(Punch Drunk Monkey-Thon
Movies of the Year

Here is the list of movies rated A- or higher on the Monkey-Thon review list.

Then, I ranked them.

Here’s the final order for my favorite movies of 1997. Note the key word there – "favorite."

1. L.A. Confidential

2. Titanic

3. Contact

4. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

5. Men In Black

6. Waiting for Guffman

7. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (tie)

7. Grosse Pointe Blank (tie)

9. Hercules

10. The Full Monty

11. Liar Liar

Honorable Mention: Star Wars/The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi


1. L.A. Confidential

The best acted, best directed, most interesting story of the year. Great performances from every member of the ensemble cast make this my winner, by a surgically-reconstructed-to-look-like-Lana-Turner nose.

2. Titanic

A close second. On sheer spectacle alone, this movie delivers the goods. Very very good, but not quite as compelling as L.A. Confidential.

3. Contact

A surprise choice, I’m sure, but this was a case of a favorite book being translated perfectly to the big screen. Bob Zemeckis did a fantastic job, and I even liked Jodie Foster, whom I usually loathe. This movie also dared to have a hero with views decidedly outside the American mainstream, and you’ve got to admire that. Carl Sagan would be proud.

4. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Yeah, baby, yeah! Irresistibly goofy fun, Mike Myers is in top form as the secret agent from the 60’s thawed out and returned to action in the not-so-swinging ‘90’s.

5. Men In Black

A movie that was perfectly just what it was: Good, clean, alien booty-kicking fun. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith were perfect casting for this summer trifle that lingered on the palate long after the movie ended. How good was it? Pretty damn good. As a bonus, it did better at the box office than The Lost World.

6. Waiting for Guffman

Was this a 1997 movie, or a late 1996 carryover? Whatever, I didn’t see it until 1997, so it goes on this year’s list. I’m surprised it didn’t get more exposure, because it was just as good as spiritual predecessor This Is Spinal Tap in many places, and featured indie doll of the moment Parker Posey. Damn hilarious.

7. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion/Grosse Pointe Blank (tie)

These two reunion movies were flip sides of the coin, recalling an era where movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club were common. What happened to that style of movie? Romy and Michele comes closest to recapturing that unique Ferris vibe, while Grosse Pointe Blank provides a welcome dose of John Cusack’s genius, and a nice bookend to ten years of superior performances in roles as high school guys.

9. Hercules

Unfairly neglected, this animated offering from Disney isn’t The Lion King, but what is, or will be? This was at least as good as Pocohontas or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and featured the year’s best animated vocal performance – James Woods’ hilarious Hades.

10. The Full Monty

Fall down funny in places, jaw droppingly serious in others. This had the single best ending shot of any movie of the year. A lot of fun.

11. Liar Liar

Jim Carrey doing what Jim does. There’s something to be said for watching a premiere comedian at the top of his form, and this story gave a pseudo-plausible explanation for Carrey’s gyrating theatrics. Damn funny.

Honorable Mention:

Star Wars/The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi

Fantastic as it was to see these back on the big screen, my only complaint remains the use of technology not to enhance scenes, but to change scenes and character motivations. I will never understand why George Lucas felt the need to have Greedo shoot at Han first (it’s a clear cut case of self-defense for Han in the original). That’s far outside Lucas’s stated goal of using technology to "tell the story the way I wanted to the first time." Boo.

There they are – the top movies of 1997. Enjoy!

Don't forget, every week, there's an updated list of capsule reviews at:

http://home.earthlink.net/~jenolen/movies.htm


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Colin Campbell - jenolen@earthlink.net
Last updated January 25, 1998