Best Movies of 1998

10. RUSHMORE

Rushmore

66 LISTS | 9 TOP SPOTS
Wes Anderson | 93 mins | Comedy/Drama
Jason Schwartzman | Bill Murray | Olivia Williams | Seymour Cassel

“For its exuberant originality, for its off-the-wall sense of humor, and for the artistic integrity with which young filmmaker Wes Anderson sustains his quirky material (rarely has so droll a coming-of-age story been so affecting), this baby is an American beaut: an unlikely fable about a refreshingly self-confident nerd. Besides, just for giving Bill Murray an Oscar-worthy Murraysian role, Anderson deserves some kind of prize.” – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

9. A SIMPLE PLAN

A Simple Plan

68 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS
Sam Raimi | 121 mins | Crime/Drama/Thriller
Bill Paxton | Billy Bob Thornton | Bridget Fonda | Brent Briscoe

“Three men in a wintertime forest preserve find a crashed plane that has $4 million on board. They figure it’s probably drug money, that no one will come forward to claim it, and that it might be a simple matter for them to keep the money themselves. Almost immediately this decision involves them in a crime, and their values, held for a lifetime but never really tested, begin to disintegrate.
Sam Raimi’s film runs sure and deep. It has an uncanny sense of time and place, and it never rushes as it follows its characters from one fateful decision to the next. Strong, Oscar-worthy performances by Bill Paxton as the college graduate, Billy Bob Thornton as his unlucky brother, Brent Briscoe as the third man, and Bridget Fonda as Paxton’s wife, who gives what seems at the time like practical advice.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

8. GODS AND MONSTERS

Gods and Monsters

78 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS
Bill Condon | 105 mins | Biography/Drama
Ian McKellen | Brendan Fraser | Lynn Redgrave | Lolita Davidovich

“An immensely inventive and deeply involving piece of speculative biography concerning the last days and weeks in the life of the stroke-wracked, homosexual horror director James Whale (“Bride of Frankenstein”), and featuring Sir Ian McKellen in the best screen performance of the year.” – Jack Mathews, Newsday

7. THE BUTCHER BOY

The Butcher Boy

88 LISTS | 8 TOP SPOTS
Neil Jordan | 110 mins | Comedy/Drama
Stephen Rea | Fiona Shaw | Eamonn Owens | Alan Boyle

“Delving into the mind of a troubled young hero might have been solemn business from a filmmaker less imaginatively offbeat than the director of ”The Crying Game.” But Neil Jordan filled this study of the boy’s disintegrating sanity, based on Patrick McCabe’s equally daring novel, with ever more chilling ebullience as it began to inhabit the boy’s mind. Brilliantly juxtaposing external and subjective reality, Mr. Jordan created a wildly fanciful mental landscape within a workaday Irish town and melted the boundaries between madness and reason to electrifying effect. Eamonn Owens, whose only previous international exposure had been marching with his youth band in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, gave an unforgettably blistering performance in the central role.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

6. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

Life is Beautiful

103 LISTS | 12 TOP SPOTS
Roberto Benigni | 116 mins | Comedy/Drama/Romance
Roberto Benigni | Nicoletta Braschi | Giorgio Cantarini | Giustino Durano

“Italy’s top comedian- filmmaker Roberto Benigni, like many great clowns, has his serious side: a Don Quixote thumping inside the chest of this bumptious little Puck. But who could have dreamed that dark side would blossom out with the poignancy and power of “Life Is Beautiful”? Set in World War II Italy during the Holocaust, this great film, which won the Cannes Jury Prize and The European Critics’ Award, begins as a fairytale romantic comedy and then becomes a nightmare, with the elfin Benigni as a Jewish bookseller who clowns to keep his small son from realizing they’re in a concentration camp. “Life” is a deeply moving blend of cold terror and rapturous hilarity, that rare comedy which takes on a daring and ambitious theme and proves worthy of it.” – Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

5. OUT OF SIGHT

Out of Sight

104 LISTS | 3 TOP SPOTS
Steven Soderbergh | 123 mins | Comedy/Crime/Drama
George Clooney | Jennifer Lopez | Ving Rhames | Steve Zahn

“Author Elmore Leonard has become a hot property in Hollywood, but this is the best of the many recent adaptations of his work (Scott Frank wrote the screenplay). George Clooney stars as a two-bit bank robber who gets involved in a plan to rob a rich white-collar ex-con. Naturally, not everything goes according to plan, especially when he falls for federal marshal Jennifer Lopez. Soderbergh’s off-kilter view of life meshes seamlessly with Leonard’s world of upright crooks and dimbulb cops.” – Ron Weiskind, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

4. HAPPINESS

Happiness

110 LISTS | 13 TOP SPOTS
Todd Solondz | 134 mins | Comedy/Drama
Jane Adams | Jon Lovitz | Philip Seymour Hoffman | Dylan Baker

“Dark comedy you want? Dark comedy you got here. Director Todd Solondz brings the most shocking, sharp and, ultimately, hopeful movie of the year. A great ensemble cast works deftly through a story that touches on pedophilia and other sexual woes affecting one suburban New Jersey family.” – Joe Holleman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

3. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

Shakespeare In Love

144 LISTS | 10 TOP SPOTS
John Madden | 123 mins | Comedy/Drama/History
Gwyneth Paltrow | Joseph Fiennes | Geoffrey Rush | Tom Wilkinson

“Don’t be put off by the highfalutin name. The whip-smart script (co-written by playwright Tom Stoppard) and the lively direction by John Madden (“Her Majesty Mrs. Brown”) combine to make a surprisingly accessible, fanciful and moving romantic comedy about the Bard of Avon (Joseph Fiennes) and the muse (Gwyneth Paltrow) who might have inspired him to write “Romeo and Juliet.”” – Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

2. THE TRUMAN SHOW

The Truman Show

178 LISTS | 24 TOP SPOTS
Peter Weir | 103 mins | Comedy/Drama/Sci-Fi
Jim Carrey | Ed Harris | Laura Linney | Noah Emmerich

“Along with “Pleasantville,” here is the most inventive concept film of the year. A middle-class man named Truman Burbank, played by an innocent, no-joking Jim Carrey, is followed by a camera crew every minute of his life from birth, and this video is broadcast 24 hours daily, to a worldwide audience that becomes rabid about the drama of his everyday existence. You could call it “As the Truman Turns.” He lives in a town called Seahaven, which might as well be Pleasantville for all of its seeming innocence. But unlike Pleasantville, Seahaven holds some dark secrets. In addition to noting the omnipresence of video in contemporary life, director Peter Weir’s “The Truman Show” offers genuine drama as we follow Truman’s growing awareness that his whole life has been TV programming. Jim Carrey’s restrained performance extends our estimation of his acting range.” – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

1. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN

Saving Private Ryan

210 LISTS | 92 TOP SPOTS
Steven Spielberg | 169 mins | Drama/War
Tom Hanks | Matt Damon | Tom Sizemore | Edward Burns

“When I went to see Steven Spielberg’s cataclysmic World War II masterpiece on opening weekend (it was my second viewing), most of the audience sat right through to the end of the closing credits. Few of us moved, or even spoke. We were too thunderstruck. Any movie that can do that can create in its viewers this hushed and staggering a contemplation of the defining military conflict of the 20th century is nothing less than a seismic work of art. Yet such is the nature of our myopic media culture that I now feel compelled to defend Spielberg against the charge that he has filmed two extraordinary battle sequences and sandwiched some Hollywood combat clichés in between. I could go on about the performances (Tom Hanks’ authority and clandestine turmoil, Jeremy Davies’ terror), but the ultimate brilliance of Saving Private Ryan is the way it depicts the horror of World War II right alongside its heroism – indeed, the two are organically intertwined. As a vision of hell, the opening D-Day massacre may, in movie terms, rank with Picasso’s Guernica, but when it’s over, the spectre of war doesn’t disappear. It haunts the soldiers’ every breath. The final battle is wrenching in a less existential, more clear-eyed way. That’s because the men know each other, and they understand why they’re fighting: not to save Private Ryan but to save what he stands for – the belief that another man’s life is really your own.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Full Top 50:

RTITLEL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1Saving Private Ryan199873.169%35%1003860%28%
2The Truman Show166243.957%10%86951%7%
3Shakespeare In Love14093.948%4%76446%3%
4Happiness107134.336%5%66840%6%
5Out of Sight9835.534%1%54232%1%
6Life is Beautiful9693.933%4%45627%4%
7The Butcher Boy8684.330%3%58635%4%
8Gods And Monsters7654.126%2%45427%3%
9A Simple Plan6425.122%1%42125%1%
10Rushmore6595.322%3%48729%5%
11Bulworth6306.122%0%38023%0%
12There's Something About Mary5836.220%1%31319%2%
13Elizabeth5705.020%0%22013%0%
14Pleasantville5604.219%0%25015%0%
15The Thin Red Line5864.319%2%38623%4%
16The Celebration5045.117%2%33420%3%
17The Opposite of Sex4714.816%0%26016%0%
18The Big Lebowski4514.616%0%24114%1%
19Fireworks4473.915%3%34620%4%
20A Bug's Life4415.615%0%27016%0%
21Beloved4004.614%0%24014%0%
22Buffalo 663825.013%1%26016%0%
23The Spanish Prisoner3806.013%0%1207%0%
24Primary Colors3716.313%0%16010%0%
25Affliction3314.011%0%22113%1%
26Smoke Signals2825.010%1%1509%0%
27The Taste Of Cherry2783.79%3%21713%5%
28Love And Death On Long Island2715.89%0%20112%1%
29Babe: Pig In the City2635.59%1%1529%1%
30The General2623.89%1%17110%1%
31Central Station2404.78%0%1107%0%
32Velvet Goldmine2335.28%1%19311%2%
33Henry Fool2225.78%1%1428%1%
34Mulan2115.97%0%1207%0%
35The Prince of Egypt2016.67%0%1107%0%
36Your Friends & Neighbors1905.27%0%805%0%
37Flowers Of Shanghai20103.76%4%16710%5%
38Men With Guns1716.86%0%614%1%
39Antz1716.86%0%1016%1%
40American History X1604.26%0%704%0%
41Waking Ned Devine1606.85%0%604%0%
42Little Voice1615.35%0%503%0%
43A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries1606.45%0%1308%0%
44The Horse Whisperer1504.65%0%704%0%
45Dark City1416.15%0%1016%1%
46The Eel1405.55%0%1207%0%
46He Got Game1407.55%0%604%0%
48Pi1406.85%0%704%0%
49Sonatine1305.05%0%1006%0%
50Slam1306.14%0%704%0%

Lists Included 290 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 167

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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