The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XLVI)
I gave Colin a giant list of 500 movies, and he finished it. Of course I’m gonna come up with another list.
This one is for everyone, though. Not specifically for Colin. This is raw material for everybody, should they choose, to go out and see more movies. Not all of them are essential. Most of them are just awesome. I told Colin that once he finished this list, I’d give him another one that was more fun than work. Geared toward cool stuff that he’d enjoy.
I went through and found 1,000 more movies that I think either need to be seen (leftover “essential” films) or are just really great and would be enjoyed by most who see them. Here they are:
Dazed and Confused (1993)
All right, all right, all right. I don’t have to say anything. You know this is essential. At this point, you need to see it.
Oh my dear god. If you know what this movie is, you already know what’s in store. If you don’t, good. The plot — doesn’t matter. Trust me. Doesn’t matter. I still couldn’t tell you what this is about. The real joy of this movie is one of its stars. Nicolas Cage. This was directed by Nicolas Cage’s brother. Which means that Cage had free reign to do whatever he wanted. And it shows. You think Cage went crazy in The Wicker Man? Or Ghost Rider? You haven’t seen anything yet. If you’ve seen the clips of Cage acting all crazy, the most insane clips are the ones from this movie. He’s so good that he completely overshadows this movie and its plot. He’s so good, that when he’s not in the movie anymore, it completely loses steam and you stop caring about what’s going on. Trust me when I say this performance is a thing of beauty. This man is swinging for the fences… on Mars. I want you to not know anything about his performance and go into this cold. Because, oh my god. I’ll say this one last thing — it’s as if Nicolas Cage was told, “You know Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet? Do that” and then took that performance to eleven…. thousand. You will not be disappointed.
Falling Down (1993)
One of the most underrated movies of all time. And one of my absolute favorites. Incredible film. Michael Douglas is driving home from work. It’s 90 degrees, traffic is backed up for miles, his A/C isn’t working, and everyone around is loud and annoying and honking horns. And he just snaps. He gets out of his car and just abandons it. And then he goes through Los Angeles on what eventually becomes an escalating crime spree. He’s really not trying to do anything, but very slowly he starts accumulating more dangerous weapons as he goes. He he becomes a sort of crusader, spouting about how shitty certain things are and taking matters into his own hands. He goes into a convenience store for some change to make a phone call, but they tell him he has to buy something. So he buys something, which won’t give him enough change for the call. And the owner is a dick about it. So he smashes the place up. Then the McDonalds stops serving breakfast and he fires a machine gun and makes them serve him an Egg MacMuffin. Because what kind of stupid, arbitrary shit is that? And he’s going around on this spree because he’s been laid off due to budget cuts and has lost his mind. Meanwhile, Robert Duvall is on his last day as a cop before retirement and is put on this case, leading to an eventual confrontation. It’s a great movie. If you haven’t seen this you need to see it. Trust me when I say this is one of the best movies of the 90s that people don’t even talk about anymore.
The Firm (1993)
Based on Grisham. Sydney Pollack directs. Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman star. Holly Hunter got nominated for Supporting Actress for this. Also in it is Jeanne Tripplehorn, Hal Holbrook, Wilford Brimley, Ed Harris, David Strathairn, Gary Busey, Margo Martindale, Dean Norris, Paul Sorvino and Joe Viterelli are also in it. He’s a lawyer straight out of law school who takes a job at a big law firm that offers him an obscene amount of money. And very soon he learns that you can’t ever stop working for this law firm and stay alive. Really good movie.
The Fugitive (1993)
Perfection. This is a perfect action movie. Harrison Ford is a doctor whose wife is killed and all the evidence points to him. He manages (through a real plot convenience) to escape from prison and spends the rest of the movie on the run, looking for his wife’s killer. It’s actually a perfect movie. Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for this, and it’s just one of the all time great thrillers. You need to have seen this.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
A true staple of my childhood. What an amazing film. If you didn’t grow up with this movie and know all about it, I don’t know what to tell you that’ll make it sound interesting. If you’re between the ages of 15 and 35, you should probably know about this movie and have seen it.
In the Name of the Father (1993)
Jim Sheridan. Daniel Day-Lewis. Prison movie. He gets arrested for a bombing that he didn’t commit, and the police force him to sign a confession. He gets thrown in prison (with his father, a great Pete Postlethwaite). And we watch as they adjust to prison life, and eventually as Emma Thompson starts a case to get them both freed. It’s a great movie. Jim Sheridan had a good run, from 1989 to 2002. All his movies are really good. This is one of his best. Nominated for a bunch of Oscars, and you know that Daniel Day-Lewis does not pick his material lightly. So you should probably see it.
Last Action Hero (1993)
Took me a long time to see this, but it’s so much fun. A boy gets transported into the world of his favorite film series. It would be like today if a kid magically ended up in an Avengers movie or something. It’s so much fun. The whole thing is tongue-in-cheek. As they walk through the police station, there’s an animated character, a black and white Humphrey Bogart, and Robert Patrick as the T-1000. Lot of fun. Complete chaos, and a lot of fun.
What an underrated 90s movie. It works even better if you’ve seen a lot of movies on these lists. It takes place in the 60s, and is almost the movie version of The Sandlot. A kid comes of age during a week where a horror movie director (John Goodman, essentially playing William Castle) is about to unleash his newest gimmick picture, Mant (Man-ant). Lot of fun. One of those nostalgic kid-oriented 90s movies. This is a real sub genre that only existed in the 90s. No one talks about this movie.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
I mean, yeah. If you don’t know what this is and need me to tell you to see it, stop reading. It’s Mrs. Doubtfire. Come on, now.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Beautiful film. You should know about this one too. I’m not telling you what it is or that it’s essential.
Tom Hanks won his first Oscar for this. He’s a lawyer who gets AIDS and is fired for it. And he sues them because they can’t do that. And it’s a beautiful trial and message movie. Denzel plays a homophobic lawyer who defends him. Terrific film. Essential.
Red Rock West (1993)
Neo-noir with Nicolas Cage and Dennis Hopper. Real underrated 90s gem. He’s looking for work and gets mistaken for a hitman a guy hired to kill his wife. Trouble ensues when the real hitman shows up. Highly underrated.
The Remains of the Day (1993)
I’m not a huge Merchant Ivory fan. I made that very clear all throughout the Oscar Quest. I find their movies pretty boring. But this is one that I love. I actually ended up reading the novel this is based on after I saw the movie, and the novel is even better. It’s about Anthony Hopkins as a proper butler, who comes from a long line of butlers, who is so focused on his job that he gives up the chance to live his own life. Emma Thompson is in the film as a member of his staff and a reminder of what he’s missing out on. They’re both great here. I actually recommend the novel over the film, but the film is really good too.
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)
A great movie. A kid is discovered to be a chess prodigy. His parents want to help him hone his skill. They hire Ben Kingsley, a former child prodigy, to teach him. And the whole thing is about whether or not this kid is going to become the next Bobby Fischer (which would involve becoming really jaded), or do things his own way. It’s a terrific movie. Laurence Fishburne, Joe Mantegna is great as his father, Joan Allen is the mother. One of the great 90s movies that gets overlooked now.
Short Cuts (1993)
Robert Altman. He was nominated for this. It’s one of his better films. It’s pretty much just about a bunch of people in LA, and we follow all the stories. I don’t even want to get into all the minutia. Here’s the cast, and know that you should probably see it: Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Robert Downey Jr., Madeleine Stowe, Tim Robbins, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Lyle Lovett, Buck Henry and Huey Lewis.
Yeah, boy. If you saw My Darling Clementine, this is fun 90s version of that story. Kurt Russell is Wyatt Earp, Val Kilmer is Doc Holliday, Sam Elliott is Virgil Earp, Bill Paxton is Morgan Earp, Stephen Lang is Ike Clanton, Thomas Haden Church is Billy Clanton. Also in it are Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston, Jason Priestly, Dana Delaney, Michael Rooker, Billy Zane, Frank Stallone, Terry O’Quinn and a nice little cameo by Billy Bob Thornton. And the whole thing is narrated by Robert Mitchum. Great stuff. You need to see this. This is a western that people who don’t like westerns can enjoy.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)
The title is so famous that everyone knows it. Johnny Depp is Gilbert and it’s about him caring for his autistic brother Arnie (a great Leonardo DiCaprio. Seriously, great is an understatement here). Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, John C. Reilly and Crispin Glover are also in it. It’s much better than that simple synopsis. See it. Consider it essential.
Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
We all know my history with Woody Allen. So when I like one of his movies, I’m very open about liking it. I really like this movie. He made like five or six movies I think are really good. This one is a lot of fun. John Cusack wrote a play and it gets him into a series of misadventures. A gangster (Joe Viterelli) wants to put his girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) in it. She’s an awful actress, but a good person at heart. Then there’s Dianne Wiest, as the diva stage actress who is slumming in the play but uses it to her advantage. Then there’s Jim Broadbent, the actor who is supposed to be keeping his weight down but is sneaking all sorts of food throughout the film. And then Chazz Palminteri is the bodyguard there to make sure they treat Tilly with respect, and he’s also secretly a writer and helps Cusack to improve his play. Also in this are Mary-Louise Parker, Jack Warden, Rob Reiner, Tracy Ullman and Harvey Fierstein. It’s a lot of fun, and god nominated for a bunch of Oscars (and Wiest won for it).
Chungking Express (1994)
Wong Kar Wai. Probably his second most famous movie after In the Mood for Love. It’s structured around two cops who both fall in love. One with a woman in trouble with some mobsters and the other with a waitress. It’s essential, so just see it.
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