These days, it’s hard to find a movie that isn’t part of a planned or existing franchise, and many viewers and critics alike have lamented that media reality. While the disapproval over the lack of original storytelling in an era of Hollywood IP holds weight, there’s also an inherent, understandable draw in finding a good movie with a story that continues on after the credits roll.
We’re celebrating those movies that most deservedly got a sequel (or two or three). They’re a mix of franchise-starters and smaller-scope cinematic tales, international cinema and American blockbusters. Here are seven of the best movies with sequels you can stream right now.
The Godfather trilogy is considered to be one of the best film series of all time, and it all starts with this 1972 crime drama. Adapted from Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel, The Godfather trilogy follows a decade in the lives of the Coreleone family, focusing on youngest son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) as he moves from a reluctant member of the organized crime family to ruthless boss.
The first film in the trilogy, The Godfather, begins in 1945, at the wedding of Don Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) daughter. The reception is as much if not more so an excuse to conduct gangster business as it is a celebration of the couple’s nuptials. Wedding guest Michael has recently returned from World War II, and attends the celebration with girlfriend Kay (Diane Keaton). He assures Kay that he is nothing like his family, and does not intend on taking part in the family business. Later, when Michael’s father is the target of an assassination attempt, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay uninvolved. After watching this first, great film in the trilogy, you will find it hard not to get involved in the drama too.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
One of the best superhero movies ever made, 2018’s Spider-Man Into the Spider-verse uses a combination of computer animation and hand-drawn comic book techniques to breathe fresh, vibrant life back into a much-tread genre. The story itself rocks, too. It follows Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), a Black teen living in New York City, as he struggles to adapt to life after a bite from a radioactive spider gives him superpowers.
Life is hard enough for Miles, who is also trying to balance the demands of high school and life at home, when he witnesses Kingpin’s henchmen killing his universe’s Spider-Man. With his dying breath, Spider-Man gives Miles a USB drive with information on it needed to save the city. This could be enough for a solid superhero origin story, but Spider-Verse goes bigger and more pop culturally self-aware, bringing in superpowered characters from different corners of the multiverse in this hilarious, moving, and riveting tale of what makes a hero.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
It isn’t an understatement to say that The Lord of the Rings trilogy changed cinema forever, pushing the boundaries of what was possible on the big screen, as well as making fantasy films more accessible to a mainstream audience. And it all started with The Fellowship of the Ring, which follows Hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood), as he is tasked by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to destroy a magical ring that, should it fall into the wrong hands, would cement the villainous Sauron’s cruel rise to power.
Perfectly cast, lovingly adapted, and masterfully brought to life, The Fellowship of the Ring isn’t just the start of an epic fantasy saga — it’s also a tale of adventure, friendship, and heroism that makes for its own great movie.
Bridget Jones’ Diary
It’s very rare for romantic comedies to get a sequel. The nature of the format often dictates that these movies wrap the story up with a nice, tidy bow and the assumption that the main characters will live happily ever after until they eventually die, a long time from now. Bridget Jones is a glorious exception.
Based on the book of the same name that was a contemporary (well, circa 2001) retelling of Pride & Prejudice, Bridget Jones’ Diary stars Rene Zellweger as the titular Bridget, an endearingly flawed 30-something woman living in London who starts her year determined to lose weight, stop smoking, and get the attention of her sexy boss, Daniel Cleaver (rom-com legend Hugh Grant).
When haughty childhood acquaintance Mark Darcy (Colin Firth, who also famously played Pride & Prejudice’s Fitzwilliam Darcy) begins to regularly appear in Bridget’s life, Bridget thinks he is the exact opposite of Daniel and what she wants from a romantic partner, but life is often more complicated than we want it to be. Starring three of the naughties’ best actors and continuing on for two sequels, Bridget Jones’ Diary is a near-perfect British rom-com.
The Matrix is a cyberpunk sci-fi classic for a reason. The 1999 film from the Wachowskis is a reality-bending action flick that also happens to feature one of the best film romances of all time. Starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, The Matrix begins in a highly relatable way: in the humdrum daily life of Thomas Anderson (Neo’s “real-life” name). Mr. Anderson, as Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) famously calls him, is an office worker by day and a hacker by night.
When mysterious, leather-wearing duo Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) approach Mr. Anderson and reveal to him the truth — he is living inside of a simulated reality, built by intelligent machines who use the humans inside as an energy source — he has a choice. Will Neo continue to live in the Matrix or does he want to fight in the real world? He chooses the latter and is thrust into the war against machines, where he discovers the true potential of his power.
Directed by visionary filmmakers the Wachowski sisters, and with fight choreography from Hong Kong industry legend Yuen Woo-ping, The Matrix is one of the best movies of all time. Its story would continue on for three follow-up films, including 2021’s The Matrix Resurrections.
One of modern cinema’s most emotionally affecting and effective immigrant stories, Paddington follows the eponymous bear as he moves from his home in the jungles of “Darkest Peru” to London in this live-action adaptation of the beloved children’s books.
Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw), who is realized here using a combination of CGI and animatronics, grew up hearing stories of what a wonderful, welcoming place London is. However, when he arrives, it is a much colder, seemingly unfeeling place than he has been led to believe.
The Brown family, led by empathetic illustrator Mary (The Shape of Water’s Sally Hawkins) and grumpy risk analyst Henry (Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville), temporarily takes Paddington in. But, when vengeful taxidermist Millicent (a pitch-perfect Nicole Kidman) set out to add Paddington to her collection, the Brown must decide if Paddington is part of their family or not. With a second, even better sequel and a third film on the way, Paddington is one of the best films-with-a-sequel of the last decade.
If you love The Departed, then you need to watch Infernal Affairs, the 2002 Hong Kong action film that Martin Scorcese’s Oscar-winning crime drama draws heavily from. Directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, Infernal Affairs follows a police officer named Chan Wing-yan (Shang Chi’s Tony Leung) who goes undercover in the triad and a triad member named Lau Kin-ming (Andy Lau) who goes undercover in the Hong Kong Police Force.
As Chan and Lau sink further into their undercover lives, the line between right and wrong for both men starts to blur. Infernal Affairs is a taut, emotionally devastating crime drama that stars two of Hong Kong cinema’s biggest stars and would launch two more films.
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