Best of 1989

As far as I’m aware, there was no poll conducted by Mark Rowland and Patrick McGilligan in 1989, and unfortunately it is difficult to find lists dating back over 25 years.  Therefore, I was only able to find 71 lists from 1989.

20. When Harry Met Sally (12 lists; 1 top spot)


“Reiner wants to maintain the sitcom sense of comfort and familiarity; he creates types that we somehow already know, slightly out-of-focus images in which we can see ourselves and our friends.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

18. Enemies, A Love Story (12 lists; 1 top spot)


“Arguably Mazursky’s last successful film, this adaptation of Isaac Bashevis Singer of a Holocaust survivor and the women in his life blends humor and pathos and is extremely well acted by Ron Silver, Anjelica Huston and Lena Olin.” – Emanuel Levy,

18. The War of the Roses (12 lists; 1 top spot)


“DeVito’s direction is distinctively odd (with a lot of low-angle shots looking up at things), enjoyably mischievous and always somehow mindful that there may be, at the heart of all this comic mayhem, something substantial going on.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

17. Distant Voices, Still Lives (12 lists; 5 top spots)


“When a forty-four-year-old man makes a movie about his family and friends sitting around singing old tunes, you certainly don’t expect an unforgettable amalgam of humor and heartbreak. But that is precisely what Terence Davies delivers.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

16. Casualties of War (13 lists; 1 top spot)


“Mr. Penn plays Meserve with terrific elan. There is plausibility in every movement and gesture, and especially in his crafty handsomeness. His Meserve is the sort of man one credits with thoughts when the mind may, in fact, be completely blank.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

15. Batman (14 lists)


“An exhilarating mix of cartoon lore (though not nearly enough for rabid Batpurists), screen presence (this is pretty much the Jack and Mike Show), psychological murkiness (though it could have used even more) and demented Gothic goofiness.” – Desson Thomson, Washington Post

14. Born on the Fourth of July (15 lists; 2 top spots)


“Born on the Fourth of July is…the most ambitious nondocumentary film yet made about the entire Vietnam experience.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

12. Henry V (16 lists)


“The cast — including Derek Jacobi as the modern-dress chorus, Paul Scofield, Judi Dench, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, and Robbie Coltrane in an effective cameo as Falstaff — is uniformly fine without any grandstanding.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

12. Heathers (16 lists)


“A super-smart black comedy about high school politics and teenage suicide that showcases a host of promising young talents.” – Variety

11. Say Anything (17 lists)


“A movie like this is possible because its maker believes in the young characters, and in doing the right thing, and in staying true to oneself.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

9. High Hopes (17 lists; 1 top spot)


“High Hopes is an alive and challenging film, one that throws our own assumptions and evasions back at us. Leigh sees his characters and their lifestyles so vividly, so mercilessly and with such a sharp satirical edge, that the movie achieves a neat trick: We start by laughing at the others, and end by feeling uncomfortable about ourselves.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

9. My Left Foot (17 lists; 1 top spot)


“Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot must be the most passionately empathetic film about a physical affliction ever made.” – Hal Hinson, Washington Post

8. The Little Mermaid (21 lists)


“This return to traditional Disney territory is geared to captivate children while allowing them to maintain their street cred, largely by combining extravagant animated technique with ranging musical styles.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out

7. Drugstore Cowboy (23 lists)


“Though hardly earth-shakingly original, Van Sant’s low-budget movie takes a cool, contemplative and sometimes comic look at American drug-culture.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out

6. Roger & Me (25 lists; 1 top spot)


“Michael Moore’s film is intelligent, funny, in-depth, and touching, all executed with a gripping hands-on approach to the material that helps engage the audience more than you’re standard talking heads documentary.” – Jeff Beck, Examiner

5. Field of Dreams (27 lists; 2 top spots)


“Field of Dreams will not appeal to grinches and grouches and realists. It is a delicate movie, a fragile construction of one goofy fantasy after another. But it has the courage to be about exactly what it promises.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

4. The Fabulous Baker Boys (28 lists; 1 top spot)


“This is one of the movies they will use as a document, years from now, when they begin to trace the steps by which Pfeiffer became a great star.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

3. Crimes and Misdemeanors (38 lists; 3 top spots)


“A relative of Hannah and Her Sisters in its duplex structure and of The Purple Rose of Cairo in its bitter theme, Crimes is two movies in one, a blend of Allen’s satiric and pretentious dramatic styles.” – Rita Kempley, Washington Post

2. sex, lies, and videotape (42 lists; 4 top spots)


“What amazes is that at just 26, Soderbergh displays the three qualities associated with mature filmmakers: a unique authorial voice, a spooky camera assurance, and the easy control of ensemble acting.” – Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

1. Do the Right Thing (53 lists; 11 top spots)


“[Do the Right Thing is] an exceptional film, a movie that wisely deprives you of the cozy resolutions and epiphanies so often manufactured by Hollywood. Like the film’s principals, you are left feeling that you have been torched where you live.” – Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

Lists Included: Austin American Statesman, Cahiers du Cinema, Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Roger Ebert, Film Comment (5 lists), Los Angeles Times (5 lists), Morning Call, National Board of Review, New York Observer, New York Ties, Newsday, Northwest Florida Daily News, OK News, Orlando Sentinel, People Magainze, Philadelphia Inquirer, Premiere, Rolling Stone, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Gene Siskel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Petersburg Times, Toronto Star, USA Today, Washington Post, Vancouver Sun, Village Voice (3 lists)