WWelcome to Part 4 of a 5-part, decade-wise exploration of the finest English language cinema. So far, we've done the 60's, the 70's and the 80's. This, and the following list, look not just at the most acclaimed films of the decade, but the ones with the most impactful cultural footprint. We hope you enjoy the show, and go back to your classic DVDs with a smile on your face.
Let's just call 'em the nondescript nineties.
The Internet. The Gulf War. Seinfeld. Dolly The Sheep. The iMac. Michael Schumacher. ICQ. Pervez Musharraf. Lara Croft. Grunge fashion. Michael Jordan. Genocide in Rwanda. Spice Girls. The death of Princess Diana. OJ Simpson 'not guilty'. Tiger Woods. The Simpsons. The death of Freddie Mercury. Techno music. Sony PlayStation. End of the Cold War. MC Hammer. The Taliban seize Afghanistan. MP3s. Nelson Mandela. The death of Kurt Cobain. Jay Leno takes over from Johnny Carson. Hip-hop. The death of Mother Teresa. Baywatch. Oasis. The Chechen Wars. The Kargil War. Guns'n'Roses break up. Hong Kong becomes a part of China. The world panics about impending y2k doom. And Bill Clinton does "not have sexual relations with that woman."
To be fair, it's a decade too soon to reminisce about just yet, considering the one after that hasn't even ended yet. Generation X moved over and was introduced to Generation Y, and global attention spans got even shorter. The world was ravaged by war and, for the first time, we were treated to round-the-clock news channel coverage of it. Meanwhile MTV, seemingly innocuously, created shows in a new genre called 'reality television,' a stultifying monster that continues to haunt us to this day.
In popular film, the era of the blockbuster continued unabated. American cinema was overwhelmed by groundbreaking special effects, even as the European influence shone through in its independent cinema as a major number of auteur directors found their wings. Film was developed to meet new formats, the medium itself altered by radical editing and a significant increase in close-up cinematography -- both results of home viewing becoming as important as theatrical viewing. A new style of consumption necessitated a new style of creation.
The ten following English-language films, presented strictly in chronological order, have little in common with each other. Save for the fact that they all made our collective jaws drop in awe.
Text: Raja Sen