erik lundegaard

What's Missing from AV Club's Top 50 Films of the 1990s?

Last week, the AV Club over at the Onion, which writes seriously about film, listed its top 50 films of the 1990s.

Not a bad time to do it. We're 12 years removed, the teenagers who saw movies then are now in their 30s and a little smarter, the folks who were in their 30s (me) are now nearing 50 and a little wearier. So ... not a bad moment to pause and collect and sort through.

This is the list they came up with:

  • 50. Dead Man
  • 49. American Movie
  • 48. Ed Wood
  • 47. Starship Troopers
  • 46. Heavenly Creatures
  • 45. The Limey
  • 44. Metropolitan
  • 43. Terminator 2
  • 42. All About My Mother
  • 41. Raise the Red Lantern
  • 40. Trainspotting
  • 39. The Blair Witch Project
  • 38. Fast Cheap and Out of Control
  • 37. Glengarry Glen Ross
  • 36. L.A. Confidential
  • 35. Naked
  • 34. Seven
  • 33. The Matrix
  • 32. Close-Up
  • 31. Paradise Lost
  • 30. The Thin Red Line
  • 29. Irma Vep
  • 28. Election
  • 27. Short Cuts
  • 26. Eyes Wide Shut
  • 25. Fight Club
  • 24. Crumb
  • 23. Carlito's Way
  • 22. The Sweet Hereafter
  • 21. Fargo
  • 20. Red
  • 19. Exotica
  • 18. Schindler's List
  • 17. Safe
  • 16. The Big Lebowski
  • 15. Groundhog Day
  • 14. Hoop Dreams
  • 13. Boogie Nights
  • 12. Miller's Crossing
  • 11. Barton Fink
  • 10. Being John Malkovich
  • 9. Rushmore
  • 8. Unforgiven
  • 7. Reservoir Dogs
  • 6. Out of Sight
  • 5. Chungking Express
  • 4. Dazed and Confused
  • 3. Toy Story 2
  • 2. Pulp Fiction
  • 1. Goodfellas

Not bad. I particularly like putting “Dazed and Confused” and “Rushmore” so high and not forgetting about “Crumb” and “Groundhog Day.”

Of course there were objections. Whenever you make a list, there are objections.

Specifically, some objected to the fact that there were no women directors on the list. As a result, critics such as Carrie Rickey suggested some female-directed movies, such as “Clueless” and “Point Break.” (Really, Carrie?) Slate piled on, too, with women and foreign and African-American-directed movies. Anything to get us away from the awful dreariness of live white males: You know, Scorsese, Tarantino, Eastwood, Wes Anderson. At least Slate quotes one of AV's critics, Scott Tobias, who defends their work, saying if there's bias its not AV's bias. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game,” he says. “The list raises questions about institutional bias in ’90s filmmaking here and abroad. In itself, it is neutral.”

Well, “neutral.”

But overall I agree. I think the objection from Rickey and Slate is a little silly and misses the bigger problem with the list:

Where the fuck is Michael Mann's “The Insider”?

Seriously. It's deep, serious, accessible, fascinating. It's about ordinary people under extraordinary pressure. It's about the preeminent issue of our time: how corporate profits trump integrity—scientific or journalistic or otherwise. It's about two men who sacrifice to win one battle in a war we are losing everywhere.

I'm not sure what my Top 50 films of the 1990s would look like. I don't even know what my Top 10 would look like. But at the least I can tell you what my top two would look like:

  • 2. The Insider
  • 1. The Thin Red Line


Posted at 07:19 AM on Tue. Oct 16, 2012 in category Movies - Lists  
Tags: , ,

COMMENTS

Jake wrote:

Though they may not be canonical, some favorites of mine not on the AV club's list include: Big Night, Sense and Sensibility, Howard's End, The Fugitive, and The Ice Storm.

Comment posted on Tue. Oct 16, 2012 at 07:40 AM

Erik wrote:

All good choices. What had an impact and what could I see again right now? ICE STORM, certainly. BIG NIGHT. Or if you're feeling like Chinese: EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN.

Comment posted on Tue. Oct 16, 2012 at 07:47 AM

Daniel wrote:

I definitely appreciate the praise for The Insider, a very underappreciated movie. With respect to the list, where is Shawshank Redemption? Is it really not in the top 50? That seems impossible - or, is it just me?

Comment posted on Tue. Oct 16, 2012 at 08:10 AM

Erik wrote:

Daniel. It's not you. SHAWSHANK would be on my Top 50. I'm sure the vote-stuffers on IMDb are going apoplectic over AV's list.

Comment posted on Tue. Oct 16, 2012 at 08:12 AM

Ross! wrote:

Um, hello? Phantom Menace!

Comment posted on Tue. Oct 16, 2012 at 08:25 AM

Pre-plucked Plantagenet wrote:

I'd forgotten that The Phantom Menace came out in 1999. It certainly was memorable! Some of the best time I ever spent on YouTube was watching this series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI

Comment posted on Tue. Oct 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Dave wrote:

Casino?

Comment posted on Tue. Oct 16, 2012 at 10:17 AM

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