Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ten Favorite Movies of the 1990s

10. Persuasion (1995)The middle nineties were a heyday for Austen adaptions, the best of which was probably the television version of Pride and Prejudice. But this version of Persuasion, released theatrically in the United States, is so pitch-perfect, funny and romantic that it slightly edges out Ang Lee's more Hollywood version of Sense and Sensibility.

9. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)Slightly marred by the subsequent hamminess of Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter in sequels and prequels, this is probably the greatest serial killer movie. Like all Demme films, it has glaring tone shifts as this goes from solid police procedural into Universal horror film excesses. I'll never forget the silence in the packed theater as Clarice waded through the pitch-black basement to find Buffalo Bill. Terrifying.

8. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)It feels a little strange to include this on my list, since there are performances (Andie MacDowell's) and scenes (the final one) that make me cringe. Still, this is my list of favorite movies and not a list of the best ones, and this is a movie I will always love.

7. Goodfellas (1990)
The energy, the camera work, the music, the performances. I don't tend to love episodic films but this one is off the charts. My second favorite Scorsese film.

6. Rushmore (1998)Besides how funny I find this movie, and how creative and quirky, it's the fact that it works so well on an emotional level. And long live Max Fischer, my favorite of all of Wes Anderson's creations.

5. The Wings of the Dove (1997)There were so many great period-pieces coming out of England in the 1990s that this one got unfairly overlooked. Helena Bonham Carter delivers one of the great performances of all time as a woman who destroys her only chance at happiness. As far as I know, this is the best adaptation of Henry James on film.

4. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)Another astonishing performance, this time by Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer. David Lynch's movies seem to hover between innocence and experience. The TV show of Twin Peaks was weighted more toward innocence while this movie went the opposite direction, alienating many of the TV fans. Hard to sit through but this is a powerful vision of self-destruction.

3. Miller's Crossing (1990)Five years ago this would have been my number one. The best film by The Coens, a Shakespearean-level examination of the tough-guy genre, and their film that has the most heart, even though they occasionally give their audience the high hat.

2. Groundhog Day (1993)When I first saw this I thought it was very very funny. Now I think its very very funny and also profound. A great comedy and a philosophy of life. How did Andie MacDowell get on this list twice?

1. Jackie Brown (1997)The least showy of my favorite living director's films but one that sneaks up on you till you realize that he made something that was perfect.

runners up: Basic Instinct, Fargo, Galaxy Quest, Out of Sight, Pulp Fiction, Sense and Sensibility, Shakespeare in Love, The Sixth Sense


  1. Not even a mention of The Dude in your runners-up?

    Other than that, another solid list. I have to admit that I have never seen "Firewalk With Me", but then again I have never seen "Twin Peaks" (I know, I know...).

  2. Yeah, not putting The Big Lebowski as a runner up was an oversight. It deserves to be.

  3. I meant to say this yesterday, but as great as Anthony Hopkins is, and he always gets all the press, but Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill is somehow even creepier than Hannibal Lecter.

  4. Agreed, Kev. No one will ever hear "Goodbye Horses" the same way again.

  5. The Sixth Sense!!?? Four Weddings??!!

    Over Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption, Toy Story and Trainspotting, not to mention Fargo not being on your runners up list.

  6. Great list, but you need 'The Usual Suspects,' no?