A Lifetime of Film covers one specific year of a Cinefessions’ writers existence, from birth to now, and goes over their top ten films from that year. It stems from a meme on Letterboxd, and is simply being expanded upon here. This week, Ashe covers 1990.

I was just 13 in 1990, turning into that teenage geek monster. Yeah, I was pretty geeky as a teen, and not much has changed. While we had left the ’80s behind numerically, some of that sensibility traveled over with the films as a lot of these were made in ’89 to release in ’90.  I’ve seen 52 films from 1990 that I can recall clearly.  Some Honorable Mentions include Robocop 2Days of ThunderRobot JoxEdward ScissorhandsDie Hard 2TremorsAwakeningsFlatlinersNight of the Living DeadRescuers Down Under, and Men At Work. While Robocop 2 has some big flaws, it was still a fun ride. I really liked the Night of the Living Dead remake, Robot Jox was a surprising, low-budget, direct-to-video find, and Men At Work has some great moments in it.  What about my top ten then?

Back to the Future Part III10. Back to the Future Part III (Robert Zemeckis)
I included Back to the Future Part II in my 1989 list, and while I think Part III is actually a better film than Part II, there is a lot of competition from 1990, so it only barely breaks into my top ten of the year. I love the change to a western setting and the fact that they worked so many of the western’s themes into the film while still treating it as a sci-fi comedy.  It’s definitely unique in that regard, and, once again, Lloyd and Fox make a great duo, playing off each other really well.  

9. Darkman (Sam Raimi)
Sam Raimi’s first foray into the superhero genre was a lot darker than Spider-Man, and involved Liam Neeson, who I’ve loved ever since this film. It’s a unique take on the genre, and Raimi’s sense of style abounds throughout the film along with some interesting effects work. I haven’t seen Darkman in a long time so I have no idea how it holds up today, but I do have a soft spot for this one as my friends and I loved watching it when it hit VHS.  

8. Young Guns II (Geoff Murphy)
While certainly a more commercial film than the first film, I actually like this sequel a bit more. It neatly ties up the whole story, but it’s also a great stand alone film.  I hadn’t actually seen the first one before I saw this, and I loved the cast mix-up. Estevez and Sutherland are the two that stick out the most in my mind, and I can’t help but think that this may have paved the way for Raimi to make The Quick and The Dead

Memphis Belle7. Memphis Belle (Michael Caton-Jones)
This was one of those movies I watched just because of the setting, and the fact it was about the bombers I’d always seen the black and white footage of. On top of that, it’s a fantastic film about that crew and one of their last missions, as well as what those flight crews went through every time they went out on a mission. Memphis Belle has an amazing cast with Mathew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Billy Zane, Sean Astin, Harry Connick Jr, and John Lithgow.  I’ve watched this again within the last five or six years, and it’s still well done and definitely worth a look.

6. Ghost (Jerry Zucker)
Yes, I happen to like romantic films too. Bite me. This is a bit more than that, though. Ghost has a well put together cast, and each one of them deliver. There are some great funny moments to offset the serious scenes, and on top of that, it’s about a guy trying to protect his lover after his murder, all while figuring out who killed him in the process. Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg playing off each other never fails to amuse, and I have to admit that Demi Moore and Swayze’s scene with the pottery wheel is still freaking hot to watch. 

5. Misery (Rob Reiner)
This is one of those movies that I was too young to see, but snuck it in anyway through video on demand when no one was home. I know a lot has been said of Kathy Bates and her role in this film, but she is an amazing actress who sells every bit of this role, and it would not have worked without her. James Caan does a good job, and I feel for him in every scene that Kathy’s character is going after him with whatever she’s cooked up. I cringe just thinking about one particular scene that I’m not going to ruin. Needless to say this is a fantastic adaptation of the Stephen King story, and probably one of the better translations of his work. Definitely one of the adaptations that got it right.  

The Hunt for Red October4. The Hunt for the Red October (John McTiernan)
While I like a bunch of the Tom Clancy films, I’ve never really gotten into the books. This was the film that piqued my interest into submarine warfare, and kicked up not only a small collection of sub novels I’ve since lost in multiple moves over the years, but also spurred me to widen my model collection from just Star Trek kits to include a Typhoon class submarine. I’ve always loved Connery and Neill in the film, and while I liked Baldwin in his role, Scott Glenn as the American sub captain gets me every time. It’s a well done political thriller with some great sub battles within. When I went back even a few years they weren’t even close to coming up with as good material as they have here, and I’m betting a lot of that can be attributed back to the model work and techniques used in The Abyss.

3. Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven)
I really like Paul Verhoeven as a director, and Total Recall is one of my top three Verhoeven films (the other two being Robocop and Starship Troopers). Based off a short story by Philip K Dick, Total Recall is an action film based around the premise that your reality might not be real, but rather implanted. It tackles this in an interesting way while still trying to maintain its action film feel with its star, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The effects are pretty good for its time, and while I think a few sequences might be a bit suspect today, it’s still a pretty fun movie to sit through. This was one of those movies that we watched over and over again before Terminator 2 came out on VHS. Arnold was our go-to action guy as kids and teens, what can I say.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 19912. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Steve Barron)
T-U-R-T-L-E POWER. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On the half shell, they’re the heroes four… yeah, I’ll spare you. Aside from my insanity with the Transformers, there was no other ’80s property that I loved as much as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I owned the VHS, but watched it so much that we had to buy a new one. I have the soundtrack. I have the film memorized, and could probably put on a one man show. While definitely not perfect, this film has a lot of great moments, and cherry picks what would work best from the comics and the TV cartoon to meld into this live action mish-mash that just works. I can’t say the same for 2 or 3, but the CG sequel caught what worked in this film much later. Let’s just say there’s a reason that this one is as high as it is on this list, and let it go.

1. Dances With Wolves (Kevin Costner)
I really don’t know why I’d need to explain why this one is number one, but if I must: it’s amazingly shot, has a beautiful score, and deals with things they should be teaching in history with a sense of weight and realism on a human scale. It’s probably the best film that Kevin Costner has been involved with in any way, shape, or form. I love this movie. Good stuff.