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

1999

All About My Mother (1999, Sp./Fr.) (aka Todo Sobre Mi Madre), 101 minutes, D: Pedro Almodovar
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American Beauty (1999), 120 minutes, D: Sam Mendes
The tragic, absurdist, dark domestic tale of Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), who calmly narrates his own story posthumously a la Joe Gillis from Sunset Boulevard (1950) - he's a "chronic loser" and American suburbanite family man who is unable to speak his mind or actually feel much of anything. But in a mid-life awakening, he becomes infatuated with his self-loathing daughter Jane's (Thora Birch) under-aged cheerleader friend Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari). After enduring too many years of a demeaning job, and a dysfunctional marriage to his obsessive-compulsive, adulterous realtor wife Carolyn (Annette Bening), while feeling disrepect from Jane -- who has fallen for the drug-peddling, video-voyeur neighbor next door Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley), Lester decides to make radical, ultimately fatal changes to his suburban life. A Best Picture-winning film.

The Audition (1999, Jp./S.Kor.) (aka Odishon), 115 minutes, D: Takashi Miike
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Being John Malkovich (1999), 112 minutes, D: Spike Jonze
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The Blair Witch Project (1999), 87 minutes, D: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez
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Boys Don't Cry (1999), 116 minutes, D: Kimberly Peirce
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Eyes Wide Shut (1999), 159 minutes, D: Stanley Kubrick
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Fight Club (1999), 139 minutes, D: David Fincher
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The Insider (1999), 157 minutes, D: Michael Mann
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The Iron Giant (1999), 86 minutes, D: Brad Bird
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Magnolia (1999), 188 minutes, D: Paul Thomas Anderson
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The Matrix (1999), 136 minutes, D: Andy and Larry Wachowski
The Wachowski Brothers' popular, imaginative, visually-stunning science-fiction action film - the first in a trilogy with inferior sequels: the somewhat successful but critically derided The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and the artificially-expanded The Matrix Revolutions (2003). A computer software company techie programmer and illegal hacker named Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) (with screen name alias Neo) is contacted by the mysterious, vinyl-clad heroine Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and the super-cool, messianic space-ship captain Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) who is the leader of the rebel forces. He is told (with an Alice in Wonderland reference) via his computer: "The Matrix has you. Follow the white rabbit." Neo is informed that he is the champion or chosen one to save Mankind from a malevolent, sentient machine race, that has entrapped all of humanity, in the year 2199!, inside a computer simulation (The Matrix) dreamworld, and tricked them into believing that the simulation is reality. The Artificial Intelligence system also uses the brains and bodies of the trapped human beings as expendable "living batteries." Freed by this knowledge, Neo soon learns to take advantage of the Matrix, bending the malleable laws of physics to his will, such as impossible feats of physicality (such as running up walls or leaping impossibly high) and altering his perception so dramatically that he sees bullets in flight in order to dodge them. The true standout of the film is the menacing Machine Army agent "Agent Smith," played with a tongue-in-cheek, edgy pseudo-serious flair by Hugo Weaving, whose mannerisms recall 1950's Cold War governmental "Men In Black" agents. The Matrix became best known for its revolutionary visual effects - airborne kung fu, 3-D freeze frame effects with a rotating or pivoting camera, and bullet-dodging. The film became a smash hit, featuring elaborate fighting and stunt sequences, as well as a convoluted screenplay that blurred the edge between reality and fantasy without losing the audience's grasp of the story.

The Sixth Sense (1999), 105 minutes, D: M. Night Shyamalan
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South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999), 88 minutes, D: Trey Parker
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Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), 131 minutes, D: George Lucas
See Star Wars series.

The Straight Story (1999), 111 minutes, D: David Lynch
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The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), 139 minutes, D: Anthony Minghella
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Three Kings (1999), 115 minutes, D: David O. Russell
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Topsy-Turvy (1999, UK), 160 minutes, D: Mike Leigh
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Toy Story 2 (1999), 92 minutes, D: John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon
The sequel, Toy Story 2 (1999), far surpassed the original in terms of the quality of animation, voice acting and script, as the themes from the first film -- obsolescence and loyalty -- are explored even more deeply. Woody (voice by Tom Hanks) faces the reality that not only do toys get damaged, but that children inevitably grow up and forsake their childhood playthings. While Andy is at cowboy camp, Woody (regarded as a valuable collectible) is kidnapped by greedy toy collector Al (of Al's Toy Barn). He soon discovers that he was once a legend in the 60's, on a TV show called Woody's Roundup, complete with the usual wide array of merchandising tie-ins. He also realizes that he's the final missing piece in the collector's Woody's Roundup set, with fellow toys Cowgirl Jessie (voice by Joan Cusack), prospector Stinky Pete (voice by Kelsey Grammer), and Woody's faithful horse Bullseye. Woody faces the choice of living forever with them in a museum display in Tokyo, or leaving and returning to Andy, thereby dooming his newfound friends to be sent back into abandonment and storage, and facing his own dilemma that he won't last another year as Andy's favored toy. Toy Story 2 and Chicken Run (2000) would influence the Academy to finally take animated films more seriously with the new Best Animated Feature Film category that debuted with Oscar-winning Shrek (2001), another CGI-animated feature.


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