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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Our Favorite Movies of the '90s

Movies were good in the '90s, y'all. They were better than most things on TV. The TV golden age didn't start until later. The movies got bad and uncreative, for the most part, and everyone with talent and vision moved to the small screen. Not everyone wants to make the next Transformers. Fortunately for entertainment buffs, DVDs exist and you can go back to the good movies anytime you want. We hope you didn't miss these, and if you did, you have all the time in the world to get to them.

Our Top Ten Movies of 1999
1. Fight Club- This was not properly appreciated in its time, in theaters. It was not appreciated by Ern the first time she saw it. But this is one that improves with subsequent viewings. You have to catch all the dialogue. You have to get what it's saying. It's brilliant, darkly funny, and completely unforgettable. The book is good too. If you haven't seen it, or if you've only seen it once and weren't that impressed, go pick up a copy.
2. The Matrix- The first half is long, weird, and pretty original. The second half kicks ass. This movie changed action and sci-fi, and it told a pretty good, spiritual story while it was at it. Sadly, the sequels did not live up to the first entry, although the second one would have been a good middle had the third delivered a powerful ending. We forget which critic said it best at the time, but we remember reading that the third one was full of "religious obligation." Viewers wanted real triumph, not depressing sacrifice. Still, the first Matrix is not to be missed.

3. The Sixth Sense- Probably the best ending in the history of movies. If you haven't seen it and you already know the ending, you can't blame anyone but yourself. Still, even without finale, this is a touching drama about marriage, mothers and sons, being different, and fixing things before you move on from this life. That's why this is a good movie. It's not all about the ending. The journey is good too, so it holds up on subsequent viewings. The scene with the kid and his mom in the car at the accident makes us tear up just thinking about it. It's horror that will make you jump and then make you cry.
4. American Beauty- This movie is widely considered one of the worst Best Picture Oscar winners, but we are two of its defenders. Mostly because this movie is funny. We loved Kevin Spacey's character breaking free of his crushing life and trying to bring some vibrance back into his family, even though the ways he went about it weren't always perfect. There are a few poignant lines in this one. Mina Suvari played a good, complicated role. You can see that kind of person in many high schools and colleges. 
5. The Green Mile- This movie is a little racist. Watch it anyway. It rides the "Magical Negro" stereotype/stock character hard. But it works anyway, and the other characters make the movie worth it. The other inmates and guards are colorful. Some of them you will hate; some of them you will love. At the end, you will sob rivers. It's three hours, so settle in and make sure you aren't tired. It's anything but boring. The executions aren't for the squeamish, but the end result of the movie is strangely powerful. It's a good story by Stephen King with a lot to say about the world and the nature of good and evil.
6. Dogma- Dogma straddles the line between being respectful to Catholicism and raising questions/having raunchy fun. The best thing about this movie, to us, is its cast, which includes Alan Rickman as The Voice of God, an angel who is basically God's Eunuch mouthpiece.
7. Galaxy Quest- More Alan Rickman fun! This fun family movie mocks Star Trek, so it's even better if you're familiar with Star Trek. If you're not, you'll still enjoy it.
8. October Sky- This was one of the best movies we were allowed to see as kids. It was inspiring, sweet, and smart. Most of these movies we rented years after they came out. Dumb parents protecting our innocence. Twelve is NOT too young for the Matrix, haha.
9. Ten Things I Hate About You- Introducing Heath Ledger as the "bad boy" you actually want romancing you in high school. Or any other stage in life. This is a high school retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. It's a cliche teen high school movie, but the cast and a few good lines lift this movie from the typical teen muck. It's very enjoyable.
10. Election- This is another one that we don't enjoy so much as we know it's good. It's a great introduction to Reese Witherspoon, who is super young and snotty in this. This movie is funny, biting satire. All it lacks is a soul, but it's worth seeing.
Honorable mentions: The Boondock Saints (because nearly every guy you date will bring this up at least once, and it's hilarious), Notting Hill (one of the better stories in rom-com history), Toy Story 2 (which we thought was just as good as the first one), Payback (yes, we did root for the bad guy), Being John Malkovich (so weird; so funny and kudos to Mr. Malkovich for being such a good sport), Girl Interrupted (it's a little too long, but it's an interesting combination of lots of things, mostly dealing with mental health and female friendships. We love how the main character learns that suicide is not glamorous. It's just sad), Never Been Kissed (with a premise like this, this movie should have been much better. We wish it had been written by Tina Fey. However, it's still fun), Go (we agree about the Family Circus), Blast From the Past (it's very light and inconsistent, but it's a favorite from our childhood, and it made us think about the direction in which the world is heading and what kind of guy is a real gentleman. Plus, young Nathan Fillion sighting!), and Titus (sooo long, but creative and artistic as heck. Our favorite thing from the hot mess that is Julie Taymor).

Our Top Ten Movies of 1998

1. Elizabeth- In which we met the gorgeous, talented Cate Blanchett and learned to love Geoffrey Rush after the over-the-top melodrama that was Shine. This was Ern's first rated R movie, and her mom tried to cover her eyes through the whole thing anyway. While the historical accuracy of some elements is...not there, the movie's point is that sometimes in order to be strong and lead, especially as a woman in that time, you have to close off parts of yourself. It looks great, it entertains, and it doesn't overstay its welcome.
2. The Waterboy- How dare people trash this movie. It's not good, but it's so bad it's good. It's dumb and plays to the lowest common denominator, but it's FUN. And sometimes you're in the mood for that, right?
3. The Big Lebowski- It's the Coen brothers. They are never bad, and this is one of their best. Watch with subtitles so that you're sure to catch the dialogue and follow it properly.
4. There's Something About Mary- The first raunchy, Judd Apatow-style sex comedy. Franks and beans!
5. Stepmom- Emotionally manipulative? Yes. Did it work/get us sobbing? Like infants. Nay, like crack babies deprived of crack.
6. The Mask of Zorro- Once again, this is the year we were, like, 11 and 12. At the time, this was the best movie ever. Now, it's a better-than-expected action movie with a decent story and lots of deaths/swordfights that you can show kids without going to hell.
7. Ever After: A Cinderella Story- Drew Barrymore's horrible English accent (even though the movie is set in France) can't ruin the best take we've ever seen on this story. And other than the accent, Drew did a great job.
8. Rushmore- If you like Wes Anderson and get his humor, you'll like this.
9. Mulan- After decades of damsels in distress, Disney finally gives girls someone to look up to...and a great movie to boot. Also, "I'll Make a Man Out of You" is literally the greatest song ever written.
10. Meet Joe Black- Another long one that didn't get much love from critics. If you settle in, if you are female (with a few exceptions; we've known two guys who liked this), and if you love a hot Brad Pitt, you'll be rewarded for your patience. A lot of the plot deals with business and what's to become of Anthony Hopkins's company. It pays off pretty well. But the best thing about this one is the father/daughter relationship on display. If you make it through and pay attention, you'll get a good cry at the end. We also loved the birthday speech.
Honorable Mention: American History X (racism is bad guys; so is curb stomping), The Faculty (more unoriginal trash, but we liked Elijah Wood in it, and we enjoy it in a guilty pleasure way), The Man In the Iron Mask (Leo was completely miscast, but we liked the loyalty and honor aspects of this movie, because this is a culture that doesn't emphasize those things as much as it should), and Antz (better than A Bug's Life).

Our Top Ten Movies of 1997

1. Titanic- I mean, duh. Nothing in that year is going to top this. This movie has a lot of haters, but they fall into two categories for the most part: 1) Prudes and 2) People who think any movie that relies mostly on romance is unmanly/untomboyish and uncool. Because Titanic is well-acted, visually incredible, and expertly written to hit on universal themes, such as salvation, romantic love, sacrifice, and tragedy. Even if you hated the love parts, you have to admit the whole second half was breathtaking and just violent enough.
2. The Devil's Advocate- Pride is definitely the devil's favorite sin. This movie takes that idea and runs with it, providing dark and thoughtful entertainment.
3. Good Will Hunting- Watch it if only for the two best scenes: the one where Ben Affleck gets his fondest wish fulfilled and the one where Robin Williams tells Will what life is really about on that park bench. And the one where Matt Damon asks the rude college guy how he likes them apples. No wonder this movie made Affleck and Matt Damon famous. It's full of saccharine, true gems and good intentions, but bawdy language keeps it from getting cheesy.
4. Life is Beautiful- The first half is a romantic comedy. The second half is...a Holocaust comedy. No no no, it really works, we swear. This is a crowd pleaser if there ever was one. We understand why some people just completely loathe it, but we can't bring ourselves too. We will agree, however, that the main character is annoying. Still, keeping hope/a good attitude in a bad circumstance and mocking racism are always welcome around here.
5. The Fifth Element- Ern's dad hates sci-fi, and even he likes this movie.
6. Chasing Amy- An honest and funny look at insecurity in relationships over partners' past sexual history.  There's a lot of truth in this movie. 
7. My Best Friend's Wedding- It's realistic and unformulaic. We like where it ended up. Most romantic comedies don't have balls that big. Plus, the singing :-) We love singing.
8. Hercules- Before girls got a good role model in Mulan, boys got a good one in Hercules, who was willing to sacrifice his life for Meg. That's heroism. That's being a man, not sleeping with 100s of girls, owning nice cars, and cursing out your underlings at your place of business. 
9. Liar Liar- As much as it furthers the stereotype that all lawyers are liars (hey, guess what? They aren't. A few bad apples give the whole cart a bad rap), this is a funny Jim Carey movie. This movie's premise carries it a long way.
10. As Good As It Gets- An intelligent script and Jack Nicholson add up to one of the best romantic comedies we've ever seen. You forget it's a rom-com it's so smart in places. Its weakness is that it's only funny sometimes. You can never decide if this movie is trying to make you laugh or just tell a story about a flawed character with OCD.
Honorable mentions: Starship Troopers (you know what sucks about this movie? Nearly all the characters and acting. You know what doesn't? Everything else. It's really gory, so if you don't like that, steer clear), Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (lots of laughs; Alan Cumming), and The House of Yes (know nothing about this movie before seeing it and you'll be rewarded. Well, not so much rewarded as freaked out, haha.)

Our Top Ten Movies of 1996

1. Trainspotting- This is probably our favorite movie about drug addiction. We have a mutual friend who likes Requiem for a Dream a LOT, but we prefer this movie because it's a heck of a lot more fun to watch, and there's no ass-to-ass scene. Also, even though it has its horrifying/realistic moments, it ends with way more hope and poignancy. 
2. Fly Away Home- This movie is so cute. Geese are so cute. Anna Paquin isn't annoying when she's not Sookie Stackhouse.
3. Matilda- This movie is weird, but it succeeds as a great kids film because it embraces its oddness and darkness. The villain is truly sinister. There are tons of good messages in this movie from beginning to end. It's one we'll have our kids watch.
4. Fargo- We like this movie for its heroine. We don't think it's as good as most people do, but it's good.
5. Jerry Maguire- Its great lines are cliches now, but before they were jokes, they were attached to a pretty good flick.
6. Happy Gilmore- It's immature humor, but we laughed.
7. James and the Giant Peach- This is a weird kid's movie, but visually, it's unforgettable.
8. Scream- It worked on every level, had a good cast, took risks, and had a clever script.
9. Mars Attacks- Hilarious.
10. Emma- In the Jane Austen book, Emma is kind of a bratty meddler who learns a lesson from a hot guy (Clueless was based on Emma). In this movie, Emma is still a bratty meddler who learns a lesson from a hot guy, and we like that. Leeard hates any sighting of Gwyneth Paltrow (except Shakespeare in Love) though, and we don't know that Toni Colette was the best choice for Harriet.
Honorable mentions: The Crucible (a good and well-acted version of the dark play), Ransom (suspenseful), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney's darkest movie; It grappled with social issues in a surprisingly direct way).

Our Top Ten Movies of 1995

1. Se7en- You know the Saw movies? They ripped their plots off of this better, smarter movie that horrifies without the torture porn. It has Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt tracking a sinister killer and an ending that left us reeling for days.
2. The Usual Suspects- Ern didn't like this movie the first time she saw it, but this is another time she was wrong. It's a good one. Kevin Spacey did well this year.
3. Toy Story- We could watch this 100 times. We probably have.
4. Braveheart- This movie is not historically accurate in the slightest. The Scottish accents aren't perfect, the portrayal of homosexuality is ignorant, Mel Gibson overindulges himself, and your college professors will scoff at you if he finds out you think it's good. But, chances are, you're gonna think it's good. Braveheart is an epic with everything. Romance, violence, revenge, war, courage, drama, evil, spirituality, heroism, rebellion, betrayal, politics, and one powerful ending. It's not perfect, but you will be entertained, and that's saying something since it's three hours long.
5. Babe- Pigs are so cute, and Babe is the cutest one of all. He's a sheep pig.
6. A Little Princess- Much better and more colorful than the book, in our opinions. Most of the child acting was rough, but we were charmed by the movie anyway.
7. Sense and Sensibility- Yeah, we love Jane Austen, especially when Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet are involved. 
8. Clueless- Like, duh. Just watch it.
9. Heavy Weights- A family movie about a fat camp with a blob and a mean director.
10. Apollo 13- This is one of our favorite "based on a true story" movies, because it's more accurate than most, and the cast does a great job telling us what happened and how.
Honorable mentions: Heat (too long, but it had a great heist).

Our Top Ten Movies of 1994

1. The Shawshank Redemption- This movie is famous for tanking at the box office and finding new life on DVD. And what a new life it found. If you ask someone over 30 what their top five favorite movies are, 80% of them are going to name this one somewhere in there. This is a bromance perfectly done and a beautiful piece about the power of hope. Stephen King strikes again, but this time, he proves he doesn't need to make something scary or dwell on the supernatural to write something good.
2. Pulp Fiction- We agree that this movie should have beat Mr. Gump at the Oscars, but Pulp Fiction certainly didn't need the statue to become a pop culture legend and the most quotable movie we've ever seen. Watch it more than once and pay heed to the witty dialogue. Don't look for anyone to root for. Just laugh. There are no good guys.
3. Forrest Gump- The people who hate this movie really hate this movie. Any Republican is probably going to like it (not that it's political). Why do we like it so much? Because it's a story of a guy who loves through anything, no matter what the other person does does, and always makes the best of what little he's given. The movie is packed with scenes of grace and unconditional love. No matter how down and lost Jenny, or even Lieutenant Dan, get, Forrest doesn't judge. He just keeps being Forrest. 
4. The Lion King- Great songs, great entertainment, and a version of Hamlet that doesn't end up with everyone dead. Not that everyone makes it out. Tear. Never forget. 
5. The Professional- It could have gotten too creepy. It never did. And it gave child actor Natalie Portman and crazy mofo Gary Oldman a place to shine.
6. Black Beauty- The last thing Ern ever wants to watch is a freaking horse movie. Ugh, HATE horse movies. So boring. Someone tried to make Ern watch this, and Ern was like, "No. Effing. Horse. Movies." The person insisted that this one was so visually beautiful that Ern would like it anyway. That person was right. Not a good plot though.
7. Little Women- One of our grandmas swears the 1994 version isn't better than her boring black-and-white version. She's wrong. Our version has Christian Bale playing Laurie. Argument over.
8. Speed- It's impressive when most of a movie takes place on a bus and it's still intense. This is the hottest Keanu Reeves ever was, and even people annoyed by Sandra Bullock (not us) will be able to tolerate her here. This movie is mindless action at its finest. 
9. Ace Ventura Pet Detective- This is Jim Carrey's first hit. If you find him funny, you'll love this movie. If you don't, well, you'll find like two parts funny. We laughed. Granted, we were super young, so take it with a grain of salt.
10. Clerks- The ending. Bah hahahaha. Sick.
Honorable mentions: Legends of the Fall (if you have a penis, don't watch this; we watch it mainly because we like hot guys and melodrama occasionally).

Our Top Ten Movies of 1993

1. Groundhog Day- Comedies like this don't usually hold up twenty years later, but this one is so clever that it doesn't get boring despite being about the same day over and over again. Dudes need to take a page out of Bill Murray's book in this. If you want the nice, pretty girl, you don't try to charm or manipulate her. You genuinely become the kind of guy who brings something to the table.
2. Schindler's List- The decision to shoot this in black and white was a good one, even if it will turn off younger viewers. They shouldn't watch it anyway. This is another true story committed to film that works. And if you want to see why they cast Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, look no further than his portrayal of a Nazi here. The end will have you tearing up or at least feeling something. If you stay awake. It's really long. It's still the best Holocaust movie ever made.
3. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey- Shadow!! SHADOWWW! Tears, every time.
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas- Ern's mom thought this looked too demonic for Ern to see at the time and Ern always wanted to see it. Fifteen years later, she did and was completely charmed. Yeah, hipsters and goths and whatever have swarmed this movie and its merch, but it was originally a clever, creative musical movie about Halloween and Christmas.
5. The Sandlot- If you didn't watch this as a child, you have no childhood. Unless your childhood was actually like this, in which case you are old. Anyone our age had to stay indoors for fear of Chester the Child Molester, a man one of our parents swore was hunting for us. Legend had it that he drove a white van, natch.
6. The Secret Garden- This is the best possible movie version of this book. We have no complaints.
7. What's Eating Gilbert Grape- Leo is so good in this movie.
8. The Man Without a Face- We guess you're starting to see that we like movies Mel Gibson directed. Ugh, why did he have to turn into such a crazy jerk? Touching friendship movie; stupid name.
9. Cannibal! The Musical- Trey Parker of South Park creates a musical that shows he'll do great and irreverent things later in life. Like The Book of Mormon.
10. The Good Son- Okay, this movie isn't good, but Elijah Wood is an adorable kid, and if you have a sick sense of humor like one of us, you'll find it funny.

Our Top Five Movies of 1992 (yes, there are only five from this year. Everything else we've seen from this year kind of sucked.

1. Unforgiven- One of the best ever Westerns and a thoughtful reflection on violence.
2. Reservoir Dogs- Tarantino's first hit steals its entire plot from a foreign film, but it was never the plot that made this movie good in the first place. It was, say it with us, THE DIALOGUE.
3. A League of Their Own- Madonna should stick to singing, but everyone else in the cast took this from sentimental fluff to a great sports movie for women.
4. My Cousin Vinny- The performances make this movie funny. Marisa Tomei didn't deserve her accidental Oscar for this, but she didn't deserve to lose the public's attention and future roles either. Man, what happened to her? We guess she's in that crummy family movie that came out this Christmas. Meh.
5. A Few Good Men- You can't handle the truth!

Our Top Nine Movies of 1991
1. The Silence of the Lambs- It's really not as evil or depraved as people say it is. It's a good movie.
2. Beauty and the Beast- Okay, cynics. It wasn't Stockholm Syndrome. This is a NICE cartoon film.
3. Hook- Rufio Rufio Rufio.
4. Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves- Is this a technically "good" movie? No. Was there ever a better Robin Hood? Not really. Did Alan Rickman WORK IT as the villain? Oh hell yeah. "I'm gonna cut your heart out with a spoon." Morgan Freeman was good too. If you aren't a movie snob, you'll have a really good time watching this.
5. Thelma and Louise- The famous ending left us unhappy, but the journey to it rocked.
6. Fried Green Tomatoes- This epic female friendship story wasn't brave enough to have the women be lovers like in the book, but it still packs a wallop of girl power and entertainment.
7. Father of the Bride- It may shock you to know that this is a remake. While many prefer the original, we like this one with Steve Martin. Sweet and funny.
8. Sleeping with the Enemy- Another movie that we wouldn't call "good." But we like it. Especially the ending. Miranda Lambert would approve too.
9. Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken- You might not know this inspirational family movie is a true story, but it is. Worth seeing.

Our Top Four Movies of 1990

1. Goodfellas- Obviously number one. Fun fact: Leeard and Ern went on a cruise and met the  the attorney who got the Hills into Witness Protection. He played himself in the movie.
2. Edward Scissorhands- Just a reminder that Tim Burton was better when he wrote originals, not when adapting books or doing remakes. Give us originals again, Tim!
3. Pretty Woman- Missing this fairy tale about a prostitute just because it's about a prostitute? Big mistake. Huge.
4. Kindergarten Cop- Our favorite Ahhhnold movie. It's not a tumah!

If this list was incomplete/we missed something great, you know who to blame. Our rude PARENTS who wouldn't let us watch "inappropriate" movies until we were "the right age." Ugh. We're sure we let a few great ones slip due to a) lack of the internet and b) being, like, five years old. So let us know if we have to add some stuff to our Netflix queues, will you? :-)


  1. You guys didn't like Philadelphia? (1993)

    1. Sure, we liked it. Just not enough for top ten. It was an AIDS message movie that was good and important for its time. Ten years later, it isn't as important because the conversation about AIDS has changed. Also, we thought the script played it too safe. One of the things we asked ourselves was, "Would we watch this again, right now?" We wouldn't. Once was enough. We don't like when movies are more "persuasive pieces" than actual entertainment. Good acting though.

  2. Great list! I'm sad to say, I have not seen many of these movies. I should probably do something about that ;) How about a list of favorite songs of the 90's?

    1. Our taste in 90s music is 99% guilty pleasures and Broadway, so that list would be hilariously bad. Maybe one day. We'd probably be better off making a more current list. Hey, maybe we should do a "favorite songs of the year" post for 2013.