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The Year in Film – 1999

Looking back at my prior ‘Years in Film’ and some of the dog movies that have backed into slots on those top 10 lists for lack of anything better to see in that year, I’m tempted to say that 1999 has been the best year for film in the last decade — maybe the best year in the last 20. Or more. So many groundbreaking films, from the powerful (American Beauty) to the inventive (The Blair Witch Project) to the dazzling (The Matrix) to the just plain awesome (Go)… jeez, this has been such a great year, it’s actually the first time I’ve had trouble coming up with a Top Ten.

Not that I didn’t do it anyway. So without further ado:


1. Go – My sole five-star film for ’99, Go earned its award in every way. Not only is it a brilliantly-made, harrowing, and wildly funny film, it’s the first movie to capture the angst and twisted mindset of Generation X. Trashed at the box office thanks to rotten marketing, Go is a true must-see.

2. American Beauty – The suburbs have never seemed so fun. Spacey, Bening, Bentley, Birch — so many perfect performances in just one movie. You’ll never look at roses the same way again.

3. Magnolia – Paul Thomas Anderson’s rambling yet surprisingly cohesive follow-up to Boogie Nights featured a cast of thousands (well, almost), each of which was dead-on.

4. Election – Lost in the summer of Star Wars, Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick traded barbs like we haven’t seen since the days of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.

5. The Matrix – The biggest surprise of the year, commercially and critically. Made Star Wars look idiotic.

6. Eyes Wide Shut – Say what you will about Kubrick’s final film, it’s the only movie I watched on the big screen twice this year.

7. The Winslow Boy – Another forgotten art movie. David Mamet’s deconstruction of an obscure moment in British history has all the power of a Hollywood effects movie hidden inside a costume drama.

8. The Sixth Sense – Second-biggest surprise of the year. Bruce Willis proves he can act, plus the mother of all plot twists.

9. Fight Club – People still keep trying to debate the message of Fight Club with me. Okay, okay, I get it. The penguin, right.

10. Run Lola Run – A toss-up among Lola and the following eight movies, I give the #10 slot to Lola for sheer force of will.

HONORABLE MENTION (in order): Arlington Road, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Thomas Crown Affair, Toy Story 2, The Green Mile, The Insider, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Being John Malkovich

WISH I’D SEEN: The Straight Story, Boys Don’t Cry, All About My Mother, Topsy-Turvy, The Hurricane

BEST 2 SECONDS OF 1999: The interior shot of the ambulance crash in Magnolia.

MOST OVERRATED: Sweet and Lowdown, The Blair Witch Project

MOST UNDERRATED: Go, Eyes Wide Shut, The Blair Witch Project


WORST OF THE YEAR: [tie] Limbo, Gloria, The Astronaut’s Wife

MOST QUOTABLE LINE OF 1999: ‘I see dead people.’

Disagree with me? Here’s what some of’s other staffers had to say:


1. American Beauty – Brilliant! The perfect mixture of comedy, drama, and truth.

2. Eyes Wide Shut – Mysterious, intoxicating and frightful. This film is indeed worthy of the ‘Kubrick stamp’.

3. The Blair Witch Project – Never have I been more frightened of a pile of rocks. Spooky, to say the least.

4. Election – Hands down, the funniest film of the year. Broderick and Witherspoon are the perfect enemies in this instant classic.

5. Sleepy Hollow – Who needs a good script and flawless acting when Tim Burton is at the helm? Dark, delightful, and surprisingly funny.

6. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut – Raunchy, revolting and hilarious! Perhaps the only movie to insult every race and culture on planet earth — and off!

7. The Matrix – The most visually impressive movie ever. A technological masterpiece.

8. Man on the Moon – Jim Carrey is awesome as the late Andy Kaufman. I felt like I was watching actual pieces of the great entertainer’s life. A definite Oscar contender.

9. Analyze This – Harold Ramis proves that he’s ‘still got the funny’! De Niro and Crystal are a great team in this, the best of the mob comedies.

10. Payback – My fellow critic Matt Lawrence put it best, ‘Everybody likes to watch jerks on screen.’ I’m no exception. Action packed, yet easy going. Gotta love it.


1. American Beauty – An almost flawless film about suburban life is my top pick this year. The incomparable Kevin Spacey stars as Lester Burnham, a middle aged man going through a mid-life crisis. Not only does Spacey perform brilliantly, but also his co-stars Annette Bening, Wes Bentley, and Thora Birch.

2. Fight Club – David Fincher’s brutal masterpiece about the true meaning and purpose of life was not liked by most critics. And while it does project many disturbing fight sequences, the philosophy of Fight Club< /i> far surpasses the gore. I recommend that everyone go and sees this movie, which I’m sure will be debated for quite some time.

3. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut – I realize that I will probably get death threats for choosing this as the third best movie of 1999, but I can take it. This wasn’t just an immature movie with fart jokes, it was a brilliant parody of the sing-songy Disney movies that we have all come to love. And no matter who you are, you can’t help but laugh when Satan is having a love scene with Saddam Hussein while a portrait of Skeet Ulrich hangs above their bed.

4. Go – Doug Liman’s movie about the nightlife was more than a Pulp Fiction ripoff. I believe that this movie will be a jumping off point, a la American Graffiti, for actors like Taye Diggs, Sarah Polley, Timothy Olyphant, and Katie Holmes.

5. The Blair Witch Project – Say what you will. The camera was shaky, I even felt nauseous at one point, but The Blair Witch Project was an innovative movie that changed the face of horror. And for those who have seen it, the final scene scared me more than any other movie in history.

6. The Matrix – What Blair Witch did for horror, The Matrix did for sci-fi. With blazing special effects, a heart thumping soundtrack, and beautiful direction by Larry and Andy Wachowski, The Matrix kept its large audience in their seats for two hours of sci-fi fun. Whoa.

7. Arlington Road – I know what you’re thinking, what is Arlington Road? Well, here’s the answer. Arlington Road was a phenomenal exhibition in paranoia with an ending that was creative and original. I applaud all filmmakers who are looking to break the mold of classic Hollywood cheese.

8. Three Kings – So far, there have been two Desert Storm movies (this and Courage Under Fire), and I have loved them both. Great roles for George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube, as U.S. Soldiers trying to steal gold from Iraq.

9. Dogma – Kevin Smith’s movie that doesn’t trounce God but rather organized religion was one of the funniest, most creative movies of the year. It may offend, but go into it with an open mind.

10. Election – Matthew Broderick plays a high school teacher who tries to prevent teacher’s pet Reese Witherspoon from winning the school presidency. Election has a very smart script and is well acted by the two leads.

BEST ACTOR – Kevin Spacey, American Beauty

BEST ACTRESS – Hillary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Thora Birch, American Beauty

BEST SCREENPLAY – Eric Roth and Michael Mann, The Insider

BEST DIRECTOR – Sam Mendes, American Beauty

BEST SONG – Uncle Fucka, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut


1. American Beauty – An amazing examination of the rebirth of the soul and the hope that flows from such an event.

2. Any Given Sunday – A brash and incredible moral fable of men at battle with each other and with their souls.

3. The Insider – Russell Crowe and Al Pacino in a wonderful examination of the corporations that are run the company called ‘America’.

4. The Matrix – It’s about the acting abilities of Keanu Reeves. Forget about all the special effects and the storyline.

5. Three Kings – George Clooney, George Clooney, George Clooney!! [Relax, Max. -Ed.]

6. Fight Club – ‘First rule about Fight Club…no one talks about Fight Club!’

7. American Pie – Great ensemble cast of actors and a provocative strip show.

8. Go – Great script, great directing…but don’t eat the shrimp.

9. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut – The first musical that included a song about fucking your uncle. Classic.

10. The Limey – Terence Stamp and some great lighting makes this noir a classic.


Wild Wild West – Will Smith.. .go away. Far, far away.

Lake Placid – It’s a GODDAMN alligator in Maine!

Virus – Jamie Lee Curtis: Where is John Carpenter when you need him?

End of Days – I have seen the face of horror, and it is dramatic Schwarzenegger acting.

Bowfinger – Steve Martin + Eddie Murphy = washed-up actors trying to be funny like they were 20 years old again. Mr. Martin, stick to playwriting.


1. American Beauty – Sure, I feel like an incredibly cliched schmuck by putting this up, but the fact of the matter is that American Beauty was the best film of the year. There are no two ways about it.

2. Magnolia – All right, anyone who is willing to survive a three-hour long movie should love Magnolia. Tons of unforgettable scenes, even more unforgettable characters, and an even more unforgettable soundtrack, Magnolia was just behind American Beauty.

3. Eyes Wide Shut – I will never be able to listen to Chris Isaak again without envisioning Nichole Kidman’s naked body. Thanks, Stanley Kubrick!

4. Go – The most fun film of the year, and the only film that I’ve ever watched that feels like teenagers made it without looking like it.

5. Fight Club – I just want to go out and punch something… because this film was so good.

6. Dogma – Normally you don’t get fun out of Catholicism aside form clergy molestation jokes. Here’s proof that you

7. Three Kings – Take three washed-up actors and the most original music video director in history and you end up with a helluva great film.

8. The Matrix – Can you really blame me? Can you?

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