1999: A Movie Year In Review (Part Two)
Welcome to Part 2 of our 1999 Movie Retrospective. The final year of the last century was one hell of a cinematic ride and it offered some outstanding films for lovers of cinema. Now be aware that this is not a definitive list of the films released – it’s a brief rundown highlighting interesting films that should be seen (although not always for the right reasons). You can check out the first part (A-E) or continue reading to see the other gems that were released in 1999.
Fight Club was a box office disappointment ten years ago, but it has gained a HUGE cult following since – and it must have made an absolute mint on DVD. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton star in this David Fincher directed adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s now-famous novel. The film is another example of world perspective from a late 90s view point.
For The Love Of The Game
There’s something about For the Love of the Game that got under my skin when I saw it ten years ago. Maybe it was the music? Or maybe it was Kevin Costner’s performance? I don’t know, but it is my favorite Sam Raimi film. If you think that’s odd – I know nothing about baseball and I don’t like any sport!
Few admit to liking Tim Allen on the big screen but many will say that they love Galaxy Quest. Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver also star in this comedic pastiche of Star Trek. It’s good fun, with some equally good creature f/x.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is probably director Jim Jarmusch’s most accessible film. It stars Forest Whitaker as a Mafia hitman who follows the Samurai code. It didn’t make much of a commercial splash on release back in ’99 but it was hailed by critics. Go on – check it out!
The film that won Angelina Jolie an Oscar was supposed to be an acting showcase for Winona Ryder. Ryder has all but fallen into obscurity and Jolie is the biggest female star on the planet. Maybe that’s the reason to check out this James Mangold directed film.
The Green Mile
Frank Darabont does a Stephen King prison adaptation. Been there, done that. This one stars Tom Hanks. The Shawshank Redemption grossed $28 million and this did $136 million. You figure out why (Hint: Hanks).
Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson and Catherine Zeta Jones star in a Jan De Bont directed PG-13 haunted house horror film chock full of CGI. Half of that sentence seems like a good idea. Others must have thought so too, as it grossed $90 million. I haven’t seen it since it came out. If I have a few drinks I might watch it again on television. Maybe.
The Iron Giant
Based on the Ted Hughes tale, the Iron Giant was pretty much thrown out onto screens by Warner Brothers a decade ago. The Brad Bird animated film features the vocal stylings of Vin Diesel and Jennifer Aniston. It flopped on release, but it now (like a lot of ’99 films) has a huge cult following.
In my opinion Magnolia is one of the best films of the last ten years. Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic L.A. tale features an excellent ensemble cast featuring a never better Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Jason Robards, John C. Reilly and William H. Macy. Aimee Mann’s music adds heart to this lyrical and poetic film.
A film that changed cinema for the decade. Keanu Reeves stars as the saviour of mankind in the Wachowski’s cyber-punk action thriller. Black trench coats and sunglasses flew off the shelves as everyone wanted that Matrix look. “Bullet-time” and “wire-fu” became fixtures in nearly every action film that followed. It’s a pity that the sequels didn’t live up to this one.
Stephen Sommers’ action romp was an unexpected success when it opened. It’s a good old-fashioned adventure with a lot of CGI. It’s a shame that the only thing that Sommers seemed to take away from this film were the things that didn’t work!
An interesting little film starring Russell Crowe and Burt Reynolds. It’s directed by Jay Roach the man behind the Meet the Parents films but there’s heart to this comedy film that tanked on release.
A superhero comedy film released a while before superheroes became all the rage again. Ben Stiller leads the cast in what would be one of his last not-for-they-paycheck roles.
A Star Wars counter-programming release in which Julia Roberts starred as herself and Hugh Grant played the same guy he’s been playing for 15 years. Audiences loved it and it banked $100 million. It’s not a bad little film – for what it is.
Office Space came and went when it opened. It found a rich life on DVD as it called to office workers like a siren to sailors. Mike Judge never seems to catch a break unless the words “Beavis and Butthead” are in the title.
The Omega Code
The Omega Code shocked box office pundits when it was released in 1999. A church funded film that cracked the top ten and showed that money could be made from marketing religious communities.
Mel Gibson kicked serious ass in this gritty film. Payback is a black-as-night comedy that harkens back to the gangster films of the 1970s. The film was re-cut and re-edited to make it slightly lighter. That means that the dog lives at the end!
John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie star in this pretty good off-beat comedy about air traffic controllers. It’s where Billy Bob and the future Mrs. Thornton Pitt met. The film crashed and burned but at least the tabloids made a killing.
Harrison Ford and Kirsten Scott Thomas star in Sydney Pollack’s romantic drama. While the slow pace isn’t for everyone, it does have enough to warrant a viewing.
The Sixth Sense
The sleeper hit of 1999. This $30 million Bruce Willis starrer came from nowhere to bag $293 million on U.S. screens alone. There’s a reason for the hype – it’s damn good. The twist ending was the thing when it came out – but the film works on repeated viewings. I watch it every year.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Way back when Depp wasn’t all that fashionable, Sleepy Hollow was his first $100 million grosser. It’s good, but no Ed Wood.
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
1999 was the year of Star Wars. George Lucas returned to directing with this CGI-filled epic that blew minds and disappointed with equal measure on its release. Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman were no match for Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher, but you can’t really complain too much – it was Star Wars on the big screen. It was always destined to disappoint – but like I always say: it was like having the greatest meal in your life and complaining that your second helping wasn’t as nice. You got what you wanted but you can’t really complain (until Jar-Jar Binks walked on onscreen, that is).
I can only imagine that Gabriel Byrne bought a house in 1998/1999 because he starred in End of Days AND this religious clunker. He really does pay the devil. It’s probably one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. It fails on all levels. If you don’t believe me – check it out yourself!
The Boondock Saints
Nothing divides the folks like The Boondock Saints. Troy Duffy’s Irish gangster thriller has attained cult status over the years and a sequel is soon to be released, titled The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day. The original film only grossed $30,000 on screens, but it shows the power of DVD. See if you love or hate it!
The Talented Mr Ripley
Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow starred in this elegant thriller. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel it’s got Hitchcock written all over it and it’s a great watch.
The Thomas Crown Affair
No-one thought that Pierce Brosnan would step into Steve McQueen’s shoes for this remake. They were wrong. One of the few remakes to – dare I say it – surpass the original, this John McTiernan film hits the mark on nearly all levels. Rene Russo is the perfect foil to Brosnan’s gentleman thief and Bill Conti’s score is first rate.
This Gulf War action-comedy pretty much set the pattern for George Clooney’s films for the next decade. It takes a commercial premise and skews it as an off-beat and political bender. Hard to believe that this was first offered to Clint Eastwood and Nicolas Cage.
Toy Story 2
It’s hard to believe that Toy Story 2 was set to be released straight to DVD. However, when Disney saw some rough footage of the Woody and Buzz Lightyear follow-up they decided to give it the full cinematic treatment. It’s currently raking in even more cash in a cinema near you now in the 3D format. Maybe you should check it out. I might.
Made when Clint Eastwood wasn’t making Oscar-bait, True Crime is a standard Eastwood thriller. It was ignored on release – go ahead and make my day and seek it out. It’s worth watching.
Wild Wild West
Wicki- Wicki- Wild Wild West. This was seen as the sure fire hit of 1999. Will Smith, July 4th Weekend and a bucket load of CGI. It was plagued with problems and the budget hit $200 million, which (for 1999) was huge. Critically mauled, it limped over the $100 million barrier and nearly killed Smith’s career and his friendship with director Barry Sonnenfeld. It’s a guilty watch – and really, it’s not as bad as it could have been.
The World is Not Enough
Bond, James Bond. Pierce Brosnan slipped into the tuxedo once again in this standard Bond romp. Not one of the best, but Brosnan clearly relishes the role. The opening boat chase is Bond at his best.
That’s my stroll down memory lane. Like I said previously, this is not supposed to be a definitive list of 1999 it’s a collection of films which I feel are of interest.
I think that it’s a testament to the quality of the films released in 1999 that I own nearly all of the movies on this list – even some of the er… less good ones. I’ve watched quite a few of them several times since their release and I can say that I vividly remember seeing them for the first time.
In a way it saddens me to ponder that there has been a drop-off in movie quality over the last ten years and I do have to wonder how current 19 year-olds (like I was then) feel about the movies being released today.