Lately I’ve been writing blogs, stopping around the 2/3 mark, and moving on to another subject. Sometimes I think writer’s muses catch viruses akin to the flu, or maybe a better comparison is a computer virus; everything works fine for a while and then, progressively, chaos ensues, and the mind wanders away, confused.

Nonsensical comparisons aside, and explanations notwithstanding, this has been the general modis operandi of my blogging lately, unpublished, behind the scenes. The other day, however, a subject really caught my interest and prompted me to want to blog about it—even though the subject matter was not one of worldly significance or, really, writing-related specifically.

Small epiphany: I believe that is part of the trouble. For me, and perhaps many writers, the best (or at least the more prolific) words come when we, the writers, are as interested in the subject material as we hope our readers will be.

In this case, a friend from college posted that he and his family instituted a new event in their household: a twist on “Movie Night”, where the parents come up with a list of favorite movies they “grew up watching”, then showing them to their young children. In the Facebook post, my friend listed the movies they’d so far thought of, and requested responses to include any ideas.

Being a monumental movie fan myself, I thought the idea was particularly innovative, the bridging of generation gaps cinematically being something I consider a quite original twist on a fairly common theme.

Also being that consummate movie fan, I was of course excited to make some suggestions. However, I realized that my friend’s added stipulation that the recommendations meet a criteria of PG or lower, not only impacted my “go-to” list of movies, rendering it mostly useless, but that also there were so many movies in “the PG range” that I had to actually look up the MPAA rating to see if the movie was age-appropriate in order to meet due diligence.

In other words, the exercise of making appropriate recommendations—movies that a parent could rent for their children—was much more challenging and time-consuming than I first thought. I noted that many respondents did not necessarily always follow the guidelines, and indeed my friend certainly did not make the criteria absolute, nor was he adamant—rather, simply being prudent. And the respondents were not being obtuse, only throwing out suggestions, most of which were fine and appropriate. My friend and his wife, having likely seen most of the movies recommended, are more than capable of deciding which to share with their kids.

The issue is that I am just OCD enough, particularly when it comes to supplying something from one of my few self-pronounced realms of “expertise” (or, at least, deep interest and above-average knowledge), that I am totally compelled to do what I consider, respectful and requisite, due diligence.

An interesting realization hit me as I was doing a little movie research (and believe me when I tell you that I do NOT make this statement lightly): 

The nineteen-nineties produced more great movies than any other on record.

Now I’m not talking about only award-winning, Best Picture caliber films, per se (nominated, or winners)—as we know, every decade has exactly ten “Best Pictures”. However, in the orchards of apples versus oranges, there are always contentions that particular films could or would have won for Best Picture had they been in another year (or, in this case, decade). There is one that really makes me cringe—used to cause me derision, at least toward Fate: The Shawshank Redemption. The year it was nominated for Best Picture, well, that was the “Year of Forrest Gump”. Most other years, screenplay writer/film director Frank Darabont, Red, Andy, Brooks and crew would easily have captured the Best Film prize.

But there would be no David to sling a stone against the dopey forehead of Philistine Forrest Gump in 1994.

(Truth is, though, on almost every Top 100 of All-Time movie list, Shawshank whoops Gump every time.)

Another movie that just missed the 90s, so in my mind therefore is still at least representative of the time period, as it won Best Picture, and just about every other major award nomination, is Gladiator. That incredible epic dominated the year 2000—juuuuuust a bit outside the decade of the 1990s. I also mention the Russell Crowe gem for two other reasons:

1) Gladiator happens to be in my Top 5 of all-time (the Top 5 in my head—even the Top 10—tend to move around, depending on mood, or genre, and change places, rendering the making of a permanent-ink list undoable).

2) Russell Crowe is, in my opinion, the most talented, versatile actor of our generation (perhaps of all time). You can argue that last claim, but I have a slew of performances (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, The Insider, Gladiator, L.A. Confidential, Body of Lies, American Gangster,  3:10 to Yuma, Master and Commander, and Robin Hood) whereby I would ask you to really consider the range of characters portrayed, from larger-than-life heroes to gunslinger villain to overweight American corporate vice president to ’50s tough-guy cop to biopic rags-to-riches, Great Depression-era boxing World Champion to the Nobel Prize-winning, paranoid-schizophrenic math genius, John Forbes Nash.

(Oh, and in the spirit of “another movie that just missed the 1990s cut”: A Beautiful Mind took Best Picture, and nearly back-to-back Best Actor awards for Crowe, in 2001.)

But all the movies I found that were made and released in the 1990s have to make one wonder how many of the movies from that decade could have won Best Picture awards if in other decades? Perhaps a few years earlier, in 1989, using the Shawshank example. Or for another film, perhaps a 2002 release?

  

The other standing truth is that most decades produce their share of truly entertaining movies (e.g. The Full Monty, Contact, The Hurricane, Thelma and Louise, The Fugitive, Edward Scissorhands, Clerks, etc.). And then, of course, there will always be the movies upon which most of us can agree, but dozens that you may put in your Top 50 that I wouldn’t in mine, and vice versa (some examples from the 90s I concede were not my cup ‘o tea, but were enormously acclaimed—and awarded—movies: Angela’s Ashes, Trainspotting, Sense and Sensibility, The Bridges of Madison County—and many others)!

 Actually, I was leveled by the sheer number of movies I personally consider classic, “must-see” films—above and beyond the aforementioned “good movies” that are released over the period of an entire decade. I realized I’d never stopped to think much about dates or decades when talking about my all-time list of cinematic gems.

I can tell you now that the decade from January 1st, 1990 to December 31st, 1999, contains an enormity of fine film-making—and unlike some of the tried-and-true recipe, somewhat molded (while still being great) films, the 90s contained an inordinate number of true breakout writers and directors to date (e.g. Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers, and, I contend, the true evolution of Clint Eastwood from decades-great writer/director/actor to quintessential, all-time writer/director, film legend).

Hmm. By now, if you movie fans have not already Googled your own list out of sheer curiosity, I’m betting you’re plenty ready to see what movies the decade of the 1990s can claim as its own (minus those cats already out of the bag—or box, if you happen to be a big Schrödinger fan). I admit, I have been teasing you with a few of the more recognizable film posters along the way in this blog—whetting your cinematic appetite, while hopefully building up anticipation, as well.

So, if you’ve been paying attention, my next OCD-ish challenge has been how to present such a particularly royal list of one’s self-proclaimed field of expertise? (In other words, it really needs to be done right.)

I also happen to have a visual-spatial learning tendency, so I decided a movie poster representation of the top 1990-1999 films would be proper and, hopefully, visually pleasing to the reader as well:

 

Click Poster!

 

One Response to The 90s: Arguably The Best Decade In History For Top 100 Movies

  1. Jon says:

    Hey Rob, I did this with our kids. I enjoyed a lot of the 80s movies. Now my youngest has 80s posters all over her walls and has gone beyond that and purchased vinyls.

    Regarding your comment “I believe that is part of the trouble. For me, and perhaps many writers, the best (or at least the more prolific) words come when we, the writers, are as interested in the subject material as we hope our readers will be.”

    I agree. In an ideal world i would only write one book a year and spend the rest of the time gazing up at the moon for inspiration but alas i can’t do that.

    I find that doing this for a living doesn’t allow me the chance to wait for the muse to show up. I have no other choice but to show up and write and beat the muse into submission unless i want to go back to the job line.

    Lately i have been thinking of writing a few books that I want to write instead of just what readers want. Thrillers have got to the point where it seems as long as you are shooting someone, beating the crap out someone, people like it. (Otherwise they moan about it being too slow.) It’s becoming boring to me.

    Probably why I like a lot of off the wall types of movies. Indie movies to be more specific.

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