Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Year in Paul: 1999

The long-delayed cinema chronology is back. In honor of the fact that we've finally reached the point where it makes sense to go year-by-year, the series will continue under a new name.

What I’ve Seen

10 Things I Hate About You
All About My Mother
American Beauty
American Pie
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Baby Geniuses
Bicentennial Man
Fantasia 2000
Fight Club
Galaxy Quest
Inspector Gadget
The Iron Gian
The Matrix
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
My Favorite Martian
Mystery Men
October Sky
Office Space
Pokemon: The First Movie
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
The Simple Life of Noah Dearborne
The Sixth Sense
The Virgin Suicides
South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut
Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace
Stuart Little
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Toy Story 2
Wakko’s Wish
The War Zone
32 Total

The Best of What I’ve Seen

5. Mystery Men (Top 100)—A movie surprisingly ahead of its time, this brilliant spoof predated the modern superhero movie trend—widely considered to have been started by Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men—by about a year. Its postmodern, deconstructivist approach, done entirely for laughs (unlike Watchmen or even Kick-Ass) is fresh all these years later, despite every effort to the contrary by Hollywood. Mystery Men is also in the Pantheon of rewatchable comedies, along with Anchorman, Zoolander, Talladega Nights, and The Emperor’s New Groove. High praise indeed.

4. Toy Story 2 (Top 100)—Probably the best of the superlative Toy Story trilogy and almost certainly the best animated sequel of all time, Toy Story 2 manages to build off the strong character relationships from the first movie while still telling a truthful, touching, and often very funny story about belonging and friendship. The second of the five movies from Pixar that I consider masterpieces, Toy Story 2 represents the end of the incredible opening salvo of movies from a studio that has come to absolutely dominate the new world of CG animation. Cars 2 notwithstanding.

3. American Beauty (Top 100)—Every Oscar winner suffers some backlash, especially in the internet era, but few have gotten it as thoroughly as Sam Mendes’ magnum opus from the critical community (though a few, most notably Titanic and Crash, have suffered more pop-culturally). I completely disagree—if anything, my respect for this biting satire has only increased over the years. I find it insightful, clever, funny, and at least a little, well…beautiful.

2. The Matrix (Top 10)—The fact that The Matrix could possibly be the second best movie in any given year is absurd. It has as complete a marriage of immersive atmosphere, genuine intelligence, and thrilling action as any movie ever made, and is probably the definitive example of science fiction in popular culture other than Star Wars. It also achieved the minor miracle of actually utilizing Keanu Reeves as a leading man and it completely working

1. Fight Club (Top 10)—I’m not sure which is higher praise—that this is the best movie of a very impressive crop from 1999, or that it is the best work of the man I consider the most talented working director, David Fincher. It’s superbly acted (including career defining turns by both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton), impeccably constructed, exciting as hell, and whip smart. And unlike most movies built around a fairly major twist (*cough* The Sixth Sense *cough*), in no way does knowing the twist hurt the viewing experience. Shit, if anything it makes the movie even more interesting; I get at least as much out of it on rewatches as I did the first time. And that’s saying something.

What I Haven’t Seen

Being John Malkovich
The Boondock Saints
Boys Don’t Cry
Bringing Out The Dead
The Cider House Rules
Cruel Intentions
Eyes Wide Shut
For Love of the Game
The Green Mile
The Insider
Jakob the Liar
The Limey
The Mummy
Muppets From Space
She’s All That
Sleepy Hollow
Snow Falling on Ceders
Three Kings
The World is Note Enough

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