Now that we’re finishing the lists of the best movies of each year in the 1990’s, we’ve finally reached the Top 10 Movies of 1999! Out of all the years of cinema that had the best releases of films in the ’90s, it had to be this year. There were so many anticipation for movies like Star Wars Episode I and Toy Story 2, but there were huge surprises like The Matrix, Sixth Sense, and Fight Club that forever changed the way we make movies. Everyone was celebrating like Prince’s song and the best efforts in acting, directing, editing, and special effects were all displayed here! It left us with a bang that 90’s were truly a defining decade!
Number 10. – Eyes Wide Shut
Though I don’t always agree with everyone that Stanley Kubert always had made great movies, but I can see it as a personal take on the question, “What is the meaning of marriage.” Though there are much better films that took on the depiction of sexual frustrations like American Beauty, this film wasn’t half bad. It misses perfection by ever so little, but it is still a worthy film which features an eerie atmosphere, a jarring soundtrack, and some genuinely disturbing and creepy scenes. Although the nudity is indeed plentiful, in this movie it is made to serve an important purpose, which being if you dehumanize one of the closest things two humans can share with one another, then you turn human passions and desires into nothing more than revolting “practices” which almost nobody wants to take a part in. Definitely not for everyone, especially those that can handle a certain amount of sexual content, this is a very graphic movie which was originally rated NC-17 before being edited (the late Kubrick must have rolled over in his grave should he have known) to a hard R.
Number 9. – Office Space
Mike Judge is seriously an underrated animator and film director and The Office Space is the proof of it all. In fact, this is almost like if Dilbert was actually a full length movie. The 90s was a weird transitional period in film, and 1999 was one of the most packed years in film history. Basically, you’re film didn’t make money if it wasn’t called “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” or “The Matrix” or any other huge blockbuster that came out that year. As a result, a few cult films have been born out of this year. “Office Space” stands as one of the best cult films of the 90s as a whole, and maybe one of the best cult comedies ever made. It’s easily quotable and extremely relatable to anyone whose ever worked anything remotely like a job. Heck, even if you know a little bit about office work, you’re going to get a kick out of this. The movie does a good job immersing you in the hellish nature of working in cubicles during the film’s first 10 minutes, setting up the rest of the absolutely hilarious film to come. In spite of the path that the characters go down, it’s not hard to sympathize with them. Filled to the brim with quotable dialogue and more than one scene that’ll have you on the floor laughing (three words: printer, baseball bat), definitely worth watching.
Number 8. – Tarzan
Being that this is the last of the Disney Renaissance turned out to be a fantastic closure to this era of the magical animation studio. Out of all the stories that they could have chosen as a finale of such era in filming, I was surprised they chose to adapt this story. A tale of a man who grew up with the apes all of his life was left as an outcast struggling to figure out his purpose in life only to find out that there’s humans just like him living outside of the jungle. I like how the backstory is neatly told at the beginning in one song with accompanying animation. The first segment follows a young Tarzan living with the animals in the jungle and is reminiscent of many other Disney animal movies. Next, we have a grown Tarzan (voiced by Tony Goldwyn), coming into contact with humans, including a dainty but independant Jane (voiced by Minnie Driver), her old professor father (Nigel Hawethorne) and a gun-toting agressive Tantor (Wayne Knight) who wants to blow Tarzan and his animal friends to smithereens. Tarzan elists his animal friends in the jungle to resolve the conflict. There’s some great 3-D background animation whenever Tarzan swings and jumps through the jungle trees, creating an amazing effect of depth. And no one shall ever forget the Phil Collin’s soundtrack that became the backbone of this movie! Tarzan is a fantastic animated masterpiece that’s forever in our childhood hearts!
Number 7. – The Matrix
It’s really wondrous to see how far we came to movie special effects from Terminator 2 to this very flick and since then the world of cinema has forever chanced into CGI special effects. A computer hacker who is unsatisfied with his life is contacted by a mysterious stranger who reveals to him that the “real world” is in fact a computer generated simulation designed to subjugate the human race. The most striking aspect of The Matrix is obviously its visuals; highly influenced by the wire work of Asian cinema, the Wachowski brothers cranked it up another level by creatively using computer software to pretty much perfect the action sequence. The mix of fetish wear, brilliantly designed cyber punk technology and super cool actors (both Reeves and Fishburne were catapulted into mega-stardom by this film) makes for an audio visual cocktail that influenced virtually every film that followed. But for me it is the simple but brilliant concept that is the real strength of The Matrix, which marries all the favourite themes of sci-fi. The Messianistic super hero, technophobia, conspiracy theory and prophecy all combine to make a thrilling story which creates the perfect structure in which the hero can perform fantastic feats without compromising narrative logic. It still looks amazing more than a decade later and is two solid hours of pure, adrenaline-fuelled entertainment. A stone cold classic.
Number 6. – Fight Club
For those who wonder why there were so much rebellious and violent behavior happening throughout the 1990s, Fight Club has your answer. Though many people have caused more violence from the movie’s inspiration, but that’s the reason why they missed the whole point of Fight Club. This movie isn’t really about dudes beating each other up in underground fighting venues. It’s a critique of masculinity, being marginalized by society, and a major attack against gross materialism and consumerism. This is catharsis at it’s finest. It’s a violent mix of drama and comedy, with a sick and undeniably intelligent, satirical vision of modern day society and the pressure taken on by the modern man. Phenomenal performances from it’s incredible cast, especially Brad Pitt, who has given us one of cinema’s most iconic anti-heroes of all time. Fight Club is a rare film that performs even better than the book, and there’s a reason for that. There is no movie more intelligent; no movie more provocative; no movie more, well, kick-ass than Fight Club. It is a wonderful view on the human mind and what it can do to save itself from oblivion. I would go to the extent to say that it’s actually beautiful.
Number 5. – American Beauty
It is very difficult to describe my emotions throughout this film, but there was not a frame in this film where I didn’t have a warm feeling in my heart. Through the darkest of times and through the happiest of times throughout this film, I felt connected to each and every character who contributed into the foundation of what human life truly means. Kevin Spacey, in one of the best performances I have ever seen on screen, helms one of the most defining roles in film history (my opinion). As Lester (Kevin Spacey) begins to fall in love with his daughters best friend and purchases drugs from his young neighbour who is curious about his daughter, he begins to turn his life inside out, into the way that he feels comfortable. The audience knows right from the beginning that this is a story of how he loses his life, but the journey of how he reaches peace is an absolutely facinating life adventure. I think “American Beauty” is one of the most important films in cinema that will ever be released. The shots capture the elements needed in order to display the images of true human beauty, the dialogue is stupendously written, the tone of the film makes you want to cheer as tears role down your face in happiness, and the directing is indescribable beyond belief. In my opinion, “American Beauty” is one of the best films of all time!
Number 4. – Magnolia
Paul Thomas Anderson is simply the most talented direction of our time! He’s yet to make a bad movie, and a lot of the time, at the end of watching one of his films, I am left stunned. That’s the case with Magnolia, maybe more than any other of his great movies. This a beautiful, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, film. We watch characters and their personal lives intersect. At first, we don’t know how these different stories relate, but slowly Anderson brings them together. You know a movie is amazing when just over 3 hours of runtime feels quick. We see the lives of different people intersect and the movie comes to an unforgettable end. The people who’s lives we see are a child on a gameshow, a gameshow host that just found out he has cancer, the daughter of the gameshow host is a cocaine addict, and a cop. Also there is a dying old man, his much younger wife, a caregiver, and a guy who teaches men how to fuck any woman they want to. This is an extremely emotional film and there are a wide array of subjects touched in Anderson’s amazing script. Addiction, guilt, forgiveness, and love happen to be some of the biggest. Everything is handled with such care, that every single thing Anderson is trying to present comes across in a clear and precise way, but without being too in your face obvious. Magnolia is an absolute masterpiece. Its length may be a turn off for some people, but it is a film worth sitting through. There’s nothing hard about watching it either.Magnolia is a movie that is just something else entirely. Describing what that is, is just about impossible.
Number 3. – The Green Mile
I may be the only person in the world that believes that Green Mile is a superior Stephen King film than The Shawshank redemption? Darabon’ts follow up to the public hit and continued moviegoers favourite, “The Shawshank Redemption”, is again set in a prison, but this time the focus is on the screws, rather than the prisoners. Running at a little over three hours, the film is long, there is no denial, but it is worth the wait to see a powerful emotional piece of cinema, which the “Mile” most certainly is. With a good adaptation from King’s original novel, the story itself is excellent, providing intertwining and entertaining ideas. However what really shines through is the characters, and their portrayals by the outstanding cast. As always Tom Hanks provides a fantastic portrayal, but Michael Clarke Duncan and David Morse are the real shine throughs, playing their respective characters beautifully. What really makes this film as strong as it is, is the power and force behind the story. Many films tend to take a more soft, lighter topic base for the film, but The Green Mile went straight in and hit the really serious stuff; things like, execution, painful death, torture, child rape and murder, all of which are incredibly sinister and horrible topics to talk about. Never before have I seen a film that has been so emotional, nor a film as dark and gritty as this, with some slightly light hearted moments. If you haven’t already seen this film, watch it: it will change your outlook on films forever!
Number 2. – The Sixth Sense
No matter how much M. Night Shyamalan continues to go downhill, this will continue to hold up as a great film. It is classic moviemaking at its finest, reminiscing on the old Alfred Hitchcock classics. Now Shyamalan is looking at himself as the modern Hitchcock, this is the prime example of Shyamalan’s potential as an artist of cinema. Influenced by an old episode of the show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, this is an engrossing psychological thriller about a troubled child psychologist named Dr. Malcolm Crowe who begins to treat a gifted boy named Cole who confesses he has the ability to see the dead. Both Dr. Crowe and Cole are troubled, and share a sense of alienation, and while Crowe should be the one helping Cole, it seems that there could be a turning of the tables, with Cole being the one helping Dr. Crowe put his own demons to rest. Twist endings were nothing new when this film came out, but it seemingly resurrected the trend (for better or worse). Heck, the trend has continued through most of the rest of Shyamalan’s own work since then. It is a good twist, and it works, but I like this film regardless of the twist. I mostly just like how well the twist works, and the point that it gives the film, making you realize it’s really about something other than you initially think it is. In general, this is just an extremely well crafted film. Everything is very deliberate, thought out, and expertly set up and executed. This is some great writing and direction, and it’s all highlighted by some excellent and evocative cinematography and camera work. At the core of the film though, and what really holds it all together are the two central performances from Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment,. Willis proved he can really excel at serious drama, and was even awarded an Oscar nod for his efforts. He’s great ,but actually manages to get practically outshined by Osment. Most child actors are so-so at best, but this kid knocks it out of the park here, and it’s a shame he’s pretty well fallen into obscurity. These two have great chemistry with one another, and you really get drawn into their world and want to see them get through their situations. The other performers are also good, but mostly overshadowed by these two, A big exception would have to be the brief but memorable appearance of Donnie Wahlberg as a former patient of Dr. Crowe’s. It’s chillingly effective. Actually, ‘chillingly effective’ is a great way to sum of the whole film. It’s moody, atmospheric, eerie, and unforgettable, largely because of the things I’ve already mentioned, but also because of the terrific score as well. This film gets talked about a lot, and I doubt any of what I’ve said are new contributions, but trust this film’s reputation as great and go see it if you, for some reason, haven’t already.
Number 1. – Toy Story 2
Disney was incredible in the 1990s and they never got as high as they once were when they teamed up with Pixar and released Toy Story. Toy Story was a revelation. Despite being the first fully computer animated feature film, the movie refused to get bogged down in the technical innovations, preferring instead to create an amazing world with a fantastic story, memorable characters and challenging themes, especially for a children’s film. So it’s pretty easy to say that Toy Story 2 had quite something to live up to. There’s no suffrage of “sequelitis” here because Toy Story 2 did a lot of things differently and creatively and also gave more character much more to do than seen in the first film. In fact, this still is my favorite Pixar movie of all time and its the peak of the Disney Renaissance era! Toy Story 2 has all the self-referential, geeky asides that the first had and then some, and plenty of emotional value with it. The character development on display here is simply fantastic. Where the first dealt with Woody’s inability to be anything less than the most popular toy in the room, this film deals with his realisation of his own mortality; not dying specifically, more being used up or forgotten by his owner once Andy outgrows his sheriff. The highlight for the film for me is that we’re introduced to three new character that are some of the best recruiting characters ever seen in movies! Part of it is because Jessie, Bullseye, and Prospector are very charming and they develop as characters with the original cast reprising in the sequel. It’s touching, tragic, but most upsetting of all, recognizable that asks the question, when is Woody too old to play with his toys? The connection here isn’t just Jessie’s abandonment but the feeling that you may have been responsible for this as a kid. It’s a heartrending moment and establishes Jessie’s place in the audience’s hearts forever. This boldness exhibited by the writers who clearly believe that children can handle the tough stuff is a belief which has become something of a trademark for the Pixar brand, tackling complex issues, themes and relationships in all of their movies with the simplicity and sincerity which is exemplified here. It’s this ability to both connect and communicate which sets the Toy Story series apart in the animation world. As well as having the claim of being the first CG animation ever, the Toy Story series has managed to consecutively outdistance its competitors with heart and emotion combined with a rapier wit. This is, of course, disregarding the astounding innovations in the technical side of the film which, despite being potentially mind-blowing, are merely a medium for the story. One big reason why this film should be remembered as one of the best movies of all time is because it is a movie that’s made fore everyone for all ages. There are so much creativity, laughs, and references from the previous movie and other films that would make us geek out when we catch them. What could have been an excuse to indulge a novelty has become an integral part of countless childhoods and a landmark in animation.
Thanks for reaching these lists and please be one the look out for the Top 10 Best movies of the 1990s! Till then, see you on the next list!
- Top 10 Movies of the 1990s
- Top 10 Video Games of 1999
- Top 10 Albums of 1999
- Top 10 Movies of 1998
- Top 10 Movies of 1997
- Top 10 Movies of 1996