The Best Movies of the 1990s Part 9
My Subjective List of the Best Films of 1998
1998 was a big year for modern tech companies. It was the year that gave us Auto-Tune, and the MP3 player was a controversial new gadget. Apple was making a comeback, and Microsoft became the biggest company in the world, valued at $261bn on the New York Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, Google Inc. was formed on September 4.
1998 was also a time when Britney Spears was the sweetheart of MTV, and the same network kicked off the year with the debut of its late-night, gory Claymation series, Celebrity Deathmatch, which pitted animated pop culture icons against each other. The famous game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? also premiered and it was a time when everyone in the Hip Hop world was shifting alliances with Snoop Dogg exiting Death Row Records and Dr. Dre signing Eminem. Meanwhile, Posh Spice and David Beckham became the new it-couple, Elton John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered off-Broadway.
France won the 1998 World Cup in a controversial match in France against Brazil; Japan hosted the Winter Olympics; the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row sweeping the Washington Capitals. It was also the year Michael Jordan was voted the NBA Finals MVP for the sixth time as he won his sixth and final NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls.
1998 was also a big year for television as 76.3 million people tuned in to watch the finale of Seinfeld; HBO debuted Sex & City and Stone-Cold Steve Austin defeated Shawn Michaels while winning his first WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XIV— an event that is often cited to be the full beginning of the “Attitude Era”.
1998 is also considered as one of the most financially successful years for the film industry with some of the biggest hits released including Armageddon, Saving Private Ryan, Godzilla, Deep Impact, and Mulan.
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 1997 here.
50 Perfect Screenshots from the Best Movies of 1998
50. The Quiet Family
Director: Jee-woon Kim
A family opens a mountain inn where their first guest commits suicide. Suddenly all their guests befall horrible fates.
Director: Robert LePage
Nô is a 1998 Canadian film by director Robert Lepage. It was based on one segment in Lepage’s play Seven Streams of the River Ota.
The title is a pun which reflects the film’s dramatic structure, linking the 1980 Quebec referendum (in which the “no” won) to Japanese Nō theatre.
48. There’s Something About Mary
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Warning: The guys who did ‘Dumb & Dumber’ and ‘Kingpin’ bring you a love story.
A man gets a chance to meet up with his dream girl from high school, even though his date with her back then was a complete disaster.
47. Last Night
Director: Don McKellar
It’s not the end of the world… there’s still six hours left
A group of very different individuals with different ideas of how to face the end come together as the world is expected to end in six hours at the turn of the century.
Director: Vera Chytilová
After two troubled but powerful men rape a young hitchhiker who happens to be a vet, she drugs them and remove their testicles.
45. Small Soldiers
Director: Joe Dante
Big Trouble Small Soldiers
When missile technology is used to enhance toy action figures, the toys soon begin to take their battle programming too seriously.
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson
See the world from a whole new perspective.
A rather neurotic ant tries to break from his totalitarian society while trying to win the affection of the princess he loves.
43. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Director: Karan Johar
They’ll make you laugh… they’ll make you cry… they’ll even make you fall in love
During their college years, Anjali was in love with her best-friend Rahul, but he had eyes only for Tina. Years later, Rahul and the now-deceased Tina’s eight-year-old daughter attempts to reunite her father and Anjali.
42. The Idiots
Director: Lars Von Trier
A film by idiots, about idiots, for idiots
The group of people gather at the house in Copenhagen suburb to break all the limitations and to bring out the “inner idiot” in themselves.
41. The Eel
Director: Shôhei Imamura
A businessman kills his adulterous wife and is sent to prison. After the release, he opens a barbershop and meets new people, talking almost to no one except an eel he befriended while in prison.
Director: Hideo Nakata
Will scare the hell out of you!
A reporter and her ex-husband investigate a cursed video tape that is rumored to kill the viewer seven days after watching it.
Director: Christopher Nolan
You’re Never Alone.
A young writer who follows strangers for material meets a thief who takes him under his wing.
Directors: Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.
To save her father from death in the army, a young maiden secretly goes in his place and becomes one of China’s greatest heroines in the process.
Director: John Frankenheimer
Loyalty is bought, betrayal is a way of life…
A freelancing former U.S. Intelligence Agent tries to track down a mysterious package that is wanted by the Irish and the Russians.
Director: Gary Ross
Nothing Is As Simple As Black And White.
Two 1990s teenage siblings find themselves in a 1950s sitcom, where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.
35. The Spanish Prisoner
Director: David Mamet
Who can you trust with a billion dollar idea?
An employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret process is tempted to betray it. But there’s more to it than that.
34. Divorce Iranian Style
Directors: Kim Longinotto, Ziba Mir-Hosseini
A documentary about real divorce cases in Iran’s tribunals.
33. Buffalo ’66
Director: Vincent Gallo
Billy Brown just got out of jail. Now he’s going to serve some real time. He’s going home.
After being released from prison, Billy is set to visit his parents with his wife, whom he does not actually have. This provokes Billy to act out, as he kidnaps a girl and forces her to act as his wife for the visit.
32. Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål)
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Two girls. One love.
Two teenage girls in small-town Sweden. Elin is beautiful, popular, and bored with life. Agnes is friendless, sad, and secretly in love with Elin.
31. Flowers of Shanghai
Director: Hsiao-Hsien Hou
In the “flower houses” (upscale brothels) of Shanghai, various interweaving stories of love, loyalty, and deceit play out subtly.
30. After Life
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
What is the one memory you would take with you?
After death, people have just one week to choose only a memory to keep for eternity.
Director: Philippe Grandrieux
A sexually frustrated serial killer takes a liking to a woman he comes across.
28. Late August, Early September
Director: Olivier Assayas
A story about the transition from late youth to early maturity, the film follows several friends and lovers as they come to make decisions on how to live their lives–getting a job more in harmony with ones ideals, committing to a lover, giving up a lover that no longer loves you: a film about grown-ups growing up.
Director: Jonathan Demme
The past has a life of its own.
Based on the book by Toni Morrison, in which a slave is visited by the spirit of a mysterious young woman
26. Under the Skin
Director: Carine Adler
Your body betrays your soul.
A woman explores her sexuality to cope with the passing of her mother, leading her to profound revelations about herself and the people closest to her.
25. Eternity and a Day
Director: Theodoros Angelopoulos
Famous writer Alexander is very ill and has little time left to live. He meets a little boy on the street, who is an illegal immigrant from Albania, and goes on a journey with him to take the boy home.
24. He Got Game
Director: Spike Lee
The father, the son and the holy game.
A basketball player’s father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.
23. A Bug’s Life
Directors: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton
An epic of miniature proportions.
A misfit ant, looking for “warriors” to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe.
22. Little Dieter Needs to Fly
Director: Werner Herzog
German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as a U.S. naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Viet Cong, recreating many events for the camera.
21. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Director: Terry Gilliam
Four Days, Three nights, Two Convertibles, One City
An oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades.
20. The Hole
Director: Ming-liang Tsai
A search for intimacy in a world of disaster.
While never-ending rain and a strange disease spread by cockroaches ravage Taiwan, a plumber makes a hole between two apartments and the inhabitants of each form a unique connection, enacted in musical numbers.
19. Le dîner de cons (The Dinner Game)
Director: Francis Veber
A feast for the senseless.
A few friends have a weekly fools’ dinner, where each brings a fool along. Pierre finds a champion fool for next dinner. Surprise.
18. The Last Days of Disco
Director: Whit Stillman
History is made at night.
Story of two female Manhattan book editors fresh out of college, both finding love and themselves while frequenting the local disco.
17. Babe: Pig in the City
Director: George Miller
In the heart of the city, a pig with heart.
Babe, fresh from his victory in the sheepherding contest, returns to Farmer Hoggett’s farm, but after Farmer Hoggett is injured and unable to work, Babe has to go to the big city to save the farm.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
There will be no order, only chaos
A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature.
15. American History X
Director: Tony Kaye
His father taught him to hate. His friends taught him rage. His enemies gave him hope.
A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.
Director: Todd Solondz
The lives of several individuals intertwine as they go about their lives in their own unique ways, engaging in acts society as a whole might find disturbing in a desperate search for human connection.
13. A Simple Plan
Director: Sam Raimi
Sometimes good people do evil things.
Three blue-collar acquaintances come across millions of dollars in lost cash and make a plan to keep their find from the authorities, but it isn’t long before complications and mistrust weave their way into the plan.
12. Life Is Beautiful
Director: Roberto Benigni
An unforgettable fable that proves love, family and imagination conquer all.
When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor, and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.
11. Run Lola Run
Director: Tom Tykwer
After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.
The Pressure is Rising, The Adrenaline is Rushing, The Clock is Ticking
10. I Stand Alone (Seul contre tous)
Director: Gaspar Noé
In the bowels of France
A horse meat butcher’s life and mind begins to breakdown as he lashes out against various factions of society while attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
9. Dark City
Director: Alex Proyas
A world where the night never ends. Where man has no past. And humanity has no future
A man struggles with memories of his past, which includes a wife he cannot remember, and a nightmarish world, no one else seems to be waking up from.
Director: Wes Anderson
Love. Expulsion. Revolution.
The extracurricular king of Rushmore Preparatory School is put on academic probation.
7. The Big Lebowski
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
They figured he was a lazy, time-wasting slacker. They were right.
Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.
6. The Celebration
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Every family has a secret.
At Helge’s 60th birthday party, some unpleasant family truths are revealed.
5. The Truman Show
Director: Peter Weir
All the world’s a stage…
An insurance salesman discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show.
4. Black Cat, White Cat
Director: Emir Kusturica
Matko and his son Zare live on the banks of the Danube river and get by through hustling and basically doing anything to make a living. In order to pay off a business debt Matko agrees to marry off Zare to the sister of a local gangster.
3. Saving Private Ryan
Director: Steven Spielberg
There was only one man left in the family, and the mission was to save him.
Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
2. Out of Sight
Director: Steven Soderbergh
In the bowels of France
A career bank robber breaks out of jail, and shares a moment of mutual attraction with a U.S. Marshal he has kidnapped.
1. The Thin Red Line
Director: Terrence Malick
Every man fights his own war.
Adaptation of James Jones’ autobiographical 1962 novel, focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War.
This article is part of an ongoing series. The other entries are coming later this week.