Avocado Weekly Movie Thread (9/24)

Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread! Talk about movies you’ve seen lately.

Today’s bonus prompt: What is your favorite movie of 1999?

1999 was supposed to be the year of Star Wars. It still was: the release of The Phantom Menace guaranteed that the franchise, which had laid dormant for most of the late 80-late 90’s except in book form was once again a major motion picture force. (No pun intended.) It turned out, though, that it would share the science fiction stage limelight… one of them being an R-rated cyberpunk adventure and the other being a parody of its cultural rival, Star Trek.

I’ve generally be steering clear of celebrating the 20th anniversaries of movies released in 1999 because Vector Prime has got a lot of that covered in the excellent Millennial Malaise series. It strikes me how, specifically, the movies released in 1999 were a great reflection of the decade. When I browse the movies reviewed, I am struck by how many culturally impactful movies were released that year.

You got the intersection of toxic masculinity with fascism in the cult favorite Fight Club, while other cult favorite Office Space would touch on the same themes but with much more flair. The Academy Award that year went to American Beauty, a look at the insidiousness of suburban life. (A commenter pointed out that this was the first winner in a while that wasn’t a period piece.) Being John Malkovich and Election looked at the flawed humanity behind existential angst. Kevin Smith, meanwhile, applied a larger budget and a bigger name cast to create a magical realism parable with Dogma.

And of course… The Matrix.

Already, 1999 looks to be a legendary year for film.

Beyond that, a surprise hit would get critics excited that a new Spielberg had emerged. M. Night Shyamalan shocked box office prognosticators by directing The Sixth Sense, the second highest grossing film of the year (only behind The Phantom Menace). This led to a decades long scrutiny that would lead to “maybe we were wrong about this ‘next Spielberg’ thing” with the double whammy of The Last Airbender and The Happening.

Also a big surprise was another horror movie: The Blair Witch Project, which I discussed recently. It’s amazing that $60K can bring in $250 million and launch an entire new genre.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels introduced the world to two new Hollywood players. Guy Ritchie, in his pre-tabloid days, would establish his cred as the “next Quentin Tarantino.” The movie, though, would also see the debut of one Jason Statham, part of a crop of 2000’s action heroes now that the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were partially retired. Statham would later join those two in The Expendables and utter the immortal words, “I now pronounce you man… and knife.”

Animation would follow a path toward CGI. Disney’s Tarzan followed a familiar formula and was a hit, but in retrospect it would usher the company’s post-Renaissance phase. Meanwhile, Toy Story 2 would cement Pixar’s place as the premier animation studio. It’s easy to forget what a gamble that movie seemed. A sequel for a studio that’s best known for developing original stories? Surely this is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, in the days before the Academy’s Best Animated Movie category would shed light on non-Disney efforts, an animated movie flopped but developed a strong cult following. 1999 also saw the release of The Iron Giant.

Also, for you “cartoons aren’t just for kids anymore” types… 1999 also saw the debut of South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, the highest grossing R-rated animated film until 2016’s Sausage Party.

In the world before Deadpool earned his chops as being a sort of superhero parody, Mystery Men bust out on the scene and took a bite out of superheroes with a distinctly 90’s bent. How did the world forget about The Shoveler? Mr. Furious? The Bowler? And also that this was the movie when we were all introduced to Smash Mouth’s “All Star”?

1999 also saw Stanley Kubrick’s final film (Eyes Wide Shut) as well as a parody that plenty of Trekkies consider is one of the best Star Trek movies of all time (Galaxy Quest). 1999 also saw what was likely the end of Will Smith’s reign as box office champ. Wild Wild West was a flow that stopped the Willennium far too early and ensured that steampunk would never go mainstream. Meanwhile, the year would bite off more than it could chew with one of the Avocado’s favorite all time “so-bad-it’s-good” movies, Deep Blue Sea.

There are plenty more I’m missing, I’m sure. If your favorite movie from 1999 ended up being Teaching Mrs. Tingle, please, feel free to elaborate below!


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