Back to the 1990s

Top Nine Movies of 1999

By Noah Levy
EE Managing Editor

People saw many creative, interesting and original films released in 1999, and some even got the recognition they deserved from the public. And then there was The Phantom Menace. …the less said about that colossal disappointment, the better. Still, the best of the best deserves to be recognized.

9. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and UncutSouth Park is barely two years old, and already its accomplished more than shows that haven been on for years. With the feature film, Trey Parker and Matt Stone truly go all out, crafting a crude, possibly offensive, but unbelievably hilarious satire of animated films, musicals, and censorship. Personally, I don’t think they’ll be able to top themselves after this.

8. The Iron Giant– Brad Bird, once a writer for The Simpsons (Which celebrated it’s tenth anniversary this year), shows he has serious artistic clout with his first feature. An homage to Cold War paranoia Sci-Fi flicks, it focuses on a young boy who comes across a giant alien robot and grows close to it. Bird packs the film with memorable characters, wonderful late 50’s atmosphere, and a surprising amount of emotional depth. I look forward to more from him.

7. The Blair Witch Project– If it wasn’t for the cop out ending, this would be even higher. One of the most profitable films of all time (Made for $500,000, making $250 Million), the movie is about the “Found footage” of three filmmakers that went missing in Maryland looking for the so-called “Blair Witch”. It’s a concept that’s never been seen before, and is executed brilliantly, providing a visceral, often-terrifying experience. Also, a sequel has just been announced. I have no idea how they can top this one, but I can’t wait for it.

6. Fight Club– If there was a more polarizing film this year, I didn’t see it. Many hated David Fincher’s adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s equally polarizing novel, but I thought it was incredibly inventive and surprisingly deep. Also, I’m not really supposed to talk about it. Regardless of the rules of Fight Club, the film deals with numerous social and psychological issues, while depicting gritty and brutal cinematic violence, while also providing one heck of a plot twist. Needless to say, it needs to be seen to properly understand it.

5. The Sixth Sense- Speaking of plot twists, I kind of saw this one coming, but it definitely didn’t lessen the impact. Newcomer writer-director M. Night Shyamalan knocks it out of the park with his first feature, and gives us a new kid to love in Haley Joel Osment, who proves that not all child actors are God Awful. Actually, if all of them were as good as him, the film industry would be much better off. I predict Shyamalan will be one of the most important, creative talents of the next decade, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for him.

4. The Matrix– To all those who say the third act gets bogged down in action: SHUT UP. IT’S EPIC. The Wachowski Brothers succeed in creating a deep and inventive mythology with their first installment in their planned trilogy. Also, the entire film oozes with style, from the way Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburne, and Carrie Anne-Moss rock their sunglasses and leather jackets, Hugo Weaving’s enjoyably evil Agent Smith, and oh yeah; THE EFFECTS ARE INCREDIBLE. Bullet time is probably the greatest visual achievement since Sam Neil walked with dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. I can only hope the next two installments are half as good as this.

3. American Beauty– Deep. That’s all I have to say about this wonderful debut from screenwriter Alan Ball and director Sam Mendes. It’s deconstruction of suburban America and the downfall of Kevin Spacey’s Lester Burnham is packed with symbolism, metaphors, and so many memorable scenes. Out of all the films on this list, I believe this one will survive the longest in consciousness, and be just as loved in ten years as it is now.

2. Being John Malkovich– Long haired John Cusack, unrecognizable Cameron Diaz, and normal Catherine Keener walk into the 7th and a half floor of an office building and find a hole that leads into the head of John Malkovich. …no, it’s not a setup for the world’s worst joke, it’s one of the weirdest, most inventive and darkly funny films ever made. Literally, that’s the premise. They find a portal into the brain of John Malkovich, and some of the weirdest stuff ever happens. All I can say is thank God for Charlie Kaufman, because if he wasn’t writing this unbelievably ridiculous stuff, we wouldn’t have a great film like this.

1. Toy Story 2– They did it. They topped perfection. The original Toy Story, in addition to being the first computer animated film, was a story filled with wonderful characters, great writing, and unlike other CG films, didn’t sacrifice substance for style. And then Pixar did it again. Better. Toy Story 2 introduces even more memorable characters, raises the stakes, and succeeds. Buzz and Woody’s second adventure is perfect in every way, and could even restore your faith in sequels (Or even cinema in general).

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