May 2, 2014
Keanu was saving lives, Travolta was ending them, and the shrimping business was booming.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Pulp Fiction. But the Quentin Tarantino classic wasn't the only masterpiece to hit theaters in 1994. It was also a year of legendary comedies, heartwarming all-American dramas, action-packed thrillers, and yes, Dumb & Dumber. Behold 10 movies that, while they may be turning 20, will never really get old.
Pulp Fiction catapulted director Quentin Tarantino to the forefront of the film industry with its stunning use of nonlinear narrative, award-winning script, and iconic performances from the entire star-studded cast. Samuel L. Jackson reaches into our souls when he drops Ezekiel 25:17, and suffice it to say we wish we had dance moves like John Travolta. Despite its dark subject matter, for whatever twisted reason Pulp Fiction manages to force a laugh out of even the most sensitive
Forrest Gump is one of those epic movies that remains quotable to people of every generation, even 20 years later. And its titular character is a true American hero; a symbol of human strength and perseverance in the face of adversity. Tom Hanks and the gang won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Picture, but as far as we're concerned, it will always be a contender for the most inspiring and genuinely heartwarming film of all time. Also, for best use of chocolate-related metaphors.
The Shawshank Redemption
Shawshank taught us about manhood, persistence, the value of knowing about tax loopholes, and the importance of a well-placed sexy poster of Raquel Welch. But more than that, it reminded us that prison is FUCKING TERRIBLE.
Natural Born Killers
1994 was a huge year for Quentin Tarantino, who also conceived (though did not direct) the story of Natural Born Killers - a film that is creepy, twisted, poignant, violent, and piercing in all the best ways. Woody Harrelson is flawless as the demented, murderous pop icon Mickey Knox, and Juliette Lewis plays the crazy card to perfection as his wife Mallory. It's not for the faint of heart, as director Oliver Stone involuntarily sucks us into the minds of two raging psychopaths, sometimes with great discomfort, but it was a formidable effort indeed.
You may be surprised this made our list, but we just love this flick about the true story of academic Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), who was exposed to have been fed the answers as a contestant on a popular 1950s game show. The incomparable John Turturro shines as the socially inept but brilliant Herbie Stempel, the man who blew the lid off the scandal. Quiz Show was proof that you don't need fancy special effects to make a riveting drama when you have a truly great story to tell.
It may be a bit cheesy, but that doesn't mean this Keanu Reeves thriller - about an L.A. officer who must save the day when a city bus armed with a bomb threatens to explode if the speed drops below 50 miles per hour - isn't a classic. Speed is essentially what would happen if Titanic had a baby with Con Air, with a healthy dose of Dennis Hopper thrown in for good measure. What doesn't sound awesome about that? And as far as we're concerned, Sandra Bullock will forever be known as "the girl from the bus."
With all due respect to the former Governator, it's hard to tell who gave a better performance in this film: him or his horse. But if you went to this movie expecting an Oscar-winning performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger, then you're probably simple enough to believe you got one. True Lies was awesome because of its massive explosions, insane action sequences, absurd plot line, and, of course, that amazing Jamie Lee Curtis strip tease.
Swimming With Sharks
Kevin Smith's hilariously vulgar breakout film is like a tabloid version of The Sun Also Rises. It's an insightful comment on disillusionment, and the pure torture of love...except that instead of Paris, it's set in a suburban convenience store; instead of bull-fighting, it's got pickup street hockey; and instead of being physically unable to make love to a woman, the main character can't get laid because of his natural social awkwardness. It spawned characters and catchphrases still in use today - and perhaps most impressive, it cost less than $28K to make and was shot in the real-life convenience store where Kevin Smith worked at the time.
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