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15 Great ‘Double Features’ That Are Worth Your Time

02 March 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by John Berntsson

double feature movies

A double feature can be defined as two different films with similar theme, style, substance or ideas. It can consist of two twin movies from one director like The Wrestler and Black Swan or Goodfellas and Casino, where the same themes are executed with the same style—fleshing out one intriguing subject. They can be two extremely similar films like Fearless and Ip Man or Schindler’s List and The Piano Player —for the cynic: a disgusting rip-off, for the enthusiastic fan: a happy coincidence.

They can even be unofficial remakes of a film like A History of Violence and Wu xia or Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars—setting the same story and plot in a vastly different surrounding, making a wonderfully interesting endurance test on said story, and posing the question: how many genres can it go through without feeling boringly uninspired?

You can even expand your viewing pleasure and go for broke with a triple feature like Avatar, Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves. Or how about The Room, Troll 2 and Rikki-Oh?

Some obvious features (Magnolia and Short Cuts, Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line) got left out due to me being diverse, trying to bring in as many different directors as possible.


15. Dazed and Confused and Car Wash


Dazed and Confused


School is out in 1976 and we get to follow a whole ensemble cast of teens, as they get both drunk and high during an awesome night out in which this film takes place. We get to follow jocks, geeks, stoners, bullies, and douchebags accompanied by one fantastic Matthew McConaughey.

All the nasty stupidity of juvenile assholes are in full display, the director Richard Linklater doesn’t shy away from any of it, it’s super realistic. Being a teenager sucks for sure, but what this film does is that it shows us that despite it being a time for acting mean, selfish, moronic and crude, it is actually quite beautiful.

This is the ultimate hangout movie with fantastic characters and a great soundtrack – one sixth of the film’s budget went on securing rights for the songs.


Car Wash

Car Wash

This other feature (not only taking place during ‘76 but also actually made in ’76) gives us ten hours of hang out time during a sunny day in a car wash.

Characters are introduced left and right, some funny, some dramatic and always with a fresh sound. We have a newly converted Muslim, a prostitute, a crazy professor, a taxi driver, a money hungry – money grabbing – phony preacher, a mega afro with an alter-ego called the fly, a native American and so the list goes on. The energy is fantastically cheerful most of the time without getting boringly repetitive, this is due to some of the colorful characters bringing in a much needed emotional core, adding flavor to the film.

Just to drop some names – Debut film of Bill Duke, Written by Joel Schumacher, director of Batman & Robin (probably the coolest piece of film trivia in all of cinema). It also has two wonderful cameos by Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Pryor is hysterical, but sadly, Carlin is not.


What They Have in Common:

These are two unbelievably hip pieces of film that one can re-visit anytime when in need of a group of friends – you’re part of the gang.


14. Bronson and Chopper




Michael Peterson a.k.a. Charles Bronson (Tom Hardy) made a name for himself as Britain’s most violent prisoner and got to spend thirty years in solitary confinement despite never having killed anyone. The film is directed with grit and confidence, being very similar in style to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, there is no shortage of ultra violence and classical/electrical music.

Hardy went the method acting route on this one, packing on thirty-five pounds in just about five weeks to play the character of Bronson. Shaved head, twirled mustache, and a shit eating grin, Bronson presents himself with bravura and style, a true entertainer born to perform.

The director Nicholas Winding Refn describes the film as being told through four different layers. There is the real world, The world that Charlie wants us to see him in, Charlie’s Narration and Charlie on stage. He also explains the film as being a metaphor for somebody becoming an artist.



Chopper (2000)

Andrew Dominik’s debut feature Chopper features a star making performance by Eric Bana as Australia’s most infamous author convict: Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read. It is based on the best-selling autobiography that Read wrote in prison whilst being locked up for murder.

Chopper is not a sentimental man, nor is he a hard man; he is a man who seems unable of caring about anything. A sociopath with a sense of humour and nothing more. He cares about himself, being rather manipulative in his steering of outcomes, but just watch out for those sudden acts of rage.


What They Have in Common:

They are two very similar characters. Big, strong, outspoken, darkly humorous and unpredictable in their childlike madness. The performances differ in that Bana gives a more strange and bizarre one whilst Hardy is more formal and controlled. They are both laugh out loud funny despite the different directions. Refn puts on a show with his performer, Bronson, whereas Dominik only observes his performer, Chopper.


13. Battle Royale and The Hunger Games


Battle Royale


Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale is a movie so soaked in violent poetry, shameless entertainment and controversial ideas that you can’t do anything but cry at the perfection of its craft. The new millennium has begun and the economy of Japan has declined like never before. The kids are not going to school and an act by the government is put into practice. A school class is selected at random and gets send to a remote island where they are set to kill each other.

You are now in for a ride filled with violence, friendship, tender moments, insanely implausible plot points and then some more violence. It is poetic and inventive, maddening and raw. Schools are (in the pursuit of proper education) showing lord of the flies when they should be showing Battle Royale.


The Hunger Games


Instead of Japanese Extreme, we are now dealing with teenage sci-fi/fantasy and thanks to The Hunger Games, we can at last forget about the frowning Bella and her glittering boy toy Edward, But outdating Twilight isn’t much of a challenge now is it?

The poetry of Battle Royale has been replaced with a more straightforward and plausible story and the telling of said story is impressively handled to say the least. The strength lies within the film’s approach to storytelling but it weakens due to poor execution of action scenes. Close up and shakycam will get the job done, the job of making my head hurt. This is not a problem in the sequel, which in turn is a much better film.


What They Have in Common:

Take a moment to Google “Battle Royale vs. The Hunger Games similarities” and you shall find that the latter are more or less a complete rip-off of the former.

Battle Royale is great and beautiful. The Hunger Games is well made and essential to the termination of Twilight within pop-culture. Both good films and a recommended back-to-back viewing.

Prefer one to the other, sure, but sad fact is that many will choose one to hate and one to love while neither is required, necessary or even rational.


12. The Wizard of Oz and Wild at Heart


The Wizard of Oz


1939 turned out to be a Cinematic super year, spouting titles like Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gone with the Wind, and The Wizard of Oz (the latter two were both directed by Victor Fleming).

In this feature, we see Judy Garland star as Dorothy, living in a boring, sepia-toned Kansas. A storm hits the fan and Dorothy travels through a sudden tornado, landing in the magical kingdom of Oz, a world filled with colors and imagination. She is here matched up with a scarecrow, a tin man and a cowardly lion. On their merry adventure of singing and dancing, they bump into witches, munchkins, a wizard, a pair of slippers and more.

This is both a classic and a masterpiece stuffed with unforgettable songs, immortal lines, great dances and some clear-cut moral guidelines for all kids to follow.


Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart (1990)

Nicolas Cage plays Sailor Ripley, a wild man to say the least, next to him, we have his, just about as crazy, girlfriend: Lula Fortune, played by Laura Dern. Lula’s mother Marietta, a character Diane Ladd received an Oscar nomination for, is repelled by the sheer notion that her daughter would have anything to do with wildman Ripley, so she sets a bounty on his head.

Here we embark down the yellow brick road, encountering one strange character after another. Isabella Rossellini has a monobrow, Willem Dafoe has got more visible gum than teeth, Twin Peaks actors fly’s all over the place and Nic Cage rock’s an amazingly wonderful Elvis impersonation.


What They Have in Common:

Wild at Heart is David Lynch’s twist on the child friendly original from 39. It is more or less what The Wizard of Oz would look like had it been directed by David Lynch, director of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive.

The Wizard of Oz was nominated for a best picture Oscar. Wild at Heart won the Palme d’Or. Go and see them. Already done so? See them again.


11. Akira and Ghost in the Shell



Akira movie

1988 is probable the best year for animated features, featuring films such as My Friend Totoro, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Grave of the Fireflies, The Land Before Time, and Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s Akira.

A Japanese animéusing 24 frames a second giving the images a graceful flow at the same time being filled with an insanely detailed background. The genre could be called a techno-pop-punk-animé-action-sci-fi-thriller and Akira is making its mark as one of (if not the) best one.

In the tradition of Brian De Palma’s masterpiece Carrie, Akira tells the tale of a confused, frustrated juvenile being given great powers with terrible outcomes.

It’s primarily about two characters: Kaneda and Tetsuo. Kaneda is a biker and gang leader, his friend Tetsuo, who is part of the gang, obtain destructive powers who pulls him into this great, gory Tokyo adventure where Kaneda sets out to save him.

For many people being a teenager isn’t easy, especially not for those always in the back and never in the front. All Tetsuo ever wanted was just a little piece of the spotlight. Eventually, he takes more than just a little piece.


Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is another entry into the genre, intellectually heavier than Akira also less entertaining and harder to follow, even though it is in many ways a better film.

The story takes place in the future (2029) a world of hackers, cyborgs and artificial intelligence. A female cop goes after a “baddie” known as “the puppet master”. Other than that, the plot is in no need to be explained; it’s quite convoluted and as recently stated hard to follow.

Ghost in the Shell gives us the usual philosophical ponderings concerning artificial intelligence. Is there something called a soul? What does it mean to be human? However common this might seem, director Mamoru Oshii presents these questions with unusual stylistic flair and grace.


What They Have in Common:

These two films are visual masterpieces and had it not been for them we would never had seen The Wachowskis bringing their ideas to full fruition. One film merged in their heads as they saw films like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and Ninja Scroll and forgetting about the two sequels – this double feature laid the groundwork for one of the greatest films of all time. The Matrix.



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  • Francisco Jose Fajardo Marrone

    nice list, there are some awsome choices in this article

  • Unkle Amon

    Ouch! The Tree of Life and 2001 dont have anything in common. The Tree of Life is boring, religious utter garbage while 2001 is a masterpiece.

    • Brian Lussier

      The Tree Of Life is not garbage, it is also a masterpiece.

      • Unkle Amon

        Yea, esp. that CGI dinosaurs and pointless story about “creator” proves me wrong. 😉

        • Brian Lussier

          Well, perhaps you didn’t get what Malick was going for with it all. The dinosaur represented the idea that nature was always a predator to those around it, but that sometimes it could also be reached by grace, which is why it lets the other dinosaur live (I’ll admit the CGI of the dinosaur itself was a little poor, but heck! The CGI of all the Na’vi in Avatar was horrible, and no one seems to complain). As for the “pointless story about the creator”, as you put it, did you not get that the whole voiceover narration of the film (especially the mother’s) was a prayer to the Creator?! If you got that, you should understand how the Creator has a major role in this film. It opens with a quote from scripture, the first image is a flame in the dark representing God and it ends with that same flame. It wasn’t pointless, it WAS the whole point of the film…

          • Unkle Amon

            I understood the point that’s why I think it is pointless. By now our species should know that the idea of some kind of creator is just a fiction. But we are all entitled to our opinions, after all. Btw, those dinosaurs are done very badly.

          • Brian Lussier

            Well, don’t forget the film takes place in the ’50s. Religion was big then, and the film is shown from the point of view of characters who hold to those values. And second, although I don’t know what to think myself of the idea of a god, it’s pretentious to dismiss other people’s beliefs as mere “fiction”. We don’t understand everything and never will. I guess what I’m saying is, who really knows for sure? No one! That’s who. And yes, they were badly done, but Avatar won an Oscar for having bad visual effects an one bats an eye.

          • Unkle Amon

            Agree with you on that. Maybe Mallick is just not my cup of tea. Very overrated filmmaker IMO.

          • Brian Lussier

            Then that explains it. There are many great filmmakers which even people very knowledgeable about film dislike. I’m quite knowledgeable in this area, and yet I can’t friggin’ stand Federico Fellini, for instance. Except La Strada. Other than that film, Fellini bores me to tears and I find him very overrated. I acknowledge he’s great technically (his photography is always wonderful) and gets amazing performances from his actors, but I think his “stories” (in quotes because his films don’t really have stories per se) are really weak and boring. La Dolce Vita (which I’ve seen three times because I wanted to give it a shot, assuming I might be misunderstanding it) is nine hours of my life I just never will get back, sadly…

          • Nancy Hall

            And you didn’t have a problem with mysticism implied in 2001?

        • J.Mak

          It’s hard to say Tree of Life is not a masterpiece. The visual experience alone, with it’s astounding cinematography, puts it up there with the best of them. The story, and the questions asked within it, although coming from a more christian outlook, are still some of the deeper questions asked in any movie. You can always tell how great a film is by the amount of controversy it can cause, polarizing audiences, due to its iconoclastic nature. Terrence Malick has the ability to force his viewers into viewing the world as he does, and to think like he does, an attribute that not very many filmmakers possess. As well, there are many ways to tell a story or make a statement. That’s what makes movies like Tree of Life great, because it’s breaking the paradigmatic state that movies are in. And remember first and foremost, filmmaking is a visual experience. If it’s not pleasing to look at it, then what’s the point? 2001 experienced much of the same controversy Tree of Life did in its time. It wasn’t received well by the mainstream, and it took years for people to acknowledge its brilliance, let alone the possibility of it being the single greatest filmmaking in the history of cinema. For it too was iconoclastic, unable to fit in a box that most judged films by.

          • Unkle Amon

            It’s not hard. It’s not a masterpiece. I don’t see any controversy in Malick works, he’s just a wannabe artist, imo. American filmmakers should stick with their own area, making popcorn blockbusters or stupid romantic comedies. If you want to see visual masterpiece check out G. Noe or N.W. Refn.

          • J.Mak

            The fact that you’re so ardently arguing against it being so, is the very sign of the controversy I’m speaking of. You’re only proving my point. And your so called belief that Americans should just make blockbusters and romantic comedies is contradicted by your statement that 2001 is a masterpiece. Furthermore, your mention of Nicolas Winding Refn & Gaspar Noe, two filmmakers who are dripping wet with Nihilistic themes, only reflects your bias towards Terrrence Malik’s subject matter. As well, missing the whole point of the controversy, by citing two filmmakers who are heavily reliant upon violence and shock value. If you would have mentioned someone as Tarkovsky or Bela Tarr, I might have given your opinion more credibility, but you might as well add Chan-woo Park to your list, filmmakers who will never be as controversial as Malik is.

          • Unkle Amon

            Im not talking about violence and shock value Im talking about visual style of artists. Both Noe and Refn are heavily influenced by Kurick. They are best artists working today.Tarkovsky and Kubrick are whole different level, they are gods. Park is great, too. You see, maybe Tarantino is “controversial” just as Malick but I can’t watch his films because it insults my intelligence.

          • J.Mak

            There’s no way you can compare Malick to Tarantino. Tarantino is only controversial to mainstream pop culture, due to his glorifying of violence, and such choices as the use of the word “nigger” in another one his meaningless films. It has nothing to do with artistry. Tarantino shouldn’t even be brought up in this conversation. A much better American example would be PT Anderson’s, The Master, and that doesn’t even closely compare to the amount of division caused by Tree of Life in the film community. It’s the same as Only God Forgives. People were up in arms as to whether it was pretension dribble or of a new work of genius. That’s how you know there’s something there. This is the type of controversy which is relevant. I don’t think the part of land they were born on earth in is relevant. These are individuals, not some product of nationalism. They think for themselves.

          • Unkle Amon

            Only thing that Tarantino and Malick have in common is that they are bad jokes, but I have to agree with you on PTA, he makes films like he’s not americunt. 😉

          • Phoenix Ramsey

            FYI, I watched The Tree of Life as an atheist and it completely held up to subjective experience beyond a religious interpretation.

        • J.Mak

          The fact that you’re so ardently arguing against it being so, is the very sign of the controversy I’m speaking of. You’re only proving my point. And your so called belief that Americans should just make blockbusters and romantic comedies is contradicted by your statement that 2001 is a masterpiece. Furthermore, your mention of Nicolas Winding Refn & Gaspar Noe, two filmmakers who are dripping wet with Nihilistic themes, only reflects your bias towards Terrrence Malik’s subject matter. As well, missing the whole point of the controversy, by citing two filmmakers who are heavily reliant upon violence and shock value. If you would have mentioned someone as Tarkovsky or Bela Tarr, I might have given your opinion more credibility, but you might as well have cited Chan-woo Park as well, filmmakers who will never be as controversial as Malik is.

    • Nancy Hall

      That’s what people used to say about 2001.

      • Unkle Amon

        Say what?

    • Pica Lima

      thank you

  • nrvs

    Great list as always. Gotta say though that Pans labyrinth is not ‘arguably’ del toros best movie. It IS his best movie by an astronomical margin.

    • John Davidsson

      I meant to write “unarguably” x) good thing you noticed =)

  • Cinema270

    Great list, especially “The Tree of Life” and “2001”. I’d also add Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” and Steve McQueen’s “Shame”.

  • Rafael Ramz R

    Stupid List.

  • Brian Lussier

    I was reading, I was really hoping it would end with 2001 and The Tree Of Life. Thanks for that.

    • Nancy Hall

      This sounds great. I just finished Solaris…had been thinking about pairing it with something.Maybe an All Tarkovsky day would be good.

    • CaseX

      That sounds incredible.

  • Rodolfo Mercado

    ¿Qué demonios tienen que ver el lirismo y la mística de Terrence Malick con la cerebralidad y misantropía de Stanley Kubrick? Qué tontería…

  • Cinemaniac

    Are you a mindreader? When I saw Nightcrawler and heard that quote you picked from the movie it also reminded me that one from Plainview. Great list, it’s also interesting the link between 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Tree of Life.

  • Matthew Benbenek

    Really interesting list. Mostly great comparisons, although I didn’t really agree with the nightcrawler-there will be blood. The atmospheres felt way different which I think was a main component of the list.

  • Pavel Dumitrescu

    Black Swan and Perfect Blue

    • N Erik W. Erkstam

      Inception and Paprika

  • Rinaldo Hartanto

    Her and Ex Machina

    also for more eclectic pairing

    Ikiru and Enter the Void

  • Jeremy Stewart

    Memories of Murder + Zodiac

  • FJM

    this is great. thanks for this

  • jannik

    First: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Second: Requiem for a Dream.

    I saw both these movies for the first time in one night. This night is still one of the most amazing/influential experiences I have ever had with movies.

    Oh and for the evolution of Actioncinema: Speed & Mad Max: Fury Road.

  • Michael George

    Return of the Living Dead and Evil Dead 2

  • Ruben D Monroy Gonzalez

    Looper and Edge of Tomorrow

  • Nancy Hall

    Great list. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately. I paired a bunch of Bob Dylan cultural offerings after reading his wonderful autobiography, Chronicles vol I. I paired it with Tod Haynes I’m Not There and Scorcese’s No Direction Home. I could have done Don’t Look Back, too. I also threw in another book, Positively Fourth Street and listened to a lot of the related music…Dylan, Baez, the Farinas, Dave Van Ronk, and more.

  • Nancy Hall

    A few other pairings…Velvet Goldmine, Montage of Heck, and a Bowie move that I haven’t decided on…probably The Man Who Fell to Earth.

    I think Basquiat would pair well with lots of movies. You could go with the Warhol NYC demimonde connection for Midnight Cowboy, Trash, Flesh, I Shot Andy Warhol and more.

    Or, you could go with the artist biopic connection. I saw Mr. Turner, recently, so that’s on my mind. Pollack is another one.

  • Nancy Hall

    Zero de Conduite, If, The 400 Blows (I’m doing this one right now, but ‘If’ is hard to come by…just got a replacement DVD from Netflix after they sent me a broken one).

    Far from Heaven and All That Heaven Allows

  • Nancy Hall

    I’ve always thought Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Juliette of the Spirits was a natural pairing. The first is clearly autobiographical and the second is Fellini’s tribute to his wife. Nights of Cabiria might also go nicely with either.

  • I can’t say I found any of these choices bold and inspired; most of them are films often mentioned together in a breath by anyone writing for a school newspaper. Also, one often wonders here whether the author wrote this piece and its prose in his home language.

  • Brandon Thompson

    Robert Altman’s Short Cuts and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia

    Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up and Brian De Palma’s Blow Up

    Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America

  • Daniel J

    Dark City and The Matrix….Summer of Sam and Zodiac…Le Samourai and Ghost Dog way of the Samurai…Amadeus and Immortal Beloved…Inherent Vice and The Long Goodbye…Capote and In Cold Blood

  • Daniel J

    Persona and 3 Women…The Long Goodbye and The Big Sleep…

  • Paul Dexter

    Grapes of Wrath and Easy Rider

    Road trips that defined eras

  • Rollyn Stafford

    I’m really happy you included 2001 and Tree of Life. Perfect double feature!

  • Dave

    Meet John Doe and A Face IN The Crowd would be an excellent double bill

  • FunnyFaceKing

    Wolfpack and Twinsters

  • Ivan Orsecock

    The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming & It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

  • Andris Kocsányi

    Federico Fellini: La Dolce Vita
    Paolo Sorrentino: The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza)

  • Ari Novic

    Persona and Performance

  • baba

    all the presidents men + spotlight

  • Pica Lima

    They do anything to convince the world Mallik is some kind of a genius. Now, they’re comparing him to Kubrick, and Tree of Life to 2001… What a joke!

  • Arnaldo Fernandez

    “The Matrix” is far from being “one of the greatest films of all time”.

  • Abhishek

    Don’t you fucking compare the shite Hunger games with the gold Battle Royale. Just for the comparing seek. Are you kidding me?

  • Abhishek

    Comparing Django to Slave is like you can compare it to any western slavery film.

  • Steve Mahofski

    Amadeus with Purple Rain