The Year Project: 1999 Part One

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1999 was a simpler time for me. Looking back on my top ten of that year, I see that it is full of nostalgic picks that probably don’t grace a whole lot of top ten lists that critics made from that year. This was the year where I had no pretensions of being a serious film watcher. I watched what ever was on television and a lot of these movies were on television a bunch. In fact a couple of years after 1999, basic cable seemed to be in love with this year because you would be able to find Fight Club, 10 Things I Hate About You, or Office Space on at almost any time. Don’t get me started with Comedy Central and its fascination with showing South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut after midnight almost every night. Some of these films may not be good in the technical sense, but to me they hold a special place in my heart. So without any further ado, I present to you my top ten of 1999.

10. Election (directed by Alexander Payne)

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When I first saw this movie on IFC, I was blown away by just how weird it was. A woman I knew from romantic comedies, Reese Witherspoon, is a completely unlikable character? She emasculate an older man almost unconsciously and with no real sympathy? The man of the picture is also a whiny blowhard that can’t actually do anything with his life and

9. 10 Things I Hate About You (directed by Gil Junger)

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I know this movie isn’t perfect. I know that the Shakespeare references, the traditional relationship between men and women that hide beneath the surface of its play progressiveness, and the music could be an issue for a lot of people. But I love this movie as much as I love an adorably ugly puppy. It sucks me into it every time I put it in my DVD player and I can do nothing but watch it. I think the real reason why are the performances. Everyone from Heather Ledger to Allison Janney understand what type of movie they are making and really commit to the material. This movie is just a silly romantic comedy, but it is my romantic comedy.

8. But I’m a Cheerleader (directed by Jamie Babbit)

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I first watched this movie during my radical feminist stage in my life (I am still pretty radical and I am still a feminist, just not a radical feminist) when I would only watch movies directed by women or queer individuals. This movie was definitely the best one out of the dozens I watched. It is about a high school cheerleader who has a penchant for girls. She is sent off to a gay rehabilitation center only to find true love with one of her fellow patients. But I’m a Cheerleader is at turns cute, funny, and appalling but well worth tracking down to see.

7. Fight Club (directed by David Fincher)

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To say that this movie and the book it was based on had an impact on my young angsty self is an understatement. Although I infinitely prefer the book to the movie adaptation, this movie still colors the way I see movies today. Why can’t every movie have a scene where Edward Norton is hugged by Meatloaf sporting fake bitch tits? Pure cinematic pleasure right there.

6. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (directed by Matt Stone and Trey Parker)

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Do you remember a time when South Park was still socially relevant? It was the best time in our lives, there is no doubt. This movie encapsulates why I and so many kids my age was drawn to this provocative television series: inappropriate jokes. Everything from Stan going on a quest to find the clitoris to them finding Cartman’s mom on German poop porn website was all made to shock your mother. And that was just fine for me.

5. Dogma (directed by Kevin Smith)

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Oooh. I am getting serious nostalgia waves with this movie. For a young me who was just discovering what she felt about the religion she was born into, Dogma spoke to me in a fundamental way. It gave me a funny way to question my own religion. For that alone I am thankful. But I am also thankful for him introducing me to Alan Rickman, George Carlin, and Buddy Jesus. If only he would make another movie as funny and fun as this one was.

4. Office Space (directed by Mike Judge)

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I think I owe my general distaste of corporate jobs to this movie. I used to watch Ron Livingston’s character exact revenge on his dubious boss with glee every time it came on cable. The scene where they beat a fax machine with baseball bats while gangster rap plays on the soundtrack is pure genius.

3. Being John Malkovich (directed by Spike Jonze)

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This was the first Spike Jonze movie I ever saw. What a way to be introduced to a new director. This movie is one big mind trip, but it is also an infinitely interesting one. Jonze is the master of rooting surreal images into real life. So the fact that these people enter into Malkovich’s head and have sex with their partners through this doppelgänger is completely believable in this universe.

2. Topsy-Turvy (directed by Mike Leigh)

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I want to live within the universe of this film. It feels so lived in and real due to the way Leigh works with actors and the high-caliber he is able to attract. Jim Broadbent has never been as great as he is in this portrayal of Gilbert, one half of the famous team Gilbert and Sullivan who wrote successful plays in England in the mid-1800s. This is a movie I can watch on repeat and never get tired of it. Why isn’t Mr. Broadbent my grandpa?

1. Iron Giant (directed by Bird)

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The Iron Giant is a simple, sweet movie that is just as perfect for adults as it is for children. About a boy who befriends a robot, it is a story that will live on forever and one that will touch the hearts of everyone that sees it. It is a perfect animated film.

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