Four years ago I made a case for 1971 being one of the best movie years of all time. In June ’07 I presented a similar argument for 1962, which is easily at par with 1939. One could make an equally strong case for 2007. All to say that 1999 films, great and nourishing as they always will be, have been a tad overhyped over the last decade or so.
Brian Raftery‘s “Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen” (which went on sale two days ago) is the latest example of this.
My 1999 roster — Election, The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty, The Limey, The Sixth Sense, Magnolia, The Straight Story, The Cradle Will Rock, Run Lola Run, Any Given Sunday, The Hurricane, Three Kings, The Insider, Being John Malkovich, The Thin Red Line, Eyes Wide Shut, The Blair Witch Project, October Sky, Abrej Los Ojos and The Lovers on the Bridge — comes to 21, which is obviously stellar and significant.
But there are 25 films on my 2007 list — American Gangster, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, No Country for Old Men, Once, Superbad, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, Things We Lost in the Fire, Zodiac, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Atonement, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, I’m Not There, Sicko, Eastern Promises, The Bourne Ultimatum, Control, The Orphanage, 28 Weeks Later, In The Valley of Elah, Ratatouille, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Darjeeling Limited, Knocked Up and Sweeney Todd. Just as strong as ’99, and perhaps a touch better.
HE’s greatest 1962 films: Billy Budd, Lawrence of Arabia, Lolita, Lonely are the Brave, The Manchurian Candidate, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Ride the High Country, Knife in the Water, Shoot the Piano Player and To Kill a Mockingbird. Second-tier: Birdman of Alcatraz, Cape Fear, Days of Wine and Roses, Dr. No, Hatari!, How the West Was Won, The Longest Day, The Miracle Worker, Mutiny on the Bounty, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Sundays and Cybele, The Trial and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. (23)
Top 27 1971 Films: (1) The French Connection; (2) The Last Picture Show; (3) A Clockwork Orange (4) The Hospital, (5) McCabe & Mrs. Miller, (6) Sunday Bloody Sunday, (7) Get Carter, (8) Straw Dogs, (9) Murmur of the Heart, (10) Dirty Harry, (11) Klute, (12) Walkabout, (13) Two English Girls, (14) Death in Venice, (15) Two-Lane Blacktop, (16) Taking Off, (17) Carnal Knowledge, (18) Harold and Maude, (19) Roman Polanski’s Macbeth, (20) The Emigrants, (21) The Devils, (22) Play Misty for Me, (23) The Panic in Needle Park, (24) THX 1138, (25) Duel, (26) Little Murders, (27) Le Mans.
Stand-Alone, Non-Numerical: The Music Lovers (1970 British release that opened in the U.S. in January ’71)
Second Tier: (28) Shaft, (29) WR — Mysteries of the Organism, (30) Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, (31) A New Leaf, (32) Fiddler on the Roof, (33) Bananas, (34) Minnie and Moskowitz, (35) Diamonds Are Forever, (36) $, (37) The Boy Friend, (38) Family Life (d: Ken Loach), (39) Summer of ’42, (40) Wake in Fright, (41) The Wild Rovers, (42) The Clowns (d: Federico Fellini), (43) Four Nights of a Dreamer (d: Robert Bresson), (44) Plaza Suite, (45) The Ceremony (d: Nagisa Oshima), (46) Nicholas and Alexandra, (47) Mon Oncle Antoine, (48) Skin Game, (49) Johnny Got His Gun, (50) The Anderson Tapes.
Third Tier: (51) The Last Movie, (52) And Now for Something Completely Different, (53) The Andromeda Strain, (54) Billy Jack, (55) Bless the Beasts & Children, (56 The Omega Man, (57) Support Your Local Gunfighter, (58) 10 Rillington Place, (59) Vanishing Point, (60) Such Good Friends (61) Kotch, (62) Mary, Queen of Scots, (63) Fata Morgana, (64) Doc, (65) Made for Each Other, (66) Duck, You Sucker, (67) The Grissom Gang, (68) Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.