10. The Last Seduction (John Dahl)
This pulpy neo-noir made headlines in 1994 when its star Linda Fiorentino earned rave reviews and critics awards for her fierce, darkly humorous and deliciously devious performance of an amoral femme fatale but was disqualified from Oscar consideration due to it airing in pay cable first. It's really too bad. She probably would've won otherwise. Apart from that, this is a shining example of contemporary neo-noir that's seldom made these days.
9. Quiz Show (Robert Redford)
During the 1950's, a scandal broke out that a popular game show of the time, 21, is actually rigged causing widespread disgrace to everyone involved. This film is a fascinating dramatization of the scandal which is not simply a TV-is-bad polemic but rather an all-too human story of the seduction of wealth and fame
8. Bullets Over Broadway (Woody Allen)
After the gigantic scandal that threatened his film career, Woody Allen bounced back with this delightfully funny tale about a wannabe playwright trying to get his hacky play on, what else, Broadway with the help of mobsters. The great ensemble have a great time with their showy roles especially Dianne Wiest who won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actress for this.
7. Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson)
Before he wowed the world with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson and his team disturbed and shocked the cineaste community with this film, shockingly based on a true story, about two teenage girls whose obsessive, unhealthy friendship would lead to them murdering one of their mothers. The film introduced the world to Kate Winslet who pretty shot to superstardom within a year of this film. Apart from the disturbing storyline, it's also erotic and visually dazzling.
6. Wild Reeds (Andre Techine)
This film is a wonderful, happy discovery of mine. It's a coming-of-age tale between three older teens, two boys and a girl. Two boys experiment sexually one night and makes one of them realize his homosexuality. But then a girl comes in and the other boy falls in love with her not knowing that the other boy is in love with him. It's lovingly made with fine performances by the three leads.
5. Ed Wood (Tim Burton)
This is a biopic on who many critics and film historians call the "worst director ever", Edward D. Wood Jr. who made some outrageously bad films in his infamous career. So bad, they have earned a strong cult following among genre fans and film fans in general. Director Tim Burton is one of them. He crafted this funny, biting and yet loving film about a man who just loves to make films. Johnny Depp gives one of his career-best performances here but Martin Landau won an Oscar for his great performance as Bela Lugosi.
4. The Lion King (Rob Minkoff & Roger Allers)
From the incredible "Circle of Life" sequence which frankly gave me goosebumps when I first saw it in a theater, and all throughout this Hamlet-esque tale set in the animal kingdom of the African Savannah, this is one of my favorites. It features some great songs by Elton John and Tim Rice. It is one of the highlights of Disney's second Golden Age during the late '80s, early '90s.
3. Hoop Dreams (Steve James)
I hate sports. It's the reason why I kept hesitating watching this film for a while. The sound of it didn't at all sound that appealing to me. It's a three-hour documentary about two boys from the 'hood trying to realize their dream of playing in the NBA. But it's not about basketball at all. It's an emotionally engaging film full of heart about two boys struggling to find their place in the world and trying to make their dreams come true. You need not be a jock to be able to relate to it. It's a documentary, yes, but it pretty much outdoes most other sports films in terms of heart and inspiration.
2. Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The third and final film on co-writer and director Krzysztof Kieslowki's masterful Three Colors trilogy. This one is about a fashion model who befriends an old man who listens into his neighbor's conversations. The film is actually far more emotionally and intellectually engaging than it sounds. This one is widely regarded as the best. I personally like Blue a little more but this one's a great film no less. The Three Colors trilogy as a whole are one great big work from one of the world cinema's masters.
1. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
Duh. I love a lot of films in my lifetime but few I would describe as "life-changing" and this is one of them. When I saw this as a 14 year old boy in a theater, I walked out of it just knowing I wanted to be involved in film for the rest of my life. This is due to writer-director Quentin Tarantino's violent, darkly funny multi-storied tale of the underground criminal world of L.A. which heavily combines elements from American B-movies and blaxploitation films and the French New Wave into a sick, wonderful piece of cinema which would turn a lot of teenage boys at the time into the cineastes they are today. I'm proudly one of them.
Runners-Up: Speed (Jan DeBont); White (Krzysztof Kieslowski); Four Weddings and a Funeral (Mike Newell); True Lies (James Cameron); The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont).