THE YEAR AT THE MOVIES

What we saw, when we laughed, and how we suffered.

10 best films of 1999

1. The Iron Giant: A pure and simple fable that—among other things—introduces the notion of mortality to kids (far more wisely than The Sixth Sense reconciled adults with death).

2. Being John Malkovich: Wonderfully funny, but also speaking to the dissatisfactions and limitations of one's personal identity. Plus those cameos!

3. Election: Tight, logical, and unsparing in relating how its characters are inevitably destroyed by getting what they most desire.

4. Boys Don't Cry: Even if Brandon had been a guy, the stark, simple story would've worked powerfully well.

5. The End of the Affair: The year's smartest treatment of faith, doubt, and redemption.

6. Rosetta: In her astonishing final scenes, this unhappy teen heroine proves herself to be a moralist as uncompromising as her creators.

7. The Limey: If Soderbergh's ending seems a bit too psychologically pat, that's because his film is about karma, not closure.

8. American Beauty: Sam Mendes may be shooting fish in a barrel, but his aim is terrific, and so are the fish.

9. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut: Scabrously smart and funny, and the only film this year that actually dared to mock the hand that feeds. As entertainment satire, miles ahead of The Muse or Bowfinger.

10. The Blair Witch Project: Often annoying, but an amazing lesson in how less information and polish can be more effective than the costliest spectacle.

—BRIAN MILLER

10 best lines of 1999

1. "C'mon, hit me." (Brad Pitt giving lessons in manhood to Edward Norton in The Fight Club.)

2. "You neurosurged!" (Jennifer Jason Leigh emasculating Jude Law in eXistenZ).

3. "There was no father." (Pernilla August as the virgin mother of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.)

4. "You don't love me any more." (Satan to Saddam Hussein in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.)

5. "It's like warm apple pie." (From American Pie, which was more educational than Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues.)

6."We...need...to...fuck." (Nicole Kidman's marital advice in Eyes Wide Shut.)

7. "You're our favorite movie star, aside from Black Beauty." (Hugh Grant to horse-faced Julia Roberts in Notting Hill.)

8. "Sometimes I just wish I could be someone else!" (John Malkovich in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, reminding us of the much wittier Being John Malkovich.)

9. "Let's go to the dump and shoot rats!" (Sean Penn's idea of a good first date in Sweet and Lowdown.)

10. "Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate." (John Cusack in Being John Malkovich.)

—SOYON IM

10 best/worst things about going to the movies, 1999

BEST

1. Old masters: The Grand Illusion's Robert Bresson retrospective was Seattle's top cinematic event of the year. Runners-up: Fran篩s Truffaut at the Egyptian and Film Noir at SAM.

2. Retro-cool music: The Who's mod rock contributed to fab scenes in Rushmore, Summer of Sam, American Beauty, and The Limey.

3. Not just a poor player: The "supporting roles" of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kirsten Dunst, Philip Baker Hall, Reese Witherspoon, Tobey Maguire, Emily Watson, Christian Bale, and Chlo렓evigny graced films both ridiculous and sublime.

4. Iranian cinema: Just to remind us how little resources Abbas Kiarostami, Majid Majidi, and Mohsen Makhmalbaf require to make their moving, poignant, delicately profound films.

5.Young (or young at heart) filmmakers: Maybe they're not the most profound pictures of the year, but Rushmore, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Go!, Run Lola Run, Three Kings, Being John Malkovich, and The Limey made it fun to go the movies.

...AND WORST

1. Marathon "event" movies: One of the lesser-known signs of the apocalypse is the year-end proliferation of two- or three-hour films from ego-driven directors run amok.

2. Everybody's a critic: When even End of Days and Deuce Bigalow flaunt rave reviews in their ads, how can you trust any critical quote when choosing a movie?

3. When good actors make bad movies: Memo to Brendan Fraser, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Harrison Ford, and Ashley Judd: You've made your money. Time to try something interesting again.

4. Old directors making turgid films: Memo to Oliver Stone, Joel Schumacher, Sidney Pollack, and Bruce Beresford: Running out of things to say is the first clue that it's time to retire.

5. And now a word from our sponsor: Pop and candy cost more than your ticket, the screen becomes a billboard before the show, and previews give away every joke and plot twist of upcoming films. I draw the line at car commercials nestled between the coming attractions. I can watch those at home!

—SEAN AXMAKER

 
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