Best of 1992

1992 was considered a good year for film – and it was led by three films in particular: Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, Robert Altman’s The Player, and James Ivory’s Howards End.  Unforgiven went on to beat Howards End for the Best Picture Oscar, but it could not beat it when it came to top 10 lists.

Howards End was included on 82 of the 106 critics’ lists that were polled in Mark Rowland and Patrick McGilligan’s annual film poll in 1992.  Only the top 16 films were mentioned in 1992, but it’s hard to think of any additional ones that would have received significant votes.

15. Enchanted April (18 lists)

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“It would seem from a spate of films lately that the English can only find their warmer, truer selves abroad — usually in Italy. Enchanted April takes this familiar path, but traipses along with charm and glory, as if for the very first time.” – Desson Thomson, Washington Post

15. A Few Good Men (18 lists)

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“That the performances are uniformly outstanding is a tribute to Rob Reiner (Misery), who directs with masterly assurance, fusing suspense and character to create a movie that literally vibrates with energy.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

14. The Best Intentions (20 lists)

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“Though Bergman only wrote (but didn’t direct), the film is permeated with his unique angst and thematic concerns, and casting Pernilla August in a major role establishes strong link to Fanny and Alexander, in which she played the servant.” – Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.com

13. The Last of the Mohicans (26 lists)

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“Painstakingly, breathtakingly re-created by director Michael Mann, this landscape makes room for heroes with principles greater than the circumference of their biceps.” – Rita Kempley, Washington Post

12. Glengarry Glen Ross (28 lists)

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“Mamet reveals his exceptional talent for writing almost poetic working-class vernacular, scores his major implicit thematic thrusts against the nature of the way business-at-large is conducted.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety

11. Reservoir Dogs (29 lists)

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“A brash, brutal crime-caper film, Reservoir Dogs has enough raw energy for 10 motion pictures and more than enough rough stuff to traumatize the sensitive. But not only does Dogs have teeth, it has brains.” – Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel

10. One False Move (31 lists)

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“The biggest difference between One False Move and most other action films is the sting in its violence. There is so little stylization here — so little gimmickry — that when someone is shot or knifed, you feel it.” – Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel

9. Husbands and Wives (33 lists)

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“What Husbands and Wives argues is that many “rational” relationships are actually not as durable as they seem, because somewhere inside every person is a child crying me! me! me!” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

8. A River Runs Through It (35 lists)

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“Redford and his writer, Richard Friedenberg, understand that most of the events in any life are accidential or arbitrary, especially the crucial ones, and we can exercise little conscious control over our destinies.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

7. Raise the Red Lantern (36 lists)

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“A beautifully crafted and richly detailed feat of consciousness-raising and a serious drama with the verve of a good soap opera.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

6. Aladdin (41 lists)

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“Those of you expecting the comfy family-sedan ride of Beauty and the Beast are in for a shock-the immensely enjoyable Aladdin roars off the Disney production line like the latest-model sports car.” – Ty Burr, Entertainment Weekly

5. The Crying Game (54 lists)

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“Reasons remain to watch this movie: the development of Fergus and the fine performances, most notably Whitaker and Richardson, who plays her character with just the right number of screws loose.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

4. Malcolm X (58 lists)

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“A spiritually enriching testament to the human capacity for change — and surely Spike Lee’s most universally appealing film.” – Rita Kempley, Washington Post

3. Unforgiven (76 lists)

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“This dark, melancholic film is a reminder-never more necessary than now-of what the American cinema is capable of, in the way of expressing a mature, morally complex and challenging view of the world.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

2. The Player (80 lists)

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“Mr. Altman’s most subversive message here is not that it’s possible to get away with murder in Hollywood, but that the most grievous sin, in Hollywood terms anyway, is to make a film that flops.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

1. Howards End (82 lists)

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“The triumph of Howards End is that it doesn’t merely invite us to feel for these characters. With something like grace, it shows us the error and the splendor of their ways.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly