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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  936 ratings  ·  155 reviews
From a veteran culture writer and modern movie expert, a celebration and analysis of the movies of 1999—arguably the most groundbreaking year in American cinematic history.

In 1999, Hollywood as we know it exploded: Fight Club. The Matrix. Office Space. Election. The Blair Witch Project. The Sixth Sense. Being John Malkovich. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. American Beauty.
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by Simon Schuster
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Julie
Best. Movie. Year. Ever. : How 1999 Blew up the Big Screen by Brian Raftery is a 2019 Simon & Schuster publication.

I love pop culture books, but they aren’t all created equal. At my age, what stirs up feelings of nostalgia are movies, television, and music which were popular a lot longer ago than twenty years.

Still, it is hard to believe the movies discussed in the book are already approaching the ‘classics’ stage.



While it is certainly debatable, and even dubious, especially for someone
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Hal Johnson
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: movies, pub-2019
I would have picked the title “The Last Mediocre Year,” which is why I don’t get more book deals. Nevertheless, that’s what this book is about: after 1999, movies would stop aspiring to be even mediocre, and devolve into CGI cartoons for the foreign market.

I’m not persuaded that 1999 is better than 1998 (Big Lebowski, Last Days of Disco, Happiness, Buffalo 66, etc.) or 1997 (Jackie Brown, Chasing Amy, Lost Highway, Boogie Nights, etc.), or any other year from the ’90s, but this book isn’t
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Keith Bradley-Hewitt
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a very entertaining and nostalgic trip down memory lane. Raftery certainly provides a robust number of exceptional films that made 1999 a great year for movies, examining their importance through the cultural context of the time as well as their lingering influence on films to come in later years. Among others, this year brought along such classics as "Office Space," "The Sixth Sense," "Fight Club," The Matrix," and many more. It was a year in which some of today's most celebrated ...more
Melissa
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A readable and very well researched look at some of the most memorable films from 1999 - including The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty (and Pie), Election, Office Space, The Phantom Menace, to name only a few - and how the culture and media of the late 90s and the end of the 20th century spoke to these film and filmmakers. Raftery also contrasts 1999 with 1969 (the Raging Bulls, Easy Rider film year) and 2019. A fun read for film fans.
J Earl
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best. Movie. Year. Ever. from Brian Raftery makes a very compelling argument for 1999 being (one of) the best movie year ever.

The book is broken into chapters that cover one or a few films, usually grouped by some common element, each. Raftery walks a fine line between being too much film business or too much just gossip. There is enough behind the scenes narrative to satisfy our curiosity, plenty of explanation of how and why each film was made (and often almost not made), and plenty of
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Eric Gilliland
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's no doubt the year 1999 marked a high point for American movies, each month brought out one challenging film after another. Brian Raftery's book revisits these movies and the people who made them.


Raftery takes the reader through a year marked by erratic mood shifts. The economy was booming and the international situation appeared stable. At the same time fears of Y2K and global terrorism had folks on edge. As the year unfolded the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal would end with an anti-climatic
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Kevidently
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love movie-year exegeses. Mark Harris' Pictures at a Revolution is the gold standard, tackling the five 1967 Oscar nominees for best picture - the hows and whys. Raftery's book does the same thing with 1999, a year I remember thinking was kind of a big deal at the time. The author doesn't generally focus on the Oscar nominees for Best Picture (and in fact calls one - The Cider House Rules, basic fake-highbrow Oscar bait. What's interesting about that is that I just read an entire book on the ...more
Philip
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Your level of enjoyment will depend on how old you were in 1999 and how much of a pop culture junkie you are now.

While I enjoyed the nostalgia associated with reliving 1999 through the films that were released in that year, I wished the author had delved deeper into the sociopolitical changes of 1999, the shifting priorities of the film industry, the rise of digital technology, the changes in film viewing and consumption etc. - the epilogue was actually the most interesting part for me, as the
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Kate
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
This was so much better and more interesting than I was expecting. I figured it was going to be a book of individual essays, and planned on skipping the ones about movies I hadn't seen or didn't care about. Instead, the author ties the whole of 1999 together, giving context not just for what happened in getting these films made, but what else was happening around them. I loved it.
Ron S
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of those books that's entertaining to read, even though you don't agree with the central premise behind it.
Matthew
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the late 1990s and very early 2000s, I remember it seemed that there were an usually large number of very unique films coming out, but I didn't realize until this book just how many groundbreaking movies were released in one year: 1999.

This book tells many interesting background stories that lay behind the making (and reception) of many 1999 films that were influential, box office hits, or both. But the author goes further to show some of the common threads and conditions that lead to the
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Reija
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: movie, 2019, audio, culture
could have had much more about reasons about why this movies are so mind blowing than making-of stuff
Tom Gase
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow, a really fun and well-researched book that took me back to 1999 as if I was still there seeing all these movies. This book meant a lot more to me because 1999 was the last year I lived in Thousand Oaks before heading to college at SF State. My first job at SF State was to work at a Blockbuster Video on Ocean Avenue, and a lot of these films discussed in the book were new releases on the shelf during that time. Loved all the info on the Blair Witch Project, Office Space, Election, The ...more
Joe M
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Whether 1999 was the best year *ever* for movies is questionable, but there's no denying it was interesting! After reading this, it's clear that 1999 was a watershed moment for moviegoing when filmmakers were granted huge amounts of unrestrictive creative freedom and audience goodwill, which resulted in an adventurous crop of films unlike any year before it. The oral histories behind some of the year's biggest hits (and misses) are fascinating; whether it's the harrowing and unorthodox ordeal ...more
Jack Herbert Christal Gattanella
This is a not entirely comprehensive but largely satisfying and certainly Zeitgest-compelling look at the films that got a release of some kind, from Phantom Menace to Virgin Suicides (a couple of films likr Rushmore and Thin Red Line, which were 1998 releases, opened wide early 99 so they count here I suppose, though Suicides was really 2000, but dont nitpick that stuff here). Rafferty uses archival and new interviews with the directors and actors - sometimes notably the people one wouldn't ...more
Elizabeth
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a big movie fan, I enjoyed this trip down memory lane to the great movies of 1999 and the behind the scenes stories. It was really interesting to read the box office and critical/societal reactions to these movies, some of which I had forgotten (eg. I loved Fight Club and saw it when it was released, but it was a box office bomb and really controversial after the Columbine shootings).
Also a good analysis of how 1999 fits into movie history and can be seen as the peak of cinema, which has been
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Megan
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, I actually learned quite a few things I didn’t know. The author really seemed to know his stuff and seemed well regarded- he got quite a number of interviews with pertinent people. I don’t necessarily agree or buy the author’s argument that 1999 was the best movie year ever, but I think it was definitely a transformative year for film (that’s not as exciting for a title though). Overall a very entertaining read!
Declan
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant overview and analysis of late 1990s cinema, and social/pop culture. Raftery gets great access to film makers and expertly provides detailed context to the movies’ productions. I devoured it.
Jake Harris
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read a lot of pop culture books, and this one stands out among the rest. Meticulously researched, expertly sourced and very informative- I learned a lot! Now time to start on a 1999 movie binge...
Lauren  Tomlinson
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable look at how movies changed in 1999.
Nic
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-top-reads
So much fun to revisit this year of brilliant movies, hear how they came to be, and immediately start watching the ones that I missed
Chris Leroux
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
1999 is not a year I would have singled out as being entirely groundbreaking in film, and while some of the choices here are debatable Rafferty does connect them all eloquently and effectively. Detailing how the films came to be as well as comparing the cultures of ‘99 and 2019 makes for a thoroughly entertaining, and occasionally eye-opening, read. (3.5 out of 5)
Ed
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I lived through 1999 and like the rest of us, I’ve been looking up the ass of it ever since. This book is so well written, it was an emotional experience to live through it again. Even when it covers movies I don’t care about, it’s still engaging. The structure of the book goes through each season of the year, which really made for some powerful time travel. The author makes the point that this boom was a bubble that burst, which is very depressing. For me, the 2000s was the worst decade for ...more
Joe Meyers
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The author makes a strong case for 1999 being one of those magical Hollywood high point years like 1939 before it.
After all 1999 gave us great films like ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Magnolia’ as well as terrific pieces of entertainment such as ‘Office Space’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project.’
If only 2019 could be as satisfying a movie year!
Michael
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Few discerning film lovers would argue against the claim that 1999 is the best movie year ever, unleashing films that range from cultural touchstones to debate-fodder curiosities. The ubiquitousness of a lot of the titles explored here means that much of their behind-the-scenes stories will be familiar to movie buffs, arguably one of the book’s target audiences. Raftery’s case is certainly strengthened, though, by reading about this stellar line-up back-to-back. I’m admittedly biased; 1999 is ...more
Brad Hodges
Most film buffs, if asked what the best year in movies was. cite 1939, for that year had the double-barrels of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, plus Stagecoach, Gunga Din, Beau Geste, Ninotchka, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Wuthering Heights. Brian Raftery makes a case for 1999 in his book, Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen. While 1999 has nothing to match GWTW or The Wizard, it is a compelling document of how 1999 was an anomaly, and in some ways the end of ...more
D'kotah
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The title is thesis I have long contended and concur with.
FIGHT CLUB, RUSHMORE, ELECTION, MAGNOLIA, AMERICAN BEAUTY, AMERICAN MOVIE, OFFICE SPACE, THE MATRIX, GO, EYES WIDE SHUT...

A good leisure read, with short chapters on the making and makers of these touchstone films and more.

Good on audio.
Sean
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yeah, yeah -- it's got the depth of a really good Premiere Magazine article (which I was reading regularly in 1999), but it's more than just a nostalgia-trip. Really puts the films in context (and what an INSANE year for films), and reasons why we're likely to never get a year of films this good again...
Jessie Adamczyk
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
I don't know very much about film or film history, so I decided to educate myself with a seemingly innocuous run down on the movies made in 1999. I was only 8 years old in '99, but I figured I'd be able to relate and understand a little of what Raferty discusses. I wanted to dip my toe in to the world of serious film analysis, if you will.

Raferty moves through the book with a semi- chronological/partial genre organizational structure. In each chapter, he gives a brief plot synopsis and then
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