The Best Movies of the 1990s Part 3
My Subjective List of the Best Films of 1992
1992 was a strange year for popular culture. The controversial Mortal Kombat was released which, in part, led to the creation of the ESRB video game rating system— MTV introduced their first reality show, The Real World, and Tony Hawk helped launch his famous skateboarding company, Birdhouse. It was the year that Woody Allen left his long-term partner Mia Farrow after she discovered his secret affair with her adopted daughter, and the same year Sinead O’Connor tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live. Michael Jordan was so popular, McDonalds sold a burger called the “McJordan”; Mark Wahlberg was busy stripping down for Calvin Klein and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” played over and over again on the radio. 60 Minutes was still the highest-rated TV show; Kris Kross had everyone jumping while wearing their pants backward, and the Toronto Blue Jays became the first (and only) Canadian team to win the World Series. Andy Morahan directed the epic music video for Guns N’ Roses’s longest song “November Rain”; Wu-Tang Clan released their first record, and Jay Leno became the new host of the Tonight Show. Oh, and it was also a strange year for movies.
Aladdin was the highest-grossing film of 1992; The Crying Game was the year’s sleeper hit; Marisa Tomai won Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance in My Cousin Vinnie, and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven took home the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director. More than anything, 1992 will be remembered most for the emergence of independent filmmakers; the rising popularity of Hong Kong cinema and many of the best movies being unfairly maligned by critics and ignored by audiences. What follows is the best films of 1992.
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?
30 Perfect Screenshots from the Best Movies of 1992
Directors: Ron Clements and John Musker
A diamond in the rough.
A kindhearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.
Director: Bernard Rose
We Dare You To Say His Name Five Times!
The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster’s myth.
28. Benny’s Video
Director: Michael Haneke
A 14-year-old video enthusiast is so caught up in film fantasy that he can no longer relate to the real world, to such an extent that he commits murder and records an on-camera confession for his parents.
27. Dust Devil
Director: Richard Stanley
He’s not a serial killer. He’s much worse.
A woman on the run from her abusive husband encounters a mysterious hitch-hiker.
Director: Ernest R. Dickerson
In the Ghettos of Harlem you don’t buy respect …you earn it.
Four inner-city teenagers get caught up in the pursuit of power and happiness, which they refer to as “the juice”.
25. One False Move
Director: Carl Franklin
All it takes to bring him down is one bullet… one woman or… One False Move.
A small town police chief awaits the arrival of a gang of killers.
24. Batman Returns
Director: Tim Burton
Above Gotham, Looms Its Greatest Hero
Batman returns to the big screen when a deformed man calling himself the Penguin wreaks havoc across Gotham with the help of a cruel businessman.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Love Never Dies
The centuries old vampire Count Dracula comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker’s fiancée Mina Murray and inflict havoc in the foreign land.
22. Once Upon a Time in China II
Director: Tsui Hark
Wong Fei-Hung’s prominent Chinese martial arts school joins forces with a nationalistic militia to overthrow the colonialist powers intent on taking over China.
21. Man Bites Dog
Directors: Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde
A Killer Comedy
A film crew follows a ruthless thief and heartless killer as he goes about his daily routine. But complications set in when the film crew lose their objectivity and begin lending a hand.
Director: Stanley Tong
Meet the cop that can’t be stopped!
A Hong Kong detective teams up with his female Red Chinese counterpart to stop a Chinese drug czar.
19. The Crying Game
Director: Neil Jordan
The movie everyone is talking about… But no one is giving away its secrets.
A British soldier kidnapped by IRA terrorists soon befriends one of his captors, who then becomes drawn into the soldier’s world.
Director: Jean-Claude Lauzon
Young Léo Lauzon lives in a Montreal apartment building with his troubled and highly eccentric family, but he spends much of his time in his own imagination. Devising a strange fantasy world where his mother conceived him with an Italian tomato, Léo attempts to cope with his unsettling reality by retreating into his mind, with his meandering thoughts often drifting to his gorgeous neighbor, Bianca.
17. Army of Darkness
Director: Sam Raimi
He’s a 20th century guy, trapped in the middle ages.
A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.
16. Braindead (a.k.a Dead Alive)
Director: Peter Jackson
The most undercooked comedy in the history of Cinema!
A young man’s mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey. She gets sick and dies, at which time she comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbors.
15. Basic Instinct
Director: Paul Verhoeven
A brutal murder. A brilliant killer. A cop who can’t resist the danger.
A violent police detective investigates a brutal murder that might involve a manipulative and seductive novelist.
14. Glengarry Glen Ross
Director: James Foley
The hardest thing in life is sell.
An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.
13. Bitter Moon
Director: Roman Polanski
Some lovers never know when to stop…
After hearing stories of her, a passenger on a cruise ship develops an irresistible infatuation with an eccentric paraplegic’s wife.
12. Lessons of Darkness
Director: Werner Herzog
This film shows the disaster of the Kuwaitian oil fields in flames, with few interviews and no explanatory narration. Hell itself is presented in such beautiful sights and music that one has to be fascinated by it.
11. The Player
Director: Robert Altman
In Hollywood, it’s not who you know, it’s who you kill.
A Hollywood studio executive is being sent death threats by a writer whose script he rejected, but which one?
10. The Last of the Mohicans
Director: Michael Mann
The first American hero.
Three trappers protect the daughters of a British Colonel in the midst of the French and Indian War.
Director: Sally Potter
After Queen Elizabeth I commands him not to grow old, a young nobleman struggles with love and his place in the world.
8. Husbands and Wives
Director: Woody Allen
When their best friends announce that they’re separating, a professor and his wife discover the faults in their own marriage.
Director: Clint Eastwood
It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man
William Munny, a widower with two young kids, once a vicious gunfighter, gives up everything after marriage. Now, a man named Schofield Kid brings him an offer that he cannot refuse.
6. Bad Lieutenant
Director: Abel Ferrara
Gambler. Thief. Junkie. Killer. Cop.
While investigating a young nun’s rape, a corrupt New York City police detective, with a serious drug and gambling addiction, tries to change his ways and find forgiveness and redemption.
5. Malcolm X
Director: Spike Lee
Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.
4. The Long Day Closes
Director: Terrence Davies
A young British boy comes of age among his loving family and the austere Catholic Church as he realizes his love of cinema and his homosexuality.
3. Reservoir Dogs
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Four perfect killers. One perfect crime. Now all they have to fear is each other.
When a simple jewelry heist goes horribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
Director: John Woo
The Most Action-Packed Film of All-Time.
A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.
1. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
Director: David Lynch
In a town like Twin Peaks, no one is innocent.
Laura Palmer’s harrowing final days are chronicled one year after the murder of Teresa Banks, a resident of Twin Peaks’ neighboring town.
This article is part of an ongoing series.