Monday, June 04, 2007

Best Of The Nineties

Okay, so we're running just a tad late on this one, but I happened to remember the other day that there were two large and interesting Best Films Of The 90’s polls conducted at the end of that decade, one by Cinematheque Ontario and the other by Cinema Scope magazine, and neither is available on the Internet. This might be a way to put some of the poll results out there, within reach of future googlers of the world.

* * *

Cinematheque Ontario’s poll was a bit unusual in that the participants weren’t the general filmgoing public, journalists, or academics but instead film programmers, curators, and archivists worldwide. The top 40 films of the decade, in order of votes, were:

Dream Of Light (Erice); And Life Goes On (Kiarostami); Through The Olive Trees (Kiarostami); Drifting Clouds (Kaurismaki); Close-Up (Kiarostami); Breaking The Waves (von Trier); Sátántangó (Tarr); Flowers Of Shanghai (Hou); Taste Of Cherry (Kiarostami); Chungking Express (Wong); Hana-Bi (Kitano); The Thin Red Line (Malick); Histoire(s) Du Cinema (Godard); A Brighter Summer Day (Yang); A Moment Of Innocence (Makhmalbaf); Goodfellas (Scorsese); L’Eau Froide (Assayas); Mother And Son (Sokurov); Vive L’Amour (Tsai); Nouvelle Vague (Godard); Abraham’s Valley (Oliveira); Safe (Haynes); Dead Man (Jarmusch); The Sweet Hereafter (Egoyan); Unforgiven (Eastwood); Exotica (Egoyan); Sonatine (Kitano); Maborosi (Kore-eda); Naked (Leigh); La Vie De Jésus (Dumont); Fargo (Coens); Pulp Fiction (Tarantino); La Belle Noiseuse (Rivette); Van Gogh (Pialat); Three Colours: Red (Kieslowski); The Last Bolshevik (Marker); Dear Diary (Moretti); Crumb (Zwigoff); The Puppetmaster (Hou); Goodbye South Goodbye (Hou); Sicilia! (Straub/Huillet).

* * *

The Toronto-based film magazine Cinema Scope, in issue #2 (winter 2000), surveyed mostly journalists and programmers. The top 45 films in that poll were:

Breaking The Waves; Goodfellas; Chungking Express; Safe; Naked; Flowers Of Shanghai; Fargo; Hana-Bi; Pulp Fiction; Unforgiven; A Brighter Summer Day; Close-Up; Dead Man; L’Eau Froide; The Celebration (Vinterberg); The Thin Red Line; Underground (Kusturica); Taste Of Cherry; Three Colours: Red; Crumb; Mother And Son; The Puppetmaster; Through The Olive Trees; The Piano (Campion); Raise The Red Lantern (Yimou); Sátántangó; Dream Of Light; The Sweet Hereafter; Three Colours Trilogy; Crash (Cronenberg); Fallen Angels (Wong); L.A. Confidential (Hanson); Schindler’s List (Spielberg); Sonatine (Kitano); Vive L’Amour (Tsai); And Life Goes On; Hoop Dreams (James); Barton Fink (Coens); Drifting Clouds; Exotica; Goodbye South Goodbye; Groundhog Day (Ramis); Gummo (Korine); The Long Day Closes (Davies); Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino).

Here is a small sample of the poll participants and their top 10 choices:

Paul Arthur: The Age Of Innocence, And Life Goes On, Films of Robert Beavers, JLG/JLG, Lessons Of Darkness, My Own Private Idaho, New York Ghetto Fishmarket, Outer And Inner Space, Sátántangó, To Sleep With Anger.

Nicole Brenez: A Child’s Garden & The Serious Sea; Le Dernier Chaman; Green Snake; Hard Boiled, Ile De Beaute, Le Repas Des Guepes; Ma 6T Va Cracker, Made In Hong Kong, New Rose Hotel, Sombre, Starship Troopers.

Michel Ciment: Abraham’s Valley, Edward Scissorhands, Eyes Wide Shut, Flowers Of Shanghai, Miller’s Crossing, Smoking/No Smoking, Through The Olive Trees, Ulysses’ Gaze, Underground, Van Gogh.

Manohla Dargis: Beau Travail, Fireworks, Flowers Of Shanghai, The Portrait Of A Lady, My Sex Life, or How I Lost An Argument, I Am Cuba, Underground, Chungking Express, Sátántangó, Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf.

Steve Erickson: Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf, Ashes Of Time, Breaking The Waves, A Brighter Summer Day, L’Eau Froide, Exotica, Fast, Cheap & Out Of Control, Safe, Sátántangó, The Second Heimat.

Ed Halter: Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, Crumb, Fame Whore, Films of Martha Colburn, Happiness, Heavenly Creatures, Instrument, Showgirls, Velvet Goldmine.

J. Hoberman: Conspirators Of Pleasure, Crash, D’Est, Lessons Of Darkness, Fallen Angels, The Long Day Closes, The Puppetmaster, Sátántangó, Side/Walk/Shuttle, Tribulation 99.

Mike Hoolboom: 100 Videos, Alpsee, Films of Sadie Benning, Archeology Of Memory, B-Side, The Blood Records, Fate, Local Knowledge, Mother Dao, Sink Or Swim.

Alex Horwath: Crash, Flowers Of Shanghai, Gabbeh, Goodfellas, Fireworks, Idiots, Irma Vep, Jackie Brown, My Own Private Idaho, Nouvelle Vague.

Shelly Kraicer: Actress, Ashes Of Time, A Brighter Summer Day, A Chinese Odyssey I & II, Flowers Of Shanghai, In The Heat Of The Sun, The Puppetmaster, Raise The Red Lantern, Swordsman II, Vive L’Amour.

Andréa Picard: Flowers Of Shanghai, Beau Travail, L’Humanité, Sátántangó, L’Eau Froide, The Last Bolshevik, La Vie De Jésus, Mother And Son, Maborosi, Twilight.

James Quandt: Abraham’s Valley, Dream Of Light, Flowers Of Shanghai, Histoire(s) Du Cinéma, The Last Bolshevik, Nouvelle Vague, Sicilia!, Taste Of Cherry, Van Gogh, Vive L’Amour.

Jonathan Rosenbaum: Actress, A Brighter Summer Day, Dead Man, D’Est, Eyes Wide Shut, Inquietude, The Puppetmaster, Sátántangó, When It Rains (Burnett), The Wind Will Carry Us.

Paolo Cherchi Usai: Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf, Bad Boy Bubby, Breaking The Waves, Exotica, God’s Comedy, Raise The Red Lantern, Seven, Stairs I Geneva, Through The Olive Trees, Lo Zio De Brooklyn.

* * *

Now, I’m a bit ambivalent toward canon formation exercises. On the one hand, I eat up these lists like cake. I can spot many if not most of my favorite filmmakers and films of the 90’s here. I think almost all of the above films are well worth seeing; many of them are amazing films.

But the flip side of the creation of a canon is that it also represents one step in the direction of forgetting many worthy films. Often lost in the shuffle are at least three (non-mutually exclusive) kinds of films: (1) Certain genres, considered either ‘lightweight’ or ‘disreputable’; (2) Entire types of cinema, like avant-garde; and (3) ‘Imperfect’ films that are nevertheless well worth seeing.

So I’d like to ask you to chime in, if you like, with suggestions of 90’s films absent from the above lists that may or may not be among the ‘best’ of the 90’s, but are films, however lofty or humble, consecrated or degraded, that are worth seeing, worth not forgetting….

Perhaps I could kick things off by offering ten worthy 90’s teen films I cherish: (in no specific order) U.S. Go Home (Claire Denis); Clueless (Amy Heckerling); Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy (Martin Arnold); Fucking Åmål (aka Show Me Love, Lukas Moodysson); Dazed And Confused (Richard Linklater); Pump Up The Volume (Allan Moyle); Rushmore (Wes Anderson); The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki); Metropolitan (Whit Stillman); and Election (Alexander Payne).

Pic: Claire Denis's Beau Travail doesn't turn up on the two aggregate poll results above, probably because it was released late in 1999.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some good films in there but some dreary stuff too...3 Colours...yawn...Dead Man-the best thing about it was seeing Iggy Pop in a dress and bonnnet.

Good to see a fellow Kiwi in there (Jane Campion, good on ya), I loved Th Piano...

but to me there is a glaring exception:

where is Fight Club? It came out late '99, is therefore a nineties film, chronologically and spiritually (and is *such* a spiritual film, really).

Also, where is La Vita e Bella--Life is Beautiful? It should be in there just coz of Benigni's Oscar acceptance speech!

These were both released in 1999 so maybe most people didn't catch them until the noughties?

June 04, 2007 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I'd add Clean, Shaven by Lodge Kerrigan, Last Days of Disco by Whit Stillman, Stendahl Syndrome by Dario Argento, and The Chinese Feast by Tsui Hark.

June 04, 2007 8:53 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Aaron & Peter.
Peter, Last Days Of Disco is one of my all-time favorite films! I know the darn thing by heart. It was painful to not be able to squeeze it into my teen film list (*sigh* because the characters are 21-ish)...

June 04, 2007 8:56 PM  
Blogger girish said...

When I said above that "I think almost all of the above films are well worth seeing," I meant of the ones I have seen...there are lots of titles here I haven't seen. eg I've seen just 3 of the 10 films that Brenez cites (Woo, Ferrara, Verhoeven)...

June 04, 2007 10:13 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Of my 14 favorite films of the 90s, 11 were not mentioned anywhere in this post: M/Other (Nobuhiro Suwa), The River (Tsai Ming-Liang), Parfait Amour! (Catherine Breillat), La Promesse (Dardenne Bros.), La Ceremonie (Claude Chabrol), Spanking the Monkey (David O. Russell), An Unforgettable Summer (Lucian Pintilie), Surviving Desire (Hal Hartley), Ambition (Hal Hartley), Trust (Hal Hartley), and Miami Blues (George Armitage). (The other three are Safe, Naked, and And Life Goes On....)

June 04, 2007 10:18 PM  
Blogger Damian said...

I know that this particular title has already been brought up, but I just feel compelled to say this. My initial response whenever anyone asks me what I think was the best film(s) of the 90's is the same response I give when someone asks me what I think was the best film the twentieth century: Schindler's List. Maybe I'm demonstrating my lack of imagination here but I truly believe it may be the best film I've ever seen or perhaps ever will see.

Just off the top of my head, some other great 90's films that have yet to been mentioned are The Shawshank Redemption, Se7en, The Usual Suspects, Death Becomes Her, Silence of the Lambs, The Matrix, Leon: the Professional, Grand Canyon and Saving Private Ryan

June 04, 2007 10:21 PM  
Blogger Paul Martin said...

When I saw Claire Denis' name, I thought Beau Travail, which you noted at the end of your post. I would have thought Three Colours: Blue was more likely to be on the list than Red.

I'd also add Lost Highway.

June 04, 2007 10:37 PM  
Blogger Paul Martin said...

And also The Boys (Rowan Woods).

June 04, 2007 10:40 PM  
Blogger David said...

I need to see these.

Props to Histoire(s) du Cinema, Underground, and Showgirls, but my two other favorites went entirely unmentioned--Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead (probably my favorite 90s film, and easily my favorite of his films), and Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket (also my favorite of his, despite the somewhat drab cinematography). Anderson's humor has caught on obnoxiously well, but Scorsese's (like Tarantino's with the occasional threat of reality and consequences) seems to be lost, even to him. I'd still really like to see a double feature of Bringing out the Dead with Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia for their ability to use jokes without punchlines to suggest unresolved terror that, to make matters even more paranoid, we're never even sure should be funny. And the pulpy hallucinations of hell.

Additional shout-outs to Ed Wood and Mars Attacks, another great pulp hell hallucination, which Hoberman just promoted in Bookforum.

June 04, 2007 10:44 PM  
Blogger bradluen said...

Ten funniest:

1. From Beijing with Love (Stephen Chow): many times funnier than his crossover work, though not as sweet
2. Flirting with Disaster (David O. Russell): do I ever miss the Ben Stiller of this era
3. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (Trey Parker): musical of the decade
4. There's Something About Mary (Farrelly Bros): see #2
5. Fong Sai Yuk (Corey Yuen): Jet Li, mama's boy
6. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis): "Are you drunk or something?" "Drunk is more fun."
7. Braindead [Dead Alive] (Peter Jackson): more gory than but not as good as Shaun of the Dead
8. The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami): not coincidentally the only film of his I adore
9. Out of Sight (Steven Soderbergh): "Is this your first time being robbed?"
10. Clueless (Amy Heckerling): "Ren and Stimpy: they're way existential"

Let's also remind everyone that the Village Voice did a '90s poll as well, with similar results to Cinema Scope. Safe won.

June 04, 2007 10:58 PM  
Blogger Damian said...

The second I hit the "Publish this Comment" button I thought of about 6 more titles: The Truman Show, JFK, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gattaca, The Prince of Egypt and The Hudsucker Proxy.

June 04, 2007 10:58 PM  
Blogger dave said...

Two Spanish films come to mind right off the bat (since I was living in Spain when the 1990s turned to the 2000s):
Almodóvar's Todo Sobre Mi Madre / All About My Mother is a glaring miss. released in April of '99, and one of my top 3 Almodóvar films.

Neither is my runner-up favorite Spanish film of all time represented:
Alejandro Amenábar's Tesis / Thesis, which is one of the smartest thriller/suspense films I've ever seen, and possibly the most damning critique of media violence.

oh, and definitely Terminator 2.

I'd like to second Saving Private Ryan -- for the opening 20 minutes alone.

June 04, 2007 11:09 PM  
Blogger dave said...

not that I remember this film well, but I'm a bit surprised: no love for Tsai's The Hole?

June 04, 2007 11:11 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

The Hole is wonderful!

June 04, 2007 11:32 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

I like canons too, but at the same time like being as inclusive as possible. Is why I prefer to read the lists of the people voting on Sight and Sound, for example, rather than the final compilation.

Appreciate the mention of Groundhog Day, Clean, Shaven, La Promesse, New Rose Hotel and Clueless. Do not agree about Se7en, Austin Powers, Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs at all. Glad to see To Sleep With Anger made it, just.

Throw in, oh, Steven Soderbergh's The Limey, Michael Mann's Last of the Mohicans, Tim Burton's Batman Returns, Johnnie To's A Hero Never Dies, Charles Burnett's Nightjohn, Fred Kelemen's Frost, Jan Sverak's Akumulator 1, Hayao Miyazaki's Porco Rosso, Isao Takahata's Pom Poko, Ken Loach's Ladybird, Ladybird, Lee Tamahori's Once Were Warriors, Nikita Mikhalkov's Burnt by the Sun, Zeki Demirkubuz's Masumiyet, Yasim Ostaoglu's Gunese Yolculuk, Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Salaam Cinema, Adoor Gopalakrishnan's The Servile, U Wei Bin Hajisaari's Kaki Bakar, Kurosawa Kyoshi's Kyua, Tsai Ming Liang's The Hole, Fruit Chan's Made in Hong Kong, Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together.

Mario O'Hara's Babae sa Bubungang Lata and Sisa, Tikoy Aguiluz's Bagong Bayani, Chito Rono's Eskapo, Celso Ad. Castillo's Lihim ni Madonna, Nana Buxhani and Ditsy Carolino's Once Were Children.

June 04, 2007 11:38 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Posted too soon, re: The Hole.

I remember in the one screening where I saw The Hole, there was a 1 & A, and I asked Tsai point blank: has he read Ballard's High Rise?

He rattled off names of influences in reply. Either he misunderstood or pretended he misunderstood, I suppose.

June 04, 2007 11:40 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Oh, and throw in Peter Jackson's Forgotten Silver (his masterpiece, I think), Chung Ji Woo's Happy End, Jang Sun Woo's Gojitmal, Zhang Yimou's Not One Less, Tian Zhuangzhuang's The Blue Kite, Yim Ho's The Day the Sun Turned Cold.

June 04, 2007 11:55 PM  
Blogger Bob Turnbull said...

1999 was a great year for me with "Magnolia", "Fight Club" and "Being John Malkovich" all being released.

But here's a couple of off the top of the head lists of 90's films that haven't been mentioned at all yet:

English Language:

- Big Night
- Cold Comfort Farm
- Flirting
- Grosse Pointe Blank
- L.A. Story
- Matinee
- MST3K: The Movie
- Next Stop Wonderland
- Schizopolis
- Strictly Ballroom

Non-English Language:

- After Life
- Cure
- Eat Drink Man Woman
- Hard Boiled
- Kamikaze Taxi
- Man Bites Dog
- The Road Home
- Samurai Fiction
- To Live
- Whisper Of The Heart


- 42 Up
- A Perfect Candidate
- The Celluloid Closet
- Hearts Of Darkness
- Hoop Dreams
- Microcosmos
- Mr. Death: The Rise And Fall Of Fred A. Leuchter Jr.
- Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills
- Visions Of Light
- War Room

June 05, 2007 12:28 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Whoa. Lots of good ideas here. Thank you, everyone...

Brad, thanks for the reminder & link to the Voice 90's poll.

June 05, 2007 5:43 AM  
Anonymous Drew said...

There's been a lot of mention of David Fincher's films, but none of his most underrated - "The Game". Also, to add yet another Godard film, what about "Allemagne annee 90 neuf zero"? It's very much his film of the nineties, caught between the revolutionary middle period and the plaintitive later Godard. I'm also going to have to nominate "Deconstructing Harry," one of Woody Allen's funniest and most original films of the past few decades.
There are, of course, many more, but that's a start.

June 05, 2007 11:57 AM  
Anonymous jpm said...

Three alternative teen movies: Travolta et moi, Os Mutantes, Kids.

How come no one mentioned a single Rohmer film yet? Cont d'autome, Cont d'été and Cont d'hiver are all pretty great. Téchiné was also strong during the nineties.

The most glaring omissions on those lists are:
Lost highway
The Straight story
The River
The bridges of Madison County
All about my mother
Tren de sombras
Deconstructing Harry
Miller's Crossing
La Chasse aux papillons

There was also a couple of other Oliveira's that could be mentioned besides the one above. I'm thinking in O Convento e O Dia do desespero. I also admire a lot O Rio do Ouro by Paulo Rocha, though that one didn't get much love when it played in NYC if I recall correctly.

June 05, 2007 12:05 PM  
Anonymous jpm said...

Missed Miller's Crossing in one list

Also O Convento/The Convent played in North America so I should have remembered the English title. O Dia do Desespero was never released in the US but it's published in video with spanish subtitles.

June 05, 2007 12:21 PM  
Anonymous jpm said...

(Three posts in a row!)

Drew also mentions Deconstructing Harry, that's quite something. I thought I was almost alone in thinking this film was an autocritique riot and very original and funny. Possibly the best Woody Allen after Manhattan.

June 05, 2007 12:28 PM  
Blogger Ryland Walker Knight said...

"Now, I’m a bit ambivalent toward canon formation exercises. On the one hand, I eat up these lists like cake." On the other hand, I abhor them for the same reasons: how can you hope your list will reflect an end-all decision about something so diffuse and variable?

Still: I'll play along, but I don't know how original my takes will be. I've got a ton of blind spots, especially compared to those big names you mention in your post, and even compared to my fellow bloggers. I have not seen that many movies.

My favorite film, like, ever, is The Thin Red Line (Malick, 01998).

A few other favorites from the 90s, in alphabetical order:
Babe: A Pig in the City, Miller, 01998
Beau Travail, Denis, 01999
Dazed and Confused, Linklater, 01993
Happy Together, WKW, 01997
He Got Game, Spike, 01998
Jackie Brown, Tarantino, 01997
Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki, 01997
Rushmore, Anderson, 01998
Toy Story 2, Lassater, 01999

June 05, 2007 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

It's funny that you posted my list. If I made it now, I would probably include RUSHMORE and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's CURE (made in 1997, but I didn't see it until 2001.) I'm not sure what I would take off, though.

June 05, 2007 1:25 PM  
Blogger Gareth said...

After a week of tending to friends and the garden, this is a nice re-entry point...

I wouldn't want anyone to forget about these:

The Nasty Girl, Michael Verhoeven, 1990
Delicatessen, Jeunet/Caro, 1990
Guelwaar, Ousmane Sembène, 1992
Cronos, Guillermo del Toro, 1992
L.627, Bertrand Tavernier
Das Leben ist eine Baustelle, Wolfgang Becker, 1997

I'd put in a bid for a couple of strong genre entries, too:

One False Move, Carl Franklin, 1992
In the Line of Fire, Wolfgang Petersen, 1993
Enemy of the State, Tony Scott, 1998
The Insider, Michael Mann, 1999

And one more for girish's own list:

Absolute Giganten, Sebastian Schipper, 1999

June 05, 2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Lots of good ideas here...

I've seen neither Patricia Mazuy's Travolta et Moi nor Chantal Akerman's Portrait d'une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles, both part of the same series as Claire Denis's U.S. Go Home.

And I didn't know of Absolute Giganten...

Steve, it's funny--I was going to email you today to ask you if you still stood by your Cinema Scope list or if you'd make any substitutions...

June 05, 2007 3:32 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Ryland Walker Knight, I'm gratified to see you mentioned Princess Mononoke and Toy Story 2. I don't think I've seen Quiz Show on the lists, but it's well worth seeing. To Live (Zhang Yimou) is also quite good, one of my favorites by him (in fact, I think I like his 90s films the most and his 2000s ones not much at all). I'd also have to mention Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table and Barbara Koppel's American Dream, both two demanding, sometimes unpleasant, but rewarding films.

June 05, 2007 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Cinebeats said...

A lot of my favorites from the 90s (Dead Man, Barton Fink, Safe, My Own Private Idaho, Hana-bi, Maborosi, etc.) were mentioned but here's some more favorites that I didn't see on any of the lists above. I'm afraid I didn't have time to read all the comments but after work I'll come back and give them a look:

Prospero's Books (1991)
The Reflecting Skin (1990)
Audition (1999)
Shallow Grave (1994)
Trainspotting (1996)
Cronos (1992)
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
Gonin (1995)
Nowhere (1997)
Orlando (1992)
Cure (1997)
Henry Fool (1997)
I Stand Alone (1998)
Naked Lunch (1991)
Kafka (1991)
The Most Terrible Time of My Life 1994)
Gohatto (1999)
After Life (1998)
Happy Together (1997)
Irma Vep (1996)
Sonatine (1993)

These are off the top of my head but if I had more time I'm sure I could come up with more. I was really surprised by the lack of Asian cinema, in particular Japanese films mentioned above since the 90s were an amazing decade for Japanese cinema. I'm sure there are a lot more Japanese films I'll think of after I post this comment.

June 05, 2007 3:42 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Much that I love has already been mentioned, but shot out to Heat (Mann, 1995) and The Mission (To, 1999).

June 05, 2007 4:01 PM  
Blogger Ryland Walker Knight said...

Quiz Show is pretty good; Ralph Fiennes and John Tuturro make the movie. I actually prefer A River Runs Through It, sappy as it may be, if we're talking Redford-directed movies. Quiz Show is more ambitious, I suppose, but I think River is a gorgeous film. The final monologue is taken verbatim from the novella and it slays me every time. I haven't yet tried to figure out what it is besides the emotional reaction that I really respond to in that film but I know it's bigger than just simple manipulation. Like Quiz Show, it's a film about performance, but it holds this almost 19th century romanticism that really speaks to me and mystifies me at the same time. Until I make a movie about rivers, this and The Same River Twice will have to stand in and speak for me and my love of rushing waters. (I'm also a big Emerson fan.)

Other ideas: How could I forget Michael Mann? And...I forgot Billy Bob's Sling Blade, and others, I'm sure, from American and elsewhere. Looking at that list I compiled again I find it rather funny that I only chose to remember, to list, films from the latter half of the decade. Perhaps its my youth. And, you know, that's not quite a bad thing: all those movies I haven't seen yet are simply more delights waiting in store.

June 05, 2007 5:08 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Glad to see Princess Mononoke and Whispers of the Heart (Kondo is Takahata's right hand man, I think), and Happy Together (Wong's masterpiece, for me) and Cure mentioned more than once (though I could include Charisma, License to Live, Serpent's Path and Barren Illusions, myself).

Wish I thought of Cronos, One False Move, Delicatessen, and Babe: Pig in the City.

Let me throw in Dante's masterpiece, Gremlins 2.

June 05, 2007 5:29 PM  
Anonymous albert wu said...

some favorites, with repeats:

okay bye-bye (Rebecca Baron, 1998)
(...) Reel 5 (Stan Brakhage, 1998)
If You Stand with Your Back to the Sound of the Slowing of the Speed of Light in Water (Julie Murray, 1997)
A Moment of Innocence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996)
Spiritual Voices (Alexander Sokurov, 1995)
The Snowman (Phil Solomon, 1995)
The Pharoah's Belt (Lewis Klahr, 1993)
Videograms of a Revolution (Harun Farocki, 1992)
The Dream of Light (Victor Erice, 1992)
Life, and Nothing More... (Abbas Kiarostami, 1991)
Sink or Swim (Su Friedrich, 1990)

June 05, 2007 5:55 PM  
Anonymous A4 said...

I Can't Sleep - Denis
Smoke - Wang
Crane World - Trapero
Suzaku - Kawase
Human Resources - Cantet
Rosetta - Dardennes
Before Sunrise - Linklater
Naked - Leigh
Heat - Mann
Cabaret Balkan - Paskaljevic
A Single Girl - Jacquot
Buffalo '66 - Gallo

June 05, 2007 7:21 PM  
Blogger Damian said...

Oh, man! How could I forget Big Night and Strictly Ballroom and Deconstrcting Harry? Grrr!

June 05, 2007 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

As for what I'd take off my list, I'd probably go with ASHES OF TIME. I was very passionate about it at a certain point in time - I think I've seen it 4 times - but it sticks in my head the least of the films Wong made between 1994-2000. I'll see how ASHES OF TIME REDUX looks this fall.

June 05, 2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger weepingsam said...

I suppose there's not a lot new in this, but these are my picks for the best 10 not on either of the composite lists:

1. Rushmore
2. Beijing Bastards
3. Happy Together
4. Once Upon A time in China
5. The River
6. Thirty-Two Short Films about Glen Gould
7. To Sleep With Anger
8. Charisma
9. Babe Pig in the City
10. Blue Kite

Plus, say: White - though I suppose it's included as part of the Three Colours trilogy (but it's my favorite of the three), and, say - Cure, Days of Being Wild, Gate of Heavenly Peace, Jeanne La Pucelle, L'Humanite, The Match Factory Girl, My Sex Life or How I Got in an Argument, One False Move, Potrait of a Lady, Swordsman II - another close 10...

June 05, 2007 9:28 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Forgot about Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Loved Hoop Dreams, Crumb. And I'd throw in Bennett Miller's first flm The Cruise, Artur Aristakisian's tremendous Palms (about homeless beggars in Russia), and John Dahl's The Last Seduction and Red Rock West.

June 05, 2007 11:14 PM  
Anonymous michael z newman said...

This outpouring should suggest that making such lists is crazy. Anyhow, here are some more 90s movies that I remember very fondly. Maybe I wouldn't put some of these on a best-of list if I saw them again now, but when I saw these the first time they all made a strong, positive impression.
-Ed Wood
-Husbands and Wives
-Bullets Over Broadway
-Toy Story/2
-The Lion King
-A Bug's Life
-The English Patient
-Jerry Maguire
-Lone Star
-Passion Fish
-Daughters of the Dust
-The Bridges of Madison County
-Mission: Impossible
-Wild at Heart
-Howards End
-American Pie
-Four Weddings and a Funeral
-The Big Lebowski

June 05, 2007 11:31 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 06, 2007 1:13 AM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Face/Off--I liked it, not Woo's absolute best, but the best of his Hollywood work, probably, sure.

But my favorite Hollywood films from Hong Kong directors (a fascinating mini genre there) would include Woo's Hard Target (Most Dangerous Game set in New Orleans, and really very good); Maximum Risk (Ringo Lam doing clean realist action, plus one of the most heartstopping elevator fight sequences I've ever seen (the gag is Van Damme's ultimate weapon are his legs--what if he was in a location that prevented his using them, an elevator say?)), and the I think much underrated Double Team (Van Damme again, matched by a firebreathing Mickey Rourke, some gorgeous Italian locations, a brilliant The Prisoner parody, an excellent escape sequence, and a climax involving a Roman arena, a tiger, and a flying Coke machine--what's not to like?).

All Van Damme movies, come to think of it--but he did more than anyone else to bring these filmmakers to Hollywood, and give them work. Even his use of Lam in later films--Replicant, In Hell--is still interesting.

Getting back on topic, throw in Lam's Full Contact. "Masterbate in Hell!" Great kissoff line.

June 06, 2007 1:16 AM  
Anonymous bs said...

I'd like to include "Ghost in the Shell" by Oshii Mamoru. Maybe it's the quintessential anime of the decade, maybe not, but it deserves a spot on a 90's best-of list for putting japanese theatrical animation on the radar (or back on the radar for those who watched Akira before) of many Europeans and Americans alone.

June 06, 2007 7:21 AM  
Anonymous albert wu said...

and don't forget satoshi kon's perfect blue.

June 06, 2007 11:02 AM  
Blogger dave said...

I haven't seen it yet, but Manoel de Oliveira's 'Non', ou A Vã Glória de Mandar is from 1990.

June 06, 2007 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Jim Flannery said...

Nice thing about polls that show the individual ballots is that the avant-garde does show up, just not sufficiently "clumped" to make it into the "winners circle" ... just in the ballots you copied, i see Robert Beavers, Ken Jacobs, Peter Tscherkassky, Stan Brakhage, Martha Colburn, Peter Greenaway (counting Stairs 1 Geneva if not the commercially distributed ones), Ernie Gehr, Mike Holboom's entire list (as far as i can tell), Chris Marker ...

In my experience of running this kind of poll, the interesting stuff always winds up in the long tail of 1- and 2-vote getters; that tail usually starts at r=~2n where r = ranking and n = the number following "Top" in the name of the poll ;-). Given enough respondents, the number of works listed approaches the number of works eligible.

What's up w/ Dargis listing I Am Cuba? It missed the 90s by what, 28 years?

June 06, 2007 10:13 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Yo soy Cuba? It never got screened in the US till the '90s.

I'd question her inclusion of Underground (rather naive) and Lovers on a Bridge more, myself (much prefer Carax's Mauvais sang, back in the '80s).

June 07, 2007 12:43 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you so much for all the ideas, everyone!

Jim, that's a nifty heuristic you got there...

I Am Cuba was apparently considered quite unknown until the Cuban film critic/author G. Cabrera Infante, as a director of the Telluride film fest, showed the film there in the early 90s, which ultimately resulted in Scorsese and Coppola putting their names (as "presenters") on the Milestone US release of the film in the mid-90's. But yeah, it does seem a bit weird to see it on the 90's list, sort of like Army Of Shadows showing up on so many critics' "best films of the year" lists last year...

Noel, I have a great love for Woo's Face-Off (for many reasons) and enjoyed his Hard Target. It's the only Van Damme film I've seen. So thanks for the other VD recommendations.

Watched Michael Mann's Heat last night for the first time since it was released in '95. A strong film...

June 07, 2007 10:36 AM  
Anonymous jpm said...

About Non ou a vã glória de mandar -

Yes, another masterpiece. Oliveira was one of the most important directors during the nineties. His latest films after Porto of my childhood have been somewhat of a disappointment. Though in The Fifth empire there’s that magnificent obscure scene right at the beginning. Like Fifth empire, ‘Non’ also deals quite a bit with the myth of D. Sebastião in some scenes. It was his biggest production. A film reflecting on the past and history of an empire and civilization from the imminent ending of a long colonial experience.

June 07, 2007 12:01 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Posting this here in hopes someone knows what happened to That little round-headed boy's site. Did it get hijacked? Given up? Is it somewhere else now?

Any tips appreciated.

June 07, 2007 12:56 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Tuwa, the stuff that's on his site is starting to scare me.

June 07, 2007 2:03 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

That math scares me.

June 07, 2007 5:38 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Tuwa: New site for the Round-Headed 'Shamus' (cut & Paste):

June 07, 2007 5:58 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Thanks for that, flickhead.

June 07, 2007 7:47 PM  
Anonymous filmsnobsister said...

Like Mike Z, I'm thinking of many American indies of the 90s..I absolutely loved Husbands and Wives and Bullets over Broadway. I must add:
Hartley's Trust (1991)
and Henry Fool (1997)
Soderbergh, The Limey (1999)
Ferrara, The Funeral (1996)
Solondz, Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)
also a fan of Aussie
Jocelyn Moorehouse's Proof (1991)

The Three Colors is already mentioned by others here, but don't forget:

The Double Life of Veronique (1991)

I'd love to see the 80s list from everyone next!!

June 07, 2007 10:40 PM  
Anonymous A4 said...

Outer Space - Tscherkassky
Late August, Early September - Assayas
Besieged - Bertolucci
State of Grace - Joanou
Deep Crimson - Ripstein
Ratcatcher - Ramsay
Claire Dolan - Kerrigan
Three Kings - Russell
A Perfect World - Eastwood
Pola X - Carax
Sleepy Hollow - Burton
Time Regained - Ruiz
Negative Space - Petit
The Power of Kangwon Province - Hong
Un Coeur en hiver - Sautet

June 08, 2007 3:18 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, all.
And thank you, Flickhead, for tracking down the Shamus's URL.

June 08, 2007 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Filipe said...

This is theTop 20 I did when I participate in a similar pool a coyple of years ago: Days of Being Wild (Wong); La Belle Noiseuse (Rivette); Van Gogh (Pialat); La Sentinelle (Deplaschin); Carlito's Way (De Palma); Green Snake (Hark); A Perfect World (Eastwood); Caro Diario (Moretti); Cold Water (Assayas); God's Comedy (Monteiro); Comrades, Almost a Love Story (Chan); Goodbye, South, Goodbye (Hou); A Summer Tale (Rohmer); Thieves (Techiné); Cure (Kurosawa); The Hole (Tsai); New Rose Hotel (Ferrara); Outer Space (Tscherkassky); Rosetta (Dardenne); The Wind Will Carry Us (Kiarostami).

June 08, 2007 9:34 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I need to see some Tsui Hark; I've seen nothing by him...

There's a good Cindy Sherman post at Tucker's place.

June 08, 2007 9:42 AM  
Blogger celinejulie said...

--I didn’t know about the Shamus’s site before, but I got curious after reading about it here, so I looked into his old site and I feel very very scared, because it is written in Thai, and the whole contents make no sense. Some contents are about Thai history, some are about Thai schools or universities. I don’t know exactly what happened to that site. I just hope that the site is not hacked by some Thai psychos.

--I agree with many films mentioned above, including:

1.ALPSEE (1995, Matthias Mueller) in Mike Hoolboom's list

2.FAME WHORE (1997, Jon Moritsugu) in Ed Halter's list

3.MY SEX LIFE...OR HOW I GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT (1996, Arnaud Desplechin) in Manohla Dargis' list

4.THE NASTY GIRL (1990, Michael Verhoeven) in Gareth's list

5.THE REFLECTING SKIN (1990, Philip Ridley) in Cinebeats' list

6.RIVER OF GOLD (1998, Paulo Rocha) in JPM's list
I haven't seen this film, but I have seen one film by Paulo Rocha. It is THE ROOT OF THE HEART (2000), and it is one of my most favorite films seen in 2005. Some parts of THE ROOT OF THE HEART remind me of Derek Jarman and Ulrike Ottinger.

7.SOMBRE (1998, Philippe Grandrieux) in Nicole Brenez's list

8.SWORDSMAN II (1992, Ching Siu-tung, Stanley Tong) in Shelly Kraicer's list

9.THESIS (Alejandro Amenabar) in Dave's list

10.VIDEOGRAMS OF A REVOLUTION (1992, Harun Farocki) in Albert Wu's list

--There are many films in 1990's which I wish I could have seen. These are my 1990's film wish list:

1.A WOMAN'S TALE (1991, Paul Cox, Australia)

2.THE BISHOP'S STORY (1995, Bob Quinn, Ireland)

3.FRAGMENTS OF LIFE (1999, Francois L. Woukoache, Cameroon)

4.ON BOYS, GIRLS AND THE VEIL (1995, Yousry Nasrallah, Egypt)

5.THREE BRIDGES ON A RIVER (1999, Jean-Claude Biette, France)

6.THE PARTY – NATURE MORTE (1991, Cynthia Beatt, Germany)

7.THE HAIR OPERA (1992, Yuri Obitani, Japan)

8.BLUE BLACK PERMANENT (1992, Margaret Tait, UK)

9.JOAN SEES STARS (1993, Joan Braderman + Dana Master, USA)

10.MODULATIONS (1998, Iara Lee, USA)

--Films about children, teenagers or young adults I love in the 1990's include:

1.ADEUS, PAI (GOODBYE, FATHER) (1996, Luis Filipe Rocha, Portugal)
Heartbreaking father-and-son relationship

2.L'APPAT (1995, Bertrand Tavernier)

3.AUGUST IN THE WATER (1995, Sogo Ishii)
Sci-fi, X-Files, mysterious. I don't understand this film, but I love it.

4.BEAUTIFUL THING (1996, Hettie Macdonald, UK)
I think this film forms an unintentional trilogy with TWO OF US (1987, Roger Tonge, UK) and GET REAL (1998, Simon Shore, USA) as gay coming-of-age trilogy.

5.THE CHERRY ORCHARD (1990, Shun Nakahara)
Lesbian film about girls who rehearse together for the play The Cherry Orchard

6.DARKNESS AND LIGHT (1999, Chang Tso-chi, Taiwan)

7.DAUGHTER (SIA DAI) (1996, Chatrichalerm Yukol, Thailand)
This film is about the problem of drug addiction among schoolgirls.

8.SOUS-SOL (1996, Pierre Gang, Canada)

9.TOKYO KYODAI (1995, Jun Ichikawa)

10.WELTMEISTER (WORLD MASTER) (1994, Zoran Solomun, Germany)

--And now, this is my favorite 1990's films list. This list is not my "most" favorite films of 1990's, because my most favorite are not very different from the films other people have already mentioned. These are just the names of the films I love very much. I name only one country per film in this list.

1.MOEBIUS (1996, Gustavo Mosquera R. , Argentina)

2.KISS OR KILL (1997, Bill Bennett, Australia)

3.FEAR OF HEIGHTS (1994, Houchang Allahyari, Austria)

4.THE CARRIERS ARE WAITING (1999, Benoit Mariage, Belgium)

5.LAST NIGHT (1998, Don McKellar, Canada)

6.NANJING 1937 (1995, Wu Ziniu, China)

7.RETURN OF THE IDIOT (1999, Sasa Gedeon, Czech)

8.BLINDFOLDED (1999, Matti Ijas, Finland)

9.FORGET ME (1994, Noemie Lvovsky, France)

10.COLD HOMELAND (1995, Volker Koepp, Germany)

11.THE BACHELOR (1997, Nikos Panayotopoulos, Greece)

12.CROSS HARBOUR TUNNEL (1999, Lawrence Wong, Hong Kong)

13....AND THE MOON DANCES (1995, Garin Nugroho, Indonesia)

14.ELVIS AND MARILYN (1998, Armando Manni, Italy)

15.DYING AT A HOSPITAL (1993, Jun Ichikawa, Japan)

16.THE CORRIDOR (1994, Sharunas Bartas, Lithuania)

17.THE CHERRY PICK (1996, Arno Kranenborg, Netherlands)

18.LOVE STORIES (1997, Jerzy Stuhr, Poland)

19.DAY OF THE FULL MOON (1998, Karen Shakhnazarov, Russia)

20.ANTARTIDA (1995, Manuel Huerga, Spain)

21.IL CAPITANO (1991, Jan Troell, Sweden)

22.THE PERSONALS (1998, Chen Kuo-fu, Taiwan)

23.MAE NAK (1997, Pimpaka Towira, Thailand)

24.PRIEST (1994, Antonia Bird, UK)

25.THE LOVE MACHINE (1999, Gordon Eriksen, USA)
Amy Taubin wrote about this film in

June 09, 2007 10:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

CelineJulie--Thank you for the many great ideas here!

June 11, 2007 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not mentioned
raining stones and land and freedom (Loach)
in the company of men (LeBute)
And almost NOTHING from latinamerica. C´man shame on you. this shows how little you all love cinema.
The best 90´s movie is Lola by Maria Novaro. beatiful, small simpe movie

July 12, 2007 4:06 PM  
Blogger girish said...

"And almost NOTHING from latinamerica. C´man shame on you."

Good call, Anonymous.
Care to give us a few names of best Latin American films of the decade as recommendations?

July 13, 2007 6:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think one of the most thriving features of the most recent Latinamerican cinema is the preponderant role of female directors. These women are able to infuse their films with a special kind of felling that is fresh and smart and provide us spectators with an unique experience unlike what we have experienced before. And I don’t mean the usual cheap sentimentality. These movies are closer to “Rambling Rose” than –the horrid-, “Sleepless in Seattle” or “What women want”. Maria Novaro´s movies are a great example. For my money, Novaro´s “Lola” is one of the most beautiful films ever made. A very simple story of a young mother trying to cope with her 6 years old daughter and a devastated Mexico city after the 80´s earthquake as background. Also, Novaro´s “Danzon”. Another more than fine example is Maria Luisa Bemberg´s “Yo la peor de todas” (Me, the worst of all) and “De eso no se habla” (We dont talk about that). More: “Angel de fuego” (Rotberg), “Novia que te vea” (Schyfter), and from the late 80´s “Oriana” (Torres), “El secreto de Romelia” (Cortez) and “Azul celeste (Novaro).
From two of the most famous directors Adolfo Aristain and Arturo Ripstein came “A place in the world and Martin hache” and “Deep Crimson, Principio y fin and Nobody writes to the Colonel”, 5 movies that if seen, they should be in many best of the decade lists. Also, Tomas Gutierrez Alea´s “Strawberry and chocolate and Guantanamera”. From the broad range of topics you wont be disappointed neither by: Drama: Who the hell is Juliette (Marcovich)(another perfect 5 stars score), Del olvido al no me acuerdo (Rulfo), Santitos (Springel), Midaq alley (Fons), Central station (Selles), Like Water for chocolate (Arau), Los años de Greta (Bojorquez), Bajo California, el limite del tiempo (Bolado), La vendedorea de rosas (Gaviria). Political: El dedo en la llaga (Lecchi), Garage Olimpio (Becáis), El bulto (Retes), La ley de Herodes (Estrada), Chile la memoria obstinada (Guzman). Thriller: Lolo (Athie), Dos crímenes (Sneider), Ratas ratones rateros (Cordero). Comedy: La mujer de benjamín (Carrera), Solo con tu pareja (Cuaron). Historic: Jerico (Lamata), La otra conquista (Carrasco), Cabeza de vacA (Echeverria), Retorno a Aztlan (Mora-Cattlet). And a special mention to a cult movie throughout the region, “El lado obscuro del corazon” (Zubiela).

July 16, 2007 11:52 AM  
Blogger gerald said...

thanks for putting that list on the net. i've tried to google it for at least half an hour!

just came from a best of the decade screening. it makes me happy to see all three of my favourite movies in those lists: maboroshi, fallen angels, and hana-bi.

(fallen angels is imo a very much overlooked movie by wong kar wei. but, i think his strongest of the 90s.)

February 07, 2010 1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for putting that list on the net. i've tried to google it for at least half an hour!

just came from a best of the decade screening. it makes me happy to see all three of my favourite movies in those lists: maboroshi, fallen angels, and hana-bi.

(fallen angels is imo a very much overlooked movie by wong kar wei. but, i think his strongest of the 90s.)

February 07, 2010 1:27 AM  

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