1999

best film:  Magnolia from Paul Thomas Anderson Magnolia leads the pack for 1999- which is a superb and incredibly deep year in cinema history.  Magnolia proved Boogie Nights was no fluke. It also showed that PT is as beholden to Altman as he is to Scorsese, and that he is perhaps the greatest director of his generation.  It is sheer filmmaking confidence and ambition with an ensemble to rival Nashville (which Altman made at the age of 50).  It is a very big film. Ebert called it “operatic ecstasy” https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-magnolia-1999 and PT Anderson said (at the time)  that it

19992021-10-20T13:32:58+00:00

1998

best film:  The Thin Red Line from Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line fulfilled the promise of a twenty year wait since Terrence Malick’s previous feature, also a masterpiece (and the best film of its year), Days of Heaven. Thin Red Line does not have the visceral war experience punch in the face that Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan does  (Spielberg’s film was released earlier in the year) so I think it took a while for Malick’s poetic tone poem, Christ allegory, and sheer photographical brilliance to resonate fully with many cinema lovers. The sprawling ensemble, endless voiceover narrators (I

19982021-10-15T18:54:20+00:00

1997

best film:  Boogie Nights from Paul Thomas Anderson P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights is that sonic boom giant masterpiece from a wunderkind filmmaker under 30 like Citizen Kane, The 400 Blows, Jaws, Breathless, Battleship Potemkin that leaves us all a little speechless. I think in 1997 there were those who cried “Scorsese Jr.” with how many similarities there are between the film and Goodfellas but now, with the benefit of hindsight, it is impossible to deny this accomplishment. The opening dance club set piece shot is beyond description in its beauty. It is an exquisite slice of cinema. The film has

19972021-10-02T16:49:25+00:00

1996

best film:  Breaking the Waves from Lars von Trier Breaking the Waves is a monumental cinematic achievement and even with some very stiff competition, the pinnacle of Lars von Trier’s career thus far. It sets the tone for the Dogme 95 movement as well. Emily Watson’s debut (she had a tv credit two years prior) is on the same tier as Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc as one of the best performances all-time. Roger Ebert and Martin Scorsese did a top 10 of the 1990s show together and they both named Breaking the Waves on their

19962021-09-23T19:01:57+00:00

1995

  best film:  Heat from Michael Mann. Heat is both the summation of Michael Mann’s previous efforts, and an artist at his clear peak. After his biggest financial success in 1992’s The Last of the Mohicans, he had the juice to go back to his urban jungle—cops vs. thieves—and do it with the long awaited meeting of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on screen (the two had been dancing around each other for decades after working together, but separately, in The Godfather: Part II). Mann here does not look to tell a cop versus thief story—he looks to tell THE

19952021-09-17T14:25:06+00:00

1994

best film:  Pulp Fiction from Quentin Tarantino  A three-pronged masterpiece— magnificent writing (on par with or superior to what cinema has yet produced),  tour de force direction behind the camera (the dance contest sequence, the freeze frame on Amanda Plummer with soundtrack drop), and a structural non-linear formal sonic boom. Such confidence from Tarantino- this thing could have gone so wrong: wigs on the three leads, forty (40) minutes longer (153 total running time than Reservoir Dogs  The freeze frame on Amanda Plummer opening is a jaw-dropper—I have overlooked it in the past- it is one of cinema’s

19942021-09-11T13:11:19+00:00

1993

best film:  Naked from Mike Leigh.  There is very little separating Mike Leigh’s masterpiece from Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence or Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Blue. All three films could conceivably land in the top 10 of the decade.   Mike Leigh’s Naked is blow-your-hair-back brilliant—a big, bold masterpiece and one of the best films of the 1990s. The use of black here to frame our characters– the rail/pipe makes me think of Antonioni’s Red Desert and how he painted it red. The color design throughout the film is a major achievement- masterly.  Thewlis is always in black. Black

19932021-10-04T15:21:44+00:00

1992

best film:  Malcolm X from Spike Lee Spike Lee’s Malcolm X is rarity- a biopic that is filled with cinematic ambition. Denzel’s singular achievement is the definition of tour de force—a top five performance of the decade. But Spike Lee is going for as much stylistically as he was in 1989’s Do the Right Thing. He pulls out all the stops visually combining a painterly production design with an active camera. Spike uses his patented double dolly shot (especially when combined with the use of a closeup)—sort of a variation on the Mean Streets' shot (the Harvey Keitel “Rubber

19922021-12-27T20:18:23+00:00

1991

best film:  The Double Life of Veronique from Krzysztof Kieślowski Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Véronique is so enigmatic and lyrical—it almost makes his previous films seem like prose and this is his first attempt at poetry (more description than praise or a critique). This has a melodic tone- and it is not just because Veronique and Veronika are musicians It does confirm that the visual director that emerged from Dekalog is the one from A Short Film About Killing– he brings back the color filter (this is green, but a softer dream-like almost transparent green hued mist—not the harsh dystopian green/yellow with the

19912021-10-04T15:21:55+00:00

1990

best film:  Goodfellas from Martin Scorsese Goodfellas is narrative and stylistic cinematic bliss. I could watch it once a week. It has everything from some of the more memorable characters of the back-half of the 20th century (acted to perfection by Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Robert De Niro and the rest of the cast) to a sustained visual brilliance throughout the entire running time. A cinema enthusiast could write an entire paper on the Copacabana shot/sequence which is amongst the greatest shots of all-time. The opening freeze-frames are fantastic as are Scorsese’s work with slow motion tracking

19902021-08-24T13:09:29+00:00

1989

best film:  The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover from Peter Greenaway A giant “M” Masterpiece and prime candidate for the singular poster child of late 20th century film art expressionism and the greatest mise-en-scene in film history. Simply one of the most beautiful movies ever made There is a different color for each room— exteriors in blue, dining in red, bathroom in white, kitchen in green—some characters outfits change colors as does the cigarettes for Helen Mirren. The Hals painting, tapestry here is gorgeous and copied by Greenaway- he does this with artwork

19892021-08-20T13:57:54+00:00

1988

best film:  A Short Film About Killing from Krzysztof Kieslowski A severe 84 minutes shot through a hazy green/yellow filter with heavy shadows. It is some of the best 84 minutes of cinema in the 1980s—pure and perfect. This is episode V in Kieslowski’s Dekalog series. It and episode VI (A Short Film About Love) were made into longer films. They work  both as standalone films and as part of the greater context of the whole. Slawomir Idziak is the DP- he’d go on to make Blue and The Double Life of Veronique with Kieslowski. Their achievement here cannot be overstated. The filter idea

19882021-08-12T23:15:16+00:00
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