With streaming services becoming the majority medium of so much of our viewing, it seems channel surfing is a thing of the past. Gone are the days of nestling into a couch and scrolling the TV guide for something to kill an afternoon or an evening. Now, if there’s something we want to watch, a series to catch up on or a movie we’re craving, we just type it in. The game of chance has been removed. We don’t have to hope we find it in time, at the right time, anymore. For a lot of us, that’s great. We can stay on top of our TV to-do list. No more FOMO when everyone else is talking about what happened during episode this, or how season X is better than season Y.
But maybe you’re like me, and you subscribe to 0 streaming services. No, this isn’t out of some self-righteous need to buck the trend. It’s because my girlfriend already has subscriptions, I’m too lazy to signup, and I already waste my money on other unnecessary monthly charges. Since I don’t stream, I still get to enjoy the gambler’s satisfaction of spinning the wheel of chance by harboring my television entertainment solely on whatever the channel execs have decided to show. It’s never a guaranteed payoff. Sometimes I start flipping and the TV’s loaded with better gems than your parent’s VHS cabinet. Other days, it’s drier than Lena Dunham’s DM history with Odell. No matter what, though, when I find these movies, I can’t surf past.
1. Armageddon: I feel like there’s some sort of edgelord need to shit on this movie, and for the life of me I just can’t figure out why. The cast is fantastic. The fact they managed to get so many present and future Oscar winners to sign on to a movie with that plot is reason enough to watch. Yeah, I know, they could’ve just taught the astronauts how to drill. But who cares? The existence of the entire planet hinges on Harry Stamper nuking himself to reconcile his past mistakes with his daughter. Sometimes you need to suspend disbelief and enjoy the show.
2. Apollo 13: I’m going to keep the space theme going. Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise team up again to give us a moon movie that somehow, without ever actually reaching the moon, manages to be perfectly entertaining. We’ve also got Ed Harris, who, impho is severely underrated in this role. You could put a whole separate movie together just based off the fits he gets off. It doesn’t come on nearly as much as it used to, which is a shame because this is perfect movie to settle into no matter how far in you find it.
3. Forrest Gump: I probably should’ve started off with Forrest Gump. It’s the channel surf movie gold standard. Regardless of how far in you find it, or how long you stay, you’re going to be entertained. Coming in before Forrest goes to ‘Nam? That’s fine. Don’t want to stick around and watch that manipulative freeloader Jenny take advantage of him for the umpteenth time? No problem, see you in 20. Forrest Gump is the kind of movie you can find, and put in the back of your head to pop back and forth between it and whatever sports team may or may not be breaking your heart at the moment.
4. Jurassic Park: For me, this encompasses any movie in the series, including, very specific parts of that barely credible third installment. If I gotta choose, though, I’m going with the The Lost World. You all already know why. Dinos, a whole movie of Goldblum, Vince Vaughn kicking ass, the late, great, Pete Postelwaithe as the surprisingly sage safari guide, I love it all. If I come across this one I’m dropping everything.
5. Tombstone: This is the movie that originally gave me the idea for this piece. I was putting off going to bed for I-have-absolutely-no-idea why, mindlessly channel surfing, and I came across Tombstone about 5 minutes in. I damn near stayed up until 1:00 AM trying to finish it. For good reason, too. Kurt Russell sports arguably the greatest mustache in movie history, Sam Elliott gravels wisdom the entire first half, 90’s movie juggernaut Bill Paxton (RIP in power) plays Wyatt’s slain younger brother Morgan, and, best of all, Val Kilmer assumes his true form as tuberculosis ridden Doc Holliday. Soon as I surf across this movie, I know Wyatt’s coming, Hell’s coming with him, and so is 3-8 hours of pure entertainment.
6. National Treasure: This last listing almost didn’t make the cut because I thought it might be too niche. But then I remembered I largely don’t give a damn what y’all’s opinion is. One could make a case any Nic Cage movie should go on this list. Con Air probably should. Ghostrider might make the cut solely because of Sam Elliott, and, of course, National Treasure 2, Book of Secrets, for sure should make because Ed Harris and Helen Mirren are powerhouses. I added the O.G. though, because it’s short, simple, and fantastically entertaining.
I know I left plenty of greats off this list. Any Fast and Furious with The Rock in it should be on here, as should Men In Black. While we’re at it lets add in Shawshank Redemption and Dodgeball. But this is just a jumping off point, the first ballot Hall of Fame list if you will. If you want to add any, or debate any I put on here, lemme know in the comments.