Monday, January 13, 2014
The Favorite Films Of My Lifetime: 1994
I remember following the 1994 Oscar race pretty closely. It was a pretty high profile year from what I can remember. And 12 year old Brandon had only seen Forrest Gump at the time of the race. And little Brandon was really moved and affected by Forrest Gump. Plus he was a Tom Hanks fan. So, he was really rooting for that movie at the time and had a fantastic night watching that awards ceremony. Well, in retrospect, older Brandon thinks the Oscars may have gotten this one pretty wrong. But, its the one that's hot in the moment. And sometimes, some movie are better off getting snubbed and not winning the award. Movies that don't even get nominated become far more remembered and legendary more often than most Best Picture winners. I still enjoy Forrest Gump, but I think maybe there was a better choice.
All in all, it was a strong year for movies I really like and the Oscars, but an overall week year for movies in general if that makes sense.
WINNER - Forrest Gump
Four Weddings And A Funeral
The Shawshank Redemption
Here's my 1994, with an honorable mention to Dumb & Dumber which got cut.
While I've kind of been "over" Kevin Smith for many years now, I don't hate the man or deny that I ever liked anything he's done. I've just moved on, but I still root for the guy. There are many bloggers and writers who seem to try to be making a career on writing such disdainful stuff about him constantly and its really tiresome. You don't care for him? Okay, so why do you bother to constantly discuss him? I'm never going to turn my back on or act like his first film wasn't monumental to me in my life in film. I've noticed some flaws and the weak performances in years gone by, but I've noticed its held together by an incredibly rock solid script. This movie was an incredibly enlightening moment for me when I first saw it. This movie got me. It had the conversations I was having and wanting to have. Someone came out of hiding and spoke to me. Me, Clerks and Kevin Smith were best friends. Somebody making movies actually knew about all the stuff I did and knew what life was kind of like. This film spoke volumes to me. My love for it may purely be nostalgia now, but like I said I think the script is still pretty strong.
No color yet in 1994. This is Tim Burton's full on masterpiece and my favorite biopic that will probably never be topped. Burton tells the story of Wood's early happenings in Hollywood as if it were an Ed Wood movie itself. Johnny Depp has never been better and its reasons like this film that it didn't take me til the Pirates movies to see that he was a good actor and watch anything with him in it. This one is lush with Burton's style and tugs at my love for the olden days of classic Hollywood. The film also manages to be pretty informative as to the ways of filmmaking back in the early years. Ed Wood is an piece beauty and if you haven't seen it...what the heck man? Go check it out immediately!
Leon (AKA Leon: The Professional)
Luc Besson's followup to Nikita is kind of like a spinoff playing with Jean Reno's character from that movie but its not. Reno and Gary Oldman are terrific in the movie. Oldman is perfect in one of his many 90s bad guy roles. But, this movie put Natalie Portman on the map for me. And to say I had a big crush back then isn't gross. I was actually a year younger than her when it came out. She really gave a spectacular performance and I became a big fan and have followed her career with great interest ever since. I don't go and collect Natalie Portman movies or anything, but if she's in something I'm pretty interested. And as a fan it was an awesome moment to see her win the Best Actress award just a a few years ago.
And here's what we all look back and think should have won Best Picture. Yes, it should have. This still remains my favorite Tarantino film. Although, my next 3 favorites of his all are really close to this one, I always come back to Pulp Fiction. This film also changed the landscape of screenwriting that we are still witnessing today. Characters never spoke quite the same after this movie. I should give Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon and Kevin Williamson some cred here too, but Quentin Tarantino was the leader of the pack. They were all in his shadow and people brought them to the fold because they wanted Tarantino-like stuff. This films structure amused the hell out of me the first time I saw it too. Its got some really fun characters and gave full depth and dimensions to villain-esque characters. This was an incredibly influential movie and I think a favor was done to it by not winning Best Picture. Instead, it was awarded a lasting legacy and likely appears in a majority of peoples' all-time favorites.
One of the greatest pure action movies of all time. This is easily the best one in the 6 years since the first Die Hard. Yeah, its got some campiness to it. But in latter years, I have totally embraced and loved all the typical pure action movie tropes that shine through in the years since its release. Yes, the movie goes a bit off the rails (literally) when it leaves the bus, but it had to and this is escapist fiction so I'm willing to give it that. Plus I was already on for the ride, so I was willing to go the places it took me. This movie is also crazy good in the suspense department. Its not just all gunshots and explosions, there's much more to it. Oh, and who didn't have a crazy crush on Sandra Bullock after this movie? If you said no, I think you're lying.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
I really don't want to play my hand here and discuss this one too much before the retrospective happens. New Nightmare was my first Hard-R rated horror movie I saw on the big screen. And, yeah, it frightened me and had me on the edge of my damn seat. In years since, it still holds up for me and I think it was just a few years ahead of its time. I love the direction and meta-movie this thing goes for and it was really necessary after where the franchise had gone at this point. Its not a slap in the face to the original series as many fanboys think, its a fresh take and a new story. Its pretty faithful to stuff that had come before and is a really fun approach. Oh, and it made Freddy actually scary again.