Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top 10 Lists: 1995

1995 wasn't the best year for film, lots and lots of fairly bland to terrible films but there were still some pretty good films released.

10. Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight

I always liked the TV series and the feature film is just as good.  Great gory f/x, a fun story (can't go wrong with demons laying siege to a motel) and a great hammy performance from Billy Zane make this one hell of a fun ride.

9. Casino

Not as good as Goodfellas, but to be honest that's not even close to being a criticism.  Scorsese puts together another fantastic piece of filmmaking in this tale of just how seedy Las Vegas used to be.  And given that's it's still a little seedy, well.  Typically solid work from Robert DeNiro, good work from Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone does a hell of a job.  It's a little long but still a damn fine movie.

8. Braveheart

Not sure about this winning Best Picture that year but it's still a rousing bit of entertainment.  Sure the historical stuff is a little shaky (and by shaky I mean B.S.) but Mel Gibson directs it well enough and the action is very well done.

7. Heat

Michael Mann does a fine job of constructing this epic cop drama which pits acting heavyweights Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro against each other.  Al is the cop (in a really, really, really hammy performance), Robert is the crook and the one scene they have together is damn good.  The rest of the cast is good too with a ton of character actors and names.  It's quite engrossing.

6. Desperado

A fine follow-up (and partial remake) to El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez's Desperado is a wonderfully inventive action film with good work from Antonio Banderas, Steve Buscemi and Cheech Marin and Salma Hayek; some nicely creative action scenes and great work from Rodriguez who as usual did more or less everything except the catering on the movie.  It's not an absolute classic, but then again 1995 wasn't a classic year for film.

5. Die Hard with a Vengeance

The third Die Hard film is also the last good entry in the franchise.  Set in New York, Bruce Willis is back as McClane and this time Jeremy Irons is threatening to blow up various part of the city.  Samuel L. Jackson is fun as Willis' sidekick (though the one scene where they argue about race comes off as a little forced) and while it doesn't really have the feel of a Die Hard film, it's still a solid action movie.

4. The Usual Suspects

While I'm not the biggest fan of his more recent work, Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects is a fun puzzle box of a movie with an outstanding cast and a fun twist.  Even today it still works pretty well.

3. Get Shorty

The best adaptation of an Elmore Leonard film, this is just plain fun with a really good cast, especially John Travolta right in the middle of his comeback and the late Dennis Farina as a rival wiseguy.  Get Shorty is an entertaining satire of the film industry, crime and show business in general.  It's a real winner.

2. In the Mouth of Madness

I wrote about this recently so I won't get too deep into things again but this is really the last great John Carpenter film.  Creepy, well made and well acted, it still sends a shiver up my spine whenever I watch it.

1. Goldeneye

After a six year hiatus, 007 was back, now played by Pierce Brosnan.  The end result was quite good with some great action, nice performances and in general it;s a great reinvention of Bond.  I'll tackle this one more in depth at some point.  The bottom line is that for me, this is the best film of 1995.

 Honorable Mentions:

A fascinating film, Oliver Stone's Nixon paints a vivid portrait of the man with a great Anthony Hopkins performance.  The rest of the cast is good too.

A really solid thriller from David Fincher with great work from Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman and some really nasty f/x work from Rob Bottin.

The film that really should have gotten Best Picture that year, this is Ron Howard's best film.  Great work from the entire cast and that fact that it is based on stuff that really happened makes it even more compelling.

This one is just plain fun as Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman go up against one another in a tense submarine thriller that is maybe the most character based thing Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer ever produced.

Guilty Pleasures: 

 Stallone had two movies come out this year and while neither of them was especially great, I do get a kick out of them.  Assassins is a fitfully entertaining Richard Donner film that would have benefited from being about twenty minutes shorter but you still get some nice action here and there as well as a wonderfully over the top Antonio Banderas as the bad guy.

I think I might be one of the only people who enjoyed this film.  Take away the nitpicking about costumes and you get a perfectly acceptable Stallone action film.

Finally, this is one of the most enjoyably silly adventure films I've seen in some time with a fun Tim Curry performance, some great f/x from Stan Winston and... Well, that;s about it really but it's still worth seeing at least once.

And that's 1995.  A year of some hits, a lot of misses and even more films that were just sort of there.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.