Last month I decided to start a silly countdown post of what I thought was the best and worst of a year I picked at random. I picked 1988 in April because that was the year I was born, so I decided to jump forward ten years and examine movies that came out when I was only ten. Most of these movies I did not see when they first came out (especially everything in my top ten) but were injected into my eyeballs as a way of educating myself over the years. As I look at my top ten list for 1998, I realize that this year had a lot of classic movies come out that I would still watch today on repeat. In fact with some of them I actively do. So without further ado, here is my top ten list from 1998.
10. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (dir. Guy Richie)
I was enamored by this movie and Snatch when I discovered independent movies. The way everyone talks, the snappy dialogue, the quick movements all spoke to me as a girl who once loved really flashy filmmaking. As I age, I realize that flashy isn’t necessarily the way to go anymore. This film is on the list mostly for nostalgic reasons because I don’t think it would hold up to where I am right now as a watcher of movies. I evolved past it but I would recommend this movie to anyone who thought that Boondock Saints was a good movie. Here is a movie that uses cadence and action without giving the terrible moralizing undertones that Boondock Saints is guilty of having.
9. There’s Something About Mary (dir. Farrelly Brothers)
As a kid I watched a lot of television. More than that I watched a lot of pop culture shows which is like watching television twice (because they are usually commenting on something that you can view through your television). Because of this, I had heard about this movie long before it was deemed appropriate for me to see it. (AKA I watched it in college away from my parents’ judging eyes) Thus the scene where Cameron Diaz thinks that the cum on Ben Stiller’s ear is hair gel and sticks it in her hair and it makes her hand stand up is seared into my mind. The comic timing of that scene and the dick in the zipper are reason alone to put it on my top ten.
8. The Thin Red Line (dir. Terrence Malick)
This movie is probably my least favorite Malick film that I have seen. (I actually haven’t seen any of his new stuff past the New World.) However, I still really love the movie. It employs Malick’s signature dreamy style and gives us an intimate experience of how a solider reacts to mass devastation going on around them. It is traumatic, gory, and quite amazing.
7. American History X (dir. Tony Kaye)
This is the movie that made me respect the choices Edward Norton makes. Before watching him transform into this bigoted asshole that still garners some sympathy from the audience, I really had no opinion on him. And then I watched this movie and I suddenly found myself saying that Norton has so much potential to be the next Robert DeNiro. He ended up not going down the method immersion method and continues to this day being good in a mediocre movie.
6. Dark City (dir. Alex Proyas)
Dark City is not a perfect movie. Keifer Sutherland makes character choices that I deem questionable, Jennifer Connelly’s eyebrows dominate her performance, and at a certain point the narrative falls apart, only to be put back together again later. Despite these problems that I have with the movie, I still find this film to be infinitely rewatchable. The dystopian future is like the Matrix only done right. Creepy, slimy, and always full of noir mystery, Dark City is one of those movies I will turn to again and again for some late night escapism.
5. Hilary and Jackie (dir. Anand Tucker)
If ever there was such a devastating child rivalry movie, this is it. Beautifully acted by Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths, Hilary and Jackie tells the story of competing sisters in the classical music world. It is a heartbreaking story about the tethers that keep families together even if they hate each other.
4. Velvet Goldmine (dir. Todd Haynes)
There was a time in my life when I was obsessed with the actor Ewan McGregor. Having the desire to explore his whole filmography and watch this beautiful beast perform, I stumbled across some real gems. Velvet Goldmine was definitely one of those. Frank about its sexuality, it’s music and it’s influences, Velvet Goldmine is a dirty and sleazy rock picture made by one of the best queer directors of all time. Man, I want to watch this movie right now.
3. Run Lola Run (dir. Tom Tykwer)
This movie rocked me when I first saw it. I was fascinated by the way the director was able to warp time and create suspense over something so small, a woman getting across town by a certain time. The movie hasn’t aged well, but it is this high on the list because of the impact it had on me and the filmmaking I enjoy.
2. Rushmore (dir. Wes Anderson)
I have to admit that I had a small crush on Max Fischer, the extra curricular obsessed prep schooler protagonist, when I first saw this movie. His exacting personality, unconventional friends, and odd predilections endeared me to him almost immediately. Max Fischer and his friend (and enemy during certain parts) Herman Blume felt like believable and fully sketched out characters in this idiosyncratic world that this movie taught me a lot about movie structure and world building.
1. The Big Lebowski (dir. Coen Brothers)
Anyone who knows my tastes and my adoration for the Coen Brothers will see this number one pick coming from a mile away. These characters are something that I had never seen before when I watched this movie for the first time. So much so I had to watch it again almost immediately upon completing it. I can understand why people become obsessed with such a lived in yet slightly askew world. This movie is truly a work of art.
There you have it! My top ten of 1998. Join me next week as I reveal in the trash that 1998 also produced with my bottom 10.