Wednesday, December 04, 2013

My Top 25 Films of the 1990s

Some friends & I have been (and will continue to be) counting down our favorite movies by decade... and I thought I'd share my lists with you, my faithful readers.

#25: A Bug's Life
This will not be the last Pixar movie on my list... it's charms are a more subtle mix than some of Pixar's bigger hits - but come on, people - "Flaming Death!"
#24: Apollo 13
It does not matter how many times I see this darn movie, I cry every time they break through & reestablish radio contact.
#23: The Mask of Zorro
All of the good parts of the old movie serials in Technicolor... and taking full advantage of the cast, esp. A. Banderas & C. Zeta Jones.
#22: Star Trek: Generations
The actual passing of the torch - told with humor, nostalgia & style.
#21: Jerry Maguire
This is a lesson in how to use Tom Cruise - esp. the opening section with the "manifesto". The love story doesn't do as much for me as for some (and don't get me started on how much I hate the line "You complete me")... but the challenges of growing up & being a man of integrity resonate brilliantly through the film.
#20: The Last of the Mohicans
Sure, it takes a classic work of literature and turns it into Braveheart w/a happy ending... but it does that so darn well.
#19: The Shawshank Redemption
I didn't see this for at least 4-5 years after it was released... and was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype.
Thankfully, it did.
#18: Galaxy Quest
A good film - made great by it's pitch perfect send-up/love note to Trekkies and geek culture.
#17: Schindler's List
Too emotionally brutal to watch multiple times... but still an important and beautifully made film.
#16: Jurassic Park
A rollercoaster ride of a film w/excellent casting ... better than the book it was based on. The sequels were awful.
#15: The Matrix
Another film I came to late... and which exceeded my expectations (esp. w/Mr. Reeves in the cast). The sequels did not.
#14: Sabrina (1995)
Yeah, Harrison Ford is probably a little old at this point... but he's taking the place of Bogart for crying out loud! And Julia Ormond is lovely & sweet and radiates a believable mix of confidence & insecurity. The real standout is Greg Kinnear - who manages to make a believable third wheel in the triangle. I like this so much better than the original.
#13: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
It's a popcorn film & a sequel - but it's a whizbang oncoming train of a film... that also takes the story from the first film forward in time & in depth.
#12: The Rocketeer
This should probably be higher... I dearly love this whimsical warm-hearted valentine to Dave Stevens' comic book, Saturday matinee serials, and Los Angeles of the 1930s.
Which makes it sound boring - and it's not. Any movie where the gangster says "I may not make an honest buck, but I'm 100% American. I don't work for no two-bit Nazi" is aces in my book.
#11: Saving Private Ryan
I didn't see this in the theater... I watched it on DVD in early 2003, just as the attack on Iraq was starting. I made it through the first 20 or so minutes (landing on Omaha Beach) and had to turn off the movie so I could sit and weep.
I know there are problems with the film. But the fact that it captures both the horror/bravery of the D-Day landings as well the sheer terror of village to village/house to house fighting honors so many who fought & died in order to stop what was unquestionably an evil regime... and I can forgive the movie a crying-at-the-gravestone scene.
#10: Toy Story
Sorry - I think the sequels are better. That said, this was a-MAZING the first time I saw it in the theater. It took about 5 minutes for me to stop oohing & aahing at the computer animation and simply let these brilliant storytellers lead me into wonderland. I still love watching it.
#9: The Green Mile
Yes, it's too long. Doesn't change what a powerful effect it had on me.
#8: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
I'll acknowledge that the ending is Disney-fried Twinkies with a sprinkling of fairy dust... but give them credit. They managed to tell the story & the horror of religion out of control in a Disney film.
I will note that the best stage show I've ever seen at a Disney park was the live show of Hunchback that was at Disney/MGM Studios in the late 90s.
#7: Dave
As my friend Dave Arnott said, this is a Capra movie - and that's a perfect compliment. I have watched this over & over and it never gets old.
"Hail to the Chief, he's the one we all say Hail to..."
#6: The Silence of the Lambs
Actually saw the last minute of this movie first... as we got to the theater REALLY early. (Amazingly, didn't spoil the film - we didn't understand what the heck was going on.)
This is what happens when you get a director (Jonathan Demme) who actually knows how to use his actor's strengths to advance his story.
#5: The Fugitive
A thriller that both my wife & I like... and lots of other stuff that many of the rest of you have said.
#4: While You Were Sleeping
Sandra Bullock manages to take a completely ridiculous premise and invest it with humor, pathos & warmth. Peter Gallagher & Bill Pullman are well used - as is Glynnis Johns.
My wife & I have watched this movie so many times that the lines have become part of our family wit & humor:
  • "If you fit into my pants I will kill myself."
  • "I go to work and I sit in a box like a veal."
  • "Hey Luce! Is this guy bothering you? Are you sure? Because it looks like he's *leaning.*"
  • "I like Mass better in Latin. It's nicer when you don't know what they're saying."
#3: Groundhog Day
Still my favorite Bill Murray film... a redemption story that fully explores the horror (and joy) of living the same day over & over again. I've lost track of how many times I've watched this.
#2: The Truman Show
On another day, this might be #1. A film that shatters me every time - the fight to be yourself in a world that does everything it can to mold you. And a film that amazes me because Jim Carrey creates a character with humor and wit that doesn't devolve into a bundle of ADHD comic tics.
Also, remarkably prescient given the state of reality TV today...
#1: Toy Story 2
Seriously LOST it the first time Jesse got left behind in the donation box... I was nearly inconsolable.
It was like they took one of my favorite movies (Toy Story - which was earlier in this list) and pushed the awesome levels to new heights.


Joe Huber said...

I'm not enough of a movie buff to really go through such an exercise (as you well know from my pitiful Oscar guessing), Mark, but - while the order would be different - I see 12 movies on your list which would clearly make mine. And a lot more that might; and a couple I've never seen. Oh, and The Matrix, one of the few movies to ever put me to sleep. B^)

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Which two haven't you seen, Joe?

Mikko said...

Hmm, the version of this post I saw in my RSS reader said you saw Saving Private Ryan whole seven years before it was filmed.

Joe Huber said...

More than two, actually:

The Mask of Zorro
Star Trek: Generations
The Last of the Mohicans
The Green Mile

Megan believes I won't enjoy The Green Mile, so I've avoided it. I'd have no problem with seeing any of the rest; just haven't gotten to them, and I've been focusing more on earlier films.