In no particular order, and depending upon the mood:
A Man for All Seasons
Why: well, we know all dogs go to heaven, but this movie gives hope that a lawyer or two might make the grade as well. Or did Thomas's end exhaust our quota?
La Dolce Vita
Why: modern man in a nutshell. Besides, how can you pass on a movie that begins with a statue of Jesus flying over Rome on the way to the Vatican and ends with Marcello turning away from the young Virgin Mary on the beach beckoning to him from the foot of the cross? Is there a sadder ending? Yes, the next one
Au Hasard Balthazar
Why: an odd picture by one of my favorite directors, Robert Bresson. It's a simple tale about the life of a donkey, the suffering servant if you will, in rural France, but a story that will break a heart made of stone.
Why: John Ford, John Wayne, schmaltzy Irish sentimentality, even treatment of the Indians, and the scene of John Wayne and Pedro Armendariz riding through the desert to meet Cochise that is always in my top 5 scenes in all moviedom.
Lawrence of Arabia
Why: see Fort Apache, believe it or not. The desert is a character that steals the show, aided by that music and a ripping good story.
On the bubble at the moment:
The Grapes of Wrath
Why: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Red River Valley, the fragility of community/family in tough times.
The Longest Day
Why: the daring good against entrenched evil.
Mr Smith Goes to Washington
Why: the thousand tiny compromises that leads from idealism to cynicism and therefore to perdition. Jimmy plays the 'clown' reminiscent of that other clown who proclaimed:
I am a woodland fellow, sir, that always loved a
great fire; and the master I speak of ever keeps a
good fire. But, sure, he is the prince of the
world; let his nobility remain in's court. I am for
the house with the narrow gate, which I take to be
too little for pomp to enter: some that humble
themselves may; but the many will be too chill and
tender, and they'll be for the flowery way that
leads to the broad gate and the great fire.