The Best Movies of the 1990s Part 6
My Subjective List of the Best Films of 1995
1995 was the year Amazon sold its first book; eBay debuted on the internet and Starbucks released the frozen Frappuccino. That same year, someone invented the Java computer language, Windows 95 was in every household and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn action figures made action figures cool again. After the colossal failure of the laserdisc player, the announcement was made that DVDs would revolutionize the way we watch movies; meanwhile, Sony entered the North American video game market amidst some strong competition from Nintendo and Sega. It was the year gamers were introduced to Crash Bandicoot and Square released the RPG masterpiece Chrono Trigger, one of the greatest games of all time. On the small screen, the medical drama ER was the highest-rated show, while Seinfeld and Friends came in second and third place for weekly viewership. Around the world, people were learning to dance the Macarena; Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was the top song of the year and WCW Nitro debuted on TNT, starting what was later dubbed the Monday Night Wars. Meanwhile, in one of the most-watched episodes of television, The Simpsons revealed who pulled the trigger and shot the evil, calculating C. Montgomery Burns— and in real life, the sensational televised trial of O.J. Simpson became the genesis of our reality TV obsession. When the verdict of the eight-month trial was reached, more than 150 million people tuned in to watch the jury’s live final decision.
When it came to movies, 1995 is the year that gave us David Fincher’s Se7en, Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects, and Martin Scorsese’s Casino. The Scottish war drama Braveheart won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Mel Gibson, who also starred in the film as the real-life freedom fighter William Wallace. Meanwhile, Pixar’s first feature-length film Toy Story was released making it also the first computer-animated film in history and George Miller’s Babe turned a whopping $250 million profit and scored a Best Picture nomination. And yet, with all that name dropping, neither of those films appear at the number one spot down below. What can I say, 1995 was a good year to go to the movies.
A few quick notes before moving ahead:
As with all lists, the choices here are obviously subjective.
Normally, in the past, I would write one capsule review for each film but since I plan on releasing a list for every other year in the decade, I’ve instead decided to simply include one screenshot along with the official plot synopsis courtesy of IMDB.com. Sorry guys, but these lists are time-consuming, and I’ve quickly come to learn that most people don’t bother reading every capsule review either way— so why bother?
That out of the way, here are the 30 best movies of 1993, each represented by one perfect screenshot. You can find my list of the best films of 1994 here.
45 Perfect Screenshots from the Best Movies of 1995
45. Die Hard: With a Vengeance
Director: John McTiernan
On a good day he’s a great cop. On a bad day he’s the best there is.
John McClane and a Harlem store owner are targeted by German terrorist Simon Gruber in New York City, where he plans to rob the Federal Reserve Building.
44. Basketball Diaries
Director: Scott Kalvert
The true story of the death of innocence and the birth of an artist
A teenager finds his dreams of becoming a basketball star threatened after he free falls into the harrowing world of drug addiction.
43. Le confessional
Director: Robert Lepage
Hitchcock would have been proud of this.
In the late 1980s, Pierre Lamontagne travels to his hometown in Quebec after his father dies. There, he runs into his adoptive brother, Marc, who desperately wishes to uncover the mysterious identity of his own biological father. They begin to investigate, which leads them back to 1952, with Alfred Hitchcock filming “I Confess” in the area amid a complex scandal involving the Lamontagne family, Marc’s pregnant mother and the Catholic church.
42. Get Shorty
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
The Mob Is Tough. But It’s Nothing Like Show Business.
A mobster travels to Hollywood to collect a debt, and discovers that the movie business is much the same as his current job.
41. The Last Supper
Director: Stacy Title
Eat… drink… and be buried…
A group of idealistic, but frustrated, liberals succumb to the temptation of murdering rightwing pundits for their political beliefs.
40. The Quick and the Dead
Director: Sam Raimi
In this town, you’re either one or the other
A female gunfighter returns to a frontier town where a dueling tournament is being held, which she enters in an effort to avenge her father’s death.
39. Living in Oblivion
Director: Tom DiCillo
Nick is about to discover the first rule of filmmaking: if at first you don’t succeed… PANIC!
This ultimate tribute to all independent filmmakers takes place during one day on the set of a non-budget movie.
38. Mute Witness
Director: Anthony Waller
She Can’t Speak. She Can’t Scream. She Can’t Beg For Mercy.
A mute make-up artist working on a slasher movie being shot in Moscow, is locked in the studio after hours. While there, she witnesses a brutal murder, and must escape capture.
37. Dao (The Blade)
Director: Hark Tsui
After the master of the Sharp Manufacturer saber factory abdicates and appoints On, his least popular worker, as his successor, On, unwilling to lead his surly colleagues, embarks on a quest of revenge to kill the evil, flying, tattooed kung fu master who killed his father.
36. Devil in a Blue Dress
Director: Carl Franklin
In a world divided by black and white, Easy Rawlins is about to cross the line.
An African-American man is hired to find a woman, and gets mixed up in a murderous political scandal.
35. Apollo 13
Director: Ron Howard
Failure is not an option.
NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board in jeopardy.
34. Crimson Tide
Director: Tony Scott
On The Brink Of Nuclear War, Two Men Clash Over The Fate Of The World.
On a U.S. nuclear missile sub, a young First Officer stages a mutiny to prevent his trigger happy Captain from launching his missiles before confirming his orders to do so.
Director: Chris Noonan
A little pig goes a long way.
Babe, a pig raised by sheepdogs, learns to herd sheep with a little help from Farmer Hoggett.
Director: Larry Clark
A day in the life of a group of teens as they travel around New York City skating, drinking, smoking and deflowering virgins.
Director: Anh Hung Tran
A young man who struggles through life by earning some money with his bicycle-taxi in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) gets contact to a group of criminals. They introduce him to the mafia-world of drugs and crime.
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
A young woman’s husband apparently commits suicide without warning or reason, leaving behind his wife and infant.
29. The Doom Generation
Sex. Mayhem. Whatever.
Jordan White and Amy Blue, two troubled teens, pick up an adolescent drifter, Xavier Red. Together, the threesome embark on a sex and violence-filled journey through an America of psychos and quickiemarts.
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Beyond your wildest dreams. Beyond your wildest fantasies.
Nomi, a young drifter, arrives in Las Vegas to become a dancer and soon sets about clawing and pushing her way to become the top of the Vegas showgirls.
27. Day of the Beast
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
When Saints become sinners, no one is safe!
Bent on committing as many sins as possible to avert the birth of the beast, a Catholic priest teams up with a Black Metal aficionado and an Italian connoisseur of the occult. Now, he must become an unrelenting sinner. Is there still hope?
26. Sense and Sensibility
Director: Ang Lee
Lose your heart and come to your senses.
Rich Mr. Dashwood dies, leaving his second wife and her three daughters poor by the rules of inheritance. The two eldest daughters are the title opposites.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
When the smoke clears, it just means he’s reloading.
Former musician and gunslinger El Mariach arrives at a small Mexican border town after being away for a long time. His past quickly catches up with him and he soon gets entangled with the local drug kingpin Bucho and his gang.
24. Leaving Las Vegas
Ben Sanderson, a Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his alcoholism, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.
23. Kicking and Screaming
Director: Noah Baumbach
Anxiety loves company.
A bunch of guys hang around their college for months after graduation, continuing a life much like the one before graduation.
22. The Bridges of Madison County
Director: Clint Eastwood
Photographer Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep) for four days in the 1960s.
21. Fallen Angels
Director: Kar-Wai Wong
This Hong Kong-set crime drama follows the lives of a hitman, hoping to get out of the business, and his elusive female partner.
20. The Addiction
Director: Abel Ferrara
The dark is their sunlight. What makes them different is what keeps them alive.
A New York philosophy grad student turns into a vampire after getting bitten by one, and then tries to come to terms with her new lifestyle and frequent craving for human blood.
19. Ghost in the Shell
Director: Mamoru Oshii
It’s found its voice… now it needs a body.
A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.
18. Toy Story
Director: John Lasseter
Hang on for the comedy that goes to infinity and beyond!
A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy’s room.
17. To Die For
Director: Gus Van Sant
She knew what it took to get to the top… a lot of heart and a little head.
A beautiful but naïve aspiring television personality films a documentary on teenagers with a darker ulterior motive.
Director: Amy Heckerling
Sex. Clothes. Popularity. Whatever.
A rich high school student tries to boost a new pupil’s popularity, but reckons without affairs of the heart getting in the way.
15. Strange Days
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
An extreme taste of reality.
A former cop turned street-hustler accidentally uncovers a conspiracy in Los Angeles in 1999.
14. The White Balloon
Director: Jafar Panahi
Several people try to help a little girl to find the money her mom gave her to buy a goldfish with.
13. La cérémonie
Director: Claude Chabrol
A newly hired maid for a rich countryside family befriends a post-office clerk who encourages her to rebel against her employers.
Director: Mel Gibson
Every man dies, not every man really lives.
When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.
Director: Spike Lee
When there’s murder on the streets, everyone is a suspect.
Young drug pushers in the projects of Brooklyn live hard dangerous lives, trapped between their drug bosses and the detectives out to stop them.
10. City of Lost Children
Directors: Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Some people follow their dreams. Others steal them.
A scientist in a surrealist society kidnaps children to steal their dreams, hoping that they slow his aging process.
9. Before Sunrise
Director: Richard Linklater
Jump on and live a Eurorail journey you will never forget!
A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together.
Director: Michael Mann
A Los Angeles Crime Saga
A group of professional bank robbers start to feel the heat from police when they unknowingly leave a clue at their latest heist.
7. The Usual Suspects
Director: Bryan Singer
Five Criminals . One Line Up . No Coincidence
A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.
6. 12 Monkeys
Director: Terry Gilliam
The future is history.
In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Luck has nothing to do with the games they play.
A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast living and fast loving socialite.
Director: David Fincher
Seven deadly sins. Seven ways to die.
Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.
Director: Todd Haynes
In the 21st century nobody will be…Safe.
An affluent and unexceptional homemaker in the suburbs develops multiple chemical sensitivity.
Director: Emir Kusturica
Let the wild life of politics begin.
A group of Serbian socialists prepares for the war in a surreal underground filled by parties, tragedies, love and hate.
1. La Haine
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Three Young Friends… One Last Chance.
24 hours in the lives of three young men in the French suburbs the day after a violent riot.
This article is part of an ongoing series.