1999: A Year In Review (Part One)

Published 6 years ago by , Updated October 7th, 2009 at 2:03 pm,

1999 movies in review screen rant part 11 1999: A Year In Review (Part One)

Many films come out every year with critics and fans alike, compiling lists of their bests and worsts. There are also many films that fall between the cracks, only to be discovered years later. Many critics believe that one of the best years in cinema was 1939, when Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz were released alongside many other classic gems.

Personally, I’ve always felt that 1999 was an epic year for movies, providing us with so many interesting films. In fact, 1999 was such a good year for movies that even some of the bad ones are still worth watching!

So, please sit back and put your memory caps on as Screen Rant takes on a retrospective of 1999 in the world of film.

In 1999, the world was a very different place. We were on the cusp of a new millennium and 9/11 was something that nobody – not even Hollywood could have imagined at the time. Fear of the millennium bug and crazy beliefs about the end of the world gave a lot of films released that year a nihilistic quality that we hadn’t seen since the 1970′s.

y2k 1999: A Year In Review (Part One)

I remember an excitement about the films that came out in ’99, and as a young man about to head to university, it was an exciting time – A time where I was heading out on my own, in anticipation of a new century, a new millennium and of course, a thrilling combination of films to guide the way.

1999 delivered a cinematic year like no other, and it brought forward films that will not only be remembered, but that also have set the benchmark for Hollywood output this decade. And, some ten years later, some of these films are still being used as creative templates.

[NOTE: the films that I am about to discuss are not a definitive list of the films released in 1999, nor are they a list of the best - what will follow is a collection of films which I believe are worth watching for entertainment value, or films which I believe are worth watching because how they have impacted cinema over the last decade.]

8mm was Joel Schumacher making amends for Batman and Robin. An Andrew Kevin Walker script with Nicolas Cage delivering one of his best performances, gave this gritty film an edge that most Hollywood studio productions don’t have. It also featured a strong supporting role from Joaquin Phoenix. While it might not be for everyone, it is a strong film, IMHO.

The 13th Warrior
This John McTiernan film preceded the glut of medieval epics that followed in the wake of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. While 13th Warrior is an incredibly flawed film, it is still worth watching on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The film was plagued by production problems and fights between McTiernan and producer and novelist Michael Crichton (it’s based on his book); the budget of the film finally came in at a reported $200 million – though it sure doesn’t look that way onscreen. The film’s plot is based on the “Beowulf” poem and it’s a curiosity film rather than a must-see.

13th warrior 1999: A Year In Review (Part One)

American Beauty
American Beauty
was Sam Mendes’ directorial debut. The multi-Oscar-winning family drama showed that thoughtful films for adults still made a killing at the box office ($130 million) and it highlighted the fact that adults are only teenagers with mortgages. It also solidified Kevin Spacey’s star status and made plastic bags cool – for about a minute.

American Pie
The film that started the current trend of R-rated sex comedies. American Pie was something of a cultural phenomenon when it was released way back in the summer of 1999 – it introduced the world to a raft of new sex-related phrases (MILF being the most commonly used) and it made an icon out of Seann William Scott. Two lesser sequels and a few straight-to-DVD installments followed, but none could match the originality of this original slice of Pie. We wouldn’t have had Superbad or The Hangover without it.

american pie 1999: A Year In Review (Part One)

Arlington Road
Arlington Road was something of a sleeper hit in the summer of 1999. This Mark Pellington film is a 70′s style paranoia thriller clearly modeled on the work of Alan Pakula. Jeff Bridges stars as a college professor who suspects his friendly neighbor, Tim Robbins, might be a terrorist. A chilling and prophetic vision of post-911 paranoia. Highly Recommended viewing.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
This Austin Powers sequel was another phenomenon in the summer of 1999. While the first film was a modest hit, grossing $50 million, this sequel upped the ante and brought in a huge $200 million. It’s the reason that The Love Guru exists – but don’t hold that against it. The Spy Who Shagged Me is actually funny.

Being John Malkovich
This Spike Jones/ Charlie Kaufman comedy was an art house hit featuring John Cusack and Cameron Diaz. It’s odd and off the wall, but there’s so much originality in the film that one can’t help but enjoy it. Having said that – it’s not for everyone.

The Blair Witch Project
The film that changed film marketing forever. Blair Witch came from nowhere and showed Hollywood that the internet was a way to hype films without having to spend $100 million dollars. Many were lead to believe that the film was true and the documentary style (later re-dubbed “shaky cam style”) was copied for years to come (see: Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity).

The last great Eddie Murphy film. Written by and co-starring Steve Martin, Bowfinger is a Hollywood satire directed by Yoda himself – Frank Oz.

Breakfast of Champions
Chances are you’ve never heard of this Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte and Albert Finney-starring comedy. Based on the Kurt Vonnegut novel, Breakfast of Champions was barely given a release a decade ago, but if you can find it and get past the tough first 20 minutes, it’s worth seeing.

breakfast of champions 1999: A Year In Review (Part One)

Bringing Out the Dead
Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader re-team far what some called “Ambulance Driver.” It’s bleak and depressing, but again it offers another good performance by Nicholas Cage as a burnt-out, drug-fueled paramedic.

Deep Blue Sea
Something of a guilty pleasure for me (and I know I’m not alone). Deep Blue Sea is a hell of an action ride. Sharks, Samuel L. Jackson and Thomas Jane in a Renny Harlin-directed film. It grossed an impressive $70 million back in the day and it’s still fun now!

One of Kevin Smith’s worst films, IMHO; I almost walked out of the cinema when I first saw it. It was a re-teaming of Good Will Hunting boys Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and it also featured Alan Rickman and Alanis Morrisette. I haven’t seen it in years and I’ll probably give it a revisit. Maybe you should too.

dogma 1999: A Year In Review (Part One)

Ron Howard’s EDtv was beaten to the punch by The Truman Show the previous year as a pastiche of reality television. Matthew McConaughey stars as the titular Ed, a normal guy who becomes a celebrity when he stars in a reality television show. Like that would ever happen!

End of Days
End of Day
s was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback film after Batman and Robin and heart surgery (the two weren’t related). It’s not Schwarzenegger at his best, but Peter Hyams’ dark visuals, John Denby’s score and an interesting supporting role of Gabriel Byrne as Satan makes this an interesting curiosity. The film relied heavily of millennium fear and pretty much reflects what the world was like at that point in time.

A slick heist/thriller starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones. It’s not a bad film, and it’s good to see Connery in any sort of toupee’d action. Only problem is – I can’t see Zeta Jones falling for a much older man. Oh…wait….

entrapment 1999: A Year In Review (Part One)

Eyes Wide Shut
Stanley Kubrick’s final film was two years in production and caused much controversy due to the sexually explicit scenes contained in the film. The film stars the then-married Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a doctor and his wife who turn a bizarre corner in their marriage. It was a strange film to be released in the summer months, with dream-like visuals and a slow and meandering pace. It’s kind of like a good novel really – takes you a long time to experience, but you end up thinking about it for ages afterwards.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of 1999: A Year In Review.

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  1. 1999 was such a great year for film! It was also the year I decided to take a risk, buy digital camera gear and edit equipment, and shoot/direct my first feature film. And I also made a big move away from my home town. Man, Niall, you brought back a lot of memories for me!

    I remember Entertainment Weekly did a recap on the movies that came out in 1999 and literally started the article on the cover. They said 1999 will usher in a great decade of films. Too bad 2000 was such a meh year.


  2. You mean the world didn’t come to an end after 1999 and this isn’t hell? :-)

    I thought Dogma was hilarious, and this from a Christian. If you’re a Catholic, I wouldn’t recommend this film.

    That scene in Deep Blue Sea with Samuel L. Jackson still gets me today. I don’t want to say too much about it in case someone wants to see it. Let’s just say, I jumped.

  3. Deep Blue Sea=Awesome
    American Pie=Incredibly Stupid
    Dogman=Freakin Hilarious
    End of Day=Awesome

  4. ow yeah definitly a good year for films
    Bringing out the dead is a personal favourite of mine
    and who didnt love The Matrix & American Beauty
    Also Idle Hands will always be my favourite childhood movie
    (well I was 12 but still)

    worst movie of that year: Wild Wild West
    Wing Commander

  5. Bowfinger… man there was a movie I’d forgotten, gotta get my hands on that one.

    And I actually really liked Dogma, but then it takes people differently.

  6. some of my favorites:
    fight club
    austin powers
    american pie
    the matrix
    varsity blues
    american beauty
    the green mile
    cruel intentions
    the iron giants

  7. Dogma is probably the most underrated film, and most definitely Smith’s most underrated, and one of his finest. It’s sad to hear people who don’t know what they’re talking about spouting off at the mouth about a film that actually has something to say with its comedy instead of just being an inane mish-mash of one-liners like most comedies.

  8. Ah, just realized American Beauty isn’t on here. Epic fail there, and it will be even a bigger failure if Fight Club doesn’t make it.

  9. Yep, American Beauty Def needs to be in there. Gives a sec to correct that oversight.

  10. Age is catching up with my memory. Thought American Beauty was 2000!


  11. Well, I’m one of the few who didn’t understand all the love for American Beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed at the dinner scene and the drive-thru scene but overall I just thought the movie was just OK.

  12. I’m actually a fan of Kevin Smith’s less appreciate films like Dogma (and I’m a Christian) and Chasing Amy than I am of his more popular stuff.


  13. american beauty had one of my favorite keven spacey characters. made me look forward to my mid life chrisis.
    chasing amy was my first kevin smith film i saw, actually liked it a lot. i liked dogma, but there were just some parts of it, the giant poo man for instance, that just made it really out there for me

  14. @Vic

    Actually Chasing Amy is usually seen as one of his good films. May I ask what you think of the critically panned Jersey Girl?

    And you should like Dogma, it was made by a Christian. Smith’s always been very open about his beliefs (he’s actually been pretty open about most of his personal life… I love his Q&A’s but I really didn’t need to know about his anal fissure) and Dogma was actually a sort of therapy for him during a time when he was questioning his faith. And it does sort of put a few things in perspective. At the time of watching I myself was fairly religious and it helped me out a lot (despite now being mostly agnostic).

  15. Deep Blue Sea — silly, but a fun movie, nonetheless.
    The Matrix — amazing. Wish they’d let it stand on its own.
    The Green Mile — excellent movie. One of my faves.
    Entrapment — very cool.
    Dogma — hilarious.
    American Beauty — very thought-provoking.
    Being John Malkovich — original and wickedly funny.

    All in all, 1999 wasn’t a bad year for movies.

  16. I was so excited when i stumbled on your blog about 1999 films. Personally, as a film lover, I have felt for quite a long time that 99 was such an iconic yeaR for films and I believe it was truly the best year in cinema. Not only was it the only year where i totally agreed with the Academy on their five choices for Best Picture but I actually had several other choices for the Oscar in addition to their picks. Usually most years its hard to even pick five worthy of the Best Picture Oscar, but 99 had quite a few. I was though, after reading your blog, a little disappointed by your “selections”. I realize that its only “part 1″ and id be anxious to see part 2, but of all of the GREAT films released in 99 I only actually agree with a couple on your list. I’m not going to go into details about why I chose these films, but here are my selections of the BEST of 99, which includes 2 of the funniest movies I have ever seen as well as several of the most original films ever made….

    *FILMS DESERVING OF A BEST PICTURE NOD:(1st 5 were nominated)
    *American Beauty
    *The Green Mile
    *The Sixth Sense
    *The Insider
    *The Cider House Rules
    *Fight Club
    *Toy Story 2
    *Being John Malkovich
    *Dogma (Kevin Smith’s BEST film ever)
    *South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (ironically one of the smartest animated musicals ever conceived)
    *Any Given Sunday
    *The Matrix
    and other GREAT films from 1999…..
    *Deep Blue Sea
    *Austin Powers 2
    *Blair With Project
    *The Iron Giant
    *The Talented Mr. Ripley
    *Galaxy Quest
    *American Pie
    *Big Daddy
    *Muppets from Space (one of the last BEST Muppet movies)
    *analyze this
    *Man On the Moon
    *Bicentennial Man
    *Star Wars Episode 1 (as disappointing as it was it was still very enjoyable to watch)
    *cruel intentions
    *Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalo
    *Drop Dead Gorgeous
    *Notting Hill
    *Office Space
    *Idle Hands (very campy horror movie but very fun)
    *Lake Placid (again, very campy and cheap but worth seeing, mainly for Betty White LOL)
    *Runaway Bride (Guilty Pleasure)
    *Sleepy Hollow
    *Varsity Blues
    *10 Things I Hate About You (another guilty pleasure)
    Remember this is only an opinion and i realize my list is pretty long but I am very passionate about what a good year 1999 was in movies!!!

  17. @Mike —

    Thanks so much for reminding me about several other movies from 1999…

    Galaxy Quest — I took my niece to see that movie, and both of us had a great time.
    Any Given Sunday — kinda long, but still a good sports movie (and I don’t normally watch sports movies).
    Bowfinger — incredibly silly, but still fun, for a lot of reasons.
    Bicentennial Man — yeah, it was sappy sci-fi, but what can I say … I love Robin Williams and he was very good in this one.
    10 Things I Hate About You — I don’t normally sit through “teen”-oriented movies (my niece insisted on going to see this one), but this one was sheer fun from start to finish.
    Toy Story 2 — I loved this movie. Fun for kids and grownups alike.
    South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut — not for everyone, I grant you, but it was sharp, smart and hysterically funny.
    The Sixth Sense — a truly frightening ghost story. Sorry the rest of Shyamalan’s movies don’t seem to be living up to such an impressive debut.

    1999 … definitely a very GOOD year for movies. Makes me wonder if we’ll have a movie year similar to 1999 in this decade?

  18. @Joshi
    I never saw Jersey Girl, didn’t look very appealing to me.

    Thanks, for the updated list – ’99 WAS a good year for movies, wasn’t it? And I *love* Galaxy Quest. :-P


  19. @Vic

    I’d say check it out just to see another side to Smith.


    Galaxy Quest is just awesome, I still watch it every now and then, it’s a great movie.

  20. I’d take Jersey Girl over Dogma – any day.

    Chasing Amy and Mallrats I really, really like.