erik lundegaard

Tuesday October 16, 2012

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 Tuesday October 16, 2012 in category Movies - Lists  
« Anthony Lane on ‘Argo’   |   Home   |   Photo of the Day »

Twitter: @ErikLundegaard