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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)