1997 marked a landmark year in moviemaking, with an array of fantastic films hitting theatres. Here is our selection of the top films to come out of this historic year.
Good Will Hunting is an endearing drama following a young man (Matt Damon) as he struggles to overcome personal struggles. It also features Oscar-winning performance by Robin Williams as his therapist.
The Full Monty
One of the best movies released in 1997, The Full Monty follows a group of unemployed steelworkers as they form their own striptease act. After recruiting four other men and practicing their bump-and-grind routine, they begin performing for audiences.
The movie also tackles issues such as unemployment and family. It depicts how these men come together and become close, even while facing down the economic hardships of their city.
This film is about persevering through adversity, and these guys do so with good will and compassion, not by being mean or making fun of others. It’s an enjoyable watch that offers plenty of entertainment value.
Robert Carlyle and Mark Addy star as Gaz and Dave, two unemployed steelworkers with the whimsical idea to put on a Chippendales-style male striptease act. After recruiting four more men, they begin practicing their routine with all eyes set for one night when they plan to “go the full Monty” – full nudity.
Peter Cattaneo directed and Simon Beaufoy wrote the film. As Cattaneo’s debut feature film, he does an impressive job creating a film with a modest yet professional aesthetic. Anne Dudley sings some excellent music that adds plenty of energy and verve to the proceedings.
The Full Monty is an excellent British comedy that deserves to be nominated for an Oscar in 1998. Paying homage to Ken Loach’s Raining Stones and The Wind In The Willows, The Full Monty also offers lighthearted moments with a more focused comic approach. Overall, The Full Monty makes for great viewing with friends as you enjoy its banter throughout.
Grosse Pointe Blank
Fans of 80s nostalgia action romcoms will love Grosse Pointe Blank. Starring John Cusack and Minnie Driver, it was one of the top movies released in 1997 and deserves to be seen more often.
It’s an acid satire with some biting comments about big business. There’s plenty of wry humor, but this movie also has an intensely touching and emotionally draining quality.
After years of successful homicide, John Cusack (John Cusack) finds himself facing a career crisis. His dreams are plagued by images of high school sweetheart Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver), whom he stood up for on prom night and hasn’t seen in over a decade.
Cusack shines in his role as the gruff, overworked hit man who returns to Grosse Pointe for his tenth anniversary reunion. There, he reconnects with old friends and reconciles with Debi. However, his return is complicated by the arrival of Dan Aykroyd’s unstable rival hit man (Cary Grant) who threatens to take him down in a fiery shootout.
The plot is more intricate than anticipated, yet it works beautifully. Director George Armitage (“Miami Blues”) collaborated with Cusack, Tom Jankiewicz, and D.V. DeVincentis on this script that they originally wrote while still high school students.
Grosse Pointe Blank is an absolute joy to watch, with Cusack and Driver sharing an infectious chemistry. Joan Cusack does an outstanding job as Martin’s secretary. Additionally, Joe Strummer (former member of The Clash) created an exquisite soundtrack for it all.
Wag The Dog
David Mamet and Hilary Henkin’s Wag The Dog is a satire on political spin doctoring. Starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman as two Hollywood producers who help President Obama create an imaginary war to distract from an embarrassing sexual scandal.
This film is one of the greatest satires ever made and it’s hard not to be impressed by its outrageousness. However, it also emphasizes that humor may not always be realistic; an important lesson today in light of ever-shifting wars and nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
At the center of this film is Conrad Brean (De Niro), a political consultant who becomes involved with sexual indiscretion with an underage “firefly girl.” Two weeks before the presidential election, his assistant Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) calls upon her professional spin doctor friend to distract the media attention.
Brean, with the help of Hollywood producer Stanley Moss (Dustin Hoffman), sets out to create an epic disaster that will distract attention away from the firefly girl sex scandal. They begin by concocting a fake war with Albania.
But things get even more intricate when they employ an army of actors, writers, singers and advertising wizards to make it appear that a war is taking place. The results are both hilarious and heartbreaking.
Ultimately, it’s a bitingly cynical satire that manages to be both clever and funny, making it easy to see why this film was one of the top hits of 1997. You may feel betrayed as much as President Clinton and his advisers do at times; yet that is part of its appeal – that is part of what makes satire so captivating.
House Of Games
David Mamet was a renowned playwright and screenwriter best known for his work with Glengarry Glen Ross, but his directorial debut with House Of Games is an outstanding thriller that seamlessly blends sex, lies and deception. It follows the story of Dr. Addiction as she befriends con man Mike who introduces her to the world of confidence games.
Mamet’s cast includes his wife Lindsay Crouse as the psychiatrist and Joe Mantegna as Mike, a cynical con man. Their interactions and Crouse’s performance make for an intriguing character study of a psychiatric patient trying to get her life together but finding that she has no control over her addictions.
This film serves as an important cultural document, emphasizing how criminality is more widespread than we realize. It’s not just a movie about gambling or grifters – it’s an investigation of America’s criminal underworld and class war between middle class and working class families.
Mamet’s experience as both a playwright and screenwriter lends him the ability to craft stories that engage viewers, while his direction ensures you pay close attention to every detail. This film boasts exceptional cinematic quality and ranks among the best films of 1997.
Though much of the plot may be predictable, House Of Games keeps you engaged due to its fast pacing and enough twists. Mamet’s performances are excellent, while Juan Ruiz Anchia’s cinematography is outstanding. Criterion Collection recently released House Of Games on Blu-ray and it comes in a standard clear case with an informative booklet written by Kent Jones.
The Spanish Prisoner
David Mamet, author of 1997’s The Edge, brings one of his finest thrillers with The Spanish Prisoner. It’s a neo-noir take on Hitchcockian suspense but Mamet is more interested in using language and prose as persuasive tools rather than for style or visual effects.
The film offers an intriguing blend of dialogue, intricate reversals and deceptive techniques that keep viewers guessing. Mamet, who excels at wordplay, has a particular knack for penetrating his characters’ minds.
Mamet’s characters debate the “nature” of language, their arguments supported by subtle underlaying sound effects that keep you attentive to what they are saying. Additionally, Carter Burwell’s unsettling score serves as a poignant symbol in the film’s eerie atmosphere.
Campbell Scott gives an outstanding performance, giving a particularly powerful and effective lead role. A-list star Steve Martin also excels in this project despite forgoing larger budget opportunities.
In the end, this is a tightly crafted thriller that never reveals more than it needs to. If you enjoy this genre, then don’t miss it!
Mamet’s knack for clever switch-ups, his mastery of linguistics and his eye for a good script have made this his best work yet. It has much to say about corporate greed and how it destroys trust; yet it also serves as proof that an accomplished writer can rely on their cast and performances to tell an effective story.