Jumanji, Toy Story, Se7en, The Usual Suspects, La Haine and more – yep, 1995 was a killer 12 months for cinema-goers. 20 years on, here’s a look back at some of the year’s most memorable movies…
Kids: Then-21-year-old Chloe Sevigny made her movie debut in this notoriously gritty Larry Clark indie drama. Sevigny’s character Jennie sits at the heart of a film that uncompromisingly tackled the AIDS epidemic among teen New Yorkers. Still powerful, two decades later.
Jumanji: One of the great Robin Williams’ best loved films, they don’t make them like this board game caper anymore – a fantasy adventure threaded with heart-breaking real life emotion. Its stampeding animals and menacing hunter gave the film wonder, but it was Alan Parrish’s torment by school bullies and his strained relationship with his parents that gave it heart.
Se7en: Sometimes, you wonder how an idea hasn’t been done before. Taking the simple but clever premise of a series of murders based on the seven deadly sins, Se7en‘s smart plotline plus top calibre cast (Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman) ensured its status as as a noir-ish modern thriller classic.
La Haine: A drama that within its tale of three outcasts of strained French race relations who find a policeman’s gun, encapsulated the fears and frustrations of a fractured nation. Shot in beautiful monochrome, its gripping portrait of the Parisian suburbs, rife with crime and violence, is unflinching and nerve-shredding – a worthy cult classic.
The Usual Suspects: The film that elevated Kevin Spacey from cult star to Academy Award winning big-time success, The Usual Suspects followed the interrogation of Spacey’s Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint as he describes the events that led to him becoming one of two survivors of a massacre. A Hollywood legend was born.
Twelve Monkeys: Here’s Mr. Pitt again, this time winning a Golden Globe for his role as fanatical mental patient Jeffrey Goines in this dark-hearted flick. Directed by Monty Python actor and illustrator Terry Gilliam, the film was an atmospheric and mentally-stretching piece of sci-fi drama wonderment.
Die Hard With A Vengeance: An action-adventure that took on racism within America as well as deranged terrorists, the third time round – or should that be up? – the block for Bruce Willis’ skyscraper-climbing cranky cop was inspired. Sam Jackson kills it in his supporting role.
Heat: The ultimate crime movie? Maybe. Featuring killer turns from both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, Heat was partly based on the real life experiences of Chicago cop Chuck Adamson and the tense game of cat and mouse that played out between him and career criminal Neil McCauley – set against a big budget backdrop courtesy of director extraordinaire Michael Mann.
Apollo 13: They may have had a problem (Houston) with the original Apollo 13 moon landing, but the film based on the subject had no such issue. Directed by former Happy Days star Ron Howard, the dramatisation of the epic aborted 1970 mission has since been recognised as a fairly seminal piece of American film history.
Braveheart: An epic film bringing the story of Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace to the big screen, Braveheart gave us a blue face-painted, kilt-wearing Mel Gibson roaring lustily with a massive, terrible mullet: “They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!” You tell ’em, Mel.
Before Sunrise: A heart-warmingly minimalist film, Before Sunrise follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) as they get to know each other over the course of a night of conversation through the streets of Vienna. Its sequels Before Sunset and Before Midnight) were similarly perfect and poignant in their simplicity.
Bad Boys: Back when Will Smith was still The Fresh Prince and Jaden and Willow were but a glint in whatever extra-terrestrial force is in control of their brains’ eye, there was Bad Boys – one of Smith Snr’s first feature film roles. A comedy romp about a pair of cops, it showed that Will could hold his own outside of Bel-Air.
Clueless: Think there’s been a better teen coming of age film since Clueless? Like, whatever. Following the exploits of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and her comrades in the upper class Beverley Hills set, it puts heart into a vacuous world, giving a hilarious and playful spin on the universal theme of growing up.
Casino: Based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Pileggi, Casino was the eighth film to pair De Niro with Scorsese, their chemistry by this point so electric, many suggested we were witnessing one of the most exciting actor-director duos in cinema history. Crime and the stunted psyche of man were again the focus in a film that focused on a gamble-house run by the mob.
Dead Man Walking: While a convicted murderer on death row might not be the most empathetic choice of lead character, Dead Man Walking challenged the limits of people’s forgiveness and human spirit. As Sister Helen (Susan Sarandon) sets about trying to reform Sean Penn’s Matthew Poncelet in his last days, it’s a testing but intriguing watch.
GoldenEye: The 17th film in the Bond series, GoldenEye remains one of the franchise’s most loved. A classic Tina Turner offering provided the iconic theme, as Pierce Brosnan took up the Bond mantle for the first time and proved his mettle with aplomb. Decent N64 game, too.
Billy Madison: Written by and starring Adam Sandler, Billy Madison has become something of a crass cult favourite after an initial critical panning. The plot – a wealthy heir (Sandler) has to prove himself after years of coasting through life – isn’t the most original, but even then, Sandler was obviously a star, his manic man-child persona here defiantly hilarious.