1999… or as Entertainment Weekly put it, “The Year that Changed Movies” wasn’t exactly a watershed year for me. To be honest, I wish I had more to say but the truth is I can’t remember. I knew I was in my junior year of high school, being a gigantic dork (nothing’s changed), not having many real friends, and hating every class of the Commerce stream I was stuck in – Business Studies, Accounting, Economics, Sociology, and English. Okay, I didn’t hate English – which is why it’s the subject I make the most use of today. Hating those classes was also why my grades were so shoddy, and why high school was hell!
When it came down to movies, I do remember going in to watch The Matrix without knowing a single thing about the movie. I wish I could do that today – to go into a movie knowing absolutely nothing about it, and then be wowed by it! I also wish I was a more astute moviegoer back then because I really wish I could experience every one of these movies with the knowledge I have today. I doubt we’ll have a year as great as this in the near future. This was the year Stanley Kubrick put out his last film, the underrated Eyes Wide Shut, and the year David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson submitted their applications to become his successors with Fight Club and Magnolia respectively. This was also the year that saw the arrival of Sam Mendes (American Beauty), M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), David O. Russell (Three Kings), Sophia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides), Brad Bird (The Iron Giant). Some would go on to become titans, others would become the butt of jokes. Anthony Minghella and Frank Darabont proved they weren’t one-trick ponies with The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Green Mile respectively while George Lucas proved he WAS with The Phantom Menace. Then there was Tim Burton and Pedro Almodovar – two filmmakers renowned for their distinctive styles – both returned to the spotlight with Sleepy Hollow and All About My Mother. This was also the year of comedy classics like the first (and best) American Pie as well as Dogma, Analyze This, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Pixar’s Toy Story 2. Even the bad movies had their moments: Samuel L. Jackson had one of the best on-screen deaths ever in Deep Blue Sea, and Will Smith and Kevin Kline learned never to make a movie like Wild Wild West EVER again!
In the end, with the buffet of movies to choose from, my pick of the year came down to three movies – the aforementioned The Matrix, Michael Mann’s gripping The Insider, and Alexander Payne’s ELECTION. I think The Matrix would have been an apt choice for this year, considering its status as a groundbreaker but Payne’s hilarious and biting political satire of the American political system, as seen through the microcosm of high school, resonated more with me because it spoke to where I was back then. High school was and always will be hell.
Movies are a huge part of my life – I mean, why else would I be running a blog/site devoted to movies? To commemorate the occasion of my 30th birthday (later this month), I’ll be counting down to the big day by posting a photo of my favorite movie for each year of the last 30 years I’ve survived on this planet. These aren’t my favorite 30 movies EVER but merely the movie I consider my favorite (or the best) of each year. This is my 30 for 30. Click here to see the other 30 for 30 posts.