The Most Successful Films

American Cinema: The Most Successful Films


In the second half of the Eighties, filmmakers with an outrageous but consciously refined language established themselves, often specialized in fantastic or genre cinema. We refer to the inventions of D. Lynch (Blue Velvet, 1986; Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, 1989 , Wild at Heart), M. Scorsese (Taxi Driver, 1976; Raging Bull, 1980 Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, 1988, The Last Temptation of Christ). If Spielberg’s activity is always of great profession (the Indiana Jones trilogy; Jurassic Park, 1993; Schindler’s List, 1994; Amistad, 1997) and some of his proteges raised in the school of R. Corman, such as J. Dante, seem to be of absolute cultural interest the secluded but not clandestine experiences of New York filmmakers, with W. Allen (Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989; Crimes and misdeeds, Manhattan murder mystery, Mysterious murder in Manhattan, 1993; Bullets over Brodway, 1994; Bullets on Broadway, Deconstructing Harry, 1997; Henry in pieces, Celebrity, 1998) and the African American S. Lee (Do the right thing, 1987; Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, 1992; Clockers, 1995; Girl 6, 1996; Get on the bus, 1996; He got game, 1998; Summer of Sam, 1999; Sam’s summer), the spearheads of a cinema that does not give up asking itself about its own cultural, social and personal obsessions. In 1980, Kubrick also directed Shining, a horror film destined to obtain considerable public success and become a cult film as well as the subsequent Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). In the early nineties, Hollywood cinema experienced a new success, thus emerging from the crisis it had fallen into in the previous decade. On the one hand, the industry continues along the path of pure entertainment and in the diversification of film products: increasingly expensive and colossal films (Waterworld, 1995, reaches a budget of 170 million dollars, Titanic by J. Cameron, 1997, almost 190 million), rebirth or revitalization of consolidated and spectacular genres (science fiction with Independence Day, 1996, and Armageddon, 1997), systematic exploitation of new trends (serial killer or psycho thriller With disturbed personalities almost to the borders of horror like The silence of the lambs of J. Demme, 1991; The Silence of the Lambs), including, unusual in Puritan America, a soft-erotic genre (Basic Instinct, 1992; Body of Evidence, 1992; Striptease, 1996), use of sequel and remake (A perfect murder, 1998, Crime Perfect, by A. Dawis, with M. Douglas, and City of Angels, 1998, by B. Silberling). On the other hand, it leaves room for auteur cinema, capable of tackling uncomfortable issues such as drug addiction (Drugstore Cowboy by G. van Sant, 1989) or AIDS. In addition to the confirmation of already known actors (S. Stone, S. Sarandon), we are witnessing the affirmation of T. Hanks, winner of two Oscars for Best Actor in the following two years (1993 with Philadelphia and 1994 with Forrest Gump).

There are also numerous films of recent years that have aroused considerable public and critical consensus such as Mac (1992) and Illuminata (1998) by J. Turturro, Mrs Doubtfire (1993) by C. Columbus, Casualites of War (1989; Casualties of War), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990; Bonfire of the Vanities), Carlito’s Way (1995) and Mission: Impossible (1997) by B. De Palma, Aladdin (1993) by J. Musker and R. Clements, The Firm (1993; Il socio) by S. Pollack and Wolf (1994) by M Nichols. Starting from the nineties, the world of American animation also proposed itself as an alternative to traditional cinema for an adult audience, thanks to the irreverent tone of the screenplays and the new digital techniques. Thus we witness the triumph of Pixar Studios with Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998), Monster & Co (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars – roaring engines (2006) and Ratatouille (2007). In 1992 R. Altman returns to Hollywood with the biting satire of The Player, a reflection on the ruthless mechanisms of film productions, and then returns to success with Short Cuts (1993; America Oggi), a pessimistic look at contemporary American society, with Gosford Park (2001), The Company (2003) and A Prairie Home Companion (2006; Radio America). Welcomed by critics with great attention, the brothers E. and J. Coen proved to be very prolific and original who, with an innovative outlook, changed the rules of genres, from the gangster movie Miller’s Crossing (1990; Crossroads of Death) to the comedy The Ladykillers (2004), not forgetting Fargo (1996), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001; The Man Who Wasn’t There), No Country for Old Men (2007; No Country for Old Men) and Burn After Reading (2008). Among the most influential directors of the nineties we find Q. Tarantino and his consecration with Pulp Fiction (2004), winner of an Oscar for best screenplay and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and then with Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill vol. 2 (2004) and Death Proof (2007). Among the authors who have achieved notoriety for years, contributing to enriching the cinema of the nineties and who still continue to produce great classics today, we remember O. Stone (Natural Born Killer, 1994, Assassini nati; Any Given Sunday, 1999, Every cursed Sunday) that stands out on the Hollywood scene for the political imprint of its films (JFK, 1991; Commander, 2003; Word Trade Center, 2006). Also interesting is the work of F. Ford Coppola (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992; The rainmaker, 1997, The Rainmaker), and C. Eastwood (Unforgiven 1992, The Unforgiven; A Perfect World, 1993, A Perfect World; The Bridges of Madison County, 1995, The Bridges of Madison County) who in the 2000s reached the height of his elegance and emotional intelligence with Mystic River (2003), Million Dollar Baby (2004) winner of two Academy Awards, Flags of Our Father (2006) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006; Letters from Iwo Jima), two complementary films, two points of view on the same war, the first American and the second Japanese and Gran Torino (2009). W. Allenin 2000 directs the ironic Anything Else (2003) and Scoop (2006) as well as Match Point (2005) and Cassandra’s Dream (2007; Sogni e delitti), films from the noir register. After directing the disturbing Cape Fear (1992) and the reflection on the religious world of the East with Kundun (1997), M. Scorsese returns in the 2000s to recount the contradictions and violence inherent in American society (Gangs of New York, 2002; The Departed, 2006) while T. Burton continues his path in fantasy and fairytale with Edward Scissorhands (1990; Edward Scissorhands) and in the gothic atmospheres of Sleepy Hollow (1990; The Mystery of Sleepy Hollow), also declined in animation (Corpse Bride, 2005; Corpse Bride) and in the musical Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Sweeney Todd – The diabolical barber of Fleet Street, 2007).

In addition to this latest work by Burton, other attempts to rework the musical genre, adapting it to postmodern tastes, have been those of B. Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, 2001) and B. Marshall (Chicago, 2002 Oscar winner). The growing notoriety of the Sundance Film Festival, an independent film festival, has led to the discovery of directors such as J. Sayles (Lone star, 1997, Lone star; Limbo, 1999), J. Jarmush (Dead man, 1996; Broken Flowers, 2005), A. Anders (Grace of My Heart, 1997), T. Di Cillo (Living in Oblivion, 1997; Turns to Manhattan), R. Linklater (Before Sunrise, 1996; Before dawn), S. Mendes (American Beauty, 1999, winner of 5 Oscars in 2000) and allows the birth of unconventional cult movies, such as Clerks (Commessi, 1996) or the diptych by W. Wang and P. Auster Smoke / Blue in the face (1995). Among the new talents, coming from independent cinema but now recognized by the public and fully included among contemporary authors, we remember S. Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, 1999, The garden of virgins suicides; Lost in Translation, 2003; Marie Antoinette, 2006), M. July (Me and You and Everyone We Know, 2005), D. Gordon Green (George Washington, 2000; All the Real Girls, 2003). Even the documentary, especially the one with a social background, starting from the early years of the new millennium, begins to involve ever wider audiences, as demonstrated by the success of Fahrenheit 9/11 by M. Moore, a political investigation into the sale of firearms throughout American history, up to the collapse of the Twin Towers in the 2001 terrorist attack. New life flows also in the cinema of S. Soderbergh which after Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989; Sex, lies and videotape, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival) moved on to more commercial films such as Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) through Traffic (2000), a choral work of denunciation on drug trafficking between the USA and Mexico. Among the most interesting protagonists of the seventh art, G. Van Sant continues to tell, with a rarefied and deconstructed style, the criticality of the younger generations (Elephant, 2003, Palme d’Or for best film and award for best direction at the Cannes Film Festival; Last Days, 2005; Paranoid Park, 2007). Films investigating the aftermath of recent American military campaigns include those of K. Bigelow, including The Hurt Locker (2008 Academy Award, awarded for the first time to a woman) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012). Other films from the last decade include Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper (2014) and Joker (2019).

The Most Successful Films