Steve's Top 13 Films of 1999

Mar 4, 2001

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The Bottom Line Great films deserve to be seen.

Now I didn't see half as many movies in 1999 that I have in previous years, mainly due to a lack of time and a very tight budget. But I did manage to see a good chunk, enough to compile a list of favorites for that year.

I'd like to say that it wasn't a great year for movies, but that's not really true, because every year a lot of good movies show up, and even though many of them do, they all don't have to come from Hollywood. And I think some of the movies on this list proves that.

13. Bringing Out the Dead: Staring Nicolas Cage as a ambulance driver at the end of his rope, director Martin Scorsese weaves an interesting morality tale that asks about who we are as people. A good and somewhat overlooked film, "Bringing Out the Dead" was my first experience with a Martin Scorsese in an actual movie theatre on its initial release. Grade: B+

12. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: What a hilarious film! In fact, I enjoyed it so much I saw it three times in the theatre. As a fan of the tv-series I found that the movie doesn't disappoint. It's sharp, smart, funny and a musical too! The best line: "Hey Mom, can I have money to see a foreign film - it's from Canada!" As a Canadian, I never thought of it that way. Nor did I feel offended by the Blame Canada campaign, at least we got the Baldwins, eh?! A great flick all around, but definitely not meant for kids, "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" is definitely worth seeing by adults who love a good laugh. Grade: B+

11. Eyes Wide Shut: Another overlooked film, by late director Stanly Kubrick, staring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Cruise gives a thoughtful performance as a man caught in a dream like landscape that has him questioning his life and the very foundations of his marriage. A visually haunting film, "Eyes Wide Shut" is one of the year's best films. Grade: A-

10. The Matrix: What an amazing film! Visually stunning with a smart script, excellent direction and acting, "The Matrix" is everything that "Star Wars Episode 1" was not. Keanu Reeves is well, Keanu Reeves, but he's perfect in the role of Neo, the unsung guardian-savior of the human race. "The Matrix" is another great film that deserves to be seen. It's amazing! Grade: A-

9. Liberty Heights: Another overlooked film, with subtle direction and a semi-autobiographical story from writer/director Barry Levinson, "Liberty Heights" is a very good film. It's a touching a dramatic comedy about life lessons and life exploration, told through the eyes of a young Jewish boy growing up in 1950s Baltimore. The movie is about love, hate, segregation and more importantly about new relationships, young minds and changing ideals. It's about character and emotion. And like all the films on this list - it's great. Grade: A-

8. Being John Malkovich: What a crazy film! Director Spike Jonze's has crafted a fine movie from a story is very crazy, very antiplot in that it goes against the traditional or classical story arch. Everything is upside down in this movie, from 1/2 a floor to a hole in the wall that leads right into John Malkovich's - well, just go see the movie, ok? Strong acting and a truly original script make this movie great. Grade: A

7. Toy Story 2: The toys are back in town. And like the first movie, its sequel is smart, funny and visually stunning. It's truly amazing what they can do with computer animation and the "Toy Story" movies epitomize that technology. It's fascinating film to watch on the big screen. Grade: A

6. Three Kings: Another great film that takes the living room war right into the movie theatre and turns the whole concept upside down, showing us what that war was really about. Staring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, and directed by David O. Russell shape a fine film that deserves to be seen. Grade: A

5. The Insider: Based on a true story, "The Insider" is a brilliantly written and directed film from writer/director Michael Mann (Heat, Manhunter). Starring chameleon Russell Crowe in a powerful and haunting performance as a man at the end of his tether, forced to testify for the good of mankind against big tobacco, with some revolutionary claims that have the power to squish him into oblivion. Another overlooked film, this is one of Crowe's best performances, and the direction is taught with some wonderful visuals. This is a thinking man's movie and is not to be missed. Grade: A

4. Boy's Don't Cry: An amazingly touching true story about the life of a young girl who faces some very tough decisions. And the world she lives in is against her all the way, and yet somehow she tries to survive. Starring Hilary Swank, this movie should really hit home and remind us to treat others as we'd like to be treated. Grade: A

3. The Celebration: This film is truly powerful Danish film that was shot using only digital cameras. Thus, the film has a unique naturally lighted look to it, that helps set the pace and tone for the entire film. The movie's story revolves around a family reunion in which some horrifying secrets are revealed. It's an excellent film and it definitely deserves to be seen. Grade: A+

2. American Beauty: Staring Kevin Spacey and directed by theatre-director Sam Mendes, "American Beauty" is definitely one of the best films of the year. The movie reminds us to do what makes us happy, and to find beauty in every moment. It's funny, dramatic and emotionally moving all at once. A truly great film that deserves to be seen. Grade: A+

1. The Dreamlife of Angels: For the first time, a foreign film tops my list of my favorite films of the year. It exemplifies the messages of the previous movies in a fresh and original way. A French film, "The Dreamlife of Angels" centers around the lives of two young girls as they struggle to find their place in the world. One will succeed and one will not. And the journey they take is emotional, funny, easy going, taught and dramatically touching all at once. The acting is very good, by both lead actresses, Elodie Bouchez and Natacha Reginer (who actually shared the Best Actress award at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival). I really love this movie for it's strong direction, subtle acting and believable script. I strongly believe that it is one of the best films of the year, and I urge you to seek this film out. Grade: A+

(This list was originally created on December 27, 1999 and was finalized on January 3, 2000)

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