It’s always wonderful when a movie comes along that you absolutely love, but sometimes the gap between such movies can be wide. So when one particular year keeps serving up one awesome movie after another, that’s a good fucking year, Dear Reader.
If you look around this great, big internet thing, there are many debates about what year is the greatest in the history of cinema, providing the public with a wide selection of terrific movies. 1999 is one of the years that is frequently brought up as being one of the best, and since I was only born in 1985, it is easily my favourite out of the years I have been alive to see.
There were some stinkers in 1999, sure. There were box-office bombs like The 13th Warrior, Dudley Do-Right, The Out-of Towners and EDtv. And some real piece of shit movies like Wild Wild West, Bicentennial Man, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Mickey Blue Eyes and Baby Geniuses. And the less said about the return of the Star Wars franchise with Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, the better.
Leaving the garbage aside, there was a lot of brilliance to find. At the 72nd Academy Awards, held in the year 2000 but celebrating and rewarding the films of 1999, some truly deserving winners and nominees were in the spotlight, including the amazing Best Picture winner, American Beauty. As far as I’m concerened, the Academy usually rewards some pretty shitty movies. The year before, the award went to Shakespeare in Love, and in the years after, films like A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Crash and The King’s Speech have taken out the top prize. That’s a sad fucking state of affairs, if you ask me. American Beauty is a film that, although not my favourite of the year, is a great movie, one that holds up to repeat viewings, and is deserving of many of the accolades thrown its way. A worthy best Picture recipient, in other words.
1999 was a year of throughly enjoyable popcorn movies. It gave us The Mummy, Deep Blue Sea, End Of Days, Mystery Men and Galaxy Quest. There were movies that have become cult classics, like Fight Club, Dogma, Office Space, Superstar, and Terror Firmer. 1999 was also the year when the career of M. Night Shyamalan took off, with his excellent film The Sixth Sense (sure he’s made a lot of crap in the years since, but come on, The Sixth Sense was awesome). The world collectively shit its pants in fear when The Blair Witch Project was released, and the movie went on to become one of the most successful independent movies of all time, taking in roughly a quarter of a billion dollars on a less than one million dollar budget, thanks to a clever marketing campaign using this little thing called the internet. American Pie hit cinemas and launched a popular franchise as well as the careers of many young actors. The list goes on.
Now we reach my Top 6 movies of 1999. This was meant to be a Top 5, but I couldn’t choose between 5 and 6, and I didn’t want to call them a tie. Hey, it’s my list, I’ll do what I want! Without further ado, here is the definitive Top 6 Movies of 1999, brought to you by The Dukes Playground.
This choice comes with a warning: this movie is really fucking stupid. But really fucking stupid in the best way possible. Richie (Rik Mayall) and Eddie (Adrian Edmondson) run the Guest House Paradiso, the shittiest hotel in the UK, right near a nuclear power plant. They are visited by the Nice family (with Simon Pegg as Mr. Nice!), and Italian film star named Gina Carbonara. After Richie steals and wears a rubber bra and underwear belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Nice, Richie and Eddie serve radioactive fish to their guests, and Gina’s fiancée Gino Bolognese (played to over-the-top perfection by Vincent Cassel) turns up, hilarity ensues.
This movie is very, very funny. If you’ve ever seen Bottom, the television series created by Mayall and Edmondson where the Richie and Eddie characters originated, you know what you’re in for. There’s tons of slapstick, tons of toilet humour, and tons of fun.
The TV show South Park was still just an infant when this feature film version of the show was launched (it’s hard to believe the show is about to start its 16th season). But Trey and Matt had already been around for some time, having made Cannibal! The Musical and Orgazmo in the past. Without the confines of TV, the boys were able to go balls to the wall with this movie, having the main characters curse like sailors. In fact, this movie gained a Guinness World Record for “Most Swearing in an Animated Film” with a staggering 399 profane words. After Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny go to see the incredibly crass R-rated film Asses Of Fire, starring their favourite Canadian duo, Terrance and Phillip, they become corrupted and start swearing and mouthing off like crazy. This leads to Kyle’s mother Sheila, starting a group called “Mothers Against Canada” and eventually leads to a war between America and Canada. It’s up to the boys to save Terrance and Phillip from execution and help end the war. Singing, dancing, and sex between Satan and Saddam Hussein included at no extra cost.
Like the show, this movie is hilarious and very cleve, with awesome original songs throughout. In fact, Trey Parker was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Blame Canada”, but lost to Phil Collins for some shitty song from Tarzan. But hey, at least Trey and Matt got to wear dresses to the Oscars. That takes fucking balls.
The first Toy Story, the first ever feature film to be made entirely with CGI, was a brilliant film, and a smash-hit. The fact that this sequel managed to surpass the brilliance of the original is simply astonishing. Pixar have mastered the art of making perfect family films, ones that keep the kids happy whilst also being enjoyable for adults. There’s not a people out there that can pull that off. Most movies labelled as “family” movies are fucking boring and terrible for any adult, but Pixar know what they’re doing. When Woody (Tom Hanks) accidentally ends up in a yard sale and is stolen by a toy collector (Wayne Knight), it’s up to Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the toys to rescue him. But when Woody finds out the collector’s plans for him, he faces the temptation to stay where he is.
Dear Reader, here is my confession: I am a 26 year old man, and I own a talking Woody doll. I love the Toy Story franchise, and although I feel Toy Story 3 has surpassed Toy Story 2 as the best of the 3, Toy Story 2 remains an amazing movie and deserves its place amongst the best releases of 1999. It’s funny, it’s beautifully animated, and it tugs at the heartstrings. A great, great movie.
Woah! Thomas A. Anderson, otherwise known by his computer hacker alias Neo (Keanu Reeves) works as a computer programmer by day and a hacker by night. After meeting a woman name Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) he is eventually contacted by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Neo learns from Morpheus that the world he lives in is a computer simulation known as the Matrix, and the real world is a future where our planet has been ravaged by machine and humans are being harvested as energy sources for them. Neo is recrutied by Morpheus as he believes Neo to be “The One”, prophesised to destroy the Matrix from within and free humanity from the machines.
Once in a while, a movie comes along that is able to satisfy audiences and critics, to supply plenty of big, exciting action with deep, thought-provoking philosophy. The Matrixis one of those movies. With the advancement in technology since its release, it may be hard for some people to remember just how ground-breaking this movie was. I remember when I first saw the trailer in my local movie theatre, and saw Neo dodging bullets in the now legendary bullet-time sequence. I had the hugest nerd boner for that fucking trailer, and the movie itself was just as amazing and mind-blowing. Unfortunately, the reputation of The Matrix has been tarnished by its awful sequels, but make no mistake, this movie remains a fantastic and exciting achievement.
Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, Election tells the story of a high school election, where young over-achiever Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is running unopposed for president. Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a civics teacher at the school, convinces dumb but popular school football player Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to run against Tracy for the presidency. Jim does so under the guise of wanting a more democratic election, but is really fuelled by a personal hatred for Tracy after she slept with Jim’s best friend which led to the ending of his marriage. Tracy will do anything to win, Jim will do anything to stop her from winning, and Paul will just do anything, because he’s an idiot.
Election works well as a satire of both surburban life and politics. It shows a small, contained world where people act nice on the outside, but on the inside can be petty, vindictive, and downright cruel. Reese Witherspoon should be commended for her performance as Tracy Flick. She perfectly captures that look of innocence that masks a dangerous persona underneath beautifully. It’s also great to see that with the right character and good direction, Chris Klein can do some good work. Election is very smart, very funny, and a joy to watch over and over again.
This is it, Dear Reader. Not only is Being John Malkovich my favourite movie of 1999, it may be my favourite movie of all time, or in the Top 5 at the very least. You want to see a mind-fuck? This is one of the kings of fucking mind-fucks.
Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is an out-of-work puppeteer who takes a job as a filer at a company called LesterCorp, run by the 105 year old Dr. Lester (Orson Bean), and located on the 7½ floor of the bulding in which it is located. He hates his marriage to animal-loving Lotte (Cameron Diaz), and soon develops and starts trying to act upon a deep attraction for co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener). One day while working, Craig finds a small door behind a filing cabinet. He ventures into it, and is literally transported into the mind of John Malkovich (played by John Malkovich, duh).
I really don’t want to go any further into talking about Being John Malkovich as I intend to write a full review of it in the future, but fuck, if that little write up isn’t enough to make you want to see this movie, then you and I are very different people. Let’s just say that the movie only continues to get stranger from there, but it never feels forced, or weird for weird’s sake. The plot moves forward organically, and reaches into some fascinating territory. The performances are amazing, the writing is as original as it gets. Everything about this movie is perfect. Just watch the scene below, you’ll see what I mean.
So that’s it. What do you think, Dear Reader? Have you seen the movies listed above? If so, were you fan? What would be your choices? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below. In the meantime, as this post was about 1999, I’ll leave you with this: Prince.