Sunday, December 22, 2013

Top 10 Lists: 1998

1998 was interesting in that for the most part, the real big blockbusters I tend to gravitate towards came up short while smaller projects really stood out.

10. Lethal Weapon 4

This just barely makes my top 10 by sheer virtue of it being a miracle that it even ended up being sort of good.  A rushed schedule, a script so unfinished I'm not even certain it can be called one and it still manages to be entertaining as hell.  Great car chase midway through too.

9. Ronin

 Speaking of great car chases, this one has several.  The rest of the movie is pretty good too as Robert DeNiro and an all-star cast tool around Europe in this fun thriller from the late John Frankenheimer.  I'm a sucker for a good spy movie with a great cast and great action and this fits the bill just fine,.  It's not perfect, but it's definitely worth the effort.

8. Blade

 As tends to be the case, I drift more towards the b-list superheroes and this great little flick is one of the reasons why.  Good work from Wesley Snipes, some great f/x from Greg Cannom and some nice action scenes make this one of the better superhero movies from Marvel.  The sequels aren't nearly as good though.

7. Black Dog

 I've written about this one before but it;s just an amazingly fun movie with some great truck stuns and a wonderfully gonzo performance from Meat Loaf as a lotto obsessed, coupon clipping Jesus freak who is the main villain.  How the hell can you not at least sort of like that?

6. The Spanish Prisoner

 This is a brilliant little flick from David Mamet that has all of his usual trademarks: great dialogue, an intricate plot laden with cons upon cons and good performances from the entire cast.  The great thing about this one is how low key it is.  No cursing, no violence, really just a gradually unfolding series of plot developments but you end up being sucked into the narrative.  A really good film.

5. Wild Things

 This is a brilliant little mind-screw of a thriller with a fun cast, a quick pace and a final twenty minutes that is just hilariously audacious.  It's essentially an 80's erotic thriller with a fine gloss and the twists and turns you expect from a mid to late 90's flick.  Hell, you even get a brilliantly funny Bill Murray performance for no extra charge.  It's sleazy as hell, but that's part of the fun.

4. The Big Lebowski

 I'm a pretty big Coen Brothers fan and this is one of their better, more entertaining flicks.  Like Wild Things, it takes the tropes of film noir and turns them to their own devices to an extent as we get a hilarious Jeff Bridges performance as maybe the most reluctant reluctant hero I have ever seen.  Typically great cast, great script and an off the wall sensibility make this a real fun one to watch.

3. Saving Private Ryan

The first 40 minutes alone make this one of the best war movies of time and the 110 that follow are equally good, though not quite as impactful.  Tom Hanks is solid as usual and Spielberg directs the action with his usual flair.  Overall, just a damn fine movie.

2. Dark City

A really terrific sci-fi feature with a brilliant script, some great visuals and a solid cast.  It's one of the best noir pictures of the last twenty years or so too.

1. Out of Sight

Once again, an Elmore Leonard adaptation makes the top of my list with the fantastic Out of Sight.  Starring George Clooney, and Jennifer Lopez, it's a fast paced, funny and endlessly entertaining crime/romance/comedy with a great cast, fun direction from Steven Soderbergh and a great soundtrack.  Words cannot express how much I love this film.

Honorable Mentions:

I get a kick out of this decent thriller that features two great performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey.  It's predictable as hell but I've always felt that it's not whether or not your film resorts to cliches, it's how it presents the cliches.  In this case, the end product is a nicely entertaining movie.

Robert Rodriguez's take on alien invasion films suffers a bit from an overly cute script (Kevin Williamson really is a one trick pony) but thanks to a good cast and some nice KNB f/x work, it manages to be quite a fun ride.

This one is a little funny for me because I remember reading about a sequel to The Fugitive and thinking to myself "Huh?"  Then I saw the movie and thought "Okay, that was sort of amusing."  It probably says something  rather bad about the slate of 1998 action movies that this was one of the better ones put out.  Still, some nice action and Tommy Lee Jones is always fun to watch.

Guilty Pleasures:

 I like to call this one "The Iguana that Ate New York", pretty much the only way I can justify it.  To be fair, the film does have one or two minor moments of quality.  You gotta squint hard to see them but still!

For some ungodly reason, I sort of get a chuckle out of this one.  Maybe it's the unintentional comedy that comes from casting Christian Slater as an action hero, maybe it's watching Morgan Freeman manfully slogging through the bad lines he's given.  Hell, it could just be that Betty White cursing like a sailor makes me chuckle.  I don't know.  I do know that the film is bad in a rather enjoyable way.

If the last 80 minutes were as good as the first 15, this would have made the top 10.  As it stands, this Brian DePalma thriller has a great opening sequence, good work from Gary Sinise and a bonkers Nicolas Cage performance.  It also has a plot so obtuse that after about the halfway mark I was just looking at Carla Gugino (the female lead).  Bad ending too.

I'm a sucker for Carpenter and that is the only reason I enjoy this film.  Well, that and the great James Woods performance but apart from that it's really not that great.

 Sometimes you just get fascinated with a really, really awful movie.  This one is just wretched with a bare bones plot (which will tend to happen when nearly 45 minutes are taken from the final cut)
and just general strangeness.  I never thought I'd ever see Sean Connery in a giant teddy bear costume.  Now I have.

1998 was an odd year for film, sort of like 1991 (Oh, we;ll get to mind-screw of a year.  Believe me) but there were many worthy efforts (including a few I cut for pacing and time constraints.  It was solid in spite of itself, let's put it that way.

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About Me

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