Some really great ones just missed out
What a decade, the 1990s. It came directly after the 1980s, and featured a gigantic backlash against massive earrings, AIDS, and big feathery haircuts. Instead, everyone just necked magic mushrooms and sat around pretending to be from Manchester. That’s right, Manchester. Or as it was known then, Madchester. Because everyone was mad for it. And the cinema was a whole different kettle of fish too. You couldn’t smoke down the left hand side anymore, and shiny films like Mannequin were replaced by intense social studies like Boogie Nights, Falling Down, and Edward Scissorhands. It was a magnificent decade for films, so coming up with the four that most encapsulate it was a very emotional, sometimes heartbreaking exercise. Die Hard 2, The Big Lebowski, Scream, Basic Instinct, Jacob’s Ladder, and Goodfellas all fell at the very last hurdle. Our top four ended up looking like this…
1. Point Break
One of the finest films ever made, this has it all – big waves, bank jobs, Gary Busey, and Keanu Reeves career peaking throughout. It is amazing. Reeves plays a young FBI agent attempting to infiltrate a gang of bank robbers lead by the peerless Patrick Swayze, who is on dynamic form as Keanu’s male crush, Bodhi – a big blonde man who fears nothing, not even his own watery death. “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price – it’s not tragic to die doing what you love,” he deadpans at a beach party, sort of killing the vibe.
2. Groundhog Day
Of many fine Bill Murray performances, this is the finest. The tale of a man reliving the same day over and over again, it features Bill descending into madness, before realising his deep inner love for Andie MacDowell. It’s beautiful, and hilarious, as he goes about correcting his mistakes, killing himself, robbing people, and – presumably – spending three or four days slowly explaining to MacDowell how annoying she is. The comedy of the decade, just above Kingpin.
3. Pulp Fiction
Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest cinema films ever made – by which we mean, it should be watched in the cinema. It was a close call, with Reservoir Dogs, True Romance and Jackie Brown all super-excellent films, but in Tarantino’s strongest decade, this was his real masterpiece. In a single stroke, he managed to dig up Travolta’s career rotting remains from a Hollywood roadside, as well as make Samuel L Jackson the coolest man on the planet. It also just keeps Goodfellas off the top four, as the best ensemble film of the decade.
The high point of Elizabeth Berkley’s career, this is one of the most preposterous films ever – and one of the most fantastic. Berkley plays a lapdancer climbing the Vegas showgirl ladder, selling little bits of her soul along the way, as well as thrashing around sexually in a swimming pool in the greatest intercourse scene ever filmed. It just beats Basic Instinct – another tale of lust and deception – to the fourth spot. An underrated gem.