‘Best Pictures’ That Just Aren’t – The 1990’s

The Oscar StatueThe most prestigious award that any movie can receive is the “Academy Award For Best Motion Picture” — The Oscar.  Once a movie has this distinction it goes down in history as the “best” movie of that year.  The red carpet at the Oscars is a huge event every year where all the stars turn out.  The Academy goes through some sort of review process and determines which picture is truly “the best”.  Ol Chewie’s here to tell you that there are many times where they’re just DEAD WRONG.

1990 – Dances With Wolves

I have to say that this was a pretty damn good movie.  This is Kevin Costner at his best.  The story is incredible and the scenery is even better.  Other than the fact that it’s over 3 hours long (and because of that a bit slow) I don’t have much bad to say about it.  That said, there are a couple of flicks in 1990 that are in fact “better than the best”.

Better Than The “Best” In 1990:

  • Goodfellas – With the exception of the Godfather movies, this is THE mafia movie.  Absolutely shocking that it didn’t win the Oscar.
  • The Hunt For Red October – based on a Tom Clancy novel this Russian submarine spy thriller is top notch.

Honorable Mentions From 1990:

  • The Exorcist III – I absolutely LOVED this flick.  It’s a little bit horror and a little bit occult.  After the disaster that was Exorcist II this was sorely needed.  It ties back into the original perfectly.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)1991 – The Silence Of The Lambs

I have absolutely no beef at all with this winning best picture.  Not only did it win for Best Picture, but Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter, Jodie Foster won Best Actress for playing agent Clarice Starling, Jonathan Demme won for Best Director and Ted Tally won for Best Writing.  With that kind of hardware it’s difficult to say that any other film was even worthy to be judged in 1991.

Honorable Mentions From 1991:

  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day – really put Arnold back on the map when it comes to action movies.  The original was good… this was better.

1992 – Unforgiven

This was an incredible movie plain and simple.  It was 3 other Oscars including Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman) and Best Film Editing (Joel Cox).  Even if you don’t like westerns you NEED to see this film.  Eastwood is at his best in years and Hackman plays a near perfect villain.

Honorable Mentions From 1992:

  • A Few Good Men – I’m big into lyrics when it comes to music and I’m big into speeches when it comes to movies.  Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” speech is incredible – and the story isn’t half bad either.
  • Scent Of A Woman – See above and insert Al Pachino’s “Out of order, I’ll show you out of order”
  • Reservoir Dogs – the film that put Quentin Tarantino on the map: enough said.
  • Basic Instinct – if the only thing you know about this is that Sharon Stone shows her beaver then you’re selling this movie WAY short.  This is an incredible thriller with some of the best dialogue and suspense in years.  A must see.

1993 – Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List was a great movie no doubt about it.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a movie that shows the brutality of The Holocaust quite so well.  I can understand why it won the Oscar this year but for my money there was some better movies out there.  For me I just hate coming out of the movies feeling so down (IE,  2004’s Passion Of The Christ).

Better Than “The Best” In 1993:

  • In The Line Of Fire – Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich & Rene Russo star in a film about an assassination attempt on the President.

Honorable Mentions From 1993:

  • Jurassic Park – if nothing else you need to see this to experience Speilburg’s version of dinosaurs.  WOW.
  • Rudy – THE feel good story of all time.
  • Tombstone – if you’re looking for a good western with good action, great dialogue and a good story, this is the flick for you.

Forrest Gump (1994)1994 – Forrest Gump

Another very good movie that would probably win the “Chewie Oscar” in most years.  This decade-spanning story does some incredible things with old news footage splicing Tom Hanks into historic events.  That said, there are a couple of movies that were a step above.

Better Than “The Best” In 1994:

  • Pulp Fiction – WOW.  The movie that brought John Travolta & Bruce Willis back into the public eye.  It was nominated for all the major Oscars and should have won more than it did.
  • The Shawshank Redemption – based on a short story by Stephen King the tagline for this movie says it all – “Fear can hold you prisoner.  Hope can set you free.

Honorable Mentions From 1994:

  • The Crow – based on a comic book by the same name, this tale of revenge was Brandon Lee’s final performance when he was killed on the set.  It spawned several sequels but none come close to the original.
  • The Professional – also known as Léon this movie stars Jean Reno as a professional killer and Gary Oldman as a psychotic police New York cop.  It also features the film debut of Natalie Portman.
  • Clerks – the film that started it all for filmmaker Kevin Smith.  A day in the life of two convenience store clerks has never been so entertaining.

1995 – Braveheart

This is one of my top 5 movies of all time.  This movie written by Randall Wallace and directed by Mel Gibson tells the story of 13th century Scotsman William Wallace.   Wallace leads an uprising against Edward the Longshanks who’s trying to take over Scotland for himself.  The scenery is beautiful, the story is incredible, the acting is suburb and the action is second to none.  If you haven’t yet you owe it to yourself to see this film.

Honorable Mentions From 1995:

  • Casino – it’s a mob movie, it’s a Vegas movie.  It stars Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci & James Woods.  It’s awesome… go see it.
  • Se7en – one of the most brutal and intense thrillers you’ll ever see.  You won’t want to watch it again but you’ll be glad you saw it.
  • The Usual Suspects – Who is Keyser Soze?  Watch this and find out.  “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

1996 – The English Patient

Quite simply not my cup of tea.  I watched about half of it before I gave up on it.  It won all kinds of Oscars and other awards so it MUST be good (yeah right) but like I said, just not for me.

Better Than “The Best” In 1996:

  • Scream – an absolutely brilliant concept by director Wes Craven.  Definitely in the horror genre but it provides a brand new way of looking at it.  A very “smart” movie to be sure with a great story, superb acting and enough kills and gore to keep a true horror fan happy.

Honorable Mentions From 1996:

  • Jerry Maguire – a fun love story with a sports backdrop.  Cuba Gooding Jr. is awesome, Renee Zelweger is great and Tom Cruise is actually watchable.
  • The Rock – an outstanding action movie where an aging Sean Connery is at his best.  Nicolas Cage in one of his better roles and Ed Harris as a very convincing U.S. General who’s gone over the edge.  A Michael Bay flick through and through.

Titanic (1997)1997 – Titanic

First off… Before I went into the theater I knew how this one was going to end 😉  All jokes aside this was THE teenie-bopper movie of the 90’s.  The fact that it grossed over a BILLION dollars proves that.  If Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t in this film then we wouldn’t have had 12 and 13 year old girls seeing it over and over again.  If you like sappy, predictable love stories then this one is for you.

Better Than “The Best” In 1997:

  • L.A. Confidential – absolutely incredible mystery/thriller with a great story and tons of action.  An outstanding cast including Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger (Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) & Danny DeVito.
  • Boogie Nights – a retrospective look at the 70’s porn industry starring Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore & Burt Reynolds.  Even without the porn backdrop this is GREAT movie.  Paul Thomas Anderson tells a multi-year story in very convincing manner.

Honorable Mentions From 1997:

  • Good Will Hunting – the movie that really put Ben Affleck and Matt Damon on the map.

1998 – Shakespeare In Love

This picture won SEVEN Oscars in 1998 including Best Picture, Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Best Supporting Actress (Judy Dench).  Storyline wise it was pretty good.  A little slow at times and if it weren’t for the magnificent Saving Private Ryan I’d have no problem with this Oscar nod.

Better Than “The Best” In 1998:

  • Saving Private Ryan – quite simply the most accurate & brutal portrayal of World War II that has ever been put to film.  An incredible cast led by Tom Hanks put forth a movie that should be required viewing for every American.

Honorable Mentions From 1998:

  • The Truman Show – a movie with an incredible concept that was really before it’s time… the ultimate in reality TV.  Starring Jim Carrey as Truman and Ed Harris in one of my favorite of his performances.
  • Rounders – the Matt Damon movie that is responsible for the poker boom.

American Beauty (1999)1999 – American Beauty

Another Oscar nod that I’ve got no problem with.  Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning and the incredible Mena Suvari (yummy!) round out a cast that is perfectly cast.  A special nod to Wes Bentley for his portrayal of Ricky Fitts.  At once a down to earth and creepy character that you won’t soon forget.

Honorable Mentions From 1999:

  • The Sixth Sense – the movie that put director M. Night Shyamalan on the map.  The twist in this one shaped movie storytelling for years to come.
  • Fight Club – Edward Norton & Brad Pitt take an introspective look at life.
  • The Blair Witch Project – An indy smash that was filmed as a documentary.  Incredibly visionary.
  • The Matrix – special effects that we’re still seeing today started with this movie.  A story that will really make you think about your “reality” and some of the best action sequences ever put on film.
  • Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace – honorable mention only for the hype that it produced.  The first Star Wars movie in decades gave fans more of the legendary saga.

FINAL THOUGHTS: All in all, there were 10 Best Pictures in the 90’s.  I agreed with 4 out of 10 for a “got it right” 40% for the Academy.  Not too bad.

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