Sunday, February 15, 2009

It Was A Very Good Year!


For as long as I’ve been a movie fan I’ve heard people argue back and forth whether or not it’s a good year for movies. Because A, B and C came out it is or because X, Y and Z came out it isn’t, so on and so forth and such and such. At the end of the day I think it all boils down to personal taste and whether or not the majority of movies released in any given year struck your particular fancy or not. It’s all very subjective and as such a pretty senseless argument most of the time. Of course, then there’s years like 1999.

If you ask ANYONE that follows movies on a somewhat unhealthy level, every single one of them will tell you 1999 was one of, if not the single greatest years for movies in recent memory. Heck, I’ve even heard more than a few people declare it the single best year for movies… EVER! While I’m not sure if I’d go quite that far it’s pretty hard to argue that it was a banner year for cinema, no matter how you slice it. Just take a look at some of the films that were released that year:

PAYBACK
BLAST FROM THE PAST
OCTOBER SKY
OFFICE SPACE
LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS
THE MATRIX
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
GO
ELECTION
THE MUMMY
STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE
FREE ENTERPRISE
LIMBO
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME
TARZAN
RUN LOLA RUN
THE WINSLOW BOY
SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT
SUMMER OF SAM
ARLINGTON ROAD
AMERICAN PIE
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
EYES WIDE SHUT
THE IRON GIANT
THE SIXTH SENSE
THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
MYSTERY MEN
BOWFINGER
AMERICAN BEAUTY
BANDITS
MYSTERY, ALASKA
THREE KINGS
BOYS DON’T CRY
FIGHT CLUB
THE STRAIGHT STORY
BRINGING OUT THE DEAD
BEING JOHN MALCOVICH
THE INSIDER
DOGMA
SLEEPY HOLLOW
TOY STORY 2
THE GREEN MILE
MAGNOLIA
MAN ON THE MOON
GIRL, INTERRUPTED
TOPSY TURVY
TITUS
GALAXY QUEST
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY

If you ask me that is one heck of a list. Sure some are better than others but that year had something to offer for EVERYONE and not just a few things but lots of genuine quality, regardless of your tastes. It was the year that launched careers and signaled what the next decade of cinema would look like.

This was the year that really introduced us to Angelina Jolie, Brad Bird, Sam Mendes, Alexander Payne, Russell Crowe, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Hillary Swank, The Wachowski Brothers, Guy Ritchie and so much more. It was the year that brought perhaps the most eagerly awaited film in the history of cinema in THE PHANTOM MENACE. It was the year that proved that Matt Damon was far more than a pretty face when he turned in his devastatingly brilliant performance in THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. It was the year that Kevin Smith showed you could make a controversial film about religion that still managed to be as entertaining as all get out. It was the year that proved Pixar really was that good and Paul Thomas Anderson could make anything interesting, including a chauvinistic Tom Cruise and frogs raining from the sky.

The reason I bring all this up is because several months ago it dawned on me that this year, 2009 is the 10 year anniversary of what many people consider to be one of the hallmark years in the history of cinema. When this thought crossed my mind I found it hard to believe. Has it really been a decade since THE MATRIX, since BEING JOHN MALCOVICH and FIGHT CLUB? It couldn’t be could it? Wow, time flies when you’re getting old.

As the realities of time have sunk in I decided that since this is the 10 year anniversary of the year that changed cinema in a way that hasn’t happened in decades, if ever, that I would be remiss if I didn’t celebrate this anniversary like every good movie lover should. As such throughout the year you’ll see me chiming in every so often about certain movies that were released in the year proceeding the new millennium. Just researching the movies that came out that year it dawned on me how much that lone 12 months affected the entire world of cinema in ways that are still being felt today. How could I not honor that?

This isn’t a normal post; this is something just to get the old brain juices flowing. Ten years ago the world of cinema changed right before our very eyes. Ten years ago the multiplexes were afire with not just great movies, but films that would be considered instant classics. Over the next ten and a half months I intend to give credit where credit is due, hopefully you’ll all come along for the ride.

1 comment:

Senor Granto said...

Good entry, I think I still have my copy of that EW.

Seems to be that the 40's was the decade where Hollywood made the most money. The 70's the decade where the best films were made or at least according to critics. But I never really gave much thought about what individual year had the best films released.

That is a strong list and it is interesting that so many big names got there start then, its also symbolic since it was right before I graduated from high school.

Only sad thing is that this decade has been less than kind to quality films and all the promise that 1999 had shown had been virtually squandered away in the ensuing years.

I don't have anything against sequels, remakes, or adaptations but something has clearly gone wrong when virtually every summer film falls into that category.

Maybe this should serve as fodder for a future entry but if you look back at the top grossing list of films for the 2000 era or the ones that had the most impact, most of them are based on long existing properties (Ie: Iron Man, Star Wars, Transformers, etc.)

Should be interesting to see where the 2010's take us though, I hope we'll see the death of CG and more film makers returning to practical effects. I also hate digital camera work but since they're so much cheaper to use than film I guess they're here to stay.