1996 in Review

One Notable Film from 1996

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1996 wasn’t an especially good year for movies, so I’ll highlight a personal favorite-a movie that’s shorter than the episodes of the TV series it’s based on: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) was a show where the three main characters were on a space station and for reasons that don’t need to be explained here, were forced to watch bad movies. It was a very significant TV show for a number of reasons: first, it was the signature show during the early years of Comedy Central (originally The Comedy Channel) and helped make them the major cable channel they are today. Second, and most important though is that it was the progenitor for untold numbers of “riffers”, people who have made careers online through making fun of bad movies and also spread the idea of watching bad movies for their entertainment value to a mass audience. It lasted for 10 seasons on cable from 1989-1999 (along with it’s local TV season in Minnesota from 1988-89), with the last 3 on Sci-Fi Channel plus the movie they made where they riffed on the 1950s Sci-Fi classic This Island Earth. Unfortunately, it had horrible distribution (only playing in 26 theaters) and was just a bad idea in general: why make a film based on a TV show that’s identical in essentially every way to a typical episode of the show? The movie is a pretty average episode all told, not standing up to the all-time classics like Space Mutiny, Manos: The Hands of Fate, I Accuse My Parents and Pod People. Hopefully they can capture the same magic with its revival on Netflix in April 2017.

Other Notables from 1996

Trainspotting

Brassed Off

Independence Day

Bottle Rocket

Mission: Impossible

Romeo + Juliet

Scream

Space Jam

Sling Blade

1996 Nominees in Review

Fargo: B+

Secrets & Lies: B

Shine: B-

Jerry Maguire: C+

The English Patient: C (Won Best Picture)

An often-boring, self-important yet undeniably handsome epic winning Best Picture? I thought I was done with the 80s, but The English Patient fits right in with movies like Out of Africa and Gandhi. Even if I didn’t think any of the movies this year were truly great, there were much better options available to voters like the rich world and characters in Fargo or the bold, low budget Secrets & Lies.

For 1997: The most recent film to win both Best Actor and Actress; the low-budget comedy that beat out Titanic for the BAFTA; Ben Affleck and Matt Damon planted a random gay sex scene on page 60 of the script when they sent it to studios to see which ones would actually read through it-only Miramax did; The first film noir to be nominated since Chinatown (and also takes place in L.A.); and after finding out she would need to be naked in front of Leonardo DiCaprio for the movie, Kate Winslet decided she needed to break the ice with him-so when they met for the first time, she flashed him.

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