Where do you start when trying to pick the best movies of a decade? I can make a really long list of movies that I grew up watching and write at length about most of them. I don't really want to type that much and you don't want to read it so I'm forced to narrow it down. Let's start with the Top 5 grossing movies at the U.S. Box Office…
Just hearing the name Titanic brings back memories of three dudes leaving the old Cinema 150 on Asher Avenue in complete silence, okay, not total silence there was something that was aggravating our allergies. On a side note, if you didn't well up a little bit at some point during Titanic then you have no soul.
Anyway, Titanic was released around Christmas in 1997 and gave us some pretty cool gifts. The world was introduced to a young Leonardo DiCaprio and a young Kate Winslet who would both go on to be considered amongst the best actors in Hollywood and it also ushered in a new era of CGI technology. By recreating the ill-fated ship with impeccable detail director James Cameron and his visual effects team showed the world (and other directors) what could be done in terms of detail and realism.
Star Wars-Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
For years, George Lucas had been teasing the world by saying that he had ideas for a prequel to the beloved Star Wars trilogy that told the stories of the Jedi Order, the rise of an Empire, and how a young Jedi became the most feared being in a galaxy far, far away.
In 1999 I was duped by a friend into going to a sneak preview of the film (he told me we were going to see some stupid Sean Connery movie). We sat in the theater anxiously awaiting the appearance of the signature yellow words on a star-filled black background. When it was over, I had to hold my excitement from everyone I knew (I was supposedly going to see it for the first time with a different group.) We went to the old Cinema 150 two hours before the first midnight showing and found the line wrapped around the building to the Wendy's parking lot next door. We finally got in and again waited for the familiar opening title sequence. Admittedly, it was not as good the second time, it was a little worse the third time, and I was over it the fourth time.
The problem with Episode 1 is that it's not the Star Wars I knew and loved as a kid. It was made for a younger generation. In another year, we get to see the process being again with the J. J. Abrams directed Star Wars Episode VII.
In 1993 Steven Spielberg made us think dinosaurs could rule the Earth again with the use of animatronics and CG animation he showed us terrifying Velociraptor and we heard the dooming roar of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Jurassic Park was based on a far more terrifying book by Michael Crichton and spawned 2 sequels with a forth film due in theaters in 2015.
The sci-fi actioner about aliens coming to Earth in massive ships, destroying our cities, and taking our planets' natural resources launched the film career of Will Smith (you could argue that the 90's was the decade of Will Smith but that's for another article). The iconic scene of an alien ship turning the White House into splinters stands out in special effects feats.
The Lion King
To this day, Disney's The Lion King is the top grossing traditionally animated film of all time and it's unlikely to ever change considering that they just don't make 'em like that anymore.
Here's a fun fact, the lyrics of the song in the opening sequence:
Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama
Ingonyama Siyo Nqoba
Ingonyama Ingonyama nengw enamabala
Here comes a lion, Father
Oh yes, it's a lion
Here comes a lion, Father
Oh yes, it's a lion
A lion We're going to conquer
A lion A lion and a leopard come to this open place
A couple of films that I think speak about the 1990's…
This 1995 film had all the Valley Girl talk and conveyed the general feelings of being a teen in the 90's, caught between taking more responsibility while at the same time being naïve about the real world.
This is a documentary about the greatest game of basketball ever played…the MonStars versus the Toon Squad. The MonStars wanted to capture Bugs Bunny and his friends to put them in their alien zoo but the Toons had a secret weapon in Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time. Somehow, despite being undersized and way under skilled the Toon Stars were victorious with help of Jordan and a boost from Bill Murray (who doesn't play defense).
I asked some friends on Facebook to weight in and here's their list:
Father of the Bride 1 & 2
10 Things I Hate About You
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man
The Shawshank Redemption
Saving Private Ryan
The Full Monty
Many films made in the 90's don't stand the test of time but that just means we can go back and watch them in a new light.