Megan’s got a new one, which I like. So before I return us to our much-ignored lately technical blogging, I thought I’d follow along.
This “not-quite-a-meme” copied from Culture Kills (click to see his list and also links to others who have done it including the originator to whom I apologize for not giving credit).
What you do is, just pick a movie you would call a favorite from every year that you’ve been alive.
1971, A Clockwork Orange (imdb) (wikipedia). Tough choice, since The French Connection is also one of my favorite movies, but A Clockwork Orange is much more notable for its social commentary and pure psychological impact. This movie is disturbing. It’s also one of the best adaptations of a novel in the history of film.
1973, Enter The Dragon (imdb) (wikipedia). Man, this is a hard year. The Sting. Westworld. Papillon. Day of the Jackal. The Exorcist. Serpico. Bruce Lee wins out, though. This movie is notable as the first real raw action movie produced in Hollywood and the first worldwide martial arts blockbuster. Although the Hollywood martial arts genre has produced far more dogs than gems, they all owe part of their existence to this movie.
1974, The Towering Inferno (imdb) (wikipedia). Notable mentions: Chinatown, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Towering Inferno is the first movie I remember seeing where not one but several major characters get killed. It was my first (and still by far most favorite) disaster movie.
1975, Jaws (imdb) (wikipedia). Harder than ’73 by far. The Man Who Would Be King. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The Rocky Horror Picture Show *and* Death Race 2000, two of the best cult classics. Jaws wins, however, for two reasons. First, in 1975, nobody went to the beach. Second, it has one of my favorite scenes (the drunk trio on the boat) and top acting moments (Dreyfuss’s demeanor change during the single line: “You were on the Indianapolis?”) ever.
1976, The Outlaw Josey Wales (imdb) (wikipedia). I don’t remember when I saw this, but it must have been prior to 1980, which means it had to have been a VHS rental, and it had to have been at Greg or Marc’s house. I was young enough that it was startling to see (a) the calvary as the bad guys (b) a southern Civil War veteran as the hero and (c) Native Americans as different types of people instead of stereotypes. Clint Eastwood’s best-acted movie. Honorable mention list: All The President’s Men, Marathon Man, Network, Murder By Death (yes, Murder By Death!), and of course Megan’s pick of Silver Streak.
1977, The Hobbit (imdb) (wikipedia). Yes, I know. It’s a made-for-TV movie. It’s a poor adaptation of the book. 1977 has STAR WARS in it, for crying out loud, Pat! If you’re not going the easy geek route of picking Star Wars or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the nerd route of Kentucky Fried Movie, or the “deeply artistic” route of Eraserhead, how can you pick The Hobbit?!?!?! Because I saw this on TV in November of 1977, when I was in first grade, and before Christmas was over I had read the book twice, lost permanent cred to Megan who used her two years on me to map the runes on the cover of Liz Waldo’s copy of the book to the alphabet while I was still reading the book, and forever turned into a voracious consumer of literary fiction. Personal history pick.
1978, Superman (imdb) (wikipedia). Man, ’78 has a ton of good candidates: The Big Sleep, The Deer Hunter, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Halloween, Watership Down. Superman, however, is still watchable thirty years later as a super hero movie, an amazing feat of special effects (far more difficult than space ships and ray guns). It also has quite possibly the single most heroic chunk of musical score ever written, in the opening theme.
1979, Breaking Away (imdb) (wikipedia). Honorable mentions: Mad Max, Alien, Apocalypse Now, The Jerk. Hard to pick anything over Alien, but Breaking Away is one of my top five sports movies of all time, and it’s about cycling.
1980, The Empire Strikes Back (imdb) (wikipedia). Walking out of the theater, I was as angry as I have ever been or probably ever will be over a movie (albeit for far less mature reasons I may have had later in life). I had waited for over 30% of my entire existing life span for this movie to come out. I would have to wait another three years (an eternity for a nine-year-old) for closure. It took me about 6 years to get over that singular anger and appreciate this movie fully on its merits, which outweigh all of the others in the series.
1982, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (imdb) (wikipedia). If it weren’t for this movie, this is the hardest year so far. In addition to some legitimately good movies that I love… Tron, The Thing, Gandhi, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Blade Runner, E.T., The Dark Crystal… it’s got a few of my favorite shameful bad movie loves: The Beastmaster, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Conan the Barbarian, The Pirate Movie (yeah I had an 11-year old’s crush on Kristy McNichol). But this is not only legitimately the best Star Trek movie, it is still the only science fiction movie that actually has a truly suspenseful spaceship battle. Star Wars was visually hyper-exciting, but watching the Das Boot-ish battle between The Enterprise and The Reliant with the graphic depiction of casualties is more gripping a depiction of war than has ever been shown in any science fiction flick.
1984, The Terminator (imdb) (wikipedia). Megan deserves Buckaroo to herself, and Kitty (if she does this) deserves Spinal Tap. There’s a bunch of other honorable mentions (this is a comedy rich year), but The Terminator represents James Cameron’s best work, and my favorite in the sci-fi/thriller crossover genre.
1985, Better Off Dead (imdb) (wikipedia). This deserves a geek-love movie death match between this movie and Real Genius. However, as much as we geeks would like to think that we’re all as brilliant as Mitch and Chris, most of us are just goofy like Lane. Honorable mention list is huge – The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Day of the Dead, Commando (so sue me, I like Commando), D.A.R.Y.L., Silverado, Goonies, Ladyhawke (yes, the movie with the worst soundtrack ever), Re-Animator, Witness.
1986, Big Trouble In Little China (imdb) (wikipedia). Agonizing. Aliens. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Highlander. Running Scared. But how can I choose Ferris over Jack Burton? When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Have ya paid your dues, Jack?” “Yessir, the check is in the mail.”
1987, Raising Arizona (imdb) (wikipedia). God, another horribly difficult year. The under-rated Amazon Women on the Moon. Lethal Weapon. The Princess Bride. ROBOCOP. Loved those, but Raising Arizona made me cry laughing so many times even after my first viewing it wins out.
1988, Die Hard (imdb) (wikipedia). Two teenage buddies have a long debate over whether to see the latest Dirty Harry movie (The Dead Pool) or this one as a Friday night action flick. Guns N’ Roses fan wins out with the, “C’mon… the MOONLIGHTING guy?” argument. We watch The Dead Pool at the Century Theaters in San Jose, I’m hugely unimpressed. Greg hightails it for home to beat the 10:30 deadline. I walk across the street to the now demolished Town And Country Theater, call home and say I’m catching the 10:25 show of Die Hard and won’t be home until almost 1 am, just to prove to myself that I was right. I spend the next three weeks watching this movie 7 times *in the theater*.
1989, The Killer (imdb) (wikipedia). An odd duck on the list, as it didn’t see release in the U.S. until 1990, but I caught it in the on-campus theater in college as a foreign import in late 1989. Graphic, stylized violence. Together with Hard Boiled the two best examples of a pre-Hollywoodized director’s fantastic work that cannot be even closely matched in his post-Hollywood era. Honorable mentions: Glory, Let It Ride, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
1992, A River Runs Through It (imdb) (wikipedia). Close winner over Hard Boiled and Reservoir Dogs. Although I think Reservoir Dogs is a better movie, and was tempted to pick Hard Boiled for “four foreign films in a row” (not to mention the fact that I like Hard Boiled better than The Killer, and think it was probably the best movie of 1992)… I’m slating really hard towards action flicks on this list. A River Runs Through It is one of the best “brother/son/father” movies ever made; every time I see it it makes me think of both Tom and Dad. Not because of any correlation between Tom and Paul or Dad and the Reverend McLean, but because of the dynamics of the characters.
1993, The Nightmare Before Christmas (imdb) (wikipedia). Honorable mentions: Tombstone, Gettysburg, Rudy, and Megan’s pick. Unreflected on this list is the fact that I shamelessly love musicals, and this is not only the second best thing done by Tim Burton’s oddly warped mind, it’s a fantastic set of songs and a brilliantly animated film. [edited] – Boy, did I miss on this one. 1993 was the release year of Army of Darkness (imdb) (wikipedia). Ash beats Jack Skellington.
1994, Pulp Fiction (imdb) (wikipedia). Honorable mentions: The Shawshank Redemption, Bullets Over Broadway. I love Sam Jackson in this movie, and here’s one of many reasons why (pardon for the language for the sensitive reader): “Now I’m thinkin’: it could mean you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here, he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could be you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is… you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo.”
1995, Twelve Monkeys (imdb) (wikipedia). Interesting treatment of time travel and psychosis, Gilliam’s best movie. Lots of other good candidates this year: The Usual Suspects, The Brothers McMullen, Braveheart, Heat, Othello, and Toy Story. La Cité Des Enfants Perdus (The City of Lost Children) has been hugely recommended, but I haven’t seen it.
1996, Tin Cup (imdb) (wikipedia). My God there were a ton of horrible movies in 1996, even some of the “fun watch” movies like Mission: Impossible and Twister were a huge letdown from what they could have been. If you don’t like this movie, you’ve never tortured yourself with golf. I liked Fargo, but not as much as everyone else who likes Coen movies liked Fargo. Swingers gets an honorable mention.
1997, Breakdown (imdb) (wikipedia). Literally 1,000 times better than I was expecting it to be when I saw it. When the runners up are the interesting but too slow Gattaca and the highly entertaining but very silly The Fifth Element, it’s no surprise that “astonishingly better than I was expecting it to be” is the differentiator for 1997 (note – it is a very enjoyable film, don’t get me wrong). No wonder “Titanic” won the Oscar.
1998, Ronin (imdb) (wikipedia). Meg picked The Big Lebowski, Tom will pick Saving Private Ryan, and the only other serious contenders are the very little known movie Fallen (which I really liked), and the excellent gambling movie Rounders. However, Ronin has one of the top three best car chase scenes of any movie, and it’s a damn fine spy flick. From what my wife has told me, my likely actual pick for this year would be Dark City, but through a quirk of fate I haven’t seen it. I should rent Dark City and The City of Lost Children. The City of Lost Dark Children? The Dark City of Children?
1999, Being John Malkovich (imdb) (wikipedia). Totally absurd movie, I loved it. Kitty deserves Ghost Dog to herself. Honorable mentions to: Fight Club, Dogma, The Iron Giant, The Matrix, Mystery Men, and Three Kings. [edited] – blew this one too. God, can’t anyone make a readable list of movies that came out in a year? IMDB… I’m looking at you here… take the dang TV episodes off the list. Clear winner is actually The Limey (imdb) (wikipedia). Soderbergh does a number of crazy things with this film, not all of which work the way he intended, but it’s certainly original and worth watching just for alternative methods of editing and direction. Plus Terence Stamp is *excellent*.
2002, 28 Days Later (imdb) (wikipedia). Holy crap… FAST ZOMBIES. I love zombie movies, and this is the first truly original zombie movie in decades. Runners up: The Bourne Identity, Adaptation, About Schmidt, Bend it Like Beckham, Catch Me If You Can, and the guilty pleasure Reign of Fire… which (while having plot holes big enough to drive a battleship through) is the first and only film to put a convincing dragon on screen.
2003, Big Fish (imdb) (wikipedia). If I did this before Megan, I would demand she give this one to me solo. Tim Burton’s best movie. The ending scene makes me tear up embarrassingly. Other possibles: 21 Grams, A Mighty Wind, Mystic River, The Triplets of Belleville, Fog of War.
2004, Hotel Rwanda (imdb) (wikipedia). Watch it. Honorable mentions: The Aviator, Napoleon Dynamite, The Incredibles, Ray, Shaun of the Dead, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Sideways. Paul Giamatti deserved the Oscar, wasn’t nominated. Don Cheadle should have beat out Jamie Foxx among the people actually nominated (no offense Jamie, you did Oscar worthy work).
2005, Capote (imdb) (wikipedia). First, it is a very interesting story. Second, Philip Seymour Hoffman *is* Truman Capote. Honorable mention: Cinderella Man, Grizzly Man, Syriana, Sin City, and Serenity. I really didn’t like Crash – the characters either made no sense to me, or were completely unsympathetic. Yay, someone made a movie about a bunch of racists. This was interesting… why? All in all a mediocre year.
2006, Pan’s Labyrinth (imdb) (wikipedia). Visually, completely amazing. Fantastic story. Not for children, it is brutal and terrifying in parts. Runner’s up: Children of Men, Letters from Iwo Jima, Casino Royale, Little Miss Sunshine, and Curious George. Yes, Curious George.
2007, Ratatouille (imdb) (wikipedia). “Then tell me, Ambrister, how can it be POPULAR?” – Peter O’Toole’s voice has lost none of its power. Fun movie in an otherwise unremarkable year. I have not seen 300 oddly enough, I expect that would be my pick for the year otherwise. Hot Fuzz was also hilarious.