The Movie List: 100+ Movies for Mid-stage Families

We're always on the lookout for movies we can watch as a family of parents + teens + older kids, anything from feel-good happily-ever-afters to comedies to thought-provoking dramas that are more complex than a Disney movie but still geared for our ages and stages. Are you in the same boat? Well,  this is for you, fellow mid-stage families!

We've been haphazardly jotting down random movie suggestions for years--on an old envelope in my wallet, an index card in the kitchen, our Netflix queue online, and an electronic list on my phone. Lately several friends have asked for our movie list so last week I finally gathered the random jottings into one big list of 100+ movies we've either watched already or want to watch together.

A couple of notes: Keep in mind that my kids are in the older teen range so not every movie on our list will necessarily work for you. I've starred the ones that I think might warrant closer supervision or previewing by a parent. But starred or not, it's always good to take a look at a website like Common Sense Media or Kids in Mind (or even IMDB or Wikipedia) to see if a movie sounds right for you and your family.

You might notice that I've not listed superhero movies or Star Potters of the Lost Ark of the Ring or other blockbusters because, well, of course we're going to see those. These are more off-the-beaten-path selections or forgotten gems from other decades. If it contributes to our movie/cultural/historical literacy, all the better! 

The Funny & The Fun 
O Brother Where Art Thou*
The Philadelphia Story
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Sandlot
His Girl Friday
You’ve Got Mail
That Thing You Do
Mrs. Doubtfire
Sleepless in Seattle
Groundhog Day
A Hard Day's Night
Princess Bride
Pink Panther movies*
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Funny Girl
Raising Arizona*
The Fairy Tale Theatre series
Adam’s Rib
Bringing Up Baby
Better Off Dead*
The Brothers Bloom*
Robot & Frank
The Decoy Bride
Follow Me, Boys
Fly Away Home

. . .

The Feel Goods & The Dramas
Mr. Holland’s Opus
An Affair to Remember
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Roman Holiday
The Red Shoes
Heaven Can Wait
The Fugitive*
The Bishop’s Wife
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
It’s a Wonderful Life
An American in Paris
Rear Window*
The Shop Around the Corner
12 Angry Men
Wait Until Dark*
The Shawshank Redemption
Ten Things I Hate About You
Not Without my Daughter
Get Low
Shall We Dance?
Storm Boy
The Help
The Secret Life of Bees

. . .

The Challenges & Triumphs
Field of Dreams
Apollo 13
The Dish
A League of Their Own*
Chariots of Fire
The Karate Kid (the 80s one)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
October Sky*
Pursuit of Happyness
Akeelah and the Bee
Brian's Song
Whale Rider*
Taking Chance
A Song For Marion
The Astronaut Farmer
Take Shelter
Walk the Line
Rebel Without a Cause
The Blindside*
Life of Pi

. . .

The Literary & The Historical
A Passage to India
All the President’s Men*
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Finding Neverland
Sense and Sensibility
Becoming Jane
The Lion in Winter
Henry V*
Ever After
Quiz Show
Thirteen Days*
Lawrence of Arabia
Young Mr. Lincoln
2000 Leagues Under the Sea
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Gone with the Wind
How Green was My Valley
Our Mutual Friend
Ben Hur
Wizard of Oz
Doctor Zhivago*
The Slipper and the Rose
Hans Christian Andersen
Carrie's War
The Robe
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid*
Empire of the Sun*
Out of Africa*
The Pride of the Yankees
Pride & Prejudice
The Glenn Miller Story
The Outsiders*
The Dead Poets Society*
Bright Star*
Young Victoria
Little Women (several versions)
To Kill a Mockingbird*
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
Miss Potter
East of Eden
Amazing Grace
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas*

. . .

The Musicals:
The King and I
My Fair Lady
Singing in the Rain
West Side Story
Meet Me in St. Louis
Les Mis
Sound of Music
One Night The Moon*

. . .

The Documentaries:
First Position
Being Elmo
Up documentary series*
Mad Hot Ballroom
Tim’s Vermeer*
The Pixar Story
Fame High
To Be and To Have (Etre et Avoir)
March of the Penguins
Winged Migration
Searching for Sugarman*
Hoop Dreams*
A State of Mind
Anything by Michael Mosley
Redesign My Brain

. . .

The Foreign Films:
Children of Heaven
Les Choristes

Opal Dream
The Red Balloon
Cinema Paradiso*
The Mission
Jean de Florette
Kiki's Delivery Service
My Neighbor Totoro
The Gilded Cage*
The Finishers
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon*
Life is Beautiful*
The Intouchables
Monsoon Wedding

*= might need some closer supervision or pre-viewing by a parent

Okay, your turn! Any suggestions? Go ahead and add your picks in the comments and I'll add them (those additions to the list are in italics). Happy watching!