The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XLVIII)
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:
Oliver Stone, Anthony Hopkins. Nixon. Probably a bit too overdone (I call it the Casino to JFK’s Goodfellas, or the Doctor Zhivago to JFK’s Lawrence of Arabia), but still a great movie. The cast is also stacked: Joan Allen, Powers Boothe, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, David Paymer, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Sorvino, Mary Steenburgen, J.T. Walsh, James Woods, Kevin Dunn, Tony Goldwyn, Larry Hagman, Edward Herrmann, Madeline Kahn, Dan Hedaya (who ended up playing Nixon himself at one point), Saul Rubinek, John C. McGinley, Michael Chiklis, Marley Shelton — it’s a who’s who of 90s character actors. Essential. See this.
What a great movie. So, so dated. But incredible. This is what the 90s were. Big action thrillers about things just coming into the news. Here, it’s ebola. The virus spreads and starts infecting everyone, and they have to figure out a cure before it’s too late. Way to implausible to be realistic, but that’s the fun it it. Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland. A classic 90s movie. Great stuff. I love this movie.
Aww yeah. The cult classic that’s so campy it’s great. This is a midnight screening film. Everything you’ve heard about this movie — well, just watch it. It’s so notorious you need to just watch it. NC-17, huge bomb. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it got reevaluated and is now thought of as a spoof movie. These go all the way back to The Oscar (which is also on this list). It’s almost like The Room, even. So bad people go back and watch it as comedy. You should see this, but in the right circumstances. You’ll laugh your ass off.
The Birdcage (1996)
You have to have heard of this movie, even if you might not have seen it. Hilarious movie. Dan Futterman and Calista Flockhart are getting married. She’s the daughter of Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest. Hackman is a conservative senator. They want to meet his parents. Thing is, Futterman’s parents are gay and own a drag club in Miami Beach. So they concoct this huge scheme to pass as straight. And hilarity most certainly ensues. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are incredible here. It’s one of the great comedies of all time (based on the French film La Cage Aux Folles, which actually got nominated for Best Director in 1979). This is essential. You’re gonna laugh your ass off at this one.
The English Patient (1996)
Best Picture winner. Have to mention it. You should see it just to decide whether or not you think it should have won. Plus it’s kind of essential, as 90s movies go. Referenced quite a bit at the time (Seinfeld, anyone?), and still remains a loved romantic epic. And like I said, you can’t say Fargo (or Jerry Maguire, if you want) should have beaten it without having seen it.
This might be my favorite Farrelly brothers movie. Dumb and Dumber is a sentimental favorite, of course. But this one is the one I reference more. Bill Murray in this movie. And Woody Harrelson. This is so fucking funny. You need to see this. This is an all-time comedy.
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
I love this movie. Wholeheartedly. It’s a Shane Black script that’s just completely overdone in all the right ways. Geena Davis is a small town housewife who, after a freak accident, realizes she’s actually a super assassin with amnesia. And other people realize who she is (because she’s thought to be long dead) and come after her. It’s mostly a series of scenes of her on the run with Samuel L. Jackson (a low rent private eye. He’s great here). This is just entertaining all the way and is one of those movies that people overlook historically, but when they see it they’re like, “How come I didn’t watch this sooner? It’s so much fun.”
This is a touchstone of my childhood. You know how we shout “Tally ho!” all the time on this site? Well we’re referencing this movie. This movie is the best. I don’t even know how to tell people to see this, because it’s gonna be weird if you didn’t grow up with the movie. But whatever. It’s perfect, and if you were my friend, you’d see it.
Why do more people not love and talk about this movie? Michael Keaton is the best! Harold Ramis directed this. It’s about a dude who doesn’t have enough time for everything and clones himself. And all of his clones get progressively dumber. And he swaps out with them for each of the tasks he wants to do. It’s terrific. One of the great 90s comedies that’s so overlooked nowadays. I hope Michael Keaton is now entering the Bill Murray phase of his career (with Birdman being his Lost in Translation) where everyone realizes how amazing his is and how much we took him for granted in the earlier part of his career.
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
Milos Forman, making a nice biopic comeback. Woody Harrelson is great here, and the last portion of the film is a trial movie. Edward Norton (what a year he had, huh?) plays his attorney, and steals so many scenes. Terrific film. This movie will make you go, “Who knew Courtney Love could act?”
Primal Fear (1996)
Nobody knew who Edward Norton was before this movie. He got nominated for an Oscar for this. Because he steals the movie. It’s a trial movie about Richard Gere as an attorney hired to defend Edward Norton, an altar boy who killed a priest. And it’s about what actually happened and who is at fault. Great movie. Norton is otherworldly good here.
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Baz! This movie is so much fun. Seeing this doesn’t absolve you from seeing the Zeffirelli version, but you also need to see this. He makes Shakespeare fun.
Classic horror movie. This reinvented the slasher film for the 90s generation. The Ghostface character is iconic. You should see this.
Sling Blade (1996)
Mm hmm. Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed and stars in this, and he is GREAT. He won Screenplay for it, but man, this is a hell of a performance and a movie. He’s perfect here, and everyone needs to see how good he is. Plus, who doesn’t love them french fried potaters?
I’m not gonna do the obvious and just put all the famous quotes from this movie. If you’re just getting into movies, this is one of the first you see. If you haven’t, then you should know you need to see it because all of your friends have seen it. This is an essential movie, and it’s great. Just put it on.
A Time to Kill (1996)
“YES THEY DESERVED TO DIE, AND I HOPE THEY BURN IN HELL!”
That’s pretty much all you can say about this. Based on Grisham, which makes for an engaging movie. Good book, too. The cast is loaded. McConaughey, Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Spacey, Oliver Platt, Charles S. Dutton, Brenda Fricker, Donald Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland, Ashley Judd, Patrick McGoohan, Chris Cooper, Kurtwood Smith, Anthony Heald, M. Emmet Walsh. Trial movie, man. You see these.
Air Force One (1997)
Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman. President on a plane, terrorists. Classic 90s action movie. You know you need to see this one.
As Good as It Gets (1997)
Jack fucking Nicholson. He won his third Oscar for this (second for lead). I feel like people know about this movie or have seen it. It’s great. He’s this miserable, asshole writer who is just the greatest prick in the world. It’s so entertaining. Probably my favorite James L. Brooks movie (though I love Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News). Continues the streak of Jack Nicholson’s leading lady also winning Best Actress every time he wins. Just see it. If you haven’t, just put it on. It’s entertaining as shit. He plays my favorite type of character: sarcastic, wise-cracking asshole who doesn’t give a fuck.
I bring up this film at least twice a year on this blog. I love this movie. It’s a proper B movie made in the 90s. This would have been a black and white noir if it were made 45 years earlier. The reason I’m so attached to it is because, pretty much between the ages of 10 and 15, I must have watched this movie dozens of times on HBO, because it felt like it was always on. The premise is — Kurt Russell and his wife are traveling through the desert and stop at a gas station. A few miles out, their car stops working. She gets a ride with a trucker back to the gas station while he looks at the car. Five minutes after she goes, he realizes it was just something being unplugged. So he drives to the gas station to pick her up. Only no one there has seen her or even knows who she is. So he starts going around looking for her and trying to figure out what’s going on, because he realizes something shady is at work. Straight mystery movie, really great. Seriously, put this movie in black and white and it’s an old-fashioned noir.
Chasing Amy (1997)
The Kevin Smith comedies are a benchmark of my formative movie years. I feel like they need to be mentioned. This one is probably his most mature movie (which is weird to say, considering some of the stuff that happens in it). But I feel like his stuff is very much worth mentioning for this era, though I haven’t seen a lot of them in years and have no idea how they will translate to people now. Hopefully as funny as they were to me in my teens.
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