Best of Cinema in 23 Years (1992-2015)
Well, it was my birthday Thursday! I was off having the time of my life in San Francisco with my family most of the weekend, but I made some time to whip out this post.
Decided to leave out comedies and had a very hard time leaving out some of my personal favorites like Armageddon, You’ve Got Mail, and Josie and the Pussycats… but I decided it would be inappropriate to put them on a Best-of list just because I’m a nostalgic fuck. I did cheat all the rules in 2011 though because the “Best Of” that year (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, X-Men: First Class, Warrior) weren’t even close to as enjoyable and original as my favorite. I was tempted to choose the best based on cinematography or writing, but it’s clearly the combo that makes any film brilliant.
Must-Sees for you and a Happy Birthday to me:
1992 Reservoir Dogs / Dir. Quentin Tarantino
His first film. Flawless in screenplay most of all. I have a poster of this one in my room.
1993 True Romance / Dir. Tony Scott
One of my favorite love stories of all time. Love how fun and unexpected the characters are.
Notable Mentions: Jurassic Park and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
1994 The Shawshank Redemption / Dir. Frank Darabont
A classic… One of the best stories ever told. Considering Darabont also directed The Green Mile, he is clearly one of the best historical fiction storytellers out there.
Notable Mention: Natural Born Killers (Because I can’t have every single one have Tarantino involved, even though he is my spirit animal and has the same birthday as I)
1995 / Heat / Dir. Michael Mann
Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, and Robert Deniro’s face-offs and a killer crime/heist story make this one unforgettable. I specifically love how this film highlights the combination of the heist, of course, and the thieves’ relationships with their wives.
Notable Mentions: Dead Man Walking, 12 Monkeys, Empire Records, The Usual Suspects
1996 Romeo + Juliet / Dir. Baz Luhrmann
This has been one of my favorites since my pre-teen days. I’m in love with Luhrmann’s use of color and visual elements… and of course, Leonardo DiCaprio’s never-ending boyish charms. 😉
1997 Good Will Hunting / Dir. Gus Van Sant
To be honest, I think Matt Damon playing a babe with brains should be illegal. Robin Williams and Minnie Driver’s performances are really what make this film as good as it is though.
Notable Mentions: Chasing Amy, Jackie Brown, Boogie Nights, Gattaca, LA Confidential, Jackie Brown (In order because I hardly picked Good Will Hunting over Chasing Amy)
1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas / Dir. Terry Gilliam
Depp and del Toro kill it in this one… I love how damn trippy this film is visually and how pretty much every character is a total weirdo.
Notable Mentions: Rounders, American History X, Rushmore, *
*Haven’t seen Private Ryan
1999 Virgin Suicides / Dir. Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola is one of the best directors in that she tells her stories with beautiful visuals and music rather than focusing on dialogue. I also love the narration by Giovanni Ribisi in this one.
Notable Mentions: Fight Club, Election, Girl, Interrupted, American Beauty, The Matrix
2000 Almost Famous / Dir. Cameron Crowe
Almost Famous has some of the most cinematically charming characters, dialogue, costume design – everything.
Notable Mentions: High Fidelity, American Pyscho, Memento, Moulin Rouge!
2001 Royal Tenenbaums / Dir. Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson is da bomb, dur. This film was my first view into his cinematic genius – beautiful scenery and fun, stylized performances by the cast. I love how Tenenbaums really delves into the dark parts of the story, even though it still has its giggles.
Notable Mentions: Training Day, Mulholland Drive, Donnie Darko
2002 City of God / Dir. Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
One of my favorite foreign films. The most authentic and wild story of a gangster from childhood to adulthood.
Notable Mentions: The Pianist, Catch Me If You Can, The Ring
2003 Kill Bill Vol. 1 / Dir. Quentin Tarantino
This film has a lot of nostalgic meaning for me – it was the first film I watched where I saw how unbelievable and exciting filmmaking is as an art form. It rocks. my. world.
Notable Mentions: Mystic River, Big Fish
2004 Closer / Dir. Mike Nichols
A story about love, relationships, and the human condition that couldn’t have been told better.
Notable Mentions: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Wicker Park, Garden State, Crash, The Incredibles, Mean Girls, The Notebook
2005 Brokeback Mountain / Dir. Ang Lee
This film has grown on me more and more over the years. You know a film is great when there are scenes and moments between characters you can’t seem to forget years later.
Notable Mentions: King Kong, Sin City
2006 Half Nelson / Dir. Ryan Fleck
An unforgettable performance by Gosling. An unforgettable story. One of my raw, dark favorites.
Notable Mentions: Little Miss Sunshine, The Prestige, Departed
2007 Into the Wild / Dir. Sean Penn
This film is philosophically necessary for everyone to see. I wish I could give myself the freedom from society Chris McCandless achieves in this film.
Notable Mentions: Knocked Up, Juno, No Country for Old Men, American Gangster
2008 The Dark Knight / Dir. Christopher Nolan
No explanation necessary. I mean, how many times did you see this one in theaters? Did you ever see it in IMAX? A fantastic film made for the big screen.
2009 The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo (Swedish) / Dir. Niels Arden Oplev
Uh, I just need you to know the Swedish version is way way better than the American version of this film (Daniel Radcliffe, Rooney Mara).
Notable Mentions: (500) Days of Summer, An Education, District 9, Antichrist, Precious, The Hangover
2010 Black Swan / Dir. Darren Aronofsky
Black Swan is special to me because it was the first Aronofsky film I saw. I didn’t watch his bests (in my opinion), Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, until months after. Conceptually brilliant and beautifully shot.
2011 Bridesmaids / Dir. Paul Feig
A movie has never made me laugh and obsessively repeat its quotes afterwards as much as this film did. Maybe that makes me lame, but I think we can all agree this film is casting genius and hilarious writing.
2012 Mud / Dir. Jeff Nichols
One of the most memorable love stories and coming-of-age stories I’ve ever experienced. Great performances from the child actors, McCaughney, and Witherspoon.
2013 The Wolf of Wall Street / Dir. Martin Scorcese
Well, first of all you’ve gotta have a Scorcese film on a best-of list because he’s truly the best. A brilliant storyteller with complicated, beautiful characters. Wolf of Wall Street takes you on a fun, hilarious, and meaningful ride in the life of a Wall Street money monger and his downfall.
Notable Mentions: Nymphomaniac Vol. 1, Gravity
2014 Interstellar / Dir. Christopher Nolan
I am endlessly thankful I got to see this one on the big screen. It’s a slightly similar style to Gravity in that it’s shot in outer space and expresses astronauts risking their lives and time to explore and discover for the greater good of society. Nolan never fails to take your mind to places its never been with flawless plot lines, characters, set design and cinematography.