Top Fifty Guy Movies of the 1990s
What makes a classic guy movie? I don’t think there’s any one definition. It’s a nebulous concept, although certain factors weigh more heavily than others. One might say start with blood, car chases, guts, gun play, explosions, the F-word, and cleavage. But that argument is too simplistic. It’s not all about the action or the women. It can include male bonding or simply creating an aura of cool. And let’s not forget the comedies or science fiction films. But it should be the kind of movie you can watch over and over again with your friends, while remembering the lines or the scenes as you go. And it’s likely that the women in your life don’t share the same passion for that movie. That’ll at least point you in the right direction.
So while we may not be able to define it, like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when identifying obscenity, we know it when we see it. Here are the Top 50 guy movies from the 1990s:
50. Wild Things, 1998
Premise: Two very different high school girls accuse a popular teacher of rape, leading to a trial and much more.
Director: John McNaughton
Stars: Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Denise Richards, Neve Campbell
What you’ll Remember: The hotel scene
Reasons it is on the List: Okay, so the plot is far-fetched and you have Kevin Bacon’s bacon, that’s the bad. The good? You can see Neve Campbell and Denise Richards make out, Richards pour champagne on her breasts, and you get Bill Murray tossed in for comedy’s sake. Overall that’s a winner.
49. Army of Darkness, 1993
Premise: A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve a book so he can return home.
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert
What you’ll Remember: Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This… is my boomstick!
Reasons it is on the List: This quasi-horror adventure tale relies more on slapstick and appropriately tongue-in-cheek special effects than blood and gore like the previous Evil Dead entries. You might say its an ode to The Three Stooges that’s littered with one-liners. Hail to the King, Baby!
48. Wayne’s World, 1992
Premise: Hosts of a local late night cable-access program sell-out their program to the man.
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere
What you’ll Remember: Bohemian Rhapsody in the car.
Reasons it is on the List: There’s a parade of one-liners in this comedy such as: “Excellent!”, “Party On!”, “Schwing!”, “If you’re gonna spew, spew into this”, “Hurl”, and “We’re Not Worthy”. There’s also a trio of endings, rock stars, and the magically babelicious Tia Carrere.
47. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1998
Premise: A journalist and his attorney travel to Vegas to cover a motorcycle race and consume copious amounts of illegal drugs, commit acts of fraud, and generally wreak havoc.
Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Johnny Depp, Benicio del Toro, Christina Ricci
What you’ll Remember: We can’t stop here. This is bat country.
Reasons it is on the List: Based on a novel written by Hunter S. Thompson, the entire movie involves someone taking massive amounts of some drug and the consequences. It works thanks to Depp and Gilliam’s blatant uniqueness. Yes the movie is strange, sometimes to the point of insanity. It is a Gilliam movie after all, could you expect otherwise? But the package works, as it comes off as a sophisticated stoner flick.
46. Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992
Premise: Two days in the lives of four real estate agents as they become desperate to avoid getting fired.
Director: James Foley
Stars: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey
What you’ll Remember: A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing.
Reasons it is on the List: The biting screenplay by David Mamet is littered with quotable lines, some less than PG. And the star studded cast includes four Oscar winners and two others who have been nominated, perhaps the greatest acting ensemble ever put before a camera. The movie has no sex, no violence, no car chases, no action, just powerful acting. Go see it!
45. Die Hard With A Vengeance, 1995
Premise: A man blows up a downtown department store and forces a detective and local shopkeeper to play a game or else risk more deaths.
Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson
What you’ll Remember: Bruce Willis with a billboard in Harlem.
Reasons it is on the List: Die Hard‘s a classic, and while this may not quite live up to the original, it’s packed full of explosions and adds in Samuel L. Jackson. The combination of Jackson and Willis leads to remarkable chemistry, enabling both deep tension and hilarious comic moments.
44. True Lies, 1994
Premise: A secret agent who has an ordinary home life with his family unaware that he is a spy until they get caught up in a mission.
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold
What you’ll Remember: Stuff Blowing Up.
Reasons it is on the List: It’s hard not to enjoy a James Cameron movie, but toss in action star Arnold Schwazenegger and a budget larger than the GNP of many small countries and you get big action, big explosions, and a great re-watchable film.
43. Friday, 1995
Premise: In south central Los Angeles, two friends hangout and get high after one gets fired on his day off.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Stars: Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long
What you’ll Remember: You got knocked the #@!& out!
Reasons it is on the List: This is vintage Chris Tucker, a stoner comedy with many memorable lines, and it’s the kind of movie you can pop in at any time. Even if you know the lines, it’s still funny. There just doesn’t seem to be enough R-Rated comedies around these days.
42. Natural Born Killers, 1994
Premise: A young couple embarks on a crime spree, Bonnie and Clyde style.
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore
What you’ll Remember: Someone’s head on a stick.
Reasons it is on the List: As Roger Ebert wrote, “Seeing this movie once is not enough. The first time is for the visceral experience, the second time is for the meaning.” It is amongst the most violent American films made, but is meant to be a satire of violence in American media and how criminals can become quasi-celebrities.
41. Billy Madison, 1995
Premise: A goof-off and slacker who must go back to school and complete all twelve grades in order to take over his father’s company.
Director: Tamra Davis
Stars: Adam Sandler, Bridgette Wilson, Bradley Whitford
What you’ll Remember: It’s too damn hot for a penguin to be just walkin’ around.
Reasons it is on the List: Adam Sandler’s crowning achievement in a long line of major Hollywood comedies. His first starring role remains his most memorable and also stars a pre-Pete Sampras Bridgette Wilson. This crude, tasteless comedy is no great piece of art, it just brings the laughs.
40. Starship Troopers, 1997
Premise: A group of graduating friends enlist for a war against an alien race of bugs.
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer
What you’ll Remember: The shower scene.
Reasons it is on the List: It’s a Verhoeven movie, so you’re pretty much guaranteed some skin and gratuitous violence. But there’s depth to the movie, as it’s actually a satire on war including visual allusions to propaganda films, and is littered with Nazi symbolism.
39. Tombstone, 1993
Premise: The story of Wyatt Earp and his move down to Tombstone, Arizona.
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Stars: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton
What you’ll Remember: I’m your huckleberry…
Reasons it is on the List: Val Kilmer plays an incredible Doc Holliday, and you get to see a bad-ass Western icon like Wyatt Earp on the big screen shooting bad guys like at the O.K. Corrall. What guy wouldn’t like a grand Western filled with women, gambling, and guns?
38. Desperado, 1995
Premise: A Mariachi singer seeks vengeance for those that killed his love.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida
What you’ll Remember: Steve Buscemi’s stories.Well, actually its probably Salma Hayek.
Reasons it is on the List: The middle film of the “Mexico Trilogy” or El Mariachi movies, it has some stylish shootout scenes and insane use of guitar cases filled with weapons. Oh, and this movie helped introduce Salma Hayek to the world.
37. Boogie Nights, 1997
Premise: A nightclub dishwasher becomes a popular porn star and slowly descends into a nightmare of drug abuse.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore
What you’ll Remember: Rollergirl (not Dirk Diggler’s junk)
Reasons it is on the List: Burt Reynolds as a porn kingpin? Women posing as porn stars? This has winner written all over it. It’s not just some excuse for showing pretty women either, it’s actually a well written and directed film. And there’s plenty of sex, drugs, and disco to go around.
36. American History X, 1998
Premise: A Neo-Nazi racist returns from prison and is expected by his friends to pick up his old life, only to find out that prison changed him.
Director: Tony Kaye
Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D’Angelo
What you’ll Remember: Someone biting a curb.
Reasons it is on the List: A fairly straight forward drama, it relies on a powerful story and the fact that Edward Norton delivers a staggering performance. It deals with gang life, violence, prison, and crime.
35. Unforgiven, 1990
Premise: An aging and retired gunslinger takes on one more job years after he hung up his guns.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman
What you’ll Remember: Hackman’s Little Bill Daggett.
Reasons it is on the List: It’s got Clint Eastwood and it’s a great Western. That should be enough. Also, Eastwood and Hackman beat the hell out of each other, a few dudes get shotgunned to death, and it has the Academy stamp of approval as Best Picture.
34. Boondock Saints, 1999
Premise: Two Catholic Irish-American fraternal twins become vigilantes, set out to rid their home city of crime and evil.
Director: Troy Duffy
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus
What you’ll Remember: Willem Dafoe’s late movie wardrobe.
Reasons it is on the List: A violent crime drama, it goes over the top with gratuitously brutal violence, but it works as an action film. It also sprinkles in an occasional chuckle to lighten the mood. Released in 1999 overseas, this movie saw only a minor release in the United States. In fact, the story behind the making of the film is as interesting as the film itself. The documentary Overnight outlines the account about the movie and its writer/director Troy Duffy.
33. Kingpin, 1996
Premise: A disgraced former pro bowler with one hand tries to coach an Amish man to win a prestigious bowling championship.
Director: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, Bill Murray
What you’ll Remember: I didn’t want to be “Munsoned” out in the middle of nowhere.
Reasons it is on the List: Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy this Farrelly brothers gross out comedy more than their more mainstream hits such as Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. Plus, this one features comic idol Bill Murray.
32. The Fifth Element, 1997
Premise: A taxicab driver and former Special Forces member is enlisted to stop a dark planet from destroying earth.
Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich
What you’ll Remember: The Fifth Element’s wardrobe.
Reasons it is on the List: Ignoring Chris Tucker’s annoying character, it’s a pretty action-packed movie, with a small touch of comedy and one scantily clad woman. Also, you’ll find flying cars, spaceships that go at the speed of light, weird creatures, and ugly aliens among the things that are present during this film.
31. The Hunt for Red October, 1990
Premise: A Lithuanian captain of a ballistic missile submarine equipped with a revolutionary silent propulsion heads toward the United States with questionable intentions.
Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn
What you’ll Remember: One Ping Only.
Reasons it is on the List: The first and best of the Jack Ryan movie franchise, it’s simply a great story. Plus there are Russians involved and exploding submarines, always a good combo. While it’s not an all out action thrill ride, it balances intensity and drama effectively.
30. Rounders, 1998
Premise: A law student and former poker hot shot meets an old friend who took the fall for him and went to prison years earlier. The friend pulls him back into the poker world, much to his girlfriend’s chagrin.
Director: John Dahl
Stars: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Turturro
What you’ll Remember: Teddy KGB.
Reasons it is on the List: It’s a great non-dumbed down poker movie, and what guy doesn’t love poker? Maybe a little before its time, as poker has really surged in popularity this decade. Plus it features roles for nice looking ladies Gretchen Mol and Famke Janssen. I’d bet three stacks of high society on this film.
29. Ronin, 1998
Premise: An Irish woman gathers five men and briefs them on a mission to steal a briefcase.
Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård
What you’ll Remember: An amazing car chase.
Reasons it is on the List: Beyond some great action sequences, it’s a compelling story of theft and who’s on whose side. It’s not a flashy action movie, but instead a gritty deadly serious flick. It’s really more of a throwback with its 70s style and European locations.
28. Trainspotting, 1996
Premise: A young British man decides to forego heroin and get beyond his life of mischief.
Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle
What you’ll Remember: An unfortunate bedroom accident by Ewen Bremner.
Reasons it is on the List: A great dark comedy, it juggles parallel character strands and juxtaposes image to fabulous music. Although brilliant in its execution, the movie can be both hilarious and uncomfortable at times, with some truly disturbing scenes.
27. Out of Sight, 1998
Premise: A long time bank thief breaks out of prison, only to befriend a federal agent.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle
What you’ll Remember: The trunk scene.
Reasons it is on the List: The impossibly cool George Clooney and the in her prime J-Lo combine for a cool, fun mix. It’s also a great heist story, although some of the criminals involved aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. The novel and movie later inspired the TV show, Karen Sisco.
26. Dazed and Confused, 1993
Premise: A group of students in the mid 70s have various adventures on the last day of school.
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Jason London, Rory Cochrane, Wiley Wiggins
What you’ll Remember: That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.
Reasons it is on the List: The large ensemble cast is star-studded, and the movie is a great comedic look at high school and its various experiences. A pretty spot on recreation of 70s life, it has good looking women, drinking, drugs, partying, and hazing.
25. Léon: The Professional, 1994
Premise: A young girl befriends a hitman after her family is murdered by crooked cops.
Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman
What you’ll Remember: Natalie Portman
Reasons it is on the List: The extremely versatile Gary Oldman (he’ll play a pimp on the next movie in this list) is the bad guy here, wreaking havoc as a drug crazed crooked cop. You get to see Natalie Portman train to be a hitman, or cleaner, and you get to see Jean Reno blow things up and shoot people. It’s an action movie with heart.
24. True Romance, 1993
Premise: An unconventional love story, the plot revolves around drugs and violence and a man who meets a girl on his birthday.
Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper
What you’ll Remember: Elvis.
Reasons it is on the List: This is a Quentin Tarantino movie that is not a Quentin Tarantino film. Written by Tarantino but sold away, it’s a twisted romance where a guy falls in love with a hooker at a Sonny Chiba triple feature. It soon has pimps, cocaine, gun fights, and Brad Pitt with a honey bear bong. Is that not enough? Well it’s also got Elvis.
23. Dark City, 1998
Premise: A man wakes in a hotel room with no memory, and tries to figure out why the police think he is serial killer and what is wrong with the world at large.
Director: Alex Proyas
Stars: Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly
What you’ll Remember: The Strangers
Reasons it is on the List: A visually stunning film and an under-appreciated gem, this sci-fi thriller is well written and features the beautiful Jennifer Connelly. It’s got the same basic concept as The Matrix, but done in a completely different manner. The atmosphere of the movie is fantastic with its dark scenery and creepy strangers.
22. Clerks, 1995
Premise: A convenience store clerk gets called in to work on his day off and bemoans his situation.
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti
What you’ll Remember: Jay and Silent Bob.
Reasons it is on the List: 37! A movie that cost only $27,575 to make and used no name actors, it relies entirely on intensely clever dialogue. Fortunately it works. Kevin Smith built a career on this movie and its various characters, most importantly Jay and Silent Bob. This low budget flick would spawn a sequel, an animated series, and a number of spin-off movies.
21. Swingers, 1995
Premise: A story about the lives of single, unemployed actors living on the East side of Hollywood.
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston, Heather Graham
What you’ll Remember: Vegas baby! Vegas!
Reasons it is on the List: Relationships from the male point of view, it also has a young Vince Vaughn before he became mainstream, and on the female side Heather Graham. Plus, any movie that can make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed is okay in my book. This comedy is so money, and it doesn’t even know it.
20. 12 Monkeys, 1995
Premise: A convicted criminal living in a grim post-apocalyptic future is sent back in time to try and stop a deadly virus.
Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt
What you’ll Remember: Animals in the streets of Philadelphia.
Reasons it is on the List: Guys generally like science fiction, and this is a perfect piece, dealing with the themes of madness and sanity, combined with a great story and good performances. From the wild mind of Monty Python‘s Terry Gilliam, this twisted tale actually is fairly mainstream for his tastes.
19. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, 1998
Premise: Four long-time friends lose a large sum of money to a local gangster in a crooked card game and have a few days to come up with money.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Statham
What you’ll Remember: Ass Tickler’s Faggots Fan Club.
Reasons it is on the List: Ritchie comes across as a British poor man’s Quentin Tarantino, finding his niche with crime thrillers that contain a fair amount of comedy. This movie helped launch the careers of Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones, and remains very quotable. Just don’t be thrown off by the thick British accents.
18. The Big Lebowski, 1998
Premise: An unemployed slacker and avid bowler is mistaken for a multi-millionaire who has the same name, and gets caught up in a million-dollar ransom scheme.
Director: Joel Coen
Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore
What you’ll Remember: The Dude.
Reasons it is on the List: This comedy has it all: idiosyncratic characters, surreal dream sequences, unconventional dialogue, and an eclectic soundtrack. And it has The Dude. The Coen brothers don’t really go wrong, but this is where they went really right. And it has bowling!
17. The Rock, 1996
Premise: A disenfranchised Brigadier General holds hostages and VX rockets on Alcatraz to try and get the U.S. government to pay due compensation to the families of marines killed in covert action.
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris
What you’ll Remember: The car chase through San Francisco.
Reasons it is on the List: Although hated by many, Bay remains a go-to director for making money on action films with his quick cut style. The Rock remains his best effort, even Bay haters will usually like it, combining action, adventure, comedy, Vanessa Marcil, and special effects with a great plot.
16. Seven, 1995
Premise: Also marketed as Se7en, two detectives try to stop a serial killer before he finishes his work on the seven deadly sins.
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey
What you’ll Remember: The ending.
Reasons it is on the List: A great crime thriller, it’s one of the most complex and disturbing entries in the serial killer genre. There’s not a lot of action, but their is a fair amount of gruesomeness from the murders. The appeal is from the story and how the entire plan plays out.
15. L.A. Confidential, 1997
Premise: The story about a group of Los Angeles police in the 1950s, dealing with corruption and organized crime.
Director: Curtis Hanson
Stars: Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe
What you’ll Remember: Kim Basinger’s Veronica Lake lookalike.
Reasons it is on the List: A perfectly crafted old-school noir thriller, it features great performances, a tad of violence, and hookers cut like movie stars. I give respect to Titanic, which is an achievement in film-making and a Cameron movie, but this should have won Best Picture in 1997.
14. GoldenEye, 1995
Premise: The seventeenth film in the James Bond series, and the first to star Pierce Brosnan as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. This time the bad guys are using a EMP to wipe out computer records and destroy nations electronically.
Director: Martin Campbell
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen
What you’ll Remember: the N64 game that accompanied the movie.
Reasons it is on the List: It’s Bond. Isn’t that enough? So you know it has awesome cars, sexy woman, great action, and some pithy comebacks and glib remarks. Well not so much on the last one as 006 can attest to. Still, it relaunched the franchise after six years of legal hiatus, and it’s one of the best films in the series. Yeah, Casino Royale was better, but this is still near the top of the list for Bond films.
13. Reservoir Dogs, 1992
Premise: The story before and after a botched jewel heist by a group of assembled criminals with Clue-like names.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth
What you’ll Remember: The ear scene.
Reasons it is on the List: It’s remembered for the violence and mutilation, but it’s the classic dialogue from the Like a Virgin discussion to the Mr. Pink name assignment that keeps me coming back. And I like the little touches, like the fact there’s a box of Fruit Brute clearly visible on screen. Someone remembers Fruit Brute? Awesome.
12. Office Space, 1999
Premise: An IT worker at a typical faceless software company becomes disenfranchised with his job.
Director: Mike Judge
Stars: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman
What you’ll Remember: A red Swingline stapler.
Reasons it is on the List: A spot on commentary of the corporate workplace and cubical life, it’s something that most office workers can relate to, whether through moving cubicles or wanting to destroy the office machinery. And its extremely hilarious, just ask me about my TPS reports.
11. Goodfellas, 1990
Premise: Based on the true story of a Henry Hill, a young aspiring gangster who joins the Mob.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci
What you’ll Remember: What do you mean I’m funny?
Reasons it is on the List: Arguably Scorsese’s greatest work, it shows the inner workings of the mafia, much like the Sopranos tried to tackle years later. It’s so good, it’s in the Godfather‘s ballpark for mob stories. And it has that great tracking shot entering the Copa. Oh? And it once broke the record for most occurrences of the ‘f-word’ in a movie.
10. Braveheart, 1995
Premise: The story of a legendary Scot named William Wallace, who opposed Edward I of England.
Director: Mel Gibson
Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Catherine McCormack
What you’ll Remember: But they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM.
Reasons it is on the List: Back when people didn’t think of Mel Gibson as crazy, this war-drama is well made, well-acted, and has some incredible battle scenes that are gory, vicious, and real. Who doesn’t want to see people battle with swords, axes, and arrows? The themes of honor, bravery, and loyalty among others also appeal to many men.
9. Hard Boiled, 1992
Premise: A pair of cops team together to take down a dangerous Hong Kong Triad.
Director: John Woo
Stars: Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung
What you’ll Remember: The hospital shootout.
Reasons it is on the List: John Woo is simply one of the best action directors around, and this is his best work of the 1990s (although not his best work overall, it may be his best pure action film), better than his Hollywood fare like Face/Off or Broken Arrow. The man brought style to action, making Chow Yun Fat an action star. Here, he usually can be seen toothpick in mouth, a gun in each hand, and involved in a stylized gunfight.
8. Saving Private Ryan, 1998
Premise: A group of soldiers is assembled to retrieve Private First Class James Francis Ryan after his brothers are killed in action.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon
What you’ll Remember: The D-Day assault on Omaha Beach.
Reasons it is on the List: The bookend present day scenes are a bit sappy, but the main portion of the film is an amazing re-creation of World War II. You see ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances and an ongoing “war is hell” theme, all done in such a way you almost feel like you were there instead of watching a film.
7. Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991
Premise: A killer robot is sent from the future to kill the future leader of the human resistance in a humans vs. robots war.
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong
What you’ll Remember: The liquid metal T-1000.
Reasons it is on the List: Back when James Cameron actually made movies (don’t make me wait a dozen years for your next film please), it’s the best installment of an action-packed exciting franchise. The original was made on a shoe-string budget, but its success allowed this big budget sequel. And with the extra money Cameron went wild, there are tons of crashes, gunshots, and explosions all over the place. Lesson: two terminators are better than one. The movie was also groundbreaking with its special effects, winning an Academy award. For a seriously in-depth time travel analysis of the Terminator series, check this site out.
6. Heat, 1995
Premise: A group of professional criminals decide to rob a bank.
Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Tom Sizemore
What you’ll Remember: The bank shootout scene.
Reasons it is on the List: You came for the De Niro-Pacino scenes, but you stayed for the amazing screenplay and execution. A simple cops vs. robbers plot, the movie is an epic with its fascinating storyline and involving characters overseen by a great director. Plus there’s a plethora of recognizable faces, even Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd have bit parts.
5. The Usual Suspects, 1995
Premise: Police interrogate a small time con-man to determine why a ship has burned and bodies litter the water by the docks.
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Spacey
What you’ll Remember: Keyser Söze.
Reasons it is on the List: It starts with a seemingly random police lineup and ends with one of better endings in recent cinema. In between is an ever increasing twisted and convoluted story that’s full of comedy, action, suspense, and surprise. And to top it off, it’s well acted.
4. The Shawshank Redemption, 1994
Premise: A man is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and copes with prison life.
Director: Frank Darabont
Stars: Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman
What you’ll Remember: The Ending.
Reasons it is on the List: One of the best films ever made, it doesn’t have the typical aspects of a guy movie. There’s no action and no special effects. Woman are pretty much non-existent in this picture, although there’s a Rita Hayworth poster for scenery. What it does have is a brilliant story that’s superbly acted. And afterwards, you’re glad you watched it.
3. Pulp Fiction, 1994
Premise: A series of intersecting story lines about Los Angeles mobsters, fringe players, petty thieves, and a mysterious briefcase.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman
What you’ll Remember: Jules Winnfield.
Reasons it is on the List: Simply an all-time great movie, even for those not into violence, language and adult themes (which are aplenty here). It’s best aspect is a witty screenplay, but it combines with a solid soundtrack to form a host of memorable characters that have influenced movies and pop culture. Tarantino is doing something right, this is his fourth movie he’s helped write on this list.
2. The Matrix, 1999
Premise: A computer programmer comes to the realization that he’s merely living in a simulated world as a battery for robots.
Director: Andy and Larry Wachowski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie Anne-Moss
What you’ll Remember: Bullet time.
Reasons it is on the List: The story is used throughout guy movies, man vs. robot. It’s a good premise and it’s done well here, and in unique fashion. Some may feel the sequels hurt the status of the original, but I disagree (and I also liked Reloaded). The lobby scene alone is spectacular, and it upped the ante for cinematic fight scenes as a whole. Extensive gun play and a leather outfit on Carrie Anne-Moss are a bonus.
1. Fight Club, 1999
Premise: An insurance company employee encounters a man on a plane named Tyler Durden, who opens his eyes to the world and changes his life forever.
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter
What you’ll Remember: The first rule of Fight Club is – you do not talk about Fight Club.
Reasons it is on the List: This movie has it all: fighting, women, violence, Meatloaf and his man-tits, a fake Ikea knock-off, subtle bits of humor, strong performances by the stars, and one of the great cinema characters of all time in Tyler Durden. Plus as the poster states, there’s also soap!
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