The 90s...the best movies of 1990...

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 25, 2015 07:00pm | Post a Comment

I am continuing my journey back through the 90s that I started a couple of years ago. I compiled my top ten albums of the first part of the 90s. In case you missed those you can check them out here. I am now moving on to film and listing my top ten films of each year of the 90s. I will be of course starting with 1990. Since it is the 25th anniversary of 1990! I know it is hard to believe. The 90s is still my favorite decade for music and for film. Although the 80s is really hard to compete with. But a film I loved when I was ten or 12 in the 80s is much different than a film I loved when I was 18 or 20 in the 90s. I really grew up in the 80s. But my high school and college years were in the 90s. 90s films just became a bit more serious for me. Or at least I took film more seriously. Sort of. These were the years I discovered foreign film. The years I discovered the genius of David Lynch and John Waters. I of course loved movies in the 80s but the 90s are when I really fell in love with film and started to understand film and the vision of a director. When I started to really pay attention to editing and cinematography and scores. There were of course some absolutely horrible movies in the 90s. You might even think some of the movies on my list are some of your least favorite!

This is a list of my specific ten films of the year that I love the most. I don't claim for these to be the ten best films of that year. And they certainly are not your favorite films of the year. The great thing about movies is that we all connect differently to different movies. It would be very rare to find two people with the exact same list of ten films from any given year. These are the movies that I have owned on VHS and DVD and Blu-ray. The movies that I have watched over and over again. The movies that I would go see again in the theater if I ever had a chance. These are the movies that make me happy. The movies that make me cry. The movies that I have probably watched too many times already. But if they were on TV I would not be able to resist watching them again. If I ever feel depressed or sad these are the movies that I can turn to knowing they will make me feel better. I really can't even imagine my life or life in general without these movies.

I am going to start each list with a list of the top ten films of that year at the box office. Just as a reference for the year. I will also list what won the Oscar that year for best picture.


Top Ten Films at the Box Office...

Home Alone
Dances With Wolves
Pretty Woman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Hunt For The Red October
Total Recall
Die Hard 2
Dick Tracy
Kindergarten Cop

Best Picture Oscar...Dances With Wolves

my top ten films of 1990...

#1 Goodfellas
Martin Scorsese

We all get introduced to our favorite directors through different films. It often depends on what age you are when a certain movie comes out in the theater. Or just what film you happen to watch for the first time by that director. It could be the first movie that a certain friend recommends to you or makes you watch for the first time. Goodfellas was my first introduction to Martin Scorsese. And I was hooked on him from that point after. I went back and watched Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ. I went to the theater in the years that followed to see Cape Fear, The Age Of Innocence and Casino. Goodfellas is just one of those perfect movies that I can always go back to. I love the Ray Liotta narration. I love the performances of Lorraine Bracco, Robert De Niro and of course Joe Pesci! I think I actually saw this movie before the Godfather movies so this was one of my first gangster movies. Unless you count Bugsy Malone (1976) with Jodie Foster and Scott Baio. It is hard to believe that this movie did not win Best Picture at the Oscars. But Kevin Costner & Dances With Wolves swept the awards that year. Joe Pesci did walk away with a much deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. And the film did win all the BAFTAs and the DGA and a whole bunch of other awards.

#2 Edward Scissorhands
Tim Burton
I love Tim Burton. Like most people I know who grew up in the 90s. I felt like he was one of the directors who I could actually relate to. He really understood a whole generation of kids. The goth kids and weird kids into horror movies and fantasy. His movies were fantastical and ridiculous at times. But I was in love with almost everything he did in the 90s. I was a big Pee-Wee Herman fan and loved Pee-Wee's Big Adventure more than almost anything. After that movie and then Beetlejuice and Batman I was a serious Tim Burton fan. Those were 3 of my favorite films of the 80s so I was already a huge fan going into Edward Scissorhands for the first time. And I was already hooked on Winona Ryder from Heathers and Johnny Depp from 21 Jumpstreet.  So it was virtually impossible for me to not love this movie! I try to watch this movie about once a year and never get sick of it. It has everything I love about a Tim Burton movie. It is seriously funny with great supporting performances from Vincent Price, Dianne Weist & Kathy Baker. It a crazy ridiculous fantasy film that only somebody like Burton could pull off. And it is a great love story! The film is beautiful to look at and one of those movies that I can't resist jumping into whenever I can.

#3 Pump Up The Volume
Allan Moyle

Heathers is probably my favorite movie of all time. It came out the year before Pump Up The Volume. I think it actually changed my life forever. It probably helped me develop into the person I am today. I probably learned how to be sarcastic and morbid from this movie. And I forever loved dark comedies after this movie. My love for Heathers was mostly due to Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. So I tried to see everything by them I could in the years that followed. I was already in love with Slater from The Legend Of Billie Jean. But this movie really sealed the deal. Pump Up The Volume was the perfect movie to end the 80s and begin the 90s with. Most of 1990 really still felt like the 80s and the 90s really didn't start for me until maybe 1991. Samantha Mathis was also great in this movie but it was really all out Christian Slater. I love this movie so much. I think we all probably wanted to run a pirate radio station after seeing this movie. I loved how he was the nerdy student undercover at school during the day and then the sex crazed cool dude at night on his radio station. Allan Moyle also directed the brilliant Times Square from 1980 and would go on to direct Empire Records in 1995. The soundtrack to this movie is also one of the best. You might not be able to relate to this movie or understand its importance if you didn't grow up in the late 80s & early 90s. But this movie seriously spoke to me and I will never forget the way it made me feel.

#4 Misery
Rob Reiner

Can we talk about Kathy Bates in this movie. Seriously one of the best performances of all time. She also went on to have another perfect performance in 1995 in Dolores Claiborne. Another Stephen King movie! I love Stephen King. In the 80s and 90s there were some amazing Stephen King books made into some equally amazing movies. Cujo, Christine, Children Of The Corn, Stand By Me, Pet Sematary, & then Misery. This movie is creepy and thrilling from start to finish. Both Kathy Bates and James Caan are fantastic in this film. Kathy Bates deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar this year for this performance. I even love Richard Farnsworth and Frances Sternhagen in this movie and could watch a whole movie about them. And Lauren Bacall is perfect as always as Paul Sheldon's book agent. I just love the mood of this film. A perfect movie to me always has the perfect combination of a good script and good acting. But even more important to me sometimes is the mood of the film. I love when the art direction, score, costumes, cinematography & editing all come together perfectly to make the perfect movie. This is one of those movies for me. It is a dark and twisted story. But it is told so brilliantly. Kathy Bates performance is meant to be a bit over the top and obsessive. It could have gone all wrong with someone else in this role. She just handles the character perfectly. She switches between attentive nurse and psycho super fan so easily. This is another one of those movies I just love jumping into the world of. I of course would not want to be trapped in that house with the Kathy Bates character. But I have a thing for snow movies and always love watching movies that take place in the winter snow. I love putting on this movie and becoming part of its world.

#5 Wild At Heart
David Lynch

Wild At Heart was another first for me this year. It was the first film I ever saw directed by David Lynch. But I was already a fan of the man from a little show called Twin Peaks. My love for Twin Peaks and all things David Lynch would only get stronger over the years. But 1990 is when it all started! I was already a huge Nicholas Cage fan because of Valley Girl and Raising Arizona. I have been going back and watching all these films the last couple of weeks. I seriously have not seen this movie in almost 20 years. But I still had almost every line and scene memorized. I forgot how much I loved this movie. The cinematography and art direction of this film is fantastic. And like most David Lynch films, the score and soundtrack are amazing. Laura Dern and Nicolas Cage are both perfect. Sailor & Lula forever! Laura Dern just kills it in her performance as Lula. The film is crazy and fantastic and just a little bit creepy in only that very unique David Lynch way. A sex crazed Lynchian version of The Wizard of Oz! I don't think I had ever seen a film like this before. It is probably one of his more accessible movies but it is still weird and experimental. It is super sexy and dreamy. It is the genius of David Lynch. And I can't even handle Dianne Ladd's performance as Lula's mom. She is just perfection in this movie. I can't get enough of her outfits and here wigs in this movie. And she had some of the best lines ever in this movie. Dianne Ladd even got a Best Supporting Oscar Nomination for this film. The film also has some amazing scene stealing supporting performances from Crispin Glover, Willem Dafoe & Isabella Rossellini. And you will recognize Grace Zabriske, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn & Jack Nance from Twin Peaks. I always love Grace Zabriske and she does not disappoint in this film. This is one of those movies that I simply can't think of the 90s without.

#6 Trust
Hal Hartley

I am pretty sure that Trust was my first Hal Hartley movie. It might have actually been my first "Indie" movie. My first glimpse of what a film outside the major studios could look like. There were no stars that I had ever seen in this movie. It didn't have a huge budget. It was not flashy. You could tell the story was probably written by the director. It was his baby that he had probably worked on for years. I did fall for Hal Hartley pretty quickly. I went back and forth to the video store and rented all of his films over the early and mid 90s. I watched The Unbelievable Truth, Simple Men, Surviving Desire, Amateur, FlirtHenry Fool. He used a lot of the same cast throughout his movies. And I soon knew Adrienne Shelly, Martin Donovan & Robert John Burke like they were my new best friends. I am not sure how someone would react to seeing these movies for the first time 25 years later. But they still hold up for me. And I have had lots of fun revisiting them. The stories are always a bit wacky and quirky. But they are real stories of somewhat real people in ordinary small towns. They are about real relationships and first meetings. They are about falling in love and how one chance encounter can change the rest of your life. The scripts are always genuine and intelligent. I just love the characters he creates. I don't think these movies could exist in any other time but the 90s. His first movie did come out in 1989. But the era of 90s film really sort of started in 1989.

#7 Last Exit To Brooklyn
Uli Edel

This movie might be too dark and depressing for most people. But I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. It depicts the dark side of living in Brooklyn in the 50s. It spends equal time developing the stories of a prostitute and a working class closeted union guy. The story of course does not end well for the gay characters in this movie played by Stephen Lang or Alexis Arquette. But I still somehow enjoy this movie. I just love this movie because it seems to offer a more honest portrayal of what it meant to be poor in the 50s. It also portrayed the gay characters realistically for the time period. Most movies that take place in the 50s show an idealistic perfect way of living. The film is based on the famous novel of Hubert Selby Jr. But the most important thing about this movie is Jennifer Jason Leigh! This was really the world's first introduction to the magic of Jennifer Jason Leigh. I was pretty much hooked on her after this movie. She of course went on to become one of my favorite actresses of the 90s in Rush, Single White Female, Short Cuts, The Hudsucker Proxy, Mrs. Parker & The Vicious Circle, Dolores Claiborne, Georgia, Kansas CityBastard Out Of Carolina. She plays the prostitute Tralala in this film. She really becomes this character and completely takes over the film. There is just something about Jennifer Jason Leigh that I can never quite explain. But I really do love everything she ever does. Jennifer Jason Leigh is one of those actresses you either love or hate. Her characters in this film and Dolores Clairborne have stayed with me over the years. This movie also features Ricki Lake who was already known as the star of Hairspray. But this was another one of her first roles. Sam Rockwell also shows up in this movie in his first film role. I always pay attention to the scores of my favorite films and this is another great one. Mark Knopfler creates a great score to go along with this film. This was German director Uli Edel's only big movie of the 90s. But almost 25 years later he directed another one of my favorites. The Baader Meinhof Complex. I can't recommend that movie enough. I think about it often much like Last Exit To Brooklyn.

#8 La Femme Nikita
Luc Besson

I love this movie! I had not seen it since the 90s and was happy to find out that I still love it as much as I did when I first saw it. It has really been fun to revisit all these movies again. It seriously takes me right back to the 90s. This might have been the first foreign movie that I ever saw. It was for sure the first foreign film that got me this excited. Not only did this movie introduce me to the world of foreign cinema but it also introduced me to the director Luc Besson. I would of course become a huge fan of his over the next couple of years with The Professional and The Fifth Element. And I had actually seen The Big Blue a couple of years before this which also starred Jean Reno. I just had no idea who the director was at the time. Anne Parillaud stars as Nikita in this movie. She is fantastic in this movie and on my list of favorite female action stars along with Linda Hamilton in The Terminator and Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. This movie was remade in 1993 as Point Of No Return. I know most people don't like that remake as much as the original. But I actually really like Bridget Fonda and have a fondness for that movie too. I really love the score to all of these 90s movies on this list. I just love the overall mood and feel of this film. The supporting cast is also great but it is really all about Nikita. I highly recommend revisiting this film if you have not watched it in a while. And you absolutely must watch it if you somehow missed it the first time. I watched a lot of foreign films in the 90s and it makes me happy to know that it all started with this film..

#9 Total Recall
Paul Verhoeven

Like most kids who grew up in the 80s I became a big of Arnold Schwarzenegger at a pretty young age. And he really just became somebody that I would sort of love no matter what. He is really sort of like Disneyland in that way. I became a huge fan of Disneyland and all things Disney at a really young age and now I am a fan for life. They get us when we are young and we never turn our back on them. The Conan movies were my first introduction to Arnold. I still remember the first time I saw them at a sleepover at a friends house. I was obsessed with both Arnold and Grace Jones after those movies. Then came The Terminator, Commando, Predator & The Running Man. 1990 was the year of Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop which I also have no shame in admitting that I loved. Total Recall introduced me to both Paul Verhoeven and Sharon Stone. They would of course work together again in one of my other favorites Basic Instinct. Verhoeven also directed Showgirls, Starship Troopers and RoboCop. Total Recall is just pure fun. It is ridiculous and over the top at times. And this movie will certainly not be everyone's favorite. But I just love it. I have always loved science fiction and action films and anything that takes place in space or involves time travel. This movie has everything you could ever want from a Schwarzenegger film. I will even defend the latest Terminator film because of my love of Schwarzenegger. But there is really nothing like 80s and 90s Schwarzenegger.

#10 Longtime Companion
Norman Rene

This was most certainly the first "gay" film that I had ever seen that depicted normal characters. I had seen gay characters in some movies prior to 1990. But never like this. These dudes were most certainly not the gay guys in Last Exit To Brooklyn. My exposure to gay films had mostly been from films like The Boys In The Band and Come Back To The 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean. Longtime Companion is heartbreaking and the most gayest of tear jerkers ever. But I still love it. And I find it sort of comforting at the same time. The characters are all so likable. This movie is also so very 80s. One of the stories is about a gay character coming out on a soap opera. So of course I love that. The film starts in 1981 and ends in 1989. It deals with a group of friends in New York at the outbreak of AIDS. This movie also introduced me to Mary-Louise Parker, Campbell Scott & Dermot Mulroney. This was certainly the first time I had seen Mary-Louise Parker and Campbell Scott. And I became a fan for life of both of them after this. I was already a fan of Dermot Mulroney since I had seen him in some TV movies and Young Guns! Bruce Davidson is also great in this film and even got nominated for a best supporting Oscar. And I can't even explain how great it was to see Michael Schoeffling in a gay role. Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles! I can't resist jumping back into this movie about once a year. I always want to revisit these characters. It was so great to finally see real gay characters having real interactions in a film. And this film certainly put a real face on the AIDS crisis for many of us. It certainly woke me up. The director of this film went on to direct a couple more films after this but died of AIDS in 1996. After this film I went back and discovered some great gay films of the 80s. Another Country (1984), My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Desert Hearts (1985), Parting Glances (1986), Torch Song Trilogy (1985), Maurice (1987) & Prick Up Your Ears (1987) would all become some of my favorites. But it all started for me with Longtime Companion. And I will  never forget the first time I saw this film.

Up next...1991

The Black Swan

Posted by Miss Ess, December 31, 2010 11:16am | Post a Comment

The Black Swan
may be my favorite film of the year. Themes of pressure, perfectionism, claustrophobia, and the horror and madness that come along with the distortion that occurs when all three are applied to the brain at the same time are explored here in a fabulous performance by Natalie Portman along with Mila Kunis. And Winona Ryder's Beth is scary as hell!

Here's the trailer:


Square Dance

Posted by phil blankenship, November 11, 2007 10:21pm | Post a Comment

Pacific Arts Video PAV673

the return of winona ryder...

Posted by Brad Schelden, July 25, 2007 05:34pm | Post a Comment
So I was just talking about how excited I was that "The State" would be coming out soon on DVD a couple of blogs ago. If you forgot, you can look at it here. I finally got to tag my own blog! So I mentioned that the entire cast of The State was in David Wain's new movie "The Ten." My friend just happened to let me know about the special screening last night at the Lumiere.  I, of course, ran over there after work to meet some of my great special friends to go see it. The movie comes out August 3rd, so I was especially excited to see it early. I had already watched the trailer a bunch of times. And I am obviously a huge fan of the creator of the movie and not only the cast of "The State", but almost everyone else in the film.

I will just start by saying that the movie is unbelievably awesome. I really don't want to give too much away. So just watch the preview at the bottom of this entry and check out the website. It is better than any comedy you have probably seen in a while. Please go see this movie instead of the horrible movie that is "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry." Just like the world of sitcoms, they really don't make comedies like this anymore. The movie is basically broken into ten parts, with each part about a particular commandment from the bible. The cast pops up in multiple connected stories all put together by Paul Rudd, who narrarates in between each section. It is sort of like 10 skits from "The State" or "Kids in the Hall." But even better. In addition to Paul Rudd and the entire cast of "The State", the cast includes Jessica Alba, Gretchen Mol, Adam Brody, Liev Schreiber, Justin Theroux, Oliver Platt, and Winona Ryder.

I have been really waiting for Winona Ryder's comeback for a while now.
I was such a huge fan of her for so many years. I can't really imagine what my life would be like without her and the characters she helped to create. She has not really done a good movie in a good couple of years. But I knew that she had it in her. She just needed somebody to give her a chance. Winona Ryder's first role was the classic 80's movie "Lucas." She was only 15. Only 2 years later in 1988, Tim Burton gave her the role of a lifetime when he cast her in "Beetlejuice." She will be remembered forever for this pivotal role. Sort of like Christina RIcci in "The Addams Family" and Kirsten Dunst in "Interview with the Vampire." They were all sort of teen goth idols because of these rolls. We all wanted to be them, to date them, or just sort of hang out with them. Me being one of the latter group.

Both Christina Ricci and Winona Ryder would go on to star in "Mermaids" with Cher in 1990. I really can't imagine anyone else playing the role of Lydia in Beetlejuice. She was perfect. Next up was the movie that would cement her into our consciousness. She played Veronica Sawyer in the 1989 movie "Heathers." I could seriously talk about this movie for days and days. The movie was brilliant and she was again cast brilliantly. She was quickly becoming the Molly Ringwold of the the late 80's and early 90's. But there was something more dark and cynical about her that really got us all ready for the 90's. After roles in "Great Balls of Fire" and "Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael," she starred in her second Tim Burton movie. This would be "Edward Scissorhands." She then seemed to make the rounds of all the great directors of the period. She had a role in "Night on Earth" by Jim Jarmusch, "Dracula" by Francis Ford Coppola, and then "The Age of Innocence" by Martin Scorsese.

She again created a brilliant character we all sort of fell in love with in "Reality Bites" in 1994.  She still managed to find some good roles in the 90's, if not as memorable as her 80's roles. She starred in "Little Women," "How to Make an American Quilt," "Boys," "The Crucible,"  "Alien: Resurection," and "Celebrity." Her 90's were finished with  "Girl, Interrupted." She was nominated for and oscar in the 90's for both "Little Women" & "The Age of Innocence." She was also nominated for best kiss by the MTV awards a total of 3 times. She seemed to sort of disappear the last couple years. She finally scored a good role in "Scanner Darkly" last year. I was very excited to see that she would be in "The Ten." She does a fabulous job and creates another role that I will remember forever. I never got that "Forever Winona" tattoo that I wanted. But I am seriously glad that she is back. I only hope everyone will realize that she still has the power to create some amazing characters. Go see "The Ten."