Favorite Films Since I Was Born: ’95-’99

Continuing on with the list!


The 90s

1995

Contenders

Before Sunrise, Dir. Richard Linklater

Clueless, Dir. Amy Heckerling

Die Hard with a Vengeance, Dir. Jon McTiernan

Jumanji, Dir. Joe Johnston

La Haine, Dir. Mathieu Kassovitz

The Quick and the Dead, Dir. Sam Raimi

Seven, Dir. David Fincher

Toy Story, Dir. John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, and Ash Brannon

The Usual Suspects, Dir. Bryan Singer

Runner-Up

Waterworld, Dir. Kevin Kostner — I know what you’re thinking: But this movie is terrible! Yes, yes it is. It was also one of my favorites growing up, in no small part because of how awful and cheesy it is. I also love how much of a financial failure it was: something about the fact that everyone hates it, and that it failed spectacularly, makes it endlessly endearing to me. Go figure.

My Favorite Film of 1995

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Safe, Dir. Todd Haynes — Julianne Moore is absolutely terrific, and the film itself is by turns harrowing, unsettling, and incisive: a brilliant commentary on contemporary society from a myriad of directions. This is one I actually want to revisit now, as I haven’t seen it in a while.

1996

Contenders

The Birdcage, Dir Mike Nichols

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dir. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise

Independence Day, Dir. Roland Emmerich

James and the Giant Peach, Dir. Henry Selick

Scream, Dir. Wes Craven

Trainspotting, Dir. Danny Boyle

Runner-Up

Matilda, Dir. Danny DeVito — A dark delight that I watched a lot when I was younger, in part because young Matilda reminded me a lot of myself, at least as far as her love of reading goes (though not, thankfully, in terms of her family life!). Pure magic.

My Favorite Film of 1996

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Fargo, Dir. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen — This was not a difficult decision, as Fargo is one of the all-time greats — another brilliant black comedy, but with a genuine sweetness at its core. Not a moment is wasted in the Coen Bro’s typically funny and abrasive screenplay, and Frances McDormand gives one of the all-time great performances.

1997

Contenders

Austin Powers, Dir. Jay Roach

Contact, Dir. Robert Zemeckis

Event Horizon, Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson

Gattaca, Dir. Andrew Niccol

Grosse Point Blank, Dir. George Armitage

The Ice Storm, Dir. Ang Lee

Jackie Brown, Dir. Quentin Tarantino

Mousehunt, Dir. Gore Verbinski

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Dir. David Mirkin

Starship Troopers, Dir. Paul Verhoeven

Runner Ups

The Fifth Element, Dir. Luc Besson — I love the totally gonzo imagination on display here, from the great design to the haunting music to the inventive direction. I’ve even grown to love Chris Tucker’s mostly insufferable, but oddly endearing, Ruby Rhod.

My Favorite Film of 1997

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Princess Mononoke, Dir. Hayao Miyazaki — In a surprisingly competitive year, Princess Mononoke wins by being not just my favorite of 1997, but very likely my favorite ever. Miyazaki’s animated masterpiece is a tour-de-force approaching complex themes like the relationship between humans and nature, the difference between good and evil, and even the definition of humanity. It’s visually sumptuous, funny, shocking, action-packed, and complicated. Love everything about this one.

1998

Contenders

The Big Lebowski, Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

The Faculty, Dir. Robert Rodriguez

Practical Magic, Dir. Griffin Dunne

Saving Private Ryan, Dir. Steven Spielberg

Shakespeare in Love, Dir. John Madden

Runner-up

Mulan, Dir. Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook, and Niki Caro — The only thing I don’t like about this one is Mushu, and even he’s pretty tolerable for a Disney sidekick. Otherwise, everything works: from the action to the humor to insanely catchy music.

My Favorite Fim of 1998

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The Thin Red Line, Dir. Terrence Malick — A beautiful, harrowing, and thoroughly Malick-ian exploration of war — both the external kind and the internal kind. Malick asks some of the biggest questions — Is humanity inherently violent? Is the impulse to destroy something we are born with, or something we learn? — and somewhow, miraculously, turns out one of the greatest films every made about the violent conflict at the center of the human heart.

1999

Contenders

American Beauty, Dir. Sam Mendes

Audition, Dir. Takashi Miike

The Green Mile, Dir. Frank Darabont

Magnolia, Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

The Matrix, Dir. The Wachowskis

The Sixth Sense, Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Sleepy Hollow, Dir. Tim Burton

Toy Story 2, Dir. John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, and Ash Brannon

Runner-up

First, know that I had to literally do a coin toss to choose my favorite of this year. I’m at peace with what ended up on top, but I love both of these films SO MUCH.

The Iron Giant, Dir. Brad Bird —  A movie that’s absolutely bursting with heart, wit, and beauty. One of the greatest animated films ever made.

My Favorite Film of 1999

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Galaxy Quest, Dir. Dean Parisot — Simply put, one of the funniest films ever made. Every single actor is perfect for their part, including and especially Alan Rickman in one of his most sublimely irritated performances. Tim Allen is even appealing, and the film ends up being quite emotionally affecting, too. The more I think about it the happier I am with this choice. By Grabthar’s Hammer, what a movie.


So, just to recap, my choices so far are:

1989 — The ‘Burbs

1990 — Total Recall

1991 — A Brighter Summer Day

1992 — Death Becomes Her

1993 — Addams Family Values

1994 — Chungking Express

1995 — Safe

1996 — Fargo

1997 — Princess Mononoke

1998 — The Thin Red Line

1999 — Galaxy Quest

Tomorrow: The First five years of ’00’s!

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