Selecting the best movies of the year is a different process when you’re doing right at the end of the year than if you are doing it after two decades (as in this case). It explains how the movie has grown on you. For eg., movies like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and recently Tree of Life, weren’t very popular in the best films list at the end of those years, but these are classics now and for some of us the very identity of that particular year’s cinema. Jumping straight in, here’s the list of top movies of 1998 are:
Scientifically inaccurate and emotionally manipulative these were the opening reviews of Armageddon. But Armageddon became one of the biggest box office success of the year- because of its concept that attracted huge number of audience worldwide. Say what may, Armageddon was fun and is fun.
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14. A Simple Plan
1998’s Fargo, A Simple Man tells the tale of brothers who along with a friend discover 4.4 million dollars in cash and go through great extents to hide their fortune. Both the movies are similar in their plot and characters who are slice-of-life criminals who are over their head. But the tone and treatment of these films are very different.
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One of the best satires of the year, Pleasentville tells the tale of two siblings who are trapped in the 1950’s show. The social commentary on the 1950’s world especially racism is sugar coated with fun and timely humor. Pleasentville bombed at the box office but has ever since garnered a cult following.
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Happiness is a bold film about three sisters and their day-to-day lives and their families. The movie is a subversive take on the contemporary society, the movie makes tragedy look humorous and vice-versa. The characters who are not just cardboard structure but living and breathing people of our society and the very acceptance of this fact will deprive you of sleep at nights.
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The movie that catapulted Wes Anderson to his fame, Rushmore is a soulful coming-of-age story with its heart at its right place. Banking on the shoulders of the terrific Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, this is my favorite film of the year for it will fill your soul with warmth and heart with joy.
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10. Primary Colors
The movie was based on the novel of the same name that was published anonymously by an insider who reveals the strength, weakness, charm and prejudice of the American President Bill Clinton. John Travolta as the president gives a subtle yet powerful performance with an equally impactful Emma Thompson. The movie may not have been a box office success, but do it see for its cast and direction.
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9. Babe: Pig in the City
Babe: Pig in the city was the sequel to the 1995 film “Babe” which was surprisingly good and entertaining. It was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and a sequel to this film has a lot to live up to. And it sure does. The film is original, delightful and funny. It follows the same formula followed by Babe, but it’s story is more developed, there are a lot more characters and it has much more genuine laughs than the former.
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8. Dark City
Dark City tells the tale of a murder suspect who is on the run, suffering from amnesia. Filled with stunning noir action and breathtaking visuals, the film is one of the most original and genuine films I’ve seen. Don’t read anything about the movie before watching, to experience a thrilling ride.
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7. Shakespeare in Love
A thorough enchanting experience powered by Gwyneth Paltrow’s wonderful performance, Shakespeare in Love is surely a good film. But there is something I’m not able to digest about this movie. It has to do with the fact that it won Academy Best Picture- an Oscar where Saving Private Ryan and Thin Red Line were contending. For me, this is the worst academy snub ever. It is a good film- maybe a great film. But better than Saving Private Ryan? Hell No.
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6. The Truman Show
One of the greatest satires ever made, The Truman Show will leave you paranoid and naïve about the world you live in. What extent will a society go to manipulate a man’s life for its entertainment. Jim Carrey gives a great performance by any standard of an actor, even more for a comedian. If you haven’t watched Truman Show yet, do watch it for satires don’t come in better form.
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5. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Guy Ritchie is one of the most underrated filmmakers ever. His style is an amalgamation of Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels has the visual and narrative style of QT, while having the comic and eccentric flair of Coen Brothers. One of the best hyper-linked movie ever made, watch this to witness the genius of Guy Ritchie.
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4. The Big Lebowski
Over the past two decades The Big Lebowski has garnered a cult following being widely regarded as one of the best comedies ever made. The plotline is simple: Mistaken identity. But the Coen brothers create out of it is shear brilliance. They create the coolest character, place him in dangerous situations which he comes out of not using his wit but with his sheer luck. “Sometimes there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude.”
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3. The Thin Red Line
I’ll give you a brief outline with respect to this film. When Malick decided to make a film after his penance for two decades the casting directors were filled with offers. Actors like Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Al Pacino and Gary Oldman wanted to be in his film so badly, that they told him they’d do it for free. Now getting back to the film, the film is one of the best contemporary war films. It didn’t get the response it deserved because it was overshadowed by “Saving Private Ryan”, another war film. The movie follows the classical Malick’s style of stylish cinematography and sleek intercutting. Although it is more complex than most of the standard war films, it is far simpler and accessible when compared to the other Malick’s films. The movie doesn’t move on logical reasoning, rather moves on a path of emotional truth – which moves you while making you ponder.
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2. American History X
Oh Norton! Edward Norton embodied the spirit of Derek Vinyard a racist neo-nazi who hates the darker race, but is changed in the prison through a black prisoner and when he comes out of the prison sees his brother walking through his earlier footsteps. Norton makes us relate to his character before going to prison and after getting released from there, convincing us of the change in his traits and not making him look like two different characters. And another matter, the curb-stomp scene will send some serious chills down your spine.
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1. Saving Private Ryan
How in seven hells did Saving Private Ryan lose the best picture to Shakespeare in Love. The later was a good film, but the former is a great film. It is a cinematic marvel. You don’t have to watch the entire movie to know the genius of this movie, just watch the first fifteen minutes. The Omaha Beach Landing is one of the greatest war footages ever shot. There are bullets whizzing past you, soldiers falling everywhere and the strength of the waves pushing you and your boat. It’s the pinnacle of detailing in editing and sound mixing. But it doesn’t focus only on the details. It also shows the war from the soldier’s view. They have never been so closer to death. Any day could be their last, any minute could be their last, any bullet can be their last. I wasn’t surprised to read that the original war veterans suffered PTSD while watching this movie because it’s close resemblance with the actual war reminded them of it. If I have to pick a movie in 1990’s that changed cinema, I would go with this. Standard and Quality of war films made changed- forever. Saving Private Ryan did for Second World War- what Apocalypse Now did for Vietnam War- it takes us there and makes us search for the point of the war. You find no point in it, and there you have your answer.
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