Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Rabbit Hole'

'Rabbit Hole' (PG-13) (3 1/2 stars)

Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire based on his play
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Miles Teller, Diane Wiest, Tammy Blanchard, Giancarlo Esposito, Sandra Oh, Jon Tenney

I could never imagine what it would feel like to lose a child. After watching the beautiful and poetic "Rabbit Hole" I think I got a better understanding of what it would really feel like. The movie just feels right and the characters are well written. "Rabbit Hole" was based on a play and it is well adapted by the play's author and filmed carefully by John Cameron Mitchell. The movie stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a married couple, Becca and Howie, who have just lost their young son who was run over by a car. The movie deals with their pain, how they deal with family and situations that make them think of their son. They go to a support group but the wife is a little sick of the group members using God as a crutch. The power of this movie lies certainly with the performances. Nicole Kidman turns in some of her best work as the grieving wife. Aaron Eckhart is her equal as the husband and they both handle the quiet scenes and the emotional ones with the same mastery. The movie is also great in it's depiction of grief and how life goes on without a loved one. This movie doesn't try to wring the tears and the emotion out of you. We have all lost a loved one and after that loss life does not just stop. Life just doesn't become hopeless, there is still laughter, love and triumph all around you.

This movie knows this and I admire it's humor, there are a lot of funny moments that simply spring from life. Not every scene is dramatic or over bearing, there are some genuinely funny moments and the movie ends on a poetic and hopeful note. My favorite scenes involve Becca trying to reach out to the 17 year old teenager who ran over her son. That boy is named Jason and he is played wonderfully by Miles Teller. Teller holds his own with Kidman and I love his sensitive portrayal, he plays the role like a natural teenager, he makes the character feel real. Those scenes are simple but the most powerful ones in the movie. There is also some amazing work done by Diane Wiest, Sandra Oh and Tammy Blanchard. I liked this movie's quiet, laid back tone instead of having showy, individual scenes of melodrama. The movie feels like real life and it knows life doesn't stop so you can have your moment. You have to move on and find something in your life to make you whole again. The movie also ends on a perfect note and the final scene is poetic, quiet, heartbreaking, real and beautiful just like the whole movie. This reminds me of great movies like "Clean and Sober" (88) that don't insult our intelligence with cliches and easy answers. This is an amazing movie with great performances and a heartbreaking but triumphant story.

P.S. I was also impressed with the directing job by John Cameron Mitchell. Mitchell has directed some outlandish and very daring, good movies like "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and "Shortbus". I didn't know he had it in him to make something this restrained and he does a wonderful job and is a talented director.

I also am very upset that Nicole Kidman has been slammed in the press for her looks lately. Someone had mentioned that it looked like she got work done and her face can't show expression anymore. Isn't it shameful that there is such a focus on a woman's physical appearance and that mean things have to be said. Nicole Kidman is wonderful and gives an outstanding performance in "Rabbit Hole". All I noticed was how great Kidman was in this movie, it is brilliant work.

'Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale'

'Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale' (R) (Finland) (3 stars)

Writer and Director: Jalmari Helander
Starring: Per Christian Ellefsen, Peeter Jakobi, Jorma Tommila, Onni Tommila, Tommi Korpela, Jonathan Hutchings

I don't know about you but I am sick of watching some of these same feel good, heartwarming Christmas movies. There are never many "Bad Santas" that someone will come up with. After all the presents, hugging, egg nog and Ho Ho's and Christmas cheer movies like "Rare Exports" are a breath of fresh air. I don't know if this is a horror movie or a creepy fantasy. I do know that I was surprised by the end when I had laughed a lot and I actually felt the movie was sweet and magical. Weird! The movie is about some men out in the wilderness who discover a frozen Santa Claus underground or is it the real Santa? The men are accompanied by two kids who are brothers. The youngest kid thinks this will be a wonderful Christmas if they have indeed found the real Santa. There are some wonderful surprises as they all discover that it isn't the real Santa but the real Santa is somewhere and when we see him it is damn funny.

"Rare Exports" has a wonderful wintry look that is also haunting and strangely beautiful. The movie sets a creepy mood but there is some great, black humor and some really original and imaginative ideals and a strange whimsy. There are a plethora of elves that are looking for Santa after the three men try to hold Santa for ransom. These elves do not look like your stereotypical elves (don't you hate elf typecasting?) nor do they look like Will Ferrell. One of the ingenious threads in this movie is what the elves look like and what happens to them at the end. Pity the men who try to ransom Santa and risk the wrath of angry elves! This movie is fun and I like the imagination, the darkness, the look of the movie. The movie starts out slow and it isn't the best movie you will see and it doesn't try to be great. The movie already scores major points for being original because I think out of 200 movies I saw in this past year five were original. The movie could catch on as a midnight movie and it is already showing at The Music Box in Chicago for midnight shows. This is a weird, fun and strange movie and if you thought this review was weird and the movie sounds warped, you will like this one a lot.

Monday, December 27, 2010


'Somewhere' (R) (3 1/2 stars)

Writer and Director: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Ellie Kemper

Sofia Coppola has that quality a lot of film makers don't have. She can take two characters and just let them be in the moment. She would be welcomed with open arms in France where this kind of style is appreciated. With most Hollywood movies being talky, loud and obnoxious Coppola is not afraid to let calm and quiet take over. This is a movie of very few words but it's power and beauty lies in it's quiet moments. Not many American film makers, except for maybe Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Sunset), would let the few words and beautiful images take over. Coppola knows that to get her point of view off she doesn't have to be stuffing the movie with dialogue and dramatic plot developments. "Somewhere" is simply about Hollywood action movie star Johnny Marco who spends most of his time inhabiting the infamous Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood. In a very amusing sequence of scenes we first see Johnny being entertained by twin strippers who bring their own poles to pole dance. I love how the girls come off like they were choreographed by a professional dancer, every move they make is perfectly detailed. Then I laughed as we see them leaving and folding up their poles. Johnny doesn't do much besides sleep and have a lot of sex with pretty much any woman that says hello to him in the hotel. Then we see his daughter Cleo arrive, dropped off by her mother who disappears a lot. That is pretty much the jumping off point as we see Johnny and Cleo spend time together.

Johnny doesn't have many responsibilities and we are surprised that he would have a daughter, maybe he had her with a woman he was not married to or involved with. We can see he loves his daughter and Elle Fanning is perfect here as his daughter Cleo. She has a great smile, quietly inhabits her role and shows a sweetness and vulnerability. Johnny is played by Stephen Dorff who I have always liked but here gives the best performance of his career and one of the best of this year. Johnny seems bored with his life but when Cleo arrives there is a sparkle in his eye and a rejuvenated feeling. He plays "Guitar Hero" with her, plays cards, she cooks for him and tags along with him to a movie premiere in Italy of one of his action pictures. Cleo also finds out that you can pretty much order anything from the hotel and it is delivered right away. Johnny loves spending time with Cleo because she doesn't ask for much. When Johnny takes Cleo to her ice skating practice Johnny and the audience realize that he doesn't know a lot about his daughter and hasn't spent much time with her.

The movie moves along slowly and there are many scenes I love where we just see the two hang out. There is a nice, leisurely quality to the scenes and if you are looking for some deep meaning this is not the movie for you. You have to be patient and by the end I was surprised about how deeply this movie touched me. There is something unsaid between the two at first and it comes out near the end. There are some feelings that are let go by Cleo and we find out that the father and daughter don't know each other that well. They have spent a lot of time together and it is quality time but they realize this wonderful time they have had of bonding won't get duplicated many times. This movie has a beauty to it that is hard to explain. All I know is while watching it unfold the movie quietly but surely grabs you and makes you feel something about these two. Sofia Coppola takes her time letting the movie work it's magic and she has such a great command of the screen. I also love her female point of view because the movie carefully makes Cleo a character with deep hurt that she hides pretty well. She also writes the Johnny character well and like "Lost in Translation" we see that Johnny lives in a world of isolation and it is powerful. I can very much identify with his character but I can also feel Cleo's brief joy and then finally pain and her own isolation. You can also see a lot of what Sofia's life must have been like with her famous father through this story and the Cleo character.

With the outstanding "Virgin Diaries", one of the most under rated movies of the last decade, and "Lost In Translation" and now this Sofia Coppola has become one of my favorite writer/directors. She doesn't waste any shots, is careful not to lose us by making her story simple and she is awesome with female actors. She joins my list of David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino as my "Snavely New Wave Auteur's" and I will be adding more to the list. She is one of our brightest and best young film makers and I can't wait to see more of her movies. I know that many hated "Marie Antoinette" and everyone is entitled to one mistake though I admired "Marie Antoinette". I now know that every time Sofia makes a movie I can count on it it to be at least fascinating. Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning give great and very subtle and powerful performances. I also love the music score done by the great french pop group "Phoenix". I haven't heard this wonderful of a movie score created by a pop group since "Tangerine Dream" scored "Risky Business" and "Thief". There is also a beautiful and catchy song by "Phoenix" that blends in the movie flawlessly. With "Somewhere" Sofia Coppola proves she is here to stay and again she has made one of the best movies of the year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'The King's Speech'

'The King's Speech' (R) (3 1/2 stars)

Writer: David Seidler
Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Jennifer
Ehle, Derek Jacobi, Tomothy Spall, Michael Gambon

"The King's Speech" tells the story of King George VI who had a hard time communicating because he had a speech impediment. I usually am very indifferent about historical epics and movies about royalty because most are stodgy and dull. "The King's Speech" is not an epic and never dull, it is in fact an uplifting and compelling, intimate drama. I didn't expect to be choked up and crying my eyes out at the end of this movie, very powerful stuff. Colin Firth plays George VI and the actor gives a career defining performance that is one of the best of this or any other year. Firth is outstanding in a performance that is quiet, never flashy and grounded in humility. George VI had a terrible stuttering problem and we first see him making a speech for his father for the public and it does not go well. This is a problem that has bothered George for a long time. His wife Elizabeth goes to find someone to help her husband with his impediment. She finds a sometime actor and speech therapist to help her husband. The first meeting does not go too well because George is hopeless and doesn't believe anyone can help. The therapist, Lionel Logue, does something very smart to convince George to stick with him and we are off and running.

The movie has another part of the story that I was not as into and that dealt with who would take over the throne after George's father passes away. George's brother, Edward, was a playboy and was cheating on his wife and when he was picked to claim the throne it ended quickly. The scenes that deal with Edward are the least interesting but that is minor. With Edward out that forces George to improve his speech if he wants to be a King that communicates to the people with confidence. The scenes with George and Lionel are very entertaining, funny and touching. A beautiful friendship starts between the two and by the end they are there for each other completely. Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel and he is just as great as Firth. Rush hasn't been this great in ages and here he is charming, funny and winning. Helena Bonham Carter who plays Elizabeth is also amazing here, funny and beguiling.

In the end King George VI has to make an important speech to the public about going to war after his work with Lionel. This is a very suspenseful, powerful and touching scene that brought me to tears. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are so great in this scene and the music adds power. I admire what the King has to go through with his speech impediment and the bravery it took in working to fix it. I have a hard time speaking in public to my associates at work, it takes me hours to prepare and get up my nerve. So I can imagine how hard it was for the King who has it even worse with the stuttering problem and he is speaking to all of England! Tom Hooper does a great job just shooting this movie with a simple beauty. It is an uplifting, inspirational drama that has great performances. Colin Firth's performance is what careers are defined by and it is amazing. This is the performance that wins awards and Firth will win them all I assure you. This had more of an effect on me then I was prepared for. This is a rich and rewarding movie experience that just might surprise you also.

'True Grit'

'True Grit' (R) (3 stars)

Writers: Joel and Ethan Coen based on novel by Charles Portis
Director: Joel Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Dakin Matthews,
Barry Pepper

The Coen Brothers love movies and it shows in every movie they make. I have never seen a bad movie that was written and directed by them. They have an unique, quirky style and while some critics find them smarmy and don't care for them I love that they don't roll with the staus quo. I don't know what their critics will think of their remake of "True Grit" for this is the most straight forward film making they have done. There are no quirks, fancy camera shots or that Coen goofiness and I kind of expected that it would have some of that style. Maybe it is because they respect and love the novel so much or maybe they wanted their first true Western movie to be seriously done. "True Grit" is not a remake of the 1969 John Wayne picture but is based on the original novel written by Charles Portis. The movie is seen through the eyes of a wonderful character played by a wonderful new 14 year old actress Hailee Steinfeld. The character is Mattie Ross who is a 14 year old girl seeking revenge on the man who killed her father. She enlists an U.S. Marshall named Rooster Cogburn who is played by the great Jeff Bridges. Also along for the ride is a sheriff named LaBoeuf played by the reliable Matt Damon.

I mostly liked "True Grit" for the Mattie Ross character which is good because the movie centers on her. It could have focused a lot on the Cogburn and LaBoeuf characters but that would have been the wrong direction. Hailee Steinfeld gives such an assured, mature and spellbinding performance for a first time actress. She is scared and vulnerable but also pretty tough when it is required. I love her first scene when she matches wits with a horse trader and pretty much wins. Jeff Bridges gives another excellent performance and this time he is buried into his character. He is colorful but he doesn't over play the look and doesn't come off as goofy. All I can say about Damon is that again he is great and charismatic here and I loved his scenes with Bridges. The acting is outstanding here and even Josh Brolin, as the villainous Tom Chaney, is good with very little screen time. The cinematography by the great Roger Deakins and the location work are breathtaking. The actions scenes and shoot outs are crisp, well directed and compelling.

I was very excited coming into this movie and I expected a Coen Brothers masterpiece and they do a great job here. The only thing that frustrated me was that I didn't love this movie. I have loved almost all of their movies and I liked watching this movie but it didn't grab me as I thought it would. This is a serious Western and it is exciting a lot of the times but in the end I felt somewhat cold about it also. I love the characters, I am very impressed by Steinfeld and the action and shoot outs are well crafted and amazing. I kept thinking of another Western that I think I loved much better and that was the remake of "3:10 to Yuma". I am not a huge Western fan if it is not a Clint Eastwood one but I loved "3:10 to Yuma". This version of "True Grit" is much better than the 1969 film and very entertaining but I still don't think it touches greatness like the Yuma remake did. There are Coen Brother movies I love like "Blood Simple", "Raising Arizona", "Fargo" and "No Country For Old Men" and ones I don't care a lot for like "O'Brother Where Art Thou?" and this is in the middle. I was impressed by the movie and the job the Coens did but I don't think this is one of their best movies.

I feel bad because I I think I am am being unfair thinking that all of the Coen Brother movies should be quirky and in their original style. They shouldn't have to make a mind bending, great masterpiece every time out. "True Grit" is a different movie for them because they tell a complete story and focus on their 14 year old heroine. They could have gotten sidetracked on their more colorful supporting characters. I like that the movie revolves around Mattie like it should, she is the one with true grit. Their Oscar winning Best Picture "No Country For Old Men" was done in the style of a Western. I love that movie and it grabbed me and was a powerful experience for me. "True Grit" doesn't have that same hold on me but I must say it is a very solid and well done Western. I also think some Coen fans might think this is outstanding and one of their best but sadly not in my opinion. It does have great action, photography, great performances by Bridges and Damon and a star making performance by Steinfeld. She is a true find and I want to see this movie again and focus on her, it might improve my rating.

'The Little Fockers'

'The Little Fockers' (PG-13) (1 1/2 stars)

Writers: John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey
Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Deniro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Jessica Alba,
Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Harvey Keitel, Tom McCarthy

"Little Fockers" might be a blessing in disguise for I think the third in this popular series will kill the franchise. Actually it will probably make a lot of money and then the film as ended can follow up on it's new direction. That was the real depressing part for the movie promises a tease that there will be more. I was depressed because a lot of talent was wasted, the first movie was damn funny and I can only take so much dick jokes. This embarrassing comedy takes us back to Greg Focker and his in-laws. Now the family has grown and there are two little Fockers. Grandpa Jack is back and this time he worries about who will be next in line to run the Jack Byrnes family dynasty. This leads to more misunderstandings that lead to more slapstick comedy that would make The Three Stooges roll over in their graves. For a movie focused on two little kids, rated PG-13 and where there were about 25 kids under the age of 8 in the theatre it was curious how much sex jokes were in this. When "The King's Speech" gets a lame (R) rating for a few f words this movie actually is close to R rated and has no problems with a ratings board. Hmm.

Again I am not a prude, this is the regular movie goer blog. I am not a stuffy, overly critical monster who doesn't like vulgar comedies. I love "The Hangover" and Farrelly brother comedies but that is because the dirty jokes are funny, key word, "funny". The only time I chuckled was when Owen Wilson was on the screen. He steals the movie and his comic chemistry with Stiller is great. I love that Robert Deniro does comedy a lot now but here he mugs, looks uncomfortable and isn't funny like he was in the first one. Stiller is fine and I love Blythe Danner to death but whoever thought the horrible Jessica Alba could do comedy was taking drugs. The humor here is smarmy and based on cruelty to the characters. No problem with that, some of my favorite comedies and the first movie had that quality but again they were funny. There are the standard vomit, dick and sex jokes which can be funny if the movie has style but this one is dead and not funny at all. I kind of pity the families that all go together to see this especially with little kids.

The other problem is the kids aren't really focused on except for a section where Greg tries to get his kids into a top of the line grade school. It also doesn't help that the child actors playing the kids are horrible actors. I go back to the section that deals with the school. I kept waiting for some smart jokes and situations to come from this material but all you get is the son getting his arm broken. Ha!Ha! There is a horrible fist fight between Greg and Jack at the end and a lot of situations that occur that "Three's Company" did in the 70's and did ten times smarter. There is also a re-teaming of Deniro and Harvey Keitel which is a misfire and a wasted opportunity. All you get from that teaming is Greg dumping a truckload of sand and gravel on Jack. I also just love the making fun of the Jack character when he has a heart attack. Ha! Ha! Okay, the bottom line is that this is one stupid comedy that is lazy and doesn't have one big laugh at all. Streisand and Hoffman phone in their performances, Owen Wilson is the only one that tries and Ben Stiller looks tired and old. It is time to retire the series and anyone that does find this funny who I know can receive $5 from me. I am that certain that this movie will not make you laugh but only shake your head.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'How Do You Know'

'How Do You Know' (PG-13) (2 stars)

Writer and Director: James L. Brooks
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Kathryn Hahn,
Mark Linn-Baker

"How Do You Know" is a story about two very likable people and one misguided but kind of sweet person. I liked following these three people but they keep getting interrupted by a story line that kills the movie. "How Do You Know" starts with a classic James L. Brooks start as we see Lisa, a little girl who shows up a little boy on the baseball field. Lisa will grow up to be played by Reese Witherspoon and Reese is one of the most likable actresses on screen. Reese plays Lisa who grows up to be a really good softball player even making the Olympic team. Maybe it is due to Brooks or Witherspoon's past but Reese looks and plays like a real softball player. She looks like an athlete and Reese is so charming in this movie that I really wanted to like this movie. Lisa gets a call from George who a friend has told to call Lisa for a date. It leads to a very awkward first date that is funny but painful. Both are going through some rough patches, Lisa was cut from the Olympic team, but they are sweet and maybe there is promise.

George and his father are being indicted on charges of wire fraud. George is played by Paul Rudd who like Witherspoon is very likable on screen. I love Paul Rudd because he has an easy going charm and we root for him in all his movies. Lisa is also kind of dating a professional baseball player Matty played by Owen Wilson. She doesn't know if what she has with Matty is real and she meets George again and starts to like him. Matty is not to smooth with relationships and settling down.

"How Do You Know" is great when it concentrates on Lisa, George and Matty. They are all nice people and I was rooting for George and Lisa. This is not because I don't like Matty but he seems like too much of a player. Owen Wilson is perfectly cast, not so much for playing a baseball player, but because he fits the goofy and immature Matty well. The part I didn't care for was the story line of George and his father being indicted. Jack Nicholson plays the father and Nicholson just doesn't seem to work well here. Maybe it is because he is miscast or I think it is because his character is not written well. This is a surprise coming from James L. Brooks who always writes deep and fully formed characters. Nicholson does a lot of shouting and flailing his arms like he is trying to make more out of a weak role. He seems to be taking a page from the sometime screaming style of Al Pacino. The Nicholson charm is missing and I know he plays a arrogant man but his character just doesn't gel with the rest of the movie.

The whole indictment story seem like a third wheel and interrupts the movie. We don't need this story line, why can't we just follow this sweet love triangle? Why can't there just be the father character without the weak plot? When the movie concentrates on George and Lisa I loved this movie because I have a deep affection for Witherspoon, Rudd and Wilson. I was frustrated with the movie because I expect a home run every time coming from Brooks. This is the great writer of "Terms of Endearment", "Broadcast News", "As Good As It Gets" and "The Mary Tyler Moore" show. His writing is a little off here and the movie fails but there is so much to like that I think a rental at home in an intimate setting might be a better ideal.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

'The Fighter'

'The Fighter' (R) (3 1/2 stars)

Writers: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson
Director: David O'Russell
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams, Jack McKee

To me the boxing movie is one of my favorite sport's movie because it creates so much drama. "The Fighter" is not very polished or necessarily a great movie but with the acting and the high boxing drama it becomes greater. To me this was just a very fun time at the movies with two performances that are some of the best acting you will see this year. I am a sucker for boxing movies because in one fight there is so much strategy and heightened drama portrayed. "The Fighter" has a wonderful climatic boxing match and before the drama of the story sucked me in just as is usual when I see a boxing drama. This movie knows how to get us involved and knows how this kind of movie should work. This true life story is about boxer "Irish" Mickey Ward played very well by Wahlberg who is perfectly cast. Mickey trains for fights in the shadow of his brother, Dicky Eklund, who is infamous for knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard even though people say Ray tripped. Dicky is a crackhead now and an HBO crew is filming his comeback but for reasons different then Dicky thinks. Dicky is played by Christian Bale and let me say this, Bale is the front runner for major supporting actor roles. He is simply amazing here losing major poundage to play the emaciated Dicky and Bale is unrecognizable. He totally immerses himself in the role and he takes what could have been a hammy role and makes it something special. He owns the screen and his performance alone raises this movie's quality.

The other special performance comes from Oscar nominee Melissa Leo as Mickey's crazy but loving mother. Like Bale Leo is totally unrecognizable and turns what could have been a one note role and added depth. Mickey's mother could have been a superficial and shallow character but Leo makes her sympathetic and vulnerable when we think she is sometimes a monster. The cast of characters are rounded out by Amy Adams who is very good here as Mickey's girlfriend who butts heads with Mickey's mom and sisters. It is a blue collar role for Adams and she too disappears and right away we forget we are watching Amy Adams. I mentioned Mickey's sisters and what wonderful characters they are. Mickey has a big family and several sisters that are very tough and will actually physically fight you if you mess with the family. When the story deals with Dicky, the sisters and the mother it is so much fun to watch, the movie is very entertaining. I hate to say this but Wahlberg actually is the least interesting character here. That is not his fault because the others are given the showier roles.

There is also a nice performance by Jack McKee (TV's Rescue Me) as Mickey's step father and his reactions to Leo's mother are priceless and well played. The director David O'Russell, who directed by Top Ten of the 90's favorite "Three Kings", does a great job with the boxing scenes, the recreating of Mickey and Dicky's neighborhood and the performances. This movie reminded me a lot of "Rocky" with crazy and lovable blue collar characters but with the extra crazy family thrown in. I didn't find "The Fighter" one of the best movies I have seen this year but it is one of the most entertaining films of the year. What makes it special are the performances of Christian Bale and Melissa Leo who are outstanding. Christian Bale has just proven to be one of the best actors of his generation. If you see the Batman movies and then see Bale in here you will know what I mean. Also if you love boxing movies I can pretty much assure you that you will have a fun and great time.

'Tron: Legacy'

'Tron: Legacy (PG) (3 stars)

Writers: Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz based on characters by Steve Lipsberger
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, James Frain,
Bruce Boxleitner, Beau Garrett

In 1982 I was 14 years old and not a huge video gamer but a huge movie lover. A new movie was coming out that everyone was talking about. "Tron" was based on a video game and starred Jeff Bridges (still discovering one of my favorite actors then) as Flynn, a computer programmer zapped inside a video game. I was extremely pumped to see this movie because the previews looked so cool. I first saw it in a drive-in theatre but it was foggy and raining. I saw it again at a theatre inside and I was blown away. Now back then special effects weren't inundated with CGI and yes looking at "Tron" recently on DVD it is cheesy looking and there really is no deep plot. It bombed when first released but has become a cult classic. I still loved watching it last Christmas and it holds up in that cheesy way but I do totally think it deserves it's reputation. Back then this movie was actually a little ground breaking, going inside a video game. When I heard they were coming out with a new Tron I was psyched, with CGI and special effects the way they are this could be a new classic, better than the original!

I just saw the new "Tron: Legacy" at the Navy Pier IMAX and when the lights went down I was going back to my childhood and my heart beat faster and I was getting pumped up. After it was over I felt half disappointment and half a feeling of how cool it looked. I have to say this, if you see "Tron: Legacy" in regular 3D or 2D you are in for a letdown I think. If you aren't a fan of "Tron" you might like this new one better or you could think it was the worst movie of the year. This is a movie that begs to be seen in IMAX 3D because the movie looks breathtaking and awesome! These special effects are not cheesy, you are surrounded by state of the art visuals are beautiful and the movie is eye candy for the brain. The movie takes place years after "Tron" as programmer Flynn disappears on his son and goes back into the video game. His son, played by Garrett Hedlund gets himself into the game and takes over what his father started. He then runs into his dad who seems like he has turned into a Zen master. He also encounters Flynn's alter ego Clu who is Jeff Bridges, through CGI, looking 20 years younger. The younger Bridges looks creepy but I guess that goes with the movie's territory. Then Flynn and son have to battle Clu and his henchmen with the help of the beautiful Quorra played by the beautiful Olivia Wilde (TV's House).

Like the first "Tron" the plot didn't really impress me, I was just blown away by the visuals. So my suggestion is to see this on IMAX 3D because the story here is full of science fiction mumbo jumbo and that bored me. I am recommending this movie for the visual effects because I couldn't follow the science fiction jargon. The movie's huge weakness is it's middle section which is dull and full of wise sayings and a lot and I mean a lot of technical babble. Then the movie recovers with a exciting and action packed finale. I expected more out of this movie even though I loved watching the visuals and action. I guess the story weighs it down but on second thought the first "Tron" had that same exposition and jargon so this new one is faithful to the original I guess. So maybe the many "Tron" fans might find this as cool as the first one. I must say I loved Michael Sheen as a flamboyant henchman to Clu. I also think this would be a great movie to get drunk to or get high to (please, I am not telling you to get high). It is a trippy movie just like the first and that brings me to Bridges. His Flynn has some great lines of dialogue that are full of hippie sayings and I smiled, this is "The Dude" from "The Big Lebowski" stuck in a video game. Cool!

P.S. I guess I am saying if you want to see "Tron: Legacy" in IMAX 3D I give it 3 stars, if you don't see it in that format I give it 2 stars. Also those 3D glasses were so uncomfortable, can someone come up with comfortable glasses?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'My 100 Best Movies of the 90's'

'My 100 Best Movies of the 90's'
By Vincent Snavely

Before I start my best movies of the 90's I have to make an addition to my "100 Best Movies of the 80's list. I left out one movie that didn't make my top 100 but was put on the honorable mention list. I can't believe I left out 1984's "Romancing the Stone" with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. First of all it is one of my mother's favorite movies and Kathleen Turner should have gotten more Oscar consideration. It has now been added to my list and (cheap plug here) check out my Best of the 70's and 80's lists also on here!

The 90's had a huge impact on me in two very big ways. It was the decade that I became an adult and it was the end of the Gene Siskel era. Gene Siskel was the critic that was a major influence on me wanting to become a critic. At the end of the 90's he had passed away and every time I saw a movie since then I wonder what he would of thought of it. The 90's was the decade that I entered the adult world and managed movie theatres most of that decade. I remember splicing all those movies together and all the sneak previews of movies we all watched the night before. The 80's ended with the powerful Spike Lee movie "Do the Right Thing". It was a small movie by independent maverick Lee and the 90's continued the strong and powerful emergence of the independent film. There would also be no independent film movement without Quentin Tarantino. The 90's gave me a new favorite idol, a director that grew up like me watching all kinds of movies. That was Tarantino and with Steven Soderbergh they created a wonderful independent film scene. Part of the independent film movement, that gave artists with no Hollywood backing a voice, gave me one of my all time favorite movies of any decade. Without the independent mavericks that paved the way I would have never seen this movie and that movie tops my best movies of the 90's list. As always let me know what movies you loved in the 90's and feel free to argue with my choices either here or on facebook.

The following movies did not make my top 100 list but are still very dear to my heart:

The Grifters (90) Director: Stephen Frears John Cusack, Annette Bening, Angelica Huston

This gritty, modern film noir based on a Jim Thompson crime novel is wicked and a lot of fun.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (90) Director: John McNaughton Micheal Rooker

This horror classic is one of the most disturbing horror movies I have ever seen. This is terrifying material and the low budget makes it seem even more realistic and horrifying.

House Party (90) Director: Reginald Hudlin Kid n' Play, Robin Harris

This comedy was so huge at the all black movie theatre I worked at in Greensboro, N.C. that we had to open up all six of our screens to accommodate the crowd and we still turned away 1000 people. This actually started what I call the new blaxploitation era though these films had a more positive message.

Miller's Crossing (90) Director: Joel Coen Gabriel Byrne, John Turturro

The Coen Brothers continued on their roll that they are still on to this day. This stylish mobster movie is very unique and different then all the cookie cutter mob movies that came out at that time.

Misery (90) Director: Rob Reiner Kathy Bates, James Caan

One of the best Stephen King adaptations displays one of the best and most terrifying performances of the 90's. Kathy Bates is amazing here and Rob Reiner continued his magic touch.

Quick Change (90) Directors: Howard Franklin and Bill Murray
Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Randy Quaid

This very under rated comedy had a low key, quirky charm and was very funny. A bank heist comedy that had a lot of laughs and characters we actually cared about, a rarity in heist films.

City Slickers (91) Director: Ron Underwood Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, Jack Palance

Everyone loves this comedy and no one was hotter at the time than Billy Crystal. The comedy also gave us an iconic performance by Jack Palance who also gave us one of the most memorable moments of any Oscar telecast.

Dead Again (91) Director: Kenneth Branagh Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson
Robin Williams, Andy Garcia

This under rated black and white thriller did copy a lot from Alfred Hitchcock but it is a lot of fun and the cinematography is breathtaking.

Defending Your Life (91) Director: Albert Brooks Meryl Streep, Rip Torn

Albert Brooks is an acquired taste but to me you can always count on his movies to be very funny. This is one of his best and it is a very smart and funny look at what heaven might be like.

Homicide (91) Director: David Mamet Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy

A powerful drama that starts off one way and then gets deeper and deeper until it's shocking ending. It also has a great line of dialogue spoken by William H. Macy. "He couldn't find Joe Louis in a bowl of white rice". No one writes quite like David Mamet and this movie is no exception.

Little Man Tate (91) Director: Jodie Foster Jodie Foster, Diane Wiest

Jodie Foster's directorial debut is a very assured and compelling drama with a special performance by Adam Hann-Byrd.

Rocketeer (91) Director: Joe Johnson Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly

Okay, this might be a guilty pleasure but I had a lot of fun watching this movie. I don't know if you could call it a superhero movie but it is much better than half the superhero movies I have seen.

A Few Good Men (92) Director: Rob Reiner Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Kevin Bacon

The real reason this movie is so great and powerful is because of the acting. Nicholson and Cruise have a classic court room battle and they create real tension in a wonderful climatic duel of wits.

Glengarry Glen Ross Director: James Foley Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin

Another great David Mamet adaptation that also has a killer cast and some of the best acting of the 90's. It is a little stagy but it is also very compelling and powerful.

Leap of Faith (92) Director: Richard Pearce Steve Martin, Debra Winger

Another under rated movie of the 90's could have Steve Martin's best performance of his career. I love this movie for it exposes religion as a fraud, which it mostly is, but also deals seriously with faith.

My Cousin Vinny (92) Director: Jonathan Lynn Joe Pesci, Marissa Tomei, Ralph Macchio, Fred Gwynne

A very funny comedy classic with a star making performance by Marissa Tomei. It has a wonderful supporting cast and a smart, witty and charming screenplay. This is a crowd pleasing comedy that had everyone applauding in the theatre.

Thunderheart (92) Director: Michael Apted Val Kilmer, Graham Greene

Add this movie to the list of the under rated movies of the 90's. A compelling and very entertaining mystery, thriller with rich characters and great acting.

Mad Dog and Glory (93) Director: John McNaughton Bill Murray, Robert Deniro,
Uma Thurman, David Caruso

A wonderful mob comedy where both Deniro and Murray go against type and they are both wonderful. Bill Murray particularly impresses playing an evil and terrifying mob boss. Also the wonderful and beautiful Uma Thurman gets her first big screen role.

Manhattan Murder Mystery (93) Director: Woody Allen Diane Keaton, Woody Allen

One of Woody's smaller comedies is his best movie of the 90's. There are a lot of laughs and the writing is some of Woody's finest.

Matinee (93) Director: Joe Dante John Goodman

This movie is a lot of fun taking us back to the William Castle era of 50's gimmick, horror movies. This movie has a lot of heart and takes a fond look back at those terrible and cheap horror movies of the past.

Philadelphia (93) Director: Jonathan Demme Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington

This powerful and ground breaking drama made quite a statement and was a very timely movie. Tom Hanks is brilliant here and Denzel Washington was starting to become one of our greatest actors. This is unflinching and hard hitting stuff.

Rudy (93) Director: David Anspaugh Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn

This rousing underdog sports movie is one of the best of it's kind. Even a Notre Dame hater like me loves this movie.

Boys on the Side (95) Director: Herbert Ross Drew Barrymore, Whoopi Goldberg, Mary Louise Parker, Matthew McConaughey

This under rated tearjerker made me fall in love with Mary Louise Parker who gives an Oscar caliber performance. I also love Drew Barrymore in this movie lending her usual energy and charm here.

Mr. Holland's Opus (95) Director: Stephen Herek Richard Dreyfuss

Yes, this is a very corny movie but it is also highly entertaining and Dreyfuss gives one of his best performances. The soundtrack is also great, the movie is just a lot of fun.

Big Night (96) Directors: Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci
Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub

This movie made me very hungry and very proud to be part Italian. This is a beautifully shot and written comedy, one of the best about a restaurant.

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (96) Director: Kelly Makin

I loved the offbeat humor of Kids in the Hall and this cult comedy classic is hilarious and brilliant.

Happy Gilmore (96) Director: Dennis Dugan Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald,
Julie Bowen, Carl Weathers, Bob Barker

This is my favorite of the early Adam Sandler comedies and it is as great as "Caddyshack". This is extremely funny and maybe a tad under rated. I can't stop laughing every time I hear Ben Stiller say "How would you like a nice glass of shut the hell up!"

The Nutty Professor (96) Director: Tom Shadyac Eddie Murphy

This is a brilliant comic showcase for the brilliant Eddie Murphy playing multiple characters. This is a remake that actually equals the original and Murphy is so much fun to watch.

Primal Fear (96) Director: Gregory Hoblit Richard Gere, Edward Norton

This solid thriller introduced us to a brilliant new actor who is now one of our acting treasures. Richard Gere gives one of his best performances and Edward Norton is amazing in his first big role. The twist in this movie is actually respectful and well earned.

that thing you do! Director: Tom Hanks Tom Everett Scott, Steve Zahn, Liv Tyler, Charlize Theron, Tom Hanks

This infectious and entertaining movie has great, original music and a great feel for it's era. Tom Hanks does a fine job in his directing debut. It might not be ground breaking but the energy and fun level is on high.

Tin Cup (96) Director: Ron Shelton Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Cheech Marin

No one did better sports movies than Ron Shelton and his fine work form the 80's continues here. This is not his best movie but he knows his stuff and Kevin Costner is great. The chemistry between Russo and Costner is also very sexy though not as legendary as Sarandon and Costner had in "Bull Durham".

Trees Lounge (96) Director: Steve Buscemi Steve Buscemi, Carol Kane

Steve Buscemi does a really great job here writing and directing. This was the start of me realizing how special Steve Buscemi was becoming to me. He is now part of a list of actors that make me smile every time I see him and he automatically can make any movie that much better.

Walking and Talking (96) Director: Nicole Holofcener Catherine Keener, Anne Heche

This is the movie that started my huge crush on Catherine Keener. She is amazing in this powerful and very funny woman's picture. The writing is sharp and the acting is all wonderful.

Welcome to the Dollhouse (96) Director: Todd Solondz Heather Matarazzo

This strange, black comedy made me laugh a lot and it has one of the weirdest characters I have ever seen. Heather Matarazzo gives a brave, brilliant and very funny performance in this very original and disturbing comedy.

CopLand (97) Director: James Mangold Sylvester Stallone, Robert Deniro,
Harvey Keitel, Peter Berg, Anabella Sciorra, Ray Liotta, Cathy Moriarty

This ensemble cop drama with a killer cast marked the triumphant return to greatness by Stallone. This was his best performance since "Rocky" and his dedication to altering himself physically for the role is very Deniro like. Director James Mangold is fast becoming one of my favorite, under rated directors.

Private Parts (97) Director: Betty Thomas Howard Stern, Paul Giamatti

Who would have thought a movie about Howard Stern could be so touching, funny and charming. I am a huge Howard Stern fan and I knew he was funny and had great presence but this movie was a huge and nice surprise.

Trial and Error (97) Director: Jonathan Lynn Jeff Daniels, Michael Richards, Charlize Theron

The director of "My Cousin Vinny" struck again with a comedy that I think is very under rated and special. I am a huge Jeff Daniels fan and I love to see him in any movie. This movie is very similiar in charm and character as Vinny was.

Still Crazy (98) Director: Brian Gibson Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly

This little seen gem of a movie has great charm and energy and is one of the best movies about a rock band. The music is great, the acting wonderful and the movie is just infectious and crowd pleasing.

Bowfinger (99) Director: Frank Oz Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham

This under rated comedy is a brilliant and scathing indictment of Hollywood. This very funny satire has a special Eddie Murphy performance and until "Dreamgirls" this was his last great performance.

Limbo (99) Director: John Sayles David Strathairn, Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio

This little seen and under rated John Sayles drama has a whopper of a shocking ending, my favorite kind. This is a very powerful and intriguing drama that plays with our emotions fairly. This is one of those movies that ends and then creates a great, deep conversation on what just happened.

Dumb and Dumber (94) Director: Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly, Mike Starr

Another classic Farrelly brothers comedy that was Carrey's first all out hilarious role. There are some classic bits of comedy and a willingness to just go for the jokes no matter how shocking. There are many quotable lines like "Ahh they have the Monkees on this jukebox. You know they were a great influence on the Beatles." "Kick his ass Sea Bass!"

Honorable Mentions

1.) My Life (93) Director: Bruce Joel Rubin Michael Keaton, Nicole Kidman

This powerful and haunting tearjerker is a persoanl favorite of mine because Keaton is one of my favorite actors. As always Keaton is vastly under rated and Nicole Kidman is great also.

2.) Home for the Holidays (95) Director: Jodie Foster Robert Downey Jr., Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning

This Thanksgiving comedy is messed up just like real life is. This has become a holiday staple for me with it's black comedy and it's twisted family right in the middle of it all.

3.) Die Hard 2: Die Harder (90) Director: Renny Harlin Bruce Willis, William Sadler, John Amos, Tony Ganios

A worthy sequel to the iconic "Die Hard" that is almost just as great. The usual Willis wisecracks and bravura action in the style of a James Bond movie.

4.) State of Grace (90) Director: James Foley Sean Penn, Robin Wright, Ed Harris, John C. Reilly

This under rated crime thriller came out when I was big on Sean Penn but Ed Harris steals the movie with an intense, scary performance.

5.) The Crying Game (92) Director: Neil Jordan Stephen Raye, Jaye Davidson, Forrest Whitaker, Miranda Richardson

The movie that shocked the world with it's surprise twist was really a gritty, fascinating and compelling crime drama.

6.) What's Eating Gilbert Grape (93) Director: Lasse Halstrom
Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis

A movie that brought us the early acting prowess of Depp and DiCaprio in this offbeat but powerful and touching family drama.

7.) The Joy Luck Club (93) Director: Wayne Wang Tamlyn Tomita, Rosaling Chao

This stirring and amazing adaptation from a popular novel unfolds like a great book with it's look at two generations of Asian mothers and daughters.

8.) Seven (95) Director: David Fincher Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey

This grizzly and intense thriller started the great career of David Fincher in full force. What makes this a notch above other serial killer rip offs is the style of directing and the acting, especially by Freeman.

9.) Get Shorty (95) Director: Barry Sonnenfeld John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Danny Devito, Rene Russo

Great adaptation of a Elmore Leonard book with a great comic performance by Travolta playing one of the most memorable characters of the 90's. The movie is highly entertaining and a funny satire on mobsters and Hollywood.

10.) Hilary and Jackie (98) Director: Anand Tucker Rachel Griffiths, Emily Watson

The powerful true life story of classic cellist Jacqueline du Pre told by her sister Hilary showcases two great performances and a lot of heart.

11.) Shakespeare in Love (98) Director: John Madden Gwyneth Paltrow

This super romantic comedy is magical, funny and charming with an outstanding performance by Paltrow.

12.) Dick Tracy (90) Director: Warren Beatty Warren Beatty, Al Pacino,
Dustin Hoffman, Madonna, Gwynne Headley

The comic strip "Dick Tracy" jumps off the screen in vibrant colors and the movie lives up to it's original subject matter. This is the most faithful adaptation from a comic strip or cartoon since "Popeye".

13.) Darkman (90) Director: Sam Raimi Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand

This dark and wonderfully twisted thriller is a lot of fun and Liam Neeson is outstanding. This is like "The Phantom of the Opera" mixed with "Batman".

14.) Ghost (90) Director: Jerry Zucker Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore,
Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn

Ghost was one of those movies that going in I thought looked terrible. What I discovered was a surprisingly powerful, haunting and beautiful love story, one of the best of the 90's. Watching this again with the passing of Swayze might be a hard thing to do now.

15.) This Boy's Life (93) Director: Michael Caton-Jones Leonardo DiCaprio,
Robert Deniro, Ellen Barkin, Tobey Maguire

Another great showcase for the emerging acting talents of DiCaprio in this entertaining coming of age drama. The setting is faithfully recreated and the movie pulls you in with it's story.

16.) In the Line of Fire (93) Director: Wolfgang Petersen Clint Eastwood,
John Malkovich, Rene Russo

Clint is in fine form and Malkovich is a great bad guy in this thrilling, well directed and very well acted action movie.

17.) Menace II Society (93) Directors: Albert Hughes and Albert Hughes
Laurenz Tate, Tyrin Turner

This sobering, powerful and terrifying drama about street gangs is even more powerful and colder than "Boyz n' the Hood". This movie does not pull any punches and with the shootings in Chicago these days, this movie would play better right now.

18.) Natural Born Killers (94) Director: Oliver Stone Woody Harrelson,
Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones

This super violent and disturbing movie could be taken in two ways. It can be seen as a sick serial killer movie or as a satire. I think it works on both counts and the movie is super stylish. I just think the people who hated this movie have a good point actually, it is despicable.

19.) To Die For (95) Director: Gus Van Sant Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix,
Matt Dillon, Ileanna Douglas

This wicked, black comedy has an outstanding performance by Kidman and a star making one by Phoenix. This is a very funny and fascinating comedy that was very topical in it's day and should be now also.

20.) Braveheart (95) Director: Mel Gibson Mel Gibson

This is an impressive directing job by Gibson with one of those old fashioned historical epics. It is a very long movie but never boring plus it is powerful and rousing.

21.) Ulee's Gold (97) Director: Victor Nunez Peter Fonda, Paula Richardson

Peter Fonda made an incredible comeback with his best performance of his career in a very hard hitting crime drama.

22.) A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (98) Director: James Ivory Leelee Sobieski,
Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Hershey

My favorite kind of movie, a movie about a writer, is very well done here with this emotional family drama.

23.) The General (98) Director: John Boorman Brendan Gleeson, Jon Voight

This fascinating and hard hitting true story of criminal mastermind Martin Cahill is a sprawling and powerful crime saga. This was masterfully directed by Boorman with a charasmatic and outstanding performance by Gleeson.

24.) Pleasantville (98) Director: Gary Ross Reese Witherspoon, Tobey Maguire,
William H. Macy, Paul Walker, Don Knotts

This beautiful black and white fantasy is like a gentler version of "Back to the Future". This movie has a lot of heart and care put into it and it is also extremely creative and moving.

25.) South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (99) Director: Trey Parker

This movie is wrong in so many ways but I love "South Park" and I think it is ingenius and hilarious. I laughed so much and so long and shook my head a lot for I couldn't believe what they got away with here.

Here are 6 movies that just missed my top 100 by a tiny bit but could jump in there as time passes

1.) The Insider (99) Director: Michael Mann Russell Crowe, Al Pacino,
Christopher Plummer

The great Michael Mann creates another masterpiece with a unrecognizable Russell Crowe giving an outstanding performance. This is a fascinating fact based drama that is intelligent without being boring.

2.) She's So Lovely (97) Director: Nick Cassavettes Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn,
John Travolta

Nick Cassavettes completed an unfinished screenplay by his father John Cassavettes and turned it into a dark, haunting and beautiful drama. Sean Penn does an amazing job transforming from a violent criminal into a broken man. Also Robin Wright Penn is magnificent in one of the best performances I have seen by an actress.

3.) Face/Off (97) Director: John Woo John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Joan Allen

This screwy and way over the top action movie is never boring. The movie's real charm is that exact pleasure in throwing everything at you but the kitchen sink. This movie scores major points in originality and creates some amazing action sequences.

4.) Jurrasic Park (93) Director: Steven Spielberg Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Laura Dern

I absolutely love anything to do with dinosaurs so I found this movie to be a dream. It has everything you expect in a Spielberg movie, thrills, harrowing action, scary and real looking dinosaurs and adventure galore.

5.) Jacob's Ladder (90) Director: Adrian Lyne Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Aiello

This under rated and haunting fever dream creates a surreal and mind bending experience. The end will have you talking for days and I still can't figure it out. This movie paved the way for "Memento" and "Inception" and I am not kidding.

6.) Swingblade (96) Director: Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh

Billy Bob Thornton has created a one of a kind character with Karl Childers. He has given himself a powerful role to play in a sad, bittersweet drama. This is mostly an outstanding character drama with a great performance by Thornton, a touching performance by Lucas Black and a powerful performance by Yoakam who is a real find here.

Now without further ado here is my Top 100 Movies of the 90's:

100.) The Matrix (99) Directors: Larry and Andy Wachowski
Keanu Reeves, Carrie Ann Moss, Laurence Fishbourne, Joe Pantaliano

This ground breaking science fiction fantasy made us look at special effects and CGI in a new way. This is such a great movie that it's two sequels couldn't even touch half the first movie's greatness. This is a singular moment in film paving the way for movies like "Inception".

99.) The Full Monty (97) Director: Peter Cattaneo Tom Wilkinson, Robert Carlyle

This rousing, funny and totally captivating comedy was raunchy but had a big heart. This feel good formula of ordinary blokes doing something extraordinary has been copied to death since.

98.) New Jack City (91) Director: Mario Van Peebles Wesley Snipes, Ice T

This is like a grittier, urban and mini "Godfather" and I am not joking around. This was one of the best cop movies of the 90's and Ice T makes a surprsingly charismatic hero and Snipes is a kick ass bad guy. This is like a black "Scarface" (83) and almost as good. If this came out in the 70's it would have become a classic.

97.) Pretty Woman (90) Director: Garry Marshall Richard Gere, Julia Roberts

This movie is on my list because it introduced the captivating Julia Roberts as a major star in the making. I was so in love with Julia I saw this movie about ten times in the theatre and twice on my birthday when I was by myself. It also gave Richard Gere the start of a major comeback.

96.) Nobody's Fool (94) Director: Robert Benton Paul Newman, Bruce Willis,
Melanie Griffith

Just like "The Verdict" (82) gave us Newman's best performance of the 80's, this movie did the same for the 90's. This is Newman at his best in this very funny and well written drama.

95.) Before Sunrise (95) Director: Richard Linklater Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

This bold movie was great just for simply being about two people that meet, then talk, then talk some more and finally fall in love. I was fascinated by their conversation and loved the breathtaking scenery.

94.) Man on the Moon (99) Director: Milos Forman Jim Carrey, Paul Giamatti

I am a complete Andy Kaufman fan and Jim Carrey is brilliant recreating this comic genius. This is one of the best times I have had in a movie just watching someone I loved and missed being represented well by Carrey. This nails everything down perfectly and I never wanted it to end.

93.) The Freshman (90) Director: Andrew Bergman Matthew Broderick, Marlon Brando,
Bruno Kirby, Maxmillian Schell, Penelope Ann Miller

This delightful, screwball comedy is pure genius in it's "Godfather" style parody. This is not a riff on that classic gangster movie but a very funny comedy that stands on it's own. Marlon Brando is amazing here and Broderick continues his great every man appeal.

92.) Frankie and Johnny (90) Director: Garry Marshall Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hector Elizondo

This beautiful and powerful movie about lonliness broke my heart and lifted me up at the same time. Pacino and Pfeiffer are at the top of their form and a Pacino that doesn't shout out his lines is a damn fine thing. This is one of the best movies ever made about blue collar people.

91.) Election (99) Director: Alexander Payne Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick

This wicked and very funny comedy has a star making perfromance by Witherspoon as Tracy Flick. Again Broderick is a master of the every man and the movie is smart with some big laughs.

90.) The Fisher King (91) Director: Terry Gilliam Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams,
Mercedes Ruehl

This movie lives and breathes with a wonderful Jeff Bridges performance in a messy but somehow hypnotic fantasy/drama. Robin Williams could have toned it down a little but his dramatic moments are powerful.

89.) Grosse Pointe Blank (97) Director: George Armitage John Cusack,
Jeremy Piven, Dan Aykroyd, Alan Arkin

This black comedy, cult classic has a killer soundtrack, a great cast, the best Aykroyd had been in a long time and offbeat lunacy. This movie just grew on me and like Cusack's "One Crazy Summer" this is one of his best, neglected movies.

88.) The Ref (94) Director: Ted Demme Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis

I consider this to be a new Christmas classic and one of my favorites. I am a big Dennis Leary fan and he is outstanding here as is Spacy and Davis. I find the movie to be funny, twisted and for some strange reason touching.

87.) Flirting With Disaster (96) Director: David O Russell Ben Stiller,
Tea Leoni, Lily Tomlin, Alan Alda, Patricia Arquette, Richard Jenkins, Josh Brolin

This all star comedy is a lot of fun and extremely funny. Ben Stiller gave his first full on lead performance and he is charming and funny. His reaction to all the craziness going on is priceless. This is a classic screwball comedy like "The Freshman" where everything is timed perfectly.

86.) Primary Colors (98) Director: Mike Nichols John Travolta, Emma Thompson,
Kathy Bates, Billy Bob Thornton

It is amazing how much John Travolta looks and acts like Bill Clinton in this smart, compelling political satire. He is not supposed to be Bill Clinton but we can't help noticing it. This movie got better the second and then the third time I saw it. This belongs up there with the 70's classic "The Candidate".

85.) A Simple Plan (98) Director: Sam Raimi Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Paxton,
Brent Briscoe, Bridget Fonda

This change of pace for Sam Raimi is one of my favorite cat and mouse thrillers of the decade. The acting is spectacular, the twists and turns ingenious and the intensity and suspense is unbearable but fun.

84.) Donnie Brasco (97) Director: Michael Caton-Jones Johnny Depp, Al Pacino

This low key, powerful, intriguing and quiet mob movie has a heartbreaking and powerful performance by Pacino. You could also see Depp was coming into his own matching Pacino scene for scene. This isn't flashy but intricate and very compelling.

83.) The Usual Suspects (96) Director: Bryan Singer Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey,
Benicio Del Toro, Stephen Baldwin, Chazz Palmintieri

This stylish and twisty thriller has a doozy of a twist ending but it also has rich characters, funny and smart dialogue. The movie achieves what it sets out to do, take us along for the ride and fool us in the end.

82.) As Good As It Gets (97) Director: James L. Brooks Helen Hunt, Jack Nicholson
Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr.

This movie is like comfort food, you can enjoy it every time and still bask in the great performances and touching drama. Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson give performances you can watch over and over again. I don't know why but I think this would be the perfect movie to watch at Christmas.

81.) Leaving Las Vegas (95) Director: Mike Figgis Nicholas Cage, Elizabeth Shue

This movie is a little too dark and disturbing to watch over and over again but the performances by Cage and Shue are iconic. This is one of the most serious and powerful looks at alcoholism I have seen. There is not one false moment and the performances are some of the best I have ever seen.

80.) Reversal of Fortune (90) Director: Barbet Schroeder Jeremy Irons,
Glenn Close, Ron Silver

This real life thriller is fascinating and very suspenseful with amazing performances especially Jeremy Irons. Irons holds our attention throughout with ease and the movie just pulls you in.

79.) White Men Can't Jump (92) Director: Ron Shelton Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes, Rosie Perez

I love the energy and humor in this very entertaining sports comedy. This proves that Shelton can find more fascinating material in small time sports competition. I love quoting all the trash talk lines in this movie. This movie proved that Woody Harrelson was so much more than Woody on "Cheers". This movie is exciting, funny and alive.

78.) Wayne's World (92) Director: Penelope Spheeris Mike Meyers, Dana Carvey,
Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere

This was easily the best SNL adaptation since "The Blues Brothers". This out of left field surprise is consistently funny every time you see it. You can quote all the lines and the music is fantastic.

77.) Grand Canyon (91) Director: Lawrence Kasdan Kevin Kline, Mary Louise Parker,
Danny Glover, Steve Martin, Mary McDonnell

This hard hitting and provocative drama deals magnificently with multiple characters trying to survive in a harsh world. All the acting is top notch and you really care about these character's plights. This movie has a great screenplay that is moving and important.

76.) Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (93) Director: Rob Cohen Jason Scott Lee,
Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner

This movie was a complete suprise and one of my favorite bio pictures. I grew into being a big Bruce Lee fan over the years and I was fascinated by this movie. From the perfectly recreated fight scenes from his movies to the touching performance by Jason Scott Lee this is a winner. This is a heartbreaking and touching love story and journey of one man to become American and famous. It also has one of my favorite musical scores ever in a movie.

75.) Groundhog Day (93) Director: Harold Ramis Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell

This ingenius comedy is Bill Murray at his finest and the screenplay is funny and brilliant. This is a smart comedy that doesn't over do it and tells it's story with a light touch and a lot of heart.

74.) Reservoir Dogs (92) Director: Quentin Tarantino Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Tim Roth

Our first taste of the genius that is Quentin Tarantino was this explosive and gloriously nasty crime classic. You just knew Tarantino was going to be something special as he took a well worn genre and turned it upside down. This was stylish and bloody and violent but it all seemed so original. This was a stepping stone to his next movie which would become legendary.

73.) Good Will Hunting (97) Director: Gus Van Sant Matt Damon, Ben Affleck,
Robin Williams

Damon and Affleck wrote a wonderful, touching and uplifting movie and two new triple threats were discovered. Now we have a great director in Affleck and one of our best actors in Damon. Robin Williams also gives the best performance since "Garp". This is a very smart movie that is engaging all throughout.

72.) The Doors (91) Director: Oliver Stone Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle McLachlan, Kevin Dillon, Dennis Burkley, Frank Whaley

Maybe it's because I am huge Doors and Val Kilmer fan or maybe because Oliver Stone is an amazing director but "The Doors" is one of my favorite rock pictures. I can watch this movie over and over just to watch how Stone juxtaposes the classic Doors songs into every scene. Kilmer is dead on perfect as Jim Morrison and yes Meg Ryan gives her best performance of her career. The concert scenes are some of the best I have ever seen in a movie. This has cult classic written all over it.

71.) Bound (96) Directors: Andy and Larry Wachowski Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly,
Joe Pantaliano

Another cult classic, this nerve wracking and brilliantly directed thriller is also very sexy. Gina Gershon may well be the sexiest woman on screen and here she is perfect. You could see the talent oozing in the Wachowskis and we all know what came next. Their direction is flawless and the movie is a twisted treat.

70.) Beauty and the Beast (91) Directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Jerry Orbach, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury, Charles Ogden Stiers

This Disney animated classic plays like a Broadway musical and of course later on that's what happened. This is visually breathtaking, the music is grand and the characters are some of the best written ones in Disney history. This belongs in the top five Disney Animated movies in it's hstory.

69.) Being John Malkovich (99) Director: Spike Jonze John Cusack, John Malkovich,
Catherine Keener, Cameron Diaz

This is one of the most original comedies I have seen and it is hilarious and brilliant. I hadn't seen anything like this before and I love it for the dark, twisted and delightful mind trip it is.

68.) Boys Don't Cry (99) Director: Kimberly Peirce Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny,
Peter Sarsgaard

This unflinching and powerful drama did what the inferior and glossy "The Accused" couldn't do. It takes a vicious crime and makes you stare it in the face. It all starts with a magnificent performance by Hilary Swank who is one of our finest actresses. She creates a totally believable character and makes us follow her and care for her. That performance makes what comes at the end that more unbearable.

67.) Apollo 13 (95) Director: Ron Howard Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlan

This is an exciting recreation of the troubles of a moon bound mission and the bravery of it's pilots. Ron Howard brilliantly mixes the tension and beautiful space scenes with what happens back at the control center. The acting is all top notch as are the special effects. This is a very thrilling and dramatic adventure that fascinates us.

66.) Bullworth (98) Director: Warren Beatty Warren Beatty, Halle Berry,
Don Cheadle

This is Beatty at his loosest and funniest in this very funny and entertaining political satire. Beatty infuses this movie with energy and the screenplay is topical and provocative.

65.) The People vs Larry Flynt (96) Director: Milos Forman Woody Harrelson,
Courtney Love, Edward Norton

I wasn't particularly interested in seeing a movie about the Penthouse founder and publisher. Milos Forman though has made a fascinating movie with the help of Woody Harrelson who is magnificent. This is really more a powerful movie about freedom of speech than it is about porn.

64.) Forrest Gump (94) Director: Robert Zemeckis Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise,
Robin Wright Penn, Mykelti Williamson

This movie might be a tad over rated but it is still a sprawling epic that is extremely entertaining and touching. Zemecki's direction is masterful and I love how the special effects are used to enhance the story. Tom Hanks is wonderful and the movie is laugh out loud funny sometimes and sad and poignant the next. You would have never known that this was a surprise sleeper the summer it came out.

63.) Boyz n' the Hood (91) Director: John Singleton Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Ice Cube, Laurence Fishbourne, Angela Bassett

This powerful, sobering and beautifully touching drama was very topical at the time. As with "Menace II Society" this probably is just as powerful even more so today. Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding give breakout performances and the movie ends on a punishing and devastating note.

62.) A River Runs Through It (92) Director: Robert Redford Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer, Emily Lloyd, Brenda Blethyn, Tom Skeritt

This beautiful looking and touching family drama has become a holiday classic. It is a leisurely, quiet and touching movie of great beauty and warmth. This was one of the movies that made Brad Pitt get noticed. This is one of the best family movies I have seen and in a good way.

61.) Bugsy (91) Director: Warren Beatty Annette Bening, Warren Beatty, Ben Kingsley, Elliot Gould, Harvey Keitel, Bebe Neuwirth

This is the movie that made Annette Bening a star and gave us another flawless Beatty masterpiece. This mob drama about Bugsy Siegel is just as exciting, complex and as thrilling as any other mob classic. The look of the movie is breathtaking, the sound effects are just as powerful. Beatty does a great job surrounding his quiet intensity with sudden moments of anger and violence. You could see on screen why Bening and Beatty later hooked up in real life.

60.) American Beauty (99) Director: Sam Mendes Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Chris Cooper, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari

I might have over rated this movie when it first came out but I love it's distorted look at the suburbs. I have lived through some strange events happening when I grew up in the suburbs and this movie nails it. Bening and Spacey are incredible as is Chris Cooper. I love the glossy look on the surface while a dark presence boils and simmers underneath.

59.)The Last Seduction (94) Director: John Dahl Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg,
Bill Pullman

A classic film noir, ice cold femme fatale character is brilliantly played here by Linda Fiorentino. She is super sexy here as a woman who claims the innocence of a young drifter. This is a stylish and fun crime drama with a delicious turn by Fiorentino, where has she gone?

58.) Beautiful Girls (96) Director: Ted Demme Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon,
Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman, Rosie O'Donnell, Max Perlich, Lauren Holly

This movie has a soft spot in my heart for it's talented and gifted director has passed on. It also has a revelation of a performance by a young Natalie Portman who here just lights up the screen. It is a performance of such energy, enthususiasm and beauty. She will break your heart and I love this look at small town life and the people who get stuck behind in it.

57.) A League of Their Own (92) Director: Penny Marshall Tom Hanks, Geena Davis,
Lori Petty, Madonna, David Strathairn, Rosie O'Donnell

"There's no crying in baseball!" That is the iconic line in this loving tribute to female baseball players taking over for the athletes at war. Geena Davis is magnetic and Tom Hanks is hilarious. This is one of the best baseball movies and it lovingly recreates that era.

56.) Carlito's Way (93) Director: Brian DePalma Al Pacino, Penelope Ann Miller,
Sean Penn, Viggo Mortensen, John Leguizamo

I think this crime epic is every bit as great as "Scarface" in it's excitement and brutality. Pacino is even better here than he was in "Scarface", he is calmer amd more quietly intense. DePalma knows how to crank up the excitement and the last hour is one of the most suspenseful and non stop action joyrides I have watched, even more thrilling than most action movies I have ever seen. Add to that you get another outstanding performance by Penn that is so good many movie goers didn't recognize him until half way in.

55.) The Committments (91) Director: Alan Parker

This exciting and extremely fun and entertaining rock picture turns the cliche of the rise and fall of a rock band and infuses it with energy. The music is fantastic and the energy and humor is up to 11. This is a movie I love seeing over and over.

54.) Last of the Mohicans (92) Director: Michael Mann Daniel Day Lewis,
Madeline Stowe, Wes Studi, Jodhi May

This is more than just a dramatic retelling of Cooper's novel, it is also one of the best pure action movies I have seen. Daniel Day Lewis as usual buries himself into his role and we believe he is the character he is playing. This is a sweeping, violent and thrill a minute movie with one of my favorite and most beautiful musical scores

53.) Edward Scissorhands (90) Director: Tim Burton Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder,
Anthony Michael Hall, Diane Wiest, Kathy Baker

This enchanting and breathtaking fable is one of my favorite Tim Burton movies. It's dark humor and macabre look is near perfection and there is also one of Johnny Depps' best performances, mostly silent. The movie reminds me of a Chaplin, silent movie mixed with The Brothers Grimm. Here is another movie with one of the best and most beautiful musical scores.

52.) Terminator 2: Judgement Day (91) Director: James Cameron
Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

This is one of the best action sequels ever made with double the action and thrills of the first movie. The heart of the original may be missing but the movie is one two hour thrill ride that never lets up. I also love how Hamilton's heroine had become more kick ass the second time around.

51.) The Player (92) Director: Robert Altman Tim Robbins, Buck Henry, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward, Vincent D'nofrio, Whhopi Goldberg, Peter Gallagher

This scathing indictment and satire on Hollywood is brilliantly written and acted. Not many movies before or since have done such a great job at skewering Hollywood. Altman was an outsider who knew how harsh and soulless Hollywood could be and he nails it.

50.) The Ice Storm (97) Director: Ang Lee Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire. Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes

This somber and flawless look at the 70's suburbia culture is a better movie than "American Beauty". The acting is superb especially by Kline and Joan Allen. The movie was criticized for being cold and heartless but I found it fascinating.

49.) The Shawshank Redemption (94) Director: Frank Darabont
Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

This is one of the best and strangely most uplifting prison movies I have seen. If it was a prison movie that was bleak and horrifying it wouldn't have become such a favorite. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are amazing and the look and feel of the movie is flawless. This ends on a poetic note and before then the characters have moved us in unexpected ways.

48.) Jackie Brown (97) Director: Quentin Tarantino Pam Grier, Robert Forster,
Michael Keaton, Robert Deniro, Samuel Jackson, Bridget Fonda, Chris Tucker

This loving tribute to Pam Grier and blaxploitation classics is the most under rated of Tarantino's movies. Grier is amazing and the supporting cast shines in this fun and entertaining crime thriller. As always I love the dialogue, the way Tarantino uses that dialogue to create suspense. You know you are watching a Tarantino movie when it feels different and more special than other movies. This also has one of my favorite soundtracks and a great love story between Grier and Forster.

47.) Kingpin (96) Directors: Peter and Bobby Farrelly Woody Harrelson,
Bill Murray, Randy Quaid

This is a classic type Farrelly brothers movie but I was surprised at how well they photographed it, like they were making an epic. I laughed louder and longer at this under rated gem than most comedies in the 90's. The movie also proves that Woody Harrelson is a great comic actor who is under valued. The use of music on the soundtrack frames the movie better than your average, raunchy comedy.

46.) Swingers (96) Director: Doug Liman Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau,
Heather Graham

I could quote this movie all day for there is so much memorable dialogue in this hilarious comedy. It also introduced us to the very funny and talented Vince Vaughn. I had never heard such a rapid fire classic line delivery given by an actor in my life. The way Vaughn carresses his words and makes them entirely something else is amazing. This movie is a great depiction of the humiliating singles scene.

45.) Dances With Wolves (90) Director: Kevin Costner Mary McDonnell, Kevin Costner, Graham Greene, Maury Chaykin

This is an amazing directing debut for Kevin Costner. He rejuvenated the Western at that time and his epic drama is beautifully shot, acted and exciting. Costner's command of the camera is a revelation for it is a three hour epic that never slows down. There is not one wasted shot and the movie looks beautiful.

44.) Hoop Dreams (94) Director: Steve James

This is the best documentary of the 90's with it's poignant and powerful look at the lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee. We follow these two young basketball players from high school through college. They both want to become NBA players and they realize how tough the struggle will be. This had more suspense and drama then most fictional movies.

43.) There's Something About Mary (98) Directors: Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Chris Elliot, Brett Favre, Lee Evans

This raunchy, vulgar and side splitting, classic comedy is another comic masterpiece by the Farrellys. The surprises here are how funny Cameron Diaz and Matt Dillon are and Ben Stiller makes a great lead. Instead of just throwing jokes at the screen the Farrellys tell a complete story that is very well written just like they did for "Kingpin".

42.) Lone Star (96) Director: John Sayles Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson,
Elizabeth Pena, Clifton James, Frances McDormand, Matthew McConaughey

This is the gifted writer and film maker John Sayles's best movie he has made. This sprawling, modern Western juggles multiple charcaters with ease and comes off like a big screen version of "Lonesome Dove". Chris Cooper is outstanding and Kristofferson plays a great bad guy. This is a very well written drama and a sweet, love story thrown in for good measure.

41.) Breaking the Waves (96) Director: Lars Von Trier Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgard, Katrin Cartlidge

This is not an easy movie to sit through and it was one of the most powerful reactions I have had to a movie. This gut wrenching struggle with faith and God has a brave and outstanding performance by Emily Watson. This movie emotionally drained me and I actually came home and cried. This is potent stuff but it must be seen if you love great film making.

40.) Waiting For Guffman (96) Director: Christopher Guest Catherine O'Hara,
Fred Williard, Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, Christopher Guest, Bob Balaban

Christopher Guest was part of the classic 1984 comedy "This Is Spinal Tap" and here he started the first in a long line of great comedies to come. This is a heartfelt and extremely funny movie with an ensemble cast to die for. Everyone here is amazing and when you are not laughing you end up crying.

39.) The Sixth Sense (99) Director: M. Night Shyamalan Bruce Willis,
Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette

This could be the best movie that Shyamalan will ever make because he has struggled since trying to recapture this greatness. Bruce Willis gives the best performance of his career and the twist at the end of this haunting thriller is well earned.

38.) Magnolia (99) Director: Paul Thomas Anderson Tom Cruise, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Melora Hardin, Julianne Moore, Jason Robards, John C. Reilly, Alfred Molina

The very talented Paul Thomas Anderson could even make a movie like this with a lot of flaws and still make a movie better than most. The spirit of Robert Altman is surely felt here with the multiple characters and story lines. Tom Cruise gives one of his best performances and I loved John C. Reilly who is my favorite character here. This is a dark, twisted and fabulous movie that put me uner it's spell. I even love the frog storm.

37.) Short Cuts (93) Director: Robert Altman Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore,
Robert Downey Jr., Andie MacDowell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lily Tomlin

No one does this kind of movie better than Robert Altman can. He was definitely a major influence on PT Anderson and you can see why. This is a wonderful, powerful and dark adaptation of several Raymond Carver short stories. The performances are all first rate and the three hour movie never gets boring but keeps becoming deeper and more suspenseful.

36.) Once Were Warriors (95) Director: Lee Tamahori Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison

This hard hitting drama about domestic abuse is one of the most unsettling and disturbing experiences I have ever been through at the movies. It is a painful movie but an important one that must be seen. Rena Owen gives a brave and touching performance and Morrison is all coiled energy. This is one of those rare movies where I cried through the whole time.

35.) Toy Story (95) Director: John Lasseter Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn, Jim Varney, Laurie Metcalf

This was a very fun and rewarding surprise that is the start of one of the most endearing children's franchises ever. The movie can be appreciated by adults just as much as kids and not many animated movies before this could do that. Woody and Buzz are two of the best characters out of any movie children or adult of the 90's. This movie is loads of fun, very clever and very funny.

34.) Toy Story 2 (99) Directors: John Lasseter, Ash Brannon and Lee Unkrich
Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger

This is the rare sequel that I enjoyed even more than the first one. The charm and energy and fun is multiplied this time with the addition of Joan Cusack and much more witty humor and excitement. I appreciate how the film makers hadn't just stood pat and copied the original, they strived to top themselves and they succeeded.

33.) Speed (94) Director: Jan De Bont Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock,
Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels, Alan Ruck

This action classic was a complete surprise and is non stop action and thrills with an ingenius gimmick. We are also introduced in more detail to the energy and charm of Sandra Bullock. The great Jeff Daniels is good comic relief and Dennis Hopper is a classic bad guy. Keanu Reeves became an action star with this and he deserved it because he has that great, classic action star appeal.

32.) The Truman Show (98) Director: Peter Weir Jim Carrey, Laura Linney,
Ed Harris, Natasha McElhone

This brilliant and original fantasy drama introduced the new and more serious Jim Carrey. He gives an outstanding performance in this strange and delightful drama that is very well directed and shot by Peter Weir.

31.) Man in the Moon (91) Director: Robert Mulligan Reese Witherspoon,
Sam Waterston, Tess Harper, Jason London, Emily Warfield

The legendary director of "To Kill a Mockingbird" has made a beautiful, touching and finally sad family drama. A very young Reese Witherspoon is electric and sweet in one of the best love stories about teenagers. The movie has Southern charm, beautiful photography and great performances by Waterston and Harper.

30.) JFK (91) Director: Oliver Stone Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Joe Pesci,
Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Donald Sutherland, John Candy

This fascinating and provocative epic on the assassination of President Kennedy never has a dull moment. The movie holds our attention with some very memorable characters. The details and all the facts of the shooting and all the conspiracy theories are expertly laid out. This is an exciting motion picture and very entertaining no matter who you think shot Kennedy.

29.) Men Don't Leave (90) Director: Paul Brickman Jessica Lange, Joan Cusack,
Chris O'Donnell, Arliss Howard

This heartbreaking and powerful drama by the director of "Risky Business" is one of the best movies ever about a single mother. Jessica Lange is wonderful as a woman trying to find her way after her husband passes away. Joan Cusack is also wonderful in a supporting role and a young Chris O'Donnell is excellent as Lange's oldest son.

28.) Out of Sight (98) Director: Steven Soderbergh George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez
Ving Rhames, Dennis Farina, Luis Guzman

Another outstanding Elmore Leonard adaptation and an impressive crime story directed with energy by Soderbergh. The characters are cool, the dialogue is crackling and Clooney and Lopez create real heat here. This is great acting by Lopez and Clooney was starting to show star potential. There is also a great cast of characters played by wonderful character actors.

27.) The Fugitive (93) Director: Andrew Davis Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones,
Joe Pantaliano, Jeroen Krabbe, Julianne Moore, Sela Ward

One of the best movies filmed in Chicago is also the best action movie of the 90's. Harrison Ford gives one of his usual, subtly powerful performances and Andrew Davis arrived as an action director with skills. It is also the best adaptation of a television show since "The Untouchables". Tommy Lee Jones is equal to Ford with a scene stealing performance of energy and intensity. This is a thrilling joy ride with great performances and characters that are deep and well written.

26.) Quiz Show (94) Director: Robert Redford Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro,
Rob Morrow, Paul Scofield, David Paymer, Hank Azaria, Mia Sorvino

This brainy and fascinating drama about the infamous television game show scandals of the 50's is informative and engrossing. The art direction is flawless, the look and feel of the movie is perfect. This is a great history lesson in the golden age of television that is also a lot of fun. Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro and Paul Scofield are amazing and Redford has made a near flawless movie.

25.) Chasing Amy (97) Director: Kevin Smith Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams,
Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith

This is a vulgar and hilarious comedy that is also one of the best love stories of the 90's. Joey Lauren Adams gives a wonderful star making performance and this is one of Ben Affleck's best early roles. Jason Lee is hilarious and lends great support as the best friend who gives us a running commentary on things. Kevin Smith is a talented and wonderful writer who explores sexuality in a relationship with candor and cheerful vulgarity.

24.) The Sweet Hereafter (97) Director: Atom Egoyan Ian Holm, Sarah Polley,
Bruce Greenwood

Another haunting and devestating tragedy about the aftermath of a school bus crash and the death that followed. The movie is quiet and heartbreaking and Sarah Polley and Ian Holm give outstanding performances. This is a sad movie that explores faith and death with honesty, great emotion and class.

23.) Lorenzo's Oil (92) Director: George Miller Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte,
Kathryn Wilhoite

This is one of the most terrifying and most unsettling movies I have seen in my lifetime. This is scarier and more shocking than any pure horror movie I have seen. Susan Sarandon is amazing and the direction by Miller is white hot intensity. The movie delves deeply in the struggle and pain it takes to find a cure for an incurable disease. The movie is fascinating, emotionally draining and somehow in the end uplifting. Critics complained that you couldn't understand Nolte's thick Italian accent. I understood every word and found Nolte to be pitch perfect. This is a way more effective movie than "The Exorcist" could ever be.

22.) Once Around (90) Director: Lasse Halstrom Holly Hunter, Richard Dreyfuss,
Danny Aiello, Gena Rowlands, Tim Guinee, Laura San Giacomo

This is one of my favorite family dramas and love stories that I watch almost every Thanksgiving. This funny, touching, uplifting and finally sad story has some of the best acting in the 90's. Hunter, Dreyfuss, Aiello and Rowlands are at the top of their game. I love the intense family drama, laughter and love that this movie provides.

21.) HEAT (95) Director: Michael Mann Robert Deniro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, John Voight, Danny Trejo, Amy Brenneman, Diane Venora

Michael Mann is at his best with this epic crime drama that has the most exciting shoot outs I have seen in a movie. This is rich with great characters and the first face to face meeting of two acting giants in Deniro and Pacino. The scenes they have are worth the hype and a great treat. The movie is jam packed with excitement and action that fills up it's three hour running time. The energy never stops and the direction by Mann is masterful.

20.) 12 Monkeys (95) Director: Terry Gilliam Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe,
Brad Pitt

This science fiction masterpiece has a vision as great as "Blade Runner" and a haunting, up in the air ending that is as puzzling and great as "2001". I have seen this delightful puzzle of a movie many times to try to figure out the obscure ending. It is a joy to revisit it because of the look of the film and the acting. Everytime I see this I come up with a different meaning for the end. This is a great movie to see with a group and then grab coffee and have a deep conversation over what it all means.

19.) Fight Club (99) Director: David Fincher Edward Norton, Brad Pitt,
Jared Leto, Meat Loaf, Helena Bonham Carter

This "Twilight Zone" on acid is a visionary masterpiece, brilliant satire and viciously violent and brutal fight film all in one. One of my favorite adaptations of a book I have seen on screen. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt as well as Helena Bonham Carter are marvelous. This was the first time we could clearly see how great of a director Fincher would become. This movie is smart, exciting, dark and delightfully violent almost to the point of absurdity.

18.) Jerry Maguire (96) Director: Cameron Crowe Tom Cruise, Renee Zelwegger,
Cuba Gooding Jr, Jonathan Lipnicki, Kelly Preston, Jerry O'Connell, Beau Bridges

This wonderful romantic comedy is also one of the best sports movies of the 90's. Tom Cruise kept getting better with every movie and he gets his first truly romantic role. This movie has heart, laughs and great performances including two star making ones from Gooding Jr. and Zelwegger. This is an uplifting love story that is an extreme crowd pleaser.

17.) Dazed and Confused (92) Director: Richard Linklater
Jason London, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey, Joey Lauren Adams, Wiley Wiggins, Ben Affleck, Cole Hauser

This is the 90's answer to "American Graffiti" and in my opinion just as good. The best soundtrack of the 90's just like Graffiti had in the 70's. This also has a bevy of future stars in some of their first roles. This movie might also be high on my list for it was when I first fell in love with Parker Posey. I watch this every year and get great joy each time I watch it.

16.) What's Love Got To Do With It (93) Director: Brian Gibson
Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishbourne

Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishbourne are electric in this powerful look at Tina Turner from her abusive relationship to her solo singing career and final enlightenment. The music is wonderful, Basset really moves like Turner and Laurence Fishbourne tackles a monster and gives him some vulnerability. This is a hard movie to experience in spots but it is finally uplifting and inspiring. Bassett and Fishbourne give two of the best performances of the decade.

15.) Silence of the Lambs (91) Director: Jonathan Demme Jodie Foster,
Anthony Hopkins, Ted Devine, Anthony Heald, Frankie Fiason

This iconic serial killer movie adapted from the best seller by Thomas Harris is one of the most effective horror movies in decades. You also have probably the two best performances you will ever see in a horror movie. Of course Demme makes this a prestige picture and it won multiple Oscars including Best Picture. The movie is, creepy, exciting, suspenseful, terrifying and has one of the top ten horror movie monsters of all time.

14.) Thelma and Louise (91) Director: Ridley Scott
Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Brad Pitt, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen,
Lucinda Jenney, Christopher McDonald

This is the most powerful and effective feminist movie of this or any other decade. This is a glorious looking, compelling, funny and exciting road trip movie. I love movies about road trips and this is probably my favorite. The popular and controversial shooting scene is well handled and cathartic. Sarandon is one of my favorite actresses and she is always gold. She gives one of her best performances and Davis is her equal. You also get a great first look at a future star in Brad Pitt who is very funny here. To the critics who complained that all the male characters are one note and evil you are wrong. The Madsen and Keitel character are rich and decent male characters. I also will defend the ending to anyone that feels it is a cheat.

13.) Ed Wood (94) Director: Tim Burton Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones

This is my favorite movie about film making that I have ever seen. Tim Burton has created a wonderful valentine about bad movies that is full of heart and humor. Johnny Depp is hilarious as Ed Wood and Martin Landau is amazing as Bela Lugosi. The look of this movie is strange, awesome and beautiful and the sets are golden. This is possibly my favorite Burton movie and it is such a warped and glorious movie experience every time I watch it.

12.) Malcolm X (92) Director: Spike Lee Denzel Wahington, Spike Lee,
Albert Hall, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Kate Vernon, Theresa Randle

This is the epic masterpiece that Spike Lee had in him and it is an exciting, powerful and beautiful movie. Denzel Washington gives an outstanding and spot on performance. I was impressed with the detail Lee puts in the movie and the research that was done. This covers everything, is never boring and is quite an informative and powerful experience.

11.) Unforgiven (92) Director: Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman,
Morgan Freeman, Jaimz Woolvert, Richard Harris, Saul Rubinek

My idol Clint Eastwood started what was to begin an iconic and wonderful new directing career by turning the Western genre upside down. This is classic western film making with grit, two legendary characters and Eastwood's best performance of his career. Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman are also outstanding in this dark, violent and beautiful Western.

10.) Fargo (96) Director: Joel Coen Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi,
William H. Macy, Peter Stormare

The Coen brothers and Frances McDormand have created one of the most original and endearing female characters in screen history. Putting a endearing character right in the middle of a nasty and violent crime picture is a master stroke. This movie looks great and also has wonderful performances by Buscemi, Macy and Stormare. This is a very funny movie and the dialect and outdoor locations are characters in themselves. This is exciting and original film making at it's best.

9.) Rushmore (98) Director: Wes Anderson Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray,
Olivia Williams, Luke Wilson

This is another higly original and wonderful comedy with some of Bill Murray's best work. There is something about this movie that just got to me and Max Fischer is one of my favorite characters. I guess the artist and writer in me appreciates someone as creative and daring as Max. I love this movie's offbeat humor and heart, it is also a great love story between Max and Herman.

8.) Boogie Nights (97) Director: Paul Thomas Anderson Mark Wahlberg,
Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham, Alfred Molina,
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy

This is a fascinating and highly entertaining look at the porn industry from the 70's through the 90's. Mark Wahlberg became a star here as Dirk Diggler, porn legend. This is an amazing achievement for Anderson for he has made a movie about porn that is about family and values. The cast is impressive and outstanding and the soundtrack is perfection. I love how Julianne Moore's Amber Waves becomes the den mother of this wild and different group of individuals. This movie is brilliantly written, exciting and a lot of fun.

7.) Three Kings (99) Director: David O'Russell George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg,
Ice Cube, Said Taghmaoui, Spike Jonze, Nora Dunn, Cliff Curtis

This might be my favorite war film of all time for it is brave, powerful, funny and frightening. This is the kind of war movie Stanley Kubrick would have made and it is just as good. This movie is extremely explosive with intense scenes of war, hilarious satire and characters we care about. You also get one of the most exciting endings you will see in a war movie. There are isolated moments in this movie that are pure genius and make a huge impact.

6.) L.A. Confidential (97) Director: Curtis Hanson Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, Jamie Cromwell, Kevin Spacey, Danny Devito

This possibly could be my favorite crime drama of all time and it is a masterpiece. This is exciting film making, powerful acting, perfect tone and flawless production design. This is a fascinating story and I love how it mixes real life people with the movie's characters. This is non stop suspense and intrigue from the first frame to the last. Russell Crowe gives a star making performance and everyone else is at the top of their game. This is what all future crime dramas should be like and it will be hard to top this.

5.) Dead Man Walking (95) Director: Tim Robbins Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon

No matter what you think about the death penalty this is one of the most powerful movies you will ever seen. There is no actress better than Sarandon in the 90's for picking quality project after quality project. She has to be my pick for Best Actress of the 90's and here she is outstanding again. Sean Penn is one of my favorite actors and here his performance was his best and would start an amazing run. This is a sobering and honest look at death, murder and morality. It is never preachy, never takes sides and it is an amazing experience with a gut wrenching ending. I couldn't shake this movie off for weeks.

4.) Schindler's List (93) Director: Steven Spielberg Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes
Embeth Davidtz, Ben Kinsgsley

This is Spielberg's finest hour and one of the most emotionally draining experiences I have encountered. There is no denying that this is an important and potent drama that every man, woman and child should see. There is a bone chlling performance by Ralph Fiennes and a touching and beautiful performance by Liam Neeson. The power and scope of this movie is flawless and it is a story I am thankful was made. This is important film going for schools for it's importance and it's film making genius.

3.) Pulp Fiction (94) Director: Quentin Tarantino John Travolta, Samuel Jackson,
Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Eric Stoltz, Harvey Keitel, Rosanna Arquette

The first time experiencing this new voice and direction in independent film was one of the best times I have ever had in a movie theatre. My eyes were popping out, my heart was beating fast, I couldn't breathe and I was on the edge of my seat, every damn minute. The dialogue here is unique, hilarious, profane and delightful. Each segment of this move builds and builds until it all comes together in one glorious movie. No one had told a movie in quite this way, jumping back and forth, and it is copied to death today. This is a wonderful cast of actors making comebacks and new actors making a statement. Tarantino changed my life with this movie in many ways and he influenced so many of today's young directors. At about this time I felt that the movies of the 90's were getting to be routine and safe until this masterpiece came along.

2.) Good Fellas (90) Director: Martin Scorsese Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Robert Deniro, Samuel Jackson, Paul Sorvino, Frank Vincent

While new guy Quentin Tarantino was prepping his "Resorvoir Dogs" movie and getting ready to become a new voice, Scorsese's best movie was coming out. "Good Fellas" is my favorite mob movie of all time and yes it is even better than "The Godfather". This is a more violent and gritty mob movie and it is commercial film making at it's finest amd most thrilling. This crime epic has not one flaw in it, has killer music and a terrifing, powerful and hilarious performance by Joe Pesci as a very evil human being. From the bravura tracking shot to the violent and explosive killings to the breathtaking art direction and cinematography, this is one of the grandest achievements in cinema history.

1.) One False Move (92) Director: Carl Franklin Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton,
Cynda Williams, Jim Metzler, Natalie Canerday, Earl Billings

This is my favorite movie of the 90's because it is the best independent film of the 90's and it saved independent film making from obscurity. I am not talking about the independent films that started in the late 80's with Soderbergh and Tarantino. I am talking about that low budget movie that usually will get ignored and go straight to DVD land. Without Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert I would have never seen this movie which is near and dear to my heart. This is a sometimes ugly look at the depravity of men but it has a lead character I truly love and will never forget in my lifetime. Bill Paxton gives the best performance by an actor in the 1990's. To have been over looked by the Oscars was bullshit but his performance is too big for the Oscars. I don't blame people for missing out on this movie because it was lost in the shuffle. But if you happen to check it out you will see one of the most powerful crime thrillers ever. Billy Bob Thornton co wrote this beauitful movie and he also acts in it. The movie has one of my favorite screenplays with characters that I love. When Paxton's Dale "Huricane" Dixon invites some big city police to stay with him while casing out a murder it leads to some heartwarming scenes but ends in great humliliation and heartbreak. There is also an extremely suspenseful scene as three criminals are pulled over by a cop. This leads to edge of your seat terror as we just know something really bad is going to happen but it is a long time before we will find out. Those individual moments and series of scenes are some of the best sequences I have ever seen in a movie. The ending is also heartbreaking and every emotion has been earned. I walked into this movie expecting a cheap, violent thriller and what I got instead was one of the most powerful, beautiful and best movies I have ever seen.

So there is my list and over time placement of certain movies can change and again I will see more new movies from this decade. There are some eclectic choices here that covers about every genre. I love that you can see a deep and powerfulk movie from this list and then turn around and laugh your ass off at something like "Kingpin". I won't be doing my 2000-2009 list until much later but I am sure it will be like this one in many ways. Thank you all and please lose yourselves at the movies!