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Forrest Gump (1994)
It might veer into mawkishness at times, but Robert Zemeckis' heartfelt portrait of a simple-minded Southern mama's boy is nevertheless a genuinely good, accomplished and, yes, sentimental movie that became the inevitable subject of backlash following its enormous success. That didn't keep it from sweeping the Academy Awards the following year, with its Best Visual Effects Oscar coming partially as a result of Industrial Light & Magic's near-seamless addition of the dimwitted hero into a variety of archival news footage, putting him side-by-side with the likes of John Lennon and JFK. The sweep of the character's life in the film also gives him a presence on the battlefields of Vietnam, at the historic March on Washington and even alludes to his investment in a fledgling "fruit company" named Apple Computers. Though it's too sentimental to ever be taken seriously by the critical establishment, the film's gooey, pure-hearted center and a triumphant central performance by Tom Hanks make it difficult not to be won over, critics be damned.
- Chris Eggertsen