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Who can forget films that influenced eras and generations of film enthusiasts?
Anyone from film school or just about any film buff well adept with classics would have seen films like “The Birth of a Nation,” “Battleship Potemkin,” “Citizen Kane,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Even the young filmgoers of today would most likely know big movie franchises such as “King Kong,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Star Wars.”
The past 30 years has its own offering of influential Hollywood motion-picture projects worth chronicling in film history.
As a relative list (chronologically ordered) containing movies that struck the world beyond mere box office successes, these masterpieces became pioneers in various respects from artistry to storytelling to technological breakthroughs. A number of them swept the most respectable film awards. Many became sources of new descriptions and expressions, and some words referring to these films even made their way into the dictionary. Some became direct references now attached to certain cultural and environmental phenomena. Some set the new standards in modern filmmaking.
“Schindler’s List” (1993)
In “Schindler’s List,” Steven Spielberg created a soul-wrenching account of the Nazi invasion and the horrifying visions of the Holocaust and the toll it took on the Jewish people. The film was simple in story and aesthetics, yet watching this more than three-hour opus would tap into the human consciousness in an indescribably haunting way.
While many great movies come out every year, only a few tend to leave a permanent mark that could teach the world such a lesson, reminding how people could die needlessly and how others would try to help these people survive.
In 1997, James Cameron’s “Titanic” became a permanent theatrical offering for a number of months in various countries. He managed to keep up to the challenge of recreating a completely believable Titanic showcasing its grand opulence as the “ship of dreams” until its catastrophic end.
“The Matrix Trilogy” (1999 to 2003, trilogy re-released in 2007)
The concept, speaking lines, and shots for “The Matrix Trilogy” became a trend that inspired a new generation of visually empowered sci-fi flicks. During its heyday, the three “Matrix” films made by the Wachowski Brothers brought new life to the genre.
In this cinematic offering, dreams, alternate realities, and geeks became the center of attention. Filmmakers and filmgoers alike started describing and referring shots of later movies as “Matrix-like” or as the “Matrix shots.”
“The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” (2001 to 2003, trilogy re-released in 2010)
During its time, “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” defined the new standard of what modern epic cinema should be. Its greatest technical achievements equated to what its human side offered. It conquered the theaters, baptized new Tolkien fans, and provided a new meaning to the words “Ring” and “Middle Earth.” It opened audiences to the beauty of elves, the kindness of the hobbits, and the valor of mythical warriors.
Filmmaker Peter Jackson brought to light a fantasy epic showcasing a whole new escapist world of emotional magic and visual wonder.
“Super Size Me” (2004)
Who could forget that documentary about a man who tried eating three McDonald’s meals a day for one whole month? This man, also the filmmaker behind “Super Size Me,” is Morgan Spurlock, an American who took himself as his own guinea pig to see what the religious McDonalds diet could do to his health and body.
In less than six weeks after the film’s release, McDonald’s removed the “Super Size” item from its menu, though the giant fast food chain denied that the decision was because of the documentary.
“An Inconvenient Truth” (2006)
In the middle of the global complacency about the world’s environmental problems, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” suddenly rose to become a cultural phenomenon. It explored the threat of human extinction due to man’s own abusive nature.
This documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim presented the clearly possible dangers of global warming and how people from around the world must rethink how to live their lives and how governments and businesses should get involved.
“Avatar” became a testament to how stereoscopic 3D technology achieved a new level of cinematic experience for the modern film audience. The 3D trend began providing producers new ways to rake in more money in theatrical screenings, and soon even in their 3D home-viewing releases. It proved how 3D technology could be offered as a win-win situation: for producers getting twice the money for a 3D screening than a typical 2D matinee showing; and for movie patrons enjoying the audio-visual experience never before offered by older 3D theatrical treats.
The technical achievement of “Avatar” was its only ace, yet it ultimately brought the film industry into a new digital domain conquered by three-dimensional glory.