An American Classic from the last 20 years?

A long running question I have for people who are fans of movies is this:

Can you name an American movie that was made in the last 20 years (1981-present) that can be considered a classic (like Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, or** Casablanca**). Basiclly movies which have withstood the test of time, and are still relevant today.

I offer you my three picks in no particular order.

  1. The Cider House Rules
    Not only a good film, but one that should be around for a long time due to its wonderful cast (Michael Caine, Tobey Maguire, and Charlize Theron) and beautiful shooting.

  2. The Shawshank Redemption
    Another film that is set in the past (1947), but with ideas and story that spans generations. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman head up a wonderful cast that not only kills you with their beautiful screen work, but brightens up a dull, dreary world of their life in prison.

  3. Full Metal Jacket
    Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest directors of the past 30 years, and I feel that this movie is the premire Vietnam War movie ever made. With the movie being split into two seperate, yet intertwined stories you can feel the full scope of the war from boot camp, to the front lines.

So fellow SDMB’ers, what films do you think are classics?

In the order they come to mind:

  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. The Usual Suspects
  3. Fargo
  4. Shakespeare in Love
  5. Henry V
  6. Dead Again
  7. Titanic*
  8. Schindler’s List
  9. American Beauty
  10. Men in Black

*You may object, but it is a first-class piece of moviemaking, entertainment on the level of Casablanca.

LA Confidential
I love, love, love, love this movie.
I love it I say.
I can’t think of a flaw in this film. Solid characters, great cast (Guy Pierce, Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe), an outstanding script, great direction. As soon as it was over I wanted to buy another ticket and see it again.

Goodfellas
Martin Scorcese directing, with Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci (in a star-making role). A look inside organized crime that is probably second only to the Godfather as the best gangster film ever made.

Toy Story
Babe got an Oscar nomination for best picture and this was left out? Classic themes of friendship that stand the test of time and is identifiable to all generations. Witty script that isn’t just for kids combined with great animation and an outstanding voice cast.

Heavenly Creatures
Pulp Fiction
Reservoir Dogs (because, hey, you can’t have one without the other)
Can I slide in The Shining? I know you said '81…but it’s practically within the last two decades.

Isn’t classic synonymous with “old”? Unless you believe the people trying to sell us on the “instant classic” idea, but that’s about a geniune as new coke…

I’m slapping myself in the head like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man because I can’t believe I left those movies off my list!

Oh, and since it’s in the last 20 years, released in '82 IIRC (although some may already consider this a classic):

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Set the new standard for action movies by reviving the concept of theatrical serials.

I don’t think any of the three movies in the OP qualify.

If I had to pick a movie that will attain ‘classic’ status, I’d have to say that ‘Goodfellas’ has to be near the top of the list. ‘Jaws’ is just outside the 20 year limit, but it would qualify otherwise. A handful of animated movies will be ‘classics’ along the lines of ‘Snow White’ - ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘A Bug’s Life’, and ‘Toy Story’.

‘Henry V’ deserves it, but Shakespeare just doesn’t seem to strike a chord amongst the public. But when people look back at adaptations of Shakespeare on film, this movie will be right at the top of the list, with Olivier’s version of the same play right behind it.

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ would certainly make the list.

Oh, and of course, “Encino Man”. (-:

Well sure, that goes without saying. Duh. :wink:

Could you tell us why?

It’s hard to determine what a classic is. I think of it in terms of “50 years from now, when they talk about movies from 1980-2000, which will be mentioned?” It doesn’t mean, “what are your favorite movies?”

I think the following will be mentioned:

Field of Dreams
Forrest Gump
Saving Private Ryan
Schindler’s List

Your Honor, I object! :slight_smile:
If we are going to let “Jaws” slide in even though it is more than 20 years old, I would insist we also include “Apocalypse Now”.

Was “Heavenly Creatures” an American movie?

Damnit! I think it was New Zealand…er…ish. Ese? Well, I guess I just overlooked that “American” part.

Stranger than Paradise and *Repo Man.

There are a ton of Foriegn movies that can be considered Classics. Das Boot comes to mind, but this is about American films. :slight_smile:

Good call. I would have never put this on my list of favorite films, but it does fit.

In any case, the OP specifically asks for American films, and this one’s British…

But it’s a brilliant movie, my all-time favorite, and I wholeheartedly agree that it deserves “classic” status!

Well, if you’re gonna let Jaws and Apocalypse Now slide, then Taxi Driver should be let in. Aside from Taxi Driver, ditto on all the rest – Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, Full Metal Jacket, and American Beauty.

robgruver: Das Boot is doubly disqualified for being both German and a TV show.

I agree with most of the suggestions so far, although a few I violently diagree with. Titanic, for example, sucked on every level of filmmaking. Men in Black was an astoundingly mediocre movie. Forrest Gump and Saving Private Ryan were both terribly over-rated IMO, but will probably still end up as classics.

I’d add Being John Malkovich and Three Kings. Probably The Matrix too, although it had its faults.

As far as I see it, the only American movies from the past 20 years that can really attain classic status are:

Raiders of the Lost Ark
I don’t have to explain this, do I?

Miller’s Crossing
I’ve frequently heard it dismissed as “a gangster movie,” but to me it’s “THE Coen Brothers movie”. It’s got humor, action, really freaky scary bits, incredible dialog, great music, everything. (And it’s my favorite movie, if you hadn’t guessed already).

Toy Story
I like Toy Story 2 better, but it’s definitely a sequel and doesn’t stand as well on its own. Toy Story is remarkable for being a solid, funny, genuinely charming without being cloying, original movie. The fact that it was a tremendous technical achievement is secondary; if the exact same movie had been 2D animated or even somehow live action or stop-motion, it still would’ve been fantastic.

That’s the backlash talking. It was massively popular, so thus it sucked. That’s a common prejudice and completely bogus.

Every level? The camerawork? The special effects? The acting? Compared to “Space Mutiny”?

I wouldn’t call Titanic a great film, but it’s definitely a classic, since thirty years from now people will be watching it, much as they watch so-so classic films like “Gone With The Wind” or “Children of Paradise.”

A few more:

E.T.
The Princess Bride
Big
Batman
Edward Scissorhands
Thelma and Louise
Clerks
Chasing Amy
12 Monkeys
Mulan
Three Kings
The Iron Giant
Galaxy Quest
Being John Malkovich