Tonight we enter the second half of my “Top 10 Movies” series, and I sense this is where it will start to get harder as we move closer to the present. The 1990s was like film limbo with the approaching millennium and of course the impending doom that was the non-existent Y2K virus. Everyone was sort of just sitting around, waiting for the future to happen. Movie-wise, the decade gave us a few turkeys, a few classics and a whole load of mediocre films. But here it’s those classics we’re interested in. Right, let’s dive right in with…
10: American Pie (1999)
A bit of a strange one to include, this one. I must admit. You don’t think of American Pie as being one of the finest pieces of cinematography ever to grace our screens. You could probably think of 10 better films from the 1990’s without even looking at the rest of this list. Heck, you could probably think of 10 better films from 1999. But the reason I’m including this is simply because it’s a teen movie – one that started a whole trend of teen movies after it (although 90% of these were just plain bad, including it’s own 2 direct sequels and further spin-offs). But I was a teen growing up at the time it came out, so I could relate to it in a lot of ways: the story of four friends desperately trying to lose thier virginities, largely with no success. I can definitely relate to that. (Although in my case there were only three of us). But still an entertaining film with some classic moments.
9: The Matrix (1999)
When I mentioned earlier on how people throughout the 1990s were largely sitting around, waiting for the future?? Well this was it. Or at least a HUGE taste of things to come, anyway. I had to watch this film at least twice before I even had a clue what was going on, but it is watchable purely for the action scenes. The Matrix really pushed our boundaries, even inventing whole concepts such as ‘bullet time’ which just blew audiences away. Although to be pretty honest, if I were Neo, after all of the shit that happens to him in the rest of the movie, I would have just taken the blue pill.
8: Goodfellas (1990)
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”
Martin Scorsese’s tale of youngster Henry Hill who works his way up through the ranks of a local mob, is one of the great mafia films. For those of you who have seen it, I don’t even need to say much about it. For those of you who haven’t, what are you even doing reading this?? So many memorable scenes, but the one that makes me crack up every time is Joe Pesci’s infamous “Funny How” monologue. Priceless. An all-round great watch. Violence, drama, comedy moments and Robert De Niro at his best. What’s not to like??
7: Seven (Or Se7en) (1995)
No, before you ask, I did not put this at number 7 on purpose. To tell you the truth as I was writing this list, this was one of the first films that sprang to my mind and as a result it started off a lot further down the list. However it found itself pushed further upwards as I began to remember others. This is a unique film in the sense that it is a blend of crime and psychological thriller – a style reminiscent of such films as The Silence Of The Lambs. This is a film that really gets inside your head and I wouldn’t be surprised if the psychological aspect of Se7en probably inspired films such as the SAW series (Which I am a huge fan of).
6: The Shawshank Redemption
2 slots in a row here for Mr. Morgan Freeman. I’ve always said that the best films are ones set in prisons. I’ve already mentioned Papillon and Midnight Express in these Top 10 lists, although they are both based on true stories. This film, however, is based on the novel by Stephen King and I’m surprised at how many people don’t know that. Maybe the best films are adaptations of novels (the next entry on this list is proof alone of that), or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the best films are ones starring Morgan Freeman.
5: The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Yep, I mentioned it earlier. Somehow, this movie manages to blend the genres of crime and psychological horror to create a movie in a league of its own. Clarisse Starling (Jodie Foster) is a young FBI agent in the final stages of her training when she is given the unnerving task of interviewing psychopathic killer Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins), hoping to gain information from him to aid in the FBI’s capture of another killer who is on the loose. The mind games begin, and the film sends us on a thrilling race against time to save the killer’s young captive victim. Anthony Hopkins is truly chilling in the role of Lector, arguably one of the best individual performances from any actor ever.
4: The Commitments (1991)
Time to take a break from all the crime flicks and psychological thrillers as we take a look at the charming adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s novel of the same name. This is a film about a group of unemployed Irish jazz musicians who decide to form a group and have to deal with the numerous obstacles in thier way (mainly each other). This film says more about Ireland than one of the regulars down at the Shillelagh in Stokey after fourteen Jamesons. Interesting piece of trivia – and I did not believe this AT ALL but I have looked it up and confirmed it is actually true – Andrew Strong, the guy who plays Deco the lead vocalist (you see him in the picture there), was actually only 16 at the time he was cast for this role and he is actually drinking Coca-Cola in most of the pub scenes which is made to look like Guinness. But what a voice. And just to prove what an impact this film made, I searched for it just now on Google and I only had to type in “The Comm” and it was there at the top of the list, above even “The Commonwealth” and “The Communist Manifesto”.
3: As Good As It Gets
It’s tough to put my finger on exactly what it is I like so much about this film. Essentially it’s a romantic comedy without the emphasis on comedy. Or romance. But it’s entertaining. Jack Nicholson plays mentally ill as well as only Jack Nicholson can (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in this instance), and Helen Hunt’s performance as his love interest Carol the waitress is believeable and inspiring. I think one of the main reasons I love this film so much is that you could have it playing on a loop in the background pretty much all the time, even when you weren’t actually watching it (In fact, I’m told that there was once a pub in Islington called “As Good As It Gets” which did exactly that), because it’s just so full of great lines. Almost every other line is one you will at some stage in your life be able to quote because at some point it will have some relevance to some awkward situation.
2: Ringu (1997)
From Irish jazz musicians to one of the only horror films to this day that have actually scared the living shit out of me. I remember reading about it and thinking “A film about a videotape that can kill people?? Yeah, right.” But the way it’s done is just so engaging that you’re afraid to look away from the screen even for a second and the fact that it’s in Japanese with English subtitles in my view only adds to it’s eerie nature. The film’s story draws on the spread of so-called ‘urban legends’, vengeful curses, and questions what would happen if supernatural energy could manifest itself through media such as TV and video. Apparently, the film led to a number of ‘video-curse’ phenomena being reported throughout Japan and even overseas though these were mostly pranks. Word of warning though: Avoid the Americanised remakes like the plague. Not only are they badly done, but much is lost in translation and you get the impression that the directors had to dumb a lot of it down for American audiences. Stick to the original. And the sequel’s pretty good, too.
1: Pulp Fiction
Yep, this film really is the daddy. What is widely considered to be Tarantino’s masterpiece does not disappoint. The intertwining storylines and erratic time frames make this a movie that is the subject of much debate, asking more questions than it answers. What can’t be denied though, is that it is a great piece of cinema and full of iconic moments, such as Jules (Samuel L. Jackson)’s biblical monologue and the famous twist scene featuring Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman). If you do not like this film, you look like a bitch.
Q: What was in the briefcase??
A: Marsellus Wallace’s Soul.
So that wraps up the 1990s. Only one more leg to go and then I don’t have to do another one of these for 10 more years. As always, please leave your comments. We love comments at RavenGarcia.com.