Top 10 Movies of 1998

Number 10.  –  A Bug’s Life

As a kid growing up in 1998, this was huge movie at the time! All the kids everywhere, when they were not putting their time on Pokemon, was constantly watching A Bug’s Life like it was the next Toy Story. Unfortunately, I watched this movie and memorized every single scene and line for it that I’m sick of it. Though I no longer see it as a great follow up to Toy Story, that doesn’t mean that it’s at all a bad movie. he characters stay in you head with the variety of bugs, and each one has a different personality that the writers all creatively give. I have always loved Flik, he was hilarious when I was a kid and his laugh (the laugh of Dave Foley) always put a smile on my face. The ants represent oppression and Flik the one who wants to defend them, and this makes him quite the hero. Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey, Julia-Louise Dreyfuss, Dennis Leary, and everyone else provides their voices and perfectly fit each memorable and cool character. The animation is also still fun to this day, all the colors and environment really live up to the standards of Pixar. This had competition with the Dreamworks film Antz, and in my opinion, this film kicks Antz right in the buttocks. A Bug’s Life is a childhood favorite of mine, and is one of the films that live in the hearts of hundreds of imaginative adults and kids.

Number 9.  –  Small Soldiers

The one thing that the Toy Story never did is have any contact or interactions with the human character and even as a kid I always wondered what it would be life if they have. That’s where Small Soldiers came in and just like Bugs Life, this movie was the most watch movie in 1998 and I’ve seen this movie so many times that I’m sick of it. Basically this is a modern remake of ‘Gremlins’ more than a Toy Story and I never even twigged back in the day. The whole premise is pretty much the same albeit in a lighter tone of course, replace monsters with killer toys. Everything is very cliched and pretty stereotypical of small town America, the film is actually a very good little homage to those classic 80’s teen flicks that involved monsters/aliens/the supernatural etc…Hell they even cast classic 80’s stars Wendy Schaal and Dick Miller, who of course has starred in some perfect examples of typical 80’s trashy horror comedies, including ‘Gremlins’ (that’s not trashy by the way). Miller even plays a similar type of role to his ‘Gremlins’ character, direct homage to the genre right there if you ask me. It’s funny how the supposed heroes toys were actually the main villains and the franchise’s enemies are the allies to the humans, though all of their designs are a mix to me. You can call the movie stupid, you can call the movie ridiculous, and you can call the movie flat out awful; but I’m going to call it one hell of a fun time. It may not be a masterpiece, but it does exactly what it set out to do. It’s entertaining, occasionally funny, and never boring. It’s quick moving and appeals to more than just children. It’s truly an underrated movie in my opinion.

Number 8.  –  Saving Private Ryan

I remember when this film came out this was the most talked about film ever because of it’s depiction of D-Day and WWII battles were so realistic that even vervains of the war says that’s how it’s exactly like it! Our parents did everything they could to forbid us to watch this film, but I had to anyway. Because Spielberg captured the vision of WWII to be on the big screen show’s how important he is to the world of cinema. wo scenes in particular, are as overwhelming as the opening to the film: the hand-to-hand combat between a German soldier and Private Mellish (played by Adam Goldberg) and the deeply emotional and ironic injuries of T-4 Medic Wade (played by Giovanni Ribisi). These moments in the film are the most difficult to watch but they only really work because we are allowed the time to bond with the characters beforehand and experience the combat with them. Each of them have a particular but very different appeal, making it harder to accept when some of them perish in savage and harrowing circumstances. The cast also deserve the utmost praise for making the roles their own; the always reliable Hanks is solid in the central role and there are exceptional performances from the first rate support, namely, Barry Pepper and the aforementioned Goldberg and Ribisi, who are all outstanding. Janusz Kaminski’s magnificent cinematography is also starkly delivered; his images are both beautifully and horrifically captured and Spielberg’s decision to desaturate the colour and adopt some handheld approaches, add an authenticity that’s rarely been captured in the genre and brings another dimension to some of the finest and most realistic battle scenes ever committed to the screen. One of the darkest chapters in our history is viscerally captured in a raw and uncompromising piece of work from a virtuoso director, tapping into the highest of his abilities. Some may prefer the more fantastical and escapist nature of Spielberg, but for me, this is the finest film he’s made.

Number 7.  –  The Thin Red Line

As much as I have full and utter respect for Saving Private Ryan, I have to say that The Thin Red Line is actually a better film. The Thin Red Line has emotional violence that is stronger than the gore and physical violence that has been in many films and that’s what makes this war film so touching.  And, true to form (for Malick, that is), this is and isn’t a war film, or at least not entirely in the conventional sense. It’s a war film on multiple levels, as we get man versus man, man versus nature, man versus himself, and perhaps a touch of nature versus nature as well. The plot is one of the greatest and most incredible plot lines to a war film I have ever seen. The Thin Red Line is a film that is impossible to describe in a few words if you ask me. If you asked me what its about I will tell have to go on for like 5 minutes to describe the beauty and how it differs from other war films. This is not a movie just trying to give us a good time, its a movie trying to get a important point across to us. I believe that the point is that being a soldier will change you, it will teach you respect, the value of life, and the nature of true war. It is a magical film in a way, I just cannot explain the pure beauty in each scene, the genius in the characters, and incredible direction from a man who has shown us a war film that has never been done before.

Number 6.  –  The Truman Show

Jim Carrey’s image has always been this hilarious and unpredictable actor that’s always ready to give you the most cartoonish humor ever seen in live action. That was when I finally seen the Truman Show and realized that Jim Carrey is much more than that. One of the most original ideas I have ever seen on screen. As Truman, a man with the perfect life that he never wanted, is being followed by thousands of cameras an being broadcasted worldwide n a 24 hour reality television show, he starts to realize that everything in his life just may be a little too perfect. By the end of this film I began to tear up at how beautiful and unique this film truly is. Jim Carrey is absolutely brilliant, as is everyone else. The script is great and the style is superb. It’s a bleak movie, yeah, in the sense your realize the follies of modern society, yes, but it deserves praise bringing into light the realities of our folly existence as a human society, it is funny, it is thoughtful, it is sad, and it is a great film that might just change the way you look at what life is, especially at our present age. There is never a dull moment in “The Truman Show” and it made me wishing the there was actually a 24 hour reality television including Jim Carrey’s life that would never end.

Number 5.  –  Mulan

Sure, Pocahontas (worst Disney film) and Hercules were a step backwards in the Disney Renaissance department, but Mulan redeemed Disney’s stature of making animated masterpieces. While I find it strange that Disney would tackle a chinese style film, I find it just flat out incredible how well it is done. Part of that is because this is like Disney took note of everything they’ve been criticized in their past movies, like the princesses being bad role models for girls and been accused as racists when trying to be diverse. It would have been a complete disaster if Mulan had been unintentionally racist, but surprisingly the Disney fans in Asia adored this animated masterpiece and that’s because Mulan is the best Disney female character ever. Mulan is a very likable character and all the side characters are all very well done comedically when poking fun at gender roles. But we all know what character we all love in this film, Mooshoo because Eddie Murphy does one of his funniest performances in a Disney movie since the Genie. Mulan is famous for poking fun at gender role but that’s what makes this movie a great role model for both boys and girls as they learn to be strong!  One of the best things about this movie aside from the characters is the fantastic art style because it captures the Asian culture and design perfectly. If this was an anime instead of a traditional animated film then there would ben nothing special about Mulan. Its just incredible to look at how well detailed many of the backgrounds are and the decision of using the chinese style spirals when a cloud of smoke comes up it looks very good and very interesting to look at.  Too bad they don’t make animated films like this one anymore. Mulan will forever stand as Disney’s last film of such a high caliber.

Number 4.  –  Shakespeare in Love

Most people would like to bash this movie for not deserving the Academy Award for Best Picture when Saving Private Ryan deserved it more, but honestly I think Shakespeare in Love has got to be some of the most romantic films ever created!  Many people kept saying that Romeo and Juliet is the most romantic stories ever told, but can you imagine how hard it must have been for a struggling artist to make that play? Sure this is all totally fictionalized but to have the director to fall for the perfect actress to play as Romeo of all things was something to remember forever! It’s amazing what little is actually known about William Shakespeare, despite the greatly influential playwright he was. Most of what we do know of him, in fact, leads back to his works, for which his life was often inspiration. Had Shakespeare not written Hamlet, we most likely would not know of his only son, Hamlet, who died at the age of eleven. The idea for Shakespeare in Love had been conceived long before its 1998 release. For several years, however, it was merely a question that had been posed regarding Shakespeare’s love life. The sets, costumes, and all of that are fantastic. I said the film is funny, but most of the humor is of the wit and in-joke varities. The drama is slight, but adds some emotional weight. The cast are all pretty good (a large cast with lots of knowns), and they all give pretty good performances, some better tha nothers. All in all, a very well made and enjoyable film. The more you know about or enjoy Shakespeare, the more you’ll probably like this. Even if you don’t, you might find something worthwhile, especially if you enjoy a good tale of romance, forbidden love, or have an interest in the arts.

Number 3.  –  Dark City

Who can knew that the Director of the Crow, as much as a cheesy fun that film is, could ever make a science fiction noir that could be so intelligent and groundbreaking that it makes you think after seeing it. It’s very much like The Matrix mixed with The Truman Show but done much better. The story is set within a sprawling city, a dark city naturally, that never seems to see daylight and no one seems to notice. The main character of ‘Murdoch’ awakens with amnesia and up for murder, from this point on he must try to fathom out how and why he’s in this situation whilst trying to avoid mysterious shrouded characters that are trying to kill him. It doesn’t sound much of a thrillingly new concept but its the look and atmosphere that was new for the time. I say new, there was Burton’s ‘Batman’ of course and ‘The Shadow’, but this type of dark comicbook/graphic novel approach wasn’t anywhere near as common as it is today. The Matrix probably stole this film’s thunder, and, even though the two are comparable, that film didn’t really rip this one off. They are similar, and comparisons are valid, but this film relies more on atmosphere and ideas than that one, hence why this one may not be as appealing to some. You should still definitely give this one a chance though. It is quite thought provoking and excellent… just come to it ready to focus, pay attention, and do more than just sit back staring at the screen.

Number 2.  –  The Prince of Egypt

The story of Moses is my favorite story in the Bible and this is without a doubt one of the best adaptation of the Moses story put in cinema and puts Ten Commandments movie a run for its money. This is the prime example of why I love Dreamworks Animation Studios when they used to make traditional animation because their animation quality is so massively beautiful that it’s nearly impeccable. I’m just going to come right out and say it: I favor the DreamWorks animated films over Disney’s usual fare. They are unafraid of unusual settings, unconventional characters, and their writing is generally more nuanced. Not once did this adaptation of the Moses story ever felt campy nor did it play it safe to have all viewers to find it suitable for all ages; this feature shows the grim harsh reality of the Egypt Kingdom and how they’ve treated the Hebrews. What made this adaptation so wonderful to watch is the relationship between Moses and Ramses as brothers; it just makes the stakes so high and complex. One side Moses wants to free the Hebrews after he returned from his exile and Ramses need them as slave to keep his Kingdom in order and remain powerful. Having God on Moses’ side tried to make Ramses to change his mind where all hard decisions to make and not once did the story felt light-hearted. The only reason why this movie isn’t higher is because the film didn’t explore the part of where Moses received the Ten Commandments nor did they have Joshua as a character because he was an important person in the Moses saga, all of which would make the movie better if it were longer. If you already know of the Moses story and are tired of hearing the same story over and over again, you’ll be surprised on how they told the story and I still recommend watching this epic because never was there an animated film that brings chills down my spine for being this brilliant. Heck, I still recommend this film even if you’re not a Christian because it is a great story about heroism, bravery, faith, and family which never had been done this well.

Number 1.  –  The Big Lebowski

Thank goodness that there are intelligent movie goers out there to make a cult following to a film like this one because nobody at the time gave a shit to The Big Lebowski as everyone anticipated for it to be another Fargo from the Coen Brothers. As great as Fargo is, The Big Lebowski remains the best Coen Brothers film of all time! On the surface it is a comedy movie with a lot of complicated subplots, but when you dig deeper underneath the surface it is actually a multilayered movie! This is a movie about what exactly makes a man, and you have to look very closely for yourself because the film will not simply give you the message; only visualize it and give character such situations that is insane. The Coen Brothers (granted, they both wrote it but only Joel was the credited director) have crafted something of pure greatness, as well as all of their films that have followed. They both are very talented writers and with ‘Lebowski’, they have created the most quotable lines ever that become more funny after every viewing. Though Pulp Fiction opened doors to making great dialog in movie screenplays as the norm, but Big Lebowski uses them in a comedic faction that it also complex.  The noir selections of this are well-intended and shot terrifically. The cast assembled here is perfectly picked and unbelievably charismatic. There is so much to say, but I’ll start with the obvious; this is Jeff Bridges greatest performance. Jeff is so magnificent in his portrayal of the bowler/slacker Jeff Lebowski, but everyone calls him “The Dude, His Dudeness, or El Duderino”. John Goodman stars as Walter Sobchak, a retired veteran whose mind is “stuck” in Vietnam. Goodman is extremely well casted, and knows how to deliver his angry lines like “This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!,” but always seems to want to go bowling after all that happens throughout the film. Steve Buscemi plays Donnie, the innocent one, who according to Walter, needs to shut the fuck up. Donnie is apart of the bowling trio, and Buscemi is great, but his character isn’t very important until the third act. Julianne Moore is Maude Lebowski, offering yet another fantastic role from this film. Maude is a free spirit, as well as a sexually insane feminist. Come to think of it, John Turturro’s character Jesus had maybe five minutes or less of screen time, yet his name is on the poster. Being a very likable actor, there was no way that I wasn’t going to love Sam Elliot in this. Elliot is one of the funniest characters in the film delivering an intentional over the top performance as The Stranger who delivers one of the most important lines as a Narrator and comes in with the most unpredictable thoughts in his mind.  All of these characters are ultimately met with pleasing results. As I mentioned, there is no real reason why this is one of my favorites of all time, it just clicks with me. It’s not expected that a small film about a case of mistaken identity would be this astounding and re-watchable, but it manages to be ridiculously fun. As I watch it over and over again, I realize how ridiculous and stupid ‘The Big Lebowski’ is, but you know what? I enjoy it each and every time. The dude abides.

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