This is the final installment of the “Best Movies” series. The nineties saw CGI graphics being used extensively. The 2nd Star Wars Trilogy that came out in the late 90s did not make the list, but you could see what Spielberg could do with a computer. Personally, I prefer the old days when they used master craftsmen to make models and acting took priority over special FX. It’s like the program “auto tune” in Music. Anyone can sing like Daryl Hall if you have the worst voice and this program. I noticed in the 90s that too many movies were being made. Sometimes, competition can ruin a perfectly good movie. With the price of a theater seat at $10.00 (American) Unless it’s a movie that should be appreciated on the BIG screen like a Godzilla movie, most Americans will wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it in their underwear on their own BIG screen at home, where the popcorn is cheaper and healthier and you don’t have some dumb ass talking on his cell phone. Thank you to everyone who read my review of the formative years of Cinema. * NOTE All of the Titles mentioned are available for purchase on DVD. You may have to search harder for some of them.
1. INDEPENDENCE DAY ID4 – ID4 was a movie taken right from Ronald Reagan’s U.N. Speech in the 80s. The 90s were also the “Will Smith/Tom Hanks” decade. I’m surprised that they chose to team Will Smith up with Jeff “The Fly” Goldblum instead of Tom Hanks. They probably would, but Hanks was busy working on “That Thing you do”.
2. SANDLOT 1993 – For any kid that loved Baseball as a kid, this was a movie that will always have a spot in your heart. This was before steroids. This was when the Babe was still a Baseball deity. Unlike the shameful alleged felon that occupies the HR title now. And before you call me a racist; I met Hank Aaron and he was a legitimate Home Run King. But I think this movie was supposed to take place prior to Aaron’s record. (Who said if he could have used steroids, he would have hit 900 Home runs) This movie is like Christmas Story in that it’s told in the third person reflecting on his childhood. It’s much like “The Wonder Years”. It’s an animated version of South Park without the weekly killing of Kenny. Whoever did the casting and character creation in this movie really did their homework.
3. PULP FICTION 1994– This is the Quintin Tarantino film that all Q movies will be judged against. It is truly the bench mark of all films Tarantino. It’s one of the few movies that showcased Q’s originality. A Star Studded cast that include not just “Travolta and SLJ” but “Bruce Willis” as well. It could be considered a cult film but this movie was indicative of the times (Especially in L.A.) so it has a broad audience. Kill Bill would follow, but Q admits that Kill Bill was “Josey Wales meets Kung Fu”. Inglorious Basterds (yes it was spelled with a E) is one of my favorite Q movies but only because of the Beautiful Melanie Laurent. Again, this movie was a rip off of the “Dirty Dozen”.
4. THE MATRIX 1999 – This movie was one of the first “Messianic” movies to hit the silver screen that appealed to so many. The timing was right as the world had gone virtual. Ironically, less people today (After 6 years of Obama) are starting to wonder if they would choose the blue pill or the red pill. It is to date, the ultimate use of the Christ story. Most of the names in the movie were taken from the Bible. I think what was really good about this movie was that they only milked it for one sequel too many. They should have stopped at one sequel.
5. FORREST GUMP 1994– This was the beginning of the Hanks/Spielberg success formula. Gump was the story of every Baby Boomer. Just as “Sandlot” resonated with boomer that played little league, Gump was a history lesson that started in the segregated south of the 60s. Spielberg blatantly uses CGI to splice Hanks into historic scenes of Gump shaking hands with Presidents, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. The movie is funny and instead of spawning several sequels, it spawned 3 Restaurant called “Bubba Gump’s”. The menu is based upon the movie. The Restaurants were good when they originally opened. Now they’re just glorified Chili’s with mediocre food and props from the movie. Ironically, most of the employees were not even born when the movie came out.
6. THE ROCK 1996 – Sean Connery comes of age (In latent fashion) I never liked Sean Connery, perhaps it was his portrayal of James Bond. In The Rock he nailed the role he was casted in as a “Has Been” English agent that knew too much. In the movie, Connery has a line while discussing his release from prison: “Once they set me free, they’ll suicide me”. Today, we say: “They’ll Breitbart me”. (Referring to activist Andrew Breitbart’s mysterious heart attack) Connery’s co-star, Nicholas Cage had come a long way from his fledgling attempt at acting in the movie “Valley Girl” a movie that was so bad that Frank Zappa dropped a law suit against the producers claiming that he didn’t want his name associated with such an awful movie. The Rock has one great asset, Alcatraz. Any movie that has the Island (former prison/fort) Alcatraz in it will have some success because of this mysterious Island alone. This movie was a fabulous thriller even with Cage’s poor acting. Most of the best actors were the bad guys including the ever so underrated “Ed Harris”. (All the Right Stuff) The casting was excellent in The Rock. NOTABLE LINE: “What do you want me to do, kill him again”? delivered by Connery while a dead bad guy is twitching after dying.
*NOTE: In 2012 Warner Brothers produced a 13 episode series for Fox called Alcatraz. The series won the “Most exciting new series of 2012” Award. It had better than average ratings yet was cancelled after 13 episodes.
7. JURASSIC PARK 1993 – How many people knew what Velociraptors were before 1993? Now ask yourself, how many youth soccer teams have at least one team called the “Raptors”? I think the NBA has a team called the Raptors. The NBA Raptors were founded in 1995. Is this a coincidence? I doubt it. The movie is on this list because there is no doubt that it had a huge influence on society.
It only on my list because of the many gratuitous camera shots of Laura Dern’s ass. This is one movie where the director was egregious when it came to gratuitous sex shots.
8. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN 1998 – Again we have the Hanks/Spielberg connection. Saving Private Ryan was important for one sect of America, the greatest generation. The WWII Heroes that survived the attack on Omaha beach on June 6th 1944 came out of the Theater saying that the first 10 minutes of the Movie was like reliving the invasion. This movie, I felt, was for them. It was true that America would risk the lives of many to find the last surviving member of a family to send them home. Private Ryan is the last of the Ryan brothers to survive the D-Day invasion. Hanks and his squad are sent to find Ryan and send him home. Although the movie takes liberties with history, just as Pearl Harbor did in 2005, it was a typical Hanks/Spielberg action drama. I’m glad it didn’t have any sequels, but one could argue that the HBO series “The Band of Brothers” (Which I felt was better than Saving Private Ryan) could be interpreted as a sequel. Modern Day influence many are comparing the soldiers that died looking for the alleged “deserter” Pvt. Bergdahl that America traded 5 top Taliban prisoners for. But unlike “Benedict” Bergdahl; (the alleged traitor), Pvt. Ryan was a Hero, who didn’t want to leave his squad short handed. Bergdahl decided to take a walk one night and went looking for the enemy. (And not for good reasons) It’s been reported that 6 of Bergdahl’s fellow squad mates died searching for him.
9. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY 1991 – This is one of the few sequels that had people visiting the original because the sequel was so much better. I can only think of two off of the top of my head, those being Rocky Two and Rambo. (Hmmmm both Stallone movies) Terminator 2: Judgment day was huge.
Notable Line: “I’ll be Back”.
t’s a movie about time travel but this time the bad guy in the first movie is truly the good guy in the sequel. Perhaps this is why T2 had success the second time around. CGI graphics were used perfectly in this movie. I say that because they were used with a purpose and not out of laziness. As far as Action movies go; T2 is one of the best and possibly the pinnacle of Arnold’s career. (His role as Governor of California notwithstanding)
10. THAT THING YOU DO 1996 – Did I mention Hanks had a big career in the 90s? I can remember the garage bands that somehow had a good song that made it to the top of the charts never to be heard from again. Wooly Bully, Louie Louie, Brother Louie, In the year 2525 etc… These band are known in the business as “One hit wonders”. What I liked about “That thing you do” is that it explained the common story of the one hit wonder. Again, whoever did the casting and character definition really did a great job. If you look at the members of the fictional band “The Wonders”, you can compare it to many of the bands in pop culture that had one hit and then broke up. What I would like to see is a movie of a successful band like the Beatles that break up and the result is mediocre product as opposed to the synergistic sound the band had. (Synergy is when the sum is greater than the total of the individual parts combined). The Beatles were a perfect example. John Lennon (Whom I felt was the genius behind the Beatles) was less successful in his solo career compared to Paul McCartney. (I could write a McCartney/Wings song in 5 minutes) but they needed each other to give the Beatles that “synergy” where John lacked in commercialism (Paul’s prowess) Paul lacked in substance. (John’s prowess). We saw this in the Eagles break up. But in ‘That thing you do”, it was easy for Hanks to write the archetypes of a successful band that lets success ruin the band. Musicians are musicians for different reasons and Hanks was able to find four of the biggest reasons Musicians join bands. It’s a better movie if you know the “Inside baseball” of the music industry.
BEST CULT MOVIE – WAYNE’S WORD 1992
Mike Myers and Dana Carvey created this wonderfully fun extension of their SNL skit about two guys from a suburb of Chicago (Aurora) that gain access to public television at 2:00 AM. It becomes a local cult hit in the area until an industry guy buys the rights for pennies. The original movie was as funny as Animal house (another SNL genre movie) yet the sequel is as good as the original. One wonders why Myers omitted Carvey from the Austin Powers series. There are so many notable lines, I could do an article on the Top 10 best lines from Wayne’s World. (Like Babalicious, Schwing, Baberaham Lincoln, Exsqueeze me, or “I’ll have the cum of someyongguy”. There was one sequel and to be honest, I have trouble telling one from the other.