Best of 1999

1999 is often considered a landmark year for films, and looking at this list, it’s no wonder why.

American Beauty won the Best Picture Oscar in 1999 and also appeared at the top of more lists than any other film.  However, Being John Malkovich received more universal acclaim and appeared on more lists than any other film.  240 lists were included in 1999.

20. The Sixth Sense (45 lists; 1 top spot)


“Like Kieslowski and others, Shyamalan knows that what makes for lousy metaphysics can make for powerful metaphor, and in the end he creates a deeply, surprisingly affecting film out of a little bit of smoke and brimstone.” – Keith Phipps, AV Club

19. Fight Club (45 lists; 5 top spots)


“It is working American Beauty-Susan Faludi territory, that illiberal, impious, inarticulate fringe that threatens the smug American center with an anger that cannot explain itself, can act out its frustrations only in inexplicable violence.” – Richard Schickel, Time Magazine

18. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (47 lists; 7 top spots)


“After Big Daddy, it’s almost heartening to see a movie that’s not afraid to be upfront about its coarseness, one that doesn’t smother its very reason for being with hypocritical sentimentality.” – Mike Clark, USA Today

17. The Talented Mr. Ripley (48 lists; 1 top spot)


“Not only is it an elegantly polished affair, with top notch performances all round, and magnificent camerawork and editing, it’s also acutely aware of how class, money and sex shape desire and resentment.” – Geoff Andrew

16. The Blair Witch Project (48 lists; 2 top spots)


“At a time when digital techniques can show us almost anything, The Blair Witch Project is a reminder that what really scares us is the stuff we can’t see. The noise in the dark is almost always scarier than what makes the noise in the dark.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

15. The Matrix (49 lists; 2 top spots)


“The Wachowskis and cinematographer Bill Pope take advantage of currently available technical trickery to create visually distinct levels of reality while setting high-speed cameras in motion to make the action sequences particularly dynamic and fluid.” – Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune

14. Run Lola Run (51 lists; 1 top spot)


“It’s a furiously kinetic display of pyrotechnics from the director Tom Tykwer, who fuses lightning-fast visual tricks, tirelessly shifting styles and the arbitrary possibilities of interactive storytelling…” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

13. Eyes Wide Shut (51 lists; 9 top spots)


“From the already famous ‘mirror’ love scene, played with a carnal sweetness that’s rare in the brittle, cynical sexuality of film today, to the anger, fear and pain of their final confrontation, Cruise and Kidman are open and touching.” – Jack Kroll, Newsweek

12. Topsy-Turvey (56 lists; 8 top spots)


“Leigh’s cast are beyond compare, and the whole bighearted, splendidly droll celebration of the entertainer’s lot surely stands among British cinema’s one-of-a-kind treasures.” – Trevor Johnston, Time Out

11. The Limey (57 lists)


“The crimer suffers from a slim, underdeveloped script by Lem Dobbs (who also write Kafka), but benefits from Soderbergh’s astute direction that posits two 1960s cinematic icons, Brit Terrence Stamp and American Peter Fonda as long-time enemies.” – Emanuel Levy, Variety

10. Magnolia (59 lists; 10 top spots)


“Magnolia is the kind of film I instinctively respond to. Leave logic at the door. Do not expect subdued taste and restraint, but instead a kind of operatic ecstasy.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

9. All About My Mother (62 lists; 8 top spots)


“All About My Mother is the achieved synthesis of the whole Almodovariety show, a new genre — part farce, part weepie, low camp and high melodrama, caustic yet heartwarming, humanist and programmatically gender-blurring.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice

8. Toy Story 2 (65 lists; 6 top spots)


“Pixar, the animation studio that teamed with Disney for both movies, has broken technological ground since the first Toy Story, and TS2 shows off its newest expertise with one smart visual joke after another.” – Jami Bernard, New York Daily News

7. Three Kings (69 lists; 5 top spots)


“The first Hollywood feature to take on the 1991 Gulf War, Three Kings does so in an impudently comic, stylistically aggressive and, finally, very thoughtful manner.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety

6. Boys Don’t Cry (71 lists; 2 top spots)


“With its constant juxtaposition of blazing nighttime highwayscapes and the flat Nebraska skyline, Boys Don’t Cry manages to perfectly evoke both a life spent in aimless forward motion and the stifling boredom Brandon was so desperate to escape.” Gemma Files,

5. The Insider (82 lists; 2 top spots)


“What I didn’t expect was an intelligently absorbing entertainment that ran for two hours and 40 minutes, during which I didn’t once look at my watch — just about the highest praise I can bestow upon a film these days.” – Andrew Sarris, New York Observer 

4. The Straight Story (89 lists; 11 top spots)


“The Straight Story is the kind of triumph that most filmmakers as distinctively talented as David Lynch can only dream about.” – Charles Taylor, Salon

3. Election (104 lists; 6 top spots)


“You’ve got to laugh at Witherspoon’s tightly wound Little Miss Perfect, rising at dawn to do her hair and encase herself in a preppy look before baking cupcakes to pass out at school as vote-getters in her campaign for student council president.” – Jay Carr, Boston Globe

2. American Beauty (120 lists; 33 top spots)


“[Beauty] is certainly adept at showing how awful life in the United States is at the moment — and that’s what gives it some bite. But it’s no less adept at taking that awfulness and making it pleasurable to watch — and that’s what makes it entertaining.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

1. Being John Malkovich (141 lists; 12 top spots)


“Mr. Jonze’s film, with a terrific original screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, is not the first to explore the prospect of being able to sneak into the mind of another person. But Mr. Jonze’s version is definitely the most fun.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times