6 retro movies we can't believe are turning 20 this year
From 'Space Jam' to the first 'Mission: Impossible,' the year 1996 was a memorable one at the cinema.
Ready for a healthy shot of cinema-induced nostalgia? Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 45 million people on the Internet, U.S postage stamps only cost 32 cents, and the most popular show on television was "E.R." It was also a big year at the movies, with records falling left and right to films about aliens, spies and even basketball-playing cartoons. Below are a handful of our favorite films from 1996 that continue to entertain more than two decades later.
Considered a standout in a decade besieged with romantic comedies, "Beautiful Girls" focuses on a group of close childhood friends set on divergent paths as they approach 30.
Written and directed by the late American filmmaker Ted Demme, the film features solid performances by American-Israeli actress Natalie Portman, Canadian-American Lauren Holly and American actors Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon and Michael Rapaport. Portman, still one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, was praised in particular for giving the movie its "most poignant and witty presence."
In order to make the friendships on screen appear genuine, Demme flew the entire cast to Minneapolis and had them all live together for three weeks.
Ready to have an existential crisis like the actors in the film? "Beautiful Girls" turned 20 on Feb. 9, 2016.
The poster for German director Roland Emmerich's alien invasion film "Independence Day," released on July 3, 1996, carried a brilliant tagline: "Don't make plans for August." The movie, composed of a then-record 3,000-plus special effects shots, featured an all-star ensemble: American actors Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica Fox and Mary McDonnell. French production designer Patrick Tatopoulos came up with the alien's squid-inspired look.
According to Emmerich, the idea for the movie came after a journalist asked him about his belief in aliens. His off-the-cuff answer about imagining a world where you wake up to discover "15-mile-wide spaceships hovering over the world's largest cities" planted the seed for the rest of the film.
"Independence Day" became the biggest hit of 1996, reenergizing the science fiction genre and paving the way for additional alien invasion films like "Signs" and a "War of the Worlds" reboot. Last summer, it was announced that a sequel, "Independence Day: Resurgence," would make its way into theaters in June 2016. Not surprisingly, the sequel's plot is set 20 years after the events of the first film.
Directed by American Ron Shelton and produced by Arnon Milchan, a prolific Israeli filmmaker, "Tin Cup" remains the most successful golf movie ever released. Starring American actors Kevin Costner, Rene Russo and Don Johnson, the film revolves around a washed-up former pro golfer who rediscovers his love for the game and attempts a comeback.
The film marked the third sports-related hit for Costner, coming after starring roles in "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams." Critics, who one year earlier shredded the actor for his performance in the post-apocalyptic dud "Waterworld," praised the actor for a return to what made him famous in the first place. "Costner hasn't been this charming and spontaneous for years," wrote one.
Showing his dedication to the role, Costner trained with former golf pro Gary McCord to learn the game. He became so adept at the sport that many of the shots shown in the film were actually made by the actor. "Tin Cup" will turn 20 years young on Aug. 16, 2016.
For those who were lucky enough to see the tornado thriller "Twister" in the theater, the experience was likely a memorable one. Released on May 10, 1996, the film by Dutch director Jan de Bont not only featured groundbreaking special effects, but was also an enveloping sound design that made audiences feel like they were in the center of a tornado.
Starring American actors Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt and Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film centered on a team of storm chasers intent on studying large-scale tornadoes. To create the eerie sound of the various tornadoes featured, de Bont revealed in an interview that the audio team captured the sounds of animals, played them backwards and then slowed them down.
Critics mostly dismissed "Twister," with one calling it "a triumph of technology over storytelling and the actors' craft." Nonetheless, the film went on to become the second-highest grossing hit of 1996 and, in another pioneering twist, the first Hollywood feature film ever released on DVD.
One of the most beloved movies of the '90s, "Space Jam" featured American basketball legend Michael Jordan teaming up with Looney Toons characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to defeat a team of "Monstars." Like "Tin Cup," sports cameos abound in this one with NBA stars Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and others joining in on the fun.
While critics threw an Acme anvil at the film, audiences flocked to it. A huge box office hit, "Space Jam" remains the most successful basketball film of all time. It's also something of an Internet pioneer, with the movie's original website, a rarity in 1996, still online in all its early-web glory.
In February 2014, Warner Bros. announced the development of a sequel, with NBA powerhouse LeBron James set to star. Sadly, the project likely won't make it in time for the original's 20th anniversary on Nov. 15, 2016.
The birth of what today has become an established film franchise began on May 22, 1996, with "Mission: Impossible." Directed by American filmmaker Brian De Palma and starring French actress Emmanuelle Béart, Canadian actor Henry Czerny and American star Tom Cruise, the film follows the adventures of a spy seeking justice for crimes he did not commit.
Despite entering pre-production without an actual script, "M:I" somehow managed to become the third-most successful film of 1996. Filming took place all around the world, with scenes shot in cities like Prague, London and Champaign, Illinois. For the film's dramatic train finale, Tom Cruise personally wined and dined the British railroad owners to gain permission to use a train. He also managed to secure the only wind machine in Europe capable of producing the 140 mph gusts to mimic a moving locomotive's high speed.
While American composer Danny Elfman came up with the score, it was actually Irish rock band U2 who reimagined "M:I's" iconic theme for the big screen. That song went on to enter the top 10 charts in several countries around the world and earn the group a Grammy nomination.
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