Wednesday, October 22, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (13)

The best twenty movies from the last twenty years

Roger Simon has posted his favorite twenty films of all time. It's a good list -- but at the end, he observes, "What interest me is there isn't a single movie on this list made in the last twenty years."

Anyone who's been to my personal page knows that I'm a movie buff, and that I like older movies a great deal. However, in defense of my generation's moviegoing habits, I feel it necessary to counter Roger's list with what I think are the twenty best movies from the past twenty years.

In chronological order:

1) The Purple Rose of Cairo -- Woody Allen (The ending is so heartbreaking that I've never watched it through to the end a second time).

2) Bull Durham -- Ron Shelton (Everyone mentions the big speech Kevin Costner's character gives about what he believes. That's actually the worst part of the movie. Everything else in the film gets the rhythm of baseball, sex, and the mysteries of success perfectly).

3) Say Anything -- Cameron Crowe (The amazing thing about Crowe's movies -- anyone with more than three lines of dialogue is a fully-formed, three-dimensional character).

4) Do the Right Thing -- Spike Lee (Gorgeous photography by Earnest Dickerson, a screenplay that spends 80% of the movie walking the fine line between comedy and tragedy, and an ambiguous ending).

5) The Fabulous Baker Boys -- Steve Kloves (Dave Grusin's soundtrack is divine, and Michelle Pfeiffer's performance defines sultry. The Bridges brothers were good, too)

6) The Silence of the Lambs -- Jonathan Demme (What's amazing, in light of Demme's later trend towards the pedantic, is the subtlety of the direction here. Oh, and the scenes between Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster are pretty good).

7) Reservoir Dogs -- Quentin Tarantino (The dialogue is great, but it's often forgotten that Tarantino cut the camera away at the moments of horrific violence in this movie. Plus, the ending puts the lie to the notion that "nothing matters" in Tarantino films).

8) Groundhog Day -- Harold Ramis (Something I never thought possible -- a heart-warming Bill Murray movie).

9) Schindler's List -- Steven Spielberg (A meditation on the mysteries of good and evil).

10) Four Weddings and a Funeral -- Mike Newell (The last ten years have been lean for romantic comedies, but this one can hold its own. Not a word out of place).

11) Courage Under Fire -- Ed Zwick (In terms of acting performances, the most underrated movie of the past ten years. Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Matt Damon, and Lou Diamond Phillips are all outstanding).

12) Saving Private Ryan -- Steven Spielberg (The first movie I cried at since ET: The Extra Terrestrial).

13) Election -- Alexander Payne (The best movie about politics ever made. That's right, I said ever).

14) Run Lola Run -- Tom Tykwer (A perfect exercise in plot minimalism. Plus, a kick-ass soundtrack).

15) The Matrix -- The Wachowski Brothers (The only other movie that left me this awestruck at the power of movies was Raiders of the Lost Ark).

16) Toy Story 2 -- John Lasseter (The first one was great -- the second one was a perfect mix of poignancy and hilarity).

17) The Insider -- Michael Mann (This movie shouldn't work, in that there are only two moments of decision in the entire film. It's to Mann's credit that the entire film is gripping).

18) Mulholland Drive -- David Lynch (This man's films scare me like no others. Plus, it has the most erotic scene put on film in the past twenty years).

19) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- Ang Lee (The martial arts!! The music!! The joy of discovering Zhang Zhiyi!!)

20) Monsoon Wedding -- Mira Nair (Gorgeous photography, great music, and an interesting exploration of tradition and modernity in India).

Looking over the list, I'm intrigued to see how much action and music played a role in my decisions.

Let the debate commence!!

UPDATE: Damn, lots of good movies that commenters and other bloggers have raised that I didn't think about when I composed the list -- This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Lone Star, L.A. Confidential, Zero Effect, and High Fidelity. Maybe I would take one of these over Courage Under Fire, but otherwise I'm still comfortable with the list.

posted by Dan on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM


You cried at E.T.? Well, I did, too, but seeing as how I was perhaps eight at the time, what's your excuse?

Incidentally, that was one of the most painful moments of my entire life - not the crying itself, but the fact that (1)there were other kids around me (2) specifically, there were girls around me (3) there was a specific girl near me, and (4) she wasn't crying. Ack. I can't go on - too traumatic.

posted by: George on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Interestingly, I haven't seen at least half of those. Of the ones on your list I've seen, I wouldn't remove any except Crouching Tiger. I never figured out what the fuss was--it was just weird and seemed rather pointless.

posted by: James Joyner on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Strong agreement on _Election_ and _Fabulous Baker Boys_, which probably wouldn't be seen on many lists. _Say Anything_ and _Bull Durham_ are what I call "perfect movies", impossible to imagine being made better without radical redesign.

I would drop _Courage Under Fire_, _Four Weddings and a Funeral_ and probably _The Matrix_. Nothing wrong with them, it cutting to fit. Replace with _Spinal Tap_, _Stop Making Sense_ (also perfect), and either _The Big Lebowski_ (my choice) or _Fargo_ (more defensible choice). And, god help me, a strong case can be made for _South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut_.

posted by: Dave on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Wow, my two favorites didn't make the list at all... The Usual Suspects and Shawshank Redemption.

posted by: Justin on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I love Election, but I'm always left puzzled by declarations that it's fundamentally "about politics." It seems to me that it's a comedy of human self-deception that just happens to be framed around a high school election.

(I'm not saying, I hasten to add, that a comedy of human self-deception couldn't co-exist within a political satire. It's just that I don't see much substantive political satire in Election.)

But I've seen claims like yours at least a dozen times, so I'm probably missing something. Help me out here. What exactly do you think the movie illuminates about American political culture, or about political life in general?

I'd add to your list: Fanny and Alexander, My Beautiful Laundrette, Out of Sight, and Enemies: A Love Story.

And I'd ditch Run Lola Run, which left me completely cold.

posted by: David Glenn on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I can't quibble too much with your choices, but I couldn't leave Spinal Tap off such a list. I'll also second Dave's comments regarding South Park because, well, someone should.

posted by: Jeremy B. on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

"Courage Under Fire" is probably one of the worst war movies ever made, or certainly in the past 15 years. It is loaded with overdone cliches (e.g., heroic, but psychologically troubled alcoholic officer seeking redemption), the dialogue is silly and the story is frankly PC crap, especially since there were numerous legitimate engagements with heroic actions to base a story on. The writer tried to catch the feel of the military, but missed by a mile.

Take a look at "The Story of GI Joe" starring Robert Mitchum. A classic.

posted by: Chris on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I strongly disagree with Saving Private Ryan and Silence of the Lambs - they'e both schlock. In their place, i'd put Thin Red Line and Kalifornia.

And I think Hard Eight deserves a spot.

posted by: bg on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

And as for Mulholland Drive, no actor should ever have to say "I don't know who I am!" Instant Disqualification.

posted by: bg on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Others from the time frame worth considering:

_The Princess Bride_
_Unforgiven_ (won't make my list, but probably would make many)
_Cinema Paradiso_
Branagh's _Henry V_
_Dead Ringers_ (amazing cinematically on every level, AND creepy as all hell)

posted by: Dave on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Casablanca. Obsession. The Brave Little Toaster. The Truman Show. Blade Runner. Aliens. It's a Wonderful Life. Whisky Galore. Torch Song Trilogy. Thelma and Louise. Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python's Life of Brian. The Full Monty.

posted by: Jesurgislac on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Hey what about "Fargo" which I thought was the best movie of the 1990s. Also there was "LA Confidential" which had great acting from Kim Basinger who I could never stand before (although I liked to look at her) and someting from John Sayles ouerve like "Matewan" or "Lone Star" two great movies.

posted by: Larry Levin on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I would have to add Requiem for a Dream. Any movie that leaves you with such a strong emotion that totally defies words has something really going for it.

posted by: jb on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

There are hidden subtexts in "Mulholland Drive" that only come out in multiple viewings. It's probably one of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen.

I agree with many of the choices but I'd put "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Seven" on any list of great films from the past 20 years.

posted by: Randal Robinson on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Wow, I've seen every movie on that list (I did walk out of Purple Rose).

Best soundtrack for me would have to go to Grosse Point Blank.

I also agree with Usual Suspects, Princess Bride and Shawshank, but would add Brazil, The Name of the Rose and The Professional.

posted by: Matt on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

AARgh. Sorry, forgot the 20 year time limit. I just despise "Courage Under Fire" so much (with "Firebirds" a very close second for worst war movie).

"Story of GI Joe" is from 1945 (still worth a watch). But it was just released about 3 years ago for the first time since the WW2 era. Had not even been shown on TV from what I understand. So maybe it can get in on a legal loophole?????

If not, then "Das Boot"

posted by: Chris on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Oooh, some more plausibles:

_The Fisher King_ (above _Brazil_, IMHO)
_Spirited Away_
_GoodFellas_ (what the hell was I thinking forgetting that)

With my movie snob hat on, I would certainly note that the tenor of "Best in the last twenty years" lists is a lot different than "Best ever" lists.

posted by: dave on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Interesting, Dan - you put "Hunt for Red October" and "Starship Troopers" on your "Desert Island DVDs", but not on your 20 best list. Why? Your favorites are not among the best?

Anyway, here are a few thoughts of mine: Pulp Fiction (I understand that Reservoir Dogs is trendier because it was not as popular, but I actually liked Pulp Fiction better), Heathers, Braveheart, Clueless, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Talk to Her, The Terminator, Clerks, High Fidelity, Better Off Dead

posted by: Al on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

The Fabulous Baker Boys? I like it, but no way it makes a list of top 20 movies in the last 20 years.

Mulholland Dr. contained the most erotic scene put on film in the last 20 years? I thought half the episodes of Zena: Warrior Princess contained more erotic scenes.

Others have mentioned The Princess Bride and LA Confidential. I would add contenders from the southern hemisphere: Heavenly Creatures and The Piano.

posted by: Norman Pfyster on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Well, I've only seen 11 of your 20, and only 4 of those would even possibly make my list. Just goes to show how much tastes differ. It continues to amaze me that people like Reservoir Dogs more than Jackie Brown, QT's best movie, by far.

Shawshank Redemption should be on any list. I would also include Spinal Tap and Airplane, one of the funniest movie ever made. For war movies, I would do BlackHawk Down and We Were Soldiers. What else? Army of Darkness, Big Trouble in Little China, Better off Dead, Being John Malkovich, Abre Los Ojos(The original, not that Cameron Crowe remake abomination), Memento, Unforgiven, Monster inc.(better than Toy Story), Spirited Away, High Fidelity, Star Trek II(Khaaaaaaan!), Fellowship of the Ring(I didn't think the Two Towers was nearly as good), Mother Night, Metropolitan, The Limey, Almost Famous( Cameron Crowe basically makes the same movie over and over. He got it right this time.)

I would add this to Election, Crouching Tiger, Groundhog Day, and Run Lola Run.

posted by: Bill on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Let me offer a female perspective: I would add Raise the Red Lantern, Life is Beautiful, and Sense and Sensibility (a much better Ang Lee film than Crouching Tiger). Also, a bit vulgar but nonetheless hilarious: Something About Mary.

posted by: Sarah on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Dogma, in my mind is Kevin Smith's best work. The serious religious dialogue is poingiant, and the inane dialogue is, well, inane. What makes this impressive is how seamlessly he switches from one to the other.

posted by: Josh on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Wow, you went 0 for 20. The 20 best movies from 1983-2003 are:

The Last Letter
In the Mood for Love
Life is Beautiful
House of Games
The Shawshank Redemption
Sling Blade
Down by Law
Pelle the Conqueror
Raise the Red Lantern
In the Company of Men
Henry V
The Vanishing (George Sluizer Dutch/French original, not awful remake)
Monsieur Hire
Jean de Florette
Black Robe
The Mission
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

posted by: Nicolas on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Hey, I've actually seen all 20 and want to second "Groundhog Day" (though my wife doesn't agree with me) and "Election" (which is pretty close to a warped retelling of the 1992 Presidential election with Reese Witherspoon as Bill Clinton).

There are a number of your choices I'd delete (maybe half) and replace with some of my own. For example, I really liked "Fight Club," "House of Games," "Being John Malkovich" and just to be quirky, "Smoke Signals."

posted by: Rodger on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

The Big Lewbowski should be there - it would really tie the list together. (Sorry!) Brazil, The Professional, and This Is Spinal Tap, should definately be there. I also really liked State Of Grace. Michael Mann's Manhunter was a far better movie than Silence of the Lambs, thanks to Brian Cox, btw. Some of my other favs: Three Kings, The Ninth Gate, 12 Monkeys.

That so many people can rate so many goofy John Cusack movies so highly just shows how much crap Hollywood has churned out in the last 20 years, in my opinion. Ugh. I mean, one - fine. Aren't they all the same movie anyway?

posted by: dan on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

What about "Leaving Las Vegas," with Figgis's great script and Nic Cage's stellar performance?

"The Sweet Hereafter" with Ian Holm, by Atom Egoyan?

Nothing by Hou Hsiao-hsein? "City of Sadness" and "The Puppetmaster" are great.

Fassbinder's uneven but bracing "berlin Alexanderplatz," or if that's too long, "marriage of Maria Braun?" (probably a little over 20 years old, though)

"The Decalogue"

"Amores Perros" -- great stuff, very recently done.

posted by: Daniel Calto on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

A few more nominations:

American History X

Much Ado About Nothing (which I thought was better than Henry V)

JFK (while the conspiracy theory is far-fetched, the film-making and direction are stunningly virtuoso performances.)

Boyz N the Hood


posted by: Doug Turnbull on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Thank God someone finally mentioned "The Sweet Hereafter." That movie broke my heart and years later I can still call up scenes from memory (they still hurt, too). I can't read the Pied Piper of Hamlin to my kids and when the weather turns bad (fortunately, not too often in Virginia) I hesitate to put them on the schoolbus. If you haven't seen it yet, please do.

Dan, I like your list a lot (though it is obviously limited to 30 somethings in appeal). To me, the key to a good movie is that, like great literature, it establishes permanently a new vocabulary, in words or images, from which you will forever draw at the oddest of times. Bull Durham does that (can you understand this year's pennant races without having watched it? think not). The first two Star Wars movies (not mentioned, ahem) do too. Groundhog Day, definitely. I'd also like to plug Raising Arizona. Hated Fargo, loooved RA.

Finally, there are the movies that are SO real, you are sure (years later) that if you went to the locale where they were filmed, you would find the characters living happily still. To me, this place is occupied by "Local Hero." Talk about your magical realism. What an underappreciated masterpiece.

posted by: Kelli on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

If "Starship Troopers" makes the desert island DVD list, it should make the top 20. It's one of my favorites, and features some of the best visual effects ever put on the big screen. Also, how could you leave out "LA Confidential?" Russell Crowe was best out a great cast of seriously flawed characters.

I agree with most posters that "Courage Under Fire" is pathetic. A better choice would be "The Thin Red Line," IMHO.

posted by: John Caccese on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

"Fight Club" would have to be on my list. Definitely drop "Courage Under Fire" and replace with either "Blackhawk Down" or "Apocalypse Now"

posted by: Stu on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Black Hawk Down? You must be either a DoD employee, Ridly Scott or Saddam Hussein to like that movie. The only good war movies that have been made since vietnam are Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Thin Red Line and Tigerland(mediocre) Definately not BlackHawkDown.
I would really have included a cohen bros. kubrick and paul thomas anderson movie, considering some of the less than perfect films included.

posted by: Udai on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

"Full Metal Jacket" was a great Boot Camp movie. As a war movie, it blew chunks. Once the drill sergeant gets killed you might as well stop the film.

Personally, I would add "LA Story" and "Raising Arizona" to the list, as they're two of funniest movies ever made (in my opinion, of course). But definite cheers for putting "Say Anything" on your list -- what a wonderful, wonderful film.

posted by: Dan on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]


Yes, "The Sweet Hereafter" is really a beautiful and melancholy work. Certain images burned into the memory--the child sleeping between her parents, Holm's great monologue about going to the hospital in the middle of the night holding a knife, the shock of incest...marvelous.

posted by: Daniel Calto on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

How in the name of Sweet Baby Jane did "Waking Life" manage to be left off this list?

posted by: Rob La Raus on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I can't believe people are mentioning Thin Red Line which is easily one of the most pretentious pieces of dreck produced in the last twenty years.

posted by: Randal Robinson on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I would consider adding "Repo Man", "The Terminator","Dead Poet's Society", "Se7en", "Office Space", and "Trainspotting" to the list.

posted by: Junkyard God on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Dave and bg name my faves. If you liked the Sweet Hereafter, check out his ealier work Exotica (both are great).

I do not understand why people think Life is Beautiful was a great film. It was sentimental dreck that sanitized and trivialized a horrific period of human history. Yes, there were many moments of moral greatness in concentration camps, but if you show a Disneyfied version of the camps, then what's the point? And the actual moral courage required to remain sane and human in a concentration camp was more complicated and difficult than the sentimentality of Life is Beautiful.

posted by: Yehudit on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I'm rolling all over the floor laughing my ass off at the thought of a grown man cryng over ET -- not that there's anything wrong with it, you understand.

posted by: The Fool on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Lists are for house-wifes, Mr. Drezner. Pick three films that you would not part with - that's all we need to know.

posted by: Art Wellesley on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

The last 20 years, hmmm....

Well, what we saw in the last two Indiana Jones pictures as well as Return of the Jedi would have been revolutionary if we hadn't already seen much of it in the earlier films of those trilogies. This is just to point out that 20 years is an arbitrary cutoff.

The funniest respectable movie of the last two decades was 1988's "A Fish Called Wanda." It wasn't the wisest or the movie I last hardest at during that period. In fact -- true confession here -- everything I know I learned from the "Naked Gun" movies.

My strongest non-comedic reactions were to "Saving Private Ryan," especially the famous opening sequence; "Unforgiven" for reasons it would take me a very long time to explain to someone who did not know me really well; "Apollo 13" for its faithful recreation of a part of America I understand and remember from my youth; "Witness" for Kelly McGillis's portrayal of the most attractive woman I've never met; "Broadcast News" for Holly Hunter's protrayal of the kind of stimulating yet aggravating woman I've met more than once; "Primary Colors" because I know political people and recognize its characters (not just John Travolta, who is remarkable); and "Field of Dreams," though if I were not an American and not a guy I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten that movie at all.

I liked "Get Shorty." I loathe what the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger says about American politics today, but thought "The Terminator" was creative and original (I liked the sequel too). "Groundhog Day" was terrific, except that I have a hard time accepting the idea of a guy who finds Andie McDowell attractive. "Salaam Bombay!" was pretty intense. Branagh's "Henry V" draws me in every time I see it on the tube.

And I liked "The Living Daylights" and loved "Goldeneye," also "First Contact." Look, I know they are not "great" movies, that Meryl Streep has never been a Bond girl or Sean Penn had to fire phasers and all the rest of it. But movies are basically about entertainment. Occasionally we can get something else out of them, but mostly we watch movies as an alternative to doing something productive, and most of the admiration directed at great movies is really directed at the craft of making movies anyway.

posted by: Zathras on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

And Speaking of Film - i know someone who will disagree with you on RD. Why, It's no other than our good friend Gregg Easterbrook- who has apparently decided to masquerading as Gene Siskel this Halloween), and his non-apology apology:

"Monday I wrote an item about the disgusting movie Kill Bill, which so glorifies violence as to border on filth. I was indignant that a major company whose work is mainly good, Disney, would distribute such awfulness, in this case through its Miramax subsidiary. I wondered how any top executive could live with his or her conscience by seeking profits from Kill Bill, oblivious to the psychological studies showing that positive depiction of violence in entertainment causes actual violence in children."

Bordering on Filth? Professor, your friend has gone mad. You might a) stop in and see how he's actually doing or b) Drop him from your 'favorites list'.


posted by: Art Wellesley on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I tend more toward Nicolas's list, though several of his mentions I've not seen, and I'd definitely dump "The Shawshank Redemption," which I detest. But the inclusion of "Black Robe" and "Metropolitan" (I assume "Metropolitain" was a typo for Whit Stillman's debut) certainly have my sympathy. If I were making up a list, I'd cheat and count Stillman's UHB Trilogy as one movie. I'd also fit "Tender Mercies" in (sneaking two Beresford films onto my list). Nanni Moretti's "The Son's Room" would have to be on there, too, as would "The Dreamlife of Angels.

posted by: Mike Kelly on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Daniel, if you liked "Monsoon" you must see, "Salaam Bombay". Absolutely amazing.

As for Michael Mann and "The Insider", it's the sound, all about the sound. Watch "Heat".

(Sorry no italics, button broke!)

posted by: Ross on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Dan, no time to read the other comments nor to say much (I'm at an Internet cafe in Cape Tribulation), but how couldn't you include The Shawshank Redemption on your list? I know it didn't even win the Oscar for its year, but it was still an incredibly moving film which showed an emotional journey of the same people over a twenty year period, culminating in victory. One of the few modern films that ever moved me.

Hope all else is well. Talk to you soon.

posted by: Your brother on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

"Raising Arizona" is certainly one of the best movies exploring aspects of fatherhood. I would add that. For romantic comedies, how about "Truly, Madly, Deeply"? I would put that above "Four Weddings." I also thought "Thin Red Line" deserves a place. For laugh-out-loud funny, "The Man Who Knew Too Little" and "Flirting With Disaster."

Obviously, tastes really differ greatly, with the rule seeming to be that what doesn't appeal to one's taste is really bad (drivel, rubbish, etc.). That said, I think "Dead Poets' Society" was meretricious flapdoodle, with the teacher taking no responsibility for having so disastrously played on the emotions of his adolescent charges. YMMV.

"Groundhog Day" I'll second: fine film about being trapped in a rut and breaking out. A great Jonathan Demme film: "Melvin and Howard."

I agree that "The Mission" is great, but I'm thinking of the Chinese film by Johnny To. And while we're talking about those movies, have you seen "Time and Tide"? May take two viewings to follow all the plot intricacies.

posted by: BayMike on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Local Hero, directed by Bill Forsyth. The best ever.

posted by: Ellen on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]


You and I are (it seems) the only chicks participating here and the only ones to list Local Hero. I never thought of it as a chick flick but...Who cares? It is THE best. But wait, where are the car chases, flying body parts, etc.? A movie that makes you believe in the power of community, magic and personal salvation. Who needs that?

posted by: Kelli on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I don't see many movies. Most are crap and not worth the time, let alone the money. I've walked out of or turned off countless critically-acclaimed award-winning movies. Maybe it's just me, but 95% of everything is crap, except movies and TV where 99.99% is crap.

That said, here's a list in no particular order of movies made within the last 20 years that I've enjoyed and would reccomend. Happy viewing.

  • Bull Durham
  • The Princess Bride
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • O Brother Where Art Thou
  • Brazil
  • Cold Comfort Farm
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Waking Ned Devine
  • This Is Spinal Tap
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Il Monstro (The Monster)
  • Life is Beautiful
  • Blue Velvet
  • Gotsford Park
  • Zelig

BTW, I haven't seen Election, but far and away the best modern political dramatization that I've seen is the BBC's House of Cards series. (Not in the list above, 'cause it's not a movie) I can't recomend it highly enough. If you ever listen to anything I write here, the one thing to act on is to see this series. Seriously - required viewing for any follower of politics.

I'd also put in a plug for The Sopranos, although it's not as good as House of Cards.

posted by: uh_clem on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Groundhog Day has to be at the top of the list. What type A person can't relate to the redemption of the unsympathetic, selfish, egotistical jerk who is really only covering up for the loneliness and insecurity he feels every waking day of his life. Who wouldn't want to have the chance to try again and again until, at last, you get it right. AND BONUS, nobody remembers all your screwups. AND BONUS #2, those around you question their previous judgement of you. Talk about ultimate fantasy fulfillment. And not only that, you get to laugh about it along the way. This is the perfect movie.

Sleepers (the intellectual man's revenge)
Shawshank Redemption (perserverance in the face of injustice)
Die Hard (Pure Fun - Yippee Cayay ....)
Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (Best movie you already know the ending to)
Schindler's List (Revelation of real evil, not Hollywood evil)
Say Anything (perfect teen movie without the gratuitous sex)
Grosse Point Blanke (Best high school reunion movie - imagine going back as a hit man. Over the top Cool!)
La Femme Nikita (the most emotional, non-emotional movie I ever saw)
The Usual Suspects (Great dialog, Great ending)
Seven (You can see it coming, want to avoid it, and still can't. The despair you feel at the victory of Evil over Good makes you want to commit to the fight against it, in spite of the outcome.)
Beauty and the Beast (Has anyone ever made a better film that glorifies both the fragile feminity of a woman, and simultaneously her strength - All while making the men around her into better men through both her selflessness and her selfishness. Belle should be the role model for our daughters.)
Gladiator (no other movie I have seen gets to the heart of the integrity of a man better than this movie. A manly man's film.)

posted by: Scott Harris on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I forgot one:

The Matrix - grabs you by the throat and never lets go. The best "special effects" movie where the story not only justified the special effects, but was better than them. (The sequel was a huge disappointment - ultimately forgettable.)

posted by: Scott Harris on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

"The Evil Dead II". And you all should be ashamed of yourselves for overlooking that triumph of cinema. I'm serious.

posted by: scott h. on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

After each entry on the list I thought to myself, "What about _Monsoon Wedding_?"

And there it was, waiting for me at the end.

posted by: John Davies on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I cant believe you left out films like Pulp Fiction, Seven, The usual suspects, American History X and American Beauty only to put films like The Matrix, Crouching Tiger and Four weddings. Come on!
And no, black hawk down is NOT overrrated!
Cheers to the guy who mentioned 'Dogma'. I think it is one of the greatest comedies of all time and certainly the satire is incredibly spot-on.

posted by: Minzo on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

The first 30 minutes of "Alien" are the scariest on film.

You know something really bad is going to happen. Only, you don't know when, where, or how.

Congrats, Ridley!

posted by: John J. Coupal on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Can I add one film that made a personal impact this year.

"Rabbit Proof Fence"

Marvellous! Even for a jaded cynical grumpy auld fart like me it was well worth the money for the rental. Oh and read the books as well.

posted by: Steve McDonagh on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

I'm late to the party here, but I'd humbly put in a plug for Rushmore.

posted by: Jeff on 10.22.03 at 08:30 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?