A Decade in Film: 1991


1991.  I was a dorky Junior in high school, listening to nothing but film scores and Public Enemy while reading whatever screenplays I could afford from Pix Poster Cellar in Cambridge, MA.  Ooh, and I got my first laserdisc player!  

A chronological list of releases can be found here.

1) Best of 1991 or top five?
2) Most disappointing of 1991 (or bottom five if you want to go that route)?
3) Most underrated or underseen? (Example: “reviews weren’t great, but it’s genius because) OR (“No one saw it, but this is why they should…”)
4) Favorite performance(s) of the year?
5) Favorite scene/sequence of the year?
6) Most memorable (good or bad) theatergoing experience of the year?
7) Most influential film/performance/style/director?

Obviously feel free to answer only the questions you’re interested in or to write/respond to something else entirely. The lists themselves are just a starting point to foster discussion.


14 responses »

  1. Real quick: I’ve noticed a few errors on that release list already (Blood & Concrete wasn’t released until early 1992 and China Moon didn’t hit theaters until late 93 or 94 thanks to Orion’s bankruptcy). Still, it appears mostly accurate.

  2. Without looking at the release list yet I’m sure Silence of the Lambs was my favorite film that year–it’s one of the few times my favorite film of the year was also the Academy’s.

  3. 1) This is an interesting to me: while there were many films I enjoyed upon release – there are only a handful I would actually watch today:
    The Silence of the Lambs, Barton Fink, Soapdish, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Hudson Hawk (no, I’m not joking) and The Addams Family.

    At the time, I also enjoyed Beauty & The Beast, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Bugsy, Cape Fear, Career Opportunities, Deceived, The Doors (yeesh), F/X2, The Fisher King, The Hard Way, The Last Boy Scout, The Naked Gun 2 1/2, New Jack City, Out for Justice (insanely bad, but fun) Terminator 2, Truth or Dare, Ricochet and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I don’t think I’ve seen any of those films in their entirety since mid 90’s.

    2) Most disappointing: Highlander 2: The Quickening.

    3) Most underrated: Soapdish, despite underperforming at the box office, really is a comedy classic. Scenes from a Mall isn’t bad at all.

    4) Favorite performance: Hopkins, Foster in Silence of the Lambs. Goodman and Turturo in Fink. Raul Julia and Angelica Houston in The Addams Family. Michael Jeter in The Fisher King. William Sadler in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

    5) Favorite scene/sequence: 1) The big rig chase in Terminator 2 2) Jennifer Connelly rides a mechanical horse in Career Opportunities

    6) Attending a sold out Midnight opening show of Terminator 2, the quintessential Summer movie.

    7) Terminator 2 ushered in the age of CGI-heavy blockbusters.

  4. 6.) In a packed theater for Terminator 2, during the rig chase, my cousin Mark casually said: “I wonder if he had to go to truck driving school for that.” and I’ve never forgotten how funny that struck me as being.

    How the hell is Terminator 2 in your ‘afterthought’ list? I don’t understand any of you.

  5. It’s just not a movie I’ve had much desire to revisit over the years. I like it, but I wouldn’t watch it if it were on Cable unless it was the truck sequence or the final office building shoot-out/helicopter/liquid nitrogen truck chase.

    And really: other than Aliens and True Lies, there aren’t any Cameron films I re-watch.

  6. I remember an article written about this year titled ‘ho hum Hollywood’ and what a dreary year it was. Looking back, the quality wasn’t particularly high as evidenced by the likes of The Prince Of Tides & Bugsy (neither with significant reputations today) being Best Picture nominees.

    Virtually all of these I haven’t seen in a decade or more so going largely off memory.

    Best: Terminator 2, What About Bob?, L.A. Story, The Addams Family, Cape Fear, Barton Fink

    Disappointing/Worst: Drop Dead Fred, Scenes From A Mall, Hudson Hawk, Life Stinks (Brooks’ film being sandwiched by Naked Gun & Hot Shots probably underlined how outdated he was).

    But the worst was ‘Shakes The Clown’ – it was so bad it was one of the very few occasions of a film I rented which I stopped watching before the end. Maybe I would like it more now but I doubt it.

    Underrated: The Martin Short/Danny Glover film ‘Pure Luck’ is totally forgotten today but I saw it at the cinema and still have fairly fond memories of it. It was the failed attempt of Oz director Nadia Tass to break into Hollywood and while it isn’t completely successful some of the charm in her Oz successes came through in this film. Also, the central concept of finding someone with chronic bad luck with someone with similar chronic bad luck was a great concept

    Overrated: Thelma & Louise, Defending Your Life

    Also, Michael Lehmann’s ‘Meet The Applegates’ almost got as bad a reception as ‘Hudson Hawk’ did (has any director had a worse year in recent times?) but I didn’t think it was that bad, as long as you were on its wavelength.

  7. Oh, man, we are perilously close to the Number 1 film ever made, the story behind its genesis and the story behind the story of watching it in the theater. It’s not that big a deal, but I love the film and can’t wait to talk about it.

  8. Ahhh…the year of Oscar, a movie I watched in the theater and then at least twenty times on home video. Man, did I love when Palmienteri said “Aw, you oughtn’t oughta said that.” (I’m paraphrasing). Landis could do no wrong at that point.

  9. I used to practice my editing at school by taking VHS movies and using A-B roll machines to edit them to music. Backdraft was one of the movies I did, and one I’m most proud of. (I wish I could find those vhs tapes. I edited it to Welcome to the Jungle, I believe.

    Robin Hood Prince of Thieves was my most memorable movie-going experience. It was my junior year at school and my best friend Vince was going to go on some stupid train ride for his graduation and he didn’t want to go on it alone and it was stupid but I think it was mandatory and all I wanted to do was go see Robin Hood. It was a perfect summer night, the kind of night I used to love to go to movies so when you came out of that other world of the movies, you step back into a warm, inviting summer of your world and it’s a magical thing the movies can do and I went on the stupid train ride instead and had to wait another two weeks to see it.

    I used to sing along with Hudson Hawk. “Or would you like to be a pig,” indeed. Willis could do no wrong at that point in my life.

    That was also the year of Boyz N the Hood. Looking back, it’s a remarkably amateur movie with the heart of something twice its age.

    Point Break. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t want to be Johnny Utah.

    And if I’m not mistaken, that was a huge Van Damme year. I can’t say how many times we went to a Van Damme movie those years and then came back to Vinnie’s garage and tried to emulate the moves we saw in his movies.

    Billy Bathgate is a minor masterpiece, and severely underrated. The ending gets me every time, and I used to pause Kidman’s ‘naked swim’.

    Beauty and the Beast was on constant repeat. (Yeah, I was unaware of a lot of signs back then).

    The Last Boy Scout couldn’t sate my action hunger any better. Bruce WIllis? Shane Black? Tony Scott? Yes, please.

    I wore out the JFK double videotape and cut the VHS box and put it flat on my wall. That movie is also a minor masterpiece of direction and acting and cinematography. And Stone could do no wrong at that point for me.

    I need to revisit a lot of these movies, but I really saw them so many times, I don’t have to.

  10. Oh, man, we are perilously close to the Number 1 film ever made, the story behind its genesis and the story behind the story of watching it in the theater. It’s not that big a deal, but I love the film and can’t wait to talk about it.

    Yep, we’re only a few lists away from being able to discuss Congo in more detail.

  11. Thanks for the opportunity to get nostalgic on these posts, James. There was nothing like moviegoing in the ’90’s. Nothing. Except maybe a good mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich when the mutton is sliced just right.

  12. Robin Hood blew chunks. Costner had a terrible English accent, and it got howls in England when he walked a short way from Dover and reached the Hadrian Wall, which is several hundred miles away.

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