13 July 2009

CriterionForum's Poll of the Best Films of the 1990s

Every so often on the message boards at CriterionForum (no affiliation with Criterion itself), there's a user poll which catalogs the best films of a given time period. It looks like we're on our second time around for each of the decades, and for the first time, I participated in the poll for the Best Films of the 1990s. When the poll was conducted in 2005 for the 90s, Wes Anderson's Rushmore was on top; it's been replaced by Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man this time around. I won't post my own personal list, as I didn't put a whole lot of thought into my choices, and there's probably quite a few films I'd be ashamed to say I haven't seen, but here were the results when compiled earlier this month.

01. Dead Man - d. Jim Jarmusch
02. Chungking Express - d. Wong Kar-wai
03. The Thin Red Line - d. Terrence Malick
04. Eyes Wide Shut - d. Stanley Kubrick
05. Sátántangó - d. Béla Tarr
06. Happy Together - d. Wong Kar-wai
07. A Brighter Summer Day - d. Edward Yang
08. Goodfellas - d. Martin Scorsese
09. The Double Life of Véronique [La double-vie de Véronique] - d. Krzysztof Kieslowski
10. Three Colours: Red [Trois couleurs: Rouge] - d. Krzysztof Kieslowski

11. Rushmore - d. Wes Anderson
12. Three Colours: Blue [Trois couleurs: Bleu] - d. Krzysztof Kieslowski
13. The Wind Will Carry Us - d. Abbas Kiarostami
14. Safe - d. Todd Haynes
15. Miller's Crossing - d. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
16. Magnolia - d. Paul Thomas Anderson
17. The Big Lebowski - d. Joel Coen
18. Fucking Åmål [Show Me Love] - d. Lukas Moodysson
19. Irma Vep - d. Olivier Assayas
20. Close Up - d. Abbas Kiarostami

21. Rosetta - d. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
22. Van Gogh - d. Maurice Pialat
23. Boogie Nights - d. Paul Thomas Anderson
24. To Sleep with Anger - d. Charles Burnett
25. Short Cuts - d. Robert Altman
26. Life and Nothing But [La vie et rien d'autre] - d. Bertrand Tavernier
27. Ratcatcher - d. Lynne Ramsay
28. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me - d. David Lynch
29. Pulp Fiction - d. Quentin Tarantino
30. Lost Highway - d. David Lynch

31. All About My Mother [Todo sobre mi madre] - d. Pedro Almodóvar
32. Fallen Angels - d. Wong Kar-wai
33. Husbands and Wives - d. Woody Allen
34. Exotica - d. Atom Egoyan
35. Groundhog Day - d. Harold Ramis
36. Raise the Red Lantern - d. Zhang Yimou
37. Jackie Brown - d. Quentin Tarantino
38. Unforgiven - d. Clint Eastwood
39. Naked - d. Mike Leigh
40. La promesse - d. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

41. Fargo - d. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
42. Naked Lunch - d. David Cronenberg
43. Goodbye South Goodbye - d. Hou Hsiao-hsien
44. Buffalo '66 - d. Vincent Gallo
45. The Taste of Cherry - d. Abbas Kiarostami
46. The Hole - d. Tsai Ming-liang
47. Underground - d. Emir Kusturica
48. Lessons of Darkness [Lektionen in Finsternis] - d. Werner Herzog
49. Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers - d. Nick Park
50. La belle noiseuse - d. Jacques Rivette

51. Crash - d. David Cronenberg
52. Barton Fink - d. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
53. The Silence of the Lambs - d. Jonathan Demme
54. Time Regained [Le temps retrouvé] - d. Raoul Ruiz
55. La cérémonie - d. Claude Chabrol
55. The Power of Kangwon Province - d. Hong Sang-soo
57. L.A. Confidential - d. Curtis Hanson
58. Ed Wood - d. Tim Burton
59. Sink or Swim - d. Su Friedrich
60. Princess Mononoke - d. Hayao Miyazaki

61. Days of Being Wild - d. Wong Kar-wai
62. Only Yesterday - d. Isao Takahata
63. Beau travail - d. Claire Denis
63. Heat - d. Michael Mann
65. Mother and Son - d. Aleksandr Sokurov
66. Fight Club - d. David Fincher
67. Lovers on the Bridge [Les amants du Pont-Neuf] - d. Leos Carax
67. Being John Malkovich - d. Spike Jonze
69. After Life - d. Hirokazu Koreeda
70. L'humanité - d. Bruno Dumont

71. El sol del membrillo [The Dream of Life] - d. Víctor Erice
72. Flowers of Shanghai - d. Hou Hsiao-hsien
72. My Own Private Idaho - d. Gus Van Sant
74. Nénette & Boni - d. Claire Denis
74. Trust - d. Hal Hartley
76. Funny Games - d. Michael Haneke
77. The Long Day Closes - d. Terence Davies
78. Breaking the Waves - d. Lars von Trier
79. The Kingdom [Riget] - d. Morten Arnfred, Lars von Trier
80. La haine - d. Mathieu Kassovitz
80. Hana-bi [Fireworks] - d. Takeshi Kitano

82. Hoop Dreams - d. Steve James
83. The Match Factory Girl [Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö] - d. Aki Kaurismäki
84. The Straight Story - d. David Lynch
85. JFK - d. Oliver Stone
85. Whisper of the Heart - d. Yoshifumi Kondo
87. Election - d. Alexander Payne
87. The Sweet Hereafter - d. Atom Egoyan
89. Bullets Over Broadway - d. Woody Allen
89. Drifting Clouds [Kauas pilvet karkaavat] - d. Aki Kaurismäki

91. Sonatine - d. Takashi Kitano
92. The Celebration [Festen] - d. Thomas Vinterberg
92. A Moment of Innocence - d. Mohsen Makhmalbaf
94. Waiting for Guffman - d. Christopher Guest
95. Seven - d. David Fincher
96. Before Sunrise - d. Richard Linklater
97. The Player - d. Robert Altman
98. The Age of Innocence - d. Martin Scorsese
99. Rebels of the Neon God - d. Tsai Ming-liang
99. Slacker - d. Richard Linklater

Of the list, 6 have never been released on DVD in the US: A Brighter Summer Day, The Power of Kangwon Province, Only Yesterday, El sol del membrillo, Trust, The Long Day Closes, Whisper of the Heart and Drifting Clouds.


Anonymous said...

There are Region 1 US DVDs for Whisper of the Heart and The Power of Kangwon Province. BTW, I love your blog. It's one of my favorite film-related sites on the internet.

reassurance said...

Thank you! I appreciate that.

I must have overlooked Whisper of the Heart. As for The Power of Kangwon Province, I forgot that Tai Seng releases DVDs in the Us. Thanks for the correction!

Jordan in Texas said...

Now that's a helluva list.

But I'm disappointed that there's no love for Todd Solondz...

reassurance said...

The biggest problem I have with the list is how "high-minded" it is. No Paul Verhoeven? I would have accepted any one of the four films he directed during the 90s on the list (especially, um, Showgirls).

Slayton said...

Very good list. But I'm disappointed that:
a) Hirokazu Koreeda's "Maborosi", the best film of the 90s
b) Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm", the best American film of the 90s
aren't on this list.

Trent said...

I'm also sad about the absence of "The Ice Storm," which would be my #1 as well.

reassurance said...

The Ice Storm, really?

Sam Juliano said...

Our own site is presently still polling for the 70's, but we get to the 90's in a few months. There are some fabulous films on this list (in fact most are fantastic) but there are two fatal issues: DEAD MAN would struggle to get in a Top 100, much less at #1. It's not even among Jarmusch's best films.

But it's the heinous omission of Spielberg's SCHINDLER'S LIST, which snared a number of Best Film awards in 1993 from critics groups across the land, that invalidates this poll. Heck, SCHINDLER'S LIST is probably the favorite to win the #1 spot. But why pick SCHINDLER'S LIST when you can have BUFFALO 66, HOOP DREAMS, SLACKER and FUNNY GAMES, right? And I guess Campion's THE PIANO and Nichol's GATTACA don't belong there, right? Perhaps you can next conduct a 40's poll and leave off CITIZEN KANE and THE GRAPES OF WRATH and instead include GOING MY WAY, no?

Ed Howard said...

Can't say I see much to complain about with this list. Some favorites of mine missing, for sure (Verhoeven being an obvious oversight), and others on there that I wouldn't have gone for, but on the whole it's a pretty decent list. The #1 choice would probably also be my #1, and I LOVE that Eyes Wide Shut is so high -- I'm so happy the blinkered initial critical perspective on that film seems to have turned around a bit. Also, how many other lists would include tough, uncompromising films like Crash, Naked, Fire Walk With Me, Safe, Underground, La belle noiseuse, Beau travail, etc.

If anything, the absence of Schindler's List only makes it better.

reassurance said...

Sam, while I'm with you on the omissions of The Piano and even Gattaca, I think the fact you mentioned The Grapes of Wrath in the 1940s makes it easier to understand why you'd be so offended at the absence of Schindler's List. I really have nothing to say about that film, other than it's photographed beautifully and better than most when it comes to ascribed "prestige" flicks... which is maybe indicative of why it didn't show up on the list. I was pleased to see that only two of the Best Picture Academy Award winners were named (Silence of the Lambs and Unforgiven) and that they were the only two that deserved a mention in my book (thank God, American Beauty didn't make the cut).

If I were to guess why Dead Man fell in the top spot, it would be the fact that, like Chungking Express, it probably appeared on over 90% of the individual lists in varying slots, while films like Eyes Wide Shut and Sátántangó were likely on fewer lists but in more prominent positions. Dead Man is pretty easily Jarmusch's best film from the 90s, so it's not that surprising. Did you notice how many of the filmmakers on the list had their entire 90s catalogue featured minus one title? Wong Kar-wai (Ashes of Time), the Coens (The Hudsucker Proxy), Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight), David Lynch (Wild at Heart). I almost said David Fincher, but that was just due to specifically blocking Alien³ out of my mind.

Sam Juliano said...

Thanks so much for that congenial and thorough response! SCHINDLER'S LIST is not my personal #1 film of th e90's, but it would make my tOP 10, in a list I still have to compose. I greatly respect Ed Howard, and he also agrees with you on DEAD MAN. I will have to watch that film again over the weekend. It's been awhile since I last saw it. You make a good point in processing my "literary" slant. But what do you expect from a Jr. High School English teacher? LOL! But I am also a film lover. hence again I cite the lamentable omission of THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (1993) as well as these: Techine's WILD REEDS, Jordan's THE BUTCHER BOY, Audiard's A SELF-MADE HERO, Greenaway's PROSPEROS BOOKS and Leigh's LIFE IS SWEET, and maybe even THE BOYS OF ST. VINCENT. I won't even mention SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, as I know Spielberg is not a favorite here. Oddly, but in sync with my literary sensibilities I consider his 1987 EMPIRE OF THE SUN to be his greatest film.

And Joe I did notice that tendency to go with most of a director's output, but when you have people like Kar_Wei and the Dardennes, who can argue?

Finally, I would have either SATANTANGO or one of the Kieslowski's as my Top film of the 90's with GATTACA having a shot too. When I get to the 90's I will ponder this. As it is now, I must think of the 80's where FANNY AND ALEXANDER and BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ appear to head my own list,but again I have to weigh much there, with some other great ones in the mix.

Thanks for being sucha great sport and deflecting my sarcasm.

reassurance said...

I plan to expand a little further on this, but I'll say for now, briefly, that I'm pretty sure Fanny and Alexander topped the Forum's list for the 1980s. And that both Wild Reeds and Prospero's Books were absolutely on my list (of which we were only allowed 50)... though I need to double-check on where F&A fell on the list and whether I left Prospero's off my list in favor of The Baby of Mâcon.