While 1985 was a great year for film (as well as a good year, in general, since that's when I was born), 1993 may give it a run for its money in the realm of HUGE box office hits and memorable films. Schindler's List walked away with a very deserving Best Picture win and a plethora of modern day classics were born. It was a time when grunge was in a neon was on its way out and a time when even a critically lambasted film could still be a moneymaker and a memorable film.
It's hard to really put a list like this together, especially when there are so many options. But, what's even crazier is realizing that all of these films are now TWENTY YEARS OLD!
Here's a look at the Top Ten Films of 1993 (in my opinion):
10. HOMEWARD BOUND: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY
The 80s and 90s were great decades for animal films with classics like The Adventures of Milo and Otis, Free Willy, the Beethoven films, and this incredible journey. Any kid from the 90s will tell you that their idea of friendship and family is thanks to this movie and the incredible, and unlikely, team of Chance, Shadow, and Sassy, a cat and two dogs who embark on an adventure to find their family and home. A remake of the 1963 film The Incredible Journey, based on the book by Sheila Burnford, the film boasts a voice cast featuring Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, and Don Ameche. A big hit when released, with critics and audiences, Homeward Bound raked in over $40 million.
9. THE PIANO
A commercial success, the drama The Piano, stars Holly Hunter as a mute pianist in backwoods New Zealand. Sent to the country after being sold as a bride by her father, she communicates through her piano playing and sign language, with her daughter (Anna Paquin) translating for her. The film was a hit with critics and audiences, scoring over $40 million against a $7 million budget. The film's director, Jane Campion, has gone on to critical acclaim for her stage hits, like the Broadway version of The Lion King. The film won 3 Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Hunter, Best Original Screenplay for Campion, and Best Supporting Actress for Paquin, who was only 11 at the time, making her the second youngest Oscar winner in history.
8. WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE
Just three years after Johnny Depp began his rise to stardom in Edward Scissorhands, he starred in this drama, one of the few non-quirky roles of his colorful career. Set in smalltown Texas, Depp stars as Grape, a young man struggling with life while taking care of his morbidly obese mother and mentally challenged younger brother (Leonardo DiCaprio). Smalltown romances and affairs plague the plot of the film that became a big boost for DiCaprio, who received his first Oscar nomination. While the box office numbers only reached $10 million, it's been a TV and home release staple for years.
7. MRS. DOUBTFIRE
There are a handful of films, despite their quality, that will be considered 90's classics. Mrs. Doubtfire is definitely one of them. Robin Williams stars as a divorcee who loses custody of his children to his ex-wife, played by Sally Field. To make up for the time apart, he dresses up as an old English broad named Mrs. Doubtfire and gets hired as the childrens' nanny. Williams' comedic chops were already popular before this film took off, but thanks to this and Aladdin, he became the standard for comedy in family films. With memorable one-liners and sight gags, Mrs. Doubtfire is one of the most fun movies in modern cinema. American Film Institute named it one of the Top 50 comedies of all time. The film earned over $400 million worldwide.
6. THE FUGITIVE
Harrison Ford capitalized on his action star with this thriller based on the 1960s TV show of the same name. After being convicted for his wife's murder, Richard Kimble (Ford) goes on the run. Tommy Lee Jones stars as the U.S. Marshal in charge of chasing his tail. It was a huge hit when released and spawned a semi-hit sequel. It garnered over $350 million on a somewhat small $40 million budget. Plus, despite its role as an action/thriller, it earned some pretty positive reviews from critics and audiences alike and ended up with multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Jones won his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor thanks to this little gem and Ford continued his box office status for a few more years.
5. THE SANDLOT
Again, another standard from the 90's, and now one of the most classic sports films of all time, The Sandlot was a huge triumph for family films. Set in the summer of 1962, the film follows a group of neighborhood friends who collectively spend their days at the local sandlot playing baseball. When a new kid moves into the neighborhood and doesn't quite fit in, they make it their mission to try and accept him. The movie was a hit partially due to its content, showing kids come of age at a happier time, when you could be outside playing all day and come home for dinner, with no worries at all. From the classic pool scene with Wendy Peffercorn, the hot lifeguard, to the carnival scene where the kids unsuccessfully try their hand at chewing tobacco, The Sandlot is classic, feel good cinema at its best. Bringing in over $30 million, it's become a hit home video release. This is one of those movies that's really an adult movie disguised as a family film. It makes you remember how great it was to be 12 when your biggest responsibility was catching a baseball.
4. DAZED AND CONFUSED
Critics and studios love to throw around the term "cult classic" or "cult favorite" to the point that they've lost some stigma, but a true cult hit is a film or pop culture relic that isn't really a smash when first released but, somehow, rises from the ashes to reach classic status later on. Richard Linklater's coming of age film set in the late 1970s is just that. Featuring a talented cast of virtually unknowns who have all become pretty major Hollywood stars (Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey, Jason London, Renee Zellweger), Dazed and Confused romps through the last day of school and the various teenagers that are standard to high school films (and real life, duh). With it being the 70s, certain extra-curricular activities exist and even the second-hand kind is powerful enough to have an effect. From cruising in the afternoon and spending time at the local diner, it's a classic high school tale of irresponsible fun and the promise of a future to figure things out. Entertainment Weekly named it one of the best high school movies of all time. Quentin Tarantino put it in his Top Ten of all time. It only mustered $8 million upon its release, but it has reached that elusive cult status and even has a Criterion Collection special edition release.
3. GROUNDHOG DAY
Bill Murray has mastered the sarcastic everyman and puts it on full display in the modern day classic Groundhog Day. Murray plays Phil Connors, a disgruntled weatherman put to the task of visiting Punxsutawney, PA for the annual Groundhog Day festivities. After waking up and realizing he's in a sort-of time warp, revisiting the day over and over again, he begins to take advantage of this new life. Andie McDowell co-stars and provides the perfect sideman for Murray's antics. Her southern charm and his brass comedy a perfect mix for the ultimate American comedy. The film has been selected by the National Film Preservation Board to be preserved in the Library of Congress for its cultural and artistic importance. It's not only regarded as one of the best comedies of all time, but has held up over the years to become a film classic.
2. JURASSIC PARK
Steven Spielberg's name has become synonymous with brilliant, edge-of-your-seat, heartwarming/pounding motion pictures thanks to the many classics he's brought to the screen. From E.T. to Jaws and this roaring good time of a movie, he never ceases to amaze audiences in the perfect way. While a few of the effects haven't quite held up over time (teenagers now find some of the dinosaurs too unrealistic), the film itself still makes for quite the fun Saturday afternoon movie. When I first saw it on the big screen as a kid I was half-scared, half-enamored at the lifelike beasts chasing the unsuspecting tourists. It's completely what movies are meant to be. The dazzling spectacles, the symphonic score, the trailblazing effects, these are the things Spielberg goes out of his way to use as an incredible storyteller. No matter what anyone says, the first time you see the T-Rex in its massive size and anger, it's every moviegoers delight. The theme to the film alone has become so well known that it's easily recognizable. I'm not sure how many times I've seen it, but you know it's a classic when it still gets your heart pounding and you still get mad at the fat guy for getting out of his Jeep and you still jump when the power is returned to the power lines. Each and every moment is perfect in the best way possible. Critics and audiences loved this summer film, helping it rake in over $900 million worldwide, spawning two successful sequels with a fourth on the way. This is not just a modern classic, it's a motion picture classic. One of the best of all time.
1. SCHINDLER'S LIST
Spielberg did it again later in the year with this unbelievable force of a film. Schindler's List is heartbreaking and inspiring. Telling the true story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German businessman who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust by hiring them to work in his factories, Schindler's List is one of the most powerful stories to make it on film. Spielberg's ability to tell an incredible story in a unique way is almost too much to bear in a film like this. Shot in black and white (save for a few impacting moments), it's far to real to remember that it's just a film. Each frame has a terrifying realness to it that takes you right into the heart of the Holocaust where you experience the shame and pain of each and every prisoner. Spielberg also gathers an impeccable cast of actors including Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley, who each carry the story of one of the darkest times in the world with such respect that it's hard to look away, even during the most harrowing of scenes. While it's not a movie that people will want to sit and watch over and over again, there's no need to. The images shown are striking enough to stick with you forever. The film was somewhat controversial for its unbelievably realistic portrayals, but still performed well around the world, making over $300 million. It even did great business in Germany. It garnered a number of Oscar nominations and wins, including Best Picture. It remains one of the best made films of all time.
How'd I do with the list? Did I miss anything? Have an idea for a countdown?
Let me know in the comments below!