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Publisher's Summary

From a veteran culture writer and modern movie expert, a celebration and analysis of the movies of 1999 - arguably the most groundbreaking year in American cinematic history.

In 1999, Hollywood as we know it exploded: Fight Club. The Matrix. Office Space. Election. The Blair Witch Project. The Sixth Sense. Being John Malkovich. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. American Beauty. The Virgin Suicides. Boys Don’t Cry. The Best Man. Three Kings. Magnolia. Those are just some of the landmark titles released in a dizzying movie year, one in which a group of daring filmmakers and performers pushed cinema to new limits - and took audiences along for the ride. Freed from the restraints of budget, technology (or even taste), they produced a slew of classics that took on every topic imaginable, from sex to violence to the end of the world. The result was a highly unruly, deeply influential set of films that would not only change filmmaking, but also give us our first glimpse of the coming 21st century. It was a watershed moment that also produced The Sopranos; Apple’s Airport; Wi-Fi; and Netflix’s unlimited DVD rentals.

Best. Movie. Year. Ever. is the story of not just how these movies were made, but how they remade our own vision of the world. It features more than 130 new and exclusive interviews with such directors and actors as Reese Witherspoon, Steven Soderbergh, Sofia Coppola, David Fincher, Nia Long, Matthew Broderick, Taye Diggs, M. Night Shyamalan, David O. Russell, James Van Der Beek, Kirsten Dunst, the Blair Witch kids, the Office Space dudes, the guy who played Jar-Jar Binks, and dozens more. It’s the definitive account of a culture-conquering movie year none of us saw coming...and that we may never see again. 

©2019 Brian Raftery (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about Best. Movie. Year. Ever.

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Like talking about movies with a friend

Was 1999 the best movie year ever? Who cares! The title is just a springboard to talk in-depth about a great year in American cinema.

I went through a divorce in 1999, and consoled myself by going to whatever the new movie was each Friday. Maybe that's why this story resonated for me so much.

But, if you're just a movie fan, this book will still be a great listen.

George Newbern is one of my favorite narrators, and he does a great job in bringing the listener into the book.

Wish I could find more books like this to read.

10 people found this helpful

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What WAS I doing in 1999?

Please invent that time machine RIGHT NOW!! or I will just go on admonishing myself for not seeing a lot of these movies in the theaters LIKE Fight Club or Election...If I was in any way religious, I would be beating my own back right now SIGH. Sorry Paul Bettany Yes I went there.
Anyways, I loved everything about this book from start to finish and am getting it in hardback for Xmas. Thank you Jonathan. I remembered to thank him even though I will never win an Oscar😁

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Great for movie lovers

Whether or not you’ve seen every movie discussed, the depth in which Raftery explores the winding paths and many obstacles that each film had to travel and overcome just to make it to the big screen is wholly satisfying, and enriches the film on a macro level in a way that movie lovers will love and appreciate. Learning about films within the broader cultural and political moments of the time is unendingly interesting and engaging. I wish this book existed for every movie year.

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Really interesting

This was a pretty interesting listen. While it wasn’t the best book about movies and it sure didn’t cover ALL the movies, it was still fun to hear.

The impact that 1999 had on films was profound, but unfortunately, not long-lasting. Movies like American Beauty haven’t aged well given circumstances. Films like The Matrix certainly changed film and special effects for years to come. A movie like Election or Run, Lola, Run have all but become cult favorites.

Hearing about the impact of these movies and a few more were interesting and kept my attention. However, when narrator George Newbern delivered a line from a few of the movies discussed- it just doesn’t have the same impact.

The book itself was great and one can certainly tell that author Brian Raftery has fun writing it and researching it - EXCEPT for when he stated “Jessie’s Girl” was used in the infamous Boogie Nights scene...it was “Sister Christain” soooo close.

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  • GH
  • 03-07-20

Great year, great book.

1999 rivals 1939 for the classics it delivered. This book recounts all of the pain, struggle and magic that is the movies. In retrospect, it was the beginning of the modern era and the end of the last golden age.

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Great audiobook about a great year, 1999

This was a great book! George Newbern does a great job narrating it, with a few mistakes (he mispronounces Existenz which I suppose is forgivable) and it was great remembering all these classic films from 1999. I love hearing behind the scenes stories, how movies got financed, so if those kinds of stories are for you, then get this book. One quibble is that, while pointing out how Hollywood made these films yet didn't embraces them, they could have talked about the 72nd Academy Awards, pointed out who won what that year (not much from the movies they focused on), even talk about the Best Picture nominees from that year, only three of which they talked about in depth (American Beauty, The Insider, Sixth Sense) although I did like the dig at Cider House Rules. Really the only talk about the Oscars that year was how far Kevin Spacey, Harry Knowles and Harvey Weinstein have fallen since then. But that's probably just me. I love old classic films and finding out more about them, but it is nice to hear stuff about movies that I remember coming out! For movie fans, this is highly recommended!

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Terrific!

A grand work that does everything a movie book should. Makes you want to rewatch or watch for the first time, all of the movies. Puts you in the time and place, gives context for everything, tells funny and interesting stories, and is a real page turner. Best book.

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A solid, but limited review of some of 1999's best

This book reads a lot like a PBS special on 1999 pop culture. It does a solid job of recapping not only the films, but the music, television, and cultural events that led up to, and shaped the movies of 1999, and the year as a whole. It does an incredible job of capturing some of 1999's most memorable films, and includes a multitude of interviews and testimonies from all parties involved in the making of said films. Many of these films covered in the book are deserving of entire books of their own, and this book tends to just break the surface of each film covered before moving on to the next. It covers many of the top box office earners, Oscar season sleeper hits, and generation defining indie hits.

This book can be oddly preachy at some points, and when given the opportunity, it will poke fun at many modern day cultural and sociopolitical topics. The author has a tendency to view history through rose colored glasses, as if to say, "1999 just did it so much better than we are doing it now". When it can, this book will interject musings about The Patriarchy, LGBTQ issues, the 2016 election, and the modern American political divide, but I have come to expect that from literature published in 2019. The few, but subtle nods to current day trends throughout this book can often pull you out of the history this book tries to immerse you in, and frankly the entire epilogue could be removed and wouldn't make a difference.

This book is great for anyone interested in the film production stories, and tireless effort that went into 1999's biggest, and smallest films, that may have not been alive during the release of these films in the late 90's, but lacks the deep dive I was hoping for. George Newbern is an awesome narrator for this book, and executes it superbly

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Ever had a half-good meal?

50% decent story, 50% decent reading, but still doesn't equal a satisfying read. Would've been better as a Vanity Fair three-part article.

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A fun, nostalgic read!

This is a wonderful book! I found it very interesting and nostalgic. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes hearing about the behind the scenes of movies and tv shows. There is a lot of really great insight and backstory of some of the most groundbreaking films of the last 30 years. I didn't want it to end!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-16-19

Fantastic 1990s analysis and nostalgia

This is a brilliant overview and analysis of late 1990s cinema, and social/pop culture. Raftery gets great access to film makers and expertly provides detailed context to the movies’ productions. I devoured it.

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  • Jamie Sherwood
  • 11-24-20

Interesting

Some interesting stories and theories, read well, but if you have a good knowledge of the year in movies, there will be fewer delights.

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  • Jay Lewis
  • 05-01-20

Fascinating Listen

I was out into this book by the chaps at CinemaSins and they did not disappoint. An incredibly interesting listen about a transformative year in the cinema industry.

It’s fairly similar to the Peter Biskind novel Down and Dirty Pictures, though in much less detail.

Well worth your time.