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Is That All There Is? : A Take on a List of Top 1990s Films That Reeks of Pretention


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I first saw this the other day, and it rankled me a bit, but I came up with the idea to bring it here overnight because I wanted to get some other people's opinions on it. A movie website called IndieWire unleashed a list of what it considered the best films of the 1990s... and to me at least, it had far too much vanity and pretention. It also felt like certain films were just there to fill certain "quotas" so that it would not be run out of town by certain people. The original article makes some sneering mention to Hollywood's films early in that decade, but then goes on to list many films that only have at most niche appeal. And some of the mainstream picks don't belong to be there at all. I want to see some discussion on this, to see what others think.

this was the original writeup (lots of self-importance): https://www.indiewire.com/gallery/best-90s-movies/

This is a copy of it with pictures of each film so you don't have to scroll past so much text: https://letterboxd.com/mitchell/list/indiewires-100-best-movies-of-the-1990s/

And this was a list of what they called the 25 best performances in the decade which has several shocking claimants. https://letterboxd.com/mitchell/list/indiewires-25-best-movie-performances-of/detail/

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It's IndieWire, so their selections are about what I would expect. I don't agree with many of them, and that #1 choice is designed to generate controversy and argument, and thus more clicks and links to the article.

What are your own choices for best films of the 1990's? You could post a top ten, as a top 100 would get a bit cumbersome. I'll come back later with my own picks.

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Screen Shot 2021-04-24 at 1.39.08 PM

1. MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE (literary adaptation)
2. LA REINE MARGOT (French biographical drama)
3. HOWARDS END (literary adaptation)
4. THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (literary adaptation)
5. EVE'S BAYOU (gothic drama)
6. THE SIXTH SENSE (horror thriller)
7. TITANIC (romance disaster epic)
8. THE ENGLISH PATIENT (literary adaptation)
9. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (psychological horror)
10. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (war film)

Notable Directors: Robert Altman; James Ivory; Kryzstof Kieslowski; Stanley Kubrick; Oliver Stone; Jane Campion; Steven Spielberg; Woody Allen; Anthony Minghella; and James Cameron.

Most Creative Studios: Miramax; 20th Century Fox; Paramount; DreamWorks; and Sony.

Best Genres/Subgenres: ensemble comedy dramas; literary adaptations; historical epics; horror thrillers; and war films.

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I'm pleased to see that The Long Day Closes comes in at #9. One of my favorite films.

Regarding #1 on the list, I will finally see Eyes Wide Shut, recorded it from TCM recently.

 

 

 

 

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Screen Shot 2022-08-21 at 11.16.57 AM

A SIMPLE PLAN was released by Paramount in the late ’90s when neo-noir was making a bit of a comeback. Set in Minnesota, and filmed there as well as in Wisconsin, it is best remembered for its wintery landscapes and its uniformly strong acting.

Bill Paxton plays the lead character, a man who would like to get ahead in life just once. Bridget Fonda plays his money-hungry wife (the Lady Macbeth of the story). And featured as Paxton’s loser brother, who helps find some loot, is Billy Bob Thornton. Thornton was nominated for a supporting Oscar, and should have nabbed it.

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The plot is quite simple. Paxton and Thornton are out driving one day with Thornton's friend (Brent Briscoe), when they discover a deserted plane with a duffel bag that contains over four million dollars. They don’t know how the plane crashed in a snow-covered area or whose money it might have been. But if they just stay quiet, they might be able to keep the cash if nobody comes to claim it. That’s easier said than done.

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The guys take off with the dough and Paxton puts it somewhere for safe keeping. But soon they decide, because of Fonda's nagging, that they should cheat Briscoe out of his share. They go to Briscoe's house, start drinking with him and do a little role play. They want him to pretend he’s saying something self-incriminating...all in "fun." After one too many beers, Briscoe does say something, which Paxton secretly records on tape.

The little game of pretend turns into a huge tragedy when Briscoe realizes he’s been tricked. He goes for his rifle, and threatens to kill Paxton if he doesn’t turn over the tape.

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Thornton comes to Paxton's defense; there is a graphic shootout that leaves Briscoe dead on the floor, along with his wife. The two brothers decide to shoot up the place even more and make it look like Briscoe lost his mind-- that he killed his wife, then himself. Somehow the sheriff believes it.

Screen shot 2017-06-22 at 3.12.25 PM.png

Things become more complicated when an investigator (Gary Cole) shows up to locate the downed aircraft and retrieve the missing money. It is soon revealed that he’s not an actual lawman but someone interested in getting his hands on the four million.

Screen shot 2017-06-22 at 3.11.04 PM.png

Paxton and Thornton return to the site of the crash with him, and there’s a standoff. To say it ends badly for Thornton is putting it mildly. Paxton survives, and the movie’s coda shows him and Fonda back to how they were in the beginning, struggling to survive financially (because Paxton decided to burn the ill-gotten money).

The best thing to do when you come across something that doesn’t belong to you? Just go about your business as if you didn’t see it. Keep life simple.

Screen shot 2017-06-06 at 1.57.53 PM.png

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My top ten favorites of the 1990's:

  1. Goodfellas
  2. Fight Club
  3. Unforgiven
  4. The Silence of the Lambs
  5. Heat
  6. Magnolia
  7. Braveheart
  8. L.A. Confidential
  9. Saving Private Ryan
  10. Schindler's List

Bonus for the kiddies: Toy Story

Documentaries:

  1. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse
  2. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
  3. Hoop Dreams
  4. American Movie
  5. 35 Up
  6. When We Were Kings
  7. 4 Little Girls
  8. Crumb
  9. Trekkies
  10. The Cruise
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The last great decade of films, my top ten-

1. Ed Wood

2. Goodfellas

3. The Shawkshank Redemption

4. Election

5. The Apostle

6. The Remains Of The Day

7. Man On The Moon

8. The Player

9. What About Bob

10.  I Shot Andy Warhol

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I'll also mention that while I've seen 2,670 movies from the 1990's, I haven't seen 34 of their choices for the top 100.

I have not seen:

  • After Life
  • The Long Day Closes
  • Daughters of the Dust
  • Perfect Blue
  • La Belle Noiseuse
  • A Brighter Summer Day
  • Irma Vep
  • Satantango
  • Public Housing *
  • Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
  • Blue (Derek Jarman, not the Three Colors movie)
  • Hyenas *
  • Porco Rosso
  • La Ceremonie
  • Paris Is Burning
  • The Match Factory Girl
  • Flowers of Shanghai
  • Ratcatcher
  • Rosetta
  • From the East *
  • A Summer's Tale
  • Walking and Talking
  • Silvia Prieto *
  • Underground
  • The Watermelon Woman
  • Earth *
  • The Celebration
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion
  • Bye-Bye Africa *
  • F***ing Amal
  • Lessons of Darkness
  • Girl on the Bridge
  • Compensation  *
  • The Apple  *

All the ones with a * I had never heard of until seeing this list.

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My favorite movie of the 90s is the commercial aired which announced my birth. Supposedly it was on public broadcasting according to my mother and the woman sang on a piano. 

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1 minute ago, Sukhov said:

My favorite movie of the 90s is the commercial aired which announced my birth. Supposedly it was on public broadcasting according to my mother and the woman sang on a piano. 

I saw that:

 

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i think it's fair to say that the 1990s did PERIOD FILMS really well- (as is much the case with the 1970s, something about the nostalgia of the time fit the mood and hit the proper marks.).

Just off the top of me head, period films of the 1990s that have aged well:

THE ROCKETEER (1990?), THE IRON GIANT (199?), PERSUASION (1995), SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995), RICHARD III (1995), THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (1993), LA CONFIDENTIAL (1997), LITTLE WOMAN (1994), THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993), SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998), ED WOOD (1994), HOWARDS END (1992), even GOODFELLAS is a period film when you get down to it....as are many of the DISNEY films of the era too.

...oh, and I don't hate THE ENGLISH PATIENT.

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE I can do without though, thanks.

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2 hours ago, CinemaInternational said:

I first saw this the other day, and it rankled me a bit, but I came up with the idea to bring it here overnight because I wanted to get some other people's opinions on it. A movie website called IndieWire unleashed a list of what it considered the best films of the 1990s... and to me at least, it had far too much vanity and pretention. It also felt like certain films were just there to fill certain "quotas" so that it would not be run out of town by certain people. The original article makes some sneering mention to Hollywood's films early in that decade, but then goes on to list many films that only have at most niche appeal. And some of the mainstream picks don't belong to be there at all. I want to see some discussion on this, to see what others think . . .

There are two kinds of people in the world:

  • Those who like to make "Best" and "Top" lists and who care about other peoples' opinions.
  • Those who don't (Present!).

Of the 100 movies on the IndieWire list, I've seen about 25%, most of which I have no interest in watching again. The few that I care to revisit are Eyes Wide Shut and Magnolia. I own precisely one IndieWire selection: Titanic. Two Quentin Tarantino pix are on the IW list -- but not my favorite, Reservoir Dogs.

Suum cuique.

1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Screen Shot 2022-08-21 at 11.16.57 AM

Essential to you.

I watched A Simple Plan once, and once was enough for me.

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My top ten (alphabetical) for the 1990s. I'm sticking to ten, which leaves no room for Gummo or Happiness, but they rate as well. 

The Age of Innocence
Conte d’été (Rohmer)
The English Patient
The Last Days of Disco
The Long Day Closes
Metropolitan
Mountains of the Moon
Proof
Schindler's List
The Sheltering Sky

hugo_weaving_in_proof_2.jpg

Hugo Weaving as a blind photographer in Proof (1991)

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Though I did not see many films in the 1990s, I certainly liked these Sweet Sixteen:

The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Un coeur en hiver (1992)
Howards End (1992)
Enchanted April (1992)
Three Colors: Blue (1993)
The Remains of the Day (1993)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Exotica (1994)
Quiz Show (1994)
Apollo 13 (1995)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
The Dreamlife of Angels (1998)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

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2 minutes ago, King Rat said:

Though I did not see many films in the 1990s, I certainly liked these Sweet Sixteen:

The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Un coeur en hiver (1992)
Howards End (1992)
Enchanted April (1992)
Three Colors: Blue (1993)
The Remains of the Day (1993)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Exotica (1994)
Quiz Show (1994)
Apollo 13 (1995)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
The Dreamlife of Angels (1998)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Yes, I rather liked the 90s remake of ENCHANTED APRIL. Thanks for mentioning that one.

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