What Really Was the Best. Movie. Year. Ever.? Here’s the Case for 1999.


Maria Kresen, Staff Writer

If you’re bored of Hollywood rehashing the same plotlines and superhero movies for the seventeenth time, you probably feel how the teenagers of 1998 felt. The following year, the last before the new millennium, major and independent movie studios invested in independent filmmakers and screenplays written by twenty-somethings. The films of 1999 are dissected in Brian Raftery’s new book Best. Movie. Year. Ever. How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen. Hours of research and 130 interviews conducted over two years offer an in-depth yet easily- accessible investigation into films Fight Club, The Blair Witch Project, Ten Things I Hate About You, American Pie, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Office Space, The Matrix, and many more. I thoroughly enjoyed this in-depth analysis of the films that ushered in the modern era. 

Raftery skillfully separates the movies discussed into the season it was released and movies of the same genre. For example, one chapter dissects American Pie, Varsity Blues, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Virgin Suicides, and Cruel Intentions, as they are all teen movies released in the summer of 1999. Interviews and research of each respective film are separated in each chapter, thus giving each film its own time in the spotlight. When reading a chapter on the different movies with different themes yet in the same genre, comparisons and contrasts flow as smoothly as the dialogue in Election.

The research in Raftery’s work is deserving of praise.

 How one man managed to have personal meetings with Kirsten Dunst (The Virgin Suicides, Jumanji, Marie Antoinette) , Ron Livingston (Office Space, Band of Brother, SATC), Reese Witherspoon (Cruel Intentions, Election, Fear, Pretty Little Lies), Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde) and so many more influential players in the movie world amazes me. Some names have stood the test of time better than others, but just because you haven’t heard of the director of American Beauty doesn’t mean he wasn’t the talk of gossip shows and Hollywood two decades ago. The momentous films of the final year before the millenium influenced the movies we see today, the actors we see on social media every day, and the new generation of filmmakers and filmgoers. To learn where our current pop culture took a turn for the more sarcastic, more raunchy, and more realistic is artfully woven together by an author-film buff aware of the world around us now but, having lived through the era, is keenly aware of the connections linking two centuries, and digs into this.

If you enjoy watching movies, reading celebrity gossip, or learning more about why this generation is so nostalgic for a time we weren’t even alive for, Brian Raftery’s Best. Movie. Year. Ever. How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen. is worth reading. By picking the book up and reading even one chapter, whether it be on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace or The Matrix or Fight Club, you can understand why news sites on Snapchat so closely follow the children of famous actors, why Ten Things I Hate About You was on Netflix, and American Eagle advertises plaid mini skirts and Notorious B.I.G t-shirts. Sometimes, when nostalgia comes into the mainstream, we forget how much that original culture impacts us. Raftery proves culture is perfectly encapsulated in the movies: social issues, music, clothing, and, of course, high schoolers.