RANKING THE YEAR’S BEST: FROM OSCAR MOVIES TO BLOCKBUSTERS
Walk down memory lane… And let the movie nerd debate begin.
Let’s REWIND to the year 1994.
These are personal TOP 10s ranking Oscar-nominated movies right alongside popcorn-munching blockbusters, indie films, b-movies, and cult classics. You never know, you might even uncover a hidden gem or two.
1994 had some of my favourite films of all-time. The Tops of the year were phenomenal. This was a seriously difficult year to rank the Top 10. ’94 was an absolutely incredible year for indie films and blockbusters (with amazing action movies and comedies shining in the spotlight). There are several films in the Top 10 that I have watched numerous times and are amongst the best ever (!) in their genre.
The #1 movie at the box office was THE LION KING with $767 million worldwide.
Aside from the all-time greats there are also some fabulously shiny turds like the disappointing sequel BEVERLY HILLS COP 3, terrible adaptations like THE FLINSTONES and THE SHADOW, and a couple of terrible bombs belonging in the upper echelon of turdy video game movies: DOUBLE DRAGON and Van Damme’s STREET FIGHTER.
My TOP 10 is followed by HONORABLE MENTIONS and the Best of ART VS POPCORN.
Let’s dig in…
THE TOP 10
10. NATURAL BORN KILLERS
Oliver Stone directs Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay about the media’s obsession with violence and the audience’s appetite for bloodshed. Filmed with every kind of medium the art has to offer, the movie is entirely captivating and provocative. An impressive cast is lead by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as murderers on the run, with scene-stealing roles from Robert Downey Jr as a zealous reporter and Tommy Lee Jones as a salivating prison warden. Super stylish and super edgy.
9. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
Enjoyable the whole way through, with simple and effective storytelling. The mystery and performances are great the first time, but the narrative falls apart upon second viewing. The film is manipulative with melodramatic emotions and cliched with familiar tropes, yet easy to understand and relate to. Prisoners have never seemed so innocent and harmless. As a huge fan of character, there isn’t much development here for Robbins or Freeman. Essentially, this is a movie about forgiveness where Robbins has nothing to be forgiven for. Where’s the redemption for him?
8. LION KING
While I’m not normally a fan of family entertainment that appeals to the lowest base common denominators, LION KING elevated story and emotion above the genre. Essentially an adaptation of Shakespeare’s HAMLET, the film is rooted in drama. Technically, the animation is stellar – at the pinnacle of the hand-drawn era. Fair amounts of comedy and songs that are actually good help elevate this above a child-only audience.
7. DUMB & DUMBER
Jim Carrey is one of my favourite comedians of all-time. This silly story is filled with laugh-out-loud moments and is infinitely quotable. I’ve seen it enough, I can replay the entire film in my mind. Hilarious!
With a better vocabulary than DUMB & DUMBER, this flick made me laugh just as hard. Essentially a coming-of-age story, the film also comments on society. This is R-rated comedy at its best, with a strong blend of raunchy material and heart-felt sentiment. CLERKS was made with Kevin Smith’s credit cards and was filmed at his work. This is true love of cinema in full effect. One of the best cult classic indie flicks from the decade.
For pure popcorn action, it doesn’t get much better than this. Keanu Reeves solidified his action hero status here, while Sandra Bullock burst onto the screen in her surprisingly funny side-kick role. A fantastic premise leads the way. The bus can’t slow down or it blows up. Simple, but executed perfectly. SPEED is incredibly intense and thoroughly enjoyable. This is a movie you yell at the screen with.
4. ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE
One of my favourite comedies ever. Over the top and super dumb fun, now-a-days this is a guilty pleasure. At the time, I lined up opening night, eager to see the star of IN LIVING COLOR on the big screen. Carrey’s rubberface escapades were a pure delight for teenage me. I loved this movie so much, I wrote the script while pausing the VHS (pre-internet, kids). I’m that nerdy.
3. LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL
This was the first movie I ever watched back-to-back (1 of 2 films in my life). The reason I loved it so much was the unexpected focus on character and a nurturing hero caring for a young girl. Natalie Portman burst onto the scene with this one, but Gary Oldman as the villain and Jean Reno as the ‘hero’ are both perfect in their roles. Luc Besson (LA FEMME NIKITA, FIFTH ELEMENT, LUCY) helms the action here, keeping it atmospheric and cinematic. Rarely does an action film elicit so much emotion. An incredible feat for the genre. One of the best action movies ever!
2. THE CROW
The best comic book movie ever is deeply rooted in emotion. This bleak superhero flick is an undercover romance. Hard-boiled, edgy, ultra-violent, super-stylish, and super cool, THE CROW is pure Grindhouse excellence. Our hero’s girlfriend is raped and murdered. He’s killed too. His vengeance brings him back to life with special powers to exact justice. An amazing soundtrack compliments the thick atmosphere of the Gothic visuals, helping give this film a feel all its own. Tons of cheesy awesome one-liners perforate the scenery almost as much as the bullets do, adding some light fun to the dark proceedings.
An extra layer of languid moodiness comes from the accidental death of Brandon Lee (Bruce Lee’s son) on set during filming. His performance here (emotionally and as an ass-kicker) was the lynchpin that held the whole film together. While the sequels have tarnished the reputation of the franchise, the original CROW is in a league all its own having earned its elite status as a mega-influential cult classic.
1. PULP FICTION
The best film of all time! It doesn’t get any better. From the script, to the acting, to the direction, PULP fires on all cylinders. The film birthed indie cinema of the 90s and built Miramax. From playing around with time using an intricate narrative, to the ultra-tasty dialogue dripping with flavour, Tarantino’s masterpiece executes every element extremely well. This phenom earned its legendary status, slowly building a strong cult following on home video. Along with incredible performances, there’s also an incredible soundtrack to accompany the incredible writing and direction.
If you haven’t yet seen PULP FICTION… you’re welcome. Watch it and thank me later. Absolutely mind-blowing. This is cinema!
BLUE CHIPS / FORREST GUMP / FRESH / HEAVENLY CREATURES / HOOP DREAMS / INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE / ONCE WERE WARRIORS / REALITY BITES / STARGATE / TRUE LIES
THE BEST OF ART VS POPCORN
ABOVE THE RIM / AIRHEADS / BLOWN AWAY / BRAINSCAN / CHUNGKING EXPRESS / CITY SLICKERS 2 / CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER / THE CLIENT / ED WOOD / EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES / EXOTICA / FIST OF LEGEND / THE HUDSUCKER PROXY / JUNIOR / THE LAST SEDUCTION / LEGENDS OF THE FALL / LITTLE BUDDHA / THE MASK / MAVERICK / NAKED GUN 33 1/3 / NELL / QUIZ SHOW / RAPA-NUI / THE REF / THE RIVER WILD / STAR TREK: GENERATIONS / SWIMMING WITH SHARKS / TIMECOP / THE WAR / WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE / WHALE MUSIC
MY MUST-WATCH LIST
notable films i need to watch
BLUE SKY / BULLETS OVER BROADWAY / FOUR WEDDINGS & A FUNERAL / GUARDING TESS / IMMORTAL BELOVED / LITTLE WOMEN / NOBODY’S FOOL / THE PAPER
an amazing Honorable Mention: HEAVENLY CREATURES – Peter Jackson & Kate Winslet
What do you think?
Excellent Canadian Film: EXOTICA
Stay tuned for Rewind & Rank: 1984.