Best Films of the 90s

For the past year, Allan Fish and the film enthusiasts of Wonders in the Dark have posted their countdown of each decade starting from the 30s (here are the results to all the countdowns http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2009/05/wonders-in-dark.html as well as the blog itself: http://wondersinthedark.wordpress.com/)  . Fish, the author of each essay, has just finished his countdown for the nineties and is preparing for his next big countdown (the 100 best silent films). But before that happens, Wonders in the Dark have asked everyone who visits to sound off on their own personal favorites list, as they have done for the past countdown, will poll the best of the decade from the lists that are posted. Well I decided to post my own personal top 50 of the nineties on their site but figured why not just post it here as well:

1. Naked (1993) – Leigh, UK
2. Boogie Nights (1997) – Anderson, USA
3. Naked Lunch (1991) – Cronenberg, Canada
4. Fargo (1996) – Joel Coen/Ethan Coen, USA
5. The Thin Red Line – Malick, USA
6. Insomnia (1997) – Skjoldbjærg, Norway
7. My Own Private Idaho (1991) – Van Sant, USA
8. Fight Club (1999) – Fincher, USA
9. The Double Life of Véronique (1991) – Kieslowski, France/Polish
10. Jackie Brown (1997) – Tarantino, USA

11. Se7en (1995) – Fincher, USA
12. Fallen Angels (1995) – Kar-wai, Hong Kong
13. Barton Fink (1991) – Joel Coen/Ethan Coen, USA
14. Hard Boiled (1992) – Woo, Hong Kong
15. Trainspotting (1995) – Boyle, UK
16. Magnolia (1999) – Anderson, USA
17. Reservoir Dogs (1992) – Tarantino, USA
18. Dark City (1998) – Proyas, Australia/United States
19. Safe (1995) – Haynes, USA
20. Happiness (1998) – Solondz, USA

21. Rushmore (1998) – Anderson, USA
22. Being John Malkovich – Jonze, USA
23. Crash (1996) – Cronenberg, Canada
24. Thelma and Louise (1991) – Scott, USA
25. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Demme, USA
26. Existenz (1999) – Cronenberg, Canada
27. Chasing Amy (1997) – Smith, USA
28. Wild at Heart (1990) – Lynch, USA
29. Heavenly Creatures (1994) – Jackson, New Zealand
30. Sink or Swim (1990) – Friedrich, USA

31. The Truman Show (1998) – Weir, USA
32. Toy Story (1995) – Lasseter, USA
33. The Ice Storm (1997) – Lee, USA
34. Dazed and Confused (1993) – Linklater, USA
35. Leon (1994) – Besson, France
36. Princess Mononoke (1997) – Miyazaki, Japan
37. Bad Lieutenant (1992) – Ferrara, USA
38. In the Company of Men (1997) – LeBute, USA
39. The Usual Suspects (1995) – Singer, USA
40. El Mariachi (1992) – Rodriguez, Mexico

41. Bringing Out The Dead (1999) – Scorsese, USA
42. Taste of Cherry (1997) – Kiarostami, Iran
43. Secretes and Lies (1996) – Leigh, UK
44. Menace II Society (1993) – Allen Hughes/Albert Hughes, USA
45. Office Space (1999) – Judge, USA
46. Reversal of Fourtain (1990) – Schroeder, USA/UK/Japan
47. The Big Lebowski (1999) – Joel Coen/Ethan Coen, USA
48. Groundhog Day (1993) – Ramis, USA
49. Ed Wood (1994) – Burton, USA
50. American Beauty (1999) – Mendes, USA

Sadly after posting the list, I realized that I left out one of my all time favorite sc ience fiction films of the decade, 12 Monkeys, as well as not including a single documentary. While I can’t name too many documentaries off the top of my head from the decade, I know I left out of my all time favorites, Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. I also didn’t account for some made for TV films that were released in the decade including one that I felt was worthy of a theatrical release and some big awards: And the Band Played On. It was a fantastic film that featured Mathew Modine’s best performance and was probably one of the best films to tackle the issue of AIDS and homosexuality I’ve ever seen (easily more powerful than Johnathan Demme’s Philadelphia released that same year and Gus Van Sant’s good but tad overrated Milk) The list also excludes other big critically lauded films like Santango, Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy, Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse, The Sweet Hereafter, and Werner Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness. My reason for this is simple: I have yet to see them. Other big films that weren’t mentioned were from big name directors like Steven Spielberg, whose Schindler’s List seems to be a stable on most best of the nineties list, but I really wasn’t as big of a fan. I also excluded Martin Scorsese’ Goodfellas, another staple on most lists, and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, easily the most mportant American film of the decade. My reasoning was that I felt the those directors made much better films that decade: Scorsese with the heavily underrated Bringing Out the Dead (which might be rather low at 41 now to think about it) and Tarantino with the even more underrated Jackie Brown (a film I will argue as not just Tarantino’s greatest film but as one of the greatest films ever). Either than that, I was happy with the list and hope to do a review of some of the films above in the coming weeks. Also, with the end of the year on the horizon, I know I’ll have to be compiling a best films of 2009 list as well as a top ten of the decade (or maybe even 50). Until then, there are still a lot of movies to watch and re-watch.

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2 Responses to “Best Films of the 90s”

  1. Hey Anu, a personal and eclectic listing that certainly gave a fresh perspective. And there will always be instances where you feel you forgot something, and it’s easy enough to revise, though the submitted list is the one that’s tabulated. NAKED, BOOGIE NIGHTS and THE NAKED LUNCH are most interesting choices there to head up the list to say the least! But all the way down it’s a validation of taste and individuality.

    Thanks as always for your promotion of WitD and all you have done to brighten the discourse.

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