Thursday, June 15, 2017

Top 10 Favorite Movies of 1990

Oh my god, do you remember the '90s?!?! I REMEMBER THE '90S, I WAS THERE!!! Ahem, now that I've gotten that out of the way...

In the past, I made a top 25 favorites of 1990 list (being my birthyear, it seemed an appropriate place to start) but I never wound up finding myself fully committed to writing about 25 movies each year leading up to now. I tend to ramble when I'm writing, so that winds up amounting to thousands of words per post, and that's just too much work for something I consider little more than a fun hobby. So, instead of doing 25s, I'll just dial it back and write about the 10 movies of each of these years that I consider my favorites: the ones I return to most frequently, find myself thinking about the most, and just overall enjoy in whatever capacity. You may notice this list is different from the top 25. That is because my opinion is capable of changing. Let us proceed, but keep in mind my opinion and ranking changes pretty much every time I make a list like this, so try not to take issue with the exact placements. The numbers are more there for the sake of organization and build-up -- it's a lot more fun to work your way through a countdown than to just see 10 movies listed alphabetically, for example.

10. Tremors

One of those goofy monster movies that helped usher in '90s horror and their overall sense of humor, Tremors manages to hold up remarkably well thanks to its use of practical effects and miniatures, with the help of a fun script with solid pacing and editing. The characters are believable, with well-defined personalities, and the setting that feels lived in. As far as writing and execution goes, this is close to a perfect movie. Not too bad for a corny monster B-movie.

9. RoboCop 2

While I doubt I've ever made my love for the first RoboCop clear on this blog (weird, considering I've talked about my love of '80s movies, and it's among my favorites of that decade), I do - in fact - love the hell out of RoboCop. So, in comparison, I do consider this a massively inferior movie. But that doesn't mean it isn't a lot of fun. The effects and pacing are solid, Weller is still great, and I find the sense of humor and excess from the original still fully intact here. It's not a classic like the original, but it doesn't need to be.

8. Close-Up

I consider Abbas Kiarostami one of the all-time great international filmmakers and his passing last year left me feeling quite sad that I'd never see him make a new film again. That being said, this has long been one of the "big 4" of his directorial efforts that I have deemed essential viewing for anyone planning on delving into his filmography -- the others being The Wind Will Carry Us, Taste Of Cherry, and Certified Copy. Much like many of his movies, Close-Up is semi-autobiographical, laced with a sort of meta strangeness and experimental techniques rarely seen from less accomplished filmmakers. Worth watching, even if just to expand your horizons a tad.

7. Frankenhooker

Of the 3 films Frank Henenlotter is most known for (this, Brain Damage, and Basket Case), Frankenhooker is easily my favorite. And while I acknowledge part of this is due to my affinity for Frankenstein stories, it also comes from how hilariously absurd and weirdly emotional this movie is. Several moments had me laughing hysterically (an entire scene involving explosions and limbs springs to mind) while others made me actively feel bad for the characters. Quite achievement from a movie about the reanimation of dead hooker chunks.

6. Edward Scissorhands

Yes, here's another Frankenstein movie, but while the last was more cynical and satirical, this early Tim Burton film is filled with charm, whimsy, and is a weirdly fantastical take on suburban mundanaties. One of only 3 films to date which Burton both wrote and directed (this is evident from how much heart can be found in this little story), Edward Scissorhands is the sort of rare classic that seemed to reach a timeless status not long at all after its release. This is also one of the last appearances by Vincent Price and a wonderfully sweet and sentimental note to end his career on.

5. Total Recall

When it comes to AH-nald movies, few can hold a candle to Total Recall for both imaginative storytelling and awesome action. One of several great films of the era by Paul Verhoeven, this is not the kind of action movie that's easy to dismiss as mindless like many others of the late '80s and early '90s, as it weaves layers of fantasy into a reality which you come to question the very nature of by the finale. It's a rare action that holds up well to scrutiny and analysis, and while not all of its effects hold up the best, there's enough style in its execution to more than make up for its minor flaws.

4. Goodfellas

One of the defining movies of the '90s and the single most important gangster film since The Godfather (Part II). While I've never quite seen this as the masterpiece that most people consider it, this is definitely one of those movies that holds up really well to repeat viewings and helped establish several mafia cliches that are still being utilized and referenced today. The internal monologue can be a bit grating at times, but the way it works into the story and establishes settings and characters was incredibly unique for the time, helping set this one apart. The performances are mostly great (Liotta is passable), and I still see this as massively superior to several of Scorsese's previous films, including Raging Bull.

3. Jacob's Ladder

One of the single most terrifying film experiences of my life came from watching this the first time alone in the dark with a cold breeze blowing by me, so maybe it's just the memory of this particular viewing that has dictated my opinion of the movie as a whole, but it's an experience I can't still shake. This isn't a standard horror movie, but works as one as well as a very trippy and atmospheric psychological thriller that is never anything less than uncomfortable and unsettling. The fact that the Silent Hill games drew a great deal of inspiration from this movie should say a lot about the nature of its tone. Would hold up next to any Lynch movie, by my estimation.

2. Dreams

I have long been a massive fan of Akira Kurosawa and have spent the last decade or so considering him my favorite director of all-time, so it should be of no great surprise that one of his most personal films should resonate with me. Broken into 8 segments that are only connected by the theme of them being recurring dreams Kurosawa had at different points in his life, this film gives the audience a unique look into the mind of one of the great cinematic geniuses of the 20th century. Visually, this is one of the greatest movies I've ever seen, and not just for its variety in style, but for how well it manages to convey the seamless, meandering nature of dreams. I love it and think more people need to give it a shot.

1. Troll 2

When I introduced this post and assured my readers that the exact order in which these were placed was of no great consequence, what I neglected to mention was that the number one slot was never going to be anything else. Troll 2 is one of the single most entertaining movies I have ever watched a dozen times and plan to watch at least a dozen more times in the future. Everything about this movie is so gloriously inept and imbecilic, it's almost impossible to imagine what was going through the minds of the filmmakers as it was being made. Did they think they were making something good, or in the every least something that actually made sense? Well, thankfully we have the lovely documentary 'Best Worst Movie' to help clarify some of these questions. It makes for a wonderfully campy double feature. As the "so bad it's good", ironically bad/fun genre has grown in popularity over the past several years (even decades, really), this movie has become something of a legend that cannot be passed up on. Introducing this movie to someone is a rare treat, so get on that before everyone you know has already been indoctrinated. It's easily my favorite movie of 1990, and among my favorite movies of all-time. I hope you enjoyed my list. Good night.

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