Top 20 Movies Since 1992

Recently the always awesome Quentin Tarantino posted a video where he talks about his top 20 favorite films that have come out since he’s been making films. I agree with most of his choices, but I really just enjoy listening to him talk about film — the dude is passionate and knows his stuff. Anywho, I decided to put my own list together and since it was hard enough to come up with the list I’m not going to even bother trying to order them, so here it goes in alphabetical order.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

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This is the first film on my list that has its fair share of haters out there. Many say that it would have been much better if Kubrick had been able to make it himself, but I have to respectfully disagree. Kubrick just doesn’t have the warmth or the right touch to really capture the emotion in the film. Spielberg, however, is about perfect for the job. I have no issues with the ending, I think it not only fits the film but it’s downright heartwrenching. I remember when my film professor screened this at the end of our semester studying Kubrick, there wasn’t a dry eye in the classroom. It’s a brilliant science fiction film that melds the styles of two very talented and distinct filmmakers. It’s somber, surreal, emotional, and philosophical — making it one of the few genre films that really resonates with the viewer.

Before Sunset (2004)

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To say I was completely blown away by this unexpected and unnecessary sequel to the poetic and moving 1995 film would be a gross understatement. Linklater doesn’t just top himself, he directs his best film to date…showing that he has grown as a filmmaker just as his characters have, and that’s one of the greatest things about this sequel — all of the pieces are in the right place at the right time and the result is magic. The film is beautifully shot and beautifully acted and it has probably one of the 10 greatest endings of all time.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

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This may not be the best Coen Brothers film (that would be Fargo), but it certainly is the funniest. Jeff Bridges IS “The Dude” and The Dude is one of the funniest and most quotable characters EVAR. Of course it helps that the supporting cast is pitch perfect from John Goodman’s Jewish Vietnam vet to Sam Elliott’s mysterious Stranger. This is definitely something to experience in the theater if you ever get the chance, it takes it to a whole new level of awesomeness.

Boogie Nights (1997)

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Despite PT Anderson’s phenomenal achievement with There Will Be Blood, my favorite film from the eclectic filmmaker will always be Boogie Nights. He may be channeling Scorsese, but he makes the film all his own as he chronicles the rise and fall of a porn star from the industry’s distinguished film days in the 1970s to its video demise in the 1980s. It’s hilarious, bizarre, disturbing, depressing, and damn cool.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

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Let’s get this out of the way up front, yes Keanu Reeves and Winona Rider are horribly miscast. There, now that’s taken care of we can talk about the beautiful and haunting vision of the famous tale as told the great Francis Ford Coppola. He paints a theatrical and surreal portrait around the title character, who is played absolutely perfectly by Gary Oldman. He doesn’t just seduce Mina, he seduces the audience and adds so much complexity to the character that he becomes more than just a villain, he becomes someone you care about. It also has one of the best scores in the last 20 years from Wojciech Kilar.

The City of Lost Children (1995)

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I still remember watching this for the first time with my dad…what a weird fucking film. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro have this bizarre, French, steampunkish vision of the future and it’s just incredible to watch on film. Delicatessen is a fucked up, touching, hilarious film that everyone should check out and there are a lot of similarities to this film, but The City of Lost Children is more like a dark, science fiction fairy tale. I can’t really think of a better way to describe the awesomeness of a film with a mad scientist that kidnaps little children to steal their dreams and the strongman who partners with a young girl to find his little brother. There’s clones, a talking brain, weird sexual tension between a grown man and young girl — what more do you want in a film?

Dark City (1998)

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This film had me hooked from the first time I saw the trailer, which happens to be one of my favorites of all time. It’s Metropolis meets film noir and it is stunning to watch. This is one of the best and sadly most under-appreciated films of the decade. It’s a shame that Alex Proyas hasn’t made a film as good since.

Gattaca (1997)

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Speaking of smart, original science fiction — Gattaca is one of those films I can watch over and over again and still be mesmerized. Andrew Niccol’s not-so-distant future is creepy, yet completely believable and he crafts a truly thought provoking story against it.

Great Expectations (1998)

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Ah, the much hated contemporary telling of Charles Dicken’s famous tale. Say what you will, I think it’s one of the most beautifully shot films in recent years. It’s poetic, melodramatic, and still a bit whimsical as these two forces graze past eachother at different points in their life, each meeting never happening at quite the right time. Hawke and Paltrow have good chemistry, but I think Anne Bancroft steals the show as Ms. Dinsmoor. It’s really a beautiful retelling that I don’t think gets enough credit.

The Limey (1999)

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If you ever want to see what pure badass looks like on celluloid, look no further than Soderbergh’s throwback to the ’70s revenge films. Terence Stamp owns as Wilson, a man trying to find the person(s) responsible for the death of his daughter. I think Soderbergh was born in the wrong decade, because he is totally in his element here — different film stocks, filters, jump cuts, flashbacks — all things he uses in almost all of his films, but here it fits perfectly with the gritty story and ’70s cast, and it just oozes coolness.

Lone Star (1996)

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I love John Sayles and Lone Star is by far my favorite of all his films. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a border town and I can relate to a lot of things in the film, or maybe it’s because it’s an engrossing mystery that deals with social issues still relevent today. Of course, good things always happen when Sayles and Chris Cooper work together (hey, he was one of the only good things about Silver City).

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

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I fucking love this film! I can’t help myself, every time I watch it I can’t help but think I FUCKING LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS FILM! I know every frame and still get chills at even the slightest of moments. Baz Luhrman basically takes all of the things I love about film and creates an explosive cinemagasm of color and music. Brilliant!

Mulholland Drive (2001)

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David Lynch is the master of the mind-fuck and here he doesn’t hold back. Back in college I used to watch this with different friends and then we’d have an in depth discussion afterwards trying to figure out what the hell just happened. It was…helpful. I don’t know that this is Lynch’s best film, but it’s my favorite. Naomi Watts and Laura Harring are perfect in their respective roles and yes, they do have a sex scene, which tends to renew people’s interest in the film. It’s a well-crafted, albeit very strange, film that uses the weirdness to add to the suspense and sometimes make it downright scary. Although, it seems that the last few minutes Lynch throws what little caution he has to the wind and just goes all out — and I’m okay with that.

No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Hands down the best “contemporary western” that’s been made to date (sorry Lone Star). I think the Coen Brothers are brilliant and this film is nothing short of the same. This is more than just an intense thriller, it’s a bleak, poetic, brutal look at the world as only the Coens can do it.

Oldboy (2003)

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I first heard about Oldboy back in 2004 thanks to my fellow movie nerds on a forum. One of my buddy’s sent me a downloaded copy of it because that’s all that was available and even though I had to watch it on my laptop, the experience was awesome. Park Chan-Wook creates the perfect Shakespearean tragedy as Oh-Daesu seeks revenge after being imprisoned for 15 years and given no reason. The film is brutally violent and has one of the coolest fight scenes ever filmed where our hero takes on an entire hallway filled with men…with a hammer. Badass.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

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One of the few films that successfully parodies a genre and stands well on its own as part of that genre. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg deliver a film that is witty, touching, gory, and fun. It’s endlessly quotable and is one of those films that gets better every time you watch it.

Spirited Away (2002)

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It’s hard to pick any one Miyazaki film over the others. I love My Neighbor Totoro for its child-like wonder, Porco Rosso for its ode to golden age Hollywood, Princess Mononoke for its sincerity, and Nausicaa for its spectacle. But Spirited Away stands out to me because of the characters, not because his other characters aren’t as good, but because the growth of Chihiro over the course of the film is so believable that it might be the best character development I’ve ever seen (it most certainly is my favorite).

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

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This might be the best non-Hitchcock Hitchcock film I’ve ever seen. It’s a brilliant film with a brilliant cast beautifully filmed against the gorgeous backdrop of Italy. Jude Law really does steal the show, but Matt Damon deserves a little credit as the awkward but deadly Ripley. It’s sexy, suspenseful, and just plain cool.

Titanic (1997)

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All you haters out there can stick it. I saw this 7 (seven!) times in the theater, I’ve watched it countless times on VHS and DVD, and I still think it’s amazing. James Cameron is one of my favorite filmmakers, he is a true film pioneer in special effects and here he really does something special. His epic is truly spectacular and the second half has some of the most heartpounding scenes I’ve ever experienced in a theater.

V for Vendetta (2005)

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Having had no knowledge of the comic, I had no idea what to expect when this film came out. I was surprised to find that it was a brutal, thought-provoking, political thriller with a heart and a sense of humor. I’ve seen some call it heavy handed, but I don’t really see it, and I’m usually very sensitive to that sort of thing. I think the film is just very careful with how it expresses its ideas, because if it slips into “promoting terrorism” territory that’s no good. However, I should tell you that two of my favorite books of all time are 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, so I do have a certain appreciation for this type of story.

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