Top 20 of 1997

taste of cherry

The late 1990s were a period of transition. The indie movement was running its course. Instead we had a new brand of auteurs, both American and international, making their mark and establishing themselves. Paul Thomas Anderson was getting rolling with Boogie Nights, as was David Fincher, further distancing himself from being a music video director. Abbas Kiarastomi, Hayao Miyazaki and Takeshi Kitano were in their prime, while newcomer Michael Haneke showed some promise with a caustic take on the thriller genre. We would hear a lot more from him. Atom Egoyan and Quentin Tarantino were the main holdouts from the indie era. The former’s career would take a nosedive after this high point, at least in my opinion. QT is still hanging around.

I recently wrote a piece for Kiarostami’s Where is my Friend’s House? over at Wonders in the Dark, but I used Taste of Cherry as a point of comparison. If you have seen both films, you can see the parallels. Many will see it as a film about an older man driving around on dirt roads, but it is much deeper than that, and is a remarkable achievement in filmmaking.

There are a couple of guilty pleasures. Contact stands out, but part of that is because I’ve been an astronomy junkie and read the book when I was younger. I found it fascinating how it mixed real science in with the narrative. Most of that is thanks to the late Dr. Sagan. Starship Troopers could be considered a guilty pleasure, but I truly feel it is unfairly maligned. Flixwise had a good discussion on the subject. I feel that number 20 is low, but this turned out to be a good year for film.

Other late cuts were comedies like Grosse Point Blank, Wag the Dog, and Fierce Creatures. David Lynch’s Lost Highway was in the mix, and I think it could in the mix after a rewatch (Criterion?). The other two that I hated cutting were Donnie Brasco and the brilliant documentary, Waco: The Rules of Engagement.

1. Taste of Cherry
2. The Sweet Hereafter
3. The Ice Storm
4. Boogie Nights
5. Princess Mononoke
6. Insomnia
7. Funny Games
8. L.A. Confidential
9. The Game
10. Cure
11. In the Company of Men
12. Perfect Blue
13. Jackie Brown
14. Little Dieter Needs to Fly
15. Hana Bi
16. Gattaca
17. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
18. Contact
19. Open Your Eyes
20. Starship Troopers

the ice storm - nixon mask

Posted on August 28, 2015, in Film, Lists. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Nice #1! Gray’s Anatomy and The Edge would be contenders if I had one.

  2. Great list. The Ice Storm and Taste of Cherry are masterful and very underrated films. Love The Game and Boogie Nights as well. I thought Cop Land was another fantastic film from 97

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