Best Movies of 1991

10. CAPE FEAR

Cape Fear

44 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS
Martin Scorsese | 128 mins | Crime/Thriller
Robert De Niro | Nick Nolte | Jessica Lange | Juliette Lewis

“In a remake that is considerably deeper and more complex than the ’62 original, ex-con Robert De Niro exacts an insidious revenge on his former attorney (Nick Nolte), the lawyer’s family (Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis) and associates by ferreting out and preying on familial dysfunction.” – Ed Blank, Pittsburgh Press

9. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY

Terminator 2 - Judgment Day

50 LISTS | 0 TOP SPOTS
James Cameron | 137 mins | Action/Sci-Fi
Arnold Schwarzenegger | Linda Hamilton | Edward Furlong | Robert Patrick

“The top-grossing film of 1991, and it deserves every single penny. Expertly delivering the kind of high-impact thrills the action audience has come to expect from director James Cameron, “T2” is a worthy if expensive sequel to its cult favorite progenitor. Bristling with stunts and an eye-popping series of special effects, not to mention a reprise of the role Arnold Schwarzenegger was clearly born to play, “T2” demonstrates why the pure adrenaline rush of motion is something motion pictures can’t live for very long without.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

8. THE COMMITMENTS

The Commitments

55 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS
Alan Parker | 118 mins | Comedy/Drama/Music
Robert Arkins | Michael Aherne | Angeline Ball | Maria Doyle Kennedy

“Alan Parker went to Dublin and found there a collection of no-name rockers so Irish they brawl and bicker almost as well as they make music. The Commitments is everything a rock movie ought to be and much more. And so alive. Parker’s affection for Dublin and these offhand amateurs drives his movie. That they never quite make it to the top is where Rocky breaks off and real life begins. Parker has never done it better.” – Noel Taylor, Ottawa Citizen

7. BARTON FINK

Barton Fink

58 LISTS | 1 TOP SPOT
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen | 116 mins | Comedy/Drama/Thriller
John Turturro | John Goodman | Judy Davis | Michael Lerner

“Those energizing adjectives I just mentioned – bold, provocative, freewheeling – abound in this offbeat fantasy by director Joel Coen and producer Ethan Coen, who wrote the screenplay together. The hero is an intellectual New York playwright who goes to Hollywood during the 1940s, moves into California’s creepiest hotel, and enters into a reluctant friendship with the insurance agent who lives next door. Brilliantly acted by John Turturro and John Goodman, among others, the movie is also a masterful work
of visual art, swinging from hilarity to surrealism as it approaches a climax that defies description.” – David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor

6. JFK

JFK

61 LISTS | 7 TOP SPOTS
Oliver Stone | 189 mins | Drama/History/Thriller
Kevin Costner | Gary Oldman | Jack Lemmon | Walter Matthau

“For sheer gall and raw filmmaking skill, if for no other reason, Oliver Stone’s audacious reopening of the Kennedy assassination was the year’s best film. Attacks on its accuracy are beside the point; it is a rabble-rouser designed to shock audiences into agreeing with Stone and many others that Kennedy may have been the victim of a conspiracy. In an incredible three hours of words and pictures, Stone never says exactly who he thinks killed Kennedy, but he makes a persuasive case for the theory that it could not have been Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone. The movie is a technical marvel; an automatic Oscar should be voted to Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia, who edited its rush of images. And another one should go to Joe Pesci, whose supporting performance as a conspirator is a case study in nerves. Kevin Costner supplies the sound, trustworthy center to the film, as New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison. Stone’s critics said Costner makes Garrison seem heroic when actually he was a much more controversial character. But Stone isn’t making an autobiography; he uses Garrison more as a device for organizing his material. No matter what you think about the politics of “JFK,” it’s impossible to deny the film’s artistry, as it uses its big canvas and enormous ambition to re-create a turning point in American history, a shocking death that seemed to open the floodgates for so many tragic events to follow.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

5. BUGSY

Bugsy

75 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS
Barry Levinson | 136 mins | Biography/Crime/Drama
Warren Beatty | Annette Bening | Harvey Keitel | Ben Kingsley

“American Dreaming by the gangster Bugsy Siegel, who, besides inventing himself as a Hollywood celebrity, invented Las Vegas as the playground for our more primitive fantasies. Warren Beatty and Annette Bening are terrific in director Barry Levinson’s smart-ironic, romantic-perverse, funny-poignant take on modern life in a fast, deadly lane.” – TIME Magazine

4. BOYZ N THE HOOD

Boyz N the Hood

81 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
John Singleton | 112 mins | Crime/Drama
Cuba Gooding Jr. | Laurence Fishburne | Hudhail Al-Amir | Lloyd Avery II

“An auspicious first-time feature by a 23-year-old graduate of USC’s Film School. Following the sage advice to write what you know best, Singleton has fashioned a story of his native South Central Los Angeles, a black neighborhood where fathers are rarely present, drugs are a quick fix for pain and police helicopters hover constantly. Yet this is an even-handed portrait of urban black life in which one father can make a difference and gang members can choose to let little kids play. What distinguishes this film from other American pictures this year is the level of writing and the horror of omnipresent violence in daylight amid palm trees. A black “Mean Streets.”” – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

3. THELMA & LOUISE

Thelma and Louise

90 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
Ridley Scott | 130 mins | Adventure/Crime/Drama
Susan Sarandon | Geena Davis | Harvey Keitel | Michael Madsen

“Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis likely will be competing against each other at the Oscars with their loopy, yet tough, portraits of women who rebel against the manipulative, violent and spineless men in their lives. The red rocks of Moab offer the perfect backdrop for a seamless mix of politics and adventure.” – Terry Orme, Salt Lake Tribune

2. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Beauty and the Beast

101 LISTS | 10 TOP SPOTS
Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise | 84 mins | Animation/Family/Fantasy
Paige O'Hara | Robby Benson | Jesse Corti | Rex Everhart

“An instant classic in every sense of the word. This 30th full-length feature from the Disney wizards not only offers more enchantment per minute than any other movie this year but more genuine artistry as well, from the canny updating of its classic source material to its resplendent animation and sprightly, tightly integrated score. Fifty years from now, future generations are likely to be as entranced as we are by such earlier Disney treasures as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Pinocchio.”” – Carol Cling, Las Vegas Journal-Review

1. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

The Silence of the Lambs

123 LISTS | 30 TOP SPOTS
Jonathan Demme | 118 mins | Crime/Drama/Thriller
Jodie Foster | Anthony Hopkins | Lawrence A. Bonney | Kasi Lemmons

“After years of schlock horror movies, the word nightmare has been devalued — we hear it and think, thrills and chills. A true nightmare movie, though, does more than just scare us or give us the cold creeps. It can also be a dark fairy tale for adults, a vehicle for recapturing our childlike wonder in the face of the primal unknown. So it is with Jonathan Demme’s great thriller, the most magical act of storytelling I saw all year. Adapting Thomas Harris’ best-seller about a rookie FBI investigator on the trail of a serial killer, Demme spins a shimmering web of dread and suspense. Jodie Foster plays Agent Starling as a brave, exploratory, life-size heroine: It’s her desperate need to know — to uncover the true face of evil — that propels the movie forward. And Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Lecter is that face in all its disturbing, seductive glory. As the glittery-eyed genius psychopath whose malevolence is a direct extension of his intelligence, Hopkins — witty, charming, monstrous — gives the most memorable performance of the year, creating a timeless portrait of the demonic made human.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Full List:

RFilmL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1The Silence of the Lambs123303.0170%26%481261%20%
2Beauty and the Beast101104.2158%9%44456%7%
3Thelma & Louise9045.6051%4%35344%5%
4Boyz N the Hood8145.7846%4%32141%2%
5Bugsy7524.3943%2%32141%2%
6JFK6175.1935%6%28435%7%
7Barton Fink5814.7333%1%21027%0%
8The Commitments5526.6531%2%23029%0%
9Terminator 2: Judgment Day5007.0429%0%16020%0%
10Cape Fear4426.2425%2%16020%0%
11The Fisher King4326.0025%2%18223%3%
12City of Hope4325.6725%2%18023%0%
13My Own Private Idaho4354.8124%4%23429%7%
14Rambling Rose4206.2924%0%15019%0%
15Europa, Europa3734.7921%3%26333%5%
16Jungle Fever3015.4517%1%12015%0%
17An Angel At My Table3034.6717%2%17122%2%
18Life is Sweet2934.5716%3%18323%5%
19Paris is Burning2806.3116%0%14018%0%
20Dead Again2615.5515%1%719%2%
21City Slickers2526.3514%2%9111%2%
22Grand Canyon2505.5014%0%15019%0%
23The Prince of Tides2445.4714%4%618%2%
24La Belle Noiseuse2314.6412%1%15119%2%
25Impromptu2024.6911%2%12215%3%
26Defending Your Life2007.0011%0%608%0%
27Naked Lunch2116.7111%1%11114%2%
28Black Robe1914.1411%1%8110%2%
29Homicide1816.5710%1%608%0%
30The Doctor1806.1710%0%9011%0%
31Ju Dou1826.5010%2%9111%2%
32L.A. Story1606.829%0%608%0%
33My Mother's Castle1615.459%1%14118%2%
34The Double Life of Veronique1654.099%4%9211%3%
35My Father's Glory1515.209%1%13116%2%
36Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse1316.927%1%11114%2%
37The Man in the Moon1216.737%1%719%2%
38Hear My Song1315.637%1%618%2%
39Frankie & Johnny1007.296%0%405%0%
39Truth or Dare1008.006%0%304%0%
41Slacker1007.506%0%506%0%
42Fried Green Tomatoes1106.866%0%304%0%

Lists Included 175 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 79

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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