The Year In Film: 1995

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-Well, nostalgia runs the world yet again. Today, we wanted to take a look at the year 1995. We've discussed this year and the impact it had on hip hop and R&B, but what about film? The year actually seems to be a pretty great one, so we've decided to take a look at the year that spawned a number of classic films. The world was clearly much different and dare I say, better. Films like the dreadful and awful Showgirls was still popular due to the content of the scenes and the premise. A film like that, for better or worse, would never exist in today's climate. The more aggressive films based on our neighborhoods and varying conditions like New Jersey Drive, Clockers and Dead Presidents might be criticized as too gritty and maybe too violent today. 1995 seems like such a long time ago, but it was truly a golden era of film. However, the true testament to the greatness of the films in 1995 rests well within the diversity in the movies.

One could see Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek in Desperado, see a Spike Lee feature in the aforementioned Clockers, watch animated gold in Toy Story, watch an epic "war" in Braveheart, a gripping tale of a mother who lost her child in Losing Isaiah, a disheartening look at inner city schools (with a white woman as the focal point... Hollywood) in Dangerous Minds, a very interesting narrative of the black experience in college and racism within it through Hjigher Learning, or watch the return of James Bond in Goldeneye. Fans of legendary actors got a treat as well. If you're a fan of Denzel Washington, he had THREE films this year. One was the acclaimed Crimson Tide. Another was the underrated Devil In A Blue Dress. The third? Well... well.... it was his worst movie ever, Virtuosity, but don't let that deter you. Otherwise, Denzel had a solid year in film himself. The same could be said for the legendary Robert Deniro. He had two roles in two classics, Casino and Heat. Both of those films are all time classics and they were a part of the 1995 output. The crazy part? This doesn't even scratch the surface of the depth in films in 1995. Simply put, 1995 is the greatest year in film history. Today, we get to look back at the greatest year in film and let you know why it holds that title. Let's get into it.

If there was a golden era of movies, 1995 would definitely be part of it. This was a year that saw an impressive amount of releases, and while it wasn’t quantitively any different, the quality of movies in ’95 were exceptional. With that said, some of the movies I enjoy the most are thanks to this year, so here are my top 15 movies of the year and some that make my top lists in various categories. 

Let me start with Billy Madison. Adam Sandler had only done a few movies before this one and I hadn’t seen any of them, where my appreciation for Adam Sandler started was during his time on Saturday Night Live. I absolutely loved Opera Man, Canteen Boy, Lucy Lawn and of course Carlos the Pepper Boy, so when his time on SNL ended (it was in 1995), fans were sad to see him go, but that’s when he got into movies heavily. Billy Madison was the first of many and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a perfect “feel good” comedy with a silly but entertaining storyline of a grown ass man retaking school from kindergarten onwards to prove to his father he can take over his corporation. The cast is surprisingly well chosen, the personalities are excellent and complement each other so well. Sandler does an impressive job of acting like a child amongst his 5 year old peers all the way up to associates and CEO’s and every age in between. This was released early on in the year and was definitely a great way to start ’95. 

Another good one is Vampire In Brooklyn. Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett and Kadeem Hardison make this comedy-horror-fantasy film a fun one to watch. Eddie Murphy teams up with Wes Craven for this so we know the story isn’t going to be the best. There were some enjoyable scenes but when you make a film that is trying to be a little bit of these particular genres it will come up short. Why I liked this? Because it’s a light hearted and silly vampire flick. I appreciate the different approaches and angles to vampires and this one was entertaining enough to be memorable. 

Another solid film was Outbreak. This movie was a bit unsettling for the time and I think that’s why I liked it. The story is about a deadly virus epidemic that has emerged once again from Zaire as result of a monkey that has stowed away on a plane. The virus has now arrived to the United States and it’s being transmitted at an exponential rate. The movie is fast paced and in 1995 seemed to have a rather realistic depiction of how it would be if such a thing happened. "Outbreak" was really the first of its kind and I’m sure gave way to a ton of conspiracy theories around biological warfare. I wasn’t too thrilled with the cast but they played the roles well and the story was enough to carry the movie. Since "Outbreak", many movies with this underlying theme were released but this came out at a time when the public couldn’t fathom something like this. Funny because it sounds oddly familiar to the Ebola outbreak in 2013.

Another great film on the year is Jumanji. One of my favorite Robin Williams films and one that is a classic. I love it for the element of fantasy, for how fun it is to watch and how over the top it was. Who would have thought that a movie about some kids playing a board game that comes to life would appeal to such varying demographics but it did. At the time I didn’t notice how fake everything looked but in ’95 it was ahead of its time. The only thing that is still a little odd for me about this is, it was intended to be a kids movie but it’s actually scary for the little ones. Other than that, it’s definitely thrilling and it’s one of the only movies that engages the viewer as if they’re experiencing these random events along with the characters. 

I really enjoyed the movie Dangerous Minds as well. This is the little brother and a bit of a hybrid between “Menace II Society”, “Boyz In The Hood” and “Higher Learning” (which also came out in ’95 but didn’t make my list although I did like it). Michelle Pfieffer is the lead role which was a bit surprising for this type of film, but she did very well and I personally wouldn’t have casted anyone else. Although the story was a bit predictable, it was still gripping and kept the audience engaged the whole way through and was a bit of a roller coaster emotionally. There was elements of triumph, of victory, of hope, joy and of course sadness. I liked that it revolved heavily around education and the importance of it which is what resonated with me the most. Aside from the story, “Dangerous Minds” stands out for its soundtrack. I really liked it and felt that each track was well chosen to accentuate the scenes and events. They enhanced and magnified the intensity of each emotion and added to the overall experience watching this movie. This was another memorable release from ’95. 

The craziest choice on my list is Se7en. This was and probably still is one of the most fucked up movies I’ve ever seen and the only reason I watched it was because I wasn’t allowed to watch it (it was rated R and they wouldn’t rent it to anyone younger than 18) and it was the talk of the school amongst the teens at the time who managed to see it. It took me a really long time to appreciate the story, the cinematography and the acting. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt are surprisingly good co-stars and Kevin Spacey is the PERFECT serial killer. He’s able to be emotionless, weird and behave in an unpredictable way so naturally so it makes the entire film that much more believable. The use of the seven deadly sins as a motive for each murder is absolutely insane but very much in line with David Fincher type films (he directed this one). Overall, I think the movie was very well done. It was intended to rattle the audience, have an element of mystery and be a psychological thriller and it did each of those very well. There have been very few movies of this kind that have been this successful and for this reason, "Se7en" will always be regarded as a classic. 

My next selection would be Desperado. I’m not the biggest Antonio Banderas fan but I absolutely loved him in this role. When I watched this I didn’t even know it was a sequel to “El Mariachi”, but it is both a great sequel and an incredible stand alone film. It’s action packed and the storyline of a “gunslinger going up against a drug smuggler” is pretty well depicted here. The cast is great and they all work together in such a complementary way. The visual effects are on point and the gun and fight choreography is impressive. This is a very enjoyable film for anyone who likes action, some suspense and pure engaging entertainment. This was a very well written and well directed film and deserves to be ranked in this year. 

Of course, I have to mention Friday. I know this doesn’t have the substance that other movies did but this is pure enjoyment and entertainment. There is endless humor from Smokey and Craig to Mr. Jones, the neighbors and everyone else for that matter. The humor is crude and the jokes are endless and the audience is guaranteed to laugh. Friday is one movie that is a staple in hip hop culture given the lead role is Ice Cube and he did this in his prime. Also, F. Gary Gray is brilliant when it comes to black films and that’s evident here. “Friday” was the first installment in a trilogy, it set the bar high and nothing after it was quite as good. This is a classic and definitely a favorite of ’95. 

A film some of you might not know too well, but I enjoyed is Bye Bye Love. I watched this movie as a result of there being NOTHING else on TV and I remember loving it when it was over. This is your typical film about the break up of 3 families but it focuses on the men rather than the women. In fact, this is one movie that touches on the emotions and struggles that men experience during a divorce from custody battles, problematic exes and how they try to start over. I appreciate the perspective but I didn’t like the lack of diversity from family to family. Of course this is a primarily white cast and shows pretty affluent families in the suburbs. For that it’s not entirely realistic but it’s a movie and I’ll be a little forgiving in that regard. I also like that each divorcee has kids that are different ages so their issues vary. There is a lot of humor in this albeit a little dry compared to something like “Friday” but it’s meant for an older audience so for that reason it works. I just like that for once the story focuses on the men. It’s nice and a welcome change. 

One of the most acclaimed movies of the year, Braveheart is next. I put off watching this movie for so long and I regret that. This is a phenomenal movie and is definitely one of Mel Gibson's best performances. Based in the time of King Edward I of England, it’s really a story of the underdog avenging the death of his bride. William Wallace (Mel Gibson) who is a Scot, wages war and a revolt against the king for raping his bride. There is so much emotion and victory to be shared in this film that it essentially “grabs” the audience and keeps them engaged the entire way through. There is not one minute of boredom and the story unravels at a good pace. This is an almost perfect story of valor, heroism and strength and wraps the audience up in the whirlwind of action. Truly an incredible highlight of the year. 

Another movie I enjoyed is Dead Man Walking. Anyone who likes perspective, insight, differing angles and entirely new perspective would love this film. Tim Robbins is the director and screenplay writer (it’s based off a book) and he does an immaculate job with this film. To sum it up, a nun receives a letter from a death row inmate to help him with his appeal just days before the scheduled execution. What sets this movie apart from others is that it is loaded with substance and incorporates an element of spirituality, reasoning and justice that is unmatched in any other film. The dialogue, the acting, the sequence of events forces the audience to detach themselves from their initial thought and to critically think about the whole picture before prematurely forming an opinion. I also loved that it dealt so heavily with religion and spirituality but didn’t exhaust it or create any uncomfortability. 

I have to mention Forget Paris next. This movie will forever hold a special place in my heart. For me, this is an OG chick flick with the perfect amount of humor, love and friendship all while taking me on the best rollercoaster of emotion. I think the best thing about the movie is the way it’s narrated. It’s a group of friends who are gossiping about a couple in their mutual friend circle. They were the perfect couple with a promising “happily ever after” relationship that was met with obstacles. There is a ton of laughs and of course some tears. It depicts a very mature and realistic relationship with all of it’s ups and downs while appealing to both men and woman alike. This will forever be on my top lists. 

Of course, there was no way I could forget Heat. Any movie with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino in it will be on my top lists, but this clever plot puts them head to head as lieutenant (Pacino) and criminal (Deniro). Deniro’s team steals everything from vaults and armored trucks to federal banks. These guys seem like they are untouchable and unstoppable. They live by rigid mottos like (and one of my favorite movie quotes of all time) “Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner” and they seem to pull off jobs flawlessly until they start getting lazy, which puts them on the police’s radar. As the movie develops Neil (Deniro), the mastermind, falls in love with a woman and the entire operation goes sideways. I think that component is what makes this somewhat realistic: someone who lives in absolutes has to have a vice, which ultimately leads to his downfall. The ending is brilliant, with a full blown suspenseful shootout. I appreciate that the ending isn’t what we expect and to see these incredible actors close out the movie is great.

A movie I love so much and really appreciate is next and that's Bad Boys. The only other movie I’ve seen more than this is the Godfather and that’s saying a lot. There is never enough I can say about Bad Boys and for that, it’s not only my second favorite of ’95 but is on my all time favorite list as well. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are an incredible duo and as co-stars they share the spotlight perfectly. The appeal with this is that it’s a whole bunch of genres; it’s a heist, a drama, an action and a comedy rolled into one and is perfect in its execution. All the scenes have memorable moments, quotes and action with fun and sometimes serious dialogue which only adds to the greatness. This is one movie I will never ever get sick of, it’s got a ton of replay value and is just as entertaining the 100th time you watch it as it was the 1st. I love 1995 for this. 

My favorite film of the year has to be Casino. Scorsese is brilliant and DeNiro is a powerhouse so when you put them together you get perfection in its truest form. This movie is incredibly well done and obviously revolves around a Casino and the mafia and is a portrayal of the relationship between the two. The best thing about this movie (and probably the reason why this movie is so well liked) is that the movie was written by the same person who wrote a book about the real life ways and events that a mob boss who ran four casinos had. Essentially, the movie is inspired by the real life happenings. Because these are things we’d never really know, so it’s alluring and peaks our interest. Now for the cast, it couldn’t have been better, as each person (Robert Deniro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, James Woods, Don Rickles and everyone else) plays their role so well it blurs the line between movie and actuality, maybe because real life mobsters were also being depicted here. While some may not like this particular genre, the acting is exceptional and so are the conversations, dialogues, backdrops and overall setting. Scorsese directed a masterpiece but we wouldn’t expect anything less from him. This was the best release of the year and was a deemed a classic flick almost immediately. 

There you have it, the movies that I think deserve endless recognition and praise. 1995 was a very good year for Hollywood and for movie-buffs. I would even go as far as to say there won’t be a year quite like this ever again. 

1995 was a great year for film. So many films in every genre that delivered enough to become classics today. I saw nearly everything. Major Payne, 12 Monkeys, Mallrats, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Casino, Bad Boys, Tommy Boy, Hackers, Toy Story, Children of the Corn, Candyman, Halloween, Tales From The Hood, Clockers, Dead Presidents, New, Jersey Drive, Losing Isaiah... and I loved all of those. Here's a few that I also loved and what I enjoyed about them.

Higher Learning was about teens in college trying to find their way, all the while dealing with racial tensions, rape, women's rights, education and more. This has important roles from Omar Epps, Tyra Banks, Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, Jennifer Connelly, Michael Rapaport and more. Tyra Banks was victim to a school shooting in this and its one of the saddest death scenes to me til this day. Powder was a movie I loved. I really liked the message. A mysterious albino teenager whose mother was struck by lightning and leaves him orphaned has extraordinary gifts like healing and telepathy. He's about nothing but love, but people were still afraid of him and his connection to a popular girl just makes it even worse for him. This world is too much for him so he returns to the essence from which he came. A great story about how we react to which we dont understand.

Ace Ventura, a goofy pet detective who specializes in missing animals takes a case to find a missing Miami Dolphins mascot and the team players that takes him on wild misadventures. This was Jim Carrey's breakout role and one his funniest. Mortal Kombat got no complaints from me. I felt that it was a great adaptation of the video game. Raiden being my favorite character was portrayed in a dope fashion. Of course, if it was made now there would be a better storyline and visuals but for the time it was executed well. Grumpier Old Men, a sequel to Grumpy Old Men about two old friends who join forces to sabotage the opening of a restaurant that was once a fishing bait shop they didn't want to leave. The premise was they play practical jokes on quest. It was hilarious. These two were both sick but you couldn't tell during this film. Their chemistry was authentic. Sadly, they both would pass on in 2000 and 2001 to be buried by one another. RIP to both legends.

A Little Princess was a movie I did not want to watch. I was like "I'm not watching that bullshit", but some chick had me watch it at the time and you know how that goes. Surprisingly, I thought it was cool. You find yourself rooting for the abandoned child whose father is presumed dead. She's forced into being a slave in a boarding school while being bullied yet she still has hope and a magnetic spirit that attracts ppl to her & she gives them hope and  courage as well with her magical imagination. In adulthood, she has that same spirit of giving and servitude in real life. She's big on philanthropy doing a lot of work in Africa. Dangerous Minds was one of those films where rebellious teens needed an unorthodox way of being taught and connected to which is not a new concept, but Michelle Pfeiffer's character does it justice. A retired marine who has her own obstacles as well. This film was accompanied by Coolio's classic track "Gangsta's Paradise". The Basketball Diaries starring Leonardo DiCaprio was solid. Based on a true story about a talented teen basketball star who finds himself experimenting with heroin with his friends and slowly starts to lose himself and everything he loves. I loved this film when I watched it because it really mimicked the lives of those I saw going through similar struggles with addiction. This was easily one of Leo's best performances.

Friday starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker about two friends who spend their day getting high, getting into trouble, and somehow gaining enemies was great. This film was full of just unfortunate events while hilarity ensues. Not their first roles but definitely their breakout roles along with other relatable characters you find in every hood which is why it became a hood classic, one of those movies that everyone knew lines to. However, and I will end off with this, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was trash. It was a film that really missed the mark on what we needed from the TV based project. Still, aside from that, 1995 was a great year.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-1995 had something for everyone. If you loved black films this was a year that you could enjoy. If you wanted something geared for black women specificially, you could turn to Waiting To Exhale. The film was a success and features one of the greatest soundtracks ever. You could also go for Higher Learning, which was an important role for Omar Epps and his biggest since Juice and gave Ice Cube a different role than what we knew of him (sort of). The often criticized Panther movie is the only feature film that showcases the Panthers, but it doesn't really grasp the reality as well as it should. Dead Presidents was solid, as was New Jersey Drive, and if you need a comedy based around the military, Major Payne was perfect. Damon Wayans hasn't had a role as good as this honestly, and I doubt he will ever again. Of course, Eddie Murphy would take part in Vampire In Brooklyn, Tales From The Hood came out this year, and Spike Lee would direct Clockers, but my two favorite "black films" of the year are true classics and two of my favorite movies of all time: Bad Boys and Friday. Bad Boys starred Martin and Will, and is honestly a classic I never get tired of watching. Friday, with Chris Ticker and Ice Cube is the exact same. These are childhood staples for me, and adulthood staples for me. Both of these films are all time classics.

If you were into kid and animated films, 1995 had you covered. The GOAT, Toy Story was released this year, as was the underrated A Goofy Movie. The animated Pochantos film was released this year as well Babe, the most adorable film about a pig that's been made. Casper also was released this year and if you're into adorable ghosts, this was a film for you. If you were into more serious or darker movies, 1995 had them in variety. Seven, the sinister film starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, and Gwyneth Paltrow showcases Spacey as the ultimate villain. He continues his villain streak with an excellent turn in The Usual Suspects as Verbal Kint/Keyser Soze. Apollo 13, 12 Monkeys, Leaving Las Vegas, and others helped round out a more serious and intense side of film on the year. Antonio Banderas had a career year, as his two best movies were released this year, as well as a terrible one (Never Talk To Strangers). Desperado was solid, but I'm personally partial to Assassins with him and Sylvester Stallone. I remember seeing this in the theater as a kid and I've loved that movie ever since. It's probably not as good as I remember, but it's still a favorite of mine regardless.

Overall, 1995 seems like the greatest year in film history. Goldeneye, Braveheart, The Indian In The Cupboard, Just Cause, and so many more really helped elevate this year at the theaters. Sure, there were movies like Tommy Boy, Judge Dredd, Batman Forever (some liked it), Virtuosity, Clueless (a classic to some), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (had so much potential), and To Wong Foo (why was this film ever made), but overall, the year was so great that it overrides the select few horrible films that took place. All in all, 1995 was a great year in film and quite possibly the greatest ever.



Popular Posts