Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Were the 1990s the best decade of film?

On in the movies section of a message board I frequent, they are playing a game in which each player chooses one year in the history of the film. Then the next player chooses another year, and so on down the line.

What occurs to me while watching this game is something that I've secretly suspected - the 1990s might well have been the best decade of film. Not necessarily the best 10-year period of film. But in terms of the first three digits being 1 and 9 and 9, it's very impressive. There just isn't a weak year.

While the early 1970s were strong, the late seventies were not so much. I wouldn't say the war years were particularly great in the forties. The strength of the 1930s is slanted toward the late years of the decade. The fifties, maybe. The sixties, eighties, and everything else are a no-go, IMO.


Sam Juliano said...

OK, so I disagree. The 1990's (for me) aren't remotely in the same league with the 30's 40's,
50's,60's and especially the 1920's With the advent of Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni, Bresson, Goddard, Ray, Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi, Loach, Bunuel, Kubrick, and others, all of whom made their greatest films from 1950 to 1970, the 90's are not even close. Yet I understand where you are coming from, and the 90's for certain have some great films, and teh decade eclipses the 80's. My own top ten of the 90's would be:

Santantango (Tarr)
Taste of Cherry (Kioarostami)
Schindler's List (Spielberg)
Red (Kieslowski)
Breaking The Waves (Von Trier)
Gattaca (Nichol)
Raise the Red Lantern (Yimou)
Good Fellas (Scorsese)
L. A. Confidential (Hanson)
The Cook, The Thief His Wife and Her Lover (Greenaway)

This is a great post.

K. Bowen said...

It's an interesting question. Perhaps what I'm getting at is more of a matter of consistency than necessarily one of overall quality. The greater access to world cinema, I would say, allowed some holes to be filled in what in past years might have been weak years if only looking at the traditionally strong film countries.

I simply don't think there was a truly bad year in the nineties, at least when considering a list of the best films. The seventies, for instance, might have a list of the strongest films, but there were years in the late seventies that were sort of blah. I also think there were times when, say, France was making terrific films but Hollywood was at a low point. The early to mid sixties come to mind in that regard.