After reviewing the decades of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, it is time to take a look at the best films of the 90s, a decade in which cinema became more self-referential and postmodern, and in the that commercial and independent cinema coexist but many times building bridges between them, with directors emerging from the second becoming big stars and films with large budgets presenting stories that do not insult the viewer’s intelligence. It was the years of the brothers Coen and Tarantino, but also from veterans like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg O Clint Eastwood delivering some of his best films and the discovery, great festivals through, of the emerging cinema of Taiwan and Hong Kong from the hand of directors such as Edward Yang and Wong Kar-Wai.
20. Dismounting Harry (1997)
One of his funniest and, at the same time, darkest films, ‘Dismantling Harry’ shows us the most cynical and revealing Allen, also the most scathing and adventurous, with a film with a very original form, in which reality and fiction mix in a blurry way, as if we were inside Harry Block’s mind. Along with the predictable cataract of phrases to frame (“You have no values. Your whole life is nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm and orgasm / In France with that slogan I would be president“) Allen delivers his riskiest work in years and lands his most refreshing and provocative film of the entire decade.
19. Trapped by his past (1993)
Brian de Palma is not the most consistent director in history, but it is clear that when he finds good material he knows how to develop it perfectly. Aided by some priceless Al Pacino and Sean Penn, he delivers with this ‘Trapped by his past’ what may be the best film of his filmography, his Carlito Brigante being a kind of Tony Montana who, miraculously (and after several years in the jail), you will be presented with a second chance. An excellent ‘thriller’ to which the agile style of its director suits him like a glove.
18. Seven (Se7en) (1995)
David Fincher’s second film as a director, after ‘Alien³’, was the one that made him one of Hollywood’s greats. And it is incredible to remember, in these times of Marvel, how this dark and brutal movie became a tremendous box office success. ‘Seven’ subverts many of the clichés of the genre, knowing perfectly well how to play with them, but it also transcends the genre, managing to develop a pessimistic view of society, seen through the eyes of Morgan Freeman’s character, although it also offers minimal hope, And it is that despite the fact that he seems to have lost all faith in humanity, he continues to fight for what he considers fair.
17. L.A. Confidential (1997)
Curtis Hanson recovered the best essences of film noir in this excellent adaptation of the James Ellroy novel that featured a cast in an absolute state of grace. Bud White, Ed Exely and Jack Vincennes become part of the mythology of a genre along with other names such as Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Jeff Bailey or Mark McPherson. Years ago, when I was studying journalism at the University, a friend made a review of this film in an internship but, in the end, he was blank and ended up saying: “Go see it, it’s great”, perhaps Ángel Fernández-Santos I would have put it differently but it cannot be denied that I was totally right.
16. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg returned to World War II, after ‘1941’, ‘The Empire of the Sun’ and ‘Schindler’s List’, to deliver the definitive version of the Normandy landing. The first hour of the film is absolutely masterful, an absolute milestone in war cinema in which the director plunged you directly into the sand of Omaha Beach, with a realism that had never been seen before. Then he knew how to perfectly develop the plot of the same, with a group of soldiers sacrificing themselves to save Ryan from the title, and, despite a soft and jingoistic ending, he returned to give a whole movie lesson with this marvel.
15. Trapped in Time (1993)
The latest collaboration between Harold Ramis and Bill Murray is the best by far, knowing how to perfectly combine the idealistic optimism a la Frank Capra of the first, with the more cynical vision of the second. What is clear is that the adventures of the cynical Phil Connors on Groundhog Day, turned into the eternal return, in the small town of Punxsutawney, with its optimistic and naive inhabitants, are something like the 90s version of ‘How beautiful is to live! ‘.
14. The godfather. Part III (1990)
A film unfairly looked at with contempt Is it worse than the first two parts? A little. Is it better than the vast majority of other movies without the word Godfather in their title? Yes. Coppola closes his trilogy with his most personal film, and if the choice of his daughter Sofia (after Wynona Ryder’s scared) as one of the protagonists was the most criticized, he was also guided by the fact that the Director would have lost a son a few years earlier. I have always thought that it is the film in which the relationship between Michael and Kay works best, with some sublime Al Pacino and Diane Keaton. The ending is absolutely heartbreaking and is one of the best scenes Coppola has ever shot.
13. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The film that set off the fever about refined and clever serial killers was much more than a film about a sophisticated cannibal that was strangely fascinating. Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Ted Tally covertly delivered a feminist manifesto about a woman, Clarice Sterling, trying to break through, as James Brown would say, a man’s world. At the end of the film, Sterling comments with a friend about the good strategy followed by the mother of the kidnapped girl, continually calling her by name, “if you see it as a person and not as a simple object, it is more difficult to destroy it”And that is basically the summary of a film that exposed an industry that tends to objectify its female characters.
12. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Tarantino was a true movie obsessed, he had no academic training, or of any kind, but he devoured movies compulsively, he did the same to the new French wave as he did to kung fu movies, he worked in a store called Video Archives where he could unleash his passion and watch all the movies he wanted. That store became his makeshift film school, so he decided to write a script with as few scenarios as possible and shoot it in 16mm with the folks at Video Archives. It was that script that became ‘Reservoir Dogs’, thanks to the fact that Lawrence Bender, a risky producer, fell in love with the project and passed it on to Harvey Keitel, one of Quentin’s idols, who knew all his dialogue in’ Bad Streets’. With Keitel in the project the other actors signed up and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ became the sensation of the early 90s, with people learning entire lines of the film, like the conversation about Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’, elevating it to the category of cult film and discovering the world one of the most personal directors of all time.
11. Fargo (1996)
The Coen brothers are one of those directors with signature, their films take place in a world as their own as those of Fellini, Buñuel or Wes Anderson and ‘Fargo’ is the sublimation of this by turning their native Minnesota into a place where everyday is involved in totally extraordinary events. Stupidity and greed mix with decency and kindness in a place where if things can go wrong, they will go worse. The Coens deliver a corrosive and personal wonder in which the ‘thriller’ and film noir are subverted when they come into contact with the particular ‘Coenian’ world.
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The 20 best films of the 90s (From 20 to 11)