Movies of 1997, part three: Blockbusters, duds, and more

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Films released in 1997--and later nominated for Academy Awards in 1998--rightfully have a foothold on their place in history. The same can be said for certain blockbusters from the same year not named Titanic.

When I started this little project, my main goal was to discuss the 1998 Academy Awards and what great movies were represented that year. I had no idea it would unleash a three-part series, mostly because there were so many good films released in 1997 I'd simply forgotten about over time. The movie about a disaster at sea can cause these things to happen.

In all actuality, during those the last three years of the 90's, I was consuming movies and films at a rapid pace. Between living at home the year after high school and not really knowing anyone in my semesters at Boise State, a lot of my time was spent watching movies from not only 1997 but further back as well.

I do believe the films of 1997--classics, blockbusters, and duds alike--all have had an effect on not only what interests me, but also what I like to write about. Outside of what we've previously discussed, 1997 introduced audiences to an Ice Cube eating snake (Anaconda), a sequel to a horror film satirizing horror films (Scream 2), a movie from Babyface (Soul Food), Jim Carrey unable to tell a lie (Liar, Liar), and a dog who could play basketball (Air Bud).

Many of these deserve posts of their own. In some cases, I've left that responsibility up to others. (See: Air Bud). We'll do our best to do a quick fly-over of some of the more important ones.

Put the bunny back in the box

Nicolas Cage had bounced around between comedy and drama throughout much of the 1980's and 1990's. That changed in 1996 with the release of The Rock.

How would Cage top himself? Simply by releasing two action movies in 1997: Con Air and Face/Off

Con Air even produced a hit that some say rivaled the song from the little sinking ship movie.

Cage--despite having two action-packed films--did not have the blockbuster market cornered in '97. That still belonged to Will Smith.

Smith--who a summer earlier had delivered the world to safety from aliens--was back in 1997, also protecting the world from alien takeovers. This time around he was teamed with Tommy Lee Jones. Men In Black not only produced another summer hit for Smith, but the former Fresh Prince also produced a hit song to populate the clubs with: 

Men in Black was the second-highest grossing film of 1997. Other blockbusters from the top-ten in 1997, including The Lost World: Jurassic Park (a highly underrated sequel), My Best Friend's Wedding, and Tomorrow Never Dies have been pushed to the dusty corners of 1997.  

Even the star power of Harrison Ford and Air Force One is sometimes forgotten about. Not because it's a bad movie (it's not) because the ridiculousness doesn't quite match that of Con Air.

It should also be noted that in 1997--as far as blockbusters go--the special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy were released, further relegating some movies to footnotes of cinema in 1997.

A Tarantino follow-up, a Cusack, and a Sly

Jackie Brown was a pretty good film. And like many of the films nominated for best picture, had an outstanding cast from top to bottom. Audiences held it--at the time--up to comparison of Quentin Tarantino's previous film, Pulp Fiction. Critics and non-critics like use previous films as a barometer to measure a work of most creative types and Jackie Brown was no different.

The aforementioned cast is headlined by Pam Grier and Samuel Jackson and could have gone toe-to-toe with any of the casts from the films nominated for Academy Awards. As it stood, only Robert Forster was nominated for an Oscar (best actor in a supporting role; both Grier and Jackson were nominated for Golden Globes).

Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda, and Robert DeNiro also were in the cast in this film based on the Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch. The film marked a return to the spotlight for Grier and was given high marks for her performance. 

DeNiro would play second-fiddle, it seems, in two films in 1997. Cop Land was also jam packed full of great actors, but it was Sylvester Stallone who stole the show. In fact, many initially thought Stallone would win an acting award for his performance. The movie on a whole doesn't quite hold up, but it is still one of the better performances of Stallone's career.

Also doing double-duty in 1997 was Minnie Driver. Along with Good Will Hunting, Driver appeared alongside John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank. I loved this moved in the late 90's/early 2000's but for some reason never owned it and haven't seen it in 15 years. It was one of those hidden gems I came across and ranks high on favorite films of Cusack. He plays a down-on-his-luck hitman who falls in love with Driver upon returning home for his class reunion. Highly recommend it, if you get the chance and haven't seen it.

...And the rest

Here is every other movie that came out in 1997... Kidding. 

To this day, I will still contend that Nothing to Lose has a great soundtrack, Money Talks was prime time Chris Tucker (who was also in Jackie Brown), and Starship Troopers was one of the worst acted movies of all-time (is that what makes it so great?).

Starship Troopers was a movie consisting of actors who made appearances on Saved by the Bell and prime time soaps like Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210. And of course, the movie also marked the re-emergence of Neil Patrick Harris. 

1997 also gave us George Clooney as Batman (Batman and Robin), Matt Damon as a young lawyer in a film with Danny DeVito (The Rainmaker), and a movie I loved for the longest time but can no longer watch (I Know What You Did Last Summer).

I could go on and on, but will leave you with my top-ten films from that year. (Some of which I found no room for to discuss, but make my list nonetheless.) Thanks for stopping by.

  1. Boogie Nights
  2. Good Will Hunting
  3. L.A. Confidential
  4. As Good as It Gets
  5. Jackie Brown 
  6. Titanic
  7. Grosse Pointe Blank
  8. Breakdown
  9. Scream 2
  10. The Game

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