Best Movies of 1988

10. MISSISSIPPI BURNING

Mississippi Burning

46 LISTS | 9 TOP SPOTS
Alan Parker | 128 mins | Crime/Drama/History
Gene Hackman | Willem Dafoe | Frances McDormand | Brad Dourif

“The year’s best thriller is also one of the year’s most powerful films, the story of two very different FBI agents who are assigned to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights workers. The place is Mississippi, the time is 1964, and the two agents represent two different traditions within the agency. Gene Hackman plays the old pro, a former Southern sheriff who has carried some of his old work habits over to the FBI–including the Good Ol’ Boy approach in which he hangs around the local barbershop to pick up leads on likely perpetrators. Willem Dafoe plays his partner, a bright, gung-ho young agent who believes in “shows of force” and calling in the National Guard. As their investigation continues, we begin to get a dramatic sense of the time and place. Some of the silliest objections to this film have argued that it exaggerates the situation–that it takes incidents that occurred over several years in many different cities, and put them all together into one short period in one small town. But director Alan Parker is not trying for flat realism here; he wants to heighten the emotions and underline the passions of the time, so recent in the past, when the nation passed the turning point on civil rights. This is not a documentary, but a battle cry. What’s most surprising is the time the film finds for quiet moments–especially a subtle, tender relationship between Hackman and Frances McDormand, who plays the wife of a racist. She has provided her husband’s alibi–but Hackman senses that, in her heart, she has a sense of fair play to which he can appeal.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

9. WINGS OF DESIRE

Wings of Desire

50 LISTS | 8 TOP SPOTS
Wim Wenders | 128 mins | Drama/Fantasy/Romance
Bruno Ganz | Solveig Dommartin | Otto Sander | Curt Bois

“Wim Wenders’ adult fantasy about angels invisibly moving amongst Berliners is a sublime work of art in the service of the human spirit. As the camera gracefully soars over the city and the microphone eavesdrops on everyone’s thoughts, the movie is by turns funny and tender, sad and exultant.” – Joseph Gelmis, Newsday

8. A WORLD APART

A World Apart

51 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
Chris Menges | 113 mins | Drama
Barbara Hershey | David Suchet | Jodhi May | Jeroen Krabbé

“After you see “A World Apart” you realize that the great film about South Africa is still waiting to be made. However, this personal one, the homage by a daughter to her martyred mother-the first white woman jailed under South Africa’s 90-day detention law-as empathetically directed by Chris Menges, is a firm step in that direction. Three memorably fine performances came out of this: Barbara Hershey and young Jodhi May as mother and daughter; Linda Mvusi as their housekeeper. If somehow the facts of existence in South Africa had escaped you, ” A World Apart” might be the perfect place to start.” – Shelia Benson, Los Angeles Times

7. THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

55 LISTS | 8 TOP SPOTS
Philip Kaufman | 171 mins | Drama/Romance
Daniel Day-Lewis | Juliette Binoche | Lena Olin | Derek de Lint

“We doubted whether it could ever be done, this linear narrative through the emotional labrynth of Milan Kundera’s novel _ but Philip Kaufman brings it off. He uses the background of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 craftily, and the sexual ventures of the libertine Tomas (Daneil Day Lewis) as a deft metaphor for personal and national commitment. Sven Nykvist’s camerawork seals the pleasure.” – Noel Taylor, Ottawa Citizen

6. DANGEROUS LIAISONS

Dangerous Liaisons

54 LISTS | 3 TOP SPOTS
Stephen Frears | 119 mins | Drama/Romance
Glenn Close | John Malkovich | Michelle Pfeiffer | Swoosie Kurtz

“Stephen Frear’s Grade-A adaptation of the play “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” draws us into a dangerous game of sexual one-upsmanship waged by Glenn Close and John Malkovich in 17th-century France. Seductive entertainmment in the extreme, with Close, an Oscar sure-shot, even better than she was in “Fatal Attraction.”” – Lou Lumenick, The Record

5. A FISH CALLED WANDA

A Fish Called Wanda

61 LISTS | 0 TOP SPOTS
Charles Crichton and John Cleese | 108 mins | Comedy/Crime
John Cleese | Jamie Lee Curtis | Kevin Kline | Michael Palin

“A caper film of the kind Great Britain`s Ealing Studios specialized in 30 years ago – sadly, seldom done today. John Cleese wrote the rude, silly, clever script about double-crossing jewel robbers who include a straight-laced barrister (Cleese), an amoral schemer (Jamie Lee Curtis, whose prow-like bosom is the film`s most important prop) and a manic assassin (Kevin Kline). Nobody does anarchic comedy like the British.” – Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer

4. BIG

Big

64 LISTS | 1 TOP SPOT
Penny Marshall | 104 mins | Comedy/Drama/Fantasy
Tom Hanks | Elizabeth Perkins | Robert Loggia | John Heard

“I’ve been a fan of Tom Hanks since watching him gleefully upstage John Candy in the funny, underrated 1985 Peace Corps comedy, ”Volunteers,” but neither I nor anybody else was prepared for the brilliance of his performance in ”Big,” where he becomes a man with a boy banging around inside him. Everyone remembers the big scenes – tap-dancing on the giant piano, eating the cocktail snack as if it were an ear of corn – but the real magic of this movie comes from the constant attention to thetiniest detail: the boyish walk, the gawky gestures, the astonished eye movements, the uncontrollable grin.” – Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

3. BULL DURHAM

Bull Durham

83 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS
Ron Shelton | 108 mins | Comedy /Romance/Sport
Kevin Costner | Susan Sarandon | Tim Robbins | Trey Wilson

“The finest baseball movie ever made, this is a raucous comedy, as sexually oriented as any locker room, with wonderful performances from the entire cast and some glorious writing and direction by Ron Shelton, who remembers his own minor-league experiences. Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and Kevin Costner are a glorious triangle, and the action of the athle tes gives a new dimension to the great American pastime.” – Joe Pollock, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

2. RAIN MAN

Rain Man

85 LISTS | 10 TOP SPOTS
Barry Levinson | 133 mins | Drama
Dustin Hoffman | Tom Cruise | Valeria Golino | Gerald R. Molen

“Dustin Hoffman is outstanding in his portrayal of an autistic savant in danger of being fleeced out of his inheritance by his fast-talking brother (Tom Cruise). I could sit through the entire show again – the second time doing nothing but concentrating on Hoffman – and enjoy it every bit as much as the first time. Deftly directed by Barry Levinson from a sensitive script by Robbinsdale native Barry Morrow, it’s very humorous and not at all insulting to Hoffman’s character.” – Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune

1. WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

106 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS
Robert Zemeckis | 104 mins | Animation/Adventure/Comedy
Bob Hoskins | Christopher Lloyd | Joanna Cassidy | Charles Fleischer

“A definitive work of American popular culture that takes as its subject American popular culture. Combining two of the definitive Hollywood forms of the 1940s-the animated cartoon and the film noir, both of which share a prickly, thrilling, uniquely American sense of urban excitement and danger-“Roger Rabbit” speculates as it entertains, suggesting that the disappearance of those forms was linked to the birth of the denatured suburban America of the 1950s. A technological wonder, of course, but also, under Robert Zemeckis’ direction, a film of unexpected depth and melancholic shading.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

Full List:

RFilmL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1Who Framed Roger Rabbit10654.5659%5%38151%2%
2Rain Man85103.6948%10%29339%7%
3Bull Durham8355.0046%5%29039%0%
4Big6415.9136%1%21028%0%
5A Fish Called Wanda6106.2834%0%19026%0%
6Dangerous Liaisons5433.3233%3%28138%2%
7The Unbearable Lightness of Being5585.4231%8%26535%12%
8A World Apart5145.3828%4%17223%5%
9Wings of Desire5083.5928%8%24432%10%
10Mississippi Burning4693.0027%9%23331%7%
11The Thin Blue Line4505.2925%0%23031%0%
12Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown4125.6724%2%22030%0%
13A Cry in the Dark4236.3923%3%16122%2%
14Dead Ringers4124.3323%2%17223%5%
15Working Girl4115.2123%1%14019%0%
15Tucker: A Man and His Dreams4114.6923%1%17023%0%
17The Last Temptation of Christ3726.1721%2%20127%2%
18Au Revoir les Enfants3725.1321%2%18124%2%
19Babette's Feast3514.7820%1%15120%2%
20The Accidental Tourist3134.9318%3%15120%2%
21Bird3206.9218%0%11015%0%
22Married to the Mob2907.1016%0%13018%0%
23Pelle the Conqueror2515.3115%1%12116%2%
24Hairspray (1988)2706.0015%0%8011%0%
25Running on Empty2617.5815%1%11115%2%
26Eight Men Out2426.5013%2%12116%2%
27Die Hard2306.7113%0%9012%0%
28Stand and Deliver2204.0012%0%507%0%
29Midnight Run2116.4212%1%405%0%
30Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie2006.5512%0%11015%0%
31Little Dorrit1915.5011%1%13118%2%
32The Accused1908.4411%0%507%0%
33Gorillas in the Mist1914.3811%1%608%0%
34Salaam Bombay!1806.2910%0%10014%0%
35The Moderns1707.809%0%10014%0%
36Talk Radio1604.719%0%709%0%
37The Naked Gun1605.839%0%608%0%
38Bagdad Café1416.438%1%719%2%
39Crossing Delancey1417.208%1%203%0%
40Red Sorghum1205.007%0%709%0%
41Boyfriends and Girlfriends1215.207%1%517%2%
42The Manchurian Candidate1107.006%0%405%0%
42Beetlejuice1106.006%0%304%0%
44Alice1106.256%0%608%0%
45Things Change1008.336%0%608%0%
46Mystic Pizza1006.006%0%304%0%

Lists Included 179 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 74

R Rank
L Total number of lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
AR Average position on ranked top 10 lists
#1 Total number of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year
L% Percentage of total lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
#1% Percentage of mentions where the film was selected as the best film of the year
TCL Number of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1 Number of times that the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL% Percentage of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1% Percentage of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists

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