The Top 10 Films of 1995
At the end of the year, as we do every year, we’ll be counting down the Top Ten Films of 2015 according to Flickchart’s global rankings. In the months leading up to that, we’re going to be taking a look-back and seeing what Flickchart users think are the best movies of ten, twenty, thirty years ago, and so on.
Previously in this series, we’ve tackled 1925, 1935, 1945, 1965, 1975, 1985, and 2005. Now, we head to an era where CGI was in its infancy, and the birth of the Internet would change how people began to look at – and, eventually, see – the movies: 1995.
1995 was the year the Internet became a household name, becoming fully privatized and free of government funding. Juggernaut e-commerce site eBay was founded. This was the year of the infamous O.J. Simpson trial, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Mississippi became the final U.S. state to officially abolish slavery when it ratified the Thirteenth Amendment (which had been done nationally in 1865).
In popular culture, Star Trek: Voyager, the third spinoff of the original 1966 television series, first aired, and the New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup against the heavyweight Detroit Red Wings. November saw the premiere of the first feature-length computer animated film, Pixar’s Toy Story, and cartoonist Bill Watterson’s popular Calvin & Hobbes published its final original strip on December 31.
Continuing the theme of digital revolution, 1995 saw the announcement of the Digital Video Disc as a replacement for VHS and LaserDisc in the home video market. Though being outperformed by Blu-ray discs, and facing stiff competition from online downloadable and streaming options, standard DVDs are still being produced today, and show no immediate signs of disappearing entirely.
Many of the films listed below were not among the highest-grossing of the year, as box office charts were dominated by franchise films (Ace Venture: When Nature Calls, Die Hard With a Vengeance, GoldenEye) and family-friendly fare (Pocahontas, Casper). Though Ron Howard‘s Apollo 13 and Toy Story (which do make this list) topped the year…bested only by Batman Forever, whose success as the highest-grossing movie of the year was a high water mark for the Dark Knight before Batman & Robin debuted two years later and sullied the hero’s name for years to come.
Braveheart would be the year’s big Oscar winner, taking statues for five of its ten nominations, including Best Director for Mel Gibson and Best Cinematography for John Toll. It would beat out Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino and Sense and Sensibility for the Best Picture prize.
Only one of those four runners-up makes our list. Without any further fanfare, here are the rest of the best:
10. La Haine
La Haine offers a new type of political film, a mythic undertaking that expresses deep pathos and empathy. A man has been brutalized by police in a ghetto in Paris, and three friends attempt to navigate their grief, anger, and urge to improve their world. A smart cast, perhaps dominated by the furious Vincent Cassel, explores the different threats and frustrations of police brutality and intolerance in Paris, exposing the immaturity of many of the young men in these conflicts. Using the style of the hip-hop music video, one brilliant scene provides a bird’s eye view of their ghetto, one lost as much by the police as by the criminals who make it unlivable. The film resonated with me as relevant to the American police violence movement in August; it holds chilling significance to be writing it as the top headlines reflect one hundred and fifty separate raids in response to the terrible attacks in Paris this past weekend, which we must hope exercise Hubert’s redemptive love and hesitation toward excessive force rather than Vinz’s hateful violence. I’m glad we have the Blogger’s Favorites to relax the tone of this write-up. – Alex Lovendahl
- Ranked #456 of all time
- 70 users have it in their personal Top 20
A lot of writers and filmmakers have attempted intimate stories that consist primarily of two or three people talking about life. Not many of them succeed, but Before Sunrise unquestionably does. Directed by Richard Linklater and written by Linklater and Kim Krizan, the film stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as two strangers who happen to meet on a train and recognize some form of kinship in each other. They end up spending their time together until the following day, and the camera simply follows them around as they discuss love, God, and the meaning of life. The script is smart enough that we’re genuinely interested in the things they say, but the performances are natural enough that we seem to be watching two intelligent people conversing rather than two actors spouting off profundities, and as they slowly become more intrigued by each other, so do we as an audience. While Linklater visits these characters again in the film’s 2004 and 2013 sequels, this film is beautiful by itself, a snapshot look at the lives and thoughts of two people who are excellent company for 100 minutes. – Hannah Keefer
- Ranked #370 of all time
- 378 users have it in their personal Top 20
8. Apollo 13
“Houston, we have a problem.” Maybe, but the audience certainly didn’t. Apollo 13 is as perfect a blend of earnest, heartfelt emotion and visual spectacle as I’ve ever seen. Ron Howard may occasionally be accused of playing things too “safe” behind the camera, but he’s the perfect fit for this true story of courage, ingenuity, lost opportunity…and ultimate triumph. Nowadays, Hollywood may be able to dazzle with their CGI-ed space scenes in films like Gravity and The Martian. But Apollo 13 features an authenticity – backed by NASA’s support behind the scenes that included filming weightless scenes in snippets aboard an astronaut-training, reduced gravity aircraft – that few others can match. One look out the window at Jim Lovell’s (Tom Hanks) “lost moon” speaks volumes, but the heart of the story is the determination of everyone involved to bring three stranded men back home alive. The film wears its heart on its sleeve, and its honesty carries it through to a conclusion that’s as emotionally moving as it is thrilling. – Nigel Druitt
- Ranked #353 of all time
- 7,376 users have it in their personal Top 20
Casino is the eighth collaboration of director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro. Like their sixth collaboration, Goodfellas, it is based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi (who co-wrote the script) and co-stars Joe Pesci. All are in fine form in this tale of a gambler named Ace (De Niro) tapped by the mob to oversee daily operations in a casino. Things get interesting when an old pal (Pesci) is sent to Vegas to ensure the right amount of money is disappearing into the right hands. While things are going smoothly, Ace meets a girl (played by Sharon Stone) and wants to settle down. Of course, things start to unravel and life gets complicated on all fronts. Casino is an engaging and entertaining movie that illustrates both the details and drama of mob operations in a casino. The acting is strong and the direction moves the story along with energy and purpose. There is a fair amount of violence, but what else would you expect when the mafia gets involved in a lucrative business in a city swimming in sex and money? – Ben Shoemaker
- Ranked #311 of all time
- 3,449 users have it in their personal Top 20
Heat is a lot of things. It’s not just one, but two of the best heist sequences ever put to film. The downtown L.A. shootout is the single greatest movie action sequence I’ve ever witnessed. It’s spectacular crime filmmaking at its best (just watch how much reverence Christopher Nolan paid this film when he made The Dark Knight). And yes, it’s the movie that, finally, put living legends Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on screen together, for the first time. (13 years later, Righteous Kill would prove…somewhat less successful in this regard.) Yet at its heart, Heat is about the relationship between hunter and prey, two men with a profound respect and even admiration for one another that could have, in another life, led them to kinship. Even as they realize the inevitability of their final confrontation, neither man can back off, for this is what they are. Pacino and De Niro have rarely been better – not before, and certainly not since – and, backed by one of the most uniformly excellent ensemble casts ever assembled, they simply electrify the screen. – Nigel
- Ranked #240 of all time
- 4,176 users have it in their personal Top 20
Before he was redefined as a stark raving antisemite, Mel Gibson was known by moviegoers for his blend of dry wit and kinetic action. Braveheart is a rousing exhibition of both elements. It was the final Hollywood epic produced before CGI supplanted the need for location shooting and large casts of extras, which is a key reason it remains visually arresting. Historians were instantly agog at the myriad inaccuracies and outright fabrications of everything from portrayals of characters and events to wardrobe choices. Divorced though it is from reality, there is an in-story verisimilitude that makes the film work strongly enough that audiences didn’t balk at its three hour run time, and Academy voters bestowed upon it five Oscars including the coveted Best Picture. – Travis McClain
- Ranked #185 of all time
- 10,906 users have it in their personal Top 20
4. 12 Monkeys
Time travel? Check. Grimy, post-apocalyptic future? Check. A talented cast, under the careful, quirky direction of a director with as unique an eye as Terry Gilliam? Check. 12 Monkeys hits a lot of the right buttons. Sci-fi fans will be sated, but there’s more to enjoy here than just a twisty time travel plot. Bruce Willis was making some pretty smart career choices in the mid-to-late ’90s, and this ranks with The Sixth Sense as one of his smartest. Toss in support from a sympathetic Madeleine Stowe and an unhinged, Oscar-nominated Brad Pitt, and you’ve got a movie to remember, to chew on and savor, from its haunting opening frames to its inevitable, melancholy ending. – Nigel
- Ranked #178 of all time
- 7750 users have it in their personal Top 20
3. Toy Story
There are very few films that you can say truly changed the history of animated film. Steamboat Willie and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs revolutionized animated films from how they had existed prior, but with Toy Story, Pixar created the genre of computer-generated films, which would go on to completely overtake tradition animation. Toy Story came from the combined power of two creators who couldn’t have been more different: the forever childlike and joyous John Lasseter and Pixar’s owner, ruthless businessman and fighter for art, Steve Jobs. With these two working together, they built a studio that became synonymous with greatness and with their first effort – Toy Story – a simple story of a toy cowboy and spaceman trying to return to their owner, allowed a tiny studio to revitalize Disney and animated films in general. It didn’t hurt that Toy Story was hilarious, perfectly paced, exciting, fun and completely different than anything that had come before it. With Toy Story, Pixar created a story that could’ve never been told the same way before, a talent that still keeps them as the defining studio in creating magic on the screen. – Ross Bonaime
- Ranked #77 of all time
- 16,159 users have it in their personal Top 20
The Usual Suspects is a neo-noir made with a love of classic film. It takes its name from a line in Casablanca (“Round up the usual suspects.”), and takes its inspirations from films such as Double Indemnity, Rashomon, and Citizen Kane. Through a tangled web of flashbacks and narration, it weaves a tale of criminals and crimes that don’t add up. It’s a mystery told with considerable style, and the film draws us into a world of shady characters forced to cooperate with those they know better than to trust – each trying to manipulate the rest to their advantage. The cast sink their teeth into the roles, and deliver in spades (especially Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, and Kevin Spacey – who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor). It’s a film that thrills on first viewing and reveals deeper nuance upon further scrutiny. Writer Christopher McQuarrie (who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) and director Bryan Singer worked on the script for months to ensure they had covered every angle in their cleverly constructed puzzle. During production, to maintain the integrity of the twisty ending, Singer convinced each of several cast members that they were the mysterious and secretive villain–a surprise only revealed upon watching the finished film. Watch it once to see the mystery unravelled. Watch it again to see if you change your mind. – Ben
- Ranked #44 of all time
- 11,304 users have it in their personal Top 20
Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Lust. Pride. Envy. Wrath. These are the seven deadly sins, the subject of the title. After director David Fincher‘s frustrations with studio work due to the challenging production of Alien 3, he was ready to call an early end to his life as a director of feature films. He was then sent the script of Se7en, which accidentally contained the famed ending of the film, rather than an ending that had been altered by the studio to be not so bleak. Fincher and Brad Pitt had to fight to keep the ending they wanted and eventually succeed in convincing the studio to keep it. The world is so much better for it. Fincher delivered in spades with the dark and grim exploration of the depths that humanity can reach. Se7en would introduce the world to the almost nihilistic brilliance of Fincher’s directing style with his penchant for dark color palettes, grimy looking sets, and impressive camera work. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt deliver great performances as an older and younger cop seeking to better the world, though in ways molded by their vastly different perspectives. The film’s gore highlights the horrors that people are capable of, done in a showy way but not to showcase the gore itself like a Saw film would do. The surprise cameo of the villain is perfect, creating a reputation that would go on to become a meteoric acting career. Se7en is not an easy film to watch and it’s not meant to be. As zany as some of the script’s paths are, ultimately humanity has done these things to each other in real life and the film questions whether any person is worth saving. Se7en would set a tone for the decade that would continue to be explored in coming years and could be credited for helping to start the wave of “darker” films that continues to this day. – Connor Ryan Adamson
- Ranked #34 of all time
- 13,622 users have it in their personal Top 20
READ MORE: See why Se7en is a Movie to See Before You Die
The above list is the top films of 1995 on Flickchart, as decided by rankings of all its users. We wanted to showcase our own personal favorites, so a few of us have chosen a favorite film that falls outside of Flickchart’s global Top 10.
David – Whisper of the Heart
Hayao Miyazaki wrote, but chose not to direct, this beautiful and uncharacteristically realistic movie about the laborious craft of creating. Though his stories are generally set in idealized rural landscapes, Whisper of the Heart is crammed with details distinctive to urban Japan’s “concrete roads” — the way bugs fly around a yellowed apartment porch light, the ubiquitous street corner combini, steaming rice cookers, dusty antique shops… It is out of this setting, not out of rice paddies or Shinto spirit temples, that most of Japan’s great artists come from, and Whisper of the Heart follows the lives of two young ones. The boy wants to make violins, and the girl wants to write novels. Anyone who’s tried to make anything can relate to their aspirations, their little jealousies, the decisions they make about how much to sacrifice and how much to risk. As with most Ghibli movies, this one has a great soundtrack (in Japan it popularized John Denver, of all people) and a backstory that pertains to Edwardian Europe. That’s how you know it’s a Miyazaki movie, and his completists should not miss this even though it was directed by the relatively unknown Yoshifumi Kondo — unknown, sadly, because he passed away after this debut feature. – David Conrad
Hannah – While You Were Sleeping
This was a favorite of my mother’s when I was growing up, along with a few other chick flicks she watched over and over, but it wasn’t until I watched it as an adult that I appreciated that it is indeed everything a chick flick should be. Its humor is smart, there’s good chemistry between the (tremendously likable) leads, and the madcap hijinks of Sandra Bullock‘s brand new family stay light and funny, never becoming eye-rollingly cutesy. No, it’s not going to be a film that changes the world, but it’s a very solid romantic comedy, and one that often gets overlooked. I’m happy to give it a shoutout for doing its genre well.
Nigel – GoldenEye
Everybody has their James Bond. For some, Sir Sean Connery is the only real 007, while Daniel Craig‘s ferocity helps him top other lists. Pierce Brosnan, however, is MY Bond, not coincidentally because the release of GoldenEye marked my introduction to the franchise as a whole. And it still factors in as one of my three or four favorite films within a franchise that is still going strong, 20 years later. Everything works, from Brosnan’s performance that is nearly equal parts Connery suave, Craig tough and Roger Moore wry, to Dame Judi Dench‘s steely introduction as the fiery new female M. Toss in able support from the great Sean Bean, and the franchise’s best (yeah, I said it) “Bond girl” in Famke Janssen‘s delicious Xenia (over-the-) Onatopp, and this one’s a keeper. One thing’s for certain: Between this and Casino Royale, it seems obvious that the producers need to bring Martin Campbell back to direct when yet another new Bond steps in to take over for Craig…
Teen girls in the 1980s had Molly Ringwald and Heathers, and in the 2000s, we had Mean Girls. In the ’90s, the definitive teen girl comedy was without a doubt Clueless. But Clueless is no mere teen comedy – it’s a pitch perfect modernization of Jane Austen’s Emma to the milieu of ’90s Valley girls. Cher (Alicia Silverstone‘s one great role) is a popular girl who uses the power of her popularity for good, or so she thinks, in her superficial, self-centered way – helping to matchmake for a less-popular girl she takes under her wing. But she’s got her ex-stepbrother looking on disapprovingly, trying to help her see that there’s more out there than just her own myopic projects. It’s not easy to take an early 19th-century novel and update it to the modern world, given the vast changes in society and the class system, but Amy Heckerling writes and directs this adaptation with a sure hand, making it not just a classic of the ’90s, but one of the most enduring and enjoyable teen films of all time. As if! – Jandy Hardesty
Ross: A Goofy Movie
Coming at the tail end of Disney’s revitalization of the 90s, following Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King, A Goofy Movie might be the closest thing Disney ever had to a cult classic. From the DisneyToon studio rather than the primary team, A Goofy Movie is a father-son bonding film between Goofy and his son Max, as the two go on the open road with different motivations. Goofy wants to go fishing with his son in order to not lose him too soon, while Max wants to go to a concert on the other side of the country in order to impress a girl. Unlike any other Disney film of the time – or any, frankly – A Goofy Movie goes simpler than the stakes of your usual animated Disney film, instead focusing on school drama, growing up and the relationship between a parent and his child, yet somehow feels just as grand as what came before it. In doing this, A Goofy Movie has a strange sense of humor that Disney rarely cultivates (complete with disco-dancing Bigfoot and Pauly Shore making a Leaning Tower of Cheesa), some of the best music in any Disney film ever and a sense of joy that still resonates twenty years later.