Many experts believe 1939 was film’s finest year. A quick Google search helps make their case. How many of the following movies from that year do you remember? Gone with the Wind (see above) (Oscar for Best Film, and 7 more trophies, and a contender for best line from any film ever: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”), The Wizard of Oz (It’s not Kansas anymore, Toto; it’s Hollywood), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Jimmy Stewart wins over Claude Rains –and, in the future, Bogie wins him over, too –Casablanca), Stagecoach (John Wayne becomes a star), The Man in the Iron Mask (not the Dicaprio version), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone stars before many other actors), Another Thin Man (yes, that’s the title), Of Mice and Men (George and Lennie will be in other films, too), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (“Sanctuary!”), Wuthering Heights (Laurence Olivier as a romantic lead), Gunda Din (with Sam Jaffe –not a romantic lead, but he was a better man than Cary Grant), The Little Princess (obviously, Shirley Temple), Vernon and Irene Castle (played by Fred and Ginger).
OK, so maybe no year is going to beat that lineup. But, in 1993, some fine films first appeared that I hope we can all remember. Especially since it’s each film’s silver (25th) anniversary. Here is a quick recap of some of that year’s best:
Schindler’s List (see above) (Spielberg’s film about a WWII concentration camp with Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley attempting to save as many people as possible: won Best Director, and 6 other Oscars. Was it better than Saving Private Ryan?)
Jurassic Park (The first of how many Park pictures? I can’t keep it straight. Won 3 Oscars and made a lot of money. It was a story about …Oh, come on!)
Mrs. Doubtfire (It won Golden Globes for Robin Williams –1 of his 6, and Best Comedy/Musical picture, plus an Oscar for Make-up. Made $219+ million. Robin’s Oscar was for Good Will Hunting.)
Tombstone (The Earps versus The Cowboys at the O. K. Corral –one of many versions. I like this film best. Why? I think it is the most accurate telling of the tale. Val Kilmer (portraying Doc Holliday) deserved AT LEAST an Oscar Nominaton. It was Kurt Russell’s finest acting job. And when Sam Elliott plays a cowboy: I’m there.)
Dave ( Kevin Kline plays the President and his double, opposite Sigourney Weaver as the White House wife. Very Funny Film. Plus, you learn how a President creates a budget.)
The Fugitive (see above) (Tommie Lee Jones chases Harrison Ford (Dr. Richard Kimble), an accused and convicted escaped murder, through Chicago…catches… and releases him. Jones got Best Supporting Actor; Ford was nominated for Best Actor Oscar –for Witness, 1986.)
Sleepless in Seattle (Won Oscar for Best Script. This was a “preview” for Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan fireworks in a better film “You’ve Got Mail.’ In it, the 2 starred, along with NYC, and a wonderful performance as Tom’s Father, played by Dabney Coleman.)
Philadelphia (Tom Hanks wins his first of 2 consecutive Best Actor Oscars –this film and Forrest “a box of chocolates” Gump –with help from his lawyer, Denzel Washington. Bruce Springsteen sings for his supper and a Best Song Oscar. Hanks’ best acting yet?)
True Romance (True Romance was in 1993 and was a “preview” for a bigger, better film from Quentin Tarantino in 1994: Pulp Fiction. Great script, music, acting. I know Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette played the leads, but don’t ignore work by Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, and the verbal fireworks between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken. Remember their scene together, Walken –in real life—is afraid of guns. Who knew?)
Groundhog Day (see above) (Could this film have been funnier with anyone but Bill Murray? That’s not a serious question. What is your favorite scene? Bill playing the piano at the party, or, Bill giving driving instructions to the chipmonk, or …?)
In the Line of Fire (It got 3 Oscar nominations: script, editing, and John Malkovich playing very bad and very crazy –so what’s new? Eastwood acts, but didn’t direct. It’s Clint versus John for the whole movie. Guess who is standing at the end.)
The Remains of the Day (Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins star and James Ivory directs a personal and interpersonal English drama. For Ivory, “Remains” was sandwiched between “A Room with a View” (1985) and “Call Me by Your Name” (2017). 32 years and 4 Oscar nominations, the last one a winner.)
What’s Love Got to Do with It? (see above) (Ike and Tina Turner were portrayed by Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. Both were nominated for Oscars and gave exceptional performances. Ike was scary and Tina was courageous and talented. Angela Bassett met Tina Turner before filming began so that the singer could see for herself who would be playing her. When Tina appeared, she walked up to Angela, looked her up and down, smiled, and said out loud: “She’s perfect.”)
Both lists of films, from 1939 and 1993, could have more quality films added to them. But for anyone who saw the films on such lists, that person knew their time at the movies was not wasted. I hope we can say the same for every year to come.