It has been a while since my last top 10 of a year list. The further back we get, the less strong movies I tend to have seenfrom a given year. I’ve made a conscious effort the last few months of checking out some 1993 offerings to fill out the ranks here. A few have made the cut, and the result is a list of ten films that seem fit to be called among the best of their year.
Before anyone asks: I haven’t seen Schindler’s List.
As usual, this is going by release year as listed on IMDB.
Honorable mentions: Demolition Man, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Sunes sommar, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
10 – THREE COLORS: BLUE (TROIS COULEURS: BLEU, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
“Now I have only one thing left to do: nothing. I don’t want any belongings, any memories. No friends, no love. Those are all traps.”
The first installment of Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy, this part focusing on the concept of liberty and how it applies to a woman who just lost her husband and daughter in a car accident. It’s thematically gripping, and Juliette Binoche is great in the lead, but what I most remember of the movie is the way it looks: the many ways the color blue is used, the shot of the sugar lump, and a whole lot else. I should get around to watching the rest of the trilogy one of these days.
9 – THE PIANO (Jane Campion)
” ‘Twere good he had God’s patience, for silence affects everyone in the end.”
Period romance dramas is not a genre I tend to flock towards (can a single person “flock”?), but this one I definitely enjoyed, chiefly thanks to the teriffic cast. The film also does a great job of bringing its environments to life, fully enveloping the viewer in its murky New Zealand locations. Strong stuff.
8 – THE FUGITIVE (Andrew Davis)
“Are you suggesting that I killed my wife? Are you saying that I crushed her skull and that I shot her? How dare you!”
It’s hard to imagine a movie like this scoring a Best Picture Oscar nomination today, isn’t it? This is after all a fairly straight-forward action thriller. Nothing truly special about it, other than its rock-solid overall quality. Though perhaps that could be said to be special enough.
7 – GRUMPY OLD MEN (Donald Petrie)
“When I had an ulcer, I was farting razor blades.”
There are not enough comedies about grumpy old men in the world. This one’s hilarious. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were certainly no strangers to working with one another, and it shows. What great chemistry.
6 – FALLING DOWN (Joel Schumacher)
“Listen fellows, I’ve had a really rare morning…”
Michael Douglas is one of those actors who are fully capable of great performances even when he doesn’t disappear into a role. In most movies, I’m fully aware that it’s Douglas playing his part. In Falling Down, however, he really does become William Foster, disgruntled office worker who finally gets fed up with everything. It’s an entertaining and scathing portrait of the American dream having gone sour, and possibly Joel Schumacher’s finest hour.
5 – JURASSIC PARK (Steven Spielberg)
“We’re gonna make a fortune with this place.”
Back when I was a kid, I naturally loved dinosaurs. Most of my friends did too. There were so many cool dinosaurs to love. Many preferred Tyrannosaurus Rex, but you could also dig the Brontosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, or what have you. You know which dinosaur nobody had ever even heard of at the time? The Velociraptor. Then Jurassic Park arrived, and all of a sudden everyone went gaga over the raptor. Even to this day, it seems the go-to dino in all walks of life: basketball teams, video game enemies, you name it. Raptors everywhere! But yeah, they were pretty damn badass in Jurassic Park. I’m sure you don’t need me to sell you on this film. Hence the digression.
4 – FEARLESS (Peter Weir)
“You’re safe because we died already.”
Hell, the awesome opening scene alone could have been enough to give Fearless a decent shot at making this list. Fortunately, the rest of the film keeps the good stuff coming. Funny, touching, heartwrenching, and – occasionally – mystifying in the best of ways. A film not quite like any other I’ve seen.
3 – NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Henry Selick)
“Now you’ve probably wondered where holidays come from. If you haven’t I’d say it’s time you begun.”
Yes, Selick directed this one. Not Tim Burton. Burton did produce it, though. All sorts of animation require tons of effort, but it’s hard not to be particularly impressed by stop motion animation. Just the thought of moving all these models slight fractions and making sure they look just right all the way through is awe-inspiring. Nightmare Before Christmas also boasts an eye-catching gothic visual style – on that wasn’t quite “typical Tim Burton” yet back in 1993 – a quirky and fun story, memorable characters, and plenty of cool songs. This is Halloween, this is Halloween…
2 – THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (James Ivory)
“In my philosophy, Mr. Benn, a man cannot call himself well-contented until he has done all he can to be of service to his employer.”
The Lord of the Rings trilogy used to be the only time where I preferred the film to the book, despite having read the book first. Used to. The Remains of the Day definitely joined the rank when I saw it last month – and it’s a top contender for my Best Film Seen This Year award come New Year. It is a real heartbreaker, beautifully staged, and fantastically acted. A helpful reminder that when one considers the best actors of all time, one should not overlook Anthony Hopkins. Time and time again he disappears into roles, not by altering his appearance in any significant way but by transforming his very being. Co-star Emma Thompson is right there with him, too. I dare you not be moved by the “what are you reading” scene. Or by the handshake.
1 – GROUNDHOG DAY (Harold Ramis)
“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”
Barring childhood silliness, Groundhog Day was the first film I ever considered my favorite where I felt that my opinion had some degree of merit to it. Do you know what I mean? Where I actually thought, pondered and considered, and came to the conclusion that there is no other movie in the world that I like better than this one. That was back in my teens, and while it’s not quite my all-time favorite anymore, it’s still playing in the top league at least. Bill Murray is at his snarkiest here, and though the whole point of the film is his softening up, there is always a certain edge to everything he says. The premise itself is a fun one, and every possible bit of top-notch comedy is produced from it. Funny, inspiring – in the best sense of the word – and universal in its appeal and message. Groundhog Day is a comedy classic.