7 Forgotten Favourites of the 1990’s

The Matrix was the nineties? How old am I… I was going through my movie listings and archives and kept finding myself being surprised as to how many 90’s films that I’ve found to be favourites I’d forgotten existed. Here’s a few forgotten classics from the golden era, the centrifuge of film, the nuclear weapon of cinema, the 1990’s.

The Grifters (1990)

The last modern thing I liked was the miniskirt. With technology now, nobody understands it… and that’s the simple fact of the situation.

Oh how I love John Cusack. And Annette Bening. And Anjelica Huston, Stephen Frears and Martin Scorsese. Mash them up in one production, one classic con story and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Barton Fink (1991)

John Turturro and Johngoodman in Barton Fink

We’re only interested in one thing, Bart. Can you tell a story? Can you make us laugh? Can you make us cry? Can you make us want to break out in joyous song? Is that more than one thing? Okay!

Barton Fink got probably the least fanatical following out of all the Coen joints. Thematically a bit different and a bit darker than many other Coen films but just as unpredictable and eccentric. It’s all about the characters: John Turturro as Barton Fink, John Goodman as Charlie Meadows and Judy Davis as Audrey Taylor among others. Set in the haze of 1940s New York it’s a Coen classic many have missed.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Kevin Spacey and Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glen Ross

Your name is “you’re wanting”, and you can’t play the man’s game, you can’t close them, and then tell your wife your troubles. ‘Cause only one thing counts in this world: get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me you fuckin’ faggots?

Yes, children, there once was a time when a Baldwin starred with the best of them: Pacino, Lemmon, Arkin, Harris, Spacey. Even though that time’s long gone now, we should all still wonder at the testosterone altar that is Glengarry Glen Ross.

Strange Days (1995)

Ralph Fiennes in Strange Days

See… I can get you what you want, I can. I can get you anything, you just have to talk to me, you have to trust me. You can trust me, ’cause I’m your priest, I’m your shrink… I am you main connection to the switchboard of he soul. I’m the magic man… Santa Claus of the subconscious. You say it, you think it, you can have it.

Future Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow depicts 1999 as an alternate 1999 featuring corruption, bad cops and future technology. Ralph Fiennes plays Lenny Nero, the coolest of the cool, selling memories on disks to those who’re willing to pay the most. When he gets his hands on a disk containing a terrible crime the exciting events start to unfold. Angela Bassett shines in her best role ever. A bit plaqued by the 90’s trend of filming being really ‘trippy’ the solid stroyline and the surprising choice of Fiennes ad Nero has totally won me over.

Sling Blade (1996)

Billy Bob Thronton in Sling Blade

I like them French fried potaters.

For a while there I didn’t get the fuzz about Billy Bob Thornton, I’d seen him in a couple of films that he play good solid parts in, but when I saw Sling Blade, I got it. Working the triple-whammy, writing, directing and acting Thornton creates a complete storyline infused with a character that’s one of the most real ones you’ve ever seen. Thornton plays a ‘simpleton’, Karl Childers, a classic Of Mise and Men type character, that returns home after 20 years in a mental hospital for killing his mother. Seeing injustice in the form of an abusive man in a friend’s house Karl’s simplified morality kicks in and he struggles with his rudimentary sense of right and wrong.

As Good As It Gets (1997)

Where do they teach you to talk like this? In some Panama City “Sailor wanna hump-hump” bar, or is it getaway day and your last shot at his whiskey? Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.

I loved this as a kid, and still think it’s one of the best script ever put on film. Even though The Man Jack and Helen Hunt won their respective Oscars, As Good As It Gets has lost it’s household name status (See! I’m bringing it back.). Clever, heart-warming and with great performances by people (like the underrated Greg Kinnear) and dogs, it’s remained one of my all time favourites, even after 12 views.

Run Lola Run (1998)

The ball is round, a game lasts 90 minutes, everything else is pure theory. Off we go!

The gorgeous Franka Potente kicks proverbial ass in this German über-thriller that made strides in European con/crime/shabangs. Racing against the clock this German (directed by Tom Tykwer) thriller remains one of my favourite German films to date.

P. S. split reel broke 11,111 views today, thank you for reading!

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21 responses to “7 Forgotten Favourites of the 1990’s

  1. I’m pretty sure Barton is actually the most cultishly worshipped one of all Coen films–exactly because it isn’t that well known (or liked).

  2. I dig the idea of this list, even if I don’t necessarily agree with all of them (or that all are forgotten, as OlliS mentioned. Of course I’d like Lola mentioned more, but I don’t think it forgotten.

    Still need to see (all of) number one. Kind of shocked that I haven’t yet, considering my love of con artist/heist flicks (and earlier John Cusack).

    • I think as a film fan and a movie reviewer it’s difficult to see which films haven’t been seen or appreciated by the general public today. I really don’t think that (when writing from a perspective of a 20-something year old) most people my age have any idea about most of these; As Good As It Gets might be the borderline one.

  3. This list made me feel happy because I could reminisce about some stuff, but also old because I saw a lot of those in theaters in their first run. “Sling Blade” was the first indie film I went to see in a theater; I wound up liking it enough that I saw it a second time.

    I’ve heard very good arguments for “Barton Fink” being the Coens’ best. I’m not sure that I agree, but I’d put it in my top three (with “A Serious Man” and “Fargo”).

    • I still don’t think Barton is the best one, unless we’re talking technically (pacing, editing, directing), as I often prefer their more comedial movies (Lebowki, O Brother).

  4. Oh I love Run, Lola, Run! I actually saw that in one of my video class back in college and we had to do a mock trailer for it. I enjoyed it, it was very minimalist in filmmaking but very energetic.

    I’m so curious to check out Strange Days, highly recommended by my friend/guest blogger when Kathryn Bigelow won her Oscar. Plus Ralph looks so cute in that picture! :)

  5. It’s sad that I have only seen one of these movies, Sling Blade, which I loved. Barton Fink and Glengarry Glen Ross have been on my list of movies to see for a while now. It looks like I am going to have to add the rest to my Netflix queue as well.

    • For sure! TBH I hadn’t even heard of Glengarry before like six months ago; probably has been under my radar because it has some completely irrelevant translation in Finland.

  6. It saddens me that Takeshi Kitano has fallen off of our cultural cinematic radar in recent years, and movies like Sonatine are exactly why. The film never got the avalanche of love it deserved in the first place, but to describe it as “obscure” at this point is optimistic. It’s a criminally unappreciated movie that should have gotten way more credit than it received.

    How about The Iron Giant? It hardly even comes up in intimate discussions of Brad Bird’s career to date, which is insane since it’s an absolutely fantastic movie that marked Bird as a talent to-be-watched at the time of its release. Magic of its sort rarely is woven today.

    I’ll also throw The Rocketeer out there. Worth checking out if you’re trying to get jazzed up for Captain America, since it bears a common kinship with director Joe Johnston’s upcoming attempt at adapting the red, white, and blue superhero.

  7. What a great blog and even more, what a great list! Strange Days is fantastic indeed. Finnes and the 90’s is more cool than ever.

    I actually have The Grifters line-uped för tonight. Hopefully it’ll be a pleasure. Right now I have no doubt about it.

  8. I was going to say the same as OlliS. A great post \o/!
    I think “As Good As It Gets” comes from Finnish telly once a year so it’s not that forgotten, here at least.
    Glengarry Glen Ross is simply the best chamber drama there is, and too few people have seen it ~_~.

  9. Pingback: » Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and the Film “Barton Fink” Life On Words·

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