30 Films Every Man Should See Before He's 30

The cinema classics with something to tell us about being adults

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More than classrooms or textbooks, more than pop lyrics or awkward chats with your Dad, a young man learns his most important lessons from the movies.

Here are 30 works of celluloid every guy should watch while he's still in his 20s with classics of childhood – Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back To The Future – firmly behind him.

From how not to behave when in love to movie heroes you should aspire to be, they all contain something to better prepare you for the gruelling decades of adulthood ahead. Apart from the ones that are just really cool. They're just really cool.

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1 | Raging Bull

What: Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro hit peak Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro with a boxing movie that also happens to be the greatest film of all time.

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Why: To see that sexual jealousy doesn't get you anywhere except locked in a prison cell punching a wall.

2 | Godfather 1 & 2

What: Francis Copalla's epic period piece that gave birth to Goodfellas, The Sopranos and the very notion that a movie sequel can we worth watching.

Why: Because you can't claim to be seriously interested in film otherwise.

3 | Dead Poet's Society

What: Robin Williams' teacher shows Ethan Hawke (and some others) that both poetry and following your dreams are pretty cool. Except for the guy who dies.

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Why: Because everyone becomes a teacher in some way or another, and when you do you'll want to be like John Keating.

4 | 500 Days of Summer

What: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel star in a romantic comedy about what happens after all the other romantic comedies end.

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Why: A useful reminder that the first time you get your heart broken won't actually kill you.

5 | American Beauty

What: Two typical American families fall apart thanks to midlife crises, materialism, homophobia and, er, floating plastic bags.

Why: Because everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

6 | Withnail and I

What: Richard E. Grant gives the performance of a lifetime as a struggling actor in the funniest British film ever made.

Why: So you can quote it when drinking and laugh about it for the rest of your life.

7 | Rebel Without A Cause

What: James Dean invents the moody teenager and changes popular culture for the rest of time.

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Why: To understand the power of a red Harrington jacket.

8 | Dumb & Dumber

What: Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels in the best thing the Farley Brothers ever did.

Why: No matter how sophisticated you become, you should never lose touch with the joy of the good dick and fart joke

9 | One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

What: Jack Nicholson gets himself sectioned for a bit of a laugh. Turns out it isn't.

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Why: Always question authority. Unless authority is a really scary nurse.

10 | Gladiator

What: Russell Crowe is gloriously portentous and well fucking 'ard as Roman general forced into slavery.

Why: For those "And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next" goosebumps.

11 | Fight Club

What: Edward Norton and Brad Pitt beat each up and critique capitalism.

Why: "I was very cautious to say this Nietzchean uberman is a great idea for high school seniors, but it doesn't really work in the real world beyond that, you know?" – David Fincher

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12 | The Truman Show

What: Jim Carrey shocks the world with some proper acting in one of the most prescient films ever made

Why: Because it explored the morality of our obsession with reality TV before we had reality TV.

13 | Y Tu Mama Tambien

What: Two horny teenagers go on a road trip with a beautiful older woman who is sad inside.

Why: Because you need to be able to talk about at least one great foreign movie. Plus it has loads of sex in it.

14 | North By Northwest

What: Carey Grant is an ad executive mistaken as a spy in what is arguably peak Hitchcock.

Why: Hitchcock's mastery of the camera or Grant's mastery of the navy suit: take your pick.

15 | Boyhood

What: Richard Linklater spends 12 years filming the same boy grown up and makes a brilliantly understated drama out of it.

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Why: Because it's basically your entire life on a screen.

16 | To Kill A Mockingbird

What: Gregory Peck plays the impeccable lawyer Atticus Finch in an adaptation of a fine American novel.

Why: So you know exactly what sort of man you should try and be.

17 | Giant

What: A multigenerational American family epic and one of your only (other) chances to watch James Dean in action.

Why: Because blood is thicker than water.

18 | Clerks

What: The greatest demo tape in the history of cult film making.

Why: Kevin Smith made this movie in the store he already worked at and funded it by maxing out multiple credit cards. It made him a fortune and launched his career. The lesson? Take a chance on your dreams.

19 | Rocky 1-5

What: Dude, it's Rocky.

Why: Because it's fucking Rocky.

20 | Dr. No

What: The original and best, with Sean Connery on top form and Ursula Andress walking out of an ocean and into a million lifelong fantasies.

Why: Love it or loathe it, you can't be a British man without at least understanding what Bond is.

21 | Casablanca

What: A cynical American bumps into his former lover in Morocco. Then shit gets complicated.

Why | To understand the power of a white dinner jacket.

22 | Crazy, Stupid Love

What: Funny and wise modern comedy about sex and relationships. And there aren't too many of those.

Why: Because if you can be 1 tenth of third act Ryan Gosling, you'll never be alone again.

23 | Shame

What: Steve McQueen's lacerating portrayal of sex addiction. And lots of Michael Fassbender wanking.

Why: A little reminder to be careful with that there porn.

24 | Swingers

What: Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn in the ultimate bromance movie that is also the best thing either of them have ever done.

Why: Watch this every single time you're dumped, then call your mates and book a flight to Vegas.

25 | Suffragette

What: A superb cast tells the story of female emancipation.

Why: Cos this shit's important.

26 | Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

What: Surreal adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's best novel.

Why: Do drugs, for Christ's sake.

27 | Trainspotting

What: The most iconic British film, possibly of all time.

Why: Don't do drugs, for Christ's sake!

28 | The 25th Hour

What: Ed Norton spends his last day before going to prison partying – and suspecting – his family and friends.

Why: The 'Fuck New York' soliloquy alone

29 | A Streetcar Named Desire

What: Possibly the greatest adaptation of a play in cinema history, with Marlon Brando on peak form.

Why: To understand the power of a simple white t-shirt.

30 | No Country For Old Men

What: An average man (Josh Brolin) finds some drug money that isn't his and takes off with it with a distinctively non-average man (Javier Bardem) - and his killer bolt gun - in hot pursuit.

Why: Sometimes, it's better to be happy with what you already have.