Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen

The sheer amount of cinema classics released in 1999 is mind-boggling: films such as The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project and The Iron Giant have endured in modern pop culture as truly great movies. (Others, like Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace--not so much.) In the thoughtful and entertaining Best. Movie. Year. Ever., film critic Brian Raftery recounts the production and aftermath of seminal 1999 movies. He interviews dozens of directors, actors and writers involved in each film, gathering stories and anecdotes demonstrating why these movies still matter, sometimes in discomfiting ways. Raftery argues persuasively that American Beauty is more relevant to 2019 audiences than ever before, for example. 

He makes the case for 1999 as a pivotal moment in pop culture, a time when low- or mid-budget films could be funded by major studios, and television didn't dominate mainstream storytelling. The Matrix and Fight Club even predicted the sea change in how Americans would interact with each other, forming relationships and political movements all via the Internet. If there's a mournful quality to the epilogue on how much things have changed--such as Kirsten Dunst lamenting the decline in quality of modern movies--there's excitement, too: a film year like 1999 could happen again just as people have given up hope. Ultimately Best. Movie. Year. Ever. is an engaging and brilliantly researched book on, as Raftery calls it, "the most unruly, influential, and unrepentantly pleasurable film year of all time." --C.M. Crockford, freelance reviewer