Posts tagged “Mike’s Lists

Mike’s Top Ten of 1990-1999

The 90s is a very specific decade to me, because it’s the one I grew up in. All of my formative years were in this decade. All the important movies of my childhood came in these years. So I figured this might be the decade where my tastes skew a bit toward what the most important movies were for me growing up. And, to an extent, you can see that here. But by and large, what I’ve picked out as my absolute favorites of the decade feels largely comprised of stuff we all agree is pretty great. And then there’s that extra layer of stuff that’s specific to me, which I wouldn’t want any list of mine to be without.

I also have no sense of the 90s as a decade of film. It’s weird. I can see the others and what they represent to me, but the 90s is just kind of… I can see the independent movement as a big piece, but then there’s that other piece that’s just all stuff I grew up with. And then everything else I just kind of consider “the rest of the 90s stuff.” There’s no real overarching theme or genre to it for me.

In terms of picking this list, it surprisingly wasn’t that difficult. 13 of these are in my top 100 favorite movies of all time. And the others felt like no-brainers. I really didn’t have a whole lot of trouble eliminating the fat off of this one. Sometimes I have to make a tough decision and cut off one or two films I really love. Here, I feel pretty solid about my choices.

For methodology purposes, the way I compile these Top Tens of the Decade lists: I take my top ten for each year of the decade, throw them all together, and simply whittle it down until I find what I feel are my ten favorites from that decade. Not the best, my favorite. That’s really all it is. I feel like if I can figure out what my favorite films of all time are, then I can figure it out by specific decades. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1999

In my mind, 1999 is one of the golden years of cinema. There are so many amazing movies that came out this year. And while it’s probably not all-time historically one of cinema’s absolute best years (though time is really the only judge of that), it’s the fact that it’s bolstered by a lot of movies from my childhood that makes me consider it as such.

This is also one of those years where I feel like most of us have at least 3-5 movies exactly the same on all of our top ten lists. Though I will also say, the other 3-5 are ones that feel hyper-specific to me and me alone. I doubt anyone but me would have this particular list as my top ten. Especially since you could go like 30 deep this year and get an amazing list out of it.

This is also one of the landmark years for a lot of reasons, most notably because the action genre was completely revolutionized this year and special effects took a giant leap forward. We also got a groundbreaking horror film, Star Wars came back, and, if you’re my age, there’s like 20 movies this year that you specifically remember from growing up that, in some way, had huge impacts on your life. It’s a really great way to end a decade/millennium. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1998

This is such a great year. This year is right around when I started getting into step with movies and seeing stuff as it came out rather than later on. 1998-1999 are those years I culturally came into my own. So there’s stuff here I remember seeing at the time that… okay, maybe as a 10 year old I probably shouldn’t have been watching, but it helped turn me into the person I am today in regard to watching stuff. So there’s that.

There’s also some real heavy hitters this year. And a few that I just adore from having grew up with them that might not be consensus choices for “best films of 1998.” But that’s what makes the 90s so good. That’s the decade that’s most personal to me. 1995-2004 is probably the ten year stretch that’s most influenced by my growing up and most personal to me in terms of the choices.

This is also, now that I look at it, kind of a weird year. There’s a lot of mainstream studio stuff here that other people might not think is particularly good. So maybe it really isn’t that strong a year and just feels that way because it’s such a big part of my youth. Whatever. I love it, and that’s all that really matters. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1997

Love me some 1997. This is a year where I was old enough to start seeing some of these films on my own for the first time, rather than seeing them as I got older. For some reason I don’t consider this that strong a year, but look at the movies that are here… it’s really strong. The late 90s was a pretty great time to be making movies. Good stuff happened here.

This year has some of my all-time favorite movies, and some others that are embedded into my personality forever. I have so many reference points from this list.

This year also has the added notoriety of having had, for a time, the biggest movie ever made, which kind of dwarfs everything else. I guess some of that is really 1998, since the movie came out in late December and was huge all through the first part of 1998. But man, does anyone else miss walking into literally any public place and hearing “My Heart Will Go On” playing on the speakers? I mean, I don’t, but someone might. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1996

1996 feels like the peak year of “these are the movies of my childhood.” And that’s not just because of Space Jam. But a lot of it is because of Space Jam.

This year… maybe it’s because I was 7, going on 8 and this is the year stuff tends to stick with you more, maybe it’s because we moved this year to a place that was much closer to a movie theater and started going more (mainly because my sister was now old enough to go consistently and we could all go to basically the same movies and enjoy ourselves), or maybe it’s because this is the year we first got our illegal cable hookup and got all the PPV movie channels for free. More than likely it’s a combination of all of those things.

But on top of all of that, there’s a lot of really awesome stuff this year. It feels like the year that’s more “stuff I like” more than “a lot of this stuff is some of the best ever made.” This is the year I’m most willing to say is closer to my sensibility than objectively what most people would say are the best movies. That said, a lot of this stuff is really great and we all probably really like it.

And there’s Space Jam too. Never count out Space Jam. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1995

1995 feels like the year where the decade in film starts to shift gears and become something else. There’s a weird sort of half-decade thing going on with the 90s. The early 90s feels like it’s half-getting over the 80s and half-burgeoning independent cinema. Then the last half feels sort of like they took independent cinema and made it part of the mainstream so it sort of… it’s like how the 70s was a whole decade of auteur directors making all these great movies. And then Hollywood took them in and the 80s happened. (The 80s is much more than that, but you know what I mean.) It feels like that happened mid-decade and then the late 90s is just all just kind of a big mess of whatever the byproduct of that is.

But in terms of this particular year… it feels like one of the weaker ones of the decade. There’s stuff I really like here, but not a whole lot I love. Aside from the first handful of movies, everything else would be #8 or lower most other years this decade. Which happens. Not every year can have your favorite movies of all time. Even the lower tiers feel kind of ho hum as compared to what some of the other years have.

Though, just glancing at what’s to come, this year is responsible for a few of cinema’s most iconic and recognizable moments. So there’s that. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1994

1994. This year almost contained the single greatest crop of Best Pictures in Oscar history. (For starters, my #1, #2 and #3 are in there. So that’ll tell you something.) Still, it’s an incredible year. There’s not a weak movie in the entire top ten. And I feel like, were you to give most people a top ten list from this year, I feel like at least 7 or 8 of my list would be on almost everyone’s list. It’s that strong a year at the top.

This year helped revolutionize cinema, in a way. Pulp Fiction really put independent cinema on the mainstream map. It’s kind of like how, in the 70s, the director/auteur movies became the norm, and the “Hollywood” stuff was secondary to those. Because of that film, independent-style movies really became A-level movies, alongside the big blockbuster stuff. And it stayed that way for a little while. Of course, until all (or most) of those filmmakers became homogenized into the system and we moved on to the next thing.

Still, I can’t get over how amazing this top ten is. Pound for pound, it may be the strongest set of ten this decade. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1993

A lot of people would call 1993 the strongest year of the 90s, and it’s hard to argue that fact. There are a lot of amazing movies that came out this year, along with what is probably one of the consensus “best” and most important movies of the decade. And Schindler’s List came out too.

Groundhog Day, was what I was referring to.

Anyway, I don’t have a whole lot to add about this year. It’s the first year we start to run three tiers deep on a consistent basis, and a lot of that is gonna be stuff I grew up with, because I turned 5 this year and there’s a bunch of stuff that catered to me as a young child that I still hold very dearly.

And also Groundhog Day. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1992

Look at the quality of content for this year. This top ten is one banger after another. Every one you get to, it’s like, “Oh man, that’s my movie!” But also, like much of the early 90s… not particularly amazing outside of the very top. Still, there are some cool hidden gems to be found in this year too.

I feel like the one overarching thing I see about the films on this list is that there are some great gems to be found. The top ten is flashy and will garner a lot of the attention but if you look at some of the stuff below it, you might find some good movies you may not know about.

Also, just looking at this top ten, this year gave us, without even thinking about it, four of the most iconic moments in the history of cinema. So there’s that too. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1991

One of the stronger years of the decade. This one’s got some heavy hitters. The second tier stuff isn’t as strong as some other 90s years, but at the top, it’s hard to do better than the stuff that’s here.

I guess the thing to note about this year is that it marks the rise of home video. This is when VHS started to happen and movies started being readily available for people to purchase at affordable prices.

Otherwise, not a whole lot to add except some of my all time favorite movies came out this year, including one top ten movie that I’m certain almost no one has heard of. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1990

I call 1990 a “spottily strong” year. It’s got high points, but they’re here and there. And some of the highs aren’t as high as other years, but it’s definitely got a lot to like in there. You just have to sift through some standard stuff before you find it, is all. Most of the time you can tell a strong year based on how strong the Oscars are. And this is one of the notoriously boring Oscar years (overall).

My one caution for this year is to pay attention among the “yeah, sure” stuff. There are a couple of nice gems in there if you care to look at them.

Otherwise, we do get one of the all-time classics this year, so 1990 is always gonna have that going for it. (I’m talking about Kindergarten Cop, of course.) (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1980-1989

The 80s as a whole is less than the sum of its parts. As a decade, I’ve always been very against it, just because, as a decade… the culture was pretty weird. And this is the decade where films became more mainstream and taken out of the directors’ hands. In a way, it was probably for the best, because they started getting really indulgent, but also, it just felt like films swung entirely to studio filmmaking here for a decade, until independent film started cropping up again, eventually reaching its heyday in the 90s.

Though, while I don’t particularly love the 80s as a decade for film, there are some of my all-time favorites in this decade. So it’s definitely not as bad as I’d think in the abstract. Though I do feel like this list was harder to compile because, while I can always get to a solid top 20, the last couple were difficult to come up with.

For methodology purposes, the way I compile these Top Tens of the Decade lists: I take my top ten for each year of the decade, throw them all together, and simply whittle it down until I find what I feel are my ten favorites from that decade. Not the best, my favorite. That’s really all it is. I feel like if I can figure out what my favorite films of all time are, then I can figure it out by specific decades. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1989

And we’re finally done with the 80s.

This is a very strong year, and I think that has to do with the growing independent film movement that would take over the 90s. You also get very strong top of the line stuff here. All the Best Picture nominees made the top 20 this year, and there were at least another two more options that could have made it and still kept the field as strong as it is.

Plus, the below the line stuff is all around solid. You can definitely tell we’re getting out of the 80s. Everything is starting to trend upward again. Even Disney! The Renaissance stars this year!

I feel like the top ten or fifteen will be largely the same for most people this year, with the exception of the two or three movies that are quintessentially ones that appeal specifically to me and likely are ones that most people haven’t seen as often as I have or don’t even know about.

But that’s what you come here for, isn’t it? (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1988

This is my favorite year of the 80s. And that has nothing to do with the fact that it’s the year of my birth. This year has, in my mind, the strongest set of films. I’ll take most of these ten over a lot of #1s and #2s from the other years.

You got an all-time great comedy, an all-time great action movie, two incredible animated films, four other classic comedies, an iconic Oscar-winning drama… and Moonwalker.

The top three movies on my list shaped my childhood. I am who I am because of those movies. You can’t say that about most years. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1987

This is one of the strongest overall years of the 80s. This list goes pretty deep. The theme of it seems to be “great directors making great movies.” And then other cool, offbeat stuff too.

I’m sure there are other years from this decade that can match this one, but the minute I look down at this list, I’m struck by who made most of the movies: Brooks, Kubrick, Boorman, Donner, Jewison, Reiner, the Coens, De Palma. Sure, it’s not the biggest on star power, but also, when you look at some of the movies on there, you might argue that they’re those directors’ best movies. Or at least the movie for which they’re best remembered.

My interest in the films is definitely also picking up overall, which might just be a head of steam knowing the decade is on the way out. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1986

If 1985 was peak 80s, this is more… how best to explain it… if we hit the pinnacle last year, then this is where everything starts to splinter off and go into its own little niche. This is where all the weird little strands start to appear as the decade winds down. I feel like the next three years are where you start to see the “80s”-ness dilute out of movies and you start to see the growing 90s independent film style start to creep up

But, while we’re still in the 80s, I think the main thing I get out of this year are the great comedies. Other than that, it’s mainly childhood staples, genre staples and weird or interesting movies by big filmmakers. That’s what it feels like.

Mostly, though. It’s the comedies. #1 and #2 on this list are unequivocally two of my absolute favorite movies of all time. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1985

Peak 80s. That’s what this is. This feels like everything I remember the 80s being. Not that I particularly remember the 80s, since I wasn’t alive for just about 90% of it. But in my mind, this year epitomizes the decade for me.

This is one of those lists that was forged mainly by my childhood. A bunch of these are movies I grew up watching. Some of them I saw in college for the first time, and the rest I saw as part of the Oscar Quest. Which, for me, makes it feel like I’ve been with them for a while, given the amount of stuff I’ve seen since then.

Though I will say, as far as the decade goes… not the deepest. All the strength tends to be up top. But, so far we haven’t had a year that was horrendously bad, so we should be grateful for that. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1984

We’re approaching peak 80s. The thing about this list is that you can look at most of them and go, “That’s an 80s movie.” It just feels like the decade. Also… it’s a great list. It’s just, boom, boom, boom, one after another.

The one thing I note about this year is that it has a proliferation of mainstream movies. All the best stuff are things that were not nominated for awards. In fact, this Oscar crop is one of the weakest of all time, in my mind. It shows that occasional disconnect where all the best stuff is ignored by the voting body in favor of the stodgy “Oscar” kind of movie.

I don’t have a whole lot to add about the year other than that. HOWEVER… there is a historical piece of information to relay about this one that makes it different from other 80s years. This is the year where the PG-13 rating was introduced. And we can thank Temple of Doom for that. And also Gremlins. These were movies with content above that young kids could handle that otherwise weren’t extreme enough for an R rating. So Spielberg suggested a rating in between, and then the PG-13 was introduced. Red Dawn was the first film to officially get the rating. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1983

We’re full 80s at this point. Man… some of these movies are both the best and the worst of the 80s. Often at the same time.

But, as a standalone year, it’s pretty strong at the top. This list goes 7 or 8 deep of straight “oh shit yeah” kinda movies. Though I will say, as is the case with most of the 80s, the top ten lists of most people will largely be the same. I feel like everyone’s top ten for this year will consist of at least eight of my top 20 films. There’s always that 20% of personal preference, but I feel like the 80s are such that the cream rises to the top, and we’re all working off the same cream.

What I find interesting about this list in particular is how it starts off with all the obvious heavy hitters and then gets into some cool stuff that I really like. I like when I get to have a few top ten movies that are a bit straying from the beaten path, so maybe rather than affirming the same opinions as the rest of the group I get to give you something that you may not have heard about. Which is really what it’s all about. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1982

Pound for pound, 1982 is one of the strongest years of the 80s.

This is the first year the industry feels like it switched over into the “80s.” Though, that being said, it still feels like there’s a strong auteurial stamp on the bigger movies, if that makes sense. It doesn’t feel like the studio has overwhelmed the filmmaker quite yet. For example — E.T. feels like a very personal movie for Spielberg, and it would end up being the thing that created that Amblin feel that would permeate the rest of the studio’s work for the decade.

Outside of that — heavy hitters this year. At least half the top ten list is just no-brainers on title alone. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1981

I’ve always looked at 1981 as a weak year. Which might have something to do with their Best Picture choice. I don’t know. I just don’t find myself excited about many of the films. It’s the kind of year where, some of the films at the top would not be there had they come out in other years. But I guess you could say that for just about any year. It just feels kinda flat to me. Some of the below the line stuff definitely wouldn’t be there in a stronger year.

I’m guessing this is like 1968, which I also always looked at as a weak year, because the industry was flushing out the last of the “70s” stuff before moving onto the 80s. These industry transitions don’t just happen. They take a few years. This feels like the nadir of the transition, before everything fully switches over. This is like that moment, as you’re backing up, when the car sort of rolls to a stop before you put it back in drive. That’s how I would describe this year.

That said, one of my all time favorite movies came out this year, so that’s always nice. And then there’s some really cool stuff I like a lot also there. So that’ll keep things interesting. Overall, though, not my favorite year. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1980

1980 is the transition period from the filmmaker-driven period of the 70s to the studio-driven period of the 80s. You can definitely see that shift taking place. Plus, this year has the big end marker: the giant bomb that effectively ended directors having complete control of projects.

The 80s as a decade always felt a bit formless to me. It’s just a weird time. But when you take each year on its own, there’s some great stuff. Here, two of the all-time most iconic films ever made were released. And honestly, if you didn’t know they came out in 1980, you wouldn’t know when it was they came out.

I think the theme of this decade is going to be, “Strong at the top, weak down below, with some good gems sprinkled throughout.” And a lot of terrible fashion choices. Oh, but it looks good on you though.

Here’s 1980. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1970-1979

The 70s might be the single best decade for American film. I love the 30s and 40s, but the 70s is just so good. There’s not really much to say about this decade except, this is when the director was king. Directors got to make these offbeat, weird films that they thought would be good, stuff the studios would have never made ten years earlier, and while there were some failures, it led to so much more interesting filmmaking that has continued to endure.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t an overly difficult list. Four of them are in my top ten of all time, and one more is in the top twenty. So that’s half the list. The rest — you don’t need to go down very far on my list of favorite films to get to them. And you’d think the hardest part was narrowing the list down to 20. But no. That was easy too. I got a solid 20 and really only could have fit on one more. I think this one hit the sweet spot.

For methodology purposes, the way I compile these Top Tens of the Decade lists: I take my top ten for each year of the decade, throw them all together, and simply whittle it down until I find what I feel are my ten favorites from that decade. Not the best, my favorite. That’s really all it is. I feel like if I can figure out what my favorite films of all time are, then I can figure it out by specific decades. (more…)


Mike’s Top Ten of 1979

If I had an affinity for 1978 because it has two of my all-time favorite films, double down on that for 1979. I’ve got two top ten favorite films this year. And there’s a bunch of stuff I love down below the line too.

There’s just so much great stuff here. And, in a way, this is really the last of the auteur years. People often point to the 70s as being the best decade in American film. Typically what they mean is 1967-1976. That’s the decade. But even so, that ’70s’ mentality hung around for the last couple years after Star Wars, before it started getting phased out. This is the last year where it had a noticeable presence. 1980 was the year where it officially ‘ended’, before being turned over to big corporations and mainstream filmmaking. This year still feels like it has some freedom for the cool auteur stuff to come out. Though you can definitely see things coming to an end based on what we had five years before this. (more…)