Nightman’s Updated Favourite Movies Of 1985

10: A View To A Kill (UK)

A generally maligned Bond entry, with many citing Roger Moore’s age and Tanya Roberts’ involvement as significant negatives. Stacey Sutton does screech a lot in the movie and doesn’t come across as the most progressive or three dimensional character, and Moore is clearly getting on a bit, but when you counter that with the character of May Day, the performance of Christopher Walken, the greatness of the theme song, and some of the best action in the Moore era, it more than evens out. It’s always been a personal favourite, but then it’s the Moore era I grew up with.

9: Return To Oz (US/UK)

There’s just something eternally enticing about Return To Oz – I loved it growing up, and now my kids love it too. It’s just creepy and dark enough to be fun and scary without being traumatic (debatable), and I love the idea of showing an Oz in ruins, corrupted, the various psychological angles in the story, the special effects, and the lead performances from the always underrated Fairuza Balk and Jean Marsh.

8: Brewster’s Millions (US)

I go back and forth on what my favourite Wilder/Pryor movie is, and that’s before you factor in their solo efforts. This is my favourite Pryor led movie, a remake directed with trademark bounce by Walter Hill, even if it is a deliberate cash in (pun intended) on both Trading Places and the Wall Street/Reagan/money is awesome vibe of the time. If there has ever been an actor who cold sell complete bewilderment, it’s Richard Pryor, and here he’s the small time loser who finds out he’s the sole hair of a 300 million dollar fortune. There’s a catch; in order to get that lump sum he needs to overcome a challenge – to spend 30 million in 30 days. That seems easy, but there are various rules involved, such as he can’t just give it away. If he succeeds, he gets all the money, but if he loses the money gets absorbed back into the nefarious hands of your typical big business boardroom boys. Alternatively, he can accept 1 million and let the bad boys have the rest.

It’s a fast paced, light-hearted movie with surprisingly plenty to say on the subject of Capitalism, morality, and politics. Plus it stars John Candy as Brewster’s well meaning loser best pal.

7: Rocky IV (US)

The movie which taught real men to cry, even as Rocky III threatened. This time around, Rocky must avenge long time best bud Apollo’s death when he is killed in the middle of an exhibition match between Russia’s latest 0% fat killing machine. Balboa demands a fight against Ivan Drago, but has to but his World Title up for grabs and agree to hold the fight in Russia. Cue montages and power ballads. It’s basically the same movie as the other three, but with the 80sness pumped up to fifteen, and as such may be the best of the bunch.

6: Police Academy 2 (US)

After graduating inexplicably from the Police Academy, Mahoney and his crew are sent to work to help Lassard’s brother’s struggling, crime ridden precinct. Regularly terrorized by roving gangs, and with the threat of the scheming Lieutenant Mowser never far, Brother Lassard now must contend with Hightower, Jones, Fackler, Tackleberry, Hooks, and Mahoney. This is the first time we meet series favourites Zed and Proctor too, and as always we get the usual mixture of vignette silliness and slapstick humour which no-one in their right mind besides me could ever enjoy. It’s great.

5: First Blood Part 2 (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

4: Day Of The Dead (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

3: The Goonies (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

2: Back To The Future (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

1:  Commando (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Movies Of 1986!

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Highlander (UK/US)

There can only be one! Except they followed it up with a bunch more and a TV series, and probably an 80s animated series that no-one remembers. It’s the Camp special on the list – it even features Queen all through the soundtrack. It also stars Sean Connery at his hammiest, and a French bloke as a kilt-wearing, sheep-bothering Scotsman. Yet somehow it’s cool. It’s the 80s high concept-ness of it all – a race of immortals battle their way through time until there is only one left, the only way they can be killed is via sword beheading for some reason. Queue lots of dubious sword fighting choreography and neon lit shenanigans, with some sort of love story at the heart of it all. There’s interesting lore, from Quickenings to Gatherings, but as a kid it was the idea of immortals sword-fighting which sold it for me – I’ve always loved the idea of someone living through these major historical times, existing from century to century accruing all of this knowledge and wisdom, while whipping out a sword every so often.

9: Stand By Me (US)

A contender for the best Stephen King adaptation and the one best cast, Stand By Me is a gripping drama, a coming of age story like no other, and an all to human story regardless of the time and place in which it is set. River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, Keifer Sutherland, Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, and Richard Dreyfuss all star, in another story which looks to the past as four friends embark one long summer day on a mission to see a dead body.

8: A Better Tomorrow (HK)

Hong Kong was knocking it out of the park in the late 80s, making steps away from the straight kung fu movies of the previous decades. It was all guns and gangsters now. A Better Tomorrow is an archetype for this, setting out various tropes which would be copied for years after with John Woo directing Leslie Cheung, Chow Yun Fat, and Ti Lung as three men connected by blood or through their work with the Triad.

Lung is a low level manager type in the business, Fat is his charismatic best friend, while Leung is his younger brother training to be a cop. After a botched job, Lung takes the fall letting a younger Triad member called Shing get away. We flash forward to Lung getting out of prison, only to find his brother cannot forgive his him for his life of crime, and that Shing has become a ruthless leader casting Fat out of the group. It’s typical masculine, violent John Woo stuff, and it’s fantastic. While Woo would further hone his style, this was a huge smash and turned the cast into stars overnight. It still holds up as an action movie today, with plenty of visceral stunts and slow mo, and a plot which you know will lead to one final nail-biting, gun-pointing conclusion.

7: Blue Velvet (US)

David Lynch’s fourth film saw him returning to what he did best – small town stories told through his unique noir-tinged lens. Eraserhead was his nightmarish vision of this model, The Elephant Man was his Oscar bait big league shot, and Dune was his big budget Mr Hollywood show. Blue Velvet is unfiltered Lynch, writing and directing a story the way he wanted to. Starting out innocently enough – a severed human ear being found by an All American Boy returning to his All American Town – it ramps up into an alien crime drama where seedy truths and shocking violence ooze from the ground. Kyle MachLaclan,  Laura Dern, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Stockwell, and an unhinged Dennis Hopper lead the cast in Lynch’s alluring, horrible fable.

6: Platoon (US)

Arguably Stone’s finest film, and undoubtedly one of the best War movies ever made, Platoon reflects Stone’s own experiences in Vietnam in an uncompromising way, never showering the US troops in the glory they had been used to in prior Cinematic depictions. These soldiers are flawed men in a worthless war, fighting for nothing, and frequently there for nothing more than their own ego or trying simply to survive when death could come at any moment from any side. The war and its fighters are ugly, and as we observe it through Charlie Sheen’s eyes, we are left bruised and battered by the end, having learned or re-learned that old adage of there being no good guys in war, only victims.

5: Police Academy 3 (US)

It’s only on this blog that you can follow a critically revered classic like Platoon with something as worthless as Police Academy 3 – a film I rank higher. You come for the content, and stay for the disbelief. In this entry, the team is tasked with training a batch of new recruits to the Police Academy, knowing that if they fail they’ll be shut down. This leads to the likes of Zed, Fackler’s wife, Sweetchuck, Nogata, and another love interest for Mahoney all signing up and getting into all manner of silly japes. It’s more of the same, and as my comedy brain never matured being the age of 5, it’s perfect.

4: The Fly (US)

David Cronenberg’s crowning achievement, bringing his body horror obsessions to peak grotesque levels in the midst of a steady character based narrative which never feels like it’s slipping out of reach. It would be easy, and unfair, to speak of the visual effects as the star of the show given that Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis both give star-making performances.

3: The Hitcher (US)

The Hitcher, in spite of its remake, remains an underrated film and the very definition of a Cult movie. We get right to the point in the opening minutes, and from there the tension and action doesn’t let up. It’s opaque in its character moments, its story can be taken directly or broken down into complex themes, it has several iconic scenes and set pieces, it has terrific action and a superb performance from Rutger Hauer, and its visual style is as close to what I want a film to look like as it’s possible to be.

2: Big Trouble In Little China (US)

John Carpenter’s ‘All In’ movie. Horror? Sure. Martial arts? Why not? Slapstick comedy? It’d be rude not to. Kurt Russell and a mullet? Obviously. It’s the most successful mish-mash of multiple genres ever committed to screen and one of the most fun movies of the 80s.

1: Aliens (US)

James Cameron knows how to make heart-pumping action, knowing that the key to making us care about the action is to make us care about the characters. We already had an in with Ripley, and we already understood the lore of the universe, so Cameron takes everything else up a notch by pitting Ripley alongside a group of tough-nosed marines who are no match for a colony of Aliens. Cameron has a track record of making perfect sequels – will he keep it up with the new Avatar movie – and Aliens remains a prime example of how to respect an original and take the story to the next level.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One – the winner

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1987!

20: A Chinese Ghost Story (HK)

Regular Glancers will know I grew up with Bruce Lee movies, and as such I would hunt out anything which sounded like it would have people knocking seven Tibetan shades of shite out of each other. If it had a Horror element – even better! I didn’t know what to make of A Chinese Ghost Story when I first watched it – was it going to be a straight horror movie, was it going to feature zany kung fu masters tackling creatures from Chinese folklore I had zero experience of? It’s all of those things, none of those things, and more. It’s weird. It’s funny. It has a love story. It has trees. It features the gorgeous Joey Wong and the legendary Leslie Cheung in some of their most famous work. It’s one of Tsui Hark’s best movies. It stars Cheung as a nobody, a debt collector who happens to stumble into a rural temple to find somewhere to sleep, falls in love with a tortured ghost, and tried to rescue her soul from Hell. It’s not the first movie to start with in your Hong Kong Cinema journey, but it should be one of the first ten.

19: Withnail And I (UK)

You’ll have seen from my Least Favourite Movies posts, that I’m not a fan of British Comedies. TV shows – absolutely – we’re the best in the world in that regard, but when it comes to movies the reliance on self-titled quirky characters and romance leaves me cold. As with anything there are exceptions – Withnail And I being a prime example. There’s no attempt to hold a sign over a character’s head to scream ‘I’m the quirky one’, there’s no romance in the traditional sense. It’s just two blokes heading away for a weekend in the country so they can get drunk and moan about being actors. Japes occur. It’s all about the performances and the dialogue. It looks (purposefully) shit, the soundtrack is great, and it barely has an ending or a plot, but it’s brilliant.

18: City On Fire (HK)

There was a decided turn in the 1980s away from period action movies, costume and history oriented martial arts fare, towards contemporary, gun based action. Tarantino famously borrowed several scenes and pieces of dialogue from City On Fire, a Ringo Lam movie starring Chow Yun Fat as an undercover cop who infiltrates a gang of robbers and ends up in a Mexican Standoff in a warehouse, with police surrounding them outside. Sound familiar? It doesn’t have the quirks and cools and non-linear framing of Reservoir Dogs, but it has Chow Yun Fat and a tonne of action and energy. It was one of a series of the heroic bloodshed type movies which came out of HK in this era, and is one of the best.

17: Planes, Trains, And Automobiles (US)

Likely to be the only Steve Martin vehicle to grace any of my Favourites lists, this one succeeds because of John Hughes, John Candy, and in spite of Martin. Who, to his credit, is fine but plays the same plain white bread guy he always does. Thanksgiving doesn’t mean shit to anyone outside of the US, so I always viewed this as a Christmas movie. Chicago in November looks like Christmas anyway. As its John Candy you can expect lots of zany laughs, and as it’s Hughes you know you’re in for an offbeat heart-warming tale.

16: Good Morning, Vietnam (US)

Robin Williams, letting rip, completely off the leash.

15: The Princess Bride (US)

I always start any conversation about The Princess Bride by saying I’m not its biggest fan – mainly because there are those who worship the thing. I like it, it’s great, but there are better movies, and I have more favourites – many more this year alone. I love the story in a story nature of it, and it’s another in a line of excellent fantasy oriented kids movies which don’t feel like they are patronising its intended audience. While much of the humour also suits adults, it’s still not a movie for that age range. It’s strong enough, funny enough, well acted and written enough to be enjoyed by all ages, but at its heart it’s an escapist adventure movie for lonely kids.

14: The Living Daylights (UK)

A lesser loved Bond movie, Dalton led the series into its grittiest, darkest period, many years before Zack Snyder misinterpreted overlong running times and blue tints for emotion. Dalton’s Bond may have still quipped, may have still got the ladies, but he was doing a job for Queen and Country, his humour of the gallows, a defence mechanism of being exposed to death and mayhem in all its ugly forms. In The Living Daylights, Bond is embroiled in a Soviet Tug of War, and ends up faffing about in a Cargo plane in Afghanistan. It’s not the most exciting story in the series and it’s unlikely to be anyone’s favourite, but it sets the darker tone, re-establishes the formula, and gives Dalton a chance to shine.

13: Lethal Weapon (US)

A number of genres, in their own way, signify the 1980s. The Buddy Cop movie is one of those, and Lethal Weapon is probably the most famous of the genre, establishing and cementing cliches, the laughs, the action, and the ‘buddiness’. Gibson is the unhinged wildcard set alongside Glover’s close to retirement, by the book veteran. Together, they investigate the apparent suicide of one of Glover’s friend’s daughters. Initially wary of each other, their respect and relationship grows, and jokes and action, and a fair amount of introspection and darkness pours out. It’s one of those movies which epitomises the decade – over the top, big budget thrills, violent, fun, stylized, but it’s the script and the cast which make it memorable above the pretenders.

12: Full Metal Jacket (US/UK)

Stanley Kubrick takes on War again, and again crafts a seminal piece of Cinema. Similar to Westerns, I wasn’t into War movies in my youth, feeling too stilted and macho but lacking any flair or action. Full Metal Jacket was one of those movies, along with The Great Escape and Platoon, to wise me up. It would become the archetype of many movies to come – not merely in the War genre – dividing into two distinct parts with a bootcamp/training section, and a battle/War section. There’s more to it, but that’s one of the most famous aspects of the film which people continue to bring up. The Dirty Dozen had done something similar two decades earlier, but Kubrick uses both to show the horror of the institution over and above the horrors of war. Supremely acted, written, and directed, it’s one of the most must see movies of the decade.

11: Evil Dead 2 (US)

A sequel, remake, and one of those in-betweeny things, Raimi, Campbell, and fans return to up the ante and double down on the slapstick humour of the first movie. What it loses in scares, it makes up for gore effects, and Raimi continues with his inventive camera techniques and visceral insanity. One of the great ‘modern’ horror movies.

10: The Untouchables (US)

Somehow such an underrated film, especially when weighed up alongside the big boys like Goodfellas and The Godfather, which I have always felt deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those. De Niro is hamming it up and having the time of his life, Kevin Costner is melting hearts as a moral, upstanding husband, daddy, and good guy, Sssshean Connery is the grandad, and Andy Garcia is fucking awesome as always. Charles Martin Smith is at his best, Billy Drago is one of Cinema’s finest henchmen, the soundtrack is excellent, the suits are on point, but it’s DePalma’s movie; he cranks up the tension, controls the mood and tempo, and ensures that it’s a film about family as much as, but in a vastly different way from, The Godfather and Goodfellas are.

9: Hellraiser (UK)

Arguably the film which has come closest to showing us what a nightmare looks and feels like. Hellraiser, like much of Barker’s work, is about ideas; Barker’s worlds and words are brimming with ideas, invention, puzzles, and dubious morality – a constant ebb and flow between opposing, looping factions. Hellraiser concerns a family moving into a new home and resurrecting the bloody corpse of a murderous relative who wishes to continue from where he left off, exploring the darkest desires of humanity for his own enjoyment. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for us, there are others beyond our world who enjoy pleasure and pain more than he, and take great delight at dragging it out of his flesh. It’s such a grime and dirt ridden, low-budget film that it’s extraordinary just how extraordinary it looks. The cast look like they’ve survived a Tim Burton dream he was too scared to finish, the Cenobites are a fantastic inclusion to the Horror world, and it’s bloody, bleak, and beautiful in its own horrific way.

8: The Running Man (US)

One of Arnie’s more maligned movies – it’s neither the big action smash of Predator nor the family friendly fun of Twins, but it’s somewhere in between, a loose adaptation of Stephen King’s nihilistic tale of a broken society, interspersed by James Bond one-liners. An early Battle Royale. It’s a future where gameshows and TV are still the primary form of entertainment, but rather than winning a million quid by answering questions (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), or gaining adoration for being a racist sex hungry asshole (Big Brother), society has regressed to a more bloodthirsty, gladiatorial time. Criminals (guilty or otherwise) are thrown into an expansive game arena and pitted against a variety of games and fan-favourite warriors in a literal game to the death.

It’s such a lot of fun – the one-liners, the costumes, the cast, the idea of all these muscle-bound boyos duking it out for freedom or the adoration of the baying crowd. There’s an epic head explosion in the early moments, there’s Richard Dawson hamming it up, and there’s such an ugly 80s coke-fuelled haze over it – wonderful stuff. You just know when they remake it, they’re going to take all of the fun out.

7: Dream Warriors (US)

Speaking of fun, Dream Warriors is the most entertaining film in the Elm Street franchise. We largely ignore the events of the second movie, and instead re-unite cast members from the original with a new breed of tormented kids. Freddy is back, and he’s stalking the kids of some kind of medical/psychiatric institution. Nancy learns of this and comes back to finish off Krueger once and for all. While the first movie introduced the idea of a killer attacking you in your sleep, Dream Warriors doubles down on the dream logic of fighting back – in your dreams you can be a super-powered version of yourself and therefore the kids each use their own strengths and character traits to go on the offensive. Patricia Arquette and Lawrence Fishbourne appear, Langenkamp and Saxon return, and of course Englund is on top form. It’s inventive in its look and effects, is peppered with one-liners and interesting ideas, and it moves it a rip-roaring pace. It’s not exactly haunting or scary in the same way as the first movie was, but what it lacks in scares it makes up for in action.

6: Citizens On Patrol (US)

I’m an unashamed Police Academy fan. As a Cinema fan, they’re not exactly high art, and outside of the first film they’re barely coherent entertainment. But I love them. COP is my favourite sequel, giving us more of the original bunch, the return of Harris, more Zed, and fun new characters. It’s ridiculously silly, but there are more laugh out loud moments here for me, than probably every comedy released in the last ten years. It’s a capsule to my childhood, it’s nostalgic outside of my own experiences, and it’s good old fashioned summery, carefree Hollywood escapism.

5: Prince Of Darkness (US)

It’s in my TTT John Carpenter’s post

4: Near Dark (US)

TT Of The Decade.

3: The Lost Boys (US)

TT Of The Decade.

2: Predator (Top Ten Of All Time) (US)

TT Of The Decade.

1: Robocop (Top Ten Of All Time) (US)

TT Of The Decade.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1988!

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: They Live (US)

It’s the one John Carpenter movie which I feel gets more hype than it deserves. It’s still my tenth favourite film of the year, but it would be lower down my list of favourite Carpenter films, which says a lot for the quality of his work and my love for it. While still prescient today, and while stoutly anti-Reagan and anti-Republican, it’s one of those films whose message can be, and has been, twisted by individuals and organizations of any persuasion. Or you can simply view it as Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David knocking several shades of shite out of each other while keeping a shaded eye on Alien shenanigans.

9: Hellraiser 2 (US/UK)

It’s not as immediately arresting as the first movie, but it builds upon the mysterious world we only glimpsed in part 1, and remains one of the most visually inventive horror movies of the decade which pushed the boundary for what devilish delights could be realised on screen. It follows more or less directly from the first movie, with Kirsty committed to a psychiatric hospital and begging that the doctor’s destroy all evidence of what happened to prevent the Cenobites (and anyone else) from returning. Unfortunately, she happens to have been committed to the one hospital in the world, and be in the care of the one doctor in the world, who has awareness of The Lament Configuration and wants to experience its delights and torments for himself.

It’s best to not think about the plot too much and just follow it like you’re in the grip of a particularly vivid and violent nightmare. It’s great to see the old gang back together from Part 1, and it’s interesting just how much the film has in common with Dream Warriors. It’s another bizarre and bloody descent into Barker’ peculiar brand of Hell, but sadly the last film in the neverending Hellraiser series that’s worth watching.

8: Bloodsport (US)

One of JCVD’s breakout hits, and one of those movies I slipped into the basket when we were picking up VHSs to rent back in the day. Contentiously based on the real life events of Frank Dux it follows Van Damme (as Dux), a soldier with a Martial Arts background who goes AWOL so that he can join an underground, illegal Martial Arts tournament. He makes friends with a Yank, becomes entangled with a reporter, is followed by Forest Whitaker, and invites the rage of Bolo Yeung. The highlights are of course the fights – your typical 80s Western Martial Arts one to one fodder, but spiced up by the talent on display.

7: Akira (Japan)

Arguably still the greatest Japanese animated movie ever, and undoubtedly one of the most influential animated films of all time, Akira remains a jaw-dropping and mind-boggling experience. While bloody, violent, stylized, confusing, and sometimes overly kinetic, Akira is a film everyone should experience at least once. The plot isn’t easy to condense into a couple of lines, but it involves feuding biker gangs in the aftermath of World War 3, set in Neo-Tokyo after the original Tokyo was wiped out. When one of the gang members is arrested by shady Government types, his friends attempt to rescue him but uncover a world of extra-sensory science experiments which could not only claim their friend’s life, but also end all life on the planet as we know it. A hallucinatory trip, with pounding music and visuals speeding by like a bullet, Akira still feels like one of a kind four decades later.

6: Twins (US)

Putting the world’s biggest action star alongside one of America’s funniest men may have sounded strange at the time, but the charm of both stars feeding an endearing relationship, wrapped up inside a silly yet heart-warming story, mean that Twins is an easy, enjoyable watch for any generation. Arnie shows fine comedic chops while Devito brings the pizazz, the two starring as twins separated at birth – Arnie ‘getting all the good genes’ – the strength, the looks, the height, and intelligence, along with an exotic wealthy upbringing, while Devito got everything else. Arnie sets out to find his long lost street crook brother, and so kicks off a cross-country journey for their mutual past while outrunning a bunch of hapless criminals. It’s a lot of fun.

5: Young Guns (US)

The Western has never really been the young man’s genre. Sure, kids back in the early days of Cinema would have loved the sweeping vistas and tales of macho manliness, but once you hit adolescence you become jaded and horny and look for other forms of entertainment. Stagnant for at least a decade, the Western had fallen out of favour with general audience too, outside of the odd Clint Eastwood update – enter the Brat Pack with their Revisionist take on the Billy The Kid legend. Suddenly, Cowboys were cool again – young, human, but with a modern outlook of happy go lucky cynicism as exemplified by a spirited Emilio Estevez and his pals – Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips etc. It was the movie which got me into Westerns after avoiding them as boring old man fare, and it’s still one of a limited number of Westerns I return to over and over.

4: Heathers (US)

Another wonderful vehicle for Christian Slater and Winona Ryder, Heathers is one of the greatest anti-hero teen movies. While Ryder would go grom strength to strength, Slater’s stardom would burn out somewhat, although he has made various credible returns in recent years. Heathers remains some of their finest work, starring as a jaded, murderous young couple sick of the popular kids, sick of the grind, sick of life. At once a satire of popularity, cliques, and anti-heroes, Heathers is a delightful slice of non-PC cynicism, featuring performances from familiar faces such as Glenn Shadix, Penelope Milford, and Shannon Doherty.

3: Willow (US)

It’s always been a mystery why Willow has not remained as popular as it once was. Now we’re getting a Disney Plus reboot, so perhaps that will breathe some life back into a wonderful, almost Star Wars adjacent universe. Written by George Lucas and with some game-changing visuals for the time, Willow follows Warwick Davis as an aspiring Sorcerer who takes guardianship of a baby. Not just any baby, but a baby who’s life is in danger by the ruthless Warlord Queen Bavmorda due to a prophecy which states that the child will bring her rein to and end.

2: Die Hard (US)

Covered in my Favourite Films Of The 80s post

1: Beetlejuice. (US)

Covered in my Favourite Films Of The 80s post

Let us know in the comments what your favourite films of 1988 are!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1989!

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

In reading through my list again, I realised there are a few movies I somehow missed including or mentioning before. Black Rain is in my Top Tony/Ridley Scott list, Blue Steel is an underrated thriller, Three Fugitives is an underrated comedy, Renegades is one of my favourite buddy cop movies.

10: The Killer (HK)

Maybe the first John Woo film I ever saw, like many it opened my eyes to a new world of Action cinema. Growing up I was mainly exposed to Hollywood’s muscle bound Action heroes and Asia’s Martial Arts masters, but John Woo came along and created a bridge between the two, offering sardonic, stylish, conflicted protagonists who were just as deadly with their fists as they were with a handgun. Action isn’t treated like a series of explosions, but like a choreographed dance for maximum emotional impact. Like many of Woo’s early movies, it pits one man against another in a sort of cat and mouse formula, and masculinity is dissected. Chow Yun Fat is an assassin trying to get out of the business, but he accidentally injures a singer in his last job and falls in love with her. Danny Lee is the detective on his trail and becomes obsessed with The Killer, while Shing Fui-on is the Triad boss pulling all of the strings and acting as the central big bad. It’s a more condensed and small scale experience than earlier works like A Better Tomorrow, and his balletic approach would be perfected in upcoming films such as Hard Boiled and Face/Off, but it’s still a smooth, stylish, bullet crazed watch.

9: Uncle Buck (US)

One of the seminal movies of the great John Candy, and probably the one I was most familiar with growing up. Candy stars as the titular Uncle who is tasked with looking after his nieces and nephew and has somewhat unorthodox measures. It has its madcap moments, but it’s still a John Hughes movie, meaning a lot of heart, modern family values, and plenty of guttural belly laughs.

8: Born On The Fourth Of July (US)

The movie which should have seen Tom Cruise win his Oscar, Born On The Fourth Of July is Oliver Stone dealing with the aftermath of Vietnam from a veteran’s perspective. It’s a gripping performance and watching it now we’re reminded that Cruise is capable of powerful dramatic performances when he’s not leaping out of airplanes as he trying to complete impossible missions. Based on the life of Ron Kovic, the film follows his life from childhood, to his horrific experiences in Vietnam, and to the months and years after as he became an activist. Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and John C McGinley join Stone again after Platoon, albeit in much smaller parts, and the surrounding cast including Kyra Sedgwick, Frank Whaley, and Lili Taylor put in memorable performances.

7: Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan)

I think this is my favourite Ghibli movie. Naturally, Miyazaki directs and writes, and Joe Hisashi brings another lovely score. It’s not the most riveting or outlandish or visually adventurous Ghibli movie, but it’s sweet, evokes a lot of feelings, and creates a charming world you would love to spend more time in. It’s also a film about growing up, about finding your place in the world, through the lens of a young girl who happens to be a Witch, heading off on her own for the first time and setting up a delivery service thanks to her flying ability. It does that Ghibli thing of perfectly capturing a specific mood and is as close to capturing the atmosphere of a Legend Of Zelda game as any movie I’ve seen, even though narratively the two have little in common. It’s simply a beautiful experience.

6: See No Evil, Hear No Evil (US)

One of the lesser known entries for both Pryor and Wilder, it’s nevertheless my favourite film by either performer… Brewster’s Millions and Willy Wonka maybe on another day. It’s utterly ludicrous, vaguely offensive, and our two stars are on fine form. I’ve said this many times over the decades – I’ve never been much of a Kevin Spacey fan (seems I was right all along) but this is his best performance. I’m willing to die on that hill. It’s the ridiculous story of a blind man (Pryor) and a deaf man (Wilder) who become friends and are embroiled in a murder case. Japes follow. Many, many japes. I know it’s not clever (except when it is) or sophisticated, but there’s just something about these two actors playing equally bemused characters getting into stupid situations and causing chaos for everyone they meet that I find endlessly hilarious and endearing.

5: Licence To Kill (US/UK)

It’s a shame Dalton didn’t get to squeeze in one more Bond film before Brosnan took over – he’s probably the best actor to ever wield the PPK, and he took the series in an interesting direction. This is a better film overall than The Living Daylights, and you feel Dalton was just hitting his stride. It was the most grisly and dark Bond film upon release, bolstered by two slimy performances by Benicio Del Toro and Robert Davi and has one of the series most exhilarating finales.

4: Pet Sematary (US)

Speaking of grisly, Mary Lambert brought Stephen King’s darkest and most upsetting novel to the big screen, not shying away from the horrors of death, grief, and resurrection. Interestingly, it’s the supporting cast who steal the limelight from the two leads – Fred Gwynne iconic as Jud, and Miko Hughes on Oscar worthy form as the ill fated Gage. In case you’re unaware of the story, it follows a family moving to rural Maine, their farmhouse on the side of a particularly busy road, and how they cope with first the loss of the family pet and then something far more devastating. It turns out that an ancient burial ground behind the house as the power of resurrection… but sometimes dead is better. It doesn’t match the sheer bleak emotional power of the novel, but it gets closer to the bone than most horror movies, and there isn’t a shred of light to be found anywhere.

3: Back To The Future Part II  (US)

It’s not as good as the first, but it’s damn close. It does that second act thing which annoys me in most films, of having the main character fall out with his friends/go down a darker path – this all takes place in the alternate boss Biff future, but aside from that minor personal thing it’s a wonderful adventure. The cast is back to together, the story and sets all blend seamlessly with Part 1, and every single performer is at the top of their game. I love all the hoverboard and 3D shark action, plenty of jokes and humour, and it’s all done in such a way that viewers of any age can enjoy it. They don’t make them like this anymore.

2: Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (US)

There’s something more pure and original and fun about this first Bill & Ted movie which the second one lacks somewhat. I love them both, but this is the superior outing. Hell, it even has a sequence in a waterpark, what’s not to love. It’s quotable, the supporting cast and characters are fun Reeves and Winter and Carlin are most excellent, and the story is shamelessly silly – two aspiring musicians and otherwise no hopers are thrust back in time in order to learn about history so that they can pass history class. If they don’t, the very future of mankind is under threat. To Metal and Grunge fan younger me, this was my Gospel.

1: Batman (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The 80s post.

Let us know your favourite movies of 1989 in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Top Twenty Movies Of 1990!

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

20: Boiling Point (Japan) Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano comes into his own with another unusual mixture of losers, comedy, and violence, a film where he begins to experiment with what it means to be a director and storyteller. It’s not the easiest gateway into Japanese cinema, but in Kitano you have an established star and unique voice.

19: La Femme Nikita (France) Luc Besson

Luc Besson had made waves in the 1980s with a number of experimental movies but with La Femme Nikita he became a name to be reckoned with. It’s the story of a teenage criminal who kills a cop after her friends are killed during a robbery gone wrong. Facing a life in prison, she is recruited by a shadowy organization and trained as an assassin. The film’s beats feel cliche now, but while they were not exactly new then, they are done with a speed and style and have been mimicked by Hollywood for decades – we watch Nikita train, become skilled, disciplined, distant, then meet a stranger and fall in love, then balance botched missions and dreaming of a normal life. It almost single-handedly rejuvenated interest in France as a Country capable of making genre films. Anne Parillaud, Jean Reno, Tcheky Karyo, and Jeanne Moreau are familiar faces helping the film succeed.

18: The Witches (UK/US) Nicholas Roeg

I loved Roald Dahl when I was growing up, and I loved anything horror related. Roald Dahl making a more or less straight (family friendly) horror story and film was the perfect storm for me. I had no idea who Nicholas Roeg was until much later, but he strikes me now as an interesting choice for the studio to make, and the film an interesting project for him to tackle. I remember the first time I watched this – in school – but it was turned off during the unmasking scene because a number of girls started crying. Good times. Hell, another childhood hero in Mr Bean shows up! I haven’t seen the remake at time of writing, but I imagine it will be tough to beat the fun and frights of this one.

17: Dances With Wolves (US) Kevin Costner

Costner knows how to make an epic. What a great debut film. It’s gorgeous, has a great score, may be somewhat overlong but remains engaging as all epics with the balls to have a three hour running time should be.

16: Awakenings (US) Penny Marshall

A still sadly underseen and undervalued film by everyone – Penny Marshall fans, Robin Williams fans, Robert De Niro fans, film fans in general, and those who don’t know any better. The film was extremely well reviewed at the time and got nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor, but has since fallen by the wayside. It’s a gripping, moving, true (ish) story of a doctor’s experiment treatment on patients in a comatose state, with Robins as the Doctor and De Niro as one of his patients who ‘wakes’ from an unresponsive state and tries to resume a normal life. It’s one of the best examples of Williams taking on a non-comedic role, and something different for De Niro too.

15: The Godfather Part 3 (US) Francis Ford Coppolla

We know it’s not as good as Part 1 or 2. Possibly if Part 3 had come shortly after Part 2, but then it would have been a very different story. The Godfather Part 3 is still a more enjoyable and more impressive experience than 90% of what you’ll watch this year. Andy Garcia is a strong addition, Sofia less so even if the amount of criticism directed at her is mostly unfounded, and Pacino is as wonderful as ever.

14: Ghost (US) Jerry Zucker

Ghost is a romance. But when I saw it as a kid, I viewed it as a horror movie. Sure it had kissing and jokes and uncomfortable pottery, but it’s the story of a dude who is brutally murdered and has to somehow prevent his wife from being killed or being touched by the slimy meatball who was responsible for his own death. It also features one of the most creepy death scenes in film history (or two given the same creatures claim two victims). You see, in this movie, when you die you might be trapped on Earth and forced to watch the world go by in a limbo state as you struggle to not fall through the floor… or, if you were a naughty boy, you get dragged to Hell by horrific, howling, shadowy nightmares. It’s a weird departure for a dude known for incredibly zany comedies. Everyone here is great, with Goldberg stealing the show. But it’s those shadows, their howls, those will stay with you until… well, until the moment they come for you.

13: Another 48 Hours (US) Walter Hill

A sequel that’s just as much fun as the original, mainly because Walter Hill, Nick Nolte, and Eddie Murphy all return. If you didn’t enjoy the original you won’t like this, if you like the original then this is more of the same. In fact, most of the (mostly) justified criticism of the film is because the film was chopped to pieces before release, with at least 30 minutes of material cut which would have reinstated characters from the first film, expanded on the motivation of others, and filled in many of the plot holes. None of that mattered to a younger me – all I wanted was more buddy cop violence and banter, and that’s what we’re left with.

12: Misery (US) Rob Reiner

Before Mike Flanagan there was Frank Darabont; before Darabont there was Garris; before Garris there was Reiner. Rob Reiner made two bona fide classic Stephen King classics before descending into romantic comedy debauchery. There’s no romance here, except in Annie’s head, and there are precious few laughs. Instead we have a King proxy tied to a bed, being subject to repeated mental and physical torture from a deranged fan. Cann and Bates are a fearsome partnership and Lauren Bacall and Richard Farnsworth appear. It holds a couple of important, yet depressing distinctions – it’s one of the few times a Horror film and Horror performance has been recognised by The Academy, and it’s the only film based on a Stephen King work to have ever won an Oscar.

11: Arachnophobia (US) Frank Marshall

I hate spiders, but I love spiders? I love how they terrify people, I love the job they perform, and I love how impossible they are, but I also hate that they exist and often exist in my house. I also love movies with spiders in them, either as a random appearance or as some kind of antagonist. These movies are almost always terrible… but spiders! Arachnophobia is like Jaws but with spiders, which is sort of similar to saying Jaws is like Die Hard, but with drunk fishermen. A new species of spider, highly venomous and aggressive, is found in Venezuela and hitches a ride back to the good old US of Hicktown. Jeff Daniels has just moved in with his family – he’s terrified of spiders, but luckily there’s only house spiders in this part of the world. That is, until the Queen gets her end away with one of the local homeboys and spurts out hundreds of murderous little fucks who begin picking off the town’s caricatures. Julian Sands has a ponytail. John Goodman has bug spray. It’s great. You’ll laugh your ass off, then shriek cos a bit of dust moved in the corner of your room.

10: Kindergarten Cop (US) Ivan Reitman

Covered in my TTT Arnie movies.

9: Young Guns II (US) Geoff Murphy

A sequel every bit as fun as the original, another terrific cast, soundtrack, and with the added bonus emotional beats. The main gang are still electric and while the whole ‘I’m Billy The Kid’ thing never sat well with me, for the longest time this and its predecessor were the only Westerns I could watch; they’re still up there with my favourites.

8: Mermaids (US) Richard Benjamin

You’ll know from my Least Favourite Movies lists that I’m not a Romantic Comedy guy. That’s not necessarily because I’m against the format, more that the results of said format are generally bad. They offer me nothing on a personal level. Mermaids, if it can truly be classed as a Romantic comedy, is an exception. I’d class it as a Coming Of Age movie, but at the heart of the story is the romance between Cher and Bob Hoskins, and the conflict it causes Cher’s family. Regardless of what it is, it’s delightful. Cher’s best film performance, Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci together in the same movie (both at their best), kick-ass soundtrack, and spoke to me as an alienated youngster.

7: Tremors (US) Ron Underwood

One of the most purely entertaining, fun monster movies ever made. It knows what it is and doubles down on the charm of the genre. It wouldn’t be so much fun if it weren’t for the writing and the chemistry between the cast members. If you’ve seen any of the Tremors sequels – they’re still fun, still silly, but the writing and chemistry are lacking. You know what it is, right? Man eating worms attack a middle of nowhere town, and it’s down to a couple of resourceful manual workers, a plucky seismologist, and a couple of gun totin’ firearms fans to save the day. It’s a throwback, a gateway horror movie, and somehow timeless even if some of the squishy effects aren’t as impressive as they were in 1990.

6: Wild At Heart (US) David Lynch

I talk about it more in my TTT David Lynch post, but this is an underrated, manic entry in the Lynch canon.

5: Total Recall (US) Paul Verhoeven

Discussed in TTT Arnie movies.

4: Home Alone (US) Chris Columbus

A massive hit, brought Culkin to the big time, and is a must watch every Christmas. The perfect movie for a boy like me when it was released, and that boy never really grew up even if he is old enough to watch it with his own kids now. Few more entertaining Christmas movies than this.

3: Goodfellas (US) Martin Scorsese

I don’t think I’ve done a TTT Scorsese post yet, but this would be at or near the top. In terms of Crime/Mafia movies I’d still rate The Godfather 1 and higher, but this is in with a shout as the best of that genre. Gripping stories, chilling violence, quotable script, excellent performances, and Scorsese at the top of his game.

2: Problem Child (US) Dennis Dugan

In my Top Movies Of Decade post.

1: Edward Scissorhands (US) Tim Burton

In my top movies of the decade post.

Let us know your favourite movies of 1991 in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1991

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

We start as always with a brief slurp over the froth dripping away from 1991’s bountiful cup. Backdraft is that rare thing – a fun movie about firefighting, complete with almost sentient flames tickling Billy Baldwin’s arse. It shouldn’t be good, but Ron Howard brings plenty of tension, action, and even emotion, and it has a damn god cast – Kurt Russel, Rebecca De Mornay, JT Walsh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glenn, Donald Sutherland, and one Robert De Niro. An equally impressive cast elevates Oliver Stone’s controversial JFK from conspiracy-bait court drama to absorbing thriller – notable names include Donald Sutherland (again), Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ed Asner, John Candy, Joe Pesci, Michael Rooker, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Kevin Costner, Sissy Spacek, Wayne Knight, Kevin Bacon, Sally Kirkland, and Laurie Metcalf.

Sticking with epics, we have two of the best coming out of Asia in 1991, the Martial Arts Historical opus Once Upon A Time In China, and Zhang Yimou’s gorgeous drama Raise The Red Lantern. Jumping over to France we were treated to Jean Pierre Jeune’s debut Delicatessen, the incredibly odd yet visually memorable tale. Marc Caro co-directs this post-apocalyptic version of Sweeny Todd. Cape Fear accomplishes the difficult feat of at least meeting, if not exceling beyond, the excellent original with Martin Scorsese bringing together the original cast in part roles and letting Robert De Niro go full tilt alongside Juliette Lewis, Jessica Lange, and Nick Nolte.

In keeping with much of the unsavoury material released this year, The Silence Of The Lambs became the year’s critical darling, picking up a bunch of Oscars and reminding critics that Horror and genre filmmaking was just as worthy of praise and attention as straight dramatic fare. Barton Fink saw the Coen brothers further cement their names as a partnership to watch, blending a number of genres together and unleashing a madcap John Turturro and John Goodman on the world.

In the Indie space, a series of lesser known names and films made a huge splash. New Jack City took a grimy look at the Drug war underworld while Boyz N The Hood saw John Singleton tackle gang and youth culture in South Central LA to devastating effect. My Own Private Idaho saw both Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix trying to break from their respective moulds, playing hustlers trying to find meaning and a future in their lives. My Girl, everyone’s favourite childhood tearjerker follows Anna Chlumsky as she struggles with coming of age in the 1970s, growing up in a funeral parlor and befriending nerdy outcast Macaulay Culkin. Often mocked now, it’s still an effective, thoughtful, and funny look at childhood. Finally, Naked Lunch is… well I still haven’t quite figured it out.

10: Drop Dead Fred (US/UK) Ate De Jong

Who Ate De Jong? I’ve no idea, but I hope he was tasty. The world suffered a massive loss when Rik Mayall passed. He made an indelible impact on British comedy, but is remembered for fondly for his TV work rather than his big screen outings. Drop Dead Fred was released around the height of his powers and is his most successful movie release. It was a modest hit, was critically panned (particularly in the US), and went on to become a cult film. Rik Mayall’s physical, anarchic style is perfect for British humour, but US sensibilities never had a widespread punk cultural movement and as such his antics don’t seem to translate. The humour is juvenile yet deals with sophisticated and progressive concerns, the film is silly yet emotionally touching, and while Mayall is unleashed, the likes of Phoebe Cates and Carrie Fisher give their own levels of grounding and sarcastic flair. It’s a film which speaks to both the child and the free spirit adult.

9: Double Impact (US) Sheldon Lettich

There was a joke about Double Impact when I was in school. It was a boob joke. If you’ve seen Double Impact, you probably have your own version of that joke. Outside of boobs, this is the most famous example of JCVD playing multiple characters. Here he plays two very different twins separated at birth a la Mary Ann Benedict, after their parents are murdered. They grow up and have very different lives, Chad runs a dojo and is a bit of a polite ladies man, while Alex is more of a thug. Things happen and the pair meet, clash, learn about their parents, and plot revenge. Then there are fights and guns and boobs. It’s fun. It’s not top budget Van Damme, but it’s among the best of the rest and remains a lot of silly, violent fun.

8: The Doors (US) Oliver Stone

All musicians and writers go through a Doors phase. We get into the music, the lyrics, the mystique, and if you’re like me, yo visit Jim’s grave in Paris. Oliver Stone’s biopic is one of his lesser seen movies of his most successful period, and focuses on the formation of the band, their success, and their demise following Jim’s death. It weaves an ethereal moody vision of the 60s, complete with the requisite music and fashion, and while it never feels exciting or revelatory, it’s watchable thanks to the stellar cast led by a flawless Val Kilmer. Elsewhere, Kyle Maclachlan, Kevin Dillon, Michael Wincott, Meg Ryan, Frank Whaley, and Kathleen Quinlan are all memorable, and it’s a vital, if inaccurate watch for Doors fans.

7: Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey (US) Pete Hewitt

For Metal and Rock fans in the 80s, the Bill And Ted movies were a rite of passage and watched on a monthly if not weekly occurence. I always preferred the original, but the sequel has Death. Both a ridiculous, stupid, but fun, and filled with references for young fans to spot or chase down. The sequel sees the pair being killed by a terrorist from the future and replaced by evil robots – the good Bill and Ted go to Hell and must defeat the Grim Reaper in order to return to Earth, win back their babes, and ensure that the Wyld Stallyns’ music survives. It’s weird.

6: Thelma And Louise (US) Ridley Scott

There’s no obvious reason why a young me should have enjoyed this movie, but I’ve loved it since day 1, and therefore had the benefit of growing up to not be an asshole (in some respects) and of knowing who Bradley Pitt was before he hit the big time. Naturally, it also gave me a lifelong crush on Geena Davis. It’s a perfect movie to me, from the lead 4-5 performances to Scott’s direction and Khouri’s script.

5: Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves (US) Kevin Reynolds

This film was a monster, and was accompanied by one of the biggest songs of all time. Kevin Costner was a leading man, Alan Rickman was at his hammiest, and standalone action spectacles were getting more grandiose. This is the most entertaining version of the Robin Hood story for me – sword fights, arrows, castle walls being scaled, terrible accents, romance, wizened old crones and creepy sub-villains, and lots of swinging about in trees. Plus they actually had people from Maid Marian And Her Merry Men in the film! It’s easy to ridicule now, but it’s still wildly entertaining and cheesy, complete with unnecessary cameos and breaking the fourth wall moments, and also features Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

4: Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead (US) Stephen Herek

I always put this in the same bucket as Wayne’s World and Bill And Ted – it has a similar vibe, similar characters, but the humour is less juvenile, and the plot is less like a series of vignettes. It also features a young Danielle Harris, so it was a must see for me when I was young. It stars Christina Applegate as your typical teen on the verge of adulthood but somewhat directionless. When her mom goes away on business, rather than being left in charge of her 400 siblings, she is left with an elderly babysitter with tyrant syndrome. As the title suggests, the babysitter dies, and the kids decide to get on with life till mom gets home. This means a lot of partying, messing around, boyfriends and girlfriends; eventually, for Applegate this means a job and responsibility. Lots of great one liners, amusing famous faces popping up, good soundtrack, and it’s a seminal coming of age movie for me.

3: The Last Boy Scout (US) Tony Scott

I’ve covered this in my Top Ten Bruce Willis and Tony Scott movies. It’s wonderful.

2: Beauty And The Beast (US) Disney

It’s my favourite Disney movie of all time. Covered in my Top Movies of the decade.

1: Terminator 2 (Top Ten Of All Time) (US) James Cameron

Covered in my Top movies of the decade.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Three (The Top Three)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Movies Of 1992!

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

I start today with a few brief comments on some of my favourite films of 1992 which didn’t make the Top Ten cut. Alien 3 is an undoubtedly flawed pseudo-final entry to the Alien series. Notably marred by scripting and production problems, it’s perhaps a miracle the film turned out as good as it is. It has glaring problems and is not as entertaining or scary as the first two movies, but it remains a gripping and downbeat Ripley movie. Bad Lieutenant is as grim as grimy as movies get – hardly surprising given it’s an Abel Ferrara movie. Harvey Keitel is at the top of his game, but it’s not exactly the sort of movie you put on for an evening’s polite entertainment.

As grim as Bad Lieutenant is, Benny’s Video makes it look like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Michael Haneke isn’t known for holding back, and Benny’s Video is a shocking look at violence and how crimes can be perpetuated and hidden through time and by family. If you don’t mind matter of fact and upsetting explorations into subjects which mainstream entertainment avoids like the plague, there are few more impactful. You might want to follow it up with something lighter – Ferngully is one of the best non-Disney animated movies of the 90s, with a great voice cast, solid look, decent tunes, and important message.

Glengarry Glen Ross is one of those cult films which Film Nerds eventually find and wonder why no-one seems to talk about it. A superb cast and even better script, it’s essential viewing. Singles is another neat cult hit with a cast of up and comers and that indie vibe which was so prevalent in the early 90s. Unforgiven is maybe Clint Eastwood’s premier masterpiece, though as a director and actor he’s had more than a few. The Western was dead by the 90s – this rips its skeleton out of the closet, fires it with both barrels, and shoves it back in.

White Men Can’t Jump is just a hell of a lot of fun, with Snipes and Harrelson playing beautifully off each other. It’s bizarre that a film like this exists and was such a hit. Passenger 57 continues the Snipes love as the dude attempts to step into the macho man action movie space, exploiting the gaps left by Seagal and Van Damme. That’s not to say those guys were slouching at the start of the decade – Seagal getting his only genuine smash with Under Siege as he slaps Tommy Lee Jones about and avoids Erika Eleniak’s tits. Finally, why not take another descent into sickening violence and glee? Man Bites Dog is notorious, influential, and hard to stomach, while simultaneously being wildly engaging and dare I say, funny? It’s a film you need to see at least once.

And now, the top ten:

10: Aladdin (US) Disney

You all know it – Disney’s Renaissance well under way with a group of writers and performers swinging their mojo about the room, knocking pretenders off their ascent to the throne. It may be Robin Williams’ finest hour, it features one of Disney’s finest ballads, and it took the Company into a whole new world (really?) of culture and storytelling.

9: Universal Soldier (US) Roland Emmerich

What Arnie and Sly could do, Van Damme could try his hardest to emulate. Helmed by Roland ‘better than Michael Bay’ Emmerich, it pits Super Soldier against Super Soldier in a battle which starts in Vietnam and ends with tankers plummeting off the Grand Canyon. It’s big budget, big muscles, big ‘splosions fun.

8: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (US) Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola doing horror? Great. He had dipped his toes much earlier in his career, but he doubles down with this gorgeous, gothic retelling. Bringing together a mixture of youthful stars and beloved veterans, his version of Stoker’s vampiric tale nails the atmosphere of the text while focusing on obsession. It’s maybe the definitive movie adaptation.

7: Candyman (US) Bernard Rose

Bernard Rose is something of an enigma, starting out with music videos and TV before jumping between fantasy, horror, and historical epics, usually gaining critical recognition but not commercial success. Candyman brought both, even as it wasn’t a huge hit at the time, but it is as enigmatic and alluring as both its director and writer. Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen lead this noir horror love story, twisting an urban legend into reality and bringing a lyrical quality to a genre often maligned for being base and simplistic.

6: My Cousin Vinny (US) Jonathan Lynn

I’m not a fan of legal dramas or movies which are set in the courtroom; they almost always follow the same template and any drama is often negated by the unreality of the situation. Therefore it makes sense that a comedy set in the same world would be more up my alley if handled correctly. My Cousin Vinny doesn’t go down the route of satirizing the genre and instead is a weird, unique, not quite character study. It’s little more than an excuse to let Joe Pesci off the leash while almost being outshone by Marisa Tomei. It’s funny from start to finish, with Pesci and Tomei at their best, ably backed by Gwynne and Austin Pendleton. It’s also a hell of a lot more accurate than most legal dramas.

5: Wayne’s World (US) Penelope Spheeris

One of the more seminal movies of my childhood, by the time I saw this in the cinema I was already a Metalhead Alice Cooper worshipper. Over time more of the jokes have come to make sense to me, but that initial joy of finding a film which kind of got my love for an often ridiculed and ridiculous genre, while in turn gently poking fun at the genre itself, has never worn off. It’s stupid, quotable, and charming.

4: Braindead (NZ) Peter Jackson

This was one of those movies spoke of in hushed tones when I was a teenager. I knew of its legend, of how gory it was, and how difficult it was to come by. Then one of my mates got his hands on a VHS and it was spread around school, kicking off weeks of adolescent worship by our new coven of disciples of the most kickass of Lords. It’s Jackson’s finest non-LOTR work and rivals American Werewolf In London as the greatest Horror Comedy ever, even if it leans much more into the comedy than the horror. Jaw-droppingly bloody, it’s a bizarre sight to behold.

3: Reservoir Dogs (US) Quentin Tarantino

Lets get the elephant in the room out of the room – it’s a remake of City On Fire, no two ways about it. Even with the dialogue Tarantinoed, some of the exchanges from Ringo Lam’s movie remain in place, not to mention the overall plot and quite a few of the key scenes. That’s perfectly fine, but it’s important to mention given so many people are not aware of the fact and may not even be aware City On Fire exists. This is still my favourite Tarantino movie, it’s Tarantino in his most diluted form, obsessed with film and the spoken word, mixing pop culture, dialogue, music, and violence with a nerd-literate quality. Great cast, iconic moments and quotes, and the heralding of maybe the most influential Hollywood voice in the last thirty years.

2: Fire Walk With Me (US) David Lynch

It’s in my Top Movies Of The 90s list.

1: Hard Boiled (HK) John Woo

It’s in my Top Movies Of The 90s list.

Let us know in the comments your favourite movies of 1992!

Nightman’s Updated Top 17 Movies Of 1993!

17: Falling Down (US/France/UK) Joel Schumacher

Schumacher continued the 80s success of the likes of The Lost Boys and St Elmo’s Fire into the 90s, with Falling Down probably his best film of the decade. It reinvented Michael Douglas, casting him as a classic anti-hero and the sort of bloke we have all wished we would like to be at some point. Maybe that’s a tad too far, but which of us have not wanted to just say ‘fuck it’ and go on a rampage around the city? Schumacher nails the atmosphere of sweaty 90s LA, a boiling pot of race, pressure, and violence, and manages to make the film action packed, violent, funny, and smart all at once.

16: Mrs Doubtfire (US) Chris Columbus

It’s a family film with its fair share of risque humour thanks to a tour de force performance from Robin Williams. Not all of the jokes land, as it always the case when Williams was given free reign, but when there are so many and when they are delivered with such pace, you barely notice. It’s also another charming watch and kids and older members will find plenty to enjoy.

15: Schindler’s List (US) Steven Spielberg

A contender for the finest war movie ever made, and for the best movie of the decade, Schindler’s List is obviously an exhausting, difficult, but important watch. There are two must watches for everyone on my list today – both are by Spielberg, and this is one of them.

14: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (US) Lasse Hallstrom

Johnny Depp’s star was on the rise, and this was another notch on his bedpost. Lasse Hallstrom was looking for a US hit while Juliette Lewis was another hot property. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was not the sort of film which was ever going to be a hit, but even before it took on a cult status it was clear to any viewer that it was a powerful and humble and perfectly well made and well acted drama. Naturally it was the film which broke DiCaprio, his film stealing performance earning an Oscar nomination. People have maybe forgotten this one now, but with the star power involved its a hidden gem which will continue to be discovered.

13: Cliffhanger (US/France/Italy) Renny Harlin

Arnie had exploded into the new decade making sure that the 80s action hero still had a place in the new, more self aware era. His 90s exploits had not been successful so he found a new action vehicle with up and coming director Renny Harlin. It’s basically Die Hard on a mountain, but it has plenty of action, plenty of violence, a classic batch of hammy villains, and lots of one-liners – in short, everything you want in an action movie, with the added bonus of great scenery and spectacle.

12: Benny And Joon (US) Jeremiah S Chechik

Another offbeat character for Depp to tackle, this is the less mainstream version of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? It’s one of a select few romances or Rom Coms that I hold dear, and another film for people who have maybe forgotten what a great actor Depp is should check out.

11: Dazed And Confused (US) Richard Linklater

Linklater always makes watchable movies, regardless of genre, but his best movies are those which feel like a group of best mates hanging out – with Dazed And Confused being the prime example. Like the movie itself, you can stick it on and just chill. The various characters, the various groups all somehow feel like personal friends and Linklater has a way of making you feel like part of the gang, even as a guy from Northern Ireland who wasn’t alive in the time period predicted. You don’t even need the performances to be good – they are – but you do need the soundtrack and the setting to echo the vibe – it does.

10: The Vanishing (US) George Sluizer

Frequently named as one of the, if not worst, but least most unnecessary and least interesting remakes of all time, The Vanishing still remains for me a gripping and eerie watch. Sure, it’s not as powerful as the original but I saw this one first and those first impressions are hard to shake. Remember, this is a favourites list, not what I think is the best. What I still love about this remake is the cast – Bridges, Sutherland, Bullock, and Travis are all committed and Sluzier does a great job of maintaining the mystery and tension of the original. While the ending is a prime example of Americanisation, I don’t necessarily mind. Sure it would have been cool if they’d shot alternative endings or went with something similar to the original, but the original is still there to enjoy in all its bleak glory.

9: Carlito’s Way (US) Brian De Palma

Carlito’s Way is one of those latter day Mafia movies which was still flying the flag for the sort of violent stylized thriller which would become out of vogue once Pulp Fiction came along. It’s not as good as Goodfellas, and not as memorable as Scarface, but it’s just as engaging with the benefit of being more underseen – get ahead of your mates and stick this one on your movie night list once Lockdown is over and enjoy Pacino, Sean Penn and Leguizamo, acting to Eleven while De Palma cranks up the tension.

8: The Nightmare Before Christmas (US) Henry Selick

I’ve spoken about this movie plenty of times on other lists on this site; it’s great.

7: A Perfect World (US) Clint Eastwood

Clint had been directing for about 80 years by the time he made A Perfect World, and had been acting for roughly 300 years on top of that. His follow up to the universally acclaimed Unforgiven is a light crime drama which I prefer to his masterful Western. I’ve always suspected the light tone came from Kevin Costner’s involvement and that another actor may have brought a more cynical vibe, but Costner and Eastwood were a perfect match and foil for one another, and created one of the least seen finest movies of the 90s. Assuming most reading this list may not be familiar with this movie – it follows two escaped convicts in early 60s Texas who pick up a hostage in the form of a young Jehovah’s Witness boy completely innocent of the ways of the world. What begins is a road movie mixed with coming of age mixed with buddy comedy mixed with violent thriller as Costner learns responsibility from the boy and the boy learns right and wrong from the criminal, all while Texas Ranger Eastwood and criminologist Laura Dern chase them down. It’s an incredibly, unforgivingly (ha) underrated film with a terrific cast, nuanced, funny, touching, and never bogged down by its 2 hour plus running time.

6: Demolition Man (US) Marco Brambilla

I’ve spoken plenty about this one on the blog before – it features in my Top Ten Stallone movies.

5: Last Action Hero (US) John McTiernan

I’ve spoken plenty about this one on the blog before – it features in my Top Ten Arnie movies.

4: Body Snatchers (US) Abel Ferrara

It gets undue hate for not being as good as the 70s or 50s version. Don’t sleep on it. It’s in my favourite movies of the decade list… I think. If it’s not, it’s fantastically grim vision of the famous story with a more claustrophobic setting.

3: True Romance (US) Tony Scott

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

2: Tombstone (US) George P Cosmatos

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

1: Jurassic Park (US) Steven Spielberg

It’s in my top movies of the decade.

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1994!

 

Here is my updated list of favourite films of 1994 – there aren’t actually any new entries, I’m simply adding a few blurbs on each film. First, the few which missed out on my Top 20 – Heavenly Creatures which saw Peter ‘I kick ass for The Lord’ Jackson, branching out from his shlock horror comedies and making something more emotionally substantial and mainstream. The Last Seduction aimed to single-handedly bring the noir genre kicking and screaming back to life, with a great performance by Linda Fiorentino, while The River Wild is Die Hard in a dinghy.

And now, the Top Twenty:

20: Little Women (US) Gilliam Armstrong

I don’t know why, but I generally enjoy the Little Women movies. That’s not strange in and of itself – what’s strange is that I can’t stand the original novel. This movie is gorgeously shot and has all of the hair and clothing and all of that crap that people seem to love, but more importantly it has a badass cast of people just coming into their own or at the top of their game – Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale, Samantha Mathis, Gabriel Byrne, Trini Alvarado, Eric Stoltz and more. As acclaimed as this one was at the time, it’s a bit sad that it will now be overlooked by the overblown success of the 2019 version.

19: Ace Ventura (US) Tom Shadyac

Jim Carrey was maybe on the greatest sequence of starring roles in history in 1994, with a trio of all time classics. All three are on my list, this one and the next one are interchangeable in their quality and my enjoyment of them. This and The Mask are great fun. Pity the sequel is balls.

18: The Mask (US) Charles Russell

See above.

17: Stargate (US/France) Roland Emmerich

I loved Stargate when it was released – it was such a spectacle, plus it dealt with a period of history I have always been curious about, and it was done in a cool 90s way. AND you get Kurt Russell. It has since been overshadowed by the epic TV spin-offs but this was the starting point of one of the greatest, most underrated expanded universes in fiction.

16: Forrest Gump (US) Robert Zemeckis

It’s one of those films which I never feel like I need to revisit. It was fun, heartwarming, sure a little saccharine, but features one of the most iconic performances of the decade, one of the most recognisable characters in movie history, and some memorable one-liners. It’s an all round good film which hasn’t lost any of its potency.

15: The Lion King (US Disney)

It’s The Lion King. People love this a lot more than I do, and while I agree it is massively overrated, it’s still wonderful. Superb anmiation, great songs, amusing characters – classic Disney – before they sold out.

14: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (US/Japan) Kenneth Branagh

Lets face it, the 90s produced arguably the best movie version of Dracula and almost certainly the best movie version of Frankenstein – coming from a big fan of both Universal and Hammer. It’s not without its problems, much of that is simply to do with bringing the story to the screen in the first place, but it gets the pathos and the monstrosity of the original text correct, and offers Robert De Niro the chance to portray the sort of character A-listers wouldn’t usually come within 50 miles of.

13: Timecop (US) Peter Hyams

Did I ever do a TTT for Jean Claude Van Damme? I don’t know man, I’ve been doing this blog for generations. Timecop is the movie Looper wishes it was, with added mullets.

12: The Shawshank Redemption (US) Frank Darabont

Frequently listed as the greatest movie of the decade, and often as the greatest movie of all time, it still gives me great pleasure when ardent anti-horror or anti-Stephen King fans begrudgingly admit how good this is. Sure the movie succeeds based on Darabont’s direction and the terrific cast, but it all comes down to the story by King – a story of hope and of crawling through all of the shit life pours on you. It’s another fine example of The Academy completely ignoring Horror – or even anything with the stench of Horror attached to it – as the film was overlooked in every category it was nominated in (though fair enough, there were some excellent movies and winners this year).

11: Ed Wood (US) Tim Burton

Ed Wood is Tim Burton Oscar bait… I think. It’s one of those movies about movies, about the love of making them, about the whole system and the business. While movies like this have always been critical darlings, Burton decided to flip the whole shtick and make the focus one of the most notoriously ‘bad’ filmmakers in history. Wood is presented as an exuberant guy with a dream, a man who refuses to allow reality to crush his pursuit of making his dream come true or dull his love of the movies. Depp and Landau are on top form here, and it’s another Horror adjacent movie which The Academy couldn’t avoid.

10: Natural Born Killers (US) Oliver Stone

One of the most controversial movies of the 90s, this was certainly ahead of its time with its protagonists/antagonists taking their murder and mayhem to the road accompanied by an orgasmic media. Lewis and Harrelson have a natural born chemistry and whip out career best manic performances, ably backed up by a ‘remember me, everybody’ Robert Downey Jr, Rodney Dangerfield, Tom Sizemore, and Tommy Lee Jones. Few films whip up such controversy in their wake and few films have such a unique mish mash of styles and genres, creating an orgiastic fever-dream of drama, comedy, and violence.

9: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (US) Wes Craven

If you want to breath life back into a dying series, you can do worse than handing back the reins to its creator a decade later. In a precursor to his meta mega-hit Scream, New Nightmare upends series and genre tropes as it peels back the curtain and blurs the increasingly more fragile walls between the real and fictional world. Wes brings back original cast members to tell the story of Heather Langenkamp – actress most famous for her performances in the Elm Street series – whose fictional arch enemy Fred Krueger has somehow found a way into the real world. The movie dispenses with much of the humour of the popular sequels, instead posing questions about fandom and the impact of fame and exposure to violent material on those who are both part of these worlds and help to create it. The film doesn’t scrimp on the gore even as it dispenses with many of the creative setpieces and kills which the series had become known for, but ends up being all the more nasty and interesting for it.

8: Clerks (US) Kevin Smith

There have been few better or equivalent Indie first times movies than Clerks – a movie of its time which capitalized upon the torchlight being shone on Indie film at the time, but which nevertheless remains fresh, vital, and hilarious even decades later. Smith would hone his writing and directing skills over the years, but this may be his most pure effort, pulling together friends and familiars and shooting on a shoestring, yet managing to create a much funnier, much stronger product than almost any other studio comedy of the decade.

7: True Lies (US) James Cameron

James Cameron doesn’t make many films, but when he does they’re either record-breakers, masterpieces, or at worst perfectly entertaining B genre fare. True Lies is neither a record breaker nor a masterpiece, but he did release it in between T2 and Titanic, so it can be viewed as a palette cleanser. More than that, it’s a send up of the spy/secret agent/Bond genre as Arnie leads a double life as a boring family man and a world-saving action hero. It’s the lightest, funniest film in the Cameron-verse, bolstered by an amusing trope-twisting script and fun takes by Jamie Lee Curtis and Bill Paxton.

6: Speed (US) Jan de Bont

The undisputed action movie event of the year, and one of the best of the decade. While the 80s featured muscle-bound bullet dodgers mowing down hordes of faceless bad dudes, the enlightened audiences of the 90s needed something more. Something like a bad dude who used to be a good dude, and a good dude who is flawed and hasn’t experienced the bicep sprouting pleasures of steroids, and a story more inventive than ‘bad dude kidnaps x and good dude must destroy everything’. Speed is one of the finest examples of the 90s take on the genre – reckless rookie Keanu Reeves comes up against crazed ex good guy Dennis Hopper and has to stop him blowing people up. The bulk of the movie takes place on a bus – a bus filled with passengers and Sandra Bullock – a bus armed with explosives which will go off if the bus goes under 50MPH, but there’s also a gripping climax involving a subway. Like its central plot device, the thrills, action, and tension never let up once they start, and the cast have a whale of a time.

5: Pulp Fiction (US) Quentin Tarantino

See my favourite movies of decade post.

4: Interview With The Vampire (US) Neil Jordan

See my favourite movies of decade post.

3: Leon (France) Luc Besson

See my favourite movies of decade post.

2: The Crow (US) Alex Proyas

See my favourite movies of decade post.

1: Dumb And Dumber (Top Ten Of All Time) (US) Peter Farrelly

See my favourite movies of decade post.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!