60. The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 118 mins.
This idiosyncratic drama from Iran begins as a jeep winds through the hills of Kurdistan, containing an engineer (Behzad Dourani) and his two assistants (whom we never see) as they search for a small village in the mountains. When they arrive, they are greeted by a young boy, who shows them a place they can stay and guides the engineer to the home of an old woman (also never seen) who seems to be dying. No one is sure what the engineer and his men are doing there; some locals think he’s keeping watch of the old woman and wants to purchase her land when she dies, while others think he could be an archaeologist searching for rare artifacts.
59. Through the Olive Trees (1994) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 103 mins.
Set in earthquake-ravaged Northern Iran, Hossein Rezai plays a local stonemason-turned-actor. Outside the set of a film in which he is acting, he makes a marriage proposal to his leading lady, a student named Tahereh, who was orphaned by an earthquake. Because he is poor and illiterate, the girl’s family finds his offer insulting and the girl avoids him as a result. She continues evading him even when they are filming, as she seems to have trouble grasping the difference between her role in the film and her real-life self.
58. Taste of Cherry (1997) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 95 mins.
Mr Badii (Homayoun Ershadi), a middle-aged man, drives through a city suburb looking for someone who can burying him after he commits suicide in return for a large amount of money. While Roger Ebert, in particular, hated the film others consider it hypnotic and profound. Buy
57. Ghost in the Shell (1995) Dir. Mamoru Oshii, 85 mins.
The plot follows Motoko Kusanagi, a public-security agent, who hunts the mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master.
56. Secrets & Lies (1996) Dir. Mike Leigh, 142 mins.
Hortense, a black optometrist, discovers that her birth mother is a working class white woman.
55. Life, and Nothing More… (1992) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 95 mins.
The film is a semi-fictional work based on Kiarostami’s search for the stars of his previous film Where Is the Friend’s Home? after the 1990 earthquake in Iran that killed over 30,000 people. It was shot in a documentary-style following a director (played by Farhad Kheradmand) on this journey through the country in the aftermath of the earthquake.
54. Rushmore (1998) Dir. Wes Anderson, 93 mins.
Rushmore is a comedy-drama directed by Wes Anderson about an eccentric teenager named Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman in his film debut), his friendship with rich industrialist Herman Blume (Bill Murray), and their mutual love for elementary school teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams).
53. The Truman Show (1998) Dir. Peter Weir, 103 mins.
The film stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, adopted and raised by a corporation inside a simulated television show revolving around his life, until he discovers it and decides to escape. Weir’s media satire feels even more pertinent twenty years on than when it was released.
52. Life is Beautiful (1997) Dir. Roberto Benigni, 116 mins.
Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian book shop owner, who employs his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp. Watch
51. Maborosi (1995) Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda, 109 mins.
When her husband commits suicide for no apparent reason, a woman becomes deeply troubled by guilt. After spending years in solitude and then remarrying, she begins to find happiness again, but when she returns to her hometown, a flood of old memories haunts her.
50. Boogie Nights (1997) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 156 mins.
Set in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, the film focuses on a young nightclub dishwasher who becomes a popular star of pornographic movies, chronicling his rise in the Golden Age of Porn of the 1970s through to his fall during the excesses of the 1980s.
49. 12 Monkeys (1995) Dir. Terry Gilliam, 129 mins.
Inspired by Chris Marker’s La Jetee, the film follows James Cole (Bruce Willis), a prisoner of the state in the year 2035 who can earn parole if he agrees to travel back in time and thwart a devastating plague. The virus has wiped out most of the Earth’s population and the remainder live underground because the air is poisonous. It’s a cerebral time travelling tale from Gilliam, with Willis at the peak of his powers. Watch
48. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Dir. Stanley Kubrick, 159 mins.
Kubrick’s last film follows the sexually charged adventures of Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise), who is shocked when his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), reveals that she had contemplated having an affair a year earlier. He embarks on a night-long adventure, during which he infiltrates a massive masked orgy of an unnamed secret society.
47. Leon (1994) Dir. Luc Besson, 110 mins.
Film about a French hitman (Jean Reno) who is befriended by a girl (Natalie Portman) who’s parents were killed by corrupt police officers. An engaging actioner with art house pretensions.
46. The Lion King (1994) Dir. Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff, 89 mins.
Based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands. However, after Simba’s uncle Scar (Mufasa’s jealous younger brother), murders Mufasa, Simba is manipulated into thinking he was responsible and flees into exile. He ends up living with two wastrels until he reaches adulthood, when he is given some valuable perspective from his childhood friend, Nala, and his shaman, Rafiki, before returning to challenge Scar to end his tyranny and take his place in the Circle of Life as the rightful King. Recognised as the peak of Disney’s renaissance, The Lion King is a stunningly animated and compelling film, further enhanced by the music of Elton John.
45. Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991) Dir. Leos Carax, 125 mins.
The film follows a love story between two young vagrants, a would be circus performer addicted to alcohol and sedatives and Michele, a painter with a disease that is slowly turning her blind.
44. The Quince Tree Sun (1992) Dir. Víctor Erice, 138 mins.
The film centers on Spanish painter Antonio López García and his attempt to paint the eponymous quince tree. López struggles to capture a perfect, fleeting moment of beauty on canvas, and the film meticulously chronicles his work.
43. The Puppetmaster (1993) Dir. Hsiao-hsien Hou, 142 mins.
Based on the memoirs of Li Tian-lu, Taiwan’s most celebrated puppeteer, this story covers the years from Li’s birth in 1909 to the end of Japan’s fifty-year occupation of Taiwan in 1945.
42. L.A. Confidential (1997) Dir. Curtis Hanson, 138 mins.
The film tells the story of a group of LAPD officers in 1953, and the intersection of police corruption and Hollywood celebrity.
41. Se7en (1995) Dir. David Fincher, 127 mins.
It tells the story of David Mills (Brad Pitt), a detective who partners with the retiring William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) to track down a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who uses the seven deadly sins as a motif in his murders.