Review: Best.Movie.Year.Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen

Best.Movie.Year.Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen
Brian Raftery
Simon Schuster Publishing

I didn’t remember how good of a year for movies 1999 was until I got this book. At the time, I was a part time assistant manager at a Blockbuster Video who would work a couple of weekends a month while in college. I had access to a ton of movies; I had probably watched 75% of the movies in this book.

Raftery gets the inside scoop of making of many of these movies, looking at society, the studios, and the writers, directors, and stars of the movies. There was a lot of good and bad that came out of these movies too; did you know George Clooney and David Russell got into a physical altercation on the set of Three Kings? Did you remember that the cast of The Blair Witch Project was forced to disappear for months to sell the narrative of the film? Not only that, but most of the cast never got a chance to work in Hollywood again because people believed their screen personalities were really them.

The book did a good job of selling the stories; so much so that I went back to watch a few of the movies after reading it. Some of the movies hold up – The Matrix and Three Kings – while others didn’t – it was cringey re-watching Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. It also framed the movies around what was happening at the time – Bill Clinton, Columbine, Y2k.

While the insight to the movies was great, Raftery didn’t go into why 1999 was the best movie year; in fact, the book really didn’t live up to the title in that regard. He didn’t compare movies like The Matrix and American Beauty to those made in 1967 (The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) or 1939 (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz). He didn’t explain how the movies of 1999 changed Hollywood, other than the occasional mention of bullet time in The Matrix, or the downstream impacts for those involved with the movies.

My other issue with the book was I wanted more of the stories. Many of the antidotes were short and could have been stretched to full books on their own, especially around movies that were grouped into chapters. It was just enough to get you into the topic of the chapter, but not always enough to keep you satisfied with the answers.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book. I recommend it for movie fans, especially those that were around for those movies in theaters.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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