Thursday, January 21, 2010

Top 100 Movies of the '90s: 90-81


90. Philadelphia, 1993
Dir: Johnathan Demme
Cast: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington

Tom Hanks is so brilliant in Philadelphia on so many levels that I think it's one of the single best acting performances of the decade. This movie may not have worked as well if he wasn't in it because he plays the character with such humanity and complexity that it cannot be reduced to a "it's a guy with AIDS, feel bad for him" type role. You add that with Denzel Washington's role as the homophobic lawyer who reluctantly agrees to be Andrew Beckett's lawyer. Instead of Washington's change of heart being tacky and cliche, I actually feel that his friendship with Andrew Beckett and his subsequent transformation is profound.

89. Awakenings, 1990
Dir: Penny Marshall
Cast: Robin Williams, Robert Deniro

Penny Marshall's "Awakenings" has been one of my favorites since I was younger. Robert Deniro succeeds in playing such a challenging and limited role and Robin Williams is very touching as Dr. Malcolm Sayer. Overall, a great film.

88. The English Patient, 1996
Dir: Anthony Minghella
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche

I wasn't a very big fan of this movie when I first saw it a few years ago, but have since given it a chance and, while I haven't exactly fallen in love with it, I can admit that this is a very well-made film with great performances, especially from Ralph Fiennes.

87. Man on the Moon, 1999
Dir: Milos Forman
Cast: Jim Carrey, Courtney Love

Perhaps overlooked a little bit from the behemoth movie year that is 1999... "Man on the Moon" is a great biopic about the late Andy Kaufman. If there is anyone who knows how to handle biopics masterfully, it is the great Milos Forman.

86. Flirting With Disaster, 1996
Dir: David O. Russell
Cast: Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette

Funny film from one of the more original, yet eccentric filmmakers of our current generation. This film about man (Ben Stiller) searching the country to find his real father is packed with all kinds of hilarious twists and turns.

85. Natural Born Killers, 1994
Dir: Oliver Stone
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones

I imagine that when Quentin Tarantino wrote the script for this movie, he wasn't expecting Oliver Stone to make such changes to the material. But let's face it, Quentin, Oliver Stone is going to do whatever he wants. What he did with this film is so original and crazy that, at first, I did not know what to make of it. But upon multiple viewings, I've decided all of Stone's quirks in the film completely work. Still would be interested in seeing what Tarantino's version would've been like, but nonetheless this is Stone's movie through and through.

84. True Romance, 1993
Dir: Tony Scott
Cast: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette

Speaking of Tarantino, here's another film that was written by Tarantino although this time the final product is more true to Tarantino's vision. Even though Tony Scott has a knack for making rather average, forgettable films, he shows just how good he could be with such a strong script. That statement is also true with Christian Slater who currently has no career at this point. Anyway, if you're looking for a entertaining, violent, thrill ride then this is the movie for you (like it is for me).

83. Wag the Dog, 1997
Dir: Barry Levinson
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Deniro

The script for Barry Levinson's "Wag the Dog" is one of the smartest of the decade. This comes as no surprise since it was co-written by David Mamet. Robert Deniro is featured in his most charismatic performances who plays a "spin doctor" trying to distract the public from a Presidential sex scandal by fabricating a war with a Hollywood producer (played by Oscar-nominated Dustin Hoffman). What's funnier is how this movie came out almost exactly when Clinton's scandal with Monica Lewinsky became famous. He really could've used a fake war...

82. The Straight Story, 1999
Dir: David Lynch
Cast: Sissy Spacek, Richard Farnsworth

David Lynch's simple, beautiful film about an old man driving across country with his tractor in order to reconcile with his brother is so heart-warming and wonderful to watch that you forget that this is a David Lynch film!

81. Braveheart, 1995
Dir: Mel Gibson
Cast: Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson's Oscar-winning, skirt-wearing, three-hour film is a modern-day epic film. It's bloody, it's inspiring, it kicks ass. At the end, you don't really know what to take from Braveheart other than the fact that it's a powerful movie throughout. Maybe that's all that needs to be said.

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