The superhero epic 'Zack Snyder’s Justice League' was released by Warner Bros online recently. In spite clocking in at a whopping 4 hours and 2 minutes, fans have loved every minute of the new extended cut. While we can’t go to the cinema right now, we do have plenty of time to watch these long running movies from the comfort of our own couches.
After all, some of the highest grossing at the box office were long running movies. These include 'Avatar', which recently stole back its title of the highest grossing movie of all time, at 2 hours 42 minutes long; 'Avengers: Endgame', which it beat to the title is over 3 hours long; and 'Titanic', which is 3 and a half hours long.
Even going back to 'Gone With the Wind', which is the highest grossing movie of all time technically, when adjusted for inflation, was 4 hours long.
Other movie classics from over the years that have been over 3 hours long include 'Spartacus', 'Lawrence of Arabia', 'The Godfather Part II' and 'The Deer Hunter', and they’re considered among the best movies of all time.
Sometimes more time is better to explore the stories, themes and character development. With that in mind here are some long running movies from the past couple of decades that we think are worth your time.
Boyhood (2 hrs 46 mins)
Boyhood is directed by Richard Linklater ('Dazed & Confused', the 'Before' trilogy). Filmed over the course of 12 years between 2001 and 2013, it actually tracked actor Ellar Coltrane, who plays protagonist Mason Evans, Jr., as he aged from six to eighteen.
Beloved by audiences, praised by critics, and showered with awards, this epic is not only about what it means to be young but what it means to be human. There is an honesty to it, a depth of humanity that is captivating and compelling.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2 hrs 40 mins)
'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' (which is quite a long title, never mind the long running length!) is a western for movie fans who don’t even like westerns.
Many believe Brad Pitt was robbed of an Academy Award nod for playing Jesse. The actor goes toe-to-toe with Oscar winner Casey Affleck in the film, while Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner and Sam Shepard co-star. The cinematography is stunning and it’s a really smart self-reflective work that doesn’t only comment and poke holes at the western as a genre, it’s also a stirring contemplation on the flaws of humanity.
The Departed (2hrs 31 mins)
The first of our two Martin Scorsese movie picks (after all, Scorsese is renowned for being indulgent in the running lengths of his films), 'The Departed' has you absolutely hooked from start to finish. It’s probably one of the best ever remakes being inspired by the Hong Kong action thriller 'Infernal Affairs' (which is also excellent, btw, and a mere 1 hr 40 mins in length).
'The Departed' features a fantastic cast between Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson in one of his last major roles before retiring, Alec Bladwin, Vera Farmiga, Mark Walhberg and Martin Sheen. An undercover cop infiltrates the inner circle of a feared Boston mobster, unaware a senior fellow officer is an informant on the gangster’s payroll.
The Wolf of Wall Street (3 hrs)
Leonardo DiCaprio plays the real life figure Jordan Belfort in what should have been the performance that won him an Oscar. Belfort is an unhinged and wildly successful Wall Street stockbroker who amasses obscene wealth through increasingly criminal enterprises, all while out of his brains on drugs and having the time of his life doing it.
The movie served as Margot Robbie’s breakout role, not to mention serving as Jonah Hill’s entree into more serious roles. It’s Scorsese at his wildest since 'Goodfellas', and the raucous energy just jumps out of the screen at every moment. You could argue that 'The Wolf of Wall Street' is glamourising a corrupt way of life. But it’s so entertaining and hilarious that you just settle in and enjoy the ride.
Prisoners (2 hrs 34 mins)
'Prisoners' is an undeniably grim watch and comparable to the film 'Seven' in terms of how dark and nihilistic it goes. But it’s absolutely phenomenal and a career highlight for all the actors involved including Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano.
Two young girls go missing in Pennsylvania over the Thanksgiving holidays, and suspicion initially falls on Alex Jones, a young man with apparent learning difficulties, who was spotted near the children's last known location. When no evidence of wrongdoing is found, Jones is freed from custody, but the distraught father of one of the missing youngsters is not convinced of Jones' innocence, and takes matters into his own hands.
Blue is the Warmest Colour (3 hrs)
'Blue is the Warmest Colour' captures sexual awakening and the heartache of love in a way that has rarely been captured on the big screen. High school student Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) feels unable to relate to her classmates. Her life completely changes when she meets the enigmatic Emma (Léa Seydoux), a blue-haired aspiring painter who she starts a relationship with and eventually moves in with.
A forewarning, this is not one you’ll want to watch with your parents…
The Pianist (2 hrs 30 mins)
As with any World War II drama, this film is a tough watch. But it’s also an extraordinary consideration of the resilience of the human spirit, as well as a striking exploration of how strong people’s survivalist instincts are.
Adrien Brody won the Best Actor Oscar for his phenomenal performance as the lead, a Polish pianist. Opening in 1938 just as the Germans are flexing their military might into Poland, Szpilman is a pianist on national radio and generally acclaimed as one of his country's finest musicians. Within the space of a few months, he and his family (who are Jewish) are subjected to a litany of barbaric treatments at the hands of the marauding Nazis. Before long, plans are in place to eliminate the entire Warsaw Jewish population.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2 hrs 48 mins)
As with Scorsese, David Fincher doesn’t hesitate when it comes to giving his movies a longer running time where appropriate. Since 'Benjamin Button' tracks what is essentially a lifetime, 3 hours seems fair in this case.
It follows its titular character as he ages backwards, beginning life as an old man. The makeup, which won an Oscar, is very impressive and narrative really immersive. The love story between Brad Pitt as Benjamin and Cate Blanchett’s character is nothing short of heart-breaking.
The Hateful Eight (3 hrs)
Here we have yet another director known for his long movies, Quentin Tarantino, and while it’s easy to give the likes of 'Django Unchained', the 'Kill Bill' saga or 'Inglorious Basterds' a plug, 'The Hateful Eight' might be the most underrated Tarantino movie out there.
Ennio Morricone won an Oscar for the magnificent score he composed for the movie, and the stellar cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern. They play eight strangers who end up holed up in a stagecoach stopover during a blizzard in the aftermath of the American Civil War.
It’s packed with all the tension, fantastic dialogue and wit and humour you’d expect in any other Tarantino movie, even if it is, admittedly, a little self-indulgent (but then, is Tarantino ever not?).