25 influential films of the last 25 years

Did anyone read their USA Today and see an article on the top 25 most influential films of the last 25 years. Well, whenever I see a list like that I tend to want to make one of my own, so here goes. I discovered as I was doing this list that it doesn’t really matter if a film is influential so much as if it’s influential AND good. Jaws, for example, was one of the most influential films ever, but I wouldn’t want to watch it more than once or twice. I feel the same way about Top Gun. Also, good films like Amadeus, Godsford Park, or the Pianist will be left off the list even though they’re better than what’s on the list:

1. Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino, 1994-Self-stylized myth that twisted narratives, induces quotable dialogue, spills violence in excess, and has the mark of the film brats of the 70’s: It borrows from the directors favorite references
2. Titanic, James Cameron, 1997-Nearly every summer and holiday blockbuster has taken records from the rulebook set by Titanic: Star power is secondary to special effects and the story and no production cost is too massive because the sky’s the limit on return gross
3. Platoon, Oliver Stone, 1986-Greater cinematic honesty in the war movie was created by this Vietnam vet’s personal accounts that depicted Vietnam from the point of view of the people on the ground in this Oscar winning film
4. Forrest Gump, Rob Zemeckis, 1994-The life story as allegory to the ‘60s proved that the baby boomer generation sets the narrative agenda. It also combined CGI with story and reinvented the post-modern feel.
5. The Matrix, The Wachowski Bros., 1999-The Blockbuster era that began with Spielberg and Lucas in the late 70’s has been called the Age of the Myth and the Wachowski Brothers recreated a myth for the 21st century as Star Wars did for the 20th.
6. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson, 2001-The most successful movie trilogy of the 21st century in terms of critical accolades, word of mouth and box office grosses.
7. Blade Runner, Ridley Scott, 1982
8. Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore, 2004-The documentary that nearly changed an election and national history, I can’t think of a picture with more impact than that
9. City of God, Fernando Meirelles, 2002-Fernando Meirelles said, “When you tell a story, stick to your village and you’ll appeal to the whole world.” City of God was a hallmark in the
10. Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Steve Soderbergh, 1989-The hallmark of indie cinema, it put one of the great directors on a map
11. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000, Ang Lee-Fostered foreign film interest in the Asian sphere
12. Top Gun, Tony Scott, 1986-It’s a film that appears somewhat dated but Cruise plays the prototypical male hero that’s been copied in every action film since
13. The Truman Show, Peter Weir, 1998-People credit Charlie Kaufman for the narrative-bending genre, but how about this Peter Weir film that set the template for comedic actors to cross over into drama with Jim Carrey. Those who have tried to follow in his footsteps include Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction or Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love, Vince Vaughn in Psycho, Robin Williams in One Hour Photo and Insomnia, and Steve Carrell in Little Miss Sunshine.
14. Beauty and the Beast, 1991-Well, if we trace the origin of the cartoon-as-mega-blockbuster that dominates today with films like Finding Nemo, Incredibles, and Cars taking in $200 million+ at the box office, we’d have to go back to the Disney films of Aladdin which was the highest grossing film of its year and Lion King which hit #5 on the all-time box office list. But the starting film in that string of Disney hits was Beauty and the Beast which was awarded an Oscar nomination for best film when it came out. That’s incredibly rare for a best picture winner
15. Traffic, Steve Soderbergh, 2000-Multiple story lines, message pictures, and global reach.
16. X-Men, Bryan Singer, 2000-The reinventions of the Batman and Superman series as well as Fantastic Four, Spiderman and all the other superhero films to come out in recent years went off the template that started with X-Men. X-Men set the superheros in our world rather than transporting them to some abstract fantasy, be it Gothic (as in the Tim Burton Batman series) or campy (as in the Joel Schumaker Batmans). Spiderman, the mega hit which followed X-Men, centered on the mundane much more, as Peter Parker was seen as a college student, one having to make ends meet, etc.
17. There’s Something About Mary, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, 1998-The modern day origins of the gross-out genre
18. Chicago, Rob Marshall, 2002-The musical was reinvented through Modern lenses. The recent trend of stage-plays-turned-films includes Dreamgirls, Rent, The Producers, and the upcoming Hairspray.
19. Spiderman, Sam Raimi, 2002-Spiderman’s effect on films doesn’t come from molding the new superhero craze (I credit that to X-Men) comes from what the film accomplished in 3 days: It made over 100 million dollars in one weekend and by breaking that barrier, it’s turned movies into much more of an opening-weekend phenomenon, where studios try to blitz their summer blockbusters with publicity all over the place.
20. Star Wars Episode I, 1999, George Lucas-For better of worse (for me,I’d say better since I liked the new Star Wars prequels), this showed us the consequences (possibly negative) of bringing back our nostalgic cinematic experiences in battered form.
21. Wall Street, Oliver Stone, 1987-Michael Douglas’ cynical antihero/villain has been the model of moral ambiguity
22. Jurassic Park, Stephen Spielberg, 1993-Placed very high among the box office rankings (it was #3 all time when it came out), pioneered special effects
23. English Patient, Anthony Minghellia, 1996-This was the first Oscar winner for Miramax, the Oscar juggernaut that changed the rules of the game
24. Saving Private Ryan, Stephen Spielberg, 1998-Showed us that in the hands of a great filmmaker with something to say, new material can always be mined out of a way story
25. Letters from Iwo Jima, Clint Eastwood, 2006-Going back to #24, Eastwood showed us an extremely different point of view of the war story: A sympathetic portrait of the enemy. Perhaps, it’s a reflection of our anti-war cynicism that this film could succeed today.


4 Responses

  1. why isn’t nightmare before christmas on here?

  2. well, it wasn’t on USA Today’s List either. I’m not too much of an expert on Tim Burton’s filmography. Make your own list if you wish.

  3. wow, this is a pretty wierd list. You seem to have put Beauty and The Beat on there, you must have really like that movie. thats unfortunate.
    for some odd reason you seem to forget to add Rocky 1-4 on there. Any of these four movies are much better than like half of the movies you already have there.

  4. I don´t know if I like Beauty and the Beast so much as I found it influential.

    Rocky is from 1976 and its sequels really did not influence the medium at all, so it doesn´t really count.

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