top five of '93

[borrowed from Rank Everything]

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


#5 THE AGE OF INNOCENCE - What kind year is it that Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't get nominated for AGE, and neither does Michelle Pfeiffer in her best performance of her career. (Winona Rider did get nominated, and deserved it at that.) AGE is sumptuously beautiful in showing us a dying world of rich people trapped in their lives, force to marry for duty and not love. Everyone is amazing, but Day-Lewis owns the movie, the way he carries those unshed tears in his eyes. Scorsese's best film of the '90s (and yes, I'm including GOODFELLAS in that assessment.)

#4 TOMBSTONE - One of the top five Westerns ever made, featuring outstanding supporting work from Bill Paxton, Sam Elliott, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn and Dana Delany (even Jason Priestly does a credible job), and legendary (and I mean legendary) work from Kurt Russell (with apologies to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK fans), the best of his career playing a living legend himself, Wyatt Earp. In any other year I'd say he deserved an Oscar nomination. Then there's Val Kilmer, who also give his best work ever, playing the most inscrutable of Western heroes, Doc Holiday. I can't stress how good Kilmer is. The movie is worth seeing just for these two characters, but is an rich tapestry of the time in Earp's life when he lived at Tombstone, Arizona. The shoot out at the O.K. Corral is part of American Lore, but here it is given life, a realism that Westerns just aren't known for. Forget about the fraudulent Best Picture of the year before; TOMBSTONE is the best Western at least since the late '60s' WILD BUNCH.

#2 (tie) THE PIANO - One of the greatest performances of all time, Holly Hunter won Oscar as a mute woman trapped in her loveless marriage. Sam Neill is her uncaring husband, who refuses to cart the her piano over the mountains back to their new home. (She's sort of a mail-order bride, of 100 years ago.) Harvey Keitel is the groundskeeper, and he goes and lugs that piano back, demanding piano lessons. Each piano lesson she has to take off more clothes too. (Sadly, so does Keitel, so I feel honor-bound to give you the sausage alert, although-and this creeps me out to write-it's the least horrible male nudity I've never seen.) Anyway, you can imagine what these piano shenanigans are going to bring when found out. I'm totally forgetting Anna Paquin, who bizarrely won a supporting Oscar (and totally broke down on stage, which was always good.) THE PIANO is magical, romantic, haunting, scary, eerie, sexy and just plain amazing. This movie wins Best Picture 70% of the time.

#2 (tie) THE REMAINS OF THE DAY - This movie wins Best Picture probably 80% of the years. Emma Thompson wins Oscar in almost any year for her incredible performance of a maid in pre-WWII Europe. Christopher Reeve gives his best performance ever as an earnest American trying to convince these courtly Englishmen they simply can't trust the Germans. Hugh Grant has a nice small part; solid. But what makes REMAINS OF THE DAY so unbelievable is Sir Anthony Hopkins. In a role that would crush (absolutely crush) all but five or six actors-who ever lived!-Hopkins plays a butler consummately devoted to his employer, to his duties; absolutely incapable of giving into his emotions. Hopkins is able to convey emotions with the tiniest flicker of his eyes: it's one of the two best performances I have ever seen from a man in my entire life. REMAINS OF THE DAY is the pinnacle achievement of the vaunted Merchant/Ivory team that made so many wonderful period movies, and it's not to be missed. It's very very sad, but full of such incredible performances that you'll feel changed anyway.

and the number 1 movie of 1993 is.....

#1 SCHINDLER'S LIST - This film wins Best Picture in 100% of the years it comes out. I'm not saying it's the best movie ever (although it's close), I'm just saying it was destined to win Best Picture, and deserve it. An absolute tour-de-force that makes every other film of the year and decade pale by comparison, SCHINDLER'S LIST is the story of a businessman in WWII, just trying to survive, who made a decision to help who he could. Liam Neeson is fabulous as Oskar Schindler, Ben Kingsley equally good as his assistant, and Ralph Fiennes gives one of the best performances of the decade as a deranged Nazi captain. But as great as the performances are, it's Spielberg's work that stands out. Every trick in the book is on display, but it's more than just tricks; it's artistry at the highest level. The film is in black-and-white, which adds to the magic, but I don't want to give the impression we're talking about some fairy tale. In some ways SCHINDLER'S LIST is as dark as any movie ever made, as well it should be. The Holocaust is as bleak as we've seen it, from the horror of mass graves to perhaps the most haunting scene in the movie, a small child trying to hide from the wrath of the Nazis. I sat in the theatre and felt ashamed, ashamed that I belonged to a group of people (the human race) that could do that to another group of people. Normally I'm a critic of how much violence is allowed in movies, and SCHINDLER'S LIST deserves a very hard R rating, if not NC-17. Yet this is one film that I think every kid (at least every teenager) should be required to see. We are always in danger of forgetting (as Africa shows us today), of forgetting the lessons of the Holocaust. We constantly need to relearn this message, and SCHINDLER'S LIST elevates that message from cold documentary to beautiful horrific stunning art.


Schrodinger's Kitten said...

Ya, why is the top down? it's fucking freezing.


Reel Fanatic said...

Didnt think much of "The Piano" myself, but I agree with you wholeheartedly about "Tombstone" ... It's not only one of the truly great Westerns, but also an extremely fun one

Hyperion said...

Schro - Great reference! It even took me a minute to get it!

Reel Fanatic - It's not possible for a human of discernment not to be powerfully moved by THE PIANO, so clearly you were in a bad mood because of lunar activiity, and need to watch it again. Thanks for opining, though.

rennratt said...

I haven't seen ANY of these movies...

I really need to get out more.