Thursday, April 23, 2015

Decades of Cinema - 10 Best of the 1990's

My previous "Decades" lists are here: 1920's1930's1940's1950's1960's1970's, and 1980's. Here are my ten favorite films from the 1990's.

10. The Matrix

Forget about the shitty sequels for a second and just remember how damn cool The Matrix was when it was released in 1999. I had never seen anything like it, a noir science fiction experience that, at the time, pushed the boundaries of cinema in ways I could have never imagined. 16 years later and it has aged quite well, perhaps because it was ahead of its time.

9. The Shawshank Redemption

I know there are plenty of people who frown when a person mentions their love for The Shawshank Redemption. I am one of the lovers, not the frowners. The whole film is still such a warm blanket for me, but those last 30 or so minutes? My goodness, just thinking about the conclusion of this film makes me joyful and tingly. 

8. Good Will Hunting

Superbly written and performed, Good Will Hunting is the type of film that I can watch over and over and over and never grow tired of it. Add in the recent passing of the great Robin Williams and watching what is arguably his finest performance as an actor makes the entire experience even richer. 

7. Fight Club

Where as I made sure to mention that The Matrix has not aged poorly, Fight Club actually tastes like a fine wine. This shit is more delicious with each passing year. One of quite a few masterful efforts from director David Fincher, a cinematic mind fuck that has, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant and strangely beautiful final scenes in recent memory.

6. Goodfellas

A cinema lovin' buddy of mine correctly pointed out that I left Raging Bull off of my list of the best from the 1980's. This wasn't an accident, I think it is an outstanding film but it simply didn't make the cut, but the absence of Scorsese was not going to happen again. I can't even begin to imagine a best of the 90's list without Goodfellas.

5. The Big Lebowski

I am often times guilty of not taking comedy films seriously enough. I love them but for whatever reason I have trouble ranking even the best of the genre up near the best of other, more dramatic work. This does not apply to The Big Lebowski though, which is not only my favorite comedy of all time but one of my 25 favorite films, period. The 1990's were such a strong part of my film lovin' life that the top 8 of this list all rank in my top 50 overall.

4. Eyes Wide Shut

The final achievement from the genius Stanley Kubrick and this is a film worthy of the words misunderstood masterpiece. Advertised as a sexy thriller with the "it" couple at the time of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman starring, in reality this is a brilliantly creepy, hypnotic advertisement for monogamy. Deemed a "lesser" Kubrick upon its release, Eyes Wide Shut is anything but.

3. Se7en

Was I too young to see Se7en the first time I did? Absolutely. Do I regret this for even a second now? No. Not at all. When I was 12 years old, I had seen very few examples of "great" cinema and Se7en was eye opening for me, and not just because of the shocking content. The craft is out of this world, featuring an aesthetic that is somehow simultaneously crisp and yet gloomy and dour. This and, ironically, the next film on this list are the two movies that taught me how evil the world could be at an age when I couldn't really comprehend such a thing.

2. The Silence of the Lambs

I can't even begin to try to figure out how many times I have watched The Silence of the Lambs. I recall watching it numerous times and loving it and yet never knowing until years later that it had been so successful at the Oscars. It's easy to understand why, since if you offered me 100 dollars to name a flaw of the film I would come up empty and stay broke. The performances are incredible, including the iconic evil turn from Anthony Hopkins as the infamous Hannibal Lecter. The storytelling maintains a perfect, intense flow throughout and Buffalo Bill gave me nightmares when I was young. I welcomed the lack of sleep.

1. Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino is an incredible screenwriter, and I honestly believe Pulp Fiction is the greatest screenplay ever written. A perfect cast utilizing perfect words with perfect execution leads to an end result like this, the best film from the 1990's. "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."

Next list I will move into the current century with my ten favorite films released between 2000-2009. The image over is from one of the movies that will make the cut. 

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