Remembering My First 20 Years with IMDb

I forced myself to pick a favorite, representative movie from each of the last twenty years that I have spent with IMDb. Some of the choices here are not particularly controversial, but others may surprise you.
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Misery (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse. (107 mins.)
Director: Rob Reiner
“ The amazing performances by Kathy Bates and James Caan highlight this Stephen King adaptation. It was one of the first films of these two decades that got me started on following the various awards for cinema. "Goodfellas" was the better film that year but not a film I appreciated (or maybe even saw) at the time. Honorable mention: "Flatliners", "The Hunt for Red October", and "Quick Change" (great heist comedy with Bill Murray). ” - Markus Laine
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims. (118 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
“ Concensus pick for best you-name-it of the year. ” - Markus Laine
Singles (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A group of twenty-something friends, most of whom live in the same apartment complex, search for love and success in grunge-era Seattle. (99 mins.)
Director: Cameron Crowe
“ From this year, "Singles" is the movie from which I have gotten the most mileage, with "A Few Good Men" coming a close second (and probably the better movie in the grand scheme of things). Several honorable mentions: "Hard Boiled" (John Woo upped the adrenaline a notch from the ridiculous action hit "The Killer"), "Reservoir Dogs" (Hello Mr. Tarantino), "Scent of a Woman" (personally I still think this was Pacino's finest, perhaps slightly over-the-top performance), and "Sneakers" (exceptional cast, loads of fun). ” - Markus Laine
Groundhog Day (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A weatherman finds himself inexplicably living the same day over and over again. (101 mins.)
Director: Harold Ramis
“ Among the many fines films of 1993, "Groundhog Day" stands out as a movie that I enjoy today as much as I enjoyed back then. Several honorable mentions: "Dazed and Confused" (possibly the best film of that year), "Jurassic Park" (not the greatest of films but definitely a gamechanger for special effects), "Searching for Bobby Fischer", and "The Remains of the Day" (last great Merchant-Ivory production). ” - Markus Laine
Pulp Fiction (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. (154 mins.)
“ 1994 produced three of the best films of the decade: "Forrest Gump", "Pulp Fiction", and "The Shawshank Redemption" (the best picture - which was clearly not marketed well, since I barely saw it before the eve of the Academy Awards in 1995 versus the six times that I saw "Pulp Fiction" in a theater). Year also included: "Barcelona" (my favorite Whit Stillman film), "Heavenly Creatures" (first polished Peter Jackson effort), "Hoop Dreams", "Leon the Professional", and "The Last Seduction" (my favorite John Dahl film - for which Linda Fiorentino was not even nominated and probably should have won). ” - Markus Laine
The Usual Suspects (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup. (106 mins.)
Director: Bryan Singer
“ A second amazing year for films. "The Usual Suspects" definitely left the most enduring impression on me, but I could have picked any of these films to share in the top prize: "Braveheart" (return of the historic blockbuster epic - Mel's finest moment perhaps), "Casino", "Get Shorty", "Heat", "Se7en", "Sense and Sensibility", "The American President", and "Twelve Monkeys"... Yet hands down my favorite production for 1995 is actually the "Pride and Prejudice" mini-series. ” - Markus Laine
Trainspotting (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends. (94 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ Not quite as strong a year, but 1996 did have its share of great films. "Trainspotting" was the start of something else: it combined great acting, frenetic soundtrack, infused humor into an otherwise bleak existence, and catapulted careers. Honorable mentions: "Fargo", "Jerry Maguire", "Lone Star" (I have been a John Sayles follower ever since), and "The Rock" (*the* action blockbuster that year). ” - Markus Laine
Contact (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of intelligent aliens, who send plans for a mysterious machine. (150 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
“ "Contact" is a film that I have watched many times since the time it came out. Honorable mention: "L.A. Confidential" (perhaps the best film from that year), "Starship Troopers", and "The Game" (if there were a decent DVD release for this film, I might even rank it higher). ” - Markus Laine
Out of Sight (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A career bank robber breaks out of jail, and shares a moment of mutual attraction with a U.S. Marshal he has kidnapped. (123 mins.)
“ At the time "Saving Private Ryan" and "Shakespeare in Love" competed in my mind during the awards season, but "Out of Sight" was an amazing collaboration between Soderbergh and his actors: Clooney and J. Lo at their best with great support from Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, and Steve Zahn. Honorable mentions: "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", "The Last Days of Disco", "The Truman Show" (a movie before its Reality TV time), and "There's Something About Mary". ” - Markus Laine
Fight Club (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more. (139 mins.)
Director: David Fincher
“ 1999 marked a new beginning for me: end of school, start of career. David Fincher already had a brilliant body of work, but this one really punched its way through. Honorable mentions: "American Beauty" (a deserving Best Picture winner), "Magnolia" (one of the finest motion pictures of all time - but one I discovered years later), and "The Matrix" (another gamechanger in the special effects era). ” - Markus Laine
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a man mysterious past in the frontier of the nation. (120 mins.)
Director: Ang Lee
“ Ang Lee & Co. helped reintroduce the martial arts epic to the world stage with this beautifully crafted tale. Honorable mention: "Gladiator" (strong epic all around), "High Fidelity" (John Cusack's finest moment perhaps), "Memento" (possibly the best film of the year and definitely a sign of things to come for Christopher Nolan), and "Traffic" (it pains me to watch this movie; it is just that powerful). ” - Markus Laine
Amélie (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love. (122 mins.)
“ My favorite romantic film of all time. It is incredibly unique and charming in all respects. 2001 markeed the year of some incredible television with the start of "24" and the British version of "The Office". "Band of Brothers" was probably the finest piece of film making that year (aside from my "Amelie" pick). Honorable mentions: "Black Hawk Down" (another difficult-to-watch war epic), "Donnie Darko" (Richard Kelly has a knack for the most amazing, incomplete, subject-to-interpretation films of our time), "Gosford Park", "Spirited Away", and the start of the Harry Potter saga. "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is my favorite piece of literature and film but only as a whole and not the individual pieces (perhaps also why only one of the films ultimately won the Best Picture award). ” - Markus Laine
City of God (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. (130 mins.)
“ Not the strongest of years, I have to admit. "City of God" would have been a strong choice any year but definitely a hands down favorite this year. Honorable mentions: "Minority Report" and "Spider-Man" (possibly hurt by its sequels). ” - Markus Laine
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate "Captain" Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor's daughter, from Jack's former pirate allies, who are now undead. (143 mins.)
Director: Gore Verbinski
“ Another relatively weak year. For me, "Pirates of the Caribbean" was a surprise hit. The initial previews seemed silly at the time - I mean, c'mon, skeletal pirates?! But when all was said and done, I was lobbying Johnny Depp for a Best Actor award. ” - Markus Laine
Crash (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption. (112 mins.)
Director: Paul Haggis
“ A third weak year in a row. "Crash" is the strongest candidate for best film, and I am by no means disappointed that it won the award. Honorable mentions: "District B13" (not a great film but a great introduction to the world of parkour), "Fahrenheit 9/11" (depending on which side of the aisle you sit, I suppose), "Hotel Rwanda", "Man on Fire", and "National Treasure" (relatively harmless blockbuster which I have come to enjoy in subsequent years). ” - Markus Laine
Sin City (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A film that explores the dark and miserable town, Basin City, and tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption. (124 mins.)
“ Fourth weak year? "Sin City" was another gamechanger in terms of film presentation but had several interesting plots and solid, over-the-top performances. Honorable mentions: "Batman Begins", "Match Point", and "Walk the Line". Peter Jackson's "King Kong" was probably as good as the original, but it did not bring anything new to the table. ” - Markus Laine
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Kazakh TV talking head Borat is dispatched to the United States to report on the greatest country in the world. With a documentary crew in tow, Borat becomes more interested in locating and marrying Pamela Anderson. (84 mins.)
Director: Larry Charles
“ 2006 actually had many outstanding films, but I opted to pick the most outrageous film of the lot, as it probably had the greatest impact on popular culture than any of its peers. Honorable mentions: "Casino Royale" (although I enjoyed Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig brought a fresh outlook to 007 - my only gripe was the loss of the theme music from the key action sequences), "The Lives of Others" (possibly the best movie of the year), "Inside Man" (atypical Spike Lee offering), "Little Children", "The Prestige", and "V for Vendetta". ” - Markus Laine
Into the Wild (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life. (148 mins.)
Director: Sean Penn
“ Not the strongest of years, but several smaller films did make a splash, including the eventual Best Picture winner "No Country for Old Men". "Into the Wild" is definitely a dark horse among the other films on this list. I remembering sitting down to watch it late on a weekday night with low expectations, fully expectating to dose off at some point. Instead I was taken on an incredible journey. Other small hits from the year: "Gone Baby Gone" and "Juno." "The Bourne Ultimatum" was an amazing thrill ride, putting the James Bond franchise on notice. ” - Markus Laine
The Dark Knight (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.0/10 X  
When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the Dark Knight must come to terms with one of the greatest psychological tests of his ability to fight injustice. (152 mins.)
“ "The Dark Knight" was much more than just a comic book movie with its dark themes and heavy outcomes. Honorable mentions: "Gran Torino", "Iron Man" (a much lighter superhero film), "Slumdog Millionaire" (is there a genre where Danny Boyle will not succeed?), and my guilty pleasure "Twilight" (decidedly not a great film or great acting but it does have an entertaining quality to it that I cannot quite define). ” - Markus Laine
The Hangover (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding. (100 mins.)
Director: Todd Phillips
“ "The Hangover" really surprised me. It was a comedy that worked on many levels with a cast of relative newcomers and fresh spin on an old formula. Honorable mentions: "Avatar" (gamechanger in terms of film technology), "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (just saw this in 2010 but I now understand the hype), "Star Trek" (decent reboot to the franchise), and "Watchmen" (it met most of my high expectations). ” - Markus Laine
Inception (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
A thief, who steals corporate secrets through use of dream-sharing technology, is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. (148 mins.)
“ The year is not over yet, but "Inception" is the current champion. I did enjoy "Scott Pilgrim vs the World" but on a completely different level. ” - Markus Laine