Which was the best year for movies: 1977, 1994, or 1999? | EW.com

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Which was the best year for movies: 1977, 1994, or 1999?

Last week, we posted a story about how 1984 was the best movie year ever when it comes to films you actually want to watch on a rainy day playing hooky from work. Movies like Ghostbusters, Bachelor Party, This is Spinal Tap, Footloose, and The Terminator. Movies that were the exact opposite of the highfalutin’ offerings from 1939 – the year critics always cite as the greatest Hollywood vintage of all time. Don’t get us wrong, there were some decent high-brow movies from 25 years ago, too, like Amadeus and The Killing Fields. But mostly we were talking about movies that were, you know, fun.

And while some of you agreed with us about 1984’s greatness, others were outraged. Apoplectic. Even concerned for our sanity. Some even made cases for other “greatest years”. And we listened. That’s what we do. So now, we’ve tallied up your nominees and narrowed it down to your three biggest write-in candidates: 1977, 1994, and 1999.

Now, before we ask you to vote on which of these was the best year for movies, let’s go over the criteria one more time. We’re not just simply judging the year based on its Oscar-calibre films. We’re also factoring in each year’s great low-brow films and so-bad-they-are-good crapsterpieces. In other words, if you were trapped on a desert island with Ginger and only movies from one year to watch on the Blu-ray DVD player that the Professor cobbled together out of coconuts and whatnot, which would you choose?

Here are the nominees (with a few handy embedded clips). Don’t forget to weigh in with your verdict at the end.

First up, 1977:

I had my doubts about this one at first, but on closer inspection, 1977 was a pretty tasty year. First off, there were the obvious classics like Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, and this little sleeper you may have heard of…

And never mind Barbra Streisand’s A Star is Born, a handful of real stars were born with John Travolta strutting like a disco peacock in his white suit in Saturday Night Fever, Jacqueline Bisset scuba-diving in a sheer white T-shirt in The Deep, and the future Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger in the brilliant documentary Pumping Iron.

Since it was also the age of the disaster movie there was Airport ‘77, Rollercoaster, Black Sunday, and the Jaws rip-off Orca. And in horror, there was the painfully inept Exorcist II: The Heretic and Dario Argento’s Suspiria. There were classic comedies like Fun with Dick and Jane, Semi-Tough, Smokey and the Bandit, The Goodbye Girl, Freaky Friday, High Anxiety, The Kentucky Fried Movie, and, of course, this (NSFW) gem…

There were tough guys strutting their stuff like Charles Bronson in Telefon, Clint Eastwood in The Gauntlet, Roger Moore in one of the best Bonds, The Spy Who Loved Me, and William Devane in one of the most underrated films of the year, Rolling Thunder.

Not bad, right? Okay, now on to 1994…

…which was a year marked by the meteoric rise of Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber), a fantastic Sundance crop (Fresh, Clerks, Spanking the Monkey), and some of the best and most diverse Oscar nominees of the decade.

First, there was Forrest Gump, a movie everyone knew would win. But the real gems were the ones that went home relatively empty-handed: The Shawshank Redemption, Quiz Show, and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, which featured one of the greatest (and NSFW) Christopher Walken monologues ever delivered…

Tarantino’s fingerprints could also be found on Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. Elsewhere, Ben Stiller directed a love letter to Gen X in Reality Bites, old and new met for the first time in Star Trek Generations, and a new sex symbol (of the bad girl variety) was born…

Some other biggies from the year: Hugh Grant’s starmaking turn in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Ron Howard’s underrated The Paper (come back, Michael Keaton!), Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Interview with a Vampire, Speed, The Crow, True Lies, and the unbelievable documentaries Crumb and Hoop Dreams.

Not to mention two movies that have aged very, very well (followed by one that hasn’t)…

Now, finally, it’s time to uncork the most recent vintage: 1999.

At first, I have to admit, I wasn’t buying this. But as soon as you take a look at the revolutionary batch of films that came out in ‘99, you’ll be convinced. Maybe it was something in the air – the approaching millennium, fears that we wouldn’t be able to get money out of the ATM with the Y2K bug. Whatever the case, 1999 seems to have been the year that Hollywood studios (and their indie branches) grew a pair.

That old Hollywood mentality was represented by the shattering, Jar-Jar disappointment of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The new Hollywood was personified by films like The Matrix, Three Kings, Being John Malkovich, Boys Don’t Cry, The Insider, The Limey, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Run Lola Run, Magnolia, and this…

The biggest sleepers of all, though, had to be The Blair Witch Project and this:

Even a lot of the mainstream movies were solid: Notting Hill, The Thomas Crown Affair, Toy Story 2, Any Given Sunday, Galaxy Quest, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, the now-cult-classic Office Space, and this bad boy, which falls firmly in the so-bad-it’s-awesome camp:

Okay, now you’ve heard the cases for 1977, 1984, 1994, and 1999. I know which one I’m voting for, but what’s your verdict?

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