Why 1995 Was the Best Year in Movie History
All week our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Click here for a complete list of our essays.
When I picked this year, it was under the mistaken assumption that we were writing on the best film of a year, and not the best film year in general. But having realized the mistake, I stand by my choice. 1995 is still the best!
Straight up: 1995 wins, because Todd Haynes’s “[Safe]" is still my favorite film to have come out since, IDK, I’ve been alive. It’s deeply self-conscious about genre, while still managing to not really resemble anything I’ve ever seen. It’s the perfect film about L.A.; about how space is mobilized in cinema; about the environment; about Gothic horror; about white femininity; about film bodies; about falling in love in the movies. It’s Todd Motherf*#@$^ Haynes’s best film. It’s Julianne Moore’s most unnerving performance by being uncannily understated. You can buy it on Criterion now!
So, how else is 1995—the year of O.J.’s declared innocence, the Tokyo subway sarin attack, and TLC’s “Creep”—significant for film history?
Exhibit A: James Bond makes a comeback with Pierce Brosnan’s debut in “Goldeneye", after a six-year hiatus. When 007 has a moment, the movies are having a moment—that’s evidence.
Exhibit B: Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless."
Exhibit C: Ang Lee’s "Sense and Sensibility."
Jane Austen: so hot in 1995.
Some other undeniable greats from that year: Richard Linklater’s "Before Sunrise"(the start of the best film trilogy?); John Lasseter’s "Toy Story" (wait, maybe this is the start); Alfonso Cuarón’s "A Little Princess"; Clint Eastwood’s "The Bridges of Madison County"; Ron Howard’s "Apollo 13"; Larry Clark’s “Kids" (LOL); Chris Noonan’s “Babe"; Bryan Singer’s "The Usual Suspects"; Spike Lee’s “Clockers"; Iain Softley’s “Hackers"; Noah Baumbach’s "Kicking and Screaming"; Allan Moyle’s "Empire Records"; David Fincher’s “Se7en"; Pedro Almodóvar’s "The Flower of My Secret"; Barry Sonnenfeld’s "Get Shorty"; Martin Scorsese’s “Casino"; Joe Johnston’s “Jumanji"; Terry Gilliam’s "Twelve Monkeys"; Gus Van Sant’s "To Die For."
1995 was kind of a creepy year for film? Maybe I would have picked it even had I understood the question properly.
But my list for 1995? My list is pretty American-centric aka white. These lists usually are. As an expressly L.A. film, "[Safe]" comments on the whiteness of Hollywood. Its main character is literally named Carol White and she has no interiority!
Here you can find some different interiorities from 1995 films, from abroad: Wong Kar-wai’s "Fallen Angels"; Tsai Ming-Liang’s "My New Friend"; Jafar Panahi’s "The White Balloon"; Friðrik Þór Friðriksson’s "Cold Fever"; Alberto Simone’s "Moon Shadow." Let’s watch them all.
Other pieces in this series: