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Fifteen by Fifteen

November 1, 2005

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), one of the best websites on the sprawling internet, is commemorating its fifteenth anniversary by having its staff list their fifteen favorite movies of the past fifteen years.  In commemoration of their commemoration, here is my list. 

My fifteen favorite films of the past fifteen years, in no particular order:

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) – New Line’s gamble to let Peter Jackson do his thing and film all three LOTR movies at once paid off beautifully.  The final results – the Fellowship of the Ring and its two sequels – are cinematic masterpieces.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – In making the sequel to his career-launching Terminator, director James Cameron managed to create what may be the perfect action flick. 

                           

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – The penultimate prison movie…and one of the highest grossing rental flicks of all time.

Braveheart (1995) – Ah, yes.  The film that forever etched “FREEEEEDOM!” in our minds.  Not only an outstanding film, Mel Gibson’s epic about one of  Scotland’s most revered heroes also single-handedly revived the historical epic as a genre. 

Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – This phenomenal film deserved better than it got at the box office.  It tackled the crusades – a controversial topic at the best of times – with a grace and élan I did not think possible from the likes of Ridley Scott.  If you have not seen it yet, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Unforgiven (1992) – Clint Eastwood’s great “anti-western”.  Superbly written, acted, and directed.  In my opinion it is the finest western since “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.

The Matrix (1999) – I was in Nashville when “The Matrix” came out, and recall not wanting to see it.  I mean, come on, a sci-fi flick starring Keanu Reeves?  But I let myself be dragged out to the theater…and I was rocked by this film.  I can still remember the sheer bewilderment I had watching it the first time…wondering just what the hell was going on for the first half hour or so.  It is a shame its two sequels fell so short…

Toy Story (1995) – I hesitated on this one…I personally think “The Incredibles” is Pixar’s finest film to date…but “Toy Story” is the one that started it all.  It proved to the world that CG animation could tell a story as effectively, if not moreso, than hand drawn animation.  And, ten years later, it is still a treat to watch.

Contact (1997) – This is one of those films that, upon seeing it, people tend to either love or hate.  It posits itself as a sci-fi flick about extra-terrestrial intelligence, but at the end of the day it is really about science and faith, and about how the two need not be conflicting.  A valuable lesson, and one we as a society still need to learn.

L.A. Confidential (1997) – The outstanding crime noir film that, for all intents and purposes, launched Russell Crowe’s career (no, Virtuosity does not count).  Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and James Cromwell put in powerful performances of their own. 

Dances With Wolves (1990) – Unless he finds himself cast in some Quentin Tarantino flick and stages a miraculous comeback, I think it is safe to say that “Dances With Wolves” is Kevin Costner’s masterpiece.

Garden State (2004) – Written and directed by star Zach Braff, “Garden State” was I think described perfectly by Blogger Mark as “The Graduate” of our generation.

Dangerous Beauty (1998) – An oft-overlooked period film about the Venetian poet and courtesan, Veronica Franco.  A strong cast (Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell, Oliver Platt), smart dialogue, and a great story turn what could have been a tepid chick flick into a very good movie.

Office Space (1999) – The film that made Mike Judge the hero of office drones everywhere.  Though it falls off a bit in the final act, the majority of the movie is comedy gold.

The Big Lebowski (1998) – It’s a Coen brothers movie, which means people either love it or hate it.  For the haters, it is a meandering morass of absurdity.  For those who love it, it is the same…but it is a hilarious meandering morass of absurdity that is imminently quotable and good for multiple viewings.  Perhaps not the best the Joel and Ethan Coen have ever put out, but it remains my favorite of their films. 

Honorable Mentions:

Gladiator – The Hunt for Red October – Silence of the Lambs – American Beauty – Elizabethtown – Reservoir Dogs – The Incredibles – Goodfellas – Life is Beautiful – Three Kings – Clerks – Magnolia – Kull the Conqueror.

What are your top fifteen of the last fifteen years?

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2005 10:17 am

    OMG, I love Dangerous Beauty. Love it! It’s probably my favorite film. Few people seem familiar with it though. I don’t think it’s a coincidence my husband favors Rufus Sewell.

    How could you not include Pulp Fiction? I would replace Toy Story with A Bug’s Life. I’m too lazy to actually make a list, but The English Patient would be on mine as well as Schindler’s List.

  2. November 2, 2005 10:22 am

    I liked Pulp Fiction…but didn’t love it. If I had to put in one Tarantino film, it’d be Reservoir Dogs…which made it to the honorable mentions.

    As for Toy Story…I personally preferred The Incredibles…but it is impossible to deny that Toy Story was the trailblazer…and had it flopped, Pixar’s subsequent films may never have seen the light of day.

  3. November 2, 2005 11:43 am

    What about The Natural..one of the best sports movies of all time, but it was even more than that. Roy Hobbs become a national hero for everyone looking for a second chnce. And the soundtrack has been used a countless number of times

  4. November 2, 2005 11:49 am

    The Natural is greatness…but it was released in 1984…so not in contention. Same goes for Field of Dreams.

  5. Tim permalink
    November 2, 2005 8:13 pm

    Heh. Yes, time to wake up and smell the ’90s.

    Appropriate since Beth had VH1’s “I Love the 80s” on today and they talked about the baseball movies. And Pretty in Pink. And Tom Cruise’s wacky hair in Color of Money.

    I’m a list guy. Better make my list.

  6. Tim permalink
    November 2, 2005 9:24 pm

    Okay, here’s my list. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll think of something great I left out. I was surprised at how hard this list was to trim and how many movies I thought were really special that I had to leave out.

    In some cases, I knocked movies off the list because with so many great movies, it didn’t feel right to include more than one by any director. So Boogie Nights got knocked off for Magnolia, Resevoir Dogs and Kill Bill got knocked off for Pulp Fiction, Before Sunrise got knocked off for Dazed and Confused, Schindler’s List got knocked off for Saving Private Ryan, and The Royal Tennenbaums got knocked off for Rushmore. So it goes.

    1. Rushmore (1998)
    2. Spirited Away (2001)
    3. City of God (2002)
    4. Chungking Express (1994)
    5. Magnolia (1999)
    6. Pulp Fiction (1994)
    7. Hoop Dreams (1994) (Best. Documentary. Ever.)
    8. Goodfellas (1990)
    9. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
    10. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
    11. Dazed and Confused (1993)
    12. The Matrix (1999)
    13. Clerks (1994)
    14. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
    15. Office Space (1999)

    Some of the Honorable Mentions that weren’t mentioned above: The Lord of the Rings movies, Swingers, Lone Star, The Iron Giant, Monster, American History X, Dead Man Walking, Boyz n the Hood, Memento (really hard to leave off), Se7en, Braveheart, Unforgiven, Fargo, Fight Club, Dances with Wolves, Terminator 2, 6th Sense, Incredibles/Nemo/Toy Story, Gladiator, 28 Days Later/Shaun of the Dead, Shawshank Redemption, Sideways, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Almost Famous

    Sorry for the long post … was fun to put the list together, though. Good question, Matt.

  7. November 2, 2005 9:42 pm

    Yeah, it was incredibly difficult to pare the list down to fifteen. I started with somewhere closer to forty films…

  8. November 2, 2005 11:32 pm

    Shun of the Dead – this will become to next cult classic. One of the funniest movies that nobody knows about.

  9. November 2, 2005 11:33 pm

    Oops, can I make that Shaun….Although I’m sure that “Shun of the Dead” was pretty funny as well

  10. November 3, 2005 12:05 am

    Now it’s my turn for the list. I set my standards a little differntly. These are all movies, were I fliping around the channels, I would stop and watch the rest of this movie no matter what. You may chuckle at my list, but hey, it’s my list!

    In no particualr order

    Matrix – Deep idea with incredible special effects

    Boondock Saints – Great chemistry between the two brothers

    Forrest Gump – The modern day Zelig – how can you not love a guy who was alwas RUNNIN’

    Meet the Parents – Probably the most tense I have ever been watching a movie

    Galdiator – Great soundtrack really set the tone – Some of Hans Zimmer’s best work

    Unforgiven – OK, I have a man crush on Clint Eastwood

    Jerry Maguire – As nutty as Tom Cruise has become, he really hits home with a normal guy just trying to find his way

    Dumd and Dumber – Everytime I watch Loyd and Harry’s entrance to the Spotted Owl Shindig, all dressed up in the best neon tuxedos – I lamost pee in my pants

    Last of the Mohicans – I’ve watched the final scene a mllion times

    Armegedon – I’m a sucker for saving the world

    Die Hard with a Vengance – Never seen a man get that beat up before – Samuel L Jackson plays the best “ZEUS” ever

    Groundhog Day – Come on, we all dreamed about this – Morale of the story : Don’t drive angry

    All Lord of the Ring Movies – Pure Greatness

    The Conspiracy Theory – Paranoia at it’s best

  11. November 3, 2005 12:09 am

    Dang….I forgot War of the Worlds – That movie and I really hit it off

  12. November 3, 2005 10:34 am

    Last of the Mohicans has a really great soundtrack, too. I think it would make my list. Um, the list I’m too lazy to actually put together.

  13. Tim permalink
    November 3, 2005 5:01 pm

    “Dumd and Dumber.” I love it. I can always rely on JB for the unintentionally funny typos. JB, it’s like you always include a little bonus humor for those paying attention. Thank you.

    You plan these, right? Wait, don’t tell me. You’ll ruin it.

    Groundhog Day got major consideration from me … it was particularly hard to keep off the list. One of the best comedies of this time period. Using your test … I’ve stopped to watch that on cable a bunch of times. Even rented it out on Netflix because Beth somehow, inexplicably, hadn’t seen it. If I redid my list tomorrow, good chance I’d put that in and switch out one of the other comedies.

    What was the best comedy of the era? Office Space, Groundhog Day, Meet the Parents, Clerks? My own test is a little different than JB’s — what matters to me most is my reaction the first time I saw something. Clerks might top the list for me there, unless Rushmore counts as a comedy (which it might, but it’s pretty hard to pigeon hole it anywhere). Office Space is more quotable, Groundhog Day more accessible, Meet the Parents the most cringeworthy (in a good way) … but Clerks was a weird little world for me, somehow alien but absolutely honest at the same time. Your mileage may differ.

    I was a little surprised when looking at IMDB’s lists of greatest comedies — very few representatives from the 90s on. Have the number of great comedies being produced really slowed?

  14. November 3, 2005 5:14 pm

    Oh yeah, those typos are totally planned.

    Darn computers

  15. Tim permalink
    November 3, 2005 5:37 pm

    Heh … what about There’s Something About Mary?

    Would have absolutely made the list when it came out. Has the disappointing streak of the Farelly brothers since then tarnished that movie? Kind of surprised it didn’t make any of the lists, to be honest. In the sub-category of “cringeworthy Ben Stiller movies,” I’d probably put it ahead of Meet the Parents, to be honest, although I liked both. Is it the beans or the frank?

    On the topic of memorable lines — Anchorman gets better and better with repeated viewings. There are more repeatable great one-liners in that movie than in any other since at least Office Space.

    “Milk was a bad choice.”

  16. November 3, 2005 5:47 pm

    Maybe I should do a “fifteen most awesomely bad movies of the past fifteen years” post. Movies that were so terrible that they literally went around the corner and became good. See Kull the Conqueror as a prime example.

  17. November 4, 2005 9:32 am

    Yeah! Do a post like that. I would read it. Um, I read all your posts anyway, but do one like that. For those of us too lazy to do lists…

    What’s that movie that David Caruso left NYPD Blue for? That should totally be on the “so bad it’s kind of mesmerizing/funny” list.

  18. November 4, 2005 11:16 am

    Was that the one with Nicholas Cage where he couldn’t stand the taste of metal?

    God that movie was awful.

  19. November 4, 2005 7:03 pm

    The wife’s list…posted at her request…

    1. Last of the Mohicans
    2. Jurassic Park
    3. Philadelphia
    4. Fried Green Tomatoes
    5. Good Will Hunting
    6. As Good As It Gets
    7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
    8. Lost In Translation
    9. Chocolat
    10. Garden State
    11. King Arthur (yes, the Clive Owen one)
    12. Gosford Park
    13. Searching for Bobby Fischer
    14. Sneakers
    15. Bridget Jones’s Diary

    Honorable mentions – Dangerous Beauty, Girl With the Pearl Earring, You’ve Got Mail, A Bug’s Life, Beauty and the Beast

  20. Tim permalink
    November 5, 2005 10:08 am

    There was another King Arthur movie? 😉

    Good pickup on Searching for Bobby Fischer. Very under rated movie. Should have been on my honorable mention list.

    A Bug’s Life gets a lot more love in this thread than I had thought it would. I always thought it was on the “B List” of the 3d animation wave — after Toy Story 1 and 2, Shrek, Nemo, Incredibles.

    For grins, my ranking of the 3d animation movies, since I’ve now had to watch each of these approximately 200 times (I may be missing a few):

    1. Toy Story
    2. Finding Nemo
    3. The Incredibles
    4. Toy Story 2
    5. Shrek
    6. Ice Age
    7. Shrek 2
    8. A Bug’s Life
    9. Antz
    10.Dinosaurs

    How do others rank them? I spend most of my non-working time watching these, Power Rangers, Star Wars, and Dora the Explorer now (or, as Max and I have decided, Dora the Explora, since that’s much cooler), so this is very important for me.

  21. November 5, 2005 11:18 am

    You forgot Shark Tales. Don’t worry Tim I’ve been there (and still am). Wait til you get the minivan with the DVD player, I can recite lines to hundreds of kids movies, but some of them I have never actually seen.
    Hey, how did you avoid the Barney Balck Hole?

  22. Tim permalink
    November 5, 2005 11:25 am

    Yeah, and I missed Monster’s Inc. and Robots, too. Gonna have to re-do that list.

    Haven’t gotten to the in-van DVD player yet, but we do have the portable player that Max props up on his lap in the car seat for long trips. Saved out butt. I wanted to buy it flowers or something.

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