OLD '97: Other media outlets greet the holiday season with a list of the year's 10 best movies. Here at The Perpetual Three-Dot Column, we aren't able to watch all the pictures we'd like to see as they appear in the theater, so instead we give you the top 10 films of 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, etc.When the Motion Picture Academy looked back at 1997, it gave its Best Picture award to a bloated soap opera called Titanic. You won't see that one here:1. OzWritten by Tom FontanaDirected by Darnell Martin, Nick Gomez, Jean De Segonzac, Leslie Libman, Larry Williams, and Alan TaylorIt's my list, and if I want to describe the debut season of a TV series as a "movie" that's my prerogative. These eight hours can function as a self-contained miniseries, with a sequence of initially independent vignettes that gradually reveal themselves to form a larger narrative. Power shifts constantly among a penitentiary's players and their tribes, in a social web that never stops evolving; in a perfect climax, that network explodes, inverting, distorting, and dashing the prison's hierarchies.2. The ApostleWritten and directed by Robert DuvallA double rarity -- a thoughtful movie about religion and a textured portrait of the South.3. The Sweet HereafterDirected by Atom EgoyanWritten by Egoyan, from a novel by Russell BanksDeath rips a hole in a town. The viewer drifts through the community and through time, as helpless as the grieving parents of the story.4. fast, cheap & out of controlDirected by Errol MorrisStudies in spontaneous order.5. Deconstructing HarryWritten and directed by Woody AllenAllen's last great movie -- a sardonic, self-lacerating remake of Wild Strawberries.6. Jackie BrownDirected by Quentin TarantinoWritten by Tarantino, from a novel by Elmore LeonardAll the Tarantino trademarks are on display here: the idiosyncratic structure, the brilliantly selected soundtrack, the rich, funny dialogue. But there's something deeper going on as well, a pulp fable about integration that refuses to preach or to give the audience a reassuring conclusion.7. The Ice StormDirected by Ang LeeWritten by James Schamus, from a novel by Rick MoodyBefore this movie, Christina Ricci had starred in a series of fluffy kid flicks, with only a quirky supporting role in the Addams Family films betraying more than a hint that she had greatness in her. With this -- released the same year as That Darn Cat! -- she suddenly established herself as the indie queen of the late '90s. Unlike some of the other art-house pictures she would appear in, this one was worthy of her talents.8. SundayDirected by Jonathan NossiterWritten by Nossiter and James Lasdun, from a story by Lasdun"I guess I'm too old to play a human being."9. Face/OffDirected by John WooWritten by Mike Werb and Michael CollearyWoo's best American movie.10. Grosse Pointe BlankDirected by George ArmitageWritten by Tom Jankiewicz, D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, and John Cusack, from a story by JankiewiczArmitage, who also made the Charles Willeford adaptation Miami Blues, is one of the most underrated filmmakers in Hollywood. This clever comedy gets every detail about Michigan right except one: There's simply no way a radio station that good could exist anywhere near Grosse Pointe.Honorable mentions:11. Gattaca (Andrew Niccol)12. L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson)13. Public Housing (Frederick Wiseman)14. Waco: The Rules of Engagement (William Gazecki)15. The Rainbow Man/John 3:16 (Sam Green)16. Gummo (Harmony Korine)17. The Spanish Prisoner (David Mamet)18. The Eel (Shohei Imamura)19. Habit (Larry Fessenden)20. Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood)
posted by Jesse 12:01 PM
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