1995 Ten Best Movies

beforesunriseposterNot a powerhouse year for big, heavyweight contenders — in fact, most of the movies on my list are noticeably lacking in aggression. The #1 is a soft, lyrical film that has quietly moved its way up the ranks over the years (maybe helped by inspiring one of the better sequels of recent memory). Time does its thing with lists; I had Leaving Las Vegas ranked high on a 1995 Ten Best list for Film Comment, but the movie hasn’t aged as well as some of the other items here, and so other movies began to climb.

Having just re-viewed Safe this week, I remain steadfast in thinking this is the movie where Todd Haynes put it together and created a sustained, Kubrickian vibe for an entire film. And Seven and Heat are examples of American stylists working in suitable modes, with splendid results. The most significant title of the year might be Toy Story, which ushered in a new realm of animation and introduced John Lasseter and Pixar as the people who could save Hollywood.

I wrote about my #1 film in Film Comment in ’95, and I would re-print that article if my thumb weren’t broken. Typing is a challenge. But here’s the ten best of 1995.

1. Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater)

2. Safe (Todd Haynes)

3. Toy Story (John Lasseter)

4. Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee) and Persuasion (Roger Michell)

5. Seven (David Fincher)

6. Smoke (Wayne Wang)

7. Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai)

8. The White Balloon (Jafar Panahi)

9. The Young Poisoner’s Handbook (Benjamin Ross)

10. Heat (Michael Mann)

Just missing is The Bridges of Madison County, a movie that really is sooo much better than its source novel. Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days ought to be on there too, but I couldn’t deny a spot to The Young Poisoner’s Handbook, a striking movie with a great soundtrack and a standout performance by Hugh O’Conor.

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3 Responses

  1. This is a great list. I’ve never seen Bridges; I was turned off by the source novel, but agree strongly about Before Sunrise, Smoke, and Strange Days, which all are incredibly smart films. Strange Days, in particular, seems almost prophetic.

  2. 1995 was one of the watershed years for me in film.

    For me in order:

    Casino, Heat, Seven, The Kingdom, Leaving Las Vegas, Funny Bones, The Day the Sun Turned Cold, Shanghai Triad, Strange Days, Arizona Dream, Kicking and Screaming.

    • I love The Kingdom too, but it falls into the 1994 list for me. And good call on Kicking and Screaming, which is a film that seems to mean a lot to people of a certain age. But Casino…nope, I could never find a way into that one, although Scorsese’s use of narration was interesting at first.

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