The Best Midnight Movie Candidates of the 21st Century

We love a good underdog story. “Small-time theater owners, who could rent inexpensive pictures without having to pay distributors a percentage of the receipts, were able to flourish, which led to the growth of art houses, revival houses, and third-run grind houses. And this, in turn, made the midnight movie phenomenon possible,” explains critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in Midnight Movies. Today, repertory movie houses like Los Angeles’ New Beverly Cinema and New York City’s Film Forum are keeping the spirit of the midnight movies alive with screenings of cult classics and weird indies. We recently brought you a list of the best midnight movies of all time. Since then, we’ve been wondering what films will be the cult objects of tomorrow? What movies from this century will endure as midnight classics? And so we present the best midnight movie candidates of the 21st century. Some of these movies are already screening during the late-night hours, and a few have yet to have their moment in the flickering spotlight. We examine why they’re a great fit for midnighters. This list is hardly finite, so we’d love to read about your picks, below.

oldboy

Oldboy

Based on the Japanese manga of the same, Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy examines revenge (the futility of it) and redemption through elaborately choreographed violence. Fast-paced action, hyper stylized camerawork, and a grim, existential view (somber poetry, during its finest moments) — along with the film’s historical importance (the movie helped bring Korean cinema to an international audience) — Oldboy has a pulpy, grindhouse edge that feels tailor-made for midnight audiences.