It’s been a while but I feel a desire to return to rounding up years of cinema to which I both know not that much about and wasn’t blogging for. A few months back I rounded up my Top Ten Films of 1999, now it’s 1998′s turn.
10. American History X (dir. Tony Kaye)
When a former Nazi supporter is released from prison and had his life changed due to the experience only to find that his younger brother has been ensnared by these same Nazis it’s left him with a job to do before it’s too late. The film’s strengths include being visually jarring and thematically poignant dealing with the need for those people in our lives to guide us along the right path. We understand that Derek (Edward Norton) strayed from the path due to this lack of guidance and seeing that his absence has led Danny (Edward Furlong) into the same predicament which further nails the film’s point into the audience’s mind. The black & white versus colour, past and present storytelling makes for a visually interesting film that won’t be forgotten too quickly.
9. He Got Game (dir. Spike Lee)
Spike Lee is a filmmaker who has his own style and venacular that goes along with it. With his love of basketball he takes on an interesting father/son dynamic as Jake (Denzel Washington) is released from prison with the sole purpose of convincing his son, Jesus (Ray Allen), into showing intent to attend a specific college. Jake takes this opportunity to attempt to — as best he can — try and patch up his relationship with son after heading to jail in what some may call a series of poor circumstances. Using daring visual shots, evocative dialogue heavy scenes (one of my favourite being the car ride monologue NSFW btw) and when you throw in a passion like basketball as a core subject Lee shines as bright as he ever has.
8. Pleasantville (dir. Gary Ross)
Many scholars still argue that the shift from black and white to colour in cinema was a poor choice, let this film change your mind. In this world — at all times — we site dreading change. We embrace it only after being dragged kicking and screaming only to realize how good that change can just be. So when in the world of Pleasantville — a black and white TV show — we introduce the notion of colour the citizens (for the most part) are reluctant to the point of violence. The film is a great allegory for racism and the shift in culture but can also be extended to any time in history when social change was asked of the world. It’s honestly one of the most unsung gems of 1998.
7. Out of Sight (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Noir crime drama done at it’s finest and from the hands of the veteran Steven Soderbergh. With scenes that will down right leave you mezmerised as we watch Jack Foley (George Clooney) charm his way out of any scenario it just works.
6. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (dir. Guy Ritchie)
The crime comedy that redefined the genre as every film that followed tried its best (including the director’s follow up films) to imitate and recreate it.