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The 50 best films of the ’90s
October 11, 2012 3:20 PM   Subscribe

The Onion's A.V Club has posted their list of the fifty best films of the '90s (part 1)(part 2)(part 3). [via]
posted by SomaSoda (188 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
I see Starship Troopers is 46 spots too low.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:21 PM on October 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


Part 4
posted by kyrademon at 3:23 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


forgot about American Movie. fantastic documentary, one of the best.
posted by facetious at 3:23 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


#1 is correct so I have no problem with this list.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:24 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Their algorithm seems to have made some unfortunate error by swapping the Coens and Quentin Tarantino.
posted by COBRA! at 3:24 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also: The Matrix is 13 years old.

Time to start reading Yelp reviews of nursing homes I guess.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:24 PM on October 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


Their #1 is indeed the best film of the 90's. If they got that wrong, I'd be insulted a little bit.
posted by davebush at 3:26 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've been reading this all week, and though I don't know which one, if any, I'd trade it for, I found it interesting that The Silence of the Lambs didn't make it onto any of the lists.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:30 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


A small part of me honestly expected everything on the list to be from 1999.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:32 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


RE: Glengarry Glen Ross, the article states: It’s only a few steps above a stage production captured on film.

My response: you say that like it's a bad thing. Filming the movie almost as if you were just filming a stage production is probably the most appropriate way to film a movie that is almost entirely about the dialogue.
posted by asnider at 3:38 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Woody Allen's "Husbands and Wives" deserves to be on this list.
posted by davebush at 3:41 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Christ, what a reasonable, well thought out list.
posted by The Whelk at 3:41 PM on October 11, 2012 [26 favorites]


This is where I confess that I've never seen Goodfellas...

My personal top 10 list would probably put Fargo in the #1 spot, because I adore tragicomic farces.
posted by muddgirl at 3:42 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was all ready to jump all over this. But it's actually pretty good. Kudos for including Naked and Irma Vep along with the more obvious choices.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah... The 90s. Now horribly apparent as "my" decade - think I owned a good two thirds of these on DVD - ask your parents what one of those was.
posted by Artw at 3:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


> "Christ, what a reasonable, well thought out list."

The AV Club reviewers are almost shockingly intelligent and accurate, as a general rule.
posted by kyrademon at 3:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is where I confess that I've never seen Goodfellas...

Um, this is the point where you need to stop talking and go see Goodfellas. I swear to god it's better than you think.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Toy Story 2 was okay.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is where I confess that I've never seen Goodfellas...

Ditto.

My personal top 10 list would probably put Fargo in the #1 spot, because I adore tragicomic farces.

Ditto.
posted by robcorr at 3:46 PM on October 11, 2012




I do find it weird that Malcom X ended up on the orphans list. I recently re-watched it and think it holds up better than it had any right to.

Seriously, if you're putting Eyes Wide Shut on that list, and not Malcom X.......
posted by lumpenprole at 3:51 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Complaints: Exotica was not better than The Sweet Hereafter. And the Blair Witch Project would be totally forgotten if it weren't for it's amazingly successful viral marketing -- shouldn't be on the list.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:51 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm amazed at how many of these I never heard about or saw, guess I was to busy or something during the 90s.

Yet delighted that Chungking Express made it so near the top. I love that movie.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:53 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dances_with_sneetches, I think you meant these 90s.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:53 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Exotica stands out as one I don't remember as being, um, good.
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


What, no "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut"? I mean, I can see not liking "Team America: World Police," but jesus...
posted by Etrigan at 3:54 PM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I agree with a lot of this list, and disagree with a fair few, but they get it mostly right. And I'm willing to chalk some of it up to taste - I absolutely loathed Rushmore, and would be more inclined to put that on a worst of list.

One big thing, though, is that Sneakers isn't on there. That may not have been a big success that everybody's seen, but that's one of the best put together movies ever. Its exclusion is flatly a sin.
posted by kafziel at 3:54 PM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Seriously, if you're putting Eyes Wide Shut on that list, and not Malcom X.......

Malcolm X is of course fantastic but I always end up comparing it to Do the Right Thing because it's my favorite Spike Lee film and Do the Right Thing is much better so Malcolm X suffers unfairly in comparison in my head.

Eyes Wide Shut is my favorite Kubrick film prolly and is utterly fantastic.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:54 PM on October 11, 2012


Interesting selections. Almost all of them are excellent movies.

Some missing from their lists (all of which would be valid choices for the Top 10):
Jurassic Park,
Beauty and the Beast,
The Shawshank Redemption,
The Lion King,
Braveheart,
Babe,
Leaving Las Vegas,
Apollo 13,
Titanic,
The Sixth Sense,
Home Alone,
Total Recall,
Falling Down,
Notting Hill,
Four Weddings and a Funeral.
posted by paperzach at 3:55 PM on October 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


What, no Waterworld?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:56 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Historically speaking its going to be interesting to note that Eyes Wide Shut came out juuuuust before the US lost all grip on reality and began to consume itself.
posted by The Whelk at 4:00 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


#1. The Cutting Edge (1992)
#2. The Cutting Edge (1992)
#3. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
#4. The Cutting Edge (1992)
posted by samofidelis at 4:01 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously, if you're putting Eyes Wide Shut on that list, and not Malcom X.......

Yeah, Eyes Wide Shut and Seven were both films I would consider for my worst films of the 90s, and I've seen Jason X....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:02 PM on October 11, 2012


I would've included Ratcatcher though because.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:03 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did I miss it or was Silence of the Lambs not on the list?
posted by MegoSteve at 4:03 PM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Like Artw, I probably watched more movies in the 90s than I did in the past decade. And I loved so many of them not on this list. Philadelphia, Twelve Monkeys, Princess Mononoke, Delicatessen, Ghost Dog, and of course Silence of the Lambs come to mind.

But I haven't rewatched enough to make an informed list, and I would also have trouble ranking them. I guess what I'm saying is, this list is pretty good.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:03 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


City of Lost Children too, surely?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:04 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I also maybe couldn't limit myself to 50.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:04 PM on October 11, 2012


Sneakers has to be my film of the 90s. I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking it was the most awesome thing ever.

Now having seen Three Days of the Condor and Spy Game, I realise it was all Redford, all the time.

That said, Silence of the Lambs should've made it.

But I have no quarrel with Goodfellas.
posted by flippant at 4:06 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh no Jurassic Park? Shut it down.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:13 PM on October 11, 2012


This is bullshit. Dances With Wolves and Kevin Costner beat Goodfellas and Martin Scorsese fair and square. The Academy said it, I believe it, that settles it. Hamburger.
posted by Optamystic at 4:14 PM on October 11, 2012


Is Pump Up the Volume 80s or 90s?
posted by waitangi at 4:16 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


1990, but this is a list of best films, not best soundtracks. Otherwise it would be #1.
posted by Optamystic at 4:19 PM on October 11, 2012


These lists get made over and over again. Over and over and over again. When Groundhog Day makes it up to the #1 slot we can stop.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:20 PM on October 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


The Big Lebowski should be in the top 10

Office Space is too important to leave off the list and stick in part 4

The Limey is a powerful, unassuming film and I always feel like I'm the only person who has ever seen it

I did not imagine Groundhog Day would be on the list at all, but it belongs there..
posted by ninjew at 4:21 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Their algorithm seems to have made some unfortunate error by swapping the Coens and Quentin Tarantino

also, no way is Fargo inferior to Barton Fink and Miller's Crossing (both of which are great films). Also, Exotica just isn't good, an embarrassment to see it on such a list. Also, Dazed + Confused is fun and all, but the only argument I can see for its very high ranking would have something to do with nostalgia and/or marijuana abuse. Also, as a good friend of mine commented about Unforgiven, "If I'd been high on acid, that would've been as good as Apocalypse Now. But I wasn't."

Finally, no Nixon? Amazing movie.
posted by philip-random at 4:24 PM on October 11, 2012


Magnolia has to be in there somewhere, right?
posted by cnanderson at 4:25 PM on October 11, 2012


@ninjew: You are not alone. I love The Limey. My favorite Soderbergh movie.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:28 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cut me some Slacker (1991).
posted by perhapses at 4:31 PM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is a great list, put together by smart geeks who love smart movies. And this I why I love The AV Club.
posted by KGMoney at 4:33 PM on October 11, 2012


You are not alone. I love The Limey. My favorite Soderbergh movie.

Written by Metafilter's own, as you may know. The DVD includes a great commentary between him and Soderbergh.
posted by perhapses at 4:36 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is Godfellas the goddamn rosetta stone of film opinion!!? Sitting there, unnoticed for all these years???

I've just never seen agreement like this on any list posted here before. I'm in a kind of shock.
posted by lattiboy at 4:40 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow

Joined: May 16, 2007

Wait, the concept of the reduction of a notably significant relationship to your social and personal development to a bittersweet passing acknowledgment of now-defunct acquaintanceship isn't a new idea? With all the hemming and hawing over the idea since summer of 2011, I had naturally assumed that it was a wonderful new idea dripping with creative potential.

Sorry.. no threadjack intended..
posted by mediocre at 4:41 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Out of Sight???
I found that movie unwatchable - some weirdly off puttingly stilted and uncanny about the acting and vibe
posted by Bwithh at 4:42 PM on October 11, 2012


Magnolia has to be in there somewhere, right?

I disagree!
posted by mediocre at 4:42 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, Dazed + Confused is fun and all, but the only argument I can see for its very high ranking would have something to do with nostalgia and/or marijuana abuse.

I blame Tarantino. His placement of Dazed and Confused in personal top ten lists has to have had some kind of influence on its esteem. Didn't he also play a part in Chunking Express being shown theatrically in the states? Not to take anything away from either, they're both among my favourite movies.
posted by Lorin at 4:43 PM on October 11, 2012


Written by Metafilter's own, as you may know.

Dobbs is not Lem Dobbs.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:46 PM on October 11, 2012


Also, excellent call on Election. Such an amazing gem of a movie you might find it hard to believe it was a MTV films production.... with Reese Witherspoon. Two things not associated with quality these days.
posted by lattiboy at 4:46 PM on October 11, 2012


Not sure that I would have gone with Goodfellas as number one, but now that I see it there I don't have a lot of arguments. I do find it strange that The Player sits in the odds and ends list and Chunking Express gets a single-digit number.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:57 PM on October 11, 2012


It's a good list. Apart from one massively, painfully obvious omission. Yes. Apart from that, it's a good list.

"I'm going to show you how to kill a god."
posted by Wordshore at 4:58 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Malcom X probably ought to be on the main list somewhere for sure...

but I think the one I'd really have to shoehorn in there is Everyone Says I Love You.

Jurassic Park has no business being anywhere near this list.
posted by davros42 at 5:02 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, weird. I thought I saw it in there, but I guess this didn't make the list. FAIL.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:02 PM on October 11, 2012


Lack of Double Vie de Véronique renders list invalid
posted by Trace McJoy at 5:05 PM on October 11, 2012


I'm a little disappointed that "Pi" and "Run Lola Run" didn't make the lists. The other surprising thing was how many of these movies I thought were made in the 80s (I was in my teens in the 90s).
posted by drezdn at 5:05 PM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cut me some Slacker (1991)

I don't know if I would call it BEST necessarily, but if the list was making an allowance for influence it would certainly deserve to be among the top ten for its seeding of the whole independent movement. As an unrelated aside, the first actual datey date I ever went on was to see Slacker. I was totally into it and was a bit mindblown after the experience, she thought it was cheap and dumb and made no sense.

There was no second date.
posted by mediocre at 5:06 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


My thoughts exactly, drezdn.

I figured that if anyone would like those two movies, it'd be the AV Club.

And Malcolm X is a pretty surprising snub.
posted by graphnerd at 5:09 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Goodfellas?! Not even erm good enough to spawn a sequel. Whereas other films e.g. Godfather were good enough to have one, even two, more follow-ups.

Therefore making this particular gem arguably the forgotten #1 masterpiece of the 1990s.

Comment may be logically flawed.
posted by Wordshore at 5:12 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll note that The Usual Suspects also seems to have fallen out of favor a bit in the past ten years or so.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:23 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm a little disappointed that "Pi" and "Run Lola Run" didn't make the lists

Pi was a good film from a very promising film maker who would later ascend to greatness. Run Lola Run was a bore of a film with a gimmick strong enough to trick people into thinking it was more then the sum of its parts. Strip that away, and it was as lame as any other forgettable film from 1998.

Or: I disagree!
posted by mediocre at 5:24 PM on October 11, 2012


The outliers list is about 10 times better than the official list. Dazed and Confused beats Slacker? Bullshit. Satantango only gets an honorable mention? Double bullshit.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 5:32 PM on October 11, 2012


Goodfellas?! Not even erm good enough to spawn a sequel.

You evidently haven't seen Casino!

Which, for my money, was just as good as Goodfellas and in some ways better.
posted by mazola at 5:49 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


The outliers list is about 10 times better than the official listLike any good outlier list, that one's all over the place.

Like any outliers discussion, it tends to run to extremes. Grosse Pointe Blank + Fearless, for instance, are both rather fatally flawed in my estimation. I just don't buy them.

But holy shit -- The Player. How'd that not make the cut? For the first shot alone.

And then there's something like Velvet Goldmine which I LOVE but I long ago gave up trying to convince people that they are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG for disagreeing with me.

And then The Rapture -- I'm still recovering. Talk about a movie that gets inside you and won't leave. That's greatness, isn't it?
posted by philip-random at 5:56 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


To cut down the hubris a little, this should more properly have been titled: The 50 best films of the ’90s that were made in the US or screened there.

Weeding out the obvious rubbish:

#2 Pulp Fiction
#13 Boogie Nights
#18 Schindler's List
#33 The Matrix


But I haven't seen every US film on this list so I'm sure more could go.

Three films that I still remember very favourably from the 90s:

Burnt by the Sun
Orbis Pictus
Beau Travail
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 5:58 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


They got #1 right - but no room for Michael Mann's Heat?

Big ups for Safe and Naked, though.

And I watch Casino yearly and it's choice.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:00 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll revise this list when I get a day off from work.
posted by ovvl at 6:03 PM on October 11, 2012


It's not as though the Coens weren't well represented, seeing as 4 out of 5 of their 90s films made the list, but The Hudsucker Proxy deserved at least one of the honorable mentions.

Really happy to see The Iron Giant in there, though.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:18 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding Beau Travail. Also, the Dardenne brothers need to be on there. E. Elias Merhige's Begotten. Something by Harun Farocki. Guy Maddin. Bela Tarr deserves a higher spot. Jan Svankmajer's Faust or Food (although they probably wouldn't hand the honor to a short film).
posted by outlandishmarxist at 6:26 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I'm flipping through the tv and happen to land on Goodfellas, I invariably watch it until the end no matter what part I happen on. I agree with #1.
posted by Renoroc at 6:40 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


L.A. Confidential??

It speaks well of the committee that Dead Man make the cut.

Missing: Conspirators of Pleasure.
posted by mubba at 6:56 PM on October 11, 2012


L.A. Confidential??

Damn straight L.A. Confidential. One of the best scripts of the decade, a thousand moving parts, a foregrounded story about internal police drama which pulled off the trick of hiding the ball about the larger mystery, and pitch-perfect performances, all in service to a story about police corruption, racism, gender politics and the role of the media in obscuring the actual strings of power.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:38 PM on October 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's also one of the few movie adaptations that improves on the source material.
posted by The Whelk at 7:40 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and even some minor touching on gay issues. Forgot about that.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:42 PM on October 11, 2012


It's a great snapshot of its place and time, easily the best of the neo-noirs.
posted by The Whelk at 7:43 PM on October 11, 2012


Slate has additional recommendations for non-white, non-male, non-Anglophone directed movies.

For another comparison, I took a look at the top 50 highest rated 1990s movies at IMDb. 30 of these were not included on the list. Unsurprisingly many of these are also the movies people seem to mention the most in their obligatory "They left off ____??" comments:


#1) The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
#6) Forrest Gump (1994)
#8) The Usual Suspects (1995)
#9) Se7en (1995)
#10) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
#11) Léon: The Professional (1994)
#12) American History X (1998)
#14) Saving Private Ryan (1998)
#15) Life Is Beautiful (1997)
#16) American Beauty (1999)
#17) The Green Mile (1999)
#19) The Lion King (1994)
#20) Princess Mononoke (1997)
#21) Braveheart (1995)
#22) L.A. Confidential (1997)
#25) Satantango (1994)
#26) Heat (1995)
#27) Toy Story (1995)
#32) Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
#33) Children of Heaven (1997)
#35) The Sixth Sense (1999)
#36) Casino (1995)
#37) Good Will Hunting (1997)
#39) A Brighter Summer Day (1991)
#43) Twelve Monkeys (1995)
#44) Hamoun (1990)
#45) Underground (1995)
#46) La Haine (1995)
#47) The Celebration (1998)
#49) In the Name of the Father (1993)
posted by dgaicun at 8:05 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


L.A. Confidential was at #36 on the A.V. Club list, and Seven at #34, but it's still an interesting comparison.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:13 PM on October 11, 2012


I was surprised that I didn't disagree as much as I would have thought.

Just glad to see mawkish garbage like Forrest Gump and Saving Private Ryan not on the list.
posted by Sphinx at 8:27 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


When Siskel & Ebert reviewed Goodfellas in September 1990, Gene Siskel said that Scorsese had made the best movie of the 70s (Taxi Driver, 1976), the best movie of the 80s (Raging Bull, 1980), and now the best movie of the 90s.
posted by neuron at 8:39 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


God, I'm old.
posted by neuron at 8:40 PM on October 11, 2012


And he may have made the best movie set in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.
posted by mazola at 8:41 PM on October 11, 2012


Not sure I could sit through either today, but really, no Clerks? No Reality Bites? Those are about as 90s as it gets.
posted by dismitree at 9:07 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Count me as another of the "my decade" crowd. And yep, a pretty darn good list. I think I would have swapped a few positions, and most definitely include Silence of the Lambs over Blair Witch.

I was also very surprised (and a bit delighted) to see Out of Sight on the list (in the top ten, no less!) It's always been a pet favorite of mine, but I've never, ever met anyone who agrees.

(I can still recall how I freaked out at how damn cool it was when Michael Keaton showed up to reprise his role as Ray Nicolette from "Jackie Brown" but being disappointed that none of my friends would have gotten the significance.)
posted by ShutterBun at 9:18 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grosse Point Blank was my favorite movie. I've watched it endless times, and I still love it. Every single scene moves the story forward, and little things at the beginning show up at the end, but without hammering it home in the way that so many films do (well, except for the pen. Thanks, Ken.). It is supremely well put together, and moreso than most films I've ever seen, ever single person on the screen is a part of a story, whether we see it or not. The actors in the background of the reunion are all fully realized characters, with stories that we only witness flashes of.

One of the other things that just flows about the film is that Blank is never, ever dishonest with the people who matter to him. He tells Paul and Debbie exactly what he does. He even tells Debbie's father, and when they are confronted with the fact that he has, in fact, told the truth all along, they react as if he has somehow mislead them, or lied to them. There really isn't an off note in the film, and I still love it (aside from the horrible idea that someone had to try to make Violent Femmes sound like a lazy Morphine...)

As for Princess Mononoke... meh? Out of all of Miyazake's films, that's the one I don't rewatch. I mean, there are some beautiful visuals, but Nausica and (admittedly, 2000s) Spirited Away blow it out of the water.

The list they have is great, though The Thin Red Line seemed like a waste of time, like somehow they accidently mixed a nature documentary into a meandering war movie whose biggest revelation was, shockingly, that war is a dehumanizing experience that is like unto hell, and I'm pretty sure I've seen that movie, and it didn't suck as much, or have cameo's for cameo's sake (Hey! John Travolta!)

Remains of the Day is also nearly a perfect movie. The Rapture doesn't work, but it's a profoundly awesome idea, and worth watching. The Limey is possible the ultimate 'this man is a badass' film, and Terrance Stamp scares me.

And, just for fun, imagine Leon, but with Mathilda as a fully cognizant manipulator. Imagine a movie where she knows who Leon is, and knows she can use him. At the end, there's no touching scene with a house plant, she just leaves it in the building, or chucks it in a dumpster. Leon's dying, saying 'For... Ma...thil...da...' and meanwhile, Mathilda's skipping away, her revenge complete, with loads of cash, and ready for whatever comes next.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:18 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and totally agree about Clerks being overlooked. It belongs in the spot occupied by Dazed and Confused.

Also, please make room for Swingers, because, seriously.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:21 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Magnolia has to be in there somewhere, right?
posted by cnanderson at 5:25 PM on 10/11
[+] [!]


Eponysterical!

I didn't like that movie myself. I remember begrudgingly putting in the second VHS tape.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:24 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was also very surprised (and a bit delighted) to see Out of Sight on the list (in the top ten, no less!) It's always been a pet favorite of mine, but I've never, ever met anyone who agrees.

I Agree! I Agree!

(Though I'm not one who cares about nudity, I remain impressed at the central sequence in Out of Sight being a cross cut between a conversation and a sex scene that shows no sex and remains one of the most entrancing and erotic things ever filmed.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:29 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any list like this that includes Barton Fink is immediately suspect...
posted by Windopaene at 10:14 PM on October 11, 2012


Not a bad list. Agree that Silence of the Lambs is the biggest omission. And Out of Sight is a great movie (although #6 is definitely a little high).

My personal vote for most underrated would have to go to Nikita, though. I think that's gotta be my pet favorite that nobody else agrees with. (Actually, my wife liked it--but she refuses to watch it again because the ending is too sad!)
posted by equalpants at 10:35 PM on October 11, 2012


Oh, and totally agree about Clerks being overlooked. It belongs in the spot occupied by Dazed and Confused.

You're joking, right? On the other hand, Before Sunrise is a much better Linklater film from the 90's.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:16 PM on October 11, 2012


Not joking. I absolutely LOATHED Dazed. We can blame it for unleashing Matthew McConaughey on us, and little else. (seriously, does anything else from that movie ever "come up" in conversation? )
Slacker was a better Linklater film, and it was no Bottle Rocket, if you take my meaning.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:30 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I wonder how well this list correlates with Moriarty's legendary, unfinished THE NINETIES (aka Big Damn 90s List) from Ain't It Cool News. (That's 1996, as far as he got. I e-mailed him once or twice, begging....)
posted by dhartung at 11:56 PM on October 11, 2012


Out of Site is a better movie than Philadelphia. You heard it here first folks.
posted by karmiolz at 12:18 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like Goodfellas. There, I said it. Vastly overrated. And the list is pretty anglo centric and predictable.
posted by Alex404 at 12:22 AM on October 12, 2012


I absolutely LOATHED Dazed. We can blame it for unleashing Matthew McConaughey on us, and little else. (seriously, does anything else from that movie ever "come up" in conversation? )

*spits beer* BOWLING BALL
posted by mannequito at 1:28 AM on October 12, 2012


Although I'm glad to see that Hirokazu Koreeda's transcendent After Life at least made the also-ran's list - - it really deserves to be much, much higher on the list.
posted by fairmettle at 2:42 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


As an expert on movies and the 1990s, I can definitively state that this list was created by slack-jawed yokels who barely have the attention span to sit through a beer commercial. Hell, I bet they just sorted the IMDB list by number of ratings that other slack-jawed yokels assigned while they shoved artificially colored snacks into their gaping maws, periodically stopping to chortle at a YouTube clip of a monkey masturbating. Why? One simple mistake that exposes them all as uneducated frauds.

The greatest movie the 1990s ever produced isn't anywhere. A movie that defined the decade, defined a generation, and inspired countless young men and women to follow their dreams. This movie was so audacious, so breathtaking that it's omission reduces the entire list to nothing more than a joke.

I am, of course, talking about this. You probably know what it is before you even click on that link, the movie has embedded itself so perfectly into the cultural psyche of all who experienced the social upheaval that the movie created.
posted by cmonkey at 3:53 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Double Impact influenced me a great deal during the 90's.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:57 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's addressed in the Slate article, but goddamn that's a very US-centric list.
posted by kariebookish at 4:03 AM on October 12, 2012


A list of just 50 films for an entire decade is guaranteed to miss a lot of good stuff. So, I have to add a mention for Robert Duvall's The Apostle. Because...well...Robert Duvall. And, it's seriously good.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:11 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


cmonkey, if you haven't seen it, you probably want to watch this interview where Courtney Thorne-Smith tries to plug your favorite movie.
posted by paperzach at 4:22 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have seen so few of these movies. And there are several I loathe, or are just not worthy.
But at least Blair Witch beat out Trainspotting. As is proper.

But no Fifth Element?
posted by Mezentian at 4:41 AM on October 12, 2012


So, uh, no one but me loved Breakfast of Champions, hunh?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:45 AM on October 12, 2012


Bruce Willis's shiny teeth loved it too, Fuzzy.

They loved it too.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:50 AM on October 12, 2012


Breakfast of Champion the book? AWESOME.
The movie... eh. Very uneven.
posted by Mezentian at 4:50 AM on October 12, 2012


> On the other hand, Before Sunrise is a much better Linklater film from the 90's.

For sure. I recently re-watched Before Sunrise, and though I still feel it's overly long in the middle, it holds up remarkably well. And the sequel, Before Sunset, is one of my favourite films. I'm so excited they just finished making a third.

Out of Sight is wonderful.

The Slate list has some great additions. They mention Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman but I'd also add his charming The Wedding Banquet.
posted by Georgina at 4:55 AM on October 12, 2012


New rule: anybody who suggests a movie they would add to this list must also suggest a movie they would excise from it.
posted by thejoshu at 5:36 AM on October 12, 2012


And the A.V. Club ends the week with their personal least-liked '90s movies.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:10 AM on October 12, 2012


I was surprised to see Silence of the Lambs not on this list as well.

Sometimes - especially lately as their influence increases - I find the AV Club's reviews and whatnot tend to be painfully self-aware; unpleasantly concerned about the reviewer's place among those who are In The Know.

I guess I've always remembered them as tough but fair - they did, after all, give an A grade to Crank: High Voltage which, though it got them flack from commentors, was absolutely the correct grade to give that movie - but I remember at least one Cannes writeup where one of the reviewers was so delirious with the heady rush of being a Film Guy at Cannes that he spent a lot of time talking about how hard to impress he was and how a C grade from him was really like a B from anyone else.

And lately I've started noticing that they're hedging their bets a lot because they can't rightly predict if they're going to be seen as ahead of the curve or hilariously wrong about a movie, so they'll do this weird splitting thing where the letter grade and the written review don't match. The review of Prometheus is one in which the reviewer found a lot wrong with the movie but played it safe by tacking on the last few sentences of the review and a B+ grade. There have been some others too, lately, but I can't remember them at the moment.

Which sucks, because I'd really prefer to have a review site that's both well-informed and not trying to be Pitchfork. I don't give a shit if a review betrays a lack of hipness, or even a lack of a calculated appearance of lack of hipness.

All of which is to say that, other than worrying about having too many mainstream movies in their list, I really can't think of a reason not to include Silence of the Lambs on this thing because it was easily one of the best movies of its decade. Same with Beauty and the Beast, actually - it was the first animated movie ever nominated for Best Picture, and at a time when there were only five nominees per year.

Anyway. Other than that one nitpick, this is actually a pretty great list and I agree with almost all of it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:58 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Safe for the top spot for me.
posted by ifjuly at 8:24 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Exotica" should not be on any "best of" film list, ever. It's a horrible, unwatchable movie. I kept hoping it would get better, and it never did.
posted by cass at 8:45 AM on October 12, 2012


I guess I've always remembered them as tough but fair ...

I swear that the Onion's film reviews (pre-Internet) were intentionally mean -- a scale of basically D- to F, and citing actors' most embarrassing roles ("'Philadelphia' stars Tom Hanks ('Bosom Buddies') and Denzel Washington ('Carbon Copy')..."). Anyone else remember that? I suppose it doesn't count as "AV Club" per se.
posted by Etrigan at 8:56 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


A list of just 50 films for an entire decade is guaranteed to miss a lot of good stuff.

Which makes the discussion of what's on it and shouldn't be far more relevant than what hasn't been included.

So, to my mind, those dubious inclusions are:

Fast, Cheap + Out of Control - not bad just not really that high on even Errol Morris's best of list.

Eyes Wide Shut - again not bad, but given some of the exclusions, easily dismissible

Carlito's Way - see above

Exotica - only selection that actually made me choke on my coffee

Safe - no doubt, a strong movie, but also kind of heavy-handed. Makes its point in the first ten or fifteen minutes and then just stays there. I far prefer Todd Haynes when he's being audacious, reckless, rapturously telling the story of GLAM ...

So that's five available spaces. Which feels about right. Maybe six if drop Out of Sight, but as that would have to be replaced with either Jackie Brown or Get Shorty (both superior Elmore Leonard adaptations), it doesn't really count.
posted by philip-random at 9:04 AM on October 12, 2012


Out Of Sight is everything mainstream Hollywood filmmaking should be but so rarely is.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:14 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eyes Wide Shut - again not bad, but given some of the exclusions, easily dismissible

It's Kubrick's most cynical, bleakest movie.

I totally agree re: Safe however.
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on October 12, 2012


> I am, of course, talking about this. You probably know what it is before you even click on that link, the movie has embedded itself so perfectly into the cultural psyche of all who experienced the social upheaval that the movie created.

I rented that one for a bad movie night and we didn't even make it past the credit sequence. *shudder*
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2012


And the A.V. Club ends the week with their personal least-liked '90s movies.

Wow. At least they didn't call it "objectively worst" because there is an awful lot of wrong there.

In retrospect American Beauty does seem vastly overrated though.
posted by Artw at 9:24 AM on October 12, 2012


It's Kubrick's most cynical, bleakest movie.

I don't know about that... the entire planet isn't an irradiated wasteland with a handful of people living in mineshafts at the end. You have to work pretty hard to be bleaker (and more awesome) than Strangelove.
posted by COBRA! at 9:27 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chasing Amy probably does mark the point when Kevin Smith's shtick stops being charming though.
posted by Artw at 9:27 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fast, Cheap + Out of Control - not bad just not really that high on even Errol Morris's best of list.

It is his best movie, and has been a huge influence on a whole bunch of documentary filmmakers, myself included. And yes, I think he is the best living documentary filmmaker. I also like his commercials.

I think the list is generally very good, but I would put Pulp Fiction at number 1, swap out Slacker (which is another hugely influential movie) for Dazed And Confused, put The Big Lebowski in the top ten, and find a spot for Three Kings somewhere.

Also, I recently rewatched Natural Born Killers, and I think it is much better than its reputation suggests. It's a big mess, but it sure felt ahead of its time.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:49 AM on October 12, 2012


I don't know about that... the entire planet isn't an irradiated wasteland with a handful of people living in mineshafts at the end.

Eyes Wide Shut cements Kubrick's career-long thesis that humans are stupid monkeys fucking each other for spite.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:58 AM on October 12, 2012


I might be giving True Romance a rewatch after this.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on October 12, 2012


Here's a weird one: How about Galaxy Quest. Maybe it's because the film didn't aspire to much. Or maybe it's because you get the sense that it's almost a fluke that it turned out so well...?

Plus, Silence of the Lambs omission is actually kind of big.
posted by Trochanter at 10:07 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Silence of the Lambs actually cast a huge shadow over procedurals, depictions of the FBI, all this stuff. Hell, no silence of the Lambs no X-Files, there's a big 90s defining property. I have to assume they got confused about dates or something.
posted by Artw at 10:10 AM on October 12, 2012


With that many titles that I've never heard of, that many with which I so vehemently disagree, and this many uses of the word "obvious" that I entirely disagree with, I...

guess I'm not a 'movie person.'
posted by herbplarfegan at 10:16 AM on October 12, 2012


Plus Silence of the Lambs figures prominently in my Feminism And Sexual Ethics In Horror Films class that I will one day teach, lord willing.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:18 AM on October 12, 2012


Unbelievable that no one has mentioned The Commitments, which has pretty much everything I want in a movie except for science fiction and a soundtrack that never stops kicking ass. As for the AV Club list, well, I just disagree with too many of those choices.
posted by billsaysthis at 10:38 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The individual reviewers' blurbs on the Orphans and Most Hated lists really speaks to what an effort it must have been to condense everyone's feelings into a single list. Cory Casciato's screed about Face/Off is just bizarre. I do not understand the disconnect between claiming to have the proper expectations about what it would be, and "...disgust settling in about 20 minutes into the film."

Cage and Travolta are pretty spectacular at playing each other in the movie. It's a cartoon, of course, but WHAT a cartoon. IT ENDS IN A BOAT CHASE.

The new show, on SyFy, that's called Face Off? And gets my hopes up every time I see it in the program guide? Spoiler Alert: At no point does that program feature Nic Cage saying he wants to "take his face... off." (polite applause)
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:09 AM on October 12, 2012


I do not understand the disconnect between claiming to have the proper expectations about what it would be, and "...disgust settling in about 20 minutes into the film."

I don't see where Casciato said he had 'proper expectations' - he said he had high expectations. I identified a lot with that Face/Off review. Nowadays it would be completely in-character for both Travolta and Cage, because they were in Face/Off", but at the time Travolta was still "that guy from Pulp Fiction" and Cage was "that guy from Con Air/The Rock/Leaving Las Vegas/Wild at Heart/Moonstruck/Raising Arizona/Peggy Sue Got Married".
posted by muddgirl at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Face/Off is awesome because they take Cage's face... off.

/does hand motions.

(Lot of hand acting in that movie. Not quite X-Men: First Class, but close)
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Artw: "Chasing Amy probably does mark the point when Kevin Smith's shtick stops being charming though."

I like most of what Kevin Smith does, but God, that movie is completely unwatchable for me.

As others have said, this is a great and well-thought-out list that rightly includes some lesser-known films that have aged well, without crossing over into pretentiousness.

Also, when I read these things, I try not to look at the individual rankings too closely, and acknowledge that there will always be one or two choices/omissions that I'll disagree with. With that in mind, this is a phenomenal list.

I'm very okay with the fact that most of the "big-name" movies (mentioned above) didn't make the cut. Jurassic Park hasn't aged as well as I thought it would, but probably belongs in a "50-100" list. Titanic wouldn't even belong on that list, and I only find it notable for launching Leonardo DiCaprio up to the A-list, where he eventually grew into a great actor.

Apollo 13 belongs on the list. IMHO, that's one of the most glaring omissions. It's a movie that doesn't do much, but it does it well. Usual Suspects also deserved a spot, and The Lion King probably deserves an honorary spot as the last great American hand-animated film.

Galaxy Quest. There'a a terrible omission. It's aged remarkably well, and the satire is almost more poignant today than it was back then. It's one of those rare satires that ends up becoming one of the best and most iconic films in the genre that it's mocking. The 90s weren't a good time for Star Trek or any of its spiritual successors. Galaxy Quest bucked that trend.

I only saw Pulp Fiction very recently, and it didn't live up to the hype. Yes, it's a brilliant and meticulously-crafted movie, but it left me feeling empty at the end (like only Tarantino can do). In that vein, I'd cautiously lump it in with the list of popular/iconic 90s schitck that doesn't stand well on its own. It deserves a spot on the list, but not in the top 10.


Their list of overlooked films also has some gems: The Iron Giant never got the reputation that it deserved, and The Piano has a stunningly gorgeous soundtrack (oddly, I've never actually seen the film itself).
posted by schmod at 11:48 AM on October 12, 2012


Galaxy Quest opened on 12/25/99, maybe they felt like it wasn't enough of a "90's movie" to make the list? (not sure if that would apply to any others on the list)

And let's be fair: it's a movie that really had to "ferment" for about a decade before really being embraced by more than a handful of fans. Now that SciFi conventions are ubiquitous mass media affairs and the geeks have truly inherited the earth, the film's raison d'être is more poignant than ever. That wasn't necessarily true of it in the 90's.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:23 PM on October 12, 2012


But I would think that, given that Cage had already put out Con Air/The Rock, and Woo/Travolta had already done Broken Arrow, having high expectations would have have required knowing these things, no?

I get that there's a bit of a leap from those projects to Face/Off in terms of how daffy they are, and maybe it's just easier to see in hindsight, but I'm still not seeing the disconnect.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:57 PM on October 12, 2012


But I would think that, given that Cage had already put out Con Air/The Rock, and Woo/Travolta had already done Broken Arrow, having high expectations would have have required knowing these things, no?

Con Air, The Rock, and yes even Broken Arrow are relatively fun dumb action movies. Face/Off was not fun in any way, which is entirely unexpected. Because it's about people taking their faces off. Why wasn't it fun?

A lot of critics and fans liked Face/Off. Casciato and I didn't.
posted by muddgirl at 1:16 PM on October 12, 2012


I would rather see a list of 50 filmmakers from the 90's you should check out, in alphabetical order. Because listing them from best to least is just not going to work. Plus it bypasses all the "little gems" that are supposedly underrated. Save those for another list.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:21 PM on October 12, 2012


I think someone should do an edit where they take out any scene or mention of the switching faces. I believe that it would garner all kinds of fame from critics hailing it as a brilliant post-modern take on Jekyll and Hyde.

Jodorowsky would weep with jealousy
posted by P.o.B. at 1:29 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, following up on my IMDb comparison above, I used icheckmovies to compare 1990s movies based on how many critical favorite and awards lists they were included in. These lists include IMDb rankings and other similar websites (like reddit movie rankings), so I excluded Internet user lists. This tally results in 28 movies not featured on the AV list, many of which are on the IMDb list.

1) Silence of the Lambs
6) American Beauty
-Forrest Gump
-Three Colors: Blue
10) English Patient
-Toy Story
14) The Celebration
-Dances With Wolves
-Saving Private Ryan
17) Magnolia
-Secrets and Lies
-Shakespeare in Love
-Shawshank Redemption
-Sixth Sense
-Titanic
26) A Taste of Cherry
-Beauty and the Beast
-Brave Heart
-Delicatessen
-Sense and Sensibility
-Three Colors: White
-Usual Suspects
37) Crying Game
-Farewell My Concubine
-Four Weddings and a Funeral
-JFK
-Jurrasic Park
-La belle noiseuse
posted by dgaicun at 3:51 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't miss Silence of the Lambs. A very good thriller, no question, but complete bullshit in terms of the reality of what serial killers are really like (ie: just not that interesting). So given how seriously it takes itself, it ends up kind of lost ... and pretentious.

Forrest Gump, 10) English Patient, -Dances With Wolves, -Shakespeare in Love, -Titanic, -Four Weddings and a Funeral,

These are all less-than-essential movies. Their exclusion from the AV-Club list speaks volumes for its credibility.
posted by philip-random at 4:18 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


These are all less-than-essential movies.

Depending on the soundness of my methodology, these are almost by definition the essential movies since they are roughly based on number of movie industry awards and critical kudos. I can have my own personal opinion about Forrest Gump ("meh"), but I can't deny that it is on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest movies, or that it won Best Picture in 1994, that it is one of only about maybe thirteen films from the 1990s yet to be inducted into the National Film Registry, etc.

Of course, which movies are "essential" can vary by individual and sub-culture (e.g. that NYT Netflix zipcode map from a few years ago suggested there are many areas of the U.S. where you might not be able to talk about films with the average person you met, unless you saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop). That's fine.
posted by dgaicun at 6:06 PM on October 12, 2012


Chunky Express (as it was known to me and my friends) was really a masterwork, and representative of 90's film, I must say.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:14 PM on October 12, 2012


For the people complaining this list is too US-centric (even though AV Club is an American online pub), would adding a Lars von Trier film make this list better?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:20 PM on October 12, 2012


Not Lars Von Trier, but Dogma -

The Celebration
posted by philip-random at 7:31 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Blue is, for my money, far superior to Red.

Also I really like Shakespeare in Love because it has Tom Stoppard's fingerprints all over it.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:09 PM on October 12, 2012


Also, the Dardenne brothers need to be on there.

Yeah, La Promesse in particular is a pretty shocking omission. The Slate list is much closer to what I remember as the best of the 90s: La Haine, Lisa Cholodenko's amazing High Art, the savage and prescient Man Bites Dog, Europa Europa, Boyz 'N The Hood (come on, if that's not one of the best *and* most essential movies of the 1990s, the idea has no meaning), Secrets and Lies (Mike Leigh deserves at least as many spots as the Coens)...I think the AV Club list is adequate and useful, but the criticism of its conservative sexism and nationalism is spot-on and the list should probably be remembered for that as much as anything else.

I mean, did Scott Tobias actually tweet, "The list raises questions about institutional bias in ’90s filmmaking here and abroad. In itself, it is neutral"? Seriously? Yow. What a surprisingly naive argument. I can only hope he clarified it somewhere at longer than 140 characters.
posted by mediareport at 9:52 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The list has no female or african american directors. Slate and Indiewire respond.

As good as the AV list is, I have to admit I would rather watch something random off the Slate list on netflix:

The Dreamlife of Angels (1998) dir. Erick Zonca
The Virgin Suicides (1999) dir. Sofia Coppola
Summer of Sam (1999) dir. Spike Lee
Malcolm X (1992) dir. Spike Lee
Boyz N the Hood (1991) dir. John Singleton
Point Break (1991) dir. Kathryn Bigelow
Clueless (1995) dir. Amy Heckerling
Wayne’s World (1992) dir. Penelope Spheeris
River of Grass (1994) dir. Kelly Reichardt
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) dir. Ang Lee
Sonatine (1993) dir. Takeshi Kitano
Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo
A League of Their Own (1992) dir. Penny Marshall
Before the Rain (1994) dir. Milcho Manchevski
Cronos (1993) dir. Guillermo Del Toro
Princess Mononoke (1997) dir. Hayao Miyazaki
Abre los Ojos (1997) dir. Alejandro Amenabar
La Haine (1995) dir. Mathieu Kassovitz
Run Lola Run (1998) dir. Tom Tykwer
posted by kettleoffish at 10:26 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man. La Haine.
posted by Artw at 11:40 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, haven't seen Dreamlife of Angels, River of Grass, Eat Drink, Before the Rain, Cronos, Abre los Ojos ... but of the others, only La Haine is conspicuous by its absence on the Onion AV list.

The list has no female or african american directors. Slate and Indiewire respond.

I'm conflicted about this. But at a gut level, I don't think lists like this should be based on fairness, or quotas. Fact is, African Americans and women didn't get many directorial opportunities in the 90s. That can't be undone. Things are better now ... but we've still got a long way to go.
posted by philip-random at 1:00 AM on October 13, 2012


But the point of the criticism is that *despite* the fact that African-Americans and women didn't get many directorial opportunities in the 90s, a few of them managed to make some of the greatest films of the decade, and the AV Club folks stupidly overlooked those. And there's really no excuse for missing so many great foreign films, except that the AV Club folks were surprisingly blinkered on that point.

Surprisingly blinkered. Yeah, that'll do for a quick summary.
posted by mediareport at 5:18 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I honestly was surprised none of Spike Lee's films showed up. Like I said, make it about directors so you don't have the Coens eating up four spots and you still have space for someone like Coppola who went onto bigger things.

Like Somewhere.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:57 AM on October 13, 2012


the Coens eating up four spots

Yeah, I love how they apologize in the intro - "Filmmakers who had a particularly good decade were often divided against themselves in the voting" - and then give four of the the top 21 spots to Coen brothers films. Please. 4 of the 5 films the Coen brothers made in the 90s make a best-of-the-decade list, and the Dardenne brothers get nothing? And there's not one film made by a female or African-American director worthy of the cut? Good lord, that's insane.

Probably just me, but I'd be really embarrassed at making that kind of mistake.
posted by mediareport at 6:27 AM on October 13, 2012


They had a very good 90s.
posted by Artw at 6:42 AM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Eh. So did a lot of other directors. I'd say this list is a perfect bit of evidence for how over-rated the Coen brothers are. Lebowski in particular is ridiculous on this list.
posted by mediareport at 6:46 AM on October 13, 2012


Oh dear. All things are subjective, all lists are flawed, but sorry, no.
posted by Artw at 6:48 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the refreshing thing about this list is its willingness to understand comedies as perfectly capable of greatness.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:46 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, as much as I like the Coen brothers, their over representation does underscore what is really wrong with that list beyond the simple idea of actually trying to rate movies.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:58 AM on October 13, 2012


Unforgiven's always seemed to me an overrated movie that has a fantastic primary cast and engaging concept/context, but is almost ruined by the shit acting of everyone else and cruddy directing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:52 AM on October 13, 2012


But the point of the criticism is that *despite* the fact that African-Americans and women didn't get many directorial opportunities in the 90s, a few of them managed to make some of the greatest films of the decade, and the AV Club folks stupidly overlooked those.

I disagree. I think there is remarkably little STUPID on the AV-Club list. For instance, all four of those Coen Bros movies deserve to be included. That's what greatness is. I sincerely believe that Millers Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo and Big Lebowski are all better than ...

The Virgin Suicides (1999) dir. Sofia Coppola
Summer of Sam (1999) dir. Spike Lee
Malcolm X (1992) dir. Spike Lee
Boyz N the Hood (1991) dir. John Singleton
Point Break (1991) dir. Kathryn Bigelow
Clueless (1995) dir. Amy Heckerling
Wayne’s World (1992) dir. Penelope Spheeris
Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo
A League of Their Own (1992) dir. Penny Marshall
Run Lola Run (1998) dir. Tom Tykwer

Which doesn't mean I didn't really, really like some of them (no particular love for Summer of Sam, Point Break, A League of Their Own, I must admit).

Of course, Princess Mononoke (1997) and La Haine (1995) -- there's room for argument there. But I wouldn't get rid of one of he Coen selections. Maybe bump Exotica and Safe.

Again. What are we talking about here? Greatness or Fairness? I mean, do you honestly want to tell someone like Stanley Kubrick (in heaven or perhaps hell) that The Shining and Clockwork Orange need to be removed from the All Time Greats list because he's hogging too many places and it's not fair to everyone else?
posted by philip-random at 12:05 PM on October 13, 2012


I'd bump the Kubrick before I bumped any of the Coens TBH. Not a decade for great work from him.

Though I like the idea of rewatching Eyes Wide Shut from the point of view that Cruise has been magically transported to Carcosa.
posted by Artw at 12:30 PM on October 13, 2012


well, yeah, I could live without Eyes Wide Shut on the list as well. Though I have noticed that it seems to have hit a nerve lately among some of the young adults I know -- taking it very seriously.
posted by philip-random at 12:38 PM on October 13, 2012


I don't mind any of Cones films talked about amongst the greatest films of the 90's, but knocking out four slots for them is a bit biased. How did they only manage to pick one of The Three Colors Trilogy? What about Delicatessen or City of Lost Children? Lee made almost a dozen films in the 90's, you're saying none of them had any impact? Kubrick is one of the greatest filmmakers, full stop. Eyes Wide Shut coming off the list would be very shortsighted. None of those documentaries were earth shattering, they can go. Actually it would be really easy to dump quite a few films from the list to make room for better ones.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:02 PM on October 13, 2012


... or to at least make room for comparable films.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:11 PM on October 13, 2012


If Eyes Wide is on the list purely out of deference to prior works rather than any intrinsic value then I say nuke it with extreme prejudice.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on October 13, 2012


Nope, Eyes Wide Shut is a brilliant film.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:16 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. Yes it is.
posted by The Whelk at 1:21 PM on October 13, 2012


That really didn't make itself apparent upon watching. Now, I'm open to the idea that it might seem better upon rewatching, but I very much doubt that it would be more than, say, a tenth as good as an actual decent Kubrick film.
posted by Artw at 1:21 PM on October 13, 2012


It's arguably the most visually told of any Kubrick. Nothing the characters are talking about has to do with what the movie is "about." The characters are talking about sex, but the movie is talking about money.
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on October 13, 2012




if only for this paragraph:

"Being beautiful is Alice's job, as much as it is the former beauty queen and call girl Mandy's or the hooker Domino's. During the quotidian-life-of-the-Harfords montage, in which her husband examines patients at the office, we only see Alice tending to her toilette: brushing her daughter's hair, regally hooking on a brassiere, applying deodorant in front of the bathroom mirror. Hers is the daytime regimen of a courtesan (or an actress), devoted to the rigorous maintenance of her looks. She's associated, more than any other character, with mirrors; we see her giving herself a critical once-over before leaving the party, and look of frank self-assessment in the medicine cabinet when she decides to get stoned. Her expression in the mirror as she watches her husband making love to her (the film's iconic image) begins as bemusement, giving way to fondness and arousal, but in the last seconds before the fade-out it becomes something more ambiguous, distracted and self-conscious; this is her moment of clearest self-recognition, an uncomfortable glimpse of what she really is. "
posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's also the film where Kubrick pays most attention to his mise-en-scene, which is saying something.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:46 PM on October 13, 2012


I'm enjoying how the AV Club list and this thread are establishing a much larger canon of good 90's movies. We're not just listing the top 50; we're listing all the good 90's movies.

I haven't seen The Spanish Prisoner, The Game, Lost Highway, or Existenz mentioned anywhere... I don't know if they're top fifty, but I'm a fan of them all, so want to give them a mention.
posted by painquale at 9:15 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've long since given up on arguing with folks about the merits of The Big Lebowski - to me, both a very funny and ridiculously over-rated film from directors who never quite seem to live up to their promise - since there's something about it that short-circuits reason in a lot of folks. But I'll go to the mat over the inclusion of Miller's Crossing over any of the other films I've mentioned previously: La Haine, La Promesse, High Art, Man Bites Dog, Europa Europa and Boyz 'N The Hood, each of which is at least as distinctive, and more deep and interesting, than what the AV Club folks agreed to valorize.

It's ridiculously narrow-minded to give 4 of your top 21 spots to the Coen Brothers while ignoring those essential 90s films. And yeah, I think Barton Fink's over-rated, too - a writer's movie that writers adore but is relatively empty as a whole - but will back off on that one because it's such a great example of "who gives a fuck what the audience thinks" filmmaking and I tend to love that.
posted by mediareport at 8:37 AM on October 14, 2012


"who never quite seem to live up to their promise"

...except for Fargo, A Serious Man and Blood Simple, I should say.
posted by mediareport at 8:39 AM on October 14, 2012


Okay,

It's not a bad list. It's good to see the under-rated Carlito's Way, and Fast Cheap & Outta Control, and the often misunderstood Starship Troopers included in the long list.

Coen Bros always rock, except when they don't. Silence of The Lambs was an over-rated slasher flick. Eyes Wide Shut was awful, and Stanley Kubrick died at the editing table when he realized that his final mess was unworkable. Goodfellas has a swell narrative, but only really deserved the final win for that "diegetic" scene of Pesci beating someone to death while listening to Donovan's Atlantis on the jukebox. Casino was a retread: "a previously worn tire which has gone through a remanufacturing process designed to extend its useful service life."

The Orphans and Outliers list included some works which deserved a place. More Gilliam, please.

In my personal opinion, Malcolm X was the greatest film of the 1990's. If a director complains that his movie was unfairly neglected in the Academy Awards, it's usually just sour grapes, but in this case, Spike was correct: Shakespeare in Love was entertaining and fun, but Malcolm X had a profound resonance to it, it was intense.
posted by ovvl at 4:50 PM on October 14, 2012


In my personal opinion, Malcolm X was the greatest film of the 1990's. If a director complains that his movie was unfairly neglected in the Academy Awards, it's usually just sour grapes, but in this case, Spike was correct: Shakespeare in Love was entertaining and fun, but Malcolm X had a profound resonance to it, it was intense.

Shakespeare in Love was 1998 - the crime there was giving it to that instead of Saving Private Ryan. Malcolm X was 1992, and was up against A Few Good Men, Scent of a Woman, The Crying Game, Howard's End, and the winner, Unforgiven. There's no shortage of intense movies with profound resonance.
posted by kafziel at 10:05 AM on October 15, 2012


Sorry, I must have been dreaming of an alternate 1990's (we can call it "Alt-90's").

If I try hard enough, I can dream up another even more interesting alternate decade.
posted by ovvl at 8:22 PM on October 15, 2012


I'm pretty sure "Alt-90's" is what the actual 1990s were called.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:59 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure "Alt-90's" is what the actual 1990s were called.

I was originally thinking of a Sci-Fi alternative history in a different dimension where everyone wears zoot suits, watches profound meaningful films, and listens to mellow 50's lounge music, but instead I made a joke about radio programming, and you got it.
posted by ovvl at 8:27 PM on October 17, 2012


A different opinion of the best films of the 90s.

Now I wonder if someone at the AVClub is a secret Mefite: The 10 best films of the 1890s
posted by muddgirl at 2:08 PM on October 19, 2012


Or maybe it's just a really obvious joke.
posted by muddgirl at 2:22 PM on October 19, 2012


the 1990s/1890s joke reminds me of Portlandia:

Dream of the (19)90s
Dream of the (18)90s
posted by mannequito at 6:31 PM on October 19, 2012


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