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The NBR Project: The Top 10 Lists, 1989-2003

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  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • Henry V
  • Sex, Lies, and Videotape
  • The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • My Left Foot
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors
  • Born on the Fourth of July
  • Glory
  • Field of Dreams

Oh, this is disappointing. I thought they cited Do the Right Thing. But that was not the case. And I hate Field of Dreams, so this list is a bit tainted for me, especially considering I was born this year.


  • Dances with Wolves
  • Hamlet
  • GoodFellas
  • Awakenings
  • Reversal of Fortune
  • Miller’s Crossing
  • Metropolitan
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bridge
  • Avalon
  • The Grifters

They got Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan on here, which is good; Miller’s Crossing was totally ignored by the Academy and is now considered a classic, so good call there, too. But their citation of Franco Zeffirelli’s Hamlet and not of Kenneth Branagh’s massive, uncut 1996 version (despite citing four Branagh films previously) is a decided disappointment. At least they didn’t pick Ghost.


  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Bugsy
  • Grand Canyon
  • Thelma & Louise
  • Homicide
  • Dead Again
  • Boyz n the Hood
  • Rambling Rose
  • Frankie and Johnny
  • Jungle Fever

Well, the got a Spike Lee film on the list this year (Jungle Fever). But this list misses out on some major films: JFK, Beauty and the Beast (a real shame, given the NBR’s initial embrace of animation), The Fisher King, Barton Fink


  • Howards End
  • The Crying Game
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • A Few Good Men
  • The Player
  • Unforgiven
  • One False Move
  • Peter’s Friends
  • Bob Roberts
  • Malcolm X

Another Spike Lee film (Malcolm X, generally considered one of his best). And they got both Glengarry and The Player on the list, which is great. This one they got mostly right.


  • Schindler’s List
  • The Age of Innocence
  • The Remains of the Day
  • The Piano
  • Shadowlands
  • In the Name of the Father
  • Philadelphia
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Short Cuts
  • The Joy Luck Club

Would anyone argue with the choice of Schindler’s List as the #1?


  • Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction
  • Quiz Show
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • Bullets Over Broadway
  • Ed Wood
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Nobody’s Fool
  • The Madness of King George
  • Tom & Viv
  • Heavenly Creatures

Another tie for #1–and what a tie. The Ed Wood citation is awesome as well. But no Lion King? Tom & Viv, but not The Lion King?


  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Apollo 13
  • Carrington
  • Leaving Las Vegas
  • The American President
  • Mighty Aphrodite
  • Smoke
  • Persuasion
  • Braveheart
  • The Usual Suspects

Oh, this is ridiculous. Even the Academy knew Babe was one of the best films of the year. Carrington? Give me a fucking break. And no Nixon? Terrible.


  • Shine
  • The English Patient
  • Fargo
  • Secrets & Lies
  • Everyone Says I Love You
  • Evita
  • Sling Blade
  • Trainspotting
  • The People vs. Larry Flynt
  • Breaking the Waves, Jerry Maguire

The first (and I think only) tie for #10. There are some great, great choices here: Breaking the Waves (Lars!), Trainspotting, The People vs. Larry Flynt. That makes up for the lame choice of Shine as #1.


  • L.A. Confidential
  • As Good as It Gets
  • The Wings of the Dove
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Titanic
  • The Sweet Hereafter
  • Boogie Nights
  • The Full Monty
  • The Rainmaker
  • Jackie Brown

Weird that they cited this Rainmaker (a second-tier Coppola film based on a Grisham novel), and not the 1956 The Rainmaker (a much more highly regarded film). But hey, they got Boogie Nights and Jackie Brown on here.


  • Gods and Monsters
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Elizabeth
  • Happiness
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • The Butcher Boy
  • Lolita
  • The Thin Red Line
  • A Simple Plan
  • Dancing at Lughnasa

Cool move, putting Gods and Monsters at #1 when the Academy failed to nominate it for Best Picture. Also, the NBR must be the only awards group to show love for the remake of Lolita (though I think it got solid reviews). I also like that they have a weird, edgy, indie choice (Happiness) on the same list as a boring, awards-bait choice (Dancing at Lughnasa).


  • American Beauty
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Magnolia
  • The Insider
  • The Straight Story
  • Cradle Will Rock
  • Boys Don’t Cry
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Tumbleweeds
  • Three Kings

Not a bad list, but no Topsy-Turvy, Fight Club, or The Matrix? A pity.


  • Quills
  • Traffic
  • Croupier
  • You Can Count On Me
  • Billy Elliot
  • Before Night Falls
  • Gladiator
  • Wonder Boys
  • Sunshine
  • Dancer in the Dark

Now this is a list. You’ve got a hard-R Marquis de Sade biopic at #1, a character drama made for British TV at #3, a biopic of a gay Cuban dissident/exile writer at #6, a critically acclaimed comedy-drama that the Academy mostly overlooked at #8, a three-hour Canadian-financed epic about a Hungarian Jewish family at #9, and a Lars Von Trier musical at #10. Just bump one of these for Almost Famous and you’ve got a pretty perfect list.


  • Moulin Rouge!
  • In the Bedroom
  • Ocean’s Eleven
  • Memento
  • Monster’s Ball
  • Black Hawk Down
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence
  • The Pledge
  • Mulholland Drive

Only the NBR would put Ocean’s Eleven on a Top 10 list. A.I., though? I didn’t care for it at the time. I probably need to rewatch it. Also, they omitted another Best Picture winner (A Beautiful Mind).


  • The Hours
  • Chicago
  • Gangs of New York
  • The Quiet American
  • Adaptation.
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence
  • The Pianist
  • Far from Heaven
  • Thirteen Conversations About One Thing
  • Frida

Thirteen Conversations kind of seems like the odd one out, doesn’t it?


  • Mystic River
  • The Last Samurai
  • The Station Agent
  • 21 Grams
  • House of Sand and Fog
  • Lost in Translation
  • Cold Mountain
  • In America
  • Seabiscuit
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Another Best Picture winner misses out–in this case, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In fact, if you look back, you’ll notice none of the trilogy got on. Why, I couldn’t say. They liked Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. But for whatever reason, they refused to embrace LOTR


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