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The Top 25 Movies of 1998 (#20 – 16)

June 17, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Halloween H20 Image Credit: Dimension Films

The Top 25 Movies of 1998: #20-#16

I don’t really have much of an introduction for the second part of this megalist besides saying that you’re about to read the second part of a five part piece about the Top 25 Movies of 1998. The response to the first part of this megalist has been quite good, and I want to thank everyone who read it and chimed in. These types of lists are always fun to put together, even if they can sometimes be difficult (and by “difficult” I mean figuring out what movie is the best, what’s second best, etc. And then you end up going back and reworking the list, moving titles around, maybe removing titles and adding others in only to remove the ones you just added and putting back the ones you removed to make room for the new ones. And then there’s the whole “should there be honorable mentions? Maybe the list should be bigger, like the Top 30 or Top 35 so you don’t have to think about the whole “honorable mentions” thing). Anyway, I hope you continue to dig the list and hang around to see what movies make the eventual Top 5.

In case you missed the first part of this list or just want to read it again for some reason here’s the link for it.

And so, without any further what have you, what are the next five movies on the Top 25 Movies of 1998 list?

The Top 25 Movies of 1998: #20-#16

Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures

20-Six Days, Seven Nights: Romantic comedies, probably than any other movie genre, live and die by whatever chemistry the lead characters have. If they have great chemistry you will likely end up with a good/great movie. If the chemistry is lacking, odds are the movie will end up a dud. Yes, the writing/dialogue and the cinematography and maybe even the story will make a movie with chemistry-less stars watchable, but it won’t be any good. I was worried about Six Days, Seven Nights going in because I didn’t think Anne Heche and Harrison Ford would have any chemistry. Heche was, at that time, a spunky and pleasant screen presence, especially after her turn as the volcano expert opposite Tommy Lee Jones in Volcano the year prior. Heche and Jones had chemistry, but it was more “buddy” chemistry. That movie didn’t require Heche to be compatible with the then much older Jones. Six Days, Seven Nights would require Heche to have chemistry with a much older Harrison Ford. Would that pairing work? Would it be believable and not ridiculous? And would Ford be up for the challenge of doing something non-dramatic (he hadn’t done a romantic comedy since 1995’s Sabrina and was just the ass kicking President of the United States in Air Force One in 1997)? Thankfully for director Ivan Reitman and movie going audiences, Heche and Ford have absolutely superb chemistry, they’re both very much up to the challenge of being opposites who eventually attract, and Six Days, Seven Nights is a terrific movie. You completely buy Heche as a magazine writer on vacation with her boyfriend (a perfect David Schwimmer) who ends up having to do a job that requires her to use the services of beach bum drunk pilot Harrison Ford, they both end up in a dangerous situation that requires them to work together without killing one another, and along the way they develop feelings for one another. There’s action and adventure and danger (a pre-Jango Fett Temuera Morrison and the great Danny Trejo are some of the bad guys Heche and Ford have to deal with) and wonderful comedic situations (I love the bit where Heche gets stuck inside the downed plane with the life raft and gives Ford the finger when he makes fun of her predicament). I was surprised back then that Reitman or some other director didn’t try to do another romantic comedy with Ford and Heche. I bet people would have watched.

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

19- The Parent Trap: This remake of the Hayley Mills led Disney classic was a pleasant surprise when it came out in the summer of 1998. I think I was expecting, at best, a good family comedy with some goofy bits in it and nothing more. I didn’t expect that I would leave the movie theater loving every second of it and buying the DVD release as soon as it was available. I also didn’t expect loving the performance of then child actor Lindsay Lohan, who was making her big screen debut in dual roles as Hallie Parker and Annie James. It was shocking how Lohan was able to overshadow both Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson, who were both fantastic, and not be incredibly annoying. Lohan was funny and charismatic and a natural, something you rarely see in a child actor’s performance. The movie also had a dynamite supporting cast, with Lisa Ann Walter as Chessy, Quaid’s housekeeper/nanny/girl Friday (sort of), Simon Kunz as Martin, Richardson’s butler (his Speedo scene is still hilarious to this day), Ronnie Stevens as the grandfather, and Elaine Hendrix as Meredith Blake, the much younger love interest/potential gold digger of Quaid’s Nick Parker. There isn’t a moment in this movie that doesn’t work. And the homages to the original are great, too, like the opening part where twins Annie and Hallie meet at summer camp for the first time, become enemies, engage in shenanigans, and eventually end up best friends. And the big camping trip at the end of the movie still makes me laugh twenty five years later (I love what the twins do to Meredith). I still think, to this day, that this is the best thing Lohan has done as an actor (the second best thing is her work on the TV show Ugly Betty). And this is the directorial debut for Nancy Meyers, who up until this point had been knocking out screenplays for movies like Protocol, Jumping Jack Flash, and the Father of the Bride movies, which is amazing. If you haven’t seen this movie in a while, I implore you to give it a shot again.

Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

18- The Odd Couple II: While I was aware that stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau had been in the original The Odd Couple movie from 1968 and the play the movie was based on, for me The Odd Couple concept was the TV show version that starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as that had been a part of my TV watching life since the 1980’s (I remember that show being on WPIX back in the day). The real draw for me with The Odd Couple II was that it was yet another collaboration between Lemon and Mathau, who had starred in the terrific Grumpy Old Men movies and 1997’s Out to Sea. Lemon and Mathau were so damn great in those three movies and there was no reason that they couldn’t kick ass again in The Odd Couple II. And they did. They absolutely did. The Odd Couple II, with a screenplay by concept creator Neil Simon, has Lemon and Mathau as the clean freak Felix Ungar and slob Oscar Madison, running into one another as they travel to their kids wedding (their kids are marrying one another). Hijinks and multiple disasters ensue as they try to get to the wedding. The bickering and back and forth between Lemon and Mathau is superb. You can tell that, even with their characters often at one another’s throats, they love working together and it’s fun to be in their presence when they’re doing what they’re doing. They also play their ages brilliantly: they’re both old, the movie makes sure you know they’re old, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to figure things out and navigate the disasters they deal with. The movie also has Richard Riehle as a police chief that keeps having to deal with the aftermath of Felix’s and Oscar’s disasters, Jonathan Silverman and Lisa Waltz as Felix’s and Oscar’s kids, and Christine Baranski and Jean Smart as women on the run that Felix and Oscar get into trouble with. I know that The Odd Couple II was considered a box office flop when it came out and that it didn’t get good reviews from the critics (I remember the review from Roger Ebert ran in my local newspaper and he hated the movie), but I loved it. I watched it I don’t know how many times when it hit HBO (for a while there it seemed like it was always on and I seemed to always catch it in the middle) and it was always worthwhile. It always made me laugh. And while it would have been great if Lemon and Mathau’s final collaboration ended up being a bigger hit, it’s more important, in the end, that we got one more collaboration. And it’s good. It’s damn good.

Image Credit: Dimension Films

17- Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later: Smack dab in the middle of the slasher movie resurgence brought on by the success of the Scream movies (and, to a lesser extent, the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies. There was a part 2 of that series in 1998 and, no, it won’t be appearing on this list at all), Halloween H20 was a big hooha horror movie event in the summer of 1998. Jamie Lee Curtis was coming back to once again play Laurie Strode, Scream’s Kevin Williamson was somehow involved, and the great Steve Miner had been hired to direct. There would also be some star power in the movie, with established actors like Adam Arkin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and LL Cool J in the cast, something we hadn’t really seen in the previous Halloween movies up until that point (Janet Leigh also had a part in the movie. Janet Leigh!). I was personally annoyed that the story of the movie was set to ignore the whole Thorn storyline that weaved through Halloween 4 through Halloween 6 and be a direct sequel to 1981’s Halloween II (I still, to this day, love the Thorn storyline), but it seemed cool that a new Halloween movie was seen as a big deal by people outside of the horror movie nerd world. Again, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later was a goddamn event. And so I went to see it in the theater and… just liked it. I thought it was fine. Jamie Lee Curtis was fantastic, as expected, and director Miner had put together several suspenseful set pieces (even when he isn’t necessarily motivated Steve Miner has always been a solid director. I mean, yes, his remake of Day of the Dead is terrible but you can tell he tried to make something out of that piece of garbage. It just didn’t work out). And the ending, with Strode decapitating Michael Myers with an axe, seemed like a fitting and “proper” ending to the franchise, even though it was obvious that there would be another one eventually (there’s just too much money in the franchise). But, on some level, the movie was a letdown. The score and theme wasn’t as memorable as it should have been. The Myers mask was weird (and why the hell did it change throughout the movie?). And I didn’t like that “Scream” vibe that parts of the movie had. That tone was just wrong for a Halloween movie. My objections to the movie haven’t really changed since 1998, but for whatever reason, after multiple viewings since then, I’ve grown to enjoy the movie. It really does work more than it doesn’t, and it’s solid. It’s generally well made. Sometimes that’s all you really need in a slasher movie.

Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

16- Firestorm: I had such high hopes for Firestorm. Based on its trailers it looked like a solid action flick starring a guy who was set to be the next athlete turned action star. That guy was Howie Long, who was a big time football player of some sort (I’ve never been a football guy but, at that time, I knew that Long had won a Super Bowl and even I knew that was a big deal). Long had gained good notices in 1996’s John Woo directed Broken Arrow as villain John Travolta’s main henchman and it was exciting that Long was getting a chance to carry a movie. He clearly had the look of an action hero and an innate coolness that, with the right material, could work and become the next big thing. I mean, yes, we were on the very tail end of the whole “athlete turned action star” thing in big time Hollywood at that point and we didn’t seem to be replacing the action stars we had with new ones (for instance, Ahnold was still in the game but he was setting himself up to make “socially redeeming” action movies like End of Days and The 6th Day, which were fine but they weren’t Commando or Eraser and there didn’t seem to be anyone in line to make those kinds of movies). Maybe Long and Firestorm would turn the tide and re-energize the idea of the charismatic athlete turned action movie star. In Firestorm Long plays a badass ”smokejumper” firefighter who has to rescue a bunch of people in the middle of a gigantic forest fire while also fighting off a scumbag criminal/escaped prisoner (expertly played by the always reliable William Forsythe) that’s searching for a big stash of money. Long is fantastic throughout, doing exactly what he needs to do as Jesse Graves, he has the great Scott Glenn as his mentor/backup (when has Scott Glenn ever given a shit performance?), and the movie is full of great stunts and action set pieces. The movie didn’t need to be a billion dollar success but it did need to “make money.” If it did “make money” we would no doubt get another Howie Long led action flick at some point in the future. Sadly, Firestorm was a complete box office disaster (according to Wikipedia the movie opened at number seven, behind six other movies that were in their third weeks of release). I don’t think it did much better when it hit home video (when it made it to cable it did seem to be on an awful lot, so maybe it found an audience there?). And it basically ended Long’s acting career. He did appear in 2001’s awesome 3000 Miles to Graceland and did some TV appearances but he didn’t get the acting career that he should have had (had he started acting in big time movies in the early 1990’s Long probably would have had a movie career. Probably). It’s a shame because Firestorm is solid, well made, and still exciting to this day.

The director of Firestorm, Oscar winning cinematographer Dean Semler, directed the Steven Seagal movie The Patriot, which also came out in 1998. Firestorm is a million times better than Seagal’s The Patriot. And that’s why The Patriot won’t be showing up on this list, beyond this paragraph talking about Semler. Just figured you’d all want to know that.


Next time: #15-#11! Aliens! A sequel! Space! Hostages! Another sequel!


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