15. The Matrix
I came to this so late in the cycle of the film's life. I rented it on VHS and can best sum up my first reaction to it with the following anecdote:
I'm watching it with my sister in my college apartment and get a call from a friend.
Friend: Whatcha doing?
Me: watching a movie. The Matrix.
Friend: Oh, nice! How is it? I've heard good things about it.
Me: It's great so far!
Friend: What's it about?
Me: I've got no clue.
Friend: Oh, you just started it?
Me: Nah, we're like an hour in. I just have no clue what the hell the deal is.
Years later, two less than solid sequels later, millions of imitators later, it still holds up. Other than the supreme focus on hardwired phone lines, the effects, pace and action all hold up with modern blockbuster action movies.
Some choices are still supremely good, like the green hue on all the scenes in the Matrix. A few fall a little flat, but the major players are all great, the plotline is smarter than most major movies and the mythos of the world is only explained enough to be interesting and intriguing. Some of those things are the very reasons the sequels fail.
It's the silly cyberpunk kung fu movie that launched a thousand action scenes. But it's also required watching for action or Sci-fi fans.