Top 10 Movies of 1996

(Updated on February 11, 2012)

1996 was a solid year for film, producing a bunch of very good films. Nothing “perfect” in my mind, but Jerry Maguire, Courage Under Fire and Phenomenon are all in my Top 100 Films of all time. What’s interesting about almost all of these films is how many times I’ve continually re-watched them. I haven’t re-watched Sleepers since seeing it in the theater, so it’s on my list to revisit soon. But the first 9 films are in regular rotation for me. It was tough choosing between Jerry Maguire and Courage Under Fire for #1, since on a filmmaking level, I probably appreciate Courage Under Fire more. But Jerry Maguire has an emotional story that always appeals to me. It’s the journey that he goes on, along with the rest of the characters in the movie, that always hits the right notes both dramatically and comedically. Sometimes it hits more powerfully than others, but Tom Cruise really gives a great performance in this flick. Phenomenon is one of those under appreciated movies that most people seem to dismiss. It’s actually one of the few John Travolta films I really like other than Grease (1978). While the story is a little “fantastical” and even weird, the spirit of the ideas in the film and the emotional performances by the entire cast is what I cling to. This is a film I never saw in the theater and didn’t watch until years after it was released, but it grabbed me when I did finally see it and it hasn’t let go since. White Squall is like Dead Poets Society (1989) on water. While it has its cheesy moments, I still think Jeff Bridges is great in it. And for a coming-of-age story, it works pretty well. While many people would pick Fargo as their #1, it’s not one I go back to over and over as much as the films above it.

10.  Star Trek: First Contact  (4.5 stars)

9.  The Birdcage  (4.5 stars)

8.  Independence Day  (4.5 stars)

7.  White Squall  (4.5 stars)

6.  Tin Cup  (4.5 stars)

5.  Mission Impossible  (5 stars)

4.  A Time To Kill  (5 stars)

3.  Phenomenon (5 stars)

2.  Courage Under Fire  (5 stars)

1.  Jerry Maguire  (5 stars)


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