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BEST OF THE '90s - #8

After a break for the holidays we're back with our series ranking the '90s year by year for movies, and ranking the best movies within that year. We've already done #10 1990, and #9 1992. Today we are at #8.

I struggled with naming 1991 to this spot. If you take a look at the entire year, 1991 is one of the best years in history. The films at the top aren't as good as other years, but other words, 1991's all star team would lose to other years, but if you had to make an entire league from one year (or put another way: if you could only watch films from one year for the rest of your life), 1991 might well be your pick.

Movies that probably would have made the list, but I haven't seen them: BARTON FINK, KAFKA, THE DOORS, GRAND CANYON, THE FISHER KING, BUGSY

Films Ajax demands go on his list that aren't included on mine: THE DARK BACKWARD, THE PIANIST, BUGSY, NIGHT ON EARTH



#9 (tie) BOYZ IN THE HOOD & NEW JACK CITY - BOYZ was the more celebrated of the two, but you really need to see both to understand the times. Black culture had made this explosion in white surburbia (that really hasn't abated), and these two movies personified that new "coolness." NEW JACK CITY seems a bit silly now, but I remember my school being transformed by the film. People today really don't get how bad crack was; much worse than cocaine or heroin ever was. NJC gets that. And BOYZ probably should have gotten an Oscar nomination. A very important film.

#8 CITY SLICKERS - You've probably seen this a hundred times on TBS, so you forget what a ground-breaking film it was. Kind of brought back the buddy-comedy and resurrected Daniel Stern, Billy Crystal and Jack Palance all at once.

#7 JFK - A tremendously flawed film, but still worthy of watching. This film is what gave Oliver Stone the reputation of craziness, but it's quite well put together. JFK won't answer who shot the president, but it will explain the culture of the conspiracy.

#6 THELMA AND LOUISE - Many argue that "Girl Power" started with this movie. A film about two women on the run, it spoke to an entire generation. Maybe they won't all criminals, but women seemed to understand what it was like to be trapped.

#5 FRIED GREEN TOMATOES - A lovely, sweet, snarkily vicious film; another girl movie, but one that everyone would love. Just an excellent film, and you need to see it.

#4 TERMINATOR 2 - I still remember opening night at the theatre; there were people sitting in the aisles! This was an "Event" movie, one of the first huge sequels, packed with special effects and a great soundtrack. Amazingly, 15 years later the special effects still hold up well. If you're young, I don't want to hear from you again until you rent both one and two and watch them.

#3 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Remains the only animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture, and what a lovely film to hold the honor. Even thought THE LITTLE MERMAID, started the great run at Disney, it was BEAUTY that first showed their A Level work. Great Songs too, which reminds me: you know how Angela Lansbury sings the "Tale as Old as Time"? I like to sing "Tale as old as Me" just to be funny. You should too.

#2 CAPE FEAR - DeNiro's best performance of the decade,and Nick Nolte's and Juliette Lewis's too, for that matter. Scorsese takes the original and fills his remake with menace and seething sexuality. The scene that takes place on the stage? I still get goosebumps. This would make a GRRRRRREAT date movie. It will scare her AND turn her on. Can't ask for more than that.

#1 SILENCE OF THE LAMBS - By now it's iconic, but people don't remember what an impact this film had. There had never been anything like it. Introduced Anthony Hopkins to the world, even though he was already an accomplished actor. (His only Oscar, which is almost criminal.) Jodie Foster was great too. This is one of only three films in history to win all five top Oscars (Actor, Actress, Screenplay, Director and Picture), and it deserved them too. I know you've seen it before, but do yourself a favor and see it again.

Up Next in the series: the seventh best year of the '90s
Up Next in Rank Everything: I'm leaning towards a Simpsons episode