Best. Movie. Year. Ever.

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1999 might not have been the best movie year ever, a superlative that author Brian Raftery uses with confidence, yet it certainly was a damn great year for the cinema. The Matrix. Fight Club. The Blair Witch Project. The Sixth Sense. And oh yeah, a certain indie hanging with the prefix Episode I.

Even more so than movies, 1999 was a unique year in modern history. The 20th Century was coming to its inevitable conclusion and the year 2000 was already threatening known existence with unimaginable Y2-chaos. Brian Raftery, in his book Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen, embraces that hysteria working it into a thesis statement that elevates his book beyond sheer nostalgia and into the realm of historical record.

Best. Movie. Year. Ever. is a fun cultural recounting of select movies from 1999 that propelled the medium and captured the mania of American moviegoers. The investigation, interviews, and research culminate with an apex of pop-culture satisfaction.

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Franka Potente (Lola) in “Run Lola Run”

The world did not end in 1999, but traditional movie making might have. Raftery explores the new blood who made ripples in the world: the found-footage phenomena of The Blair Witch Project; the video-game reset techniques employed in Tom Tykwer’s German film Run Lola Run; the Wachowskis’ achievement of bullet-time f/x. He entertains with in-depth analysis on little indies surprises – both in production as well as respect – Rushmore, Election, and Being John Malkovich. He celebrates the triumphs of M. Night Shyamalan’s scary PG-13 movie, the gender-identity statements of Boys Don’t Cry, the absolute glorification of male violence in Fight Club. He documents the disintegration of the family ideal in American Beauty, the inter-office politics of Office Space, and marriage itself through Eyes Wide Shut.

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Check back on the 1999 release calendar, or at least the Wikipedia page. There are important, ground-breaking, movies seemingly released every month. From low-budget horror to high-end sci-fi. From teen comedies to end-of-the-world paranoia. Raftery weaves all those disparate threads together into a beautiful narrative that extends from the Iraq sands of Three Kings up into to a galaxy far, far away.

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Go ahead. Take the red pill. Read Raftery’s book and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

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