Continuing on with the list!
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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!