Recently, IndieWire’s Matt Singer, in the site’s weekly critics’ poll, asked online journalists to name their picks for the best film of the last 25 years. It’s an entirely arbitrary question (25 years takes us back to 1988 – why not go back to 1980? Or just settle on 1990?), but it got me thinking about this (entirely arbitrary) period of cinema, and what films from the last quarter century would qualify for such a list. I mean, of course “Greatest Movies” lists are stupid, and I gave up trying to take them seriously a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean the exercise itself can’t be intriguing. And when the goal is to celebrate quality movies, where’s the harm?
Jurassic Park is one of those moviegoing experiences that holds a special place in my heart. Now, that’s not necessarily saying much. I’m a nostalgic fellow by nature, so there are a lot of films that spark strong memories for me, and I can relate most films back, fondly, to certain points in my life. But, even so, this one stands out.
“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.” – Roger Ebert, Salon.com, Sept. 15, 2011
This is one of the most popular passages Roger Ebert wrote in his later years, and it’s been invoked in more than a few obituaries and tributes since his death last Thursday. There are few things he said that I disagree with more completely. In fact, there are few public figures with whose political or philosophical beliefs I disagreed more completely than Ebert’s. So it’s perhaps a little odd for me to say that there are also few people, living or dead, who have had a more profound influence on the way I view the world than Roger Ebert. I like to think he would have gotten a kick out of the irony.