I just found this in some old computer files, so in homage to the de riguer tradition of year-end top ten lists, here are my…
TEN BEST FILMS OF 1991! (compiled in 1991, when I was 24 years old)
Barton Fink (dir. by Joel Coen)
Cape Fear (dir. by Martin Scorsese)
Cyrano de Bergerac (dir. by Jean-Paul Rappeneau)
Dead Again (dir. by Kenneth Branagh)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (dir. by Nicholas Meyer)
The Silence of the Lambs (dir. by Jonathan Demme)
The Double Life of Veronique (dir. by Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Thelma and Louise (dir. by Ridley Scott)
Truly, Madly, Deeply (dir. by Anthony Minghella)
I fancied myself a bit of a film critic back then, and even published a couple of reviews in the lefty weekly In These Times. All the same, my tastes were fairly unsophisticated (as they still are now!), tending toward the mainstream.
Some of these films I hardly remember anymore, not having seen them in 16 years. But some – Silence of the Lambs and Thelma and Louise, for example — are considered modern classics. At least one film, Barton Fink, has not in my mind stood the test of time. I’m a big Coen Bros. fan, but that particular film doesn’t do for me what it did back then. (To give Sari her props, she hated it at the time!) And as a kid who grew up during the Cold War, I still love Star Trek VI, with its un-subtle allusion to Gorbachev and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
And, just to be fair, here are what I considered the…
TEN WORST FILMS OF 1991!
Blowback (dir. by Marc Levin)
Defending Your Life (dir. by Albert Brooks)
Delusion (dir. by Carl Colpaert)
The Doors (dir. by Oliver Stone)
Eating (dir. by Henry Jaglom)
The Fisher King (dir. by Terry Gilliam)
Green Card (dir. by Peter Weir)
Jungle Fever (dir. by Spike Lee)
The Last Boy Scout (dir. by Tony Scott)
Regarding Henry (dir. by Mike Nichols)
What’s notable about this list is how many bad films there are by good directors. Oliver Stone, Terry Gilliam, Peter Weir, Spike Lee, Mike Nichols — they’ve all directed many great films. But none of these are them! (And Tony Scott deserves mention just because his brother made the top ten list for that year, while he made the bottom ten.)
12 thoughts on “TOP TEN MOVIES of… 1991?”
I didn’t like the fisher King either.
The doors just kind of sat there.
Cape Fear though. I remember being bored by that one.
Re: The Fisher King and The Doors: Yes, and yes.
I’ve seen Cape Fear a couple of times since ’91. The first time I saw it, I was disappointed – it wasn’t as good as I remembered, and DeNiro overacts. The 2nd time I “re-saw” it, it was better. Juliette Lewis is a revelation. And you can’t beat that Bernard Herrmann score, from the original 1962 version of the film! But you’re right – it probably doesn’t “deserve” to be on a ten best list.
If you watch all the other Deniro/Scorcese collaborations and then watch Cape Fear (which is pretty much what I did (minus Casino) when Cape Fear came out), it’s a pretty big disappointment. But if I happen to see it again, I will look for Juliette Lewis.
Re: Cape Fear
OMG, I HATED Casino! That is a terrible movie. It’s like Marty & Bobby just went one movie too far, off the edge of dark, menacing brutality to a place of self-parody.
Re: Cape Fear
It’s kind of like “Goodfellas”, only without the “good”.
Re: Cape Fear
Can I please beat the shit out of your 16 year old self?
Defending Your Life and The Last Boy Scout are serious guilty pleasures for me. The drug reveal scene in Boy Scout is awesome and Defending Your Life really has some great ideas… you basically have to hate Albert Brooks completely to hate that film.
You can probably beat the shit out of my 16-year-old self, but why? I made that list when I was 24! And I was buff at 24!!!
I don’t remember The Last Boy Scout at all, except that I hated it. But the next time I run across it, I promise to give it another viewing.
I have never been a fan of Albert Brooks’s movies. IMHO, he’s nothing but a low-grade Woody Allen.
Many apologies to your 16 year old self and my misreading/miscommenting.
I’ll take your buff 24 on though. All fights are even, more even than most ever realize. 😉
Notice btw that I said “guilty pleasures”. You might still hate The Last Boy Scout, it has Damon Wayans attempting to put on a heavy dramatic role with only Bruce Willis to support him and while Willis is a very talented performer who can carry almost any film, in a highly dramatic role with a script laden in dialogue and plot (hey it is a Shane Black [The Lethal Weapons and modern/new classic KISS KISS BANG BANG] film directed by some one like Tony Scott, who is heavy on letting the visual flow the workings of strong dialogue it can get iffy at times.
I’m not sure I really see the Albert Brooks/Woody Allen comparision. Sure they’re both comedians who specialize in self deprication, sarcasm and awkward or unbelievable love stories, but their approaches on very different. Honestly I could never see Woody Allen making a film like MOTHER.
I could see Woody Allen WRITING Real Life as a story or short play, but also couldn’t see him actually helming and starring in a film of it’s ilk. He’s more about making himself uncomfortable and having you watch, while Brooks is about making himself and everyone else uncomfortable and making you watch.
DUDE, Where is Terminator 2?
1991 was probably the last year of my life (at age 23) that I went to the theater to see very many first run movies. AnD YET, I haven’t seen very many of the movies you list here. (Which makes me realize that America releases buttloads of movies every week of every year).
I was disappointed with The Doors — a film that probably should never have been made, imho. Rock band bio-pics are recipes for disaster. Barton Fink and Cape Fear would have been on my bottom ten list as disappointments by talented directors (along with Fisher King, Green Card, and Los Doors).
Silence of the Lambs would top my top ten. Thelma and Louise at #2. Then, if memory serves, you might have seen things like “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves” and STeve Martin in “Father of the Bride”. Hey, I saw them for 99 cents and it may have been at a cinema n’ drafthouse. So…
Oh hey, also on my top 10 would have been “the Commitments” and “Until the End of the World”; two movies I’d like to see again. Stone’s “JFK” came out at the end of ’91. I didn’t see it til ’92, but it retroactively goes into my top ten, as does “point break”. Man, Josh, thanks for reminding me what a great time I had watching movies in 1991. (and videos in ’92). Those were the days, eh?
Re: DUDE, Where is Terminator 2?
T2 is a classic film. At the time, I was offended by the casting – and acting – of Edward Furlong as the young John Connor. It seemed like such blatant pandering, to draw in a younger audience. The first Terminator was so true to itself, so raw and brutal, like an underground porno flick, that T2 was almost a Disney-fication of the franchise. But in retrospect, T2 is a kick-ass action movie. Definitely goes in there.
Exactly! It’s amazing to think how many films come out each and every week! And it seems like there are even more now than back in the early 90s. (‘Course we got nothing on Bollywood, which puts out like ten times as many films as Hollywood.)
See, this is why we rate as “Best Friends” on FaceBook’s Movie Compatability Report!
It’s funny you mention Robin Hood, because I had completely forgotten about that movie, until I happened to also run across a review of it I had written back then. Seems I thought the film was pretty good, but HATED COSTNER’S PERFORMANCE. His usual laconic acting was reduced to sleepwalking through that movie. And I had some PC-related problem with the film’s politics. Something about a radical theme (redistribution of wealth) filtered through a white patriarchal beneficiary…
I skipped Father of the Bride. Even for 99 cents … yeesh!
I loved The Commitments in the theatre and was bored by it later on. (I also confess to wearing out the soundtrack.) I never saw Until the End of the World. I’ll have to check it out.
JFK came out in ’91?! I’m surprised it wasn’t in my top ten! How the hell could Oliver Stone direct two epics like The Doors and JFK in one year?! In any event, I was a huge JFK assassination conspiracy nut at that time, and had even read Jim Garrison’s book (on which the movie was based). I had a lot of problems with the film, in terms of its politics and conclusions, but I thought (and still do) that’s it’s a tour-de-force of filmmaking. I must’ve decided that I was too mixed about it to put it in my top ten. But retroactively, I definitely would.
Point Break?! Lol! I saw that for the first time, on video, in a restaurant on Ko Samui, in Thailand. IT WAS AWESOME! But only in an ironic way.
Hey, it was actually fun for me too!
Re: DUDE, Where is Terminator 2?
I was only half serious about T2. T1 is the superior movie.
JFK was released in December, probably to get it nominated for an Oscar. I also read Garrison’s book & STone really elevated the material.
I saw “Father of the Bride” with a really cute girl. Nuff said.
“Until the End of the World” may be horribly dated because it was about “the near future”. Search engines are pretty cool in the near future, as I recall. The soundtrack was really good.
“Point Break” is great fun on VHS, probably less great if you’re paying $8.
We are old, aren’t we? We’re like what old hippies used to be. Whoa.