The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XLIX)
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:
Donnie Brasco (1997)
This is one of those second tier crime movies that people consider classics. It’s not of the Goodfellas and Godfather level. But once you get past those you get into this level. And this is a solid 4-star crime movie. Depp plays it straight, as he rarely does. And Pacino is good. It’s a solid movie. Title-wise, you should see it if you haven’t. We’re near the end now, so it’s at the point where you have a pretty good idea if you feel you need to have seen something. I don’t need to be as strong about telling you.
I mean, what can you even say about this movie? If you haven’t seen this, I question what you’ve been doing with your life. Go put this on right now and enjoy the masterpiece that is Nicolas Cage cranked up to 11, and then John Travolta having to match it by acting as Nicolas Cage acting as him and Nicolas Cage then acting as John Travolta acting as him.
The Full Monty (1997)
This was a phenomenon when it came out. It made like $250 million worldwide off a $3 million budget. It was nominated for Best Picture. And I hadn’t ever really seen it and only put it on for the Oscar Quest. And it’s actually funny! It’s really entertaining. I feel like most people will be surprised by this if they know nothing about it except the title.
In & Out (1997)
This movie is a staple of my childhood. It’s hilarious. Kevin Kline is an English teacher about to get married to his fiancée, fellow teacher Joan Cusack (who was so hilarious here they nominated her for an Oscar), all while their former student, Matt Dillon, is about to win an Oscar for Best Actor (playing a gay, crippled soldier, in the baitiest of Oscar bait). And when he wins, he thanks Kevin Kline, for being a true inspiration to him… and also says he’s gay on national television. Which cooks up a whole shitstorm in this small town. His wedding gets ruined, his life gets ruined, and then the national media shows up. It’s pretty funny.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Every Miyazaki movie is essential if you love movies. End of story.
The Rainmaker (1997)
Francis Ford Coppola. Matt Damon. Jon Voight. Danny DeVito. Claire Danes. Mary Kay Place. Dean Stockwell. Teresa Wright, in her final role. Virginia Madsen. Mickey Rourke. Roy Scheider! Oh, and did I mention — it’s a trial movie. And based off of John Grisham, which has, by and large, proven to bring about some very entertaining movies. But seriously, trial movie, Damon, Coppola, why wouldn’t you see this?
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
This is one of those movies — the less said about it, the better. It’s an exercise in grief. It starts with a horrible accident and the rest of the film shows how everyone deals with it. It’s one of those movies that will affect you. You need to see this. Everyone needs to see this.
Wag the Dog (1997)
One thing you learn when you start watching movies — you can trust in a David Mamet script. The Verdict, The Untouchables, Glengarry Glen Ross, this. Trust me. You’ll love them all. This movie is hilarious. Dark comedy. Basically — a Bill Clinton-esque president gets caught in a room alone with a dancer who says they had relations. An election is coming up, and it could kill him. So they hire Robert De Niro, a fixer, whose job it is to spin the story. He teams up with Dustin Hoffman, a movie producer, to create a fake story for a few weeks to keep everyone distracted and keep the approval ratings up until the election. So they decide to create a fake war. With Albania. Because “why not Albania?” And hilarity ensues. This is a perfect movie. You need to see this.
A Civil Action (1998)
Trial movie. This is actually pretty great and tragic at the same time. It’s a movie that’s… well, I won’t give it up. But a chemical company is responsible for poisoning the water in a town and it’s killing the residents. And John Travolta is a lawyer who doesn’t need the case, but decides to take it. And it gets so personal for him that eventually he starts making questionable choices. As in, turning down their offers to settle. And… well, just see it. It’s really good. You can never beat a trial movie.
Gods and Monsters (1998)
Ian McKellen plays James Whale, director of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, in his last days. He’s an old, gay man, haunted by horrors from his days in the trenches, and he’s got this strapping gardener who reminds him of the monster from his most famous movie. Ian McKellen is great here. Probably should have won Best Actor. Bill Condon won Screenplay for this. Great movie.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Guy Ritchie. Everyone’s heard of this, even if you haven’t seen it. And if you haven’t seen it, you probably know that you should. So I don’t have to say anything.
Meet Joe Black (1998)
LOVE this movie. I knew all about it but never actually got around to watching it until I was like, 22. But man, what a perfect movie. It’s a remake of Death Takes a Holiday. Death shows up to a guy’s house and tells him he’s Death and that his time has come, but that he’s interested in his outlook, so he wants him to show him around for a while, which will keep him alive. So you get this really great set up, and it’s actually quite beautiful. You see Anthony Hopkins going around knowing he’s going to die, and you see Brad Pitt as Death taking an innocent liking to earthly pleasures. It’s really a beautiful movie. One of the best and most underrated films of the 90s. Everyone should see this. (Colin also has a fun story about this movie, but I’ll save it until after you see it.)
Out of Sight (1998)
Steven Soderbergh. George Clooney. Jennifer Lopez. Elmore Leonard. Trust me — you know you need to see this if you haven’t. I don’t have to say shit about this.
The Parent Trap (1998)
This is such a childhood staple for me. I had to mention it. I don’t even care if this means nothing to you. I watched the fuck out of this movie as a kid. It’s really the only tolerable Lindsay Lohan performance (it is though), and it’s just a joy of a 90s movie. This is what 90s kid movies were about. This is the epitome of that. Honestly, if you’re around my age, you should have seen this by now.
This is one of the most underrated movies of the 90s. People always sleep on how great this movie is. This is perfect. Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon are two kids who get transported through their TV into a 50s sitcom. So they have all these modern sensibilities, and they’re in this black and white prim and proper world. And it’s incredible. Everything is so hilariously 50s. They use the humor really well. Like how the fire department has never actually dealt with a fire. And the only way to get them to respond is by saying there’s a cat in a tree. And it becomes this great statement about change. How slowly this world transitions into color. It’s a beautiful film, with an amazing score by Randy Newman. The theme of this movie is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard.
This is a pretty underrated movie. This is one of those, at least for me, that you see really early that becomes one of the early reference points for people getting into movies, that you then tend to forget about later on once you’ve seen more movies. But this is really good.
Rush Hour (1998)
This has actually become kind of a classic movie. Or maybe that’s just someone who grew up in the 90s talking. I feel like anyone around my age needs to have seen this, just because it’s so ubiquitous.
Pretty much every Wes Anderson film is essential. At least, from Rushmore onward. His style is so unique and his films are so good. If you haven’t seen them, you need to.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Everyone remembers this as the movie that beat Saving Private Ryan. But it’s actually really good. It’s really entertaining, and is quite terrific. And eveyrone should see it, because 1) you can’t complain about it if you haven’t seen it, and 2) it’s really entertaining and most people do really like this movie.
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