Best Movie Year Ever
So that road trip this evening didn’t happen and I thought I would be left trying to think of something to write about again. Luckily I already had another idea and the timing worked out quite nicely.
I finished a book today, one I absolutely tore through in less than a week.
Best. Movie. Year. Ever. How 1999 Blew Up The Big Screen by Brian Raftery is a fairly recent release and has been getting talked up a little bit across quite a few film news websites, including my go-to slashfilm.com
The book recounts the last year of the twentieth century by going through the year seasonally talking about some of the biggest movies from each part of the year and making a very valid case for it being, as the title implies, the best movie year ever.
The cover depicts a lot of the movies talked about in the book; from Fight Club to The Phantom Menace, Office Space to The Sixth Sense, The Iron Giant to Run Lola Run, Blair Witch Project to The Matrix. It’s only when you start listing the number of movies that are still talked about with reverence and respect that all came out in the span of twelve months that you start to see that Raftery might be on to something.
While the sections of the book are split into seasons, each chapter covers only one or two individual movies. The author talks about the production, the release and the reception of each film with more emphasis on the areas of each that is most interesting or relevant for each. For instance, the Eyes Wide Shut production is far more of an interesting story than its lacklustre box office performance, so more time is spent focusing on that, and the reception to The Best Man and what it did for black cinema at the time has more significance than the shooting process.
I felt like I knew a lot of the movies in this book well before reading it, I was twelve in ’99 and it was right around the time that I was broadening my horizons on the sorts of films I was interested in. I even studied a few of them in college film studies courses, but I came out of this book learning at least something about each and every movie. It made me want to revisit the ones I hadn’t seen in a while and check out the few I had never seen before.
The only exception to that is American Beauty, but even in the case of that film the author goes into the more recent developments of the past few years and and the implications of influential people in Hollywood such as Kevin Spacey and Harvey Wienstien, men responsible for many of the films included in the book, being taken out of their positions of power through the ‘Me Too’ movement and other legal action.
Best. Movie. Year. Ever. is a really fun, quick, entertaining and informative read and I would say is a must for anyone interested in film and especially the behind the scenes aspects.
I listened to the audiobook and can recommend that whole heartedly. The print version may include a section of references to all the interviews the author pulled from, but I’m not sure.
If you enjoyed the book and want to hear more from the writer himself, check out an interview he did with David Chen on the podcast Culturally Relevant.