Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Best Picture of 1999

With very little doubt, 1999 brought with it a slew of incredible films. Personally, I consider it to be the finest year for cinema in recent decades, primarily due to the pictures' originality. Whether it was a portal into John Malkovich's brain, a red pill that reveals the truth, frogs raining from the sky or a club for men to punch the crap out of each other, it's hard to deny that 1999 left an indelible mark. The five pictures nominated for that year's Best Picture Oscar were no exception and I immensely enjoyed revisiting them for this project.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1999 are:
  • American Beauty
  • The Cider House Rules
  • The Green Mile
  • The Insider
  • The Sixth Sense
Since this is a year I hold in great esteem, I've had occasion to ponder my favourite nominee several times before, so it was somewhat of a foregone conclusion which film I would pick. Nonetheless, I shall go through the motions and contemplate all the contenders.

The surprising thing about these five movies is that they didn't seem to suffer the not-so-unusual phenomenon of a greatly diminished appreciation on a repeat viewing. Having watched all of the nominees ten years ago, I would say The Sixth Sense is the only one that dropped in regard in any significant manner and that is only the expected lack of surprise that is unavoidable when rewatching big twist films. Conversely, I found myself succumbing to the charms of The Cider House Rules, about which I was originally more complacent.

Both The Insider and The Green Mile are gripping, albeit in different ways, and viewing them again this time around reminded me of what fine examples of cinema they really are. I guess in a year full of fine examples, I had forgotten their brilliance. But it is the suburban dramedy American Beauty that captured and inspired me a decade ago and remains on top today. Truth be told, Fight Club is probably my favourite film from 1999, but American Beauty is a very close second, thereby claiming the title of my favourite Best Picture nominee of the year. Another match with the Academy, this being the fifth time out of ten verdicts, making it an even 50% so far.

Best Picture of 1999
Academy's choice:

American Beauty

Matt's choice:

American Beauty

Your choice:

Polls are now open above for you to express your opinion. And speaking of polls, I may introduce a voting system to decide which year takes the project's focus next. Seems a little unnecessary since I have to cover every year eventually, but it might be fun. So, look out for that in the (very) near future. For now, though, I'll decide the next race myself as we revisit the 1960s with another diverse slate of contenders.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1964 are:
  • Becket
  • Dr. Strangelove
  • Mary Poppins
  • My Fair Lady
  • Zorba the Greek
And stay tuned also for some musings on the current awards season which is developing rather nicely.


  1. American Beauty is one of my favorite movies and I'm glad you picked it!

    I can't wait to hear your thoughts for 1964 which is a rather great year, too.

  2. American Beauty is a great Best Picture winner because it's a universal type film that everyone can connect to.

    Matt, what did you think of "Boys Don't Cry"?

  3. Looks like there's a lot of American Beauty love out there. Well deserved, too.

    Boys Don't Cry would definitely be in my Top 10 for that year as well. I'd have to have another look at it to give any specific details, since it's been a long time since I last saw it, but I do remember being glued to the screen.

    Also, Man on the Moon, which I also didn't mention in the intro, is another standout. Just a fantastic year for movies.

  4. All is well with the world, and your choice. My top 5 of the year went like this American Beauty, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Fight Club, Sleepy Hollow, The End of the Affair.

  5. Sorry for the hiatus, Matt. Actually, it was a good time for my vacation as far as your blog - a recent year (1999) with plenty of participation. Not surprisingly, even if I were available to comment on the nominees, I would have pretty much just echoed your thoughts. Once again we see eye to eye. 1999 was a very deep year of superior film-making. At the time, American Beauty was my #1 pick and easy choice for Best Picture. One of the great suburban satires in film. Since then, and with subsequent viewings, it has been edged out by Magnolia as my favorite of '99, but just that film.

    Of the other nominees, only The Insider finished in my top 10 (#7). The Sixth Sense, The Green Mile and The Cider House Rules would probably be in the 10 to 20 bracket. Other favorites from '99 were Eyes Wide Shut(controversial I know), Being John Malkovich, The Straight Story, All About My Mother, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Fight Club and a half dozen others that could have easily made the top 10 in other years.

    In hindsight, it is good to see that most of the directors continued to make good films. I would say that M. Night Shyamalan, while remaining popular, has progressively given us diminished products. I've felt that if he looked to outside writers (like his mentor Alfred Hitchcock did) and concentrated on directing, which he is very good at, he'd be more interesting.

    On to 1964 - when I was a teenager, just starting to expand my film going experience. Some wonderful entertainment, with one film that just blew me, and many others away.

  6. funny, but my vote goes to The Sixth Sense :)