Stupid Dave – my nature is such that if I list my top 00s movies, I can’t help but wonder what my top 90s movies are as well, to compare and contrast. So here they are.
1. The Shawshank Redemption – I consider Shawshank to be the perfect movie. The dialogue, the story, some of the shots, the pace, the message, the acting. I used to watch this movie regularly to recharge my life. I’ll quote myself from 2000: “Shawshank to me is all about hope and perseverance against all reason. To me, this is the Christian walk. I need to watch Shawshank every so often because it reminds me, there is a hope beyond all reason that we need to have, a hope that only we know that runs counter to the world we exist in, that will be rewarded. It reminds me that perseverance and hope will not be held in vain, and that it’s this hope that can change people around us.”
2. The Matrix – Probably the best action film ever made. Certainly the best sci-fi movie. The philosophical ideas are legitimately intriguing, it’s impeccably crafted, and even watching it today, the action still feels groundbreaking. That you weren’t annoyed by Keanu’s acting is an astounding achievement in itself. I’d elaborate but I’ve written about it repeatedly through the years, for example here and here.
3. Clueless – Perhaps the wittiest movie ever made. A brilliant satire of 90s teen culture ingeniously fit into the structure of Emma. One of the most quotable movies ever, and Alicia Silverstone’s delivery is perfect. Seriously. She had to pull off rich, spoiled, popular, and good all at the same time, and was entirely convincing. Not easy. When John Hughes died, everyone talked about how his movies perfectly represented 80s teen culture. Clueless is the perfect commentary on 90s teen culture.
4. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story – Another horribly undervalued movie. The script is amazing, with endlessly quotable lines, the acting is good (Jason Scott Lee has to pull off an accent and Bruce Lee’s fighting style in addition to his lines, and he does it all admirably), the story is interesting, there are well choreographed fight scenes (amazingly, the staging of the fight scenes actually reflect Bruce Lee’s changing philosophies), and an incredible soundtrack (that’s used all the time in movie trailers, NBC Olympic montages, and even Iron Chef (the music before Judgement). It’s a Bruce Lee biography structured like a Bruce Lee movie. What’s more, it has really deep things to say about life and faith. Bruce Lee’s beef with martial arts is that everything is fixed and rigid. In his opinion, it’s lost its way from what it came from, solidified what was supposed to be fluid. I find a lot of spiritual truth in that. Christians do that a lot also – we take these spiritual forms that give life, then solidify them to a point where they lose it. In my opinion, Catholicism is the ultimate example of this – many of their traditional forms are almost divorced from their original purpose and meaning to most Catholics. I long to follow Bruce Lee’s philosophy in my spiritual life.
5. Pleasantville – I wrote about this move at length here. It’s superficially anti-Christian, so a lot of people don’t get why I love it. But at heart, it’s message is one all Christians need to understand: you cannot escape reality; you cannot resist change. It may feel more safe to do that, but it’s not real. Your life will be fullest, and your mission best fulfilled, when you embrace, rather than run from, reality. xacto is with me on this movie. As far as I know, he’s the only one.
6. Titanic – I wrote about it here. I realize it’s not hip to admit you like this movie, but I do. It freaking made $1 billion – it had to have touched some sort of public nerve. I think one reason I love it is the same reason I love certain reality TV shows. It’s not the reality – most are totally artificial. What I like is seeing how people react to situations. That human element is endlessly fascinating to me. And that’s the last 1/3 of Titanic. How do people react to their impending death? That’s compelling stuff.
7. Drunken Master 2 – Jackie Chan’s best movie. Jackie looks (and probably is) older than his mom and dad in the movie, but whatever, if you’re looking for realism, you’re not going to find it in a JC movie. What you will find is his most incredible fight scenes ever.
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day – When it came out, it was the best action movie ever made. The ideal role for Arnold, as he’s completely believable as a robot. The pacing is just right, the cgi groundbreaking, and it captures the sense of fear for something that cannot be stopped, a la the Smurfs gnat episode, the Transformers hate virus, and the ant episode in Macgyver.
9. Twelve Monkeys – One of the only movies that deals logically with time travel. The structure of how it’s put together is amazing – destiny is fixed, and the viewer is just waiting to see how it all comes together, which it does well. My favorite Terry Gilliam film (by far) and an all-around great movie.
10. The Sixth Sense – it’s cliched now, but I was floored by the ending. But even without that, I love this movie. Especially its themes of discovery (and acceptance) and relationship. The ending is the ultimate fulfillment of these themes, but really the whole movie is about discovering who you are, and utilizing that to restore relationships. I definitely resonate with that. Too bad all of Shyamalan’s movies afterwards sucked.
11. Tombstone – an undervalued movie. I can’t exactly say why I like it, it’s just really well put together. The emotions in it feel real to me – the bravado, the desperation, the loyalty, the rage. I’m always happy to watch it.
12. Forrest Gump – I hate the fundamental message of this movie, that our destiny is just something that kind of randomly finds us and we’re just feathers floating in the breeze. But the movie itself, I love.
Other movies I love: A Few Good Men, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Face/Off, Speed.
Everyone says the movies this decade have sucked compared to the 90s, but I don’t know, the 90s don’t seem *that* much better.