Monday, February 1, 2010

It Was Twenty-ish Years Ago Today...The 100 Best Movies of the 90s!

In my recently completed 100 Best Movies of the 00s feature over at Jahnke’s Electric Theatre, I made a couple references to a similar project I’d undertaken ten years earlier. Much to my surprise, several people asked to see my 100 Best Movies of the 90s. Unfortunately, the complete essay has been lost to the vapor of defunct computer storage. I probably still have it somewhere…most likely on an unlabeled floppy disk. One day I’ll go through all that stuff and if the essay turns up, I’ll post it in all its glory (with the caveat that it was written with an intended audience of about five).

But even without my scintillating prose to jazz it up, I thought it might be interesting to post the list of titles. Looking at my picks today, I still think it’s a pretty strong lineup. Primarily though, it helps put the whole idea of these lists in context. There are some major omissions here, including Audition and Being John Malkovich, neither of which I’d seen when I originally came up with this list. If I were to redo the list now, some titles would move up (notably Magnolia and The Big Lebowski), others down (I still think The Rapture is a great movie but is it really top ten material?). There’s nothing on here that embarrasses me, as in, “Gawd, did I actually try to argue that The Phantom Menace was a great movie?” (For the record, no…I never did.) I could still make a case for every movie on this list, even those that would have to fall away to make room for new favorites.

What interests me the most about this list is how it transports me back into my early 2000 mindset. Back then, I didn’t have a cyber-soapbox for my half-baked ideas. I was just a movie fan working a job that left him with waaaaaaaay too much time on his hands. Looking at these titles in this context, I can instantly remember the way I felt about them at the time. Those feelings have changed over time but it’s valuable for me to remember what my feelings were then. Obviously you won’t get that but I hope seeing this list will be of some interest nevertheless.

Since I already revealed the number one pick, I’m dispensing with the whole countdown schtick and presenting the list in order. For the record, my pick for the top spot has not changed in all this time. And I apologize in advance to Elijah Olson and anyone else who feels I should not have grouped all three Lord Of The Rings movies into one. This list is really gonna drive you up the wall.

1. The Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White, Red - 1993-94, Krzysztof Kieslowski)

2. Barton Fink (1991, Joel & Ethan Coen)

3. Edward Scissorhands (1990, Tim Burton)

4. Ed Wood (1994, Tim Burton)

5. Babe (1995, Chris Noonan)

6. Breaking The Waves (1996, Lars von Trier)

7. The Rapture (1991, Michael Tolkin)

8. Fight Club (1999, David Fincher)

9. Heavenly Creatures (1994, Peter Jackson)

10. Joe Versus The Volcano (1990, John Patrick Shanley)

11. The Double Life Of Veronique (1991, Krzysztof Kieslowski)

12. Unforgiven (1992, Clint Eastwood)

13. The Reflecting Skin (1990, Philip Ridley)

14. Magnolia (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson)

15. The Big Lebowski (1998, Joel & Ethan Coen)

16. JFK (1991, Oliver Stone)

17. Husbands And Wives (1992, Woody Allen)

18. Out Of Sight (1998, Steven Soderbergh)

19. The Straight Story (1999, David Lynch)

20. The New Age (1994, Michael Tolkin)

21. Bullet In The Head (1990, John Woo)

22. American Beauty (1999, Sam Mendes)

23. A Simple Plan (1998, Sam Raimi)

24. Chasing Amy (1997, Kevin Smith)

25. Fargo (1996, Joel & Ethan Coen)

26. Babe: Pig In The City (1998, George Miller)

27. Pecker (1998, John Waters)

28. La Belle Noiseuse (1991, Jacques Rivette)

29. Lone Star (1996, John Sayles)

30. Run Lola Run (1999, Tom Tykwer)

31. The Fisher King (1991, Terry Gilliam)

32. GoodFellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)

33. Reservoir Dogs (1992, Quentin Tarantino)

34. Queen Margot (1994, Patrice Chereau)

35. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills (1996, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky)

36. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993, Francois Girard)

37. Fast, Cheap & Out Of Control (1997, Errol Morris)

38. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, Henry Selick)

39. Delicatessen (1991, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro)

40. King Of The Hill (1993, Steven Soderbergh)

41. Mars Attacks! (1996, Tim Burton)

42. Lost Highway (1997, David Lynch)

43. Flesh And Bone (1993, Steven Kloves)

44. Twelve Monkeys (1995, Terry Gilliam)

45. Brother's Keeper (1992, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky)

46. There's Something About Mary (1998, Bobby & Peter Farrelly)

47. Last Night (1999, Don McKellar)

48. Crumb (1994, Terry Zwigoff)

49. La Femme Nikita (1990, Luc Besson)

50. L.A. Confidential (1997, Curtis Hanson)

51. Schizopolis (1996, Steven Soderbergh)

52. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997, George Armitage)

53. Darkman (1990, Sam Raimi)

54. Army Of Darkness (1993, Sam Raimi)

55. The Quick And The Dead (1995, Sam Raimi)

56. The City Of Lost Children (1995, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro)

57. Bitter Moon (1992, Roman Polanski)

58. Waiting For Guffman (1996, Christopher Guest)

59. The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996, Milos Forman)

60. Hard-Boiled (1992, John Woo)

61. Olivier Olivier (1992, Agnieszka Holland)

62. The Iron Giant (1999, Brad Bird)

63. Proof (1991, Jocelyn Moorhouse)

64. The Grifters (1990, Stephen Frears)

65. Men With Guns (1997, John Sayles)

66. American Movie (1999, Chris Smith)

67. Smoke / Blue In The Face (1995, Wayne Wang & Paul Auster)

68. Crash (1996, David Cronenberg)

69. Secrets & Lies (1996, Mike Leigh)

70. Big Night (1996, Stanley Tucci & Campbell Scott)

71. Boogie Nights (1997, Paul Thomas Anderson)

72. L.627 (1992, Bertrand Tavernier)

73. Dead Man (1995, Jim Jarmusch)

74. Wag The Dog (1997, Barry Levinson)

75. Wild At Heart (1990, David Lynch)

76. Strangers In Good Company (1991, Cynthia Scott)

77. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, Joe Dante)

78. Ruby In Paradise (1993, Victor Nunez)

79. Naked Lunch (1991, David Cronenberg)

80. Cemetery Man (1994, Michele Soavi)

81. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)

82. The Player (1992, Robert Altman)

83. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)

84. The Usual Suspects (1995, Bryan Singer)

85. eXistenZ (1999, David Cronenberg)

86. Dead Man Walking (1995, Tim Robbins)

87. Leon - The Professional (1994, Luc Besson)

88. Shakes The Clown (1991, Bob Goldthwait)

89. Defending Your Life (1991, Albert Brooks)

90. Simple Men (1992, Hal Hartley)

91. Exotica (1994, Atom Egoyan)

92. Election (1999, Alexander Payne)

93. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992, David Lynch)

94. Matinee (1993, Joe Dante)

95. Summer Of Sam (1999, Spike Lee)

96. The Matrix (1999, Andy & Larry Wachowski)

97. Frankenhooker (1990, Frank Henenlotter)

98. Freaked (1993, Alex Winter & Tom Stern)

99. The Kingdom / The Kingdom II (1994-97, Lars von Trier)

100. The Wrong Trousers / A Close Shave (1993-95, Nick Park)


  1. Let me get this straight, Joe Vs. the Volcano is a better movie than Boogie Nights, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, and many others on your list. Can you do the world a favor and keep your opinions of cinema to yourself from now on? Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the advice, "Anonymous". I didn't realize we had to run our opinions by you before we voiced them to get your OK.