Crash! Landen’s Best 100 Movies of the 1990s

The Top 100 Movies of the 90s…. I’ll admit right off the bat that Casino is probably going to get booted. I made a glaring error by not including the documentary ‘When We Were Kings’, so changes are afoot  even as I post this. Some fine films that didn’t quite cut the ketchup: 2 Eric Stoltz movies: Memphis belle and The Waterdance… Die Hard 2… Days of Thunder… The Big Lebowski. Bummer, man.
I actually continue my ‘Tops’ List all the way up to #200. After I add When We Were Kings to this list; Run, Lola, Run will be sitting in the coveted #200 spot. Why do I post these? Mostly for myself, but maybe if someone out in intra-net land (and yes, I spelled that wrong on purpose) can look at this list and see that maybe they agree with most of these, then maybe that person might try renting one of the movies on the list that they haven’t seen. I’ll admit it’s much more mainstream than my ‘Best of the 2000s’ list, but there are a few nuggets on the list that I’m betting that your average movie goer hasn’t seen. Smoke Signals… The Girl On The Bridge… A Midnight Clear… Waking Ned Divine… The Dreamlife Of Angels… The Emperor And The Assassin… All somewhat obscure movies. All worth seeing.
Last Update: 5-31-14 Added ‘Sense & Sensibility’.
Anyway, here’s my Top 100 Films of the 90s.
108 Casino ( You may be wondering why this one didn’t make my list. A story where every character is deeply flawed can make things interesting. Make every character in your movie unlikeable, and it’s not. Plus it was a bit predictable at times or maybe I’m just too attuned to Scorsese’s bag of tricks.. Still a pretty good film, though with Scorsese’s style of minimal narrative.)
107 American History X (Another update bumps AHX from my Top 100. It’s a smart movie about ignorant people. I appreciate the fact that they don’t shy away from the hard edges that are usually avoided in movies about race, prejudice, etc… It’s a fairly hard core flick. Norton was deserving of winning Best Actor that year. Instead they gave it to Roberto Begnini in a role that’s pretty typical for him. Has a similar central character arc to Spike Lee’s Malcolm X.)
106 Smoke Signals (Bumped, but a movie worth seeing. Native Americans/American Indians on and off the ‘res’. An entertaining indie film that I’ve seen multiple times.)
105 Dark City (A visually impressive film with ideas. I like the original version and the director’s cut. Also worthy of note is the commentary by film critic Roger Ebert. It’s worth listening to.)

104 Circle of Friends ( A ‘smaller’ film that’s well written, directed and acted. Has a wieghty subject or 2 hidden amongst the mostly light dramatic fare.)

103 Die Hard with a Vengeance (The 2nd best of the series. Not my favorite-that would be Die Hard 2, but a fantastic action movie.)
102 The Girl On The Bridge (One of the most beautiful black and white movies I’ve seen, but that may have a lot to do with one of the film’s stars, Vanessa Paradis, who is lovingly depicted thoughout. I hate to use a word like ‘radiant’, but she is in this. ‘Stunning’ would be another good word.)
101 Quick Change (Bill Murray’s directorial debut… The ONLY time he’s directed a movie, come to think of it. I really enjoyed this one.  I wish he would direct again, as long as he acts in it, too, like he did here. Jason Robards was also great in this.)
100 Ghost (Cue ‘Unchained Melody’. A chick flick with broad appeal… Did I just make a joke there? Sorry about that. Anyway, the movie was enormously successful at the box office and for the careers of its 3 main stars, Swayze, Goldberg, and Moore.)

99 Two Days in the Valley (One of the first and better imitators of Pulp Fiction’s narrative style. Much lighter in tone and meaning, though.)
98 Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (Can bio-pics be fun? This one is. Jason Lee captures my perception of Bruce Lee’s spirit. You really get an idea of what drove Bruce to success in this. A bit of license is taken along with it being artsy at times, but again; it’s fun for a bio-pic.)

97 There’s Something About Mary (A raunch comedy palatable for a mainstream audience. The Farrelly brothers seemed like they grabbed the torch from Mel Brooks and are running with it. Not the same kind of humor, necessarily, but they do have the willingness to be politically incorrect.)
96 Stir of Echoes (A good film that came out at almost the same time of The Sixth Sense if I remember right. I think this had a similar story and maybe a better story, but The Sixth Sense had that very well executed gimmick going for it.)
95 Dogfight (A very offbeat romantic comedy. River Pheonix continued to show what a great actor he was.)

94 The Secret Garden (A very well made adaptation of a children’s novel. Melancholy at times without being too downbeat.)

93 A Midnight Clear (An overlooked war film. Better than the attention it garners, which is very little.)
92 What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Slightly better than I remembered).
91 Lord of the Flies (Another well done adaptation of one of those damn books that I had to read in high school. This had a moderately creepy story, though. I really would have like to have seen the talking pig’s head on a stick, though. The abrupt ending captures the meaning of the book fairly well.)
90 Fight Club (A pretty good movie that suffered from one gaping lapse of logic. Almost the EXACT same lapse of logic found in Haute Tension. )
swingers
89 Swingers (Forgot about this one. A fairly honest look at relationships…)
88 The Green Mile (One of the better film versions of Stephen King source material. That King guy can write, can’t he?)
87 When We Were Kings (Probably WAY too low for this one, but I haven’t seen it in a while. Maybe I need to re-view it…)
86 Ridicule (Took some points away for the unnecessarily gratuitous opening scene, but a GREAT movie notwithstanding. Was a beautiful movie to watch other than that, especially the very, um… robust Judith Godreche.)
85  Go (Another imitator of Pulp Fiction, but with a younger cast and lighter material. I might be rating this one far lower than it deserves. It’s very well thought out… To an impressive degree even. It’s an enjoyable couple of hours in any case.)

84 Man on the Moon ( Jim Carrey tackles another comedy icon, the late Andy Kaufmann. A rather serious movie for a bio-pic about a comedian. Also starngely moving at times. Yet another film where Carrey got the shaft by the Academy Awards. By my count he’s gotten the finger from them 4 times, twice during the nineties.)
ridewiththedevil
83 Ride With The Devil (One of Ang Lee’s lesser films, but his ‘worst’ films are better than most everyone else’s.)
82 Magnolia (The first of 2 Paul Thomas Anderson films on my list of the 90s. There were some ‘weak links’ in this one, but they’re not worth mentioning.)
81 The Straight Story (I don’t know. Maybe this should be higher on my list. Probably my favorite David Lynch film. It stars my favorite former stuntman turned character actor Richard Farnsworth and has one of my all time favorite endings to movie. It’s a movie about a man named Straight who takes a trip on a lawn mower to visit his long estranged brother. A beautiful movie.)

80 Office Space (Mike Judge is a comedy genius. This movie proves that. One of my favorites. Off the top of my noggin’, it’s also probably the best film that Jennifer Aniston’s ever been in.)
79 Absolute Power ( One of 2 that stars Hackman and Eastwood. I wish they had made thirty more together.)
78 As Good As It Gets (Not quite ‘As good as it gets’, but still pretty good. The best part of the film for me was Jack at his piano crying over the dog. Great stuff.)
77 Breakdown (A simple setup creating a fairly suspenseful movie. The final third is outstanding, but then I’m a sucker for movies with 18 wheelers demolishing things.)
76 Back to the Future Part III (Last entry in one of the better trilogies ever made. Sustained a high level of quality right to the end. Never runs out of steam and leaves you wanting more when it ends).
75 The Sweet Hereafter (The 2nd movie on my list that features 90s ‘it’ girl Sarah Polley. Tough subject matter, but worth seeing.
74 Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino’s  directing debut.  A little too talkie in parts for my own tastes, but arguably a more ‘important’ film than his second film on my list: Pulp Fiction.)
73 Patriot Games (Mainstream, and made with much less artfulness than its predecessor, but still a Clancy action flick that will hold your interest throughout starring arguably Hollywood’s greatest action star, Harrison Ford.)
72 The Matrix  (A fun ride even if it takes itself a little too seriously at times, but the action and FX scenes make up for any major flaws, like the appearance of ‘The Oracle’ in the film. Finishes well. Maybe, tried too hard to be clever in the sequels.)
71 Four Weddings and a Funeral (At times predictable with an ending that doesn’t measure up to the rest of the story, but keeps the chuckles going with its many eccentric characters and plot lines.)
70The Madness Of King George
69 Heavenly Creatures (One of Peter Jackson’s best and is deceptively hard-core… No, I don’t mean porn, Matt.)
68 True Lies (Jim Cameron plus Arnold Schwarzenegger equals fun movie. Loved the Chuck Heston appearance more than anything else.)
67 White Hunter, Black Heart  (An Eastwood movie that isn’t often mentioned with his other great films. Maybe his best ‘inhabitation’ of a character which is claerly a thinly veiled version of John Huston.
66 Cape Fear (Scorsese’s remake of a noir pic. Kind of like Casino, this movie is filled with lots of unlikeable characters and moral ambiguity. Scorsese rarely focuses on a character that knows right from wrong. Despite that and Deniro’s atrocious southern accent, I think this is still a great film. I also think it’s better than Scorsese’s  latest take on noir: Shutter Island.
65 Total Recall (Shwarzenegger had the Midas Touch for a while and he continued to get bigger budgets and better written films. Based on Phillip K. Dick’s material and directed by Paul Verhooven, this might be Arnie’s smartest movie and has a bit of a head trip aspect to it. Great fun.)
64 Apollo 13 (One of Ron Howard’s better movie’s. There’s some artistic license taken at times, but it’s a fun for a movie about a significant historical moment in America’s Space Program.)
Sense
63 Sense & Sensiblity (Took me forever to see this one. It was certainly worth the wait, though. It’s interesting that Emma Thompson a couple of years prior to this was playing opposite to Anthony Hopkins in the Remains of the Day. Here she’s cast opposite Hugh Grant, but it never crossed my mind  that she may have too old for the part. As good as every other Ang Lee film that I’ve seen. Maybe too low on my list.)
62 Babe (“That’ll do pig”. A shockingly enjoyable movie. It was the Little Movie That Could…)
61 Joe Versus the Volcano (I’m probably  the only person that would put this on a ‘Best Of’ list, but I still say it’s one of the better films from the 90s. It’s  ‘low key zaniness’ at times and poignant in others. The scene with Ossie Davis and the ‘full moon’ scene are 2 of many that make it memorable… At least to me.)
60 Tremors  (As well made as you can make a horror-comedy about ravenous giant man-eating worms.)
59 Chinese Box (A movie about a love triangle set when Great Britain turned Hong Kong over to China. Interesting movie.)
58 Shine  (Based on the true story… A very good film about expectations, failures, madness and redemption.)
57 The Firm (One of Cruise’s best and one of the better movies about being a lawyer, also. Plus… Wilford Brimley. ‘Nuff said.)
56 Darkman (The first of Sam Raimi’s films on my list. Sure, it’s B-Movie material, but it’s treated as if it’s A-material.)

55 Rudy (Another film based on a true story… Being a college football fan, I knew the story before I saw the movie, but it didn’t take away from the film’s root for the underdog appeal. One of the best sports films out there.)
54 Titanic (Overhyped after the fact, Titanic was an extraordinarily made film with groundbreaking FX. There were a lot of people that were rooting for Cameron to fail on this one… Probably the same people who rooted against ‘Waterworld because of that one’s enormous production budget…and after a less than stellar first week box office, it looked as though the naysayers would win out, but the movie just kept gaining steam. Good reviews, word of mouth, 13 year old female DiCaprio fans, and a very smart release date where there was uninspired competition for the #1 box office spot each week all factored in to make this the biggest moneymaking movie ever at the time. There was backlash before the movie opened and then a little bit since the movie’s thaetrical run, but it’s a very good movie based on true events with subject matter that everyone can relate to.)
53 Three Kings (I don’t know if I wouldn’t place this one higher. It’s entertaining and was surprisingly imaginitive and unpredictable thoughout. I loved the film, but have very personal memories associated with the last time I saw this one, so I have trouble watching it anymore. Don’t let that stop you from seeing it, though.)
52 Cop Land (One of Sylvester Stallone’s best. He went back to being an actor on this one. Proves once again that he’s more than capable with the right part.)

51 Damage (A bit more predictable than other movies that I have this high on the list… you kind of know where the movies going after a while… This would not have worked without the great actors involved.)
50The Remains of the Day (A wonderfully tragic movie about characters that movies aren’t usually about: servants, a butler in particular. This one gets me every time I’ve watched it. Anthony Hopkins and  Emma Thompson both deliver very nuanced  work.)
49 Misery (The second movie based on King’s stories. Doesn’t hold back on the sadism. Here’s something I’m saying for the 2nd time, but: That King guy can write, can’t he?)
48 Glengarry Glen Ross (Quoted often. Much like Reservoir Dogs this is  a very talkie film, but UNlike that one, the dialogue doesn’t just talk in circles at times. This one’s never boring.)

47 The Player (One of Robert Altman’s best and he has a lot of great ones.)
46 Waking Ned Divine (Quirky. Intelligent. And really funny. David Kelly is awesome in this.)
45 One False Move (Understated with a realistically violent tone. One of the better crime dramas I’ve seen. Billy Bob plays a dumb guy, so you know it’s a great movie.)
44 Hamlet (Mel Gibson making Shakespeare understandable to dolts like me.)
43 Dave (Light but meaningful. Features nearly every player in Washington DC from the 90s.)
42  The Fugitive (This is the second time I’m saying something for the 2nd time, but: A great action movie starring arguably Hollywood’s greatest action star, Harrison Ford.
41 The Truman Show (The 3rd time I’m saying something for the 2nd time: Yet another film where Carrey got the shaft by the Academy Awards. He should’ve at least been NOMINATED for this, which he wasn’t.)
40 A Simple Plan (Almost a complete departure for Sam Raimi.  Here’s the 4th time I’ve said something for the 2nd time. Billy Bob plays a dumb guy, so you know it’s a great movie.)
39 Payback (One movie where the director’s cut is good, but still VASTLY inferior to what the studio decided to do with it. I will say the director’s cut looks better, but it tries a little too hard to be off-putting.)
38 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (The 5th time I’m saying something for the 2nd time: Jim Cameron plus Arnold Schwarzenegger equals fun movie. The third Cameron movie on the list.)

37 The Dreamlife of Angels (French film filled with subtlety and details that seem to have nothing to do with anything until the last few minutes of the film.)

36 Pi (Darren Aronofsky’s low budget debut. Looks better and bigger than some movies that have budgets a hundred times bigger than this one. Well written and thought provoking.)
35 Fargo ( A Coen brothers classic deserving of all the awards it got. I don’t think it’s their best film, as many do, though.)
34 Trainspotting  (Very under-rated and  I think not quite fully understood. Awsome dialogue delivered by actors with great timing. Some people might find this depressing, but for me, it’s epic.)
33 Sling Blade ( The first time I’m saying something for the 3rd time: Billy Bob plays a dumb guy, so you know it’s a great movie. It’s not humanly possible to watch this film and not talk like Karl afterwards.. Or during. Tough subject matter…)
32 Twelve Monkeys (Dark subject matter, but with Bruce Willis. Not the best Gilliam movie, but a fun movie to watch. I even liked Madeline Stowe in this.)
31 The Silence of the Lambs (Who knew you could have so much fun watching a movie about serial killers?)
30 Malcolm X ( Spike Lee’s epic movie about Malcolm X. Why this was made before a Martin Luther King, Jr. movie doesn’t add up properly, though. It’s like that Howard the Duck movie before getting the Spider-MAn or Hulk movies. Maybe a poor analogy, but you get the idea.)
29 Grand Canyon ( Maybe it’s the title and subject, but this movie always leaves me feeling very peaceful after viewing it. Uses the same kind of narrative as Pulp Fiction with a large number of characters with interwoven stories. Tarantino didn’t invent that style of narrative, he just influenced a number of imitators. )
28 Pulp Fiction (Wasn’t I just writing about this. Not the best film of the 90s and not even Tarantino’s best of the 90s, but maybe the most influential movie made in that decade.)
27 Hoop Dreams (The second of two documentaries on my list. There might be a few more that I could put on this list: When We Were Kings, Crumb and Paradise Lost, with ‘Kings’ being the most deserving. I think I actually forgot about that one. I’ll leave it off for now, but I may need to correct this list and one of my other lists (1996). Unlike the other 2 that I just mentioned, Hoop Dreams doesn’t leave you feeling like you just got raped.)

26 Toy Story (Innovative. Well made. Well written. And dare I say “a game changer”? Yeah, I dare.)
25 Toy Story 2 ( Even better than the original.)
24 The Iron Giant ( A very enjoyable film using old school and new school methods of animation. The best boy meets robot movie ever made.)
23 The Sixth Sense ( A gimmick film, but a tremendously well done gimmick.)
22  Boogie Nights (Another film that may or may not be influenced by Pulp Fiction, but for me, a better film. Like watching a train collide with a trailer park… In a good way. No offense to denizens of trailer parks. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there is sometimes truth found in stereotypes.)
21 LA Confidential ( Aload of great actors… I don’t think this movie is perfect and has some flaws, but still pretty well made with complicated but easily understood story.)
20 The Ice Storm ( One of Ang Lee’s great movies. The highlight for me was the way comic books are worked into the subject matter. Has a great cast of child and adult actors. Another movie with some tough subject matter.))

19 Gattaca (It’s a very slow paced film, but I don’t mind that. Things still happen and it’s one of the more thought provoking sci fi movies of the 90s or any other time. I love the last line or 2 of the film. And Uma Thurman is just so darn cute in this.)

18 The Emperor and the Assassin (An epic movie in every sense of the word. Right off the bat it hits you with brutal war scenes and continues that with implied brutality throughout. I’m betting it was a seriously hard era to live in. The singing log with the blood on the wall is something that comes to mind about this film.)
17 Apt Pupil (The third movie based on Stephen King material on my list. Here’s the 2nd time I’ve said something for the 3rd time: That King guy can write, can’t he?)
16 Quiz Show ( Another slow paced film, but an intelligent movie. All of the leads are great in this, especially Turturro, who excels as characters that connive and feel that they’re ‘put upon, and Ralph Fiennes always does a professional job even in a crap movie like the Avengers.
15 Forrest Gump (One of the most quoted movies of the 90s. Technically brilliant as well as artistically.)
14 Goodfellas (Scorsese’s best movie of the 90s.)
13 Red Rock West (A late addition to my list. I’m still really surprised that I’ve missed this one for so long. Very unpredictable and fun. Had a new revelation in every scene.)
12 Groundhog Day (Voted at one point as the most Spiritual movie ever made. I would agree that it transcends its comedy roots. Bill Murray is at his best and is as capable of portraying a complete range of emotions in the film as he is funny. Evokes emotion and thought.)
11 Se7en (This is the 5th time I’ve said something for the 2nd time: Who knew you could have so much fun watching a movie about serial killers? David Fincher’s first movie depicting the subject of  the psychology of mass murderers and his 2nd best film on that subject.)
10  Braveheart (Mel Gibson’s directing debut and one of his best acting jobs as well. Intense from beginning to end, with great ideas and themes.)
9 The Hunt for Red October (This made me a fan of ‘military’ movies. It wasn’t one of my favorite genres until this film came along. I’ve said this several times on my blog, but it’s worth saying again,. Alec Baldwin was made for this role. He was a FOOL for not coming back for the sequels… Or maybe I feel cheated even with Mr. Ford taking over. But this whole movie was a revolving door of great acting performances…. Scott Glenn… Sam Neill… James Earl Jones… Tim Curry… Jeff Jones before I knew he like the kiddie porn… Courtney Vance… Fred Thomson… Richard Jordan… and of course sean Connery. )
8 Jurassic Park (Right up there with Spielberg’s best adventure films… And who doesn’t love dinosaurs?)
7 Jackie Brown (Tarantino’s best movie. Not his most influential, but his best.)
6 Rushmore (A movie that never gets old. Highly detailed in the Wes Anderson style filled with eccentric characters from the leads to the extras.)
5 Saving Private Ryan ( The 2nd Spielberg film in my 90s top 10. I probably wactch this from beginning to end at least once a year. CLEARLY a better movie than Shakespeare in Love, which the Academy Awards  gave Best Picture to instead of ‘Ryan’.

4 Unforgiven (The complete deconstruction of the Western as well as the characters Eastwood’s career was built on. I don’t love the movie for that, just that it was such a well made movie.)

3 Barton Fink (A smart movie about screenwriting. Would make a great double bill with Adaptation.)
2 The Shawshank Redemption ( Here’s the 3rd time I’ve said something for the 4th time: That King guy must’ve done a whole lotta’ blow to write all the shit he’s written. Crazy.)
1  Schindler’s List ( Easily my best film of the decade. Important subject matter aside, this movie should be used a teaching aid for film classes everywhere. Imaginative in the number of techniques to tell the story. Spielberg’s long list of top notch films just continues to grow. I think he could’ve stopped with Schindler’s List and he should be regarded as the best director in the history of cinema. His movies are substantive, artistic, accessible and commercially successful. What else do you want from a director? He’s better than Fellini, Murnau, Truffaut, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Lang, Capra, all of them.)
Thoughts?


And if you want more Top 100s, here’s my Best Of the 2000s. And the Best Of the 1980s.

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6 Responses to “Crash! Landen’s Best 100 Movies of the 1990s”

  1. Crash! Landen Says:

    No…

    I guess that’s what making a list is. It’s yours and you don’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of what’s the best and worst. This is my list, so the best movie of the 90s according to me is Schindler’s List. And while I think Pulp Fiction is one of the most influential movies of the 90s (for good or ill), I think it’s a deeply flawed movie… A bloated movie with a several unnecessary scenes (such as the taxi cab borefest) that served to do nothing but add to the film’s running time. Certain segments were completely unsuccessful in my humble opinion and QT himself shows up to prove that he can’t deliver his own dialogue. That’s another problem, though… Much like a Kevin Smith movie, every character in the film talks like Tarantino.

    It’s also not the first film to portray a story’s events out of sequence for dramatic effect. In fact, it’s not even the first Tarantino film to do that. And finally, as my list indicates, Jackie Brown was (and still is) Tarantino’s best and most adult film to date. I like Pulp Fiction. A LOT. But I think many people like that movie for the wrong reasons and most probably have no idea why the film’s events were not in chronological order, anyway. It’s far from the best film of the 90s, but it is a good one.

    As far as Grand Canyon, when I said narrative, I think I was speaking of stories with a cast of characters in place of a central protagonist to tell a story. Anyway…

  2. Pulp Fiction should be nr 1 on any 90s list. That picture is simply brilliant.

    About Bulp Fiction’s structure, that movie actually was the first to do that! No movie ever crossed timelines in that manner, jumping from one storyline to another, and back. Grand Canyon was a multiple storyline tale, in the tradition of Renoir and Altman.

  3. […] made my Top 10 Movies of 1996 as well as my Top 100 Films of the 1990s. A great […]

  4. […] delivery seems to maximize the eloquence. This gets my highest recommendation. Click here, to see where it ranks among my ‘Best of the 90s’ or here for the best films of […]

  5. […] the last 3 decades… It was difficult, believe me. But here is my list. You can click on The 199os and The 2000s to see those […]

  6. […] if you want more… here’s my  Top 100 of the 1990s. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Lists: […]

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