A while back I had intended to pump out my top 10 movies of the 1990s. I got through the first 5 (i.e. LA Confidential, Fargo, Breaking the Waves, Glengarry Glen Ross, and The Straight Story), but then hit a snag with the next 5. I wanted to rewatch some potentials, which I did - but not all of them. At this point, I'll just go ahead and force myself to choose 5ish. So here they are.
Groundhog Day (1993)
There are a number of reasons I like this movie. It's what first sold me on Bill Murray. It's still one of the only romantic comedies I really like. It's one of the more "genuine" movies around. Timeless in number of respects, and some would say one of the only timeless movies of the past 20 years. And its thoughtful without trying too hard.
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Here is Jonathan Demme at his best, perhaps. To this day, I find this film to have one of the most effective moods. It's eerie from the start. Demme uses his first-person shots with an appropriate frequency - something he might fail to do with another movie of his that I love, Philadelphia. Silence of the Lambs was one of the first "serious" horror films I saw, and it's stuck with me.
Toy Story (1995)
This is one of the movies I rewatched. Aside from being a trailblazer (there'd be no Avatar without this), it's a very good movie. Spot-on voicework. Imaginative story. I think it even stands up visually. Even though the sequel may be better, there is still something special about this one.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Boogie Nights is one of my very favorite movies. For whatever reason, from start to finish, I'm always engrossed in it. I totally feel sucked into this world. All of it seems real. PT Anderson is one of my favorite working directors. He challenges himself with each movie he makes - he doesn't make movies just for the hell of it. Boogie Nights has a lot of heart and insight.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)/ The Thin Red Line (1998)
OK, I'm cheating - so what?
I like both of these movies. I may even like both of them a lot, but I also think that each one is enhanced by a viewing of the other. In a way, each one's strength is the other's weakness. Saving Private Ryan is a gritty character study. The Thin Red Line is an artsy "idea study". Saving Private Ryan has awesome war scenes. The Thin Red Line meditates on nature and it's beauty/ugliness. Saving Private Ryan holds together on the level of the characters, but perhaps falls apart more on the big picture level. The Thin Red Line is at its best with portraying a variety of ideologies, but becomes less believable the closer you get to reality. See both of them, but if you can, see them together.