My Favorite Films of the 90’s: Honorable Mention – SMOKE (1995). The main theme of this little gem of a movie is the joy of storytelling itself. A great cast (William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, Stockard Channing, Forrest Whitaker) headline Paul Auster’s story about relationships and people in conversation. Directed by Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club).
My Favorite Films of the 90’s: Honorable Mention – A SIMPLE PLAN (1998). Sam Raimi’s dark, foreboding and surprisingly moving take on the corrosive power of greed. The film features two terrifically strong performances from Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton as brothers who happen upon a bag full of cash in a crashed airplane, and compromise much in their efforts to claim it for themselves.
My honorable mentions from the films of the 90’s: Smoke, A Simple Plan, Citizen Ruth, Once Around, Body Snatchers, Everybody Wins, Guilty by Suspicion, She’s So Lovely, When a Man Loves a Woman, Limbo, The Music of Chance
My Favorite Films of the 90’s: Runner-up – THE DOCTOR (1991). William Hurt stars as a cocky surgeon who only learns to connect with those around him following his own personal cancer scare. This was released around the same time as ‘Regarding Henry’ – another study of a man who is shaken from the arrogant slumber of his life after a life-threatening crisis. That film is an obvious fable with character turns that are obviously scripted and played. ‘The Doctor’ portrays a much more subtle metamorphosis, aided by a typically muted and well-observed performance by William Hurt.
My Favorite Films of the 90’s: Runner-up – DONNIE BRASCO (1997). ‘Donnie Brasco’ came about at a time when the rumblings of Pacino’s overacting were beginning to crescendo (a charge that still applies to far too much of his work). That’s a big part of why this was such a welcome return to form. Pacino’s played gangsters before, but here he trades in the icy cold calculation of his Michael Corleone for the sad-sack weariness of a Willy Loman. He’s magical in this part – his body language alone speaks volumes – and he’s more than ably assisted by co-star Johnny Depp.
My Favorite Films of the 90’s: Runner-up – THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1999). For my money, this is one of the coolest flicks of the decade. It contains genuine chemistry between its two romantic leads played by Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. I think Russo’s performance is one of the most fiercely confident of the decade.
My Favorite Films of the 90’s: Runner-up – ANACONDA (1997). Scoff if you’d like, but ‘Anaconda’ stands as one of the great comedies of the past 15 years for me. And not one of those unintentional ‘so-bad-it’s-funny’ comedies, either. Jon Voight makes it all work by delivering a deliriously comic and wildly inventive performance for the ages. He’s in full command here and definitely in on the joke.
My favorite films of the 90’s right outside the top 20: Mo Better Blues, Bugsy, Glengarry Glenn Ross, The Age of Innocence, Quiz Show, Ed Wood, Pulp Fiction, Evita, Mother , The People vs. Larry Flynt, 4 Little Girls, Boogie Nights, The Rainmaker, Rounders, Life is Beautiful, Notting Hill, Schindler’s List, Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, In the Company of Men, Richard III, Looking for Richard, This Boy’s Life, Jungle Fever, Frankie and Johnny, Malcolm X, As Good As It Gets, Dolores Claiborne