Pulp Fiction: Everett Collection
Owen Gleiberman
October 10, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

What was the best year for movies ever?

It is often said that Hollywood’s greatest year was 1939, which singlehandedly gave us Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights, and Stagecoach. Has there been a year comparable to that since? ?Glenn

For movie buffs, the myth of 1939 is so enshrined that few would bother to find a year to compete with it. If they did, they’d probably look to another era that has attained mythic stature — the early 1970s. And they wouldn’t be wrong. Yet to focus so reverently on 1939 — or, say, 1972 — is to reduce film history. To me, there are two years in the past two decades that can stand with comparable stature. In 1986, we saw the release of the three most haunting films of the 1980s: Blue Velvet, Sid and Nancy, and Manhunter — dark visions all, yet bracing in their lust for the light. And in 1994, the American cinema set off a revolutionary underground boom with the sublime pop visions of Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers, and Ed Wood. In other words: 1939, c’est now.

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