By Beth Hannan Rimmels
A disclaimer: I generally don't believe in "best" or "top 10" lists, but one of the publications I write for requested that I put a few together anyway. I'm not claiming that the following are categorically the best whatevers of 1999, but they were my favorites or, in the case of music, the CDs the I listened to the most.
My Favorite Movies of 1999
Smart and incredibly sexy. Watch it with someone you love (or someone youíre hot for).
As offensive as you want it to be, Kevin Smithís latest is also an articulate discussion of religion and an affirmation of faith behind the sex jokes.
3. The Matrix
The first big science fiction hit in a long time that was about something. Sure, itís all allegory, but itís well thought out and blended with killer action and special effects.
4. Toy Story 2
Proves the sequel curse wrong. If anything, itís better than the original.
5. The Sixth Sense
A wonderful twist ending without any cheating, and fabulous performances by Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette.
A hysterically funny and affectionate spoof of science fiction television and SF fandom.
The only way to outdo Disney in animation is to not compete. Without catchy songs or cute animal sidekicks, The Iron Giant both entertains and teaches adults and children.
8. Analyze This
The comedic flipside to The Sopranos, Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro are dead-on perfect as they bring new twists to the lovable mensch and tough wise guy characters they've played before.
9. Stuart Little
A perfect example of stellar special effects serving the story and characters, rather than the other way around. You'll believe a mouse can talk.
Americans still associate animation with kiddie fare. This epic fantasy with breathtaking art shows how silly that idea is.
11. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Crude and rude, it's also laugh-out-loud funny while making some excellent points about censorship and scapegoating. It kicks ass.
12. Three Kings
Love it or hate it, this movie provokes passionate reactions, which is only appropriate since it's set during the Gulf War, which becomes more morally ambiguous as time goes on.
My Favorite TV Shows of 1999
Anyone who complains about what comes out of Hollywood need look no further than this acidly satiric series that is so sadly (and hysterically) honest, itís scary.
2. The Sopranos
The dark side to Analyze This, this HBO series takes The Godfather a step further by showing mob life today and focusing on the lower-level bosses and their daily lives. Violent and honest, it explores the complexities of their existence almost like a slow-moving train wreck you canít stop watching.
An amazingly deft blend of humor, action, pathos and social commentary disguised as pop entertainment. Buffy can consistently make you laugh one minute and want to cry the next.
4. Sex and the City
Smart, blunt, sexy and addictive.
Not quite the equal of its predecessor, it's still better than many shows and gradually finding its own rhythm.
6. The Simpsons
How this show is not only still going strong, but still getting better after 10 years on the air, I donít know, but hereís to the next 10.
7. That ī70s Show
Silly fun that isnít dumb. In fact, itís often rather clever, such as when they had the wallpaper move to simulate Ericís marijuana-affected vision, or when they ended an episode a la the series Soap, complete with an appearance by ventriloquist Jay Johnson as Chuck & Bob.
Sometimes they rush the story lines too much and sometimes the fine plot details don't hold up under close scrutiny. It's still one of the most exhilarating and addictive shows on TV that blends style with emotional substance and outdoes almost every other action show on television
A great series that has been hamstrung by airing on Tuesday night, this year's night from hell when every network airs its best shows.
A made-for-Showtime movie, so it doesn't quite seem fair to put it on a list of favorite TV series, but it was a perfect blend of great acting, smart script and nail-biting action. It also was supposed to be the pilot for a Showtime series that never materialized for no apparent reason.
11. On the Inside
This diverse documentary series, which has probed everything from Marine Corps Boot Camp to backstage at Friends to Las Vegas showgirls to the Secret Service, eventually airs something that's of interest to anyone. Very well done, the only drawback is that the schedule for topics can be hard to find, particularly since the show alternates being listed as On the Inside or under the program titles. Hey Discovery Channel, can you please be little more consistent? Especially on your own site?
My 10 Most Played CDs of 1999
1. Cher ó If I Could Turn Back Time
Itís easy to dismiss Cher ó until you hear her songs back to back. Behind the glitz and nearly naked costumes are some finely crafted material.
2. Metallica ó S&M
Pairing a symphony orchestra with a metal band wouldnít work in most cases, but Metallica has always had a strong melody under its songs that conductor Michael Kamen uses to take the hard-working band to heavy metal operatic heights.
3. Blondie ó No Exit
The CD that proves yet another Ď70s band can still rock.
4. The Matrix (soundtrack)
Not just a hot soundtrack, but a great sampler of techno/metal/punk fusion by Prodigy, Monster Magnet, Marilyn Manson, Ministry and more.
5. Meredith Brooks ó Deconstruction.
Smart lyrics and infectious melodies.
6. Kenny Wayne Shephard Band ó Live On
I have to agree with the other critics. Shephard makes me believe in reincarnation, or at least channeling. The guyís got Stevie Ray Vaughn in his soul and Noah Huntís growly vocals are the perfect complement.
7. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (soundtrack)
Tons of fun despite the over-rated cover of "American Woman." From classics like The Whoís "My Generation" and Elvis Costello teaming up with Burt Bacharach on "Iíll Never Fall in Love Again" to new songs like Madonnaís "Beautiful Stranger," itís shaggadelic, baby!
8. Melissa Etheridge ó Breakdown
I canít accuse Etheridge of going through the motions. Every CD has her blend of power, passion and raw honesty.
9. Ricky Martin ó Ricky Martin
My guilty pleasure for the year because itís hard to sit still when I hear some of these songs.
10. Smash Mouth ó Astro Lounge
Both bouncy and edgy.
© 1999 Beth Hannan Rimmels