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Jul 6, 2010

Fletch's Favored Five: 1990 in Film

Now, the sixth in a continuing series in which I count down my favorites from a particular year in film. Previous entries:

1997 * 1991 * 1984 * 1988
* 2002 * 1993

I'm going to use Wikipedia to kickstart my brain, year by year, and I'll throw out a Favored Five here and there. If you want to refresh your memory in a similar fashion, just go to Wiki and type "[four-character year] in film." Here's the one for 1993. I won't pretend that Wiki is the end-all, be-all of filmic knowledge or that these yearly lists are 100% accurate, but they're an excellent place to start and a great resource.

If you were a historian looking for the year in which (lackluster) sequels took over, I'd hazard a guess that 1990 is the year you'd settle on. Have a gander at this motley crew:

Another 48 Hrs.
Back to the Future Part III
Child's Play 2
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
The Exorcist III
The Godfather Part III
Gremlims 2: The New Batch
Look Who's Talking Too
The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter
Predator 2
Robocop 2
Rocky V
Three Men and a Little Lady
The Two Jakes
Young Guns II

Now, I've not seen half of these, so don't mistake inclusion on this list as a proclamation that all of them are terrible films - I'm sure each has their fans. That said, I don't think there's a single one of them that was/is hailed as being a great film in its own right. Even of the ones I've seen that I think are decent (Back to the Future III, for example), I'd have no problem if none of these films existed.

Basically, that line of thinking extends to the entirety of films from 1990. I've seen a lot of the flicks from this year, and I had a hard time coming up with even my top five, much less any honorable mentions, and from the ones I've chosen, though there are some that I really enjoy, I don't know if there's a one that I looooove. A shame - I was 13 for much of 1990 - I should love many of them. Beyond that, so many of the films that I've seen and can remember liking...I don't recall all that well, from Pump Up the Volume to Internal Affairs to Revenge to Miller's Crossing and so on, so it seems wrong to rank them here. What's left is comfort food, mostly.

Notable movies not yet seen:
Dances with Wolves
Pretty Woman
La Femme Nikita
The Hunt for Red October
Postcards from the Edge
Wild at Heart
(currently sitting in my Netflix queue)

Honorable mentions:
Mr. Destiny
(I'm a sucker for this flick)

5. Kindergarten Cop - Really not a great movie, but it was just about the best example of a "fish out of water" that we could have hoped for in the 80s/early 90s. As a bonus, it produced line after line after classic line delivered by Schwarzenegger - enough to be the cause for more prank phone calls than you can possibly fathom.

4. GoodFellas - Stop it. I can hear you all right now, blasting me to shreds for either not having this at number one and/or for having Home Effing Alone above it. Well, tough. As documented ad nauseum, I'll take Casino over this one any day of the week. Sorry, I guess I don't like Ray Liotta nearly as much as I thought I did 20 years ago. That said, I am due for watching this one more; I've seen the likes of Casino and The Departed tens of times each; GoodFellas, not so much. Perhaps it will grow on me as they did (each of them gets better with every viewing, so why not this one?).

3. Edward Scissorhands - Ahhh, the gold old days, back when Burton's schtick was fresh and seeing John Depp play a misfit seemed odd. I long for that simpler time.

2. Home Alone - There's a reason it was a big box-office hit - it strikes all the right chords. Equal parts melancholy, funny, and Christmas-y, I seem to enjoy this one more and more each year as well. How can anyone watch this and not want to be Kevin (at that age)? The bumbling criminals bit has never wowed me, but the ingenuity of the kid and his pranks make it akin to The Goonies in that way, while the rest of it has that John Hughes/Chicago suburbs charms.

1. Total Recall - If this wasn't made for a 13-year old future movie geek, I don't know what was. What's not to love? Arnold kicking ass, a three-breasted prostitute, Benny, bulge-out eyes, Phillip K. Dick, Michael Ironside, "two weeks," topless Sharon Stone? It's got it all, and then some.

12 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Favored Five: 1990 in Film"

Fitz said...

Godfather Part III, what a disappointment. At least it wasn't as bad as The Two Jakes.

Anonymous said...

It's always interesting to compare older favorites side by side with other films of the same year. I like your picks. :)

Mike Lippert said...

Godfather 3 may not be comparable to the first two but it's still a great flick as is Die Hard 2, but your list, save for Home Alone, basically gets the best of the best.

Dan said...

I still quite like Kindergarten Cop. Loved it as a kid.

JacksSmirkingRevenge said...

Lackluster year, but good list.

I would probably go:
5 Dances with wolves
4 Young Guns II
3 Millers Crossing
2 Total Recall
1 Goodfellas

I think if you rewatched Miller's Crossing now you would appreciate it more than you did as a kid. This is certainly true of me.

Heather said...

Looking at the list I'm certain my head would have imploded in 1990 if I had been older than 9 years old.

I give you props for adding Kindergarten Cop to your list. It hasn't aged well, but I own it and watch it occasionally and still laugh pretty well at times, though I could easily skip the final fifteen minutes, the rest is charming.

Goodfellas would have sat at number one for me, but Total Recall simply doesn't get enough love. Such a great action flick that is still loads of fun to revisit, and Sharon Stone......meeeeeeeeeeow

Annnnnd....that's all I've got on that. Excellent post Fletch, and kind reminder that sequels have always been polluting the movie world.

Fletch said...

Fitz - thankfully, I've passed on The Two Jakes thus far.

somepeople - gracias!

Mike - I've only seen God III just the once, and it was probably close to when it came out, so I really can't argue there.

However, I rewatched Die Hard 2 recently, and was pretty damn disappointed in it. It gets ridiculously stupid pretty early on. The only redeeming value it has going is that they made a fourth one that's even worse.

JSR - I've got Miller's Crossing on DVD as part of some Coens' 5-pack I got awhile back, but I have yet to watch it again. I know I didn't see it in 1990, so I wasn't a kid, but I still don't recall a ton. It'll get another shot soon enough. I pretty much like/love every other Coens flick, so why should that one be any different?

Heather - no, Kindergarten Cop has certainly not aged well, but like all those myriad 80s flicks we know and love (KC really should be an 80s flick), it really doesn't matter. It has lots of charm.

I'm probably one of the few actually looking forward to a Total Recall remake. Much as I dig the original, the effects sadly look pretty bad already. Just seems like it was made for a lower budget (or a worse filmmaker cough cough) back then than it should have been. It's a great story.

The Film Cynics said...

There's something wrong with this list, Fletch. For some reason it has 2 Schwarzenegger films and Goodfellas in it at the same time. And Home Alone? My tiny mind can't put it all together.

I'm totally with you on us being on the wrong side of Tim Burton's career. It would be strange for there to be something if his we hadn't seen before.

What a freakin' blast from the past.

Bob Turnbull said...

I don't want to imagine a world without Child's Play 2...

I was ambivalent the first time I saw Miller's Crossing (except for that awesome shot of the hat blowing away during the titles), but every time I've seen it since, it has grown in my estimation.

Try to catch up with Hunt For Red October - it's really a solid thriller, Baldwin is great in it and Connery (even with his Scottish accent) is perfect.

As for Goodfellas, hey I can't argue with how you personally react to it - as I say to Hatter all the time, as long as you understand you're wrong that's fine. B-) It's my fave Scorsese mainly because of its style - his use of music here is freaking brilliant, the energy he brings to many of the scenes, the tracking shots, etc. I do really like Casino too by the way - I should cue that up again soon.

I just watched Home Alone again for the first time with my 9 year old - the first hour or so was actually, well, not very good. OK, not terrible, but lots of dull spots. But when Kevin started defending his house, my son was busting a gut laughing - and for that, I'll give the film a lot of leeway. And I love John Candy's appearance.

Other films not yet mentioned?

Avalon - I'm still surprised to this day at the lack of critical acclaim for Levinson's lovely film. Armin Mueller-Stahl gives one of the best performances I've, like, ever seen.

Jacob's Ladder - Step gingerly...

Quick Change - An off the radar Bill Murray film - a pleasant surprise.

Match Factory Girl - One of the film's from Aki Kaurismaki's Proletariat Trilogy (released as an Eclipse box set). The Finns know how to mix bleak and comedy.

Ju Dou - Not my favourite Zhang Yimou film by any stretch, but it's still a Zhang Yimou film. And Gong Li is in it...

Vancetastic said...


THANK YOU for mentioning Jacob's Ladder. What a terrific film. "Dream on!" Such an unsettling use of discordant imagery.

The truly amazing thing about Goodfellas is that one of its most classic aspects is also one of film's biggest no-no's -- the narration. Goodfellas isn't the same movie without Ray Liotta's narration, even though that violates all the sacred principles of show-don't-tell that movies hold dear.

I'll throw another vote of support behind both Kindergarten Cop and Total Recall, even if I haven't seen either in 15 years. Back in the day, I wrote an academic paper of sorts on whether the events of TR are real, or just in Doug's head while he's in that chair -- though for the life of me I don't remember what my own conclusions were.

Fletch said...

Steve - what can I say? I'm a man with tastes that run all over the board.

Bob - I don't doubt that I'll feel the same the more and more I see of Miller's. Happens with every other Coen bros flick, right? Still need to see The Man Who Wasn't There, too...

As for Red October, it's on NWI, so I'm sure I'll catch it sooner or later, but the Bob Ryan series never did all that much for me. Solid actioners, but nothing I ever fell in love with.

How dare you in regards to Home Alone - the first 30 minutes or so are probably my favorite. Love all the family jammed into that house - it kicks off the holiday feel with flair, even the bad stuff for Kevin (ie his run-ins with Buzz).

I meant to see Jacob's Ladder a long, long time ago, then it fell off the radar. One of these days..

Vance - But isn't it pretty clear that the events are real? They throw a bone or two of doubt in there, but it's always been pretty obvious to me anyway. Still, that sounds like a good read - I love in-depth analysis of pop culture (though Phil Dick os of the high-end, brain-wise, of pop culture).