The drawback to this is that, even with the long delay, I keep seeing old movies that I wish I'd included a year or two before. If I could take another crack at the 1982 list I printed here two years ago, I'd find room for Say Amen, Somebody, a wonderful gospel-music documentary that I didn't see until a few months ago. Similarly, that 1993 list really ought to include The Nightmare Before Christmas, a flick I never got around to watching until last month. (And 1992? Make space for Svankmajer's Food!)
Oh, well. Here -- 10 years late but still provisional -- are my favorite films of 1994. If I ever get a chance to see Satantango (aren't they ever going to release that on DVD?), I might feel like rewriting this one as well.
1. Pulp Fiction Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Written by Tarantino and Roger Avery
The most influential American movie of the '90s. Unfortunately, Tarantino is one of those artists, like Hunter Thompson or Marcel Duchamp, who it's better to admire than to imitate. But you can't blame him for that.
2. Crumb Directed by Terry Zwigoff
This has a sequence -- everyone remembers it -- in which a comic book slowly devolves into something else, the illustrations swept aside by page upon page of tiny, illegible words. No movie has ever portrayed a man's descent into madness so effectively.
3. Hoop Dreams Directed by Steve James
Better than every scripted basketball movie I've seen.
4. Before the Rain Written and Directed by Milcho Manchevski
A Balkan time-loop.
5. Red Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Surveillance, love, and coincidence.
6. Chungking Express Written and Directed by Wong Kar-Wai
More surveillance, more love, more coincidence. There's a plot line in this movie about a woman who keeps sneaking into a man's apartment and rearranging his things. I'm a sucker for stories like that.
7. Ed Wood Directed by Tim Burton
Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Alexander and Karaszewski went on to write two other movies about misfits, The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon. But they were directed by Milos Forman, who turned them into sanctimonious biopics. Burton did much better, because he had the inspired idea to treat Ed Wood's life as a fairy tale.
8. Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter Directed by Deborah Hoffman
It's a touching documentary about Alzheimer's -- and it's funny. No, really.
9. Burnt by the Sun Directed by Nikita Mikhalkov
Written by Mikhalkov and Nikita Mikhalkov
A sad yet comic story of Stalinism, dedicated "to everyone who was burnt by the sun of the Revolution."
10. Pipsqueak Pfollies Written and Directed by Danny Plotnick
In the words of the filmmaker, this brilliant little short "painstakingly details all the crap little kids can get away with."
11. The Last Seduction (John Dahl)
12. The Kingdom (Lars von Trier)
13. Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson)
14. The Madness of George III (Nicholas Hytner)
15. Faust (Jan Svankmajer)
16. Barcelona (Whit Stillman)
17. Fresh (Boaz Yakin)
18. The Hudsucker Proxy (Joel Coen)
19. True Lies (James Cameron)
20. Crooklyn (Spike Lee)