The Top 10 Films That Helped Shape American Pop Culture


Whether life imitates art or art imitates life, we as a culture win. From ideas, to perspectives, to the terminology we use, what we see on the big screen directly influences our day to day life. Here are some great examples of movies that made a difference.

1. The Lion King (1994)

This Disney film gave the world “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Circle of Life,” two hit songs that taught us all valuable lessons. Perhaps the most valuable takeaway from The Lion King was the saying: “Hakuna Matata,” which is a Swahili phrase; meaning “no worries.”

2. Clueless (1995)

With kitschy phrases like, “As if” and “Totally buggin’” Amy Heckerling’s teenage rom-com spoke to an entire generation about what it was like growing up in the ‘90s.

3. Titanic (1997)

A titanic love story, not to mention one of the biggest blockbusters – EVER – this movie formally introduced the world to Leonardo DiCaprio. Enough said.

4. The Social Network (2010)

By now, we all know the story about Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg; he would go on to create the social networking site that would become known as Facebook. This is one of the first films to showcase what it’s like to be a millennial and to live in a social media-savvy world.

5. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming tale of a young boy and his love for an adorable alien from outer space is a story that defines what true friendship is all about. It also spotlights a very young Drew Barrymore who was almost as adorable as ET.

6. Forrest Gump (1994)

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” That was just one of the many truisms Forrest and his momma taught us. This movie delivered on age-old wisdom and unforgettable characters, along with one of the best soundtracks of all time.

7. Back to the Future (1985)

Not only did this Robert Zemeckis flick spawn two sequels, but it showed us that sometimes the past is better left in the future. Or maybe the future is better left in the past. Either way, it predicted that the Cubs would eventually win the World Series and that Biff Tannen would one day be our president.

8. Star Wars (1977)

This movie franchise has spanned generations and resonated with audiences for 40 years. Star Wars was the first of its kind and created super fans of sorts that have rippled out into an entire sci-fi community. If you’ve ever gone to Comic-Con, you’d recognize the phenomenon was inspired by “Star Wars.”

9. Grease (1978)

“Grease” could arguably be the greatest musical of our time. This timeless love story has influenced other filmmakers, many genres of music, and presented us with characters that to this day, people love to re-create.

10. The Godfather (1972)

Francis Ford Coppola’s classic film franchise gave viewers a notion of what life was like on the inside of famous crime family. Based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel, the film won countless awards, triggered a few (equally comparable) sequels, as well as effectively established an entirely new genre of “mafia” style films and television shows that are still being produced today.

Share this!

Leave a Reply