Best of the 1990s

The only remaining film decade from recent memory is a tricky one, because it’s the ten-year period in which I ‘came of age’ as a film student, and where my film-watching habit seriously got out of hand. My relationship with the films of that decade is therefore perhaps the most mercurial, as I began to develop a perspective on film (and film criticism) that I soon started to call my own, and my response to new films became all the more opinionated. With cinema established as more than a somewhat obsessive hobby, I approached it with something resembling religious zeal, often either enraptured by some films on the basis of expectations inflated to the point of hysteria, and dismissive of others because I thought I knew it all and developed a sense of arrogance toward the unfamiliar.

My number one film for the decade right now is a film I liked from the start, but that kept growing on me as I returned to it again and again. Linklater’s film has become a cult object for many others, perhaps due in part to the fact that it captures a vaguely optimistic sense of aimlessness that sets out to capture the 1970s (which it does better than any other ‘period’ film about that decade), but which seems equally appropriate to the disembodied fin-de-siècle of the Clinton years.

1. Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)
2. Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997)
3. The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999)
4. Miller’s Crossing (Coen Brothers, 1990)
5. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
6. Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997)
7. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)
8. The Big Lebowski (Coen Brothers, 1998)
9. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog, 1997)
10. Husbands and Wives (Woody Allen, 1992)
11. Fargo (Coen Brothers, 1996)
12. Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994)
13. Short Cuts (Robert Altman, 1993)
14. Lone Star (John Sayles, 1996)
15. Hoop Dreams (Steve James, 1994)
16. Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter, 1999)
17. Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1995)
18. The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)
19. Barton Fink (Coen Brothers, 1991)
20. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch, 1992)
21. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)
22. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)
23. Se7en (David Fincher, 1995)
24. The Player (Robert Altman, 1992)
25. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
26. Riget I (Lars von Trier, 1994)
27. Quiz Show (Robert Redford, 1994)
28. Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)
29. 12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995)
30. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1996)
31. Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton, 1996)
32. Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997)
33. Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven, 1997)
34. The Insider (Michael Mann, 1999)
35. Howards End (James Ivory, 1992)
36. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993)
37. L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997)
38. The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999)
39. L.A. Story (Mick Jackson, 1991)
40. Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995)
41. Donnie Brasco (Mike Newell, 1997)
42. Batman Returns (Tim Burton, 1992)
43. Nixon (Oliver Stone, 1995)
44. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam, 1998)
45. Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)
46. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)
47. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
48. Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)
49. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
50. True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993)

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