Greatest Films of the 1990s
Greatest Films of the 1990s


Greatest Films of the 1990s
1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999

1993

Age of Innocence (1993), 138 minutes, D: Martin Scorsese
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Groundhog Day (1993), 101 minutes, D: Harold Ramis
Self-centered, pompous and cynical Pittsburgh weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is forced to repeat his most unfavorite day, Groundhog Day (February 2nd), over and over again in this hysterically-funny, allegorical romantic fantasy-comedy. His assignment, for the sixth year, is to cover the famous Punxsutawney (PA) Phil -- the "official" groundhog -- a furry animal that predicts if Spring will have to wait another six weeks if it sees its own shadow. The thought-provoking story line by co-scriptwriter Danny Rubin, a meaningful existential thesis, was more or less a version of the Oscar-nominated, live-action short film 12:01 PM (1990) by Jonathan Heap, which was later expanded into a feature-length, science-fiction TV film titled 12:01 (1993), directed by Jack Sholder. The exact reason for the countless time-warp loop is never explained as the same day endlessly repeats itself, not even interrupted by Connors' numerous deaths and suicide attempts. As an Everyman stuck in repeating time, Phil's reaction to his situation moves from disbelief and denial, to annoyance and then anger, to chicanery and lustfulness, to despair and depression, and then to bargaining and finally to acceptance and philanthropy, as exemplified by his repeated dealings with the supremely annoying insurance salesman named "Needlenose" Ned Ryerson (Stephen Tobolowsky). Perhaps Murray's own Phil must remove the shadow from his own life, change his behavior, and become a better person before he can continue it. His relentless deja-vu experiences gradually change him from a grouch to a decent human being. Perhaps his life's wake-up call and endless reincarnations assist him in perfectly winning the heart of beautiful TV producer Rita (Andie MacDowell).

In the Name of the Father (1993, UK), 133 minutes, D: Jim Sheridan
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Jurassic Park (1993), 126 minutes, D: Steven Spielberg
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The Nightmare Before Christmas (Tim Burton's) (1993), 76 minutes, D: Henry Selick
AKA: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. A charming, ground-breaking, macabre fantasy-musical film in its use of computers to aid the complex, painstaking stop-motion animation process. This is the first full-length stop-motion animated film, based on the parodic poem of the same name by visionary producer Burton, written when he was a Disney animator. This original, fanciful yet twisted tale is about a bored, depressed and skeletal Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon with Elfman supplying his singing voice) with shy rag-doll Sally (Catherine O'Hara) as his understanding and loyal girlfriend from afar. Jack grows weary of his repetitive role as the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town with its pagan holiday. When he discovers the enchanting, radically-different Christmas Town and its leader Santa Claus (Edward Ivory), he becomes obsessed with trying to capture the town's joy. His well-meaning but disastrous mission to steal the holiday puts Santa Claus into jeopardy when he is kidnapped and tortured. An extraordinary achievement, from its wonderfully realized set designs -- like the dark, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-ish and The Night of the Hunter-ish Halloween Town and the round, bright Christmas Town (based on Seuss' artwork, reminiscient of Whoville) -- to the jazzily unorthodox lyrics by Oingo Boingo's Elfman ("And since I am dead / I can take off my head / And recite Shakespearean quotations"). The film was largely ignored in its initial release, but gained a dedicated following on video release that grew quickly.

Philadelphia (1993), 125 minutes, D: Jonathan Demme
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The Piano (1993, Australia/Fr.), 121 minutes, D: Jane Campion
New Zealand director/screenwriter Jane Campion's third feature -- a compelling, disturbing, erotic and psychosexual costume drama about a mute mail-order bride, a refined European woman named Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), who travels with her spiteful 9-year-old daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) from 1850s Scotland to the New Zealand wilderness for an arranged marriage with patriarchal British emigrant landowner Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill). Upon arrival, her prized possession, a piano, is insensitively left on the desolate coastal beach and later rescued-sold to a coarse, illiterate and tattooed Maori settler (Stewart's overseer) named George Baines (Harvey Keitel). The headstrong Ada is left despondent, and artistically and emotionally frustrated without the outlet of her piano-playing. Although she is repulsed by George, she is offered a blackmailing sexual deal with him to slowly buy back the piano and give him a series of piano lessons. Soon, their relationship is transformed into a torrid love affair and sensual/emotional liberation for the two, while she never consummates her marriage with the shy Alisdair. Campion's Academy Award nomination as Best Director made her only the second woman in Oscar history to be nominated in the category.

The Remains of the Day (1993, UK), 134 minutes, D: James Ivory
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Schindler's List (1993), 197 minutes, D: Steven Spielberg
Spielberg's greatest dramatic, black and white masterpiece, based on a true story of an opportunistic German businessman and charming womanizer Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who profits from WWII by employing cheap labor from Polish Jews in his Cracow cookware factory during the Third Reich's Holocaust, and provides them refuge from the horrors of the Nazis. The film also documents the hideous, disturbing evil personified by Nazi Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) - the Plaszow camp commandant, Schindler's relationship with his Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) and their list-making to courageously save over 1,000 Jews from the senseless, brutal extermination in Auschwitz.

Shadowlands (1993, UK), 133 minutes, D: Richard Attenborough
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Short Cuts (1993), 189 minutes, D: Robert Altman
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Sleepless in Seattle (1993), 105 minutes, D: Nora Ephron
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Trois Couleurs: Bleu (1993, Fr./Pol./Switz.) (aka Three Colors: Blue), 100 minutes, D: Krzysztof Kieslowski
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True Romance (1993), 116 minutes, D: Tony Scott
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