Saturday, April 25, 2009

Top Ten 90's Movies by Urban

*Posted June 18, 2008*

Since Dave is MIA, his top tens are not that great anyway, I figured that I would give a follow-up to the ever popular movies of the 2000s list with the top ten movies of the 1990s. I’ll give a special shout-out to GoodFellas as the top honorable mention.

10. Gettysburg - Ronald F. Maxwell (1993)

It is difficult enough to capture an audience for two hours. Try and think about doing that for four and a half hours. Maxwell does precisely this with his masterpiece about the turning point of the American Civil War. The film is made meticulously with the help of many historians and reenactors who made every second from July 1-3, 1863 as accurate as possible. Acting is superb with Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Jeff Daniels taking the three leads. Cinematography and music are also top-notch. A must-see for not only Civil War and history buffs, but it should be standard viewing for all true Americans.

9. Heat - Michael Mann (1995)

Only the second movie to cast Robert de Niro and Al Pacino together, the first being the Godfather Part II in which the two acting giants were never in the same scene together. The two spar with de Niro being a quiet and sly thief who is thwarted by the flamboyant Pacino as a police investigator. Only a director like Mann can work with the top two leads as well as casting many other familiar faces, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, etc. The coffee encounter between de Niro and Pacino as well as the shoot-out after the bank heist are considered two of the greatest scenes in film history. On a side note, the ending in the fields outside of the airport is an homage to the 1968 film Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen.

8. Braveheart - Mel Gibson (1995)

Another Gibson movie, his first and most famous film depicts the struggle of the Scots against England in the 13th century. Awesome Gibson elements are present, sweet dream sequences and picturesque cinematography. As with Jesus in the Passion and Jaguar Paw in Apocalypto, Gibson follows the rise and ultimate fall of his lead character. In Braveheart it is William Wallace, who Gibson himself plays. All of the characters are pretty cool, Wallace, Longshanks, Robert the Bruce, Bruce’s father, etc. Plus, Sophie Marceau is really hot. An all-around must see historical epic.

7. The Matrix - Wachowski Bros (1999)

Even losers that make fun of the sequels realize that the original Matrix is awesome. So hip and cool with a lot of black leather, smooth dialogue, and incredible special effects. So incredible, that the film swept the special effects Oscars that year defeating George Lucas’ The Phantom Menace in the core categories. The story itself is also pretty interesting with the world as we know it simply being a computer system known as the Matrix. It is ultimately a struggle between the machines that control the Matrix and the humans that have escaped its grasp. If the final scene of Neo flying through the air with Rage Against the Machine’s “Wake Up” blaring in the background does not pump you up, I do not know what will.

6. Se7en - David Fincher (1995)

In the pathway through the seven deadly sins, David Fincher shows viewers a plethora of disturbing images, several that will turn many viewers away. But Fincher has made a masterpiece that is far superior to his overrated Fight Club that provides a strong point behind all of the decapitated heads and autopsies with extremely obese individuals. Every day we see deadly sins, and it is becoming the norm. The movie comes full circle with the entrance of the uncredited Kevin Spacey as John Doe. The ending of the movie is quite shocking, but it does make sense for the plot. On a side note, the ending credits scroll in reverse.

5. The Silence of the Lambs - Jonathan Demme (1991)

Jodie Foster won an Oscar for her role as Clarice Starling, but the entire movie revolves and centers around her fellow Oscar winner, Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins’ portrayal of serial killer Hannibal Lector is arguably the best acting performance in the past twenty years. The height of the movie are the scenes between Starling and Lector. Highlights are the first view of Lector smiling at Starling through his glass prison cell, and Lector speaking to Senator Martin while being strapped to dolly type gurney with his most memorable mask. A lot of the movie was filmed in our home state of Pennsylvania including, Pittsburgh, McKeesport, Perryopolis, and Canonsburg.

4. Dances With Wolves - Kevin Costner (1990)

A lot of people thought GoodFellas should have won the best picture Oscar in 1990 instead of Costner’s epic surrounding the western frontier of the United States. I am a huge fan of both, but I do agree with the Academy’s decision to reward Costner. It is an epic film that humanizes native Americans and portrays “whites” as evil occupiers. This is one of the most emotional films I have ever seen, especially the scenes when the wolf and Costner’s horse get shot. But this is not a teary-eyed snoozer, Dances With Wolves is a fulfilling look at the last days of the western frontier and one man’s struggle between two far separate civilizations.

3. JFK - Oliver Stone (1991)

Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, Joe Pesci, John Candy, Walter Matheau, and Donald Sutherland all in one movie. Oliver Stone makes this jam-packed cast work with basically minor roles for all except for Costner. The directorial style is excellent with news reel footage at the beginning, many flashbacks, and an over all flair for movement and color that represents one of the best directed films of all time. Whether you agree with a conspiracy or not surrounding the death of John Kennedy, one must appreciate the artwork that Stone accomplished with this film. Many criticized the content of the movie, but when judging the film based on the visual, it is easy to realize that Stone has made a masterpiece.

2. The Last of the Mohicans - Michael Mann (1992)

I will probably catch a lot of flack for this choice for the mere fact that the majority of the fans of this movie are females. Although the love story between Daniel-Day Lewis and Madeline Stowe is central, this movie does offer so much more. The backdrop of the French and Indian War, which is a very underappreciated conflict in American history, is great for history buffs, Day-Lewis’ performance is as usual awesome, the cinematography is great, and the score has to be up their with the best in movie history. It is interesting to note that the actor who plays the main villain Magua, Wes Studi, also appears in Dances With Wolves and Heat. The Last of the Mohicans is not a chick flick, it is an all-round great motion picture about a confluence of individuals during war.

1. The Usual Suspects - Bryan Singer (1995)

The ending. I guess that is all that needs to be said. If you go into this movie without knowing anything, you will be blown away. If you go in knowing all the spoilers, Dan and Dave, you will not appreciate this great movie. The story of crime. Of Evil. How far does evil go? Who is Keyser Soze? All of these questions are sorta answered. In a rather short movie, an hour an forty minutes, the audience definitely came, saw, and conquered. Kevin Spacey makes another appearance in the top-ten as Verbal Kint and it was another strong performance that is central to the movie. Some critics argue that the ending totally disregards the entire film up until that point. I disagree, whether it is reality, a dream, or simply a made-up story, Singer captivates the audience. The Usual Suspects is my choice of the best film of the 1990s.

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