What is the best year for movies...

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Sep 15, 2011
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and why is it 1999? At least according to this article as well as Edgar Wright. It certainly had an eclectic mix of ideas, including The Matrix, Sixth Sense, Magnolia, American Beauty, 10 Things I Hate About You, Blair Witch Project, Eyes Wide Shut, Phantom Menace and more. Any other rivals?

 
I've got about 200 of my favourite movies listed. I got Chat:GPT to look up the release year for each, then group them by year and sort them in descending order of the number of movies. Clearly it's subjective but these are my top years.

2017: 8 movies
Blade Runner 2049, Wind River, Mother, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Get Out, The Shape of Water, Downsizing, Dunkirk

2004: 8 movies
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Day After Tomorrow, Team America, The Forgotten, The Bourne Supremacy, I Heart Huckabees, Collateral, Spider-Man 2

2000: 7 movies
Gladiator, Unbreakable, Snatch, O Brother Where Art Thou, Memento, Love Honour and Obey, Requiem For a Dream

2001: 7 movies
Donnie Darko, Black Hawk Down, K-Pax, Swordfish, Monster's Ball, Behind Enemy Lines, 3000 Miles To Graceland
 
I think you and I might be the only two people that remember K-Pax. I must say, I enjoyed it, but could never imagine it any 'best' of list. Some great choices in there though, Memento is probably in my top 10 all-time list.

What I love about 1999 was the variety of movies. Not many of them would be among my top 10 list (probably only the Matrix), but there is such a great variety of movies that were memorable and certainly well liked. Sixth Sense, Blair Witch, Matrix, Fight Club, Office Space, Being John Malkovich, Talented Mr Ripley, American Pie, Galaxy Quest... just such wildly different ideas. Then you have the critical darlings of the year like American Beauty, Hurricane, The Green Mile, Virgin Suicides. You just can't imagine that range of ideas making the big screen in 2024.
 

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I remember a year or so back I recalled the discussions around 1999 as this great, groundbreaking year in film and thought that reputation kinda faded. Many seemed a lot more significant in their immediate moment than outside it - the Cold War was over, the World Trade Centre stood still, this feeling of "is that all there is?" was at its peak (in the United States, at least). At Cannes that year, there was some outrage that Cronenberg's jury gave Best Film to an obscure Belgian film named Rosetta and Best Director to Bruno Dumont for L'humanité, both wins that now have been vindicated against the increasingly bland Weinstein-dominant idea of respectable American movies at the time (whose non-selection for the competition also earned the ire of the trades).

But seems 1999's back, probably because of the 25th anniversary. And there's certainly some great films in that Guardian list posted (I watched American Movie about a week ago and it's a gem). But I still can't say I see the big deal, and think I would take the two years that follow (highlighted by In the Mood for Love and Mulholland Drive, perrennial picks for "Best Movie of the 21st Century So Far") over it.

For my all time favourite year for film, I'd probably go 1975. The huge cinematic revolution was probably at its high point, shortly before it collapsed on itself. Certainly the Oscar contenders for Best Picture would be I think the greatest ever slate (Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, Nashville, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Kurosawa went to the Soviet Union for Dersu Uzala and Tarkovsky was still there to make his masterpiece Mirror, Monty Python's first movie is still one of the funniest ever, Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of this country's greatest ever, and the reigning "Greatest Film of All Time", Jeanne Dielman, came out. And that's without even mentioning Salò!
 
As per Frank Bunn's method, I've got a personal top 500 and within that scope these years happen to feature most prolifically:

1997: 16
1986: 14

But also to JackOutback, a distinct variety and depth warm one towards a particular year too, as well as one's own associations with it personal and industry wise.
 
and why is it 1999? At least according to this article as well as Edgar Wright. It certainly had an eclectic mix of ideas, including The Matrix, Sixth Sense, Magnolia, American Beauty, 10 Things I Hate About You, Blair Witch Project, Eyes Wide Shut, Phantom Menace and more. Any other rivals?

Great year and the diversity of movies in 1999 was incredible.


 
Far out I love having criticker for stuff like this.

Download my ratings to excel and run a quick pivot.

This is the number of movies I rated 8 or higher and their release year:

2004 13
2014 12
2017 9
2007 9
...
1999 6

What are your 12 movies from 2014?
 
What are your 12 movies from 2014?

Boyhood (2014)
Birdman (2014)
Interstellar (2014)
Life Itself (2014)
Wild (2014)
Calvary (2014)
Enemy (2014)
Gone Girl (2014)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)
Nightcrawler (2014)
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
 
Boyhood (2014)
Birdman (2014)
Interstellar (2014)
Life Itself (2014)
Wild (2014)
Calvary (2014)
Enemy (2014)
Gone Girl (2014)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)
Nightcrawler (2014)
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
I like your cut-off at 8... the argument for 1999 is not that it has the most 10/10 movies, but that there is such a wide variety of movies that rate highly. I reckon I could easily hit a dozen 8/10 movies from that year, including Matrix, Fight Club, Sixth Sense, Office Space, Toy Story 2, American Beauty, The Hurricane. Then there's debatable ones like Three Kings, Election, 10 Things I Hate About You, Any Given Sunday, The Green Mile, Talented Mr Ripley. And lesser known or largely forgotten ones like Boys Don't Cry, The Insider

And hell, I haven't actually watched Magnolia or Being John Malkovich yet.
 
I like your cut-off at 8... the argument for 1999 is not that it has the most 10/10 movies, but that there is such a wide variety of movies that rate highly. I reckon I could easily hit a dozen 8/10 movies from that year, including Matrix, Fight Club, Sixth Sense, Office Space, Toy Story 2, American Beauty, The Hurricane. Then there's debatable ones like Three Kings, Election, 10 Things I Hate About You, Any Given Sunday, The Green Mile, Talented Mr Ripley. And lesser known or largely forgotten ones like Boys Don't Cry, The Insider

And hell, I haven't actually watched Magnolia or Being John Malkovich yet.
I think the general consensus agrees with you. It is known for being one of the best movie years.

Just personally though, these were my only 8+ ratings:

The Matrix (1999)
American Beauty (1999)
Fight Club (1999)
Office Space (1999)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
 

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