1994 was a pivotal year in the history of cinema: on the one hand, because of the constant quality of the films produced and, on the other hand, because of the endurance of names and titles in a multitude of genres. Indeed, 1994 saw the launch of superstar comedian Jim Carey who had 3 massive hits. Ace Ventura, Dumb & Dumber and, The mask, all of which are still watched today. This gave us Quentin Tarantino, who immediately jumped into copyright with the release of pulp Fiction. Moreover, thanks to the rise of independent cinema during this cinema renaissance, films like this were possible. There’s also the Gen-X time capsule Reality hurts and Clerk. Hollywood has produced classics in the action canon like Leon: the professional, Speed, True lies, and The crow.
What 1994 had promised was that Hollywood would create movies for everyone. A year when there were no boring films in the cinema. You could watch a groundbreaking documentary, Hoop dreams, or wait until you see Tim Burton’s original biopic on Ed Wood. 1994 showed the promise of artistic integrity, great artistry and the fun of colliding popcorn. This is what made this year an unforgettable one.
ten Born killers
The early 90s belonged to Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone. Stone ignited the start of the decade with his box office success, an Oscar-winning epic about the JFK plot. While Tarantino immediately became a brand name with Tank dogs. So, it would appear to be the perfect alchemical combination when one of Quentin’s scripts landed in Stone’s lap, and of course it was! A psychedelic nightmare that satirizes the media for odds rather than substance, Born killers gave us serial killer couple Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as they march to American fame. Tarantino would hate the movie. But it’s an iconic ’90s film with its choppy and exaggerated violence, boiling point performances, and precise reviews of media coverage of the killers.
9 Dumb & Dumber
1994 was definitely Carey’s year. After spending a few years bringing his manic energy to American households in the Wayans sketch In Living Color, Carey has arrived on stage in 3 massive films. One of them being, Stupid and even more stupid. A hilarious road trip with Jim the perfect match for Greg Daniels as the two cross the open road in hopes of returning a briefcase full of cash. From driving a truck built like a dog to “our pets’ heads fall!” Jim’s wacky madness has found his perfect ship, on the big screen.
If there is a success story in independent filmmaking from the ’90s, Kevin Smith should be at the top of the list. Without the support of a large studio, he used several of his credit cards to fund his script and shot the film in B&W with no one other than his friends, but Clerk somehow found its audience. A cult hit, with a non-story that precedes from one lazy conversation to the next fueled by pot smoke and cigarettes, Smith laid the groundwork for conversational comedy in independent filmmaking. By also giving birth to two iconic characters of Jay and Silent Bob, Kevin Smith built his cinematic universe before Marvel.
seven Leon: the professional
Jean Reno has become the ultimate anti-hero in Luc Besson’s violent but oddly affectionate Manhattan odyssey Leon: the professional. With Natalie Portman’s incredibly mature debut as “Matilda” who is rescued from the gun for hire “Leon” after her family is slaughtered by a gang of dirty cops and drug dealers. The film has become canonical due to the beautiful dynamic between Reno and Portman as they lean on each other for moral support as their reclusive and confined world around them begins to crumble between the hands of vengeful policemen.
6 The Lion King
Part of Disney’s creative renaissance in the ’90s when they seemed to be at the peak of their hand-drawn animated powers, The Lion King became an instant hit released to Universal Adoration. With the classic, Shakespearean story of vengeance and power vying for the throne, Simba’s fate and evolution beguiled everyone. With a soundtrack that handled a successful soundtrack, including the carefree hymn “Hakuna Matata”, The Lion King is full of moments that have helped it gain popularity over the years.
5 Forrest Gump
“Life is like a box of chocolates.” Did the year 1994 have a line read that turned into an instant quote like this? Forrest Gump was an instant classic due to the humble innocence of its main character, played with a charismatic seriousness that only Tom Hanks could bring. Taking us through the wraths of American history during a Cultural Revolution with an open heart and good nature, people fell in love with the film. With a groundbreaking VFX collage at the time, Gump would become the most decorated film in an Oscar stack and become the first at the box office.
4 Chungking Express
The film that put Wong Kar-Wai on the international map and would propel him to the forefront among art house and film lovers around the world, Chungking Express was a romantic elegy with the fleeting nature of love. Creating a world where rituals seemed monumental and everyday objects became the price of heartache, Kar-Wai conceived a love story between two depressed cops in Hong Kong who fall in love with two beautifully mysterious women. It’s a story that continues to reinvigorate people’s love of cinema over the years thanks to Kar-Wai’s talent as a storyteller and the beautiful ethereal cinematography of famed Christopher Doyle.
3 Hoop dreams
The definitive piece of documentary storytelling, Steve James made a career of documenting his hometown of Chicago and all of its socio-political issues with a lucid vision full of humanity. Hoop dreams resonates because we are spending four years with two amazing kids who just have one thing in mind, basketball. But the film doesn’t just tell the story of uninhibited ambition, it shows the corrupt cycle of basketball recruiting, how the system fails people of color who are on the brink of poverty, and how shattered dreams cross the streets. generations in families. It’s fascinating work, a cross-sectional procedure, with adrenaline rushes from great basketball games, and will almost certainly put a tear in your eye.
2 pulp Fiction
Tarantino became his American film brand due to pulp Fiction. A cultural phenomenon and still a rite of passage for anyone who thinks they are a cinephile, Pulp combines aesthetics, script, dialogue and character to create an iconic ride through 90s California. Between Jules Winfield’s “Ezekiel” speech, the stage From the adrenaline rush and dance moves of Travolta, Pulp presented a world of cinema that many would try to replicate as a result of its success. But no one can distill what’s cool in cinema like Tarantino did with Pulp.
1 Shawshank Redemption
Shawshank’s Redemption is one of the great American films ever made and one of the finest adaptations of a Steven King novel, along with The Shining. Shawshank is a centerpiece of American cinema because of its transcendent storytelling within the confines of prison, a seemingly hopeless place, and how it takes hope, manifested in the eyes of a certain Andy Dufresne. With Morgan Freeman’s divine storytelling as “Red” at the heart of the story, Shawshank creates beautiful moments of understanding and empathy among prisoners facing the worst times. The film creates iconic moments like Andy playing classical music for the prisoners and the heartbreak of the making “Brooks was here”. The film shows how some men become institutionalized beyond rehabilitation while others break free.
At the end credits of the film’s roles, Marvel fans can see a big thank you note to the man who brought Marvel on the cinematic foray.
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