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Jul 7, 2008

I'm Gonna Party Like It's...

A couple weeks ago, I asked you what movie you (and your family were). Today, I ask you - what's your year?

For the longest time, I always considered 1994 my favorite year for movies. After all, I was 17/18, just heading off to college, and it's probably the year that my love for film really took off. To boot, what stands as one of my favorite films - Pulp Fiction - was released that year, and it was largely seen as the year that the indies boomed in Hollywood, vying for box office titles and Academy Awards alike. Along with all that, a slew of other great movies and/or cultural hits were released. Amongst them (I'll let you decide what's what):

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
The Crow
Dumb and Dumber
Ed Wood
Forrest Gump
Hoop Dreams
The Last Seduction
Leon (The Professional)
Reality Bites
The Shawshank Redemption

It's safe to say that it was a banner year for cineasts and populists alike. And I was content to leave it at that. However, a new awareness (and assistance in the form of nonstop reminders from HBO) has awoken my eyes nearly a decade later: 1999 was the best year for modern filmmaking.

I started to become keenly aware of this as I scanned IMDb for trivia (or whatever) after seeing some of my favorites from that year recently. I kept noticing that not just a few, but a significant portion of my personal top 50 would come from this year. Further investigation, thanks to Wikipedia's "Year in Film" page for each year, has shown me loads of other movies that I just really enjoy and/or would make many other movie fans' top 10 lists. Take for example, the list of 21 movies below. These are all films that did not even crack my top 10 for 1999 alone, yet I'm sure a number of them would be on yours for that year, if not for all time (bold indicates a movie I have seen).

All About My Mother
American Beauty
American Pie
Arlington Road
The Blair Witch Project
The Boondock Saints
Boys Don't Cry
The Cider House Rules
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
The Green Mile
The Iron Giant
The Limey
Man on the Moon
Princess Mononoke
The Sixth Sense
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
The Thomas Crown Affair
Toy Story 2

Finally, here are my favorite 10 from 1999:

10. Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (US release in 1999)
9. Galaxy Quest
8. Election
7. Being John Malkovich
6. Three Kings
5. The Matrix
4. Run Lola Run (US release in 1999)
3. Office Space
2. Go
1. Fight Club

Yes, it boggles even my mind that a film like Being John Malkovich only comes in at number seven...or that The Matrix comes in a five. It should also be noted that not a single one of them won a major Academy Award, and only The Matrix cracked the top 10 at the box office for the year.

Some final notes:

* All this doesn't even count some of the people's choices - box office hits such as Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Tarzan, Big Daddy, and The Mummy.

* It seems that every week in TGITDNMAR, I'm crowing about how bad many of the new releases are. Perhaps that's just been a reflection of how bad 2008 has been to this point, but consider this: on August 6th, Mystery Men, The Sixth Sense, and The Thomas Crown Affair were all released. And this: on October 29th, All About My Mother, Princess Mononoke, and Being John Malkovich were all released. Makes the recent past look even worse, no?

So - what's your year?

To see lists of individual years in film, go here. Here are two links that helped me with 1999:


24 people have chosen wisely: on "I'm Gonna Party Like It's..."

NFL Adam said...

Hard to argue with 1999.

I worked for a minor league baseball team in 1996 and we'd ditch work a lot and go to the movies. The flicks that came out that year were Twister, Eraser, the Rock and Independence Day. That might have been the greatest movie year, ever just on the Rock and ID4 alone. That year also had Jerry Maguire, Ransom (Give me back my son) and a Time to Kill.

Too bad Con Air was a year off.

Farmacy said...

I don't really want to do research, or actively thing about this... Thus my vote is based soley on the movie I watched the most when hungover in college (thus the criteria were: on TV alot, shown on basic cable, fairly recent)... thus my vote is whatever year Drumline was released.

I looked it up. 2002.

Other movies that are good to watch hungover from that year:

Minority Report
Catch Me if You Can
Harry Potter
The Bourne Identity (assuming you aren't motion sick)
Die Another Day
The Transporter
Mr. Deeds
Scorpion King
Van Wilder
Rules of Attraction
Orange County
Bubba Ho-Tep
Death to Smoochy

Look at THAT list. Would you want to watch some shitty movie with a real plot and genuine character development? Or would you rather wake up, hungover on your friends futon, try to remember what you did the night before, find your pants and watch one of those gems.

I thought so.

Nick said...

When I made my 10 Years, 10 Screenplays list ages ago, I noticed 1999 was a hardcore year. It really is hard to argue that year.

However... I'm not sure I understand the question. What year made me hooked on movies? What year do I think was the best for movies? And/or both?

Rachel said...

After checking my Top 100 List, which certainly isn't set in stone, I was surprised to see 2005 films comprised 10% of the list. However, the first 2005 film doesn't show until #16 (Sin City) while there are 4 films from 2006 in my Top 10 (The Fountain, Pan's Labyrinth, Little Miss Sunshine, Children of Men) and another one in spot #11 (The Departed). There were 9 films from 2006 on my list, and so since there's a difference of one, and four show up in the Top 10, I'll say it's 2006 for me.

Did any of that make any sense?

Graham said...

The best year I can remember? 2007.

Away from Her
Knocked Up
No Country for Old Men
The Lives of Others
Rescue Dawn
Michael Clayton
There Will be Blood
Futurama: Bender's Big Score
Bourne Ultimatum
The Simpson's Movie
3:10 to Yuma
The Lookout
American Gangster
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Host
Hot Fuzz. Wow.

Graham said...

The best year ever, though..1939. Character actor Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy in it's a wonderful life) was in 5 films that year:
Gone With the Wind
Only Angesl Have Wings
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

So, for Thomas Mitchell movies alone, that's a good year. But we can add:
Young Mr. Lincoln
Drums Along the Mohawk
Jamaica Inn
Jesse James
Of Mice and Men
The Rules of the Game
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights
Destry Rides Again
Dark Victory.

That will probably never be topped.

Adam Ross said...

For last year's Friday Screen Test, one of the questions was favorite film year, and 1999 was by far the most popular answer. Looking back, it was pretty meaningful for me, as I was just out of high school and spent the summer away from home, able to see a lot of movies (including "Eyes Wide Shut" three times). My first date with my future wife was seeing "Three Kings." I think "The Matrix" is as close to "Star Wars" for my generation, it was such an experience seeing it and inspired so many other movies (not to mention the anticipation for the sequels).

Also, "Blair Witch Project" gets a bad rap now, but I had an amazing experience seeing it in a mostly empty theater full of people who had no idea what to expect. It was petrifying.

WaywardJam said...

Tough decisions. 1999 was a helluva year definitely a contender for me, but Phantom Menace was enough to cap it in the knees alone.

I looked thru my collection list and I have a lot of 1997 films and 2000 films. 2000 has:
American Psycho
Billy Elliot
Cast Away
Charlie's Angels
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Erin Brokovich
Final Destination
High Fidelity
In the Mood for Love
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Quills (Mmmm, Kate)
Scary Movie
Shadow of the Vampire
Tao of Steve

But it also has Meet the Parents which offsets all the rest. Guess ever year will have an Achilles heel or two, or ten.

The big issue in the last few years there's more sequels, franchises and remakes. We still have lots of great original films, but the rehashed dregs leave an overpowering impression.

Nic Cage said...

Well, my initial gut feeling was 1995 with the following movies topping the list: Braveheart, Seven, The Usual Suspects, Desperado, 12 Monkeys, Toy Story, Lord of Illusions and my personal favorite Leaving Las Vegas. I just so happened to win an Oscar for my performance...thank you very much Mr. Fletch. Does Chevy Chase have an Oscar? I think not.

After the short list above though, mostly crap came out that year. So, without checking every single year, I would have to agree with you on 1999. Mainly due to one of my Top 5 favorite movies of all time the every so underrated The Boondocks Saints.

Honorable Mention List: ( Deep Blue Sea, South Park, Stir of Echoes, American Pie, Toy Story 2, Austin Powers)

10. American Beauty
9. Sleepy Hollow
8. Payback
7. Notting Hill
6. The Mummy
5. Office Space
4. Fight Club
3. Qalaxy Quest
2. The Matrix
1. The Boondock Saints

Fletch said...

@ Adam - I said good movies. Good movies. Eraser...

@ Farmacy - I think I've heard your Drumline love before. Kill me - I've never seen it. I'd say the first four movies you list don't belong with the rest of that group - they're top notch.

@ Nick - it's what year you think is best for movies.

@ Rachel and Graham - you both make strong arguments, but I just feel like there needs to be some sort of buffer period before years can even be considered. I'd agree that 2007 was a damn strong year, but who knows if we'll feel the same way in five years (and after repeated viewings)?

@ Mr. Ross - all good points, though I'm afraid that outside of the gratuitous nudity, I'm not with you on Eyes Wide Shut (DUN! DUN! DUN! goes the neverending single piano notes). The Matrix is definitely the new-era Star Wars, and Blair Witch was a cool experience the first time around, and the hype was pretty fun.

@ Wayne - 2000 ain't bad at all. It's just that, for me anyway, there aren't enough of those movies that I just looooove. Nice to see another Tao of Steve fan, though. That's one underrated and underseen flick there...

@ Nic - I always thought 12 Monkeys was a 2006 release. IMDb shows me why - it's US release was on January 5, 1996, so I hereby declare it exempt.

Other than that, I do love many of the films you listed. Especially Leaving Las Vegas. Or not. Speaking of 1996, techincally speaking, you won your Oscar that year instead of '95. So suck on that, hosehead.

No Oscars for Chevy...but he does have 2 Emmys...

J.D. said...

For my money, 1982 was a great year for films:

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Rocky III
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
48 Hrs.
Blade Runner
Conan the Barbarian
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Eating Raoul
First Blood
Friday the 13th Part 3
Pink Floyd the Wall
The Thing
The Verdict
The Year of Living Dangerously

Marcy said...

No mention of The Insider for 1999?

My favorite year for films is 1990. Being born in the early nineties, I really grew up with a lot of the 1990 films. Think Home Alone, Dick Tracy and uh, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The Best Picture nominees that year were all strong contenders--Dances with Wolves, GoodFellas, Awakenings, The Godfather: Part III (well, I liked it), and Ghost (probably the weakest--but it's a good film, nonetheless).

Runner-ups are 2000 and 1993.

Daniel G. said...

First of all, a great post. It's funny that I've also used 1994 as the gold standard in conversations for years and years. Yet there is the evidence - 1999 was insane (JD brings up a good point with '82 as well). Last year will undoubtedly continue to rise as we gain perspective, but I have to disagree that '08 has been that bad so far, Fletch:

My Blueberry Nights
American Teen
Encounters at the End of the World
The Grocer’s Son
Up The Yangtze
Bigger, Stronger, Faster
City of Men
The Fall
The Edge of Heaven
The Visitor
In Bruges
Nerakhoon (The Betrayal)
Chop Shop
OSS 117
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation

You can drop 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days in there if you want, as well as The Band's Visit, but they both might actually belong in 2007.

I'm not saying 2008 is the best year, or even as good as last year. I'm just refuting "how bad 2008 has been to this point."

The Mad Hatter said...

Couldn't agree with you more on '94 and '99...but that led me to a theory: what if the "Great Year Cycle" comes around every fifth year?

Led me to take a look at 2004, and Holy Crap what a year it was!


...too bad for the writer's strike, otherwise I'd say we'd be up for another awesome year in six months.

Piper said...

Damn this is a good post. 1999 is a good year. I'm going to think on this and come back. Why I posted this thought without really continuing it is completely beyond me.

Fletch said...

@ j.d. - 1982 is indeed strong. Unfortunately, the inclusion of Rocky III kills it for me. That beach scene...

@ Marcy - my bad. Your comment surprised me, as I could have sworn that I included The Insider.

@ Daniel - you're lapping me in flicks seen this year, but then again, you did spend what, a month at that film festival? ;) I've seen only six of the movies you listed (Wall*E, The Fall, The Visitor, In Bruges, Stop-Loss, and Priceless)...though you did leave out Roman De Gare, which I would call one of the better films this year. Also keep in mind that you're a documentary monster, and that you (infallibly) rate them all A- or better. ;)

Your point is taken, though.

@ Hatter - I couldn't agree more. Any year with Eternal Sunshine is near the top for me.

Going back 5 years from my original year, 1989 was pretty goddamn awesome, too:

Indy and the Last Crusade
The Abyss
Back to the Future, Part II
Bill and Ted
Cinema Paradiso
Dead Poets Society
Do the Right Thing
Fletch Lives ;)
Kickboxer ;)
Lethal Weapon 2
Sex, Lies and Videotape
Uncle Buck
War of the Roses
When Harry Met Sally...

Michael J. Mendez said...

Got to be 99 for me. It was my senior year and in addition to all the terrible movies I saw that year, I could not beat the trifecta of Fight Club, Three Kings and American Beauty.

Nick said...

Looking through... I'd have to say it's a REALLY close call... in fact, I'll have to call it a tie between 1999 and 2004. There's some of my favorite movies from both years... I'd almost lean more toward 2004, but there were still some excellent movies in 1999. So I'm giving both years a tie.

Matthew Lucas said...

2001 was my year, the year I was truly introduced to film beyond the mainstream, and became the film lover I am today (for that we can mostly thank Robert Altman and "Gosford Park.") I was 15 years old and haven't looked back since.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence
A Beautiful Mind
Black Hawk Down
Ghost World
Gosford Park
Hearts in Atlantis
In the Bedroom
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Monster's Ball
Monsters, Inc.
Moulin Rouge
Mulholland Drive
The Others
The Royal Tenenbaums

But historically speaking, it's hard to argue with 1939.

Daniel G. said...

This is becoming too much. Every year is looking good, including 89 and 01. But how do you really qualify The Best?

Guilty as charged as to the number of docs in my '08 list to date (8), and to their grades. But as far as that's concerned, anybody paying attention should agree that those eight documentaries already make this one of the best doc years in a long, long time. And there are more on the way, like Man on Wire.

ANYWAY, back to the best years. Maybe it just comes down to: If you had to list your favorite movies outright, how many of them would fall in the same year? I think I might still end up in 99.

Fletch said...

Daniel, I think that's essentially what I went with - if I listed my top 100 films (which I really ought to get to one of these days), I'm sure at least 8 or so of my '99 Top 10 would be on it - and up high...

J.D. said...

Fletch: Re: ROCKY III... how can you beat Sly, Hulk Hogan AND Mr. T in one movie?! Genius, I tells ya. ; )

Matthew Lucas said...

I forgot to add Wong Kar Wai's "In the Mood for Love" in that 2001 list.

DCMovieGirl said...

The Iron Giant
Princess Mononoke?!


Get on that. STAT!