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Today the contribution comes from the Outposter formerly known as Bourgeoisie Scum and it’s time to put your best Casey Kasem voice on, as he’s got a rundown for you.
The 25 Greatest Movies Of The 1990s
I thought it was time to contribute again and grace you all with my list of the 25 best movies of the 90s. No foreign-language films included. (especially Rooshan!) Honorable Mentions go to these 5 movies that just missed out. I’m sure they will be a surprise to some, but I’ll give my reasons.
Toy Story. Yes, it’s great, but it just missed and isn’t as great as parts 2 or 3.
The Lion King. I tried to fit it in and it kept coming up short.
The Matrix. I think the mediocre sequels soured me a bit on this film.
Terminator 2. The 2nd act is a slog.
Boyz in the Hood. Like The Lion King, I found 25 I think are better.
So what did make it in? What do I think the best 25 movies of the 1990s are? Well, why don’t I just tell you…
25: Boogie Nights
The 2nd film by Paul Thomas Anderson is a masterwork of character and style. It perfectly captures the feel of the classic porn era with just enough sleaze and class mixed together to sell it. Sure he steals a bit from Scorsese, but why wouldn’t you?
24: The Usual Suspects
The debut of Bryan Singer was the coolest film of its time with the coolest storyline, and what a cast! This simple tale of 6 hoods being blackmailed by a mysterious crime boss is striking, profoundly clever, and endlessly entertaining!
23: Jackie Brown
Probably the most “mature” of Tarantino’s films and the most well-structured as he’s working from Elmore Leonard rather than his own work. Pam Grier is great in the title role, DeNiro plays against type, Sam Jackson is Sam Jackson but Robert Forster flat out steals the show as everyman pawnbroker Max Cherry.
22: Lone Star
A 40-year-old skull in the desert opens John Sayles’ epic Texas neo-noir western about a flustered sheriff and the legacy of his legendary lawman father. Chris Cooper should’ve won all the Oscars, Elizabeth Pena is great and the film lives inside you after just one viewing. I wish I could put it higher and maybe I should have.
21: Groundhog Day
You know you love it. Bill Murray plays an egotistical weatherman sent to cover Groundhog’s Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the 10000th time only to find himself stuck in a time loop where every day is Groundhog’s Day. 21st? Man, there were a lot of good movies in the 90s.
20: The Big Lebowski
Yeah man, this is just, my opinion, but the tale of the hapless The Dude caught up in the attempted blackmail of the titular Lebowski is a stone classic. John Goodman gives the performance of his life and, what the fuck was Jackie Treehorn sketching?
Mad Mel’s epic Scottish drama is a Best Picture winner, and a benchmark for the decade. I gotta admit though, I don’t love it as much as many others do. It is great, it’s on my list, but I know many would have this much higher than me.
18: Ed Wood
When I first saw the trailer for this film back in the day, I was skeptical. I was a fan of Bad movies and Plan 9 especially, but Depp looked weird, hammy, and dumb. Looks can be deceiving. This is a great film that moves beyond a standard biopic into actual art. The cinematography is great, the acting superb especially Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi and it finds the balance of not playing it too straight, but not taking the easy road and shitting on the subject. I think it’s Tim Burton’s best film.
17: Fight Club
David Fincher’s masterstroke of masculinity broke through like a hammer on plate glass in 1999. Clever, tough, funny, and flat-out brilliantly written from a novel by Chuck Palahniuk. It’s become iconic and much of its language is part of the cultural landscape. Norton and Pitt both act instead of hamming it up and the movie is better for it.
Oliver Stone’s film caught much flack for presenting the conspiracy angle of the infamous murder, but too many missed out on how great a film it is! There really was a Jim Garrison, he really charged those men with conspiracy, and this film is so well cast (with the lone exception of John Candy who foghorns it up a bit too much) that it could have been about gay cowboys eating pudding and still been interesting.
Clint Eastwood’s vision of “the last western” is a melancholy masterpiece about killing men, killing stereotypes, and killing the fantasy of the classic western. Its killings aren’t fun, they aren’t easy and they aren’t stylish until the wrong man is driven back to a personality he thought he’d left behind.
A car salesman has gotten into financial trouble and plans a little kidnap scam against his father-in-law when everything goes bad in this film from 1996. Frances McDormand gives one of the great female performances, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare are excellent as the hired thugs, and does anyone play a loser schmuck better than William H Macy? I think the sweet moment of Sheriff Marge and her husband are some of the best in a film full of great moments.
13: Jurassic Park
The movie is a turning point in CGI, but don’t focus on the technical aspects too much. FUCKIN DINOSAURS BEEETCH! This movie is a joy ride of excitement, fun, and true thrills! Masterfully directed, scored and, of course, the FX by Stan Winston and ILM are amazing. This is why we like movies. It’s a rollercoaster!
This film is dark. It could’ve been a standard cop vs. serial killer film, but it goes beyond that. The unnamed city, with its rain and grime, is the real character lurking beneath that John Doe represents with all of his insanity and self-righteousness. It almost seems now like a parody of modern urban leftism. But it probably wasn’t.
11: Saving Private Ryan
The opening storming of the beach at Normandy is perhaps the greatest piece of war filmmaking ever made. The problem with this is that the ensuing story, while compelling and well made, never lives up to what came before. It’s still a great film but in another world, Spielberg might start in North Africa and end with Normandy.
10: Silence of the Lambs
One of the few films to sweep the big 5 Oscars, back when they meant something, of Actor, Actress, Film, Director, and Screenplay. Jonathon Demme’s Silence of the Lambs accomplishes the rare feat of being even better than the very good book it was based on. No performance lacks, no shot looks hurried or added for exposition. It’s a carefully constructed story of madness, depravity, and the earnest resolution of idealism.
9: The Hunt for Red October
Sean Connery is a Lithuanian Sub Captain and it works. That’s all you need to say!
Honestly, Baldwin is the perfect Jack Ryan. You by him as a bookworm, you buy his attempts to convince the world of his theory, and you buy him as a regular guy forced into extraordinary circumstances. The underwater shots still look great, the casting is so good you feel like it’s a documentary sometimes. One of the most underrated movies by the general public. Movie fans just know.
8: Shawshank Redemption
The greatest Stephen King adaptation ever made, and also perhaps the greatest prison film ever made. Tim Robbins plays weak, yet mentally strong, so well. Morgan Freeman is a better Red than the Irishman depicted in the book. A simple film about good and evil, made extraordinary.
7: Schindler’s List
Spielberg’s epic film about the holocaust is equal parts uplifting and majestic, while heartbreaking. There are moments in this film that are as emotionally impactful as anything that has ever been put to film such as the girl in the red dress. Ralph Fiennes’ performance somehow makes such an evil Commandante into a human being and not a cliche. Ben Kingsley, well, Ben Kingsley’s. See it, but not too often or it’ll make you depressed.
6: Dead Man
Perhaps the biggest surprise on this list. The greatest film by one of the great 90s indie directors, Jim Jarmusch, is an existential western road movie. Johnny Depp plays William Blake. He’s an accountant who gave up everything he had to travel from Cleveland to the small western town of Machine, where he thinks he has a job waiting. Things go awry and he ends up on the run in the company of an exiled Indian named Nobody with a trio of bounty hunters in pursuit.
It examines life, death, existence, spirituality and every single shot looks like an Ansel Adams’ photograph shot in beautiful black and white. See it.
5: Pulp Fiction
Perhaps the most influential movie of the decade. The shelves were full of knockoff “guys with guns being clever” DVDs for years after this film exploded onto screens in 1994. Its non-linear storytelling, stylish cinematography, and kitschy art design make it perhaps the “ninetiesist” of any film on here. You know it, you love it.
4: Miller’s Crossing
I think it is the Coen Brother’s best movie, and that’s saying something. It’s a tale of Irish mobs, betrayal, leverage, and getting one over on the other guy by playing the long game. Gabriel Byrne never was better and it was nice to see Albert Finney given a real role to chew on for once. Look into your heart, you know it’s true
3: LA Confidential
Based on a book by James Ellroy, this noir film by the underrated Curtis Hanson hits on all cylinders. The cast is great, particularly Russel Crowe as the brutish Bud White. Heck, they actually taught Kim Basinger to act a little bit. This story of corruption, Hollywood and the LAPD is maybe the best written film of the decade. Every character is tight as a drum, every plot point fat-free. It looks great, sounds great and is great.
The Michael Mannist of Michael Mann films. Robert DeNiro is Neil McCauley, master thief, who has assembled a crew to pull the biggest jobs in LA. Pacino is Lt Vincent Hanna, the man tasked with stopping him.
It’s stylish, suspenseful, calm, violent and also has moments of grace and charm. True, the Pacino home life stuff goes on too long, but I don’t care. The rest of this movie is so damn good it doesn’t matter. The final score is an all-time great setpiece and the ending is bittersweet, but the journey… wow, what a journey!
I couldn’t decide between the top 3 for weeks, it was tough. But, after rewatching all 3, I settled on this order. Your mileage may vary.
What to say that hasn’t already been said? Henry Hill always wanted to be a gangster, and a gangstering he does go. This film is nearly perfect. The acting is as good as any film. Pesci is sublime as Tommy. The shots are amazing, the score is great… blah, blah, blah.
But you know what? It’s one of the funniest movies ever made! This movie makes me laugh nearly from start to finish. Maybe that makes me a sick bastard (maybe?) but it’s a movie that never stops giving.
So, what do you think? Am I an idiot who doesn’t know what I’m talking about? Tell me down in the comments!