Was 1999 One of the Best Years for Film?

Classic Speedy

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This opinion has been making the rounds on the internet the last few years and it's worth talking about here too: When we take a retrospective look at 1999, it really was a great year for films, wasn't it? Just think about all the titles that came out that year:

-American Beauty: Aka "why suburbia is not all it's cracked up to be".

-American Movie: A fascinating documentary on how hard it can be to make an independent film. Both funny and strangely inspiring.

-Any Given Sunday: You don't have to like American football to get into the drama of the athletes.

-Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me: The first film did okay at the box office, but found legs on home video. This one is when the series' popularity really took off.

-Being John Malkovich: An innovative (to put it mildly!) film that I guarantee shows you stuff you've never seen before.

-Blair Witch Project, The: Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of this film. It's repetitive and shrill, and doesn't have a good pay-off. The only scene I really like was the one everyone remembers (I'M SORRY EVERYONE). But it's more important in the meta sense: An early success of viral marketing, and paved the way for even more ultra low budget endeavors.

-Eyes Wide Shut: Kubrick's final film (besides AI), it's not my favorite of his filmography but it kept me entranced and wanted to see where it was going.

-Fight Club: I have a mixed opinion of this movie, but its themes are even more relevant than when it was released.

-Galaxy Quest: While it didn't do gangbusters when it first came out, it's developed into something of a cult classic ever since, especially as an affectionate tribute to '66 Star Trek and the like.

-Girl, Interrupted: Good period piece, some fine performances. Quite melodramatic but that's to be expected given the subject matter.

-Green Mile, The: Hard to top Shawshank, but still a solid piece of filmmaking from the same director.

-Iron Giant, The: It's Brad Bird. It's hand-drawn animation. It's a well-done story. What more do you need?

-Man on the Moon: Andy Kaufman biopic. Jim Carrey was perfect for the part.

-Matrix, The: Problems with the sequels and over-analyzing the series aside, this really was a breakthrough film in a lot of ways.

-Office Space: The quintessential workplace comedy, and a commentary on how fragile the workforce has become from decades past.

-Princess Mononoke: Yeah it came out in 1997 in Japan but it made its debut in the U.S. in '99. Often regarded as one of Ghibli's best, and not hard to see why.

-Run Lola Run: A highly innovative film with a kickass techno soundtrack.

-The Sixth Sense: "I see dead people", nuff said.

-South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut: At the time, a rarity for animated films: R rated and very un-Disney in animation style, and it paved the way for more. Also a good film on its own merits.

-Star Wars Episode 1: Yeah it hasn't held up very well, but one can't deny it was a giant leap forward in special effects, and brought the Star Wars film franchise out of slumber (along with the Special Editions from two years prior).

-Straight Story, The: The most un-David Lynch film ever made, and certainly the most tender while still having brief moments of the trademark Lynch oddball humor. A small gem.

-Tarzan: Not my favorite of the Disney Canon- I don't even think it would make my top ten, but still a solid film and one of the last to be a "traditional" 2D Disney feature before the new millennium shifted towards all-out comedy (Emperor's New Groove) and fantasy/action (Atlantis, Treasure Planet).

-Toy Story 2: One of the best animated sequels of all time.

Then there are some movies that I haven't seen yet but I've heard are good- Magnolia, Three Kings, Angela's Ashes, The Cider House Rules, The Insider, Boys Don't Cry, the list goes on.

One of the things repeatedly brought up when it comes to 1999 is that it was one of the last years before television really stepped up its game to overtake cinema as the preferred medium for risk-taking entertainment (now, ironically, movies are mostly known for escapism and spectacle). The anxiety over Y2K and the new millennium also arguably factored into some of the underlying themes present in many of the movies that year- which produced some great art. The internet was still relatively in its infancy, but 1999 was arguably the first year when internet hype was really a thing, and because streaming wasn't here yet, people weren't watching the movies on their own schedule. Everyone was talking about the same big movies at the same time, so it was a pretty exciting feeling that we rarely get anymore when everything's so segmented.

Yeah, like any year, 1999 had its stinkers, mostly towards the beginning of the year (My Favorite Martian, anyone?). But I feel like the good outweighed the bad.

Anyway, agree? Disagree?
 
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pacman000

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Probably not, but it was ~20 years ago, so it’s become the current focus of nostalgia.
 

Leviathan

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It's up there. The 90's as a whole was probably the last time indie and non-blockbuster films could eke out a success and make an impact on pop culture.
 

Eurbane

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Okay here are all the tittles from 1999 i seen so far:

Tarzan: great experience about a man who was raised by apes trying to be more humanly

Muppets from space: I like it. Gonzo found out he is alien from outer space and was taken to convert with Ed wants him extracted. the muppets help him escape and go to cape doom to meet the aliens.

Elmo in grouchland: I love that film. Elmo goes into grouchland to retrieve his blanket. the biggest adventure of the year I like to call. Ernie and Bert interrupting the film will soon inspire Timon and Pumba to do the same for the Lion King 1/12. And that song Huxley sang was fabulous although it didn't appear in the soundtrack.

Toy Story 2: a great rescue after Al of Al's toy barn taken woody to put in his Woody's Roundup collection. Sorry about Woody's roundup being cancelled due to the space race. Same goes to Lionel trains down falling at the time. Big scenes including the toys walking across the street in traffic cones, traveling through the vent and airport luggage rack and dramatic high speed chase.

Stuart Little: Classic motion picture trying to be popular. The exciting part is the boat race.
 

Pooky

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Not necessarily to my tastes, but it's probably the best year for movies in my lifetime (born end of 1986). Outside of the films mentioned so far there's The Mummy, Notting Hill, American Pie, Pokemon: The First Movie, Sleepy Hollow, Deep Blue Sea, Bowfinger, She's All That, Three Kings, The Talented Mr Ripley, 10 Things I Hate About You, Mystery Men, Dogma, Go!, Election, Dancer in the Dark; not all films I like or rate, but films that were all some kind of big deal in their day and I think are still with us to some extent today.

I may have some bias; I'd always had an above average interest in films, but this was the year where I really started to follow film news etc (2003, a pretty bad year for film IMO, was where I started to follow Box Office etc), although I wasn't of an age to see most of the notable films in the cinema or to rent them as soon as they hit video, so I didn't see many of the films until years later. Still, I'm not sure what year since would compete. 2000 was a *huge* drop-off and pointed the way to several years of a mainstream dominated by largely tacky and dull films. 2008 is the year I hear most often suggested; it's certainly notable (start of the MCU, Dark Knight, Wall-E, The Wrestler) but looking at a fuller list of films for the year I think you'd start stretching the definition of "notable" fairly quickly.

Biggest "guilty pleasure" of 1999? End of Days

My vote for best movie year since the end of the "Golden Age" is 1984; Beverly Hills Cop, Temple of Doom, Karate Kid, Police Academy, Footloose, Search for Spock, Purple Rain, Splash, Red Dawn, Amadeus, The Terminator, Nightmare on Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, The Last Starfighter, The Neverending Story, Buckaroo Banzai, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Repo Man and, the kicker, Ghostbusters and Gremlins released on the same day; so many iconic, largely original movies that were instantly memorable and that we're still trying to borrow from today.
 

Classic Speedy

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Biggest "guilty pleasure" of 1999? End of Days

My vote for best movie year since the end of the "Golden Age" is 1984; Beverly Hills Cop, Temple of Doom, Karate Kid, Police Academy, Footloose, Search for Spock, Purple Rain, Splash, Red Dawn, Amadeus, The Terminator, Nightmare on Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, The Last Starfighter, The Neverending Story, Buckaroo Banzai, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Repo Man and, the kicker, Ghostbusters and Gremlins released on the same day; so many iconic, largely original movies that were instantly memorable and that we're still trying to borrow from today.
My guilty pleasure of '99 is The World is Not Enough. Cheesy? Heck yes (mostly due to Christmas Jones). Lots of fun set pieces? Heck yes.

1984 was a good year too. Though I didn't care for Police Academy.
 

Pooky

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My guilty pleasure of '99 is The World is Not Enough. Cheesy? Heck yes (mostly due to Christmas Jones). Lots of fun set pieces? Heck yes.

1984 was a good year too. Though I didn't care for Police Academy.

I do quite like Police Academy, but I mentioned films not so much on the basis of whether or not I personally liked them, so much as them having a notable cultural footprint, which Police Academy, with its six sequels and two TV series, to start with, certainly does.

I enjoy all Bond movies on some level, but must admit that The World Is Not Enough is not one of my favourites. My Guilty Pleasures in the series are Moonraker and A View to a Kill (Moonraker is actually one of the most technically proficient of the series, it's just really, really silly). I also have a bit of a soft spot for Die Another Day due to its (IMO) strong first hour and some cool conceptual elements, but that last act is pretty rough.

Forgot to mention there is a podcast dedicated to the films of 1999.

They also discuss albums, TV etc, but mostly films. They get a little too hand-wringing about " problematic elements" in the films for my tastes (as well as having what I feel is a very broad net for that designation), but there are some good insights.
 

Classic Speedy

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Pooky said:
I also have a bit of a soft spot for Die Another Day due to its (IMO) strong first hour and some cool conceptual elements, but that last act is pretty rough.
Without derailing the thread talking about Bond movies, I will say that Die Another Day isn't that bad. Certainly, it's nowhere near the best Bond film but far from the worst. The opening in North Korea more than justifies its existence, but I also enjoy the insomniac villain, the ice palace set design and outrunning the space sunlight ray on the ice in the invisible car, and John Cleese as the replacement for Q who sadly only got one film before the reboot. Even Jinx's puns ("I think I got the "thrust" of it") are so bad they come around and end up being hilarious again. Plus there are fun little nods to the films in the franchise due to it being the 20th film.

But back to 1999... apparently Fantasia 2000 technically premiered at the very end of 1999 in limited release, but got wider release a few weeks later. So there's another good one for the pile.
 

Pooky

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Without derailing the thread talking about Bond movies, I will say that Die Another Day isn't that bad. Certainly, it's nowhere near the best Bond film but far from the worst. The opening in North Korea more than justifies its existence, but I also enjoy the insomniac villain, the ice palace set design and outrunning the space sunlight ray on the ice in the invisible car, and John Cleese as the replacement for Q who sadly only got one film before the reboot. Even Jinx's puns ("I think I got the "thrust" of it") are so bad they come around and end up being hilarious again. Plus there are fun little nods to the films in the franchise due to it being the 20th film.

But back to 1999... apparently Fantasia 2000 technically premiered at the very end of 1999 in limited release, but got wider release a few weeks later. So there's another good one for the pile.

I don't love how the Ice Palace looks on screen, but I think it's a great idea for a Bond villain lair. People say it's too fanciful, but unlike many things in Bond movies (and indeed that one in particular) such structures actually exist; I visited an Ice Bar in Oslo back in 2006. It also has precedence in the world of Bond; John Gardner's 1983 Bond novel Icebreaker utilises a similar structure. World is Not Enough incidentally is one of a few Bond movies which seems to "borrow" elements from Kingsley Amis's 1968 Bond novel Colonel Sun (Spectre apparently got permission from Amis's estate to utilise its torture scene).

Fantasia 2000 was apparently released in the UK in December 1999 as well. I saw it at the IMAX cinema in London some time in 2000, back when IMAX releases were rare and there were no IMAX screens in my local cinemas; I'm pretty sure it didn't get a release in regular cinemas here. I wasn't following Box Office at the time, but I certainly had no sense then that CG Animation would effectively replace traditional animation's place in cinemas within a few short years.
 

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