Best of 1998

Shakespeare In Love may have shocked the world when it won the Best Picture Oscar in 1999, but when it came to top 10 lists, it was no competition for Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. 187 lists are included for 1998.

20. A Bug’s Life (21 lists; 1 top spot)

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“Lasseter and Pixar broke new technical and aesthetic ground in the animation field with Toy Story, and here they surpass it in both scope and complexity of movement while telling a story that overlaps Antz in numerous ways.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety

19. The Opposite of Sex (22 lists)

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“This politically incorrect comedy serves up murder, unwanted pregnancy, and other neuroses, all undercut by the acerbic asides of the Lolita-like protag (acidly played by Christina Ricci).” – Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.com

18. Pleasantville (25 lists)

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“An ingenious fable, screenwriter Ross’s directorial debut playfully spoofs the small-minded lifestyle idealised by ‘family values’ advocates, and the intolerance and insecurity underlying that ideal.” – Derek Adams, Time Out

17. Elizabeth (28 lists)

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“Elizabeth is superior historical soap opera that shrewdly sidesteps all the cliches of British costume drama with its bold, often modern approach.” – David Rooney, Variety

16. Buffalo ’66 (30 lists; 2 top spots)

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“Actor Vincent Gallo makes a feature directing debut with this bizarre, self-indulgent tale of a troubled guy, played by him in a narcissistic mode, who has never reconciled his unhappy childhood.” – Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.com

15. Bulworth (32 lists)

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“Bulworth is an angry movie, but Beatty is savvy enough to recognize that people respond better to comedies than serious “issue films,” so he has camouflaged his message beneath the surface of this original, incisive satire.” – James Berarninelli, ReelViews

14. There’s Something About Mary (33 lists; 1 top spot)

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“Remarkable for all the sick and politically incorrect sight gags it gets away with in its rule-breaking romp through the supposedly sacred laws of what makes people laugh, and what doesn’t.” – Andrew Sarris, New York Observer

13. The Celebration (35 lists; 2 top spots)

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“It’s a fine line to walk, that between comedy and misery, but Vinterberg handles the balancing act magnificently.” – Michael Dequina, TheMovieReport.com

12. Rushmore (37 lists; 6 top spots)

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“There’s a danger of overselling Anderson’s sweet-hearted, loony little fantasy, but everything — from the soundtrack of ’60s Brit bands with their jangly anthems of angsty love to Robert Yeoman’s slightly hyper-real photography — fits perfectly.” – Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

11. The Thin Red Line (38 lists; 4 top spots)

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“At two hours and 45 minutes, The Thin Red Line gives ample evidence of suffering all manner of cuts, if not having been simply hacked into its final shape. But this violence only adds to the movie’s brave, strange, eroded nobility.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice

10. Fireworks (38 lists; 7 top spots)

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“Kitano makes static, understated movies about existences wasted, and rediscovering the joy of being, for a brief time, alive…. Violence comes in sudden bursts, as a shocking interruption.” – Carlo Cavagna, AboutFilm.com

9. A Simple Plan (46 lists; 1 top spot)

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“As straightforward in narrative as it is gut-wrenching in effect, A Simple Plan is a sort of slow-motion skid down an icy blacktop- it’s a movie you watch with a mounting sense of dread.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice

7. Gods and Monsters (49 lists; 4 top spots)

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“An example of a reasonably challenging film that doesn’t really accomplish what it sets out to do, but is nevertheless thoughtfully-conceived and contains a couple of highly enjoyable performances that keep it afloat.” – Paul Tatara, CNN.com

7. Life is Beautiful (49 lists; 4 top spots)

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“In the real death camps there would be no role for Guido. But Life Is Beautiful is not about Nazis and Fascists, but about the human spirit.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

6. Out of Sight (57 lists; 1 top spot)

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“Clooney is the most impressive he’s been on film. Jack Foley feels real, not like some Hollywood improvisation. Foley is charming, handsome, graceful, cultured, energetic and disciplined. He just can’t stop committing crimes.” – Stephen Hunter, Washington Post

5. Happiness (61 lists; 9 top spots)

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“I, for one, would be thrilled to see Solondz’s heart open in his future work. But it would be a mistake to flinch from the greatness of Happiness in the meantime.” – Jonathan Lethem, Salon.com

4. The Butcher Boy (62 lists; 7 top spots)

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“Neil Jordan’s most accomplished and brilliant film to date, Butcher Boy is satisfying as faithful literary adaptation and inense cinematic experience that brings to mind in theme Kubrick’s equally brilliant Clockwork Orange.” – Emanuel Levy, Variety

3. Shakespeare In Love (79 lists; 3 top spots)

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“Scene after scene engages us as cheerful groundlings, tosses us jokes, toys with our expectations, then sweeps away the boundaries between film and stage, comedy and tragedy so we’re open to the power of language and the feelings behind it.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

2. The Truman Show (94 lists; 10 top spots)

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“The Truman Show will probably be the most thought-provoking “big” movie to come out this summer, and that says a whole lot more about other movies than it does about this one. You should, however, see it for Carrey’s newly unveiled charms.” – Paul Tatara, CNN.com

1. Saving Private Ryan (101 lists; 33 top spots)

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“Using the overpowering techniques of modern film, Steven Spielberg has cut through the glory-tinged gauze that shrouds World War II to reveal its brutal reality, creating a phenomenology of violence unsurpassed in the history of cinema.” – Gary Kamiya, Salon.com