Saturday, December 14, 2013

Top 10 Lists: 1997

1997 was probably one of my favorite film years of the decade.  Tons of great films in a variety of genres, some genuine guilty pleasures and at least one or two that I could consider all-time favorites.

10. Private Parts

 I've never been the biggest Howard Stern fan but this film, based on his book, is a very funny sort of slobs vs. snobs comedy as we follow Stern through his early years at WNBC.  Chock full of funny moments and Stern comes off as surprisingly likable given his usual persona.

9. In & Out

Another likable comedy, this has one of Kevin Kline's best comedies not to star John Cleese and also has a fun turn from Tom Selleck.

8. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

A solid drama that is well directed by Clint Eastwood and has good performances from John Cusack and Kevin Spacey.

7. Con Air

Here is where it get good as this is probably one of my favorite cheesy action films of the decade.  Hell, I saw it twice in the theater.  Featuring just about every single notable 90's character actor, it is a brawny, loud and frequently hilarious (though not always by design) movie that more or less sealed Nicolas Cage's fate as an action star.  Granted, you do have to give the guy credit for winning an Oscar and upon gaining the power to choose any career path he wanted, went for action hero.  I have to respect that, I really do.

6. Men in Black

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are great here in this sci-fi comedy with great alien designs from Rick Baker and a nice sense of breezy fun.  Best part is that it still holds up today for the most part.

5. Cop Land

I really like this underrated little gem that has Stallone in an uncommonly good performance as a half-deaf sheriff dealing with crooked NYPD officers in his small town.  It's a really entertaining movie and for anyone who thinks Stallone is all muscle, they should watch this because he goes toe to toe with Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel, two of the best working actors of any day, and keeps up with them.

4. Tomorrow Never Dies

The 18th James Bond film makes the #4 spot here and is really, to me at least, the best Pierce Brosnan outing as Bond.  Full of action, great characters and fun moments, it is everything a good James Bond film should be.

3. Face/Off

John Woo finally gets a classic American film (his only one, sadly)that blends his usual themes with two great performances from John Travolta and Nicolas Cage.  Add in a wild sci-fi premise and some massively cool action and you have the best action film of the year.

2. L.A. Confidential

This is just a damn good bit of film noir with a fine script from Curtis Hanson (who also directed), great acting all around and a classy, cool look.  This is the film that should have won Best Picture that year.

1. Jackie Brown

Tarantino and Elmore Leonard are a match made in heaven as QT's third film gets the top slot for the year.  Evenly paced (I love how it just takes its time to tell the story) with a great cast (DeNiro is great in a completely atypical role) and sporting the usual great soundtrack, this might be even better than Pulp Fiction in many ways.

Honorable Mentions:

I'm generally not too keen on the serial killer genre but this one is pretty good with nice work from Morgan Freeman, decent work from Ashley Judd (is there any movie of hers from this period where she's not being menaced by a psycho?) and a nice turn from Cary Elwes.

I saw this on HBO in college so many times, I can practically remember it shot for shot.  Honestly, it's a pretty damn fun movie with the exception of the Chris Tucker character.  Apart from him, the cast is great and the film looks amazing.  You could nitpick here and there about the story but honestly, the film is breezy entertainment and should be judged as such.

Both the beginning and the end for Mike ?Myers as he creates an instantly iconic character in a clever spoof... And then proceeds to run it into the ground the next two films.  Still, the first movie is funny.

I like this off-beat romantic dramedy mainly for Jack Nicholson's performance.  Not too many actors can take a positively repellent train wreck of a human being likable but Jack manages to do so.

I'm a sucker for Die Hard knockoffs and this one is pretty decent, if only for the novelty of having the President not only be the action hero but also be played by Harrison Ford who growls through the motions as only he can.  Gary Oldman is also fun as the bad guy, though why he chooses to rationalize his actions to the president's daughter of all people is still beyond me.  The scene would have worked if she had simply said "Tell someone old enough to give a damn" but for some reason they didn't go there.  Still, a fun movie.

Guilty Pleasures:

This one is an okay adaptation of the Roger Moore TV series.  I think the fact that it was on in heavy rotation on HBO made it grow on me.  It's not too great, but watchable enough.

This is a prime example of style over substance as it looks great but is cheesy as all hell.  And you know something?  That's exactly what I love about it.

Most folks don't much care for the fourth Alien film but I sort of dig it in a way.  The tone and feel are slightly off, the story is sort of meh and the aliens aren't really as scary as they once were but I still kind of dig it.

The key word for 1997 is 'fun'.  There tons of fun, entertaining movies released and even the ones that didn't quite hit (lots and lots of thrillers) were still watchable enough.  Overall, a very good year for film.

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About Me

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