Modern Classics – is there a “Casablanca” of the future in today’s films?

Screenshot of the title screen of the trailer.
Image via Wikipedia

Are any of today’s films likely to stand the test of time and become “Classics”?

That’s what Kim and I began to ask ourselves yesterday, on the train trip into town to our annual viewing of 1942’s “Casablanca” at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge.

Over the past couple of years, my love for classic films has blossomed, and “Casablanca”,which I’d NEVER seen until 2009, was a catalyst for it happening. I began to see why films from that era, from all over the world, were considered “classics”. I have my own list of classics which are from my era (post 1970) as well.

But looking back at the first decade of the 21st century, I’m hard pressed to find any films that I think will be considered classics to future generations. Sure, there are one or two obvious choices, but are there REALLY any films from the modern era that will stand the test of time and attract sold out crowds two or three generations from now? As I’m fairly certain the Brattle’s Ned Hinkle would tell you, “Casablanca” continues to sell out nearly every show it plays at the Brattle nearly 70 years after it’s original release, an impressive feat to say the least. What films of today will generate that kind of devotion in 40 years’ time?

Our podcast also recently looked at the “Classic Bomb” theory, in which we examined how and why certain films now considered American classics originally were box office bombs. Films like Frank Capra‘s “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Orson Welles’Citizen Kane” and “The Magnificent Ambersons“, and yes, even “The Wizard Of Oz“.

So I’m throwing the question up for all our readers and friends online. What do YOU consider 21st century classics? What films released in the 20th century will stand the test of time?

Here’s the premise – let’s say that in the year 2050 or so, your local art house theatre is having a retrospective of “classic films”. Only these are not classics as we think of them – “Casablanca”, “Citizen Kane”, “Stagecoach”, etc, but classics as THEY would think of them in 50 or so years – movies from the first decade of the 21st century. What films would be showing as part of that series? Is there a modern-day film that can truly generate the kind of respect and devotion of a “Casablanca” or a “Citizen Kane” 50 years from now? Is there a mainstream Hollywood film that can truly stand the test of time? Is there an indie film that could be remembered as a classic with a little nurturing from today’s audience?

Keep in mind – we’re speaking of Classics, the kind that general audiences will embrace, and NOT cult films that will always have their devoted little cults that most general movie goers would probably pooh-pooh.

I’m opening the floor to you – please leave a comment on this subject below, or drop me a line at “modernclassics [at]” and let us know what you think. Your ideas and suggestions may become the basis for a regular series of articles, and possibly even a local film series, on the subject and we greatly value your opinion!