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The Year Was 1998

JA from MNPP here - I know it's 2003 Month here at The Film Experience but Vulture has been doing a 15 year anniversary retrospective of all things 1998 this week, which has me reminiscing about that year too. I was in college working at the local art-house cinema - that'd be the lovely Little Theatre in Rochester New York, which everyone should visit if you ever happen to find yourselves in that neck of the woods. I loved working there - I was studying film at school and living film at work. I saw everything released during that period of time, and got to mingle with the Rochester rich and famous - I handed Phillip Seymour Hoffman a napkin once! This was when Happiness was out so, you know, it really meant something.

Anyway I was looking through the list of movies released in the Fall of 1998 and was wowed by a double-header that came out fifteen years ago on November 6th - Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine and Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters. Talk about grabbing my brain and yanking it back through time, so vivid is my recollection of what a one-two punch of queer cinema that week was. Brendan Fraser in nothing but a towel and a gas-mask, fumbling on the floor with Ian McKellen; glam-rocked Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers splayed out for all the world, and Toni Collette, to see - I wish I'd known at the time what a good time it was for gay movies, but who could for-see the yawning chasm of the 2000s quick approaching?


Oh and another movie came out that week - Elizabeth. Yes that means it's been fifteen years since Cate Blanchett's first Oscar nomination for Best Actress, just as she's about to stampede the competition for her first win in that category. I think just by mentioning this I can still flare up people's anger about her losing to Gwyneth, right? Harvey Weinstein rawr! All that jazz. Anyway I personally probably would've given the statue to Holly Hunter for Living Out Loud that year so what do I know?

What are some of your favorite 1998 movies?

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Reader Comments (36)

My favorite movies of 1998 are Life Is Beautiful, Happiness, The Truman Show, Elizabeth, Pleasantville, Shakespeare In Love, SLC Punk, and You've Got Mail. It's cool how many great movies came out that year. I can't believe it's been fifteen years.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

Shakespeare in Love
The Truman Show
The Opposite of Sex
The Big Lebowski
Saving Private Ryan
Central Station
Sliding Doors
Velvet Goldmine
The Little Voice
Fear and Loathing in LAs Vegas
There's Something About Mary
Out Of Sight
Great Expectations

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrace

Movie geeks always go on and on about 1999, but the renaissance really started in fall of '98.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I'll always defend Gwyneth. I think she (with great lighting) literally glows from within. She's thoroughly enjoying her chewy dialogue and its fun to watch her.

The ceremony honoring 1998 was the first time I watched the Oscars. Watching Whoopi really go there about Clinton rocked my young mind.

Anyone can upload that monologue to YouTube anytime now.

Favorite Moments of 98:

Out of Sight's tussle in the trunk.
Shakespeare in Love's performance of Romeo and Juliet (all that plate spinning!)
The opening of He Got Game (so weirdly underrated yet still oddly assembled)
Pleasantville Joan Allen getting painted
Robert Richardson's The Horse Whisperer cinemtography, and Redford and Scott Thomas's slow dance.
Jim Carrey in The Truman Show
and as always Emma Thompson in Primary Colors.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDrew C

Wow, what a great year.

I loved:

Out of Sight
Mulan (favorite Disney princess!)
The Big Lebowski
The Truman Show
Shakespeare in Love
The Wedding Singer
Enemy of the State (just a sucker for Gene Hackman)

A Bug's Life

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Oh, and I've always been fond of the Thanksgiving Bomb Double Feature of Babe: Pig in the City and Very Bad Things.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I have soft spot for Stepmom,i know i know but tale about actors raisinfg their game for so so material,i've been watching jena malones career ever since..

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Oprah is my Best Actress from 1998. I don't actually sit through Beloved anymore I skip directly to my favorite Oprah moments and relish the lush cinematography and the craftsmanship of all involved. And yes a Kathy Bates partisan (I will forever love you Nathan for declaring me that) like myself would have denied her a second win for Primary Colors to give it to any of the women from Beloved in Sup Actress: Beah Richards, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Thandie Newton, and Kimberly Elise.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

This is my favorite year that I lived through so far. The fashion and music was amazing that year. I was hooked on Madonna's 'Ray of Light' and Lauryn Hill's album.

I also discovered a lot of film gems in '98 at the local college cinema: 'Happiness', 'Gods & Monsters' were probably my favorites. I also really liked 'Affliction,' 'Beloved,' 'Living Out Loud,' & 'One True Thing.'

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMrJeffery

I had totally forgotten.

- the scene at the diner in "Love and Death on Long Island," John Hurt's desperation and Jason Priestley's sad resignation

- Sinead O'Connor's Mary in "The Butcher Boy"

- Gong Li AND Maggie Cheung in "Chinese Box"

- the Toni/Lisa/Parker/Alanna quartet of "Clockwatchers"

- "John Wayne's Teeth" in "Smoke Signals"

- that triumphant smile on LisaGay Hamilton's face as she makes it across the river in "Beloved"

- Christian Bale, Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers would have been the perfect cast of "Interview with the Vampire," but thankfully they made "Velvet Goldmine" instead

- comeback number three or four, I lost count, for Michael Caine in "Little Voice"

- and that absolutely beautiful final scene of "Gods and Monsters" with Brendan Fraser stomping around in the alley, it makes me happycry to this day.

Yeah, not a bad year at all.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim

So glad you mentioned Holly Hunter in Living Out Loud - such a little gem of a movie - and she was absolutely fantastic in that - but nothing beats Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth!! Even being a die hard Meryl Streep fan and loving One True Thing (still cry everytime I see Renee and William Hurt help her out of the wheelchair.... oh, so sad! )

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Rushmore, The Opposite of Sex, and The Last Days of Disco remain all-time favorites, and I loved Dark City, The Thin Red Line, and Happiness. And Urban Legend was fun. I was also a big fan of Pleasantville at the time, but I don't know if that one has aged well (haven't seen it in years).

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

1998 witnessed for me that dreadful transition from 5th to 6th grade, or from elementary school to LIFEISAWFUL/when will my (older) siblings realize that I am awesome and soooo mature? So for me (and probably several awkward middle schoolers), 1998 meant:

1. pretending to get the jokes in There's Something About Mary in order to like the world's coolest middle schooler.
2. going along with my mom's enthusiasm for Meet Joe Black (also known as, Brad Pitt displaying a height of handsome)
3. Thinking that I was cool for thinking that Deep Impact was better than Armageddon, even though I can't remember it at all anymore...something about Leelee Sobieski and Elijah Wood? What a 90s dream team
4. Making a man out of you (alternatively: getting down to business to defeat the Hun. But also actively disliking Christina Aguilera's diva ballad)
5. wishing that I was Lindsey Lohan (I got over that...)
6. daydreaming about how I would fare in Pleasantville (at the time: I would have stayed).
7. loving dot from A Bug's Life (but thinking that I was cool for liking Antz better, which was poor judgement on my part)
8. being angry with everyone else that a comedy could beat a World War II movie (even though, being 11, I had not yet seen either)
9. obsessing over Josh Harnett and Elijah Wood in the Faculty and thinking that Jordanna Brewster was totally awesome
10. singing "When you Believe" from the Prince of Egypt 80 million times with my middle school choir
11. thinking that Ever After was a totally realistic rendition of the Cinderella story
12. thinking that Stepmom was the pinnacle of dramadies (until I saw Patch Adams...), and that "Aint no mountain high" was the greatest song ever
13. hearing my musical theater devotee mom and brother decry that Les Miserables was NOT a musical
14. Simon Birch made me re-think taking bus rides near water forever after (and compulsively plan my escape route ever since)
15. Being convinced, like everyone else, that my life WAS the Truman Show. And I played to the crowds (hamming it up while alone) thereafter.
16. Finding it hard to believe that Drew Barrymore was not always the world's most endearing every-girl actress, and realizing for the first time that 80s music existed.
16. Knowing that "My Giant" and "Paulie" happened.

Needless to say I missed a lot of great cinema that year, only to be redeemed by at-home viewings in subsequent years. But that's what 1998 meant to me, in 1998.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

The films I still watch from 1998 (isn't that the true test of time?) are Rushmore, The Big Lebowski, The Last Days of Disco, The Horse Whisperer, Primary Colors, Great Expectations, and Out of Sight.

I'm agnostic on the whole Cate/Gwyneth debate. I like Cate better as an actress, and she deserved it more, but Elizabeth was not a great film, and Gwyneth's performance was fine. Overall, I thought the Oscar nominees were very uncreative that year - it might have been one of the worst years for nominees, relative to the quality of films actually released, in the 20 or so years I've been following the Oscars.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

98/99 was just such a good run of amazing movies.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Suzanne: I'd say 99 was even more daring and challenging as a year and even more disappointing that, aside from American Beauty and The Sixth Sense, they passed over these (even discounting foreign films, Toy Story 2 (sequel to unnominated original) and Fight Club (too brutal for the Academy's tastes)) for Cider House Rules and The Insider:

Magnolia (A), The Virgin Suicides (A-), South Park BL&U (A-), Election (A-), Office Space (A-), Three Kings (A-), Being John Malkovich (A-), Topsy-Turvy (B+) and Eyes Wide Shut (B+.)

In 98, forgetting Lebowski and foreign language fare, they passed over:

Rushmore (A), American History X (because of the Lead Actor nod) (A-), Out of Sight (A-), The Truman Show (A-), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (A-), Buffalo '66 (B+). As for your examples of 98, I somehow doubt I would grade them more than B+.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I am all for Shakespeare in Love and Life is Beautiful (including their very unpopular acting wins - very deserved, IMO).

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I believe we did this year before. I suggest 1989 for a future top ten.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Gods and Monsters
The Wedding Singer
Primary Colors
Saving Private Ryan
Enemy of the State
I Went Down
Ever After

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

1998 the year Christina Ricci peaked too soon :(

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

A Simple Plan! I don't think anyone's mentioned it yet, and it's a great little yarn.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

"Favorite"? Well, let's say they all stand out for good reasons:

American History X
Babe: Pig in the City
The Big Lebowski
Ever After
The Gingerbread Man
Gods and Monsters
High Art
Hilary and Jackie
Little Voice
Living Out Loud
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
The Opposite of Sex
Out of Sight
The Parent Trap
Practical Magic
Riddler's Moon
Run Lola Run
Safe Men
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
A Simple Plan
Six Days Seven Nights
Star Trek: Insurrection
There's Something About Mary
The Thin Red Line
The Truman Show
Velvet Goldmine
Your Friends & Neighbors

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Top 10 of 1998:

1. Antz (I still love this movie after 15 years. Hilarious and ingenious. Fuck A Bug's Life, Antz has Woody Allen!)

2. Shakespeare in Love (One of those rare Best Picture wins for a comedy and it was a great choice. Gwyneth never acted so well, or looked so good, and I loved Geoffrey Rush. Very funny movie.)

3. The Wedding Singer (The only Sandler film that I truly liked/loved. Endlessly quotable and utterly charming if you can believe it.)

4. American History X (This movie contains some of the most emotionally violent sequences since Schindler's List. Norton gives the performance of his career here.)

5. Life Is Beautiful (I completely bought the charm of Roberto Benigni's Holocaust love story. I'd probably cry if I saw it today.)

6. The Last Days (I haven't seen Shoah, so this must be the best documentary about the Holocaust that I have seen. There are moments in this movie that I will remember for the rest of my life.)

7. Blade (A mixture of sleek comic book movies and unrelenting Blaxploitation, this film is probably Snipes' best and a very fun vampire story.)

8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (I saw this when I was 15, well before my first run in with any questionable substances, but it was so wildly engrossing that I was amazed by all of it.)

9. Celebrity (An underrated Woody movie is hard to come by nowadays, but Celebrity gets my vote as one and it features Kenneth Branagh giving us possibly the best performance of any of the many actors who have tried to imitate Woody's distinct neurotic personality.)

10. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham burst on the scene with this crime caper that is like a British Pulp Fiction but with more slapstick comedy.)

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean Troutman

The Big Lebowski
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas
The Thin Red Line
Out of Sight
Dark City
A Simple Plan
Saving Private Ryan
Babe 2: Pig In The City
There's Something About Mary (Though it has not aged nearly as well as the others)
Small Soldiers
American History X (Oh boy, let's talk about a movie that has really had a disconnect with those who love this movie **hint** way too many white supremacists)
Slums of Beverly Hills- I had feeling for Natasha Lyonne that I have still not shook off in 2013.
The Celebration
Rounders- Remember it was cited as Vanity Fair's reason to name Gretchen Mol as 'Hollywood's New It Girl'? Yeah, Miramax was powerful.
Run Lola Run
Velvet Goldmine
Snake Eyes

Saving Private Ryan vs. Shakespeare In Love is something even little me remembered. My dad was pissed. He took his father to see SPR at least 3 times in the theater. It meant so much to him. I feel like I have seen that D-Day opening so many times in so many contexts and only recently saw the whole thing through. I think people who say it is pretty saccharine after that opening seem to not really look at what Spielberg is trying to say, which is actually not so 'God Bless America!' I also saw Shakespeare in Love. It's good fun! Shame both seem to be the prime examples of what the Oscars do to a film's reputation in a negative way.

The dumb stuff CMG had to see because Hollywood thought, and still thinks, young audience= dumb in 1998:

Spice World
The Waterboy
Meet the Deedles
Lost in Space
Dr. Dolittle
Madeleine- Heaven help me this was my first ever Frances McDormand film.
Patch Adams- When it hit me Robin Williams was not infallible. Good lord.
Barney's Great Adventure- I hated having a little sister at this time.
The Man in the Iron Mask- What can I say? I liked the 3 Musketeers at this time.
Quest for Camelot
Air Bud
Simon Birch
The Rugrats Movie
Jack Frost
Pocahontas II
Mighty Joe Young- It did, however, cause to have puppy love for Charlize Theron.

Also the year of Mulan, Parent Trap, and A Bug's Life. Oh yeah, Antz. It was like the other double movie with Armageddon and Deep Impact being the major one. I swear my mother took me to You've Got Mail. Twice. I also saw The Prince of Egypt animated film. That was good, right?

Paul Outlaw- You liked Gus van Sant's Psycho? As what? An exercise? A meta commentary on the futility of making a sequel to a perfect movie?

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Kathy Bates in Primary Colors. The end.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJordan


November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

CMG: I'd say Jack Frost probably gets a bit too much flack. Yes, the CGI's bad. Yes, it's not a movie with any pretensions of "intelligence." However, Keaton IS a likeable presence that it's pleasant to spend a movie around. I can imagine much better ways to spend my time (coughKindHeartsAndCoronetscough), but I can also imagine FAR worse ways to spend time (coughManofSteelcough).

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I loved "The Wedding Singer" and, while I understand her viewpoint, I was sad to learn that Alexis Arquette thought it was a degrading role. I loved it as a 12-year-old gay boy.

I remember I would type up the box office charts every week (just copying them from the paper) and wondering what movie would finally topple "Titanic". I was obsessed with Neve Campbell so I thought it would be "Wild Things" (and I would have accepted "Spice World"), and I was kind of disappointed when it ended up being "Lost in Space".

My nostalgic self also remembers:

Rush Hour (saw it with a friend and got dropped off by his mom -- we felt so grown-up)
The Rugrats Movie
The Faculty (the only time I was on the Josh-Hartnett-is-so-dreamy bandwagon)

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

CMG: I appreciate(d) Van Sant's Psycho as an exercise, certainly. Also as a piece of the puzzle that is Van Sant's entire body of work, since I'm a fan. (Not to mention that I'm a Hitchcock fan.) Knowing that it was supposed to be a shot-for-shot recreation, I wasn't expecting anything more than an exercise, and, having seen the original at least ten times, it was actually fun.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

i probably would've given Holly the statue too. love her in that movie so much. In fact, I DID AT THE TIME. I was not yet online but i was already giving out my own awards in my print zine.

November 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ringu, which was cruelly kept from the US market for five years and released as a marketing tie-in for the less effective US remake.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Best Foreign Language

Best Comedy (great year for comedy!!!)

Best Drama

Best Sci-Fi/Horror/Fantasy/Action/Thriller

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteriván

catbaskets, absolutely ADORE "When You Believe." Tune still holds up. Whitney, we miss you.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Ever After! I loved it so much as a child and I'm sure I still do (haven't seen it in a year or two though). Before I really starting following the Oscars or knew anything about film, I called it the most underrated movie. I don't know if that's still true lol, but I do think it's very underrated.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Dangerous Beauty
Dark City
The Object of my Affection
The Opposite of Sex
The Horse Whisperer
The Truman Show
High Art
Out of Sight
Mask of Zorro
The Imposters
Meet Joe Black
Shakespeare in Love
You've Got Mail

November 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

The Thin Red Line
American History X
Live Flesh
Gods and Monsters
The Prince of Egypt
The Mask of Zorro
Out of Sight
Enemy of the State
Fucking Åmål

A Perfect Murder
The Siege
Little Voice

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

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