The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XLVII)
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:
Of all the Kevin Smith movies, this one is the most essential. This is a benchmark independent movie of the 90s. Also the one that will be liked by the most people, even if they don’t care for his other stuff.
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
How stupidly brilliant is this movie? Maybe you had to grow up in the 90s, but what a funny movie this is.I can’t accurately judge the movies I grew up with. You should know if you need to see this or not.
Ed Wood (1994)
To me, this is Tim Burton’s best movie. It’s essential. It’s about Ed Wood, the “worst director of all time.” It’s so good. Martin Landau is crazy good as Bela Lugosi. Won an Oscar for it. You need to see this, so just put it on.
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
One of the lost Coen brothers movies. For some reason their zany comedies go overlooked. Raising Arizona, sure. But this one, Intolerable Cruelty, Burn After Reading. People think of them as footnotes. Granted, I’m not the biggest fan of this one as compared to their other movies, but when you have one very good movie against like 12 masterpieces, what are we really saying? Tim Robbins, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Charles Durning, John Mahoney, Bill Cobbs, Bruce Campbell. It’s the Coen brothers, so treat it as essential. The only movie of theirs you can maybe get away with not seeing is The Ladykillers. And even then, why stop short one shy of all of them?
Legends of the Fall (1994)
Epic, classy western of the 90s. Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt. Ed Zwick directs, who didn’t meet a movie that was too baity for the Oscars. It’s great. Looks great, lot of production value. Terrific film.
The Lion King (1994)
You know this is full stop essential. This should have been on the first list. In spirit, it is. I just didn’t want to waste the spot on it. Every Disney movie is essential. So even though they’re not on this list, you need to have seen, aside from this movie and the ones on the other list: Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Fantasia 2000, and Tarzan (since we’re only going up to 1999). The others you don’t need to run out and see immediately, but you probably should (those being the package films between 1943 and 1949, the 70s and 80s movies pre-Renaissance, and all the post-2000 stuff, much of which isn’t particularly great until you get to Princess and the Frog).
The Mask (1994)
What a weird movie. How did this ever get made? This is a big film for me. In terms of my childhood, anyway. It’s so strange. It’s almost a living cartoon. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s worth seeing just because it’s so different from everything else. And Jim Carrey finds a perfect vehicle for his schtick.
What a fun, fun movie. All the westerns they made in the 80s and 90s (unless Clint Eastwood directed them) are fun. This one is meant to be a comedy, which adds to the fun. Mel Gibson takes over for James Garner (though James Garner is also in it). He’s a gambler and needs money to enter a tournament. Comedy ensues. Jodie Foster plays a thief. Terrific film. Highly recommended. A real throwback to a better time for movies.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
A seminal film for the 90s. It’s essential, and chances are you know you need to see it. People get to this one pretty quickly. The cast is insane, and it’s one of the great films of the decade. See it.
True Lies (1994)
Fun movie. James Cameron. One of the few non sci-fi movies he made. Actually, the only one. Well, besides Titanic. It’s a fun movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a spy who pretends to be a boring businessman. And he discovers his wife may be having an affair. It’s great. It’s really great. Just see it. There’s no bad James Cameron movie post-Terminator.
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The American President (1995)
Great movie. Rob Reiner’s last good movie. Mostly owing to the fact that Aaron Sorkin wrote the script. Reiner had an amazing run in the 80s and 90s, and it all stopped with North (which isn’t terrible, but also isn’t great). And then he made this movie, and after this all his directorial efforts just sort of fizzled out. Anyway, it’s about Michael Douglas as the president whose wife dies. And he meets and falls in love with Annette Bening, a lobbyist. And they try to keep the romance a secret, but then the press gets a hold of it, and it turns into a whole thing. This feels a lot like a Frank Capra movie. But it was also written by Aaron Sorkin, so you know you’re gonna get the goods. Trust me. It’s great. I didn’t see this until like a year or two ago, and I was shocked how much I loved it. (Again, owing to Sorkin.) You’ll like this.
Aww, I remember this movie. I was 7 when this movie came out, and it was lovely. It’s brilliantly made, the way they shot the animals too. But it’s such a great movie. You can put this on for any child under 8 and they’ll love it. Because it’s so likable. And even now, you’ll shed a tear at the end. “That’ll do, pig.” You know you should see this if you haven’t. (Also nominated for Best Director. So you can say it’s for research purposes if you want to pretend you don’t have a heart.)
Before Sunset (1995)
Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Before Midnight. All of them are essential, and are beautiful. You need to have seen all of them, and there is no excuse to not have.
I didn’t put El Mariachi on this list because I don’t think you need to see it. It’s a good piece of independent filmmaking, and is a big movie for the independent scene of the 90s that shows how an engaging film can be made for no money, but why see that when you can basically watch the same movie with a better budget and a recognizable cast? This movie is entertaining as all hell. Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo. And Steve Buscemi! Chances are you’ve seen this or know you need to. Classic 90s action movie.
It’s Friday, man. Ain’t got no job, and you ain’t got shit to do. This is such a great movie. I grew up more on Next Friday, but this one is the classic. Ice Cube, Chris Tucker — this is the one. This is essential as far as comedies go.
Get Shorty (1995)
I feel like everyone gets to this pretty early in their movie watching. Once they get past the usual suspects of Tarantino films and such, they land on this one pretty early. It’s also great. Guy goes to Hollywood to collect a debt and ends up becoming involved in the movies. Just see it. You know you need to. At this point, if you don’t know you need to see this movie, I can’t help you.
Ah, the seminal comedies of my youth. I grew up on all these Kevin Smith comedies. I have to mention them. These are movies a lot of people see early on in the movie watching years of high school. Only you’ll know if you need to see this or not.
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)
I love this movie. A big movie from my childhood. It’s a look in the life of a music teacher. Richard Dreyfuss is amazing, and it’s just one of those movies where, if you grew up with it, you love it. It gets sentimental, but it’s great. How can you not love this movie? (He got nominated for it, too.)
Murder in the First (1995)
Nobody remembers this movie. It’s great. Kevin Bacon is in jail on Alcatraz. He tries to escape, but his cellmate rats him out. They throw him in solitary for three years. When he gets out, he murders his cellmate. They put him on trial. Christian Slater is the young warden there to defend him. He argues that the cruel treatment by the guards caused Bacon to go insane, which is what caused the murder. Gary Oldman plays the sadistic warden. It’s a trial movie, which means it’s really good, and it’s also so underrated that people are gonna be surprised by it.
Nick of Time (1995)
How come nobody remembers this movie. I used to watch this all the time growing up. It’s a movie that takes place in (essentially) real time. Johnny Depp and his daughter arrive at the train station at say, 11 o’clock. There, Christopher Walken is waiting. He kidnap’s Depp’s daughter and tells him he has until 12:30 to kill the governor. And the whole movie is Depp running around in real time trying to get his daughter back and find out who Walken is while having to essentially go forward with this crime. It’s a great movie. Really tense, really entertaining. Reeks of the 90s, which I love. One of my favorite hidden gems of the 90s.
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