Best Movies of 1999

10. THE SIXTH SENSE

The Sixth Sense

95 LISTS | 8 TOP SPOTS
M. Night Shyamalan | 107 mins | Drama/Mystery/Thriller
Bruce Willis | Haley Joel Osment | Toni Collette | Olivia Williams

“The sleeper hit of the summer (and the year), The Sixth Sense proved you don’t need special effects to create chills, and provided Bruce Willis with a break from mindless action movies. The directors of effects-laden, big-budget clunkers like The Mummy and The Haunting should be made to watch this one over and over until they understand what real suspense feels like. Recalling scenes months later still gives me the creeps.” – Marke Andrews, Vancouver Sun


9. MAGNOLIA

Magnolia

99 LISTS | 14 TOP SPOTS
Paul Thomas Anderson | 188 mins | Drama
Tom Cruise | Jason Robards | Julianne Moore | Philip Seymour Hoffman

“Boogie Nights looked like a tough act to follow, sprawling across two decades, a dozen amazing performances and one astounding display of manhood. But Paul Thomas Anderson deftly tops himself with Magnolia, a movie about chance and human connections which doubles Boogie Nights’ cast and plotlines and adds a bolt of Biblical vengeance that would have staggered Abraham. It’s new American filmmaking at its best and most audacious.” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star


8. THREE KINGS

Three Kings

101 LISTS | 7 TOP SPOTS
David O. Russell | 114 mins | Action/Adventure/Comedy
George Clooney | Mark Wahlberg | Ice Cube | Spike Jonze

“Another recently minted classic, and a worthy successor to “M*A*S*H,” as a war movie — or rather a movie about a war, the bizarre Gulf War — with a rock-solid moral base. David O. Russell dared to mix genres — action thriller, star vehicle (George Clooney was terrific), military adventure, comedy heist, morality tale — but moviegoers didn’t rise to the occasion. That raises a troubling question in a movie year that has been, on balance, much better than one might have expected from its early, arid months. Does a sizable audience still exist for films of genuine complexity, innovative works that shake us up and wake us up to the medium’s still unexplored potential? Or has the public’s curiosity, attention span and willing suspension of fashionable irony fallen victim to a tacit conspiracy between marketers who know only how to sell movies via simplistic, brain-numbing TV trailers, and producers who want only to make what the marketers know how to sell?” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal


7. BOY’S DON’T CRY

Boys Don't Cry

106 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
Kimberly Peirce | 118 mins | Biography/Crime/Drama
Hilary Swank | Chloë Sevigny | Peter Sarsgaard | Brendan Sexton III

“What made Teena Brandon, a wayward loner drifting through rural Nebraska in the early ‘90s, want to pass herself off as a rough-and-tumble young man named Brandon Teena? The answer is assuredly “psychosexual,” but the galvanizing power of Kimberly Peirce’s starkly lyrical first feature is that it dramatizes this daredevil role reversal in the American badlands as a blind quest for freedom – as the story of a girl driven to own a boy’s experience in a man’s world. The extraordinary Hilary Swank plays Brandon as a complex series of juggled personalities, yet beneath that, her fragile yearnings are naked and raw. Boys Don’t Cry has some of the plainsong intensity and shock of Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, especially in its violent and devastating final chapter, when the movie descends into the blackness of tabloid tragedy.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly


6. TOY STORY 2

Toy Story 2

124 LISTS | 10 TOP SPOTS
John Lasseter, Ash Brannon and Lee Unkrich | 92 mins | Animation/Adventure/Comedy
Tom Hanks | Tim Allen | Joan Cusack | Kelsey Grammer

“All live-action dramas involving suspense, rescue, and reunion should be as delectably, inventively witty as John Lasseter’s cartoon about a roomful of toys. A Sequel that matches and even tops the quality of the original, the follow-up to the ’95 blockbuster once again showcases computer-animation brilliance and nimble voice-over performances headed by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. But technical gee-whizziness is an empty pleasure without a good story. And at its old-fashioned core, this engrossing yard flatters the intelligence of a delighted audience.” – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly


5. THE INSIDER

The Insider

132 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
Michael Mann | 157 mins | Biography/Drama/Thriller
Russell Crowe | Al Pacino | Christopher Plummer | Diane Venora

“Intrigue in two fascinating industries: Big Tobacco and Big Media. This long, talky but always riveting movie tells the true story of a tobacco industry insider who tried to go public with his stories of malfeasance and ran into the wall of a television network that was trapped by its own business concerns and couldn’t help him. Russell Crowe gives a textured performance as the not-always- likeable whistle-blower, but Christopher Plummer walks away with the picture (and the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, probably) with his impersonation of Mike Wallace, a journalist-turned-celebrity trying to balance integrity with fame.” – Jay Stone, Ottawa Citizen


4. THE STRAIGHT STORY

The Straight Story

137 LISTS | 15 TOP SPOTS
David Lynch | 112 mins | Biography/Drama
Richard Farnsworth | Sissy Spacek | Jane Galloway Heitz | Joseph A. Carpenter

“Other releases were sexier — and certainly speedier — but Lynch’s loving look at a 73-year-old man’s cross-state trip on a power mower to visit his sick brother was the year’s most beautiful and simply moving film. With Richard Farnsworth turning in the performance of a lifetime as the stubborn, wise Alvin Straight, Lynch does something that’s extremely rare: portraying the humor, dignity and humanity of rural folks while reminding viewers of the beauty and wonder you can see if you just slow down.” – Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

3. ELECTION

Election

156 LISTS | 9 TOP SPOTS
Alexander Payne | 103 mins | Comedy/Drama/Romance
Matthew Broderick | Reese Witherspoon | Chris Klein | Jessica Campbell

“The year’s best political movie was set in a high school. As a prim, brittle, overambitious candidate for senior class president, Reese Witherspoon was unsympathetic yet understandable. Matthew Broderick, playing a sad-sack teacher, sets out to redeem his dead-end life by secretly sabotaging her candidacy. No life lessons whatsoever are learned in Alexander Payne’s satirical gut-buster.” – Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune


2. AMERICAN BEAUTY

American Beauty

210 LISTS | 72 TOP SPOTS
Sam Mendes | 122 mins | Drama
Kevin Spacey | Annette Bening | Thora Birch | Wes Bentley

“One spectacularly dysfunctional suburban family (led by Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening, both in Oscar-worthy form) and their equally twisted neighbors explore the hollow darkness of the American Dream – and nightmare – in a movie that shifts from eerily unsettling drama to scabrous satire, sometimes in the same heartbeat. Under director Sam Mendes’ sly guidance, “American Beauty” never goes quite where you think it’s headed – and never misses a step along the way. And those footsteps – foolish, frenzied, skipping toward disaster – may echo in your memory long after its rueful illusions fade to black.” – Carol Cling, Las Vegas Review-Journal


1. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH

Being John Malkovich

226 LISTS | 23 TOP SPOTS
Spike Jonze | 113 mins | Comedy/Drama/Fantasy
John Cusack | Cameron Diaz | Catherine Keener | John Malkovich

“The Telluride and Toronto festivals had already started lobbing in great new films, and by the time I saw “Being John Malkovich” and “Three Kings” early in October, it was clear that Hollywood’s hounds of creativity had been set loose and were running free. The last four months of 1999 were a rich and exciting time for moviegoers–there were so many wonderful films that for the first time in a long time, it was hard to keep up. “Being John Malkovich” was the year’s best, a film so endlessly inventive that I started grinning at the way it kept devising new ways to surprise me. Most movies top-load their bright ideas in the first half hour; this first feature from music video vet Spike Jonze, with screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, is a continuing cascade. And unlike many MTV refugees, Jonze doesn’t crank up the volume and the visual overkill; his film unfolds slyly, with delight, like a magician showing you the trick is far from over. John Cusack stars, as a man who gets a job on floor 7 1/2 of a very strange building (the visuals inspire sustained laughter). Behind a filing case, he finds a hole in the wall that is a portal directly into the brain of the actor John Malkovich (playing himself). First Cusack and then a series of paying customers line up to take their trip inside Malkovich, and in one dizzying scene Malkovich even enters his own brain, which is like turning your consciousness inside-out. The movie is funny and very smart, metaphysical in a way, and so bountiful you feel not just admiration but gratitude.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Full Top 50:

RTITLEL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1Being John Malkovich223233.664%8%1161058%6%
2American Beauty206713.560%25%1063553%22%
3Election15484.745%3%90545%3%
4The Straight Story134144.539%5%84942%6%
5The Insider12934.737%1%69235%1%
6Toy Story 2121104.835%4%57429%2%
7Boys Don't Cry10444.830%1%67334%2%
8Three Kings10075.029%2%57429%2%
9Magnolia99144.328%5%57629%4%
10The Sixth Sense9285.027%3%46223%1%
11Run Lola Run8634.725%1%49225%1%
12All About My Mother83104.324%4%62631%4%
13Topsy-Turvy8394.924%3%54827%5%
14The Matrix8234.524%1%41221%1%
15Fight Club7674.622%2%41021%0%
16The Limey7405.621%0%48024%0%
17South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut7355.821%2%37419%2%
18The Blair Witch Project7265.621%2%35318%2%
19The Talented Mr. Ripley6915.220%0%36118%1%
20Eyes Wide Shut67114.819%4%43822%5%
21The Iron Giant5765.616%2%32416%2%
22The Dreamlife Of Angels5424.516%1%40120%1%
23Go4826.014%1%26013%0%
24Rosetta4125.112%1%29115%1%
25Autumn Tale3824.811%1%29215%1%
26Buena Vista Social Club3815.011%0%28114%1%
27After Life3855.011%2%23112%1%
28Besieged3225.09%1%22111%1%
29American Movie3215.59%0%19010%0%
30The Green Mile3135.69%1%704%0%
31Dogma2816.58%0%1709%0%
32Man On The Moon2825.48%1%1226%1%
33eXistenZ2604.88%0%1608%0%
34The End Of The Affair2614.27%0%1417%1%
35October Sky2525.47%1%915%1%
36The Hurricane2505.57%0%1608%0%
37Mr. Death: The Rise And Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.2305.46%0%1809%0%
38Cookie's Fortune2014.86%0%814%1%
39Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels1906.06%0%704%0%
40The Winslow Boy1915.95%0%1106%0%
41My Name is Joe1615.65%0%1015%1%
42Ride With The Devil1714.85%0%905%0%
42Tarzan1715.55%0%814%1%
44Princess Mononoke1725.45%1%1327%1%
45Late August, Early September1615.15%0%1116%1%
46The Cider House Rules1625.65%1%1015%1%
47Sleepy Hollow1406.44%0%905%0%
48Romance1324.74%1%915%1%
49The War Zone1336.14%1%734%2%
50The Terrorist1306.04%0%402%0%

Lists Included 346 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 199

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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