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


Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

The Apostle (1997), 134 minutes, D: Robert Duvall

As Good As It Gets (1997), 130 minutes, D: James L. Brooks

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), 89 minutes, D: Jay Roach
See Austin Powers series.

Boogie Nights (1997), 155 minutes, D: Paul Thomas Anderson

Deconstructing Harry (1997), 96 minutes, D: Woody Allen

Eve's Bayou (1997), 109 minutes, D: Kasi Lemmons

The Fifth Element (1997, Fr.), 125 minutes, D: Luc Besson

The Full Monty (1997, UK), 90 minutes, D: Peter Cattaneo

Good Will Hunting (1997), 126 minutes, D: Gus Van Sant

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), 107 minutes, D: George Armitage

The Ice Storm (1997), 113 minutes, D: Ang Lee

In the Company of Men (1997), 93 minutes, D: Neil LaBute

Kiss the Girls (1997), 115 minutes, D: Gary Fleder
This realistic murder thriller began when a college-age violinist (Gina Ravera) went missing in Durham, North Carolina. Her uncle, best-selling author and D.C. forensics expert Dr. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman), joined local detectives and an FBI agent (Jay O. Sanders) at the scene, where eight girls were now missing and three bodies had been found. The demented serial killer, who called himself Casanova, was a collector who took captured "specimens" and imprisoned them in an underground lair, ritualistically raping and killing them if they violated his trust. A ninth kidnapped victim - strong-willed kickboxing medical intern Dr. Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd) - was bound and drugged but escaped from Casanova (in a thrilling dash through the woods) and joined Cross in the search. A second killer, a competing psychopath known as The Gentleman Caller was discovered operating in the LA area. One red-herring suspect, Dr. Wick Sachs (William Converse-Roberts), confessed, but ultimately an unlikely pair of suspects were revealed as the evil collaborators.

Kundun (1997), 128 minutes, D: Martin Scorsese

L. A. Confidential (1997), 136 minutes: D: Curtis Hanson
A gritty, violent, thrilling film noirish tale of sex, conspiracy, scandal, double-cross and betrayal, racism and corruption in early 1950's LA, committed by the police, politicians, and the press. The film pays homage to Robert Towne's earlier noir-based film Chinatown (1974) set in the same City of Angels, and the classics The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946). Based on a thriller novel by James Ellroy, the film is about the intertwining lives of three very diverse LAPD officers (in an ensemble cast) who use incompatible methods while tackling a multiple murder scene at the all-night diner the Night Owl. Brutal, hot-tempered tough cop Bud Smith (Russell Crowe) uses muscle and violence, while moralistic, clean-cut, college-educated rookie Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) is law-abiding, idealistic, and does everything "by the book." A third narcotics cop, smooth Sgt. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) moonlights as a technical advisor for a sleazy Dragnet-style TV cop show and provides scandal-fodder for celebrity tabloid magazine Hush-Hush (headed by amoral editor-in-chief Sid Hudgens (Danny De Vito) whose trademark closing line for all articles is: "You heard it here first, off the record, on the 'QT', and very hush-hush"). All three are overseen by sinister Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell), who seems resigned to the corruption in the city and in his own police force. Kim Basinger, in a supporting Oscar-winning role, plays high-class femme fatale Lynn Bracken (a Veronica Lake look-alike through surgical enhancements) who works for a pornographer (David Strathairn) who hires out celebrity look-alike prostitutes.

Life is Beautiful (1997, It.) (aka La Vita E Bella), 122 minutes, D: Roberto Benigni

Lost Highway (1997), 135 minutes, D: David Lynch

Open Your Eyes (1997, Sp./Fr./It.) (aka Abre Los Ojos), 117 minutes, D: Alejandro Amenabar

Princess Mononoke (1997, Jp.), 133 minutes, D: Hayao Miyazaki

The Sweet Hereafter (1997, Canada), 112 minutes, D: Atom Egoyan

Titanic (1997), 197 minutes, D: James Cameron
Writer/director James Cameron's three-plus hour, epic mega-blockbuster with the most expensive budget of any film up to its time, and extravagant visual and digital effects. Its story centered around an infamous part of history (the fateful night of April 15, 1912 for White Star Line's R.M.S. Titanic) with a doomed, fictional romance at its core. It begins with treasure-seekers in a salvage expedition at the submerged ship led by Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton), who discover a safebox with a drawing of a woman wearing a 56-carat blue diamond necklace. They connect it to 102 year-old survivor Rose Dawson Calvert (Gloria Stuart) who revisits the site of the sinking, and reminisces, in flashback, about an ill-fated, forbidden romance she had when she was a seventeen year-old society girl. with lower-class, starving artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). Earlier a debutante named Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), she had been forced by her mother Ruth (Frances Fisher) to become engaged to rich, arrogant socialite Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) and was on her way to Philadelphia to marry. Feeling hopelessly trapped, she tried to commit suicide from the aft deck rather than accept the arranged marriage, but was rescued by Jack. Although Jack was slighted by her upper-class family, she forsook her future with Cal and asked Jack to sketch her in the nude wearing the invaluable blue diamond, and they fell in love. When the ship hit the iceberg in the frigid North Atlantic and split in two, Jack sacrificed himself and again saved her from sure death. The characters of Rose and Jack and their romance wisely dominate the film, although there are some secondary subplots. Fans (mostly female) returned many dozens of times to enjoy the tale over and over and helped the film become the highest grossing motion picture of all time. Although praised by critics and the viewing public, there was some backlash about its acting (especially DiCaprio's) and its screenplay - Titanic became the first Best Picture winner to not have a Best Screenplay nomination since The Sound of Music (1965).

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