The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part L)
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:
A Simple Plan (1998)
Sam Raimi has a weird career. He started with campy horror and somehow ended up with campy Spider-Man. But occasionally, he will throw a good drama out there. This is probably his best movie, and the one the least amount of people have heard of. Here’s the premise: Three guys find a crashed plane in the middle of the forest, with a bunch of money in it. And they make a pact to not spend the money until a certain amount of time has past, just to be sure no one is looking for it and will come after them. It’s your classic noir set up. And of course, things go wrong and very bad decisions are made. It is a terrific movie, and most people feel Billy Bob Thornton should have won an Oscar for his performance in this movie. (He lost to James Coburn for Affliction, in what was essentially a career Oscar. Marking the second snub in three years for Billy Bob.)
Snake Eyes (1998)
I LOVE this movie. This was one of those I grew up with, and watched a ton on HBO. Nowadays you probably can catch it on TNT on Saturday mornings. Outside The Untouchables, this is probably my favorite Brian De Palma movie. If you haven’t seen it — it takes place the night of a boxing match. And only that night. And we follow a bunch of people during this fight, weaving back and forth fluidly between them, until the fight happens, and a murder is committed. And very slowly, we retrace our steps backward, through everyone, in order to find out what happened. And it stars Nicolas Cage. Do yourself a favor and see this right now if you haven’t. De Palma is a very idiosyncratic filmmaker, and this represents him at his best. (His worst, is when he goes full Hitchcock ripoff.)
The Thin Red Line (1998)
Terrence Malick makes two of the most beautifu land iconic movies ever made in the 70s. Then he disappears for 20 years and doesn’t make another film. And then he comes back with this. A Terrence Malick film is always worth watching.
What Dreams May Come (1998)
I didn’t know anything about this movie until I was a sophomore in college. I had strangely seen a small part of it when I was younger and thought, “Man, that’s a cool idea.” The whole painting thing and the special effects. And then I watched this movie in full — and man… this movie is beautiful. The special effects aren’t quite there for what they wanted to achieve, but they sure as hell look good for what they are. It’s hard to explain what this movie is. Just watch it. It shoiuld just be experienced if you know nothing about it. It’s not a perfect film, but it does a lot right.
Analyze This (1999)
This is when De Niro started cashing in on his persona. This is his Marlon Brando in The Freshman. But unlike The Freshman (which is just okay), this movie is pretty great. De Niro and Billy Crystal are terrific together. And Joe Viterelli is the hidden gem of this movie. It’s really funny, though. Plays perfectly off of the tropes of the mobster movie, and Billy Crystal is at his finest. Let’s also not forget this movie’s immortal line, “I go fag, you die.”
Any Given Sunday (1999)
This is one of those movies that’s somehow both universally panned yet also has a crazy amount of people (myself wholly included) who love it. I love this movie, and I’d watch this over most Oliver Stone movies. I love all the football cameos, all the actor cameos (Charlton Heston is the commissioner!), and of course, Al Pacino and his speeches. Honestly, give me this over Wall Street any day.
I’ll say this: have you seen it? No? Good. Then watch it. Don’t look up what it is. Don’t ask questions about what you’ve heard about it — just watch it. Trust me. You’ll have fun.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This movie was a monster hit in 1999. Seems tame as shit now, but at the time, it was pretty revolutionary, and it remains a pretty seminal horror hit. I think it’s essential for a lot of reasons.
This is basically Eddie Murphy’s last good movie. I mean, yeah, he’s great in Dreamgirls, but that movie is jsut decent. This is Eddie’s last good movie. Mostly because of Steve Martin. It’s one of those classic 90s movies in the vein of Ed Wood — a bunch of misfits get together to make a movie. And it’s funny. One of the underrated comedies of the 90s.
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
Scorsese’s forgotten masterpiece. Well… maybe not masterpiece. King of Comedy is the forgotten masterpiece. This is his forgotten, “Holy shit, how have I never seen this movie before?” This movie… I mean… where to start. Nicolas Cage stars. And if you know anything about Nicolas Cage — he delivers his best work in the hands of a capable director. Who can shape his performance and make it great and keep him on the reins. And usually you get his craziest performances when the director has absolutely no control over him whatsoever. Here, he delivers a quietly brilliant performance as an ambulance driver who can’t sleep and is starting to se hallucinations of people who died on the job. He works nights. It’s a 90s Taxi Driver. This movie is loaded with cameos — John Goodman, Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames has one of the best moments I’ve ever seen in a movie, dispatchers. Patricia Arquette plays the love interest. Cliff Curtis plays a drug dealer. It’s a terrific movie. I won’t say this often, but — if you haven’t seen this movie, and want to make a list of movies from this list — put this on it.
Kevin Smith hit a weird cultural nerve in the 90s. Maybe it’s because I grew up with these movies, but I really enjoy them. There’s something great about these early ones. I haven’t watched them much, post-college, so I wonder how they hold up. But this movie feels like it needs to be mentioned. If only for the Buddy Christ and the George Carlin cameo. Plus, it starts Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, post-Good Will Hunting. That takes some amount of skill and solid material.
Oh man, Election. Such fond memories of this one. I haven’t seen it in forever, but it’s so good. This movie made Reese Witherspoon. Every Alexander Payne movie makes somebody. And Matthew Broderick in a dramatic performance! This is just one of those movies everyone needs to see. And it’s one of those movies I’ve yet to hear that people don’t love.
The Hurricane (1999)
For those of you who grew up in the 2000s, in a post-Training Day world, and only know Denzel from when he started phoning in performances, you really missed out on 20 years of great performances. Many people feel like he should have won Best Actor for this part. (He was up against Spacey and Crowe. It was a tight year.) It’s a solid movie. See it for Denzel.
Man on the Moon (1999)
Remember in the 90s when Jim Carrey decided to go dramatic and it was fucking great? People don’t remember — he won Best Actor in a Drama at the Golden Globes for The Truman Show. Not comedy. Drama. And then he followed it up with this. I love this movie. His Andy Kaufman is terrific. The movie is good. Could have been great, but it’s really good. But Jim Carrey, man. He was born to play this part.
The Mummy (1999)
Look, this movie is fun as shit and I grew up with it and I love it. I find it difficult to believe anyone going through this list hasn’t seen it, but if you haven’t, this is a good, fun, low-fi adventure. The special effects are not as crazy as they would be nowadays, and it’s actually a better Indiana Jones movie than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
People are weirdly divided on this movie. That Director’s Cut came out a few years later and people said that was finally the “good” version of this movie. I saw that, and it’s not as good, honestly. I like the theatrical cut way better. It’s just a fun movie. Mel Gibson is badass, and Gregg Henry is terrific. Great cameos all around, and just one of those movies that so many people like that doesn’t get a lot of notice anymore.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
If it’s not essential, it should at least be mentioned on a follow up list. We all know what this movie was at the time. How huge it was, and how big it is in the culture. Here’s a movie that was so huge, people know the twist without even seeing it. Of course, that kills all potential rewatches, but if you do see it, it’s actually a surprisingly solid movie.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
Remember how big this show was when it came out? I remember being in elementary school and watching the first episode with people on Comedy Central. I remember being one of the few people who had videos of the first like, eight episodes on VHS and hanging out with people after school at their houses and bringing them so we could watch them. This show was huge. And then the movie came out, and it was just fucking hysterical. They topped themselves with Team America, and Book of Mormon is also great, but people forget how funny this movie really is.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Another crazy underrated movie. People forget how good this is. This is like, Oscar quality filmmaking. It’s a really good movie. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a real treat. Damon, Law, Hoffman, Blanchett — you’re in for a real treat with this one.
Toy Story 2 (1999)
It’s Toy Story. You need to see all of them. This is non-negotiable.
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So that’s the end of the “official” list. Tomorrow is something different, which I’ll explain.