Best Movies of 1997

10. IN THE COMPANY OF MEN

In the Company of Men

79 LISTS | 3 TOP SPOTS
Neil LaBute | 97 mins | Comedy/Drama
Aaron Eckhart | Matt Malloy | Stacy Edwards | Michael Martin

“My favorite American independent fiction feature of the year, the first film of American playwright Neil LaBute is a bracing act of provocation, at least in a country that generally examines capitalism — which is, after all, a working philosophy affecting people’s values, behavior, and sexuality –less closely than it does the social and physical ramifications of smoking. This makes it another fine example of regional filmmaking, if the United States can be regarded as a region, and one that has a particular resonance because of LaBute’s acute sense of structure and his purposeful work with actors. Working in a minimalist contemporary American setting with a Restoration-style comic villain (Aaron Eckhart)–a bitter junior executive who’s in some ways more a force of nature than a character in the usual sense — LaBute offers each viewer the uncomfortable challenge of deciding where he or she belongs in relation to the story’s power struggles. And he coaxes highly suggestive performances from his two other leads, Matt Malloy and Stacy Edwards, both of whom play characters in the fullest sense of the word.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum

9. AS GOOD AS IT GETS

As Good as It Gets

80 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS
James L. Brooks | 139 mins | Comedy/Drama/Romance
Jack Nicholson | Helen Hunt | Greg Kinnear | Cuba Gooding Jr.

“Boasting dialogue that has the welcome tang of authenticity, James L. Brooks’ latest is an exhilarating contradiction: an “up” movie about being down-and-out. Best of all, the story of three strangers — Scrooge-like Jack Nicholson, defeated Greg Kinnear and weary Helen Hunt — forming a makeshift family has the highest concentration of eccentric characters since “The Accidental Tourist.”” – Amy Longsdorf, Morning Call

8. ULEE’S GOLD

Ulee's Gold

81 LISTS | 3 TOP SPOTS
Victor Nunez | 113 mins | Drama
Peter Fonda | Patricia Richardson | Christine Dunford | Tom Wood

“Victor Nunez is an American treasure who’s maintained his obscurity despite the elegance of his films and the fact that he’s custom-built three of them around prominent actors – Ed Harris (“A Flash of Green”), Ashley Judd (“Ruby in Paradise”) and now “Ulee’s Gold” with Peter Fonda, whose beekeeper Ulysses Jackson is the best work of his career. A kind of Homeric sequel – Ulysses has long ago come back from the war, his wife Penelope is dead and his son (Telemachus?) is in prison for armed robbery – “Ulee’s Gold” is a redemption tale, a soul story, a parable. Think of Fonda and Nunez in that Sistine Chapel posture, finger touching finger, bringing Ulee’s tale to life.” – John Anderson, Newsday

7. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE

The Wings of the Dove

85 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS
Iain Softley | 102 mins | Drama/Romance
Helena Bonham Carter | Linus Roache | Alex Jennings | Charlotte Rampling

“A narrow but deserving victory for this exquisitely observed, emotionally wrenching expedition into the darkest corners of the human heart. Director Iain Softley and screenwriter Hossein Amini explore all the angles of author Henry James’ doomed romantic triangle in an Edwardian-era tale that offers temptation, deceit, betrayal and guilt – but no sense of redemption to blunt its razor edge.” – Carol Cling, Las Vegas Journal-Review

6. THE FULL MONTY

The Full Monty

94 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS
Peter Cattaneo | 91 mins | Comedy/Drama
Robert Carlyle | Tom Wilkinson | Mark Addy | Wim Snape

“Oh no, English people undressing! A group of unemployed, sad-looking Englishmen in a depressed, northern town decide to shake their in-the-buff booties for money. Their courageous bid to upgrade themselves from flabby losers to “Flashdance” winners is painfully funny and even touching.” – Desson Howe, The Washington Post

5. THE ICE STORM

The Ice Storm

95 LISTS | 6 TOP SPOTS
Ang Lee | 112 mins | Drama
Kevin Kline | Joan Allen | Sigourney Weaver | Henry Czerny

“A regional, period film that had a universal message. In a stunning display of talent, Taiwan-raised filmmaker Lee, whose previous picture was an excellent adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” shifted his gaze to two sets of dysfunctional Connecticut Yankee parents in 1973 dealing badly with the sexual revolution as well as their four, alienated teenage children. To watch this story unfold is to experience profound sadness at couples and families that don’t connect with open hearts. What could have been banal seems so important here.” – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

4. THE SWEET HEREAFTER

The Sweet Hereafter

162 LISTS | 30 TOP SPOTS
Atom Egoyan | 112 mins | Drama
Ian Holm | Sarah Polley | Caerthan Banks | Tom McCamus

“Atom Egoyan’s heartbreaking drama takes place in a small Canadian town in the dead of winter, as a cloud of grief settles over it. Fourteen children are killed in a school bus accident, and a lawyer (Ian Holm) arrives to interview possible clients for a class-action suit. He may seem to some like an ambulance chaser, but he’s only going through the motions; his own daughter may die any day from drug abuse, and he shares more with the grieving parents than they know.
Egoyan’s story circles around the central fact of the accident, moving back and forth in time as the lawyer and the audience come to know the people in the town. Some of them have secrets that the accident will betray. All have a deep hopelessness, evoked by the film’s sad, beautiful cinematography. Egoyan, whose last film was the seductive (and also sad) “Exotica,” is a director whose films see human weakness with a special poignancy.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

3. BOOGIE NIGHTS

Boogie Nights

162 LISTS | 20 TOP SPOTS
Paul Thomas Anderson | 155 mins | Drama
Mark Wahlberg | Julianne Moore | Burt Reynolds | Luis Guzmán

“Paul Thomas Anderson’s delirious porn-world epic is the most sheerly pleasurable movie I saw all year, and what makes it such a kicky and resonant experience is that its very subject is pleasure. Tracking the rise and fall of Dirk Diggler, a triple-X superstar who rides the waves of post-counterculture hedonism until he can’t stand up anymore, Anderson roots his movie in a definitive recreation of the funky, bedazzled, cocaine-and-disco ‘70s, an era that is only just beginning to enter the realm of pop mythology because it now seems like the last moment in American life when people simply did what they wanted. Anderson embodies that ecstatic, shoot-the-works spirit in the gleeful freedom of his filmmaking. You feel, at every moment, that he’s in love with what he’s showing you, whether it’s Mark Walhlberg, as Dirk, flashing his beautiful gaze of macho innocence as he dreams of becoming a “big bright shining star”; the high comedy of on-set porn shoots that play like Ed Wood without clothes; the cocky desperation of Burt Reynolds’ flashpot auteur saying “sexy!” in the back of a limo as he “directs” a gruesomely unerotic hardcore video; the ferocity of Heather Graham’s Rollergirl removing her cheerleader mask to reveal the scary rage beneath; or – the year’s most indelible scene – the thrill-happy dementia of Alfred Molina’s motormouth addict merging himself with the chorus of “Sister Christian,” a song that, in Boogie Nights, becomes a heavy metal requiem, a shrine to the eternal, unholy American quest for the next high.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

2. TITANIC

Titanic

174 LISTS | 26 TOP SPOTS
James Cameron | 194 mins | Drama/Romance
Leonardo DiCaprio | Kate Winslet | Billy Zane | Kathy Bates

“If you want a brilliantly well-written, convincing film account of the ill-fated voyage of the “Titanic,” you’ll have to rent the 1956 Eric Ambler-scripted British picture “A Night to Remember.” This movie is something else. It’s a wild romance and one of all-time top cliffhanger movies. For two hours, Cameron draws a superheated, over-the-top, class-crossing romance between frustrated society girl Rose (Kate Winslet) in first class and the poor but dashing Irish artist jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) in steerage. Then, for the last hour and 14 minutes, he pulls out all stops, putting his lovers, and the thousands of “Titanic” crewmates and passengers, through heaven and hell as the ship, with maximum high tech special effects, strikes an iceberg and sinks spectacularly. Breathlessly exciting and deliriously crazy, “Titanic” is one of a kind: a knockout extravaganza whose inflated budget produces delightfully mad and entertaining results.” – Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

1. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

L.A. Confidential

230 LISTS | 80 TOP SPOTS
Curtis Hanson | 138 mins | Crime/Drama/Mystery
Kevin Spacey | Russell Crowe | Guy Pearce | Kim Basinger

“Director and co-writer Curtis Hanson’s adaptation of the James Ellroy novel is the finest example of modern film noir since “Chinatown.” Set in the early ’50s, it untangles a police scandal that reaches from the Hollywood precinct to Mickey Cohen’s mob to City Hall, and features some of the year’s most memorable performances from Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Russell Crowe, Danny DeVito, and Kim Basinger.” – Jack Mathews, Newsday

Full Top 50:

RTITLEL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1L.A. Confidential221743.677%30%1053371%26%
2Titanic165253.957%10%771052%8%
3The Sweet Hereafter159294.255%12%902161%17%
4Boogie Nights152194.253%8%731150%9%
5The Ice Storm9354.432%2%47232%2%
6The Full Monty9255.932%2%32122%1%
7The Wings of the Dove8424.429%1%36124%1%
8In the Company of Men7935.528%1%44030%0%
9As Good As It Gets7755.127%2%30220%2%
10Ulee's Gold7534.826%1%44230%2%
11Chasing Amy7515.126%0%34023%0%
12Donnie Brasco7215.325%0%30020%0%
13Amistad70105.124%4%30620%5%
14Face/Off6625.523%1%29220%2%
15Good Will Hunting6424.922%1%29220%2%
16The Apostle6244.922%2%36224%2%
17Wag The Dog5615.419%0%33022%0%
18Ponette4614.116%0%23116%1%
19Shall We Dance?4544.816%2%23116%1%
20Contact4434.715%1%1309%0%
21Eve's Bayou4416.415%0%23116%1%
22Fast, Cheap & Out of Control4335.215%1%31221%2%
23Jackie Brown4106.114%0%21014%0%
24Waiting For Guffman3906.114%0%17012%0%
25Men in Black3715.713%0%1309%0%
26Deconstructing Harry3515.112%0%18112%1%
27Mrs Brown2725.39%1%15110%1%
28Happy Together2704.59%0%21014%0%
29Kundun2724.19%1%21114%1%
30Grosse Point Blank2605.29%0%906%0%
31Crash (1996)2234.38%1%17312%2%
32La Promesse2424.28%1%18212%2%
33My Best Friend's Wedding2215.18%0%906%0%
34Cop Land1806.36%0%604%0%
35Starship Troopers1706.66%0%906%0%
36Lost Highway1605.36%0%1007%0%
37Underground1405.15%0%1309%0%
38Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery1505.95%0%604%0%
39John Grisham's The Rainmaker1506.85%0%705%0%
40Hard Eight1414.45%0%1017%1%
414 Little Girls1404.15%0%805%0%
41FairyTale: A True Story1404.65%0%503%0%
43The Daytrippers1415.45%0%1017%1%
44Welcome To Sarajevo1317.05%0%1017%1%
45Washington Square1206.04%0%805%0%
46The Hanging Garden1216.44%0%715%1%
47Career Girls1104.74%0%604%0%
48Gattaca1105.84%0%503%0%
49In & Out1106.34%0%503%0%
50Mother and Son1125.64%1%926%2%

Lists Included 287 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 147

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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