When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked
back at 1994, it gave its Best Picture award toForrest
Gump, a film dedicated to the idea that it's better to be
retarded than a hippie. It didn't make it onto my list:
1.Pulp Fiction Directed by Quentin Tarantino Written by Tarantino and Roger Avery
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
2.Crumb Directed by Terry Zwigoff
This has a sequence where a comic book slowly devolves
into something else, the illustrations swept aside by page upon page of tiny, illegible
words. I don't think I've ever seen a movie portray a man's descent into madness
3.Hoop Dreams Directed by Steve James
Better than any scripted basketball movie.
4.Before the Rain Written and directed by Milcho Manchevski
A Balkan time-loop.
5.The Secret of Roan Inish
Directed by John Sayles
Written by Sayles, from a novel by Rosalie K. Fry
Aside fromLimbo, which
doesn't entirely fit the mold anyway, I'm not a fan of Sayles' big-canvas
pictures—those labored films where he tries to create a politically engaged portrait
of an entire community but ends up producing a clockwork-powered speechmaking machine
instead. But his small movies, like this eerie and endearing fantasy, can be
6.Red Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski Written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Surveillance, love, and coincidence.
7.Chungking Express Written and directed by Wong Kar-Wai
More surveillance, more love, more coincidence.
There's a plotline 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.
8.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 FlyntandMan on the Moon. But
those were directed by Milos Forman, who turned them into sanctimonious biopics.
Burton did much better, because he had the inspired idea to treat Wood's life as
a fairy tale.
9.Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter Directed by Deborah Hoffman
It's a touching documentary about Alzheimer's,
and it'sfunny. No,
10.Pipsqueak Pfollies Written and directed by Danny Plotnick
In the words of the filmmaker, this short "painstakingly
details all the crap little kids can get away with."
11.Burnt by the Sun(Nikita Mikhalkov)
12.The Last Seduction(John
Dahl) 13.The Kingdom(Lars von Trier) 14.Heavenly Creatures(Peter Jackson) 15.The Madness of George III(Nicholas Hytner) 16.White (Krzysztof
Kieslowski) 17.Faust(Jan Svankmajer) 18.Barcelona(Whit Stillman) 19.Fresh(Boaz Yakin) 20.True Lies(James Cameron)
Of the films of 1994 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Through the Olive Trees and Wes
Craven's New Nightmare. And someday I should sit through Sátántangó, if only as an endurance
(If you compare this to the rankings for 1994 that I posted
years ago, you'll see I had to bump out The
Hudsucker Proxy and Crooklyn to
make room for new movies. But I still like them!)