic dialogue and editing

If you’re tired of watching Mean Girls, it may be time to up the ante with this one. Thoroughbreds, directed by Corey Finley,  premiered at Sundance 2017. Finley’s directorial debut feels natural, maybe it is his background on stage, but he moves through this film with the confidence of someone familiar with these waters. The heavy dialogue may just keep this film from reaching its audience. This film being stuck between indie and mainstream might just mark cult status. Stellar costume design, dialogue, and editing. Check it out!

SHAME: 2011

Shame should already be a cult classic

Steve McQueen may be the most consistently great director alive. Arthouse and mainstream, he can do it all.  Hit after hit, truly an unflinching master of his craft. Shame may be his most low-key film, and the number of eyes on it reflects this fact. Not as awarded as 12 Years a Slave, not as bombastic as Widows. Strangely enough, this film is also less talked about than his earlier works in Hunger. Shame’s subject matter and willingness to “go there” every chance it could have been the reason for its overlooked status. The very things that held it back from achieving larger appeal are the very reasons it is so brilliant. 

ANOMALISA: 2016

Anomalisa is a fantastic animated film

This is not the first film fans of Kaufman bring up, and it is undoubtedly his most overlooked. It’s rather common to see directors challenge themselves with animation, many of them winners. Fantastic Mister Fox, Waking Life, and most recently, Del Toro’s Pinocchio. Anomalisa never got the same attention as those films, however. It was nominated at the 2016 Oscars for best animated film but was omitted from any big categories. From here, it’s hard to determine the trajectory it will take. It is an emotionally rich adult story told with clay. Many will find it off-putting and too self-serious, but its tenderness and care for its characters, stunning scene design, and impeccable pacing may be enough for some. 

SOUND OF NOISE: 2012

A French film which could reach cult classic status

Much like how Playtime (1967) received much more love this year on the Sight and Sound list. I believe this film is next up (in a decade). This clearly Michel Gondry-inspired film has too much heart to deny. The only thing preventing it from collecting its crown would be its absence from most major streamers. I don’t believe that the fact that it is in French would be the reason so few American audiences have seen it. Amelie and La Haine have been easily accessible to American audiences, and they ate it up. Undoubtedly, if a streamer picked this one up, it would join the ranks.


ATTACK THE BLOCK: 2011

Attack the Block

This film came out as we were approaching a bit of fatigue for the disaster flick. We had Cloverfield and 2012 just two years prior. This one lands in the little disaster movies camp. Not just in terms of budget, but also in overall stakes. Yes, there is an alien invasion, and I’m sure the global leaders are stressed, but we are right here, with these kids as they attempt to defend their neighborhood. A charming film that will undoubtedly receive a remake in the coming years. Perhaps set in Harlem? You’re welcome, Hollywood. That one’s free. I recommend you check this one out before they get their hands on it. 

HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT: 2014

Cult Classic with New York style

One the rare modern films that still have that classic New York style. Perhaps this film came out too early in the Safdie brother’s career. Given their recent successes, it only makes sense that the die-hards will return to this film as we wait for their next Adam Sandler collab. This film was able to catch a grittiness that films like Fear and Loathing and Requiem for a Dream achieved with a little more distance than “Snow on tha Bluff” to make it more approachable. 

TENET: 2020

Tenet didn't get enough attention

This is the only film on this list on which I will be willing to eat my words. I’m not sure if the lack of success for this film came from the fact that it was dropped in the middle of a pandemic as a test for their new model of side-by-side theatrical/home releasing or if audiences have stopped trusting Nolan for a good time. Either way, you can find any number of video essays breaking down every fiber of this movie right now. I don’t believe it reaches Momento or Inception’s highs, but it is engaging. Or people are engaged, rather. 

HIGH LIFE: 2018

High Life is tough to get a hold of, but is sure to be a cult classic in the future

We just weren’t ready for High Life when it dropped in 2018. Much like how Shame went for it, this film commits to the bit. Too Arthouse for the mainstream, but just provocative and challenging enough to get some footing with fans of some truly subversive filmmaking. Another film that has proven difficult in recent years to get your hands on streaming-wise. As Robert Pattinson continues to test himself with projects like these in Good Time and Lighthouse, High Life will prove to be essential viewing. 

A few more films with the potential to reach cult status from this past decade include:

  • Bloodshot (2020)
  • The Northman (2020)
  • The Gift (2015)
  • American Honey (2016)
  • The Square (2017)
  • Inherent Vice (2016)
  • Possessor (2020)
  • Mudbound (2018)
  • Western (2017)
  • Mom and Dad (2017)

Do you agree that these movies will become cult classics in the future? What movies would you add to the list? Join the conversation in the comments section!

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