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  • Writer's pictureEllen Cheshire

#1930to2020: Films from 1990 - 2009

Updated: May 5, 2023

With limited access to cinemas, I'm still having fun discovering new films and revisiting old favourites at home. Back in June 2020 I started an ambitious viewing project: #1930to2020, to watch at least one film from sequential years. With this blog I have crossed from the 20th to the 21st century, having watched 50 films from 1990 - 2009. 12 were new to me, the rest re-visits.

You can read my blog on the 59 films I watched from 1930 – 1949 here. You can read about the 68 films I watched from 1950 - 1969 here.

You can read about the 52 films I watched from 1970 - 1989 here.

You can read my comments on all the films on my twitter @cheshellen on #1930to2020 hashtag or on my letterboxd. The full list is below.

For those interested in knowing more about films directed by women, from the films I watched over these two decades 15 were by female filmmakers, 14 feature films and one documentary about film director Maya Deren. Of these, I revisited films by Mira Nair, Jane Campion, Sally Potter and Isobel Coixet, the remaining being a mix of new-to-me American films from women directors.

In a separate viewing project linked to a writing commission I watched 9 films written and or directed by David Mamet: Homicide, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Edge, Wag the Dog, The Spanish Prisoner, The Winslow Boy, Heist, Spartan and Redbelt.

Top 5 new to me films

The Celluloid Closet (1995) w/d Rob Epstein/Jeffrey Friedman, based on Vito Russo's 1981 book The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. A chronological look at LGBTQ representation in UK/US movies from silent period to 1990s. Ends asking what next? A follow-up needed.

The Winslow Boy (1999) w/d. David Mamet from the oh-so-brit Terence Rattigan source material. 14yo Ronnie's been accused of theft, but the driver here is the passion/obsession/sacrifices his father (Nigel Hawthorne), sister (Rebecca Pidgeon) & barrister (Jeremy Northam) make.

In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2002) d. Martina Kudlacek. Feature length documentary about innovative/groundbreaking experimental filmmaker of the 1940s/50s Maya Deren. Includes sequences from Deren's films, archival material, and interviews with friends, colleagues etc.

The Secret Life of Words (2005) w/d. Isabel Coixet. Solitary hardworking Hanna (Sarah Polley - amazing) is forced to take a vacation from her factory job & uses it to nurse Josef (Tim Robbins) who has been injured on an oilrig. There, she opens up, sharing her tragic life-story.

The Savages (2007) d. Tamara Jenkins. There's no escaping how sad it is that Philip Seymour Hoffman died so young, his work here/elsewhere flawless. Here equally matched by Laura Linney as siblings who find themselves caring of their ailing father (Philip Bosco). Moving/lovely.

Top 5 re-visits

Dave (1993) d. Ivan Reitman. Dave Kovac (Kevin Kline) goes from running his temp agency to running the US after a one-off gig to double for the president is extended. Frank Langella truly wicked as Chief of Staff, & Sigourney Weaver charming as first lady. Fab. Love the budget scene.

The Ice Storm (1997) d. Ang Lee. The cold/empty world the Carvers & the Hoods inhabit will no doubt hold some at arms-length. Further viewing will be rewarded by an appreciation of the intelligent script, precise production/costume details, superb cinematography & flawless acting. Including very different roles for Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver, from their last outing together in Dave.

The Namesake (2006) d. Mira Nair. Ashima (Tabu) & Ashoke (Irrfan Khan) move from Calcutta to the US in the early 70s. Their children (Kal Penn & Sahira Nair) have to balance tradition with their US freedoms. Film's power comes from its understated performances & slow unfolding.

Hot Fuzz (2007) d. Edgar Wright, co-written with Simon Pegg who stars as a high-achieving London-cop exiled to a seemingly idyllic rural village, where paired with ‘Nick Frost’, they investigate a series of mysterious deaths. Parodic buddy action cop which improves with each viewing.

Bright Star (2009) w/d. Jane Campion. There's a simplicity here which gets right to the heart of the romance between Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) & John Keats (Ben Whishaw). It's infused with a sense of calm, which is carried through the cinematography, music, performances & plot.

And here's the full list...

1. Edward Scissorhands (1990) d. Tim Burton

2. Homicide (1991) w/d. David Mamet

3. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) d. James Foley (sp. David Mamet)

4. Dave (1993) d. Ivan Reitman

5. Interview with a Vampire (1994) d. Neil Jordan

6. Blue Sky (1994) d. Tony Richardson

7. Now and Then (1995) d. Lesli Linka Glatter

8. The Celluloid Closet (1995) w/d Rob Epstein/Jeffrey Friedman

9. The Hunchback of Notredame (1996) d. Greg Trousdale & Kirk Wise

10. Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) d Mira Nair

11. The Edge (1997) d. Lee Tamahori (sp. David Mamet)

12. Wag the Dog (1997) d. Barry Levinson, w. David Mamet/Hilary Henkin

13. The Spanish Prisoner (1997) w/d. David Mamet

14. The Ice Storm (1997) d. Ang Lee

15. Practical Magic (1998) d. Griffin Dunne

16. The Interview (1998) w/d. Craig Monahan

17. Notting Hill (1999) d. Roger Michell

18. The Winslow Boy (1999) w/d. David Mamet

19. Tarzan (1999) d. Kevin Lima

20. A Straight Story (2000) d. David Lynch

21. The Man Who Cried (2000) d Sally Potter

22. Love's Labour's Lost (2000) d. Kenneth Branagh

23. Heist (2001) w/d. David Mamet

24. The Cat's Meow (2001) d. Peter Bogdanovich

25. Gosford Park (2001) d. Robert Altman

26. Hysterical Blindness (2002) d. Mira Nair

27. Adaptation (2002) d. Spike Jonze

28. In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2002) d. Martina Kudlacek

29. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) d. Audrey Wells

30. Intolerable Cruelty (2003) d. Coen Brothers

31. My Life Without Me (2003) d. Isabel Coixet

32. The Other Boleyn Girl (2003) w/d. Philippa Lowthorpe

33. Spartan (2004) w/d. David Mamet

34. National Treasure (2004) d. Jon Turteltaub

35. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) d. Wes Anderson

36. VforVendetta (2005) d. James McTeigue

37. Just Like Heaven (2005) d. Mark Waters

38. The Batman vs Dracula (2005) d. Seung Eun Kim, Michael Goguen & Sam Liu

39. The Secret Life of Words (2005) w/d. Isabel Coixet

40. Brokeback Mountain (2005) d. Ang Lee

41. Sherrybaby (2006) w/d. Laurie Collyer

42. The Namesake (2006) d. Mira Nair

43. Hot Fuzz (2007) d. Edgar Wright

44. Stardust (2007) d. Matthew Vaughn

45. The Savages (2007) d. Tamara Jenkins

46. The Secret Life of Bees (2008) d. Gina Prince-Bythewood

47. The Women (2008) d. Diane English

48. Redbelt (2008) w/d. David Mamet

49. Bright Star (2009) w/d. Jane Campion

50. Sherlock Holmes (2009) d. Guy Ritchie


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