Best of 1993

Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Jane Campion’s The Piano battled for the top spot in 1993.  In Patrick McGilligan and Mark Rowland’s wonderful poll, The Piano edged out Schindler’s List by landing on 86 of the 107 lists.

The Piano also edged out Schindler’s List in the 131 critics’ lists that I was able to find.  Below are the top 25.

25. A Bronx Tale (14 lists; 1 top spot)

a bronx tale

“De Niro’s feature directorial debut is not a second-tier Scorsese film. Though telling a familiar coming-of-age story, it finds a new angle in depicting the irrational and subconscious origins of racism.” – Emanuel Levy,

24. Searching for Bobby Fischer (15 lists)

Searching for Bobby Fischer

“What Bobby Fischer took away, dashing the hopes and the innocence of his acolytes when he spurned chess, may never truly be recaptured. But some of it has found its way to the screen.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

22. The Nightmare Before Christmas (16 lists)

The Nightmare Before Christmas

“Working with gifted artists and designers, [Burton] has made a world here that is as completely new as the worlds we saw for the first time in such films as Metropolis, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or Star Wars.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

22. The Secret Garden (16 lists)


“Executed to near perfection in all artistic departments, this superior adaptation of the perennial favorite novel will find its core public among girls , but should prove satisfying enough to a range of audiences.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety

21. In the Name of the Father (18 lists)


“In the Name of the Father is a model of this kind of engaged, enraged filmmaking, a politically charged Fugitive that uses one of the most celebrated cases of recent British history to steamroller an audience with the power of rousing, polemical cinema.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

18. Fearless (21 lists)


“Bridges turns in another in what has become an astoundingly long list of brilliant performances. Using the simplest means imaginable, he steps into a role as nonchalantly as he might slip into his trousers.” – Hal Hinson, Washington Post

18. Jurassic Park (21 lists)


“Jurassic Park does for live-action critters what Who Framed Roger Rabbit did for toons. In that sense, it’s a cinematic landmark, but in terms of plot and character, it’s about as well developed as Godzilla.” – Rita Kempley, Washington Post

18. Naked (21 lists)


“Mike Leigh’s Naked is a great one — a film of brutal impact, withering wit and humanity. It deserves one of the highest accolades movies can receive: Seeing it shakes you up, changes your vision.” – Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

17. King of the Hill (21 lists; 1 top spot)


“The film does a lovely job of juxtaposing the sharp contrasts in Aaron’s life, and in marveling at the fact that he survives as buoyantly as he does.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

16. Dazed and Confused (22 lists; 2 top spots)


“Once every decade or so, a movie captures the hormone-drenched, fashion- crazed, pop-song-driven rituals of American youth culture with such loving authenticity that it comes to seem a kind of anthem.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

15. True Romance (22 lists; 4 top spots)


“If shoot-’em-up, gobble-’em-down movies like The Fugitive and Jurassic Park are rated PG-13 these days, what does an R-rated action adventure look like? Like True Romance: violent to a fault, glam to the max.” – Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

14. Philadelphia (24 lists; 1 top spot)


“[An] extremely well-made message picture about tolerance, justice and discrimination is pitched at mainstream audiences, befitting its position as the first major Hollywood film to directly tackle the disease.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety

13. Menace II Society (28 lists; 1 top spot)

menace-6“Anyone who views this film thoughtfully must ask why our society makes guns easier to obtain and use than does any other country in the civilized world. And that is only the most obvious of the many questions the film inspires.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

12. Like Water For Chocolate (29 lists; 1 top spot)like_water_forchocolate“The food scenes in this Mexican fable are just as sumptuous and appetizing as those in Denmark’s Oscar-winning Babette’s Feast, excpet they have an extra-erotic and surreal appeal due to masterful cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki and Steve Bernstein” – Emanuel Levy,

11. Groundhog Day (30 lists; 1 top spot)

gd1“Groundhog Day may not be the funniest collaboration between Bill Murray and director Harold Ramis… Yet this gentle, small-scale effort is easily the most endearing film of both men’s careers, a sweet and amusing surprise package.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

10. In the Line of Fire (36 lists; 2 top spots)


“The movie has a clear, simple thriller logic that’s far more satisfying than the static variations-on-a-massacre construction of Eastwood’s Dirty Harry pictures and spaghetti Westerns.” – Terrence Rafferty, New Yorker

8. Farewell My Concubine (38 lists)

fijhsjjoouognr_1_a“The scenes in the Peking Opera School, where boys are caned for doing wrong or right, are no less horrifying than the later tableaus of public humiliation at the hands of the Maoists.” – Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

8. The Joy Luck Club (38 lists)

maxresdefault“Four different actresses play the aunties in their youth, which sometimes keeps us struggling to keep the stories straight. That we do is a tribute to the power of Tan’s theme about the miscommunication that separates one generation from another.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

7. Much Ado About Nothing (40 lists)

maxresdefault1“[Branagh] has found his way to the play’s profound yet populist heart, rediscovering Shakespeare’s vision of romantic fulfillment – celebration with an underlying tug of sadness – for an era that believes itself all too wise to the ways of love.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

6. The Fugitive (47 lists; 1 top spot)

harrison-ford-fugitive_0“It’s a pleasure to find a thriller fulfilling its duties with such gusto: the emotions ring solid, the script finds time to relax into backchat, and for once the stunts look like acts of desperation rather than shows of prowess.” – Anthony Lane, New Yorker

5. Short Cuts (60 lists; 5 top spots)

lily-tomlin-and-danny-darst-in-short-cuts-1993“It’s a funny/scary vision, with a manic edge — which is why, when you come down from the high of the filmmaking, you may be left with the taste of ashes in your mouth. Altman’s artistry can make you happy even when his art offers cold comfort.” – David Ansen, Newsweek

4. The Remains of the Day (62 lists; 2 top spots)

the-remains-of-the-day-original“Here’s a film for adults. It’s also about time to recognize that Mr. Ivory is one of our finest directors, something that critics tend to overlook because most of his films have been literary adaptations.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

3. The Age of Innocence (68 lists; 13 top spots)

still-of-michelle-pfeiffer-and-daniel-day-lewis-in-the-age-of-innocence-1993-large-picture“Mr. Scorsese has made a big, intelligent movie that functions as if it were a window on a world he had just discovered, and about which he can’t wait to spread the news.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times\

2. Schindler’s List (84 lists; 35 top spots)

schindlers-list“With seemingly effortless grace and skill, Schindler’s List balances fear and exaltation, humor and horror, love and death. It evokes, superbly, a time of savagery and grief, and the inexplicable, stunning compassion that rises within and against it.” – Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

1. The Piano (91 lists; 23 top spots)

41_thepiano“Sweetie and An Angel at My Table have taught us to expect startling as well as beautiful things from Jane Campion, and this assured and provocative third feature (1993) offers yet another lush parable.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader



Mark Rowland and Patrick McGilligan Poll:

18. Jurassic Park (18 lists), 17. Ruby in Paradise (19), 15. Fearless (20), 15. Philadelphia (20),  13. Groundhog Day (21), 13. King of the Hill (21), 12. The Joy Luck Club (25), 11. Menace II Society (26), 9. In the Line of Fire (29), 9. Like Water for Chocolate (29), 8. Farewell My Concubine (36), 7. The Fugitive (38), 6. Much Ado About Nothing (39), 5. The Remains of the Day (53), 4. The Age of Innocence (54), 3. Short Cuts (57), 2. Schindler’s List (76), 1. The Piano (86)