REWIND & RANK: TOP 10 Movies 1994

RANKING THE YEAR’S BEST: FROM OSCAR MOVIES TO BLOCKBUSTERS

Walk down memory lane… And let the movie nerd debate begin.

rewind1994

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!

6. CLERKS

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.

5. SPEED

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!


HONORABLE MENTIONS

listed alphabetically

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

listed alphabetically

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.


 

38 thoughts on “REWIND & RANK: TOP 10 Movies 1994

    1. I know eh 🙂 That’s part of the fun of these Rewind & Ranks – seeing which years stand out. A year like this, it also makes it one heckuva nerd challenge to rank 😉 Thanks for chiming in, Courtney.

      Any fav flicks from ’94?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy to add those blurbs for ya. Just have to squeeze in the time for it 😉 I think Shawshank is a real crowd-pleaser. Not to sound too cynical, but that average movie-goer loves the happy ending . It seems to override any earlier criticism. I also think the story was clearly told. I really enjoyed it, but there’s no way it’s best of the year, let alone best ever. I call it drama light. It orchestrates your emotions for you, hoping you don’t stop and think. I didn’t look at it as a whole until I watched it again. Still good. Just not the best.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As a teenager what blew me away was how tense I got about the ending. After all the rape and beatings and covered up murders and suicides it seemed so unlikely that there would be a happy ending. Perhaps I was too easily manipulated but at the time the other stuff was dark and so the happy ending was a real pleasant surprise. I have not watched it since.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I seem to remember the characters we spend time with in Shawshank aren’t prisoners who seem scary or ‘evil’. It all felt a little safe, in hindsight. For example, if our ‘hero’ traversed an arc where he changed it may be more interesting. And we’re always manipulated (that’s why they score a movie right hehehe), but the best movies don’t remind us of it, they hide it well. Re: any Spielberg.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The best thing the movie does is make us root for Andy. It’s till Top 10 material, but doesn’t challenge me like some other favs (Ace Ventura not included hehehe – jokes – I judge movies based on their genre and their promises – so Carrey delivered hehhe).

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehehe. Yeah, the 70s were glorious for filmmaking. The studio system was gone, indie artists were on the rise. Poor people could express themselves too. The R rating existed now. Narratives took risk. Dark heroes rose (I’m not talking about Batman either). Godfather was one of the most influential films from the era. I don’t know if it makes my Top 10 of all-time, but I quite enjoy it. My fav flick ever is either Pulp Fiction or E.T. (depends if we’re talking the artform or emotion).

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Right on… and boo… 😉 jokes. At the time, I was around 14 and a big fan of IN LIVING COLOR. Me and my buddies lined up for ACE on opening night and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. That said, I can definitely understand not liking Carrey (I mean, he talked out of his ass and asked for a mint). For me, it was one of the first movies I sat down and paused on VHS so I could write out the script. I loved impersonating Jim and quoting everything, much to my parents chagrin 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was a big fan of Ace Ventura as well and remember watching a TV special showing a bunch of his skits from In Living Colour. I learned them verbatim and would do impersonations at school. I was still nicknamed Jim by this guy four years later when we graduated. Having said that I didn’t dig the sequel as much and saw the original on TV last year and didn’t laugh as much. Maybe it has dated but man I loved it at the time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We sound like kindred (annoying) souls back then. I would let the “Allllrighty then” rip a bit too much. I may have outgrown some of the comedy, but my inner-child still lathers that shit up 😉 Carrey was a bit of a legend in my parts, going from living in his car, to doing obscure stand-up. I remember, Carrey was sick of doing only impersonations on stage, so one time he came out and impersonated a beetle (cockroach maybe) and just tried to wiggle into the cracks of the floor (without saying a word). A true rubberface. I still enjoy his physical comedy a lot more than Kevin James or Melissa McCarthy now-a-days.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I need to watch some Jerry Lewis. I hope Jim Carrey’s reputation doesn’t devolve into something like Lewis’ over the decades. I always dismissed Lewis’ films because of how stupid their reputations were. Is there a good Lewis film that would make a positive introduction?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. For me, I used to like imitating Jim Carrey impersonating celebrities. He did one stand-up bit that imagined if celebs were to wear a little dog shock collar and how they would react when they bark and get zapped. Carrey as Clint Eastwood with a dry rasp “woof” always went over well 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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