"The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), Dir. Jonathan Demme, Wr. Ted Tally (Thomas Harris, novel)
Who would be naive enough to try and top Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter? Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling should also be considered sacred territory. This is the only horror/thriller to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture (it also won Best Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay), and it's easy to see why. It's also easy to see the ways in which it could be taken over the top, exaggerated and pushed to the point of parody. (Ridley Scott himself did it in the "Hannibal" sequel.) No one can touch this film. Television is going to try; Mads Mikkselsen is starring as a younger Lecter in an upcoming 13-episode NBC series.
"Shawshank Redemption" (1994), Dir. Frank Darabont Wr. Stephen King, Darabont
It's no surprise that Stephen King's novels make for excellent films ("The Shining," "The Green Mile," "Dolores Claiborne"), and as some of them are already being redone ("Carrie," "Pet Sematary"), it would be nice to keep at least one safe from consideration. Let it be "Shawshank"; there will never be a better pair than Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman as Andy and Red. Darabont's direction is perfection, and the film holds up swimmingly nearly twenty years on.
"The Usual Suspects" (1995), Dir. Bryan Singer, Wr. Christopher McQuarrie
A cult classic mystery with a stellar cast, including Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro and Stephen Baldwin. To pull off this convoluted story as cleverly as Singer did is no easy feat, and to attempt re-engaging an audience --old or new--with the same story would be an invitation for endless comparisons, if not disaster. The original holds up, and if people haven't already seen this movie, they should go in knowing as little as possible.
"Fight Club" (1999), Dir. David Fincher, Wr. Chuck Palahniuk
It may have been considered a commercial failure when it debuted, but this film, one of Fincher's finest, has become one of the most beloved cult films of all time. Cinematically and conceptually, "Fight Club" was ahead of its time and to try to reassign its scathing social commentary to 2013 or beyond just wouldn't have the same jolting effect. We're too jaded now. And making this movie without Brad Pitt and Edward Norton? Please.