If I had been asked what my movie year was I would have said 1999. It includes two of my all time favourite movies (Fight Club and Run Lola Run) as well as having around ten great films not just the five I set down as a prerequisite for inclusion. But then I asked this question of others and started doubting my own choice, there is a slight snag, on closer inspection Run Lola Run, although released to most of the world in ‘99 is actually a ‘98 film, and after Fight Club and The Matrix, there may be another eight great films but are they all time classics? I have spent the last week looking at other great years but just keep coming back to 1999. It possibly helps that all the chosen films are ones I saw in the cinema on there original release and are not things I discovered over time.
Fight Club: what more is there to say about Fight Club, it is a supremely well made movie that works on every level from a simply enjoyable movie through to a timely or even prophetic satire. The more times you see it, the more you get out of it that is why it stands up as one of my all time favourite movies. It remains the best work for director David Fincher and stars Edward Norton and Brad Pitt.
The Matrix: 1999 was supposed to be all about the Star Wars prequels but lets be honest Jar Jar fucking Binks wasn’t the only problem with The Phantom Menace. Fortunately, there was another sci-fi movie that not only was it a great film but also influenced and even changed the genre for ever, we are still seeing the effects of it today. Written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix is problebly the biggest thing to happen in Sci-Fi since the original Star Wars.
Go: on the surface, Go is just another teen slacker movie but it goes so much further than that, with a great structure involving three intertwined stories there is something for everyone to relate to. I can think of no way the movie could be improved, that is how good it is. On top of all that, the cast includes Sarah Polley, Timothy Olyphant and William Fichtner, three of the most talented and underrated actors around.
Eyes Wide Shut: the auteur Stanley Kubrick was hardly what you would call prolific, when his final film Eyes Wide Shut came out it was more than a decade after his previous work Full Metal Jacket. As different and as good as any of his previous movies it has been unfairly overlooked in recent years, having watched it again recently I am happy to report it has aged well and is a truly great film.
The Straight Story: For David Lynch to make such a conventional movie almost feels subversive, the fact he does it so well reminds us what a great director he is. Both embracing and twisting the conventions of the road movie. Richard Farnsworth’s subtle performance is amazing earning him a best actor Oscar nomination two decades after his best supporting actor nod
Run Lola Run (1998) as mentioned above Run Lola Run is really a 1998 movie, but as most of the world didn’t get it until 1999 I have added it to my ‘99 list. Essentially telling the same twenty minute story three times but changing depending on the decisions the protagonists take. The film that gave director Tom Tykwer and stars Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu internationally recognition has so much going on and so much to offer that it has been hugely influential.
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