13 Best Movies of 1997

Best Movies of 1997

Fans should rewatch a few of the best movies of 1997, including a supposedly unadaptable cop drama and an Oscar Best Picture winner.

Like any other year, 1997 is marked by cheerful and terrible events.

For instance, the year 1997 witnessed the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as well as millions of people lamenting the passing of Princess Diana.

In the past, movies have provided a means to escape from the world, and 1997 was no different.

That year, many significant movies were released, drastically altering the cinema industry.

Below is a list of the best movies of 1997.

1. L.A. Confidential

  • Director: Curtis Hanson
  • Cast: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito, David Strathairn, and Ron Rifkin
  • IMDb rating: 8.2/10

L.A. Confidential is among the best movies of 1997. The 1950s Los Angeles in Curtis Hanson’s twisted melodrama was about sleaze in the land of dreams, where borders between police, criminals, and celebrities often blurred. 

Two rookie police officers with divergent perspectives on ethics work together to solve a case involving a murdered colleague, a high-stakes call girl ring, and institutionalized corruption. 

As an officer intoxicated by his work as an “advisor” to a police tv show, Kevin Spacey hits the perfect pitch.

At the same time, Danny De Vito has evil energy as the editor of a gossip newspaper. A stunning hooker named Kim Basinger has the bad luck to fall in love. 

The story unfolds layer upon layer; the characters are wonderfully portrayed, and there is often a fine line between the top and the bottom.

The movie seamlessly embodies its historical period to the point that it seems to be a time capsule. 

2. The Apostle

  • Director: Robert Duvall
  • Cast: Robert Duvall, Todd Allen, Paul Bagget, Lenore Banks, John Beasley, Mary Lynette Braxton, Brett Brock, and Christopher Canady
  • IMDb rating: 7.2/10

This true auteur project, which Robert Duvall wrote, directed, and acted in, took him years to prepare; he sought funding when he couldn’t get a studio to fund it. 

Duvall portrays Sonny, an evangelical preacher trying to get beyond his troubled past by founding a church in a small Louisiana town in this movie.

This is one of the best movies of 1997 that takes an extraordinarily nuanced look at religion, atonement, and life in the American South. 

The Apostle is honest about an area plagued with poverty and bigotry but blessed with people who do their best despite the odds. 

The outstanding cast includes a teenage Walton Goggins, Farrah Fawcett as Sonny’s divorced wife, June Carter Cash as his mother, and Billy Bob Thornton as a local bigot. 

However, it serves mostly as a showcase for Duvall, whose last sermon ranks among the most riveting performances on screen. 

3. Taste of Cherry

  • Director: Abbas Kiarostami
  • Cast: Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari, Safar Ali Moradi, Mir Hossein Noori, Elham Imani, and Ahmad Ansari
  • IMDb rating: 7.7/10

The late, great Abbas Kiarostami’s Palme d’Or-winning movie opens with a guy driving around the suburbs and hills outside Tehran, staring at people by the roadside.

He sometimes stops to give them a ride and, maybe, a well-paying job. 

The movie contains interesting paradoxes, calm compassion, and austere beauty.

After some time, it becomes clear that his acts have little to do with sex and everything to do with the unsettling but inevitable symbiotic link between life and death.

The main character is looking for someone to assist him in killing himself, which is against Islamic law.

His acquaintances, conversations, and wanderings together form a type of poetic disquisition into the worth and meaning of life. 

Dramatically, despite its ellipses, repetitions, and rhymes, the movie is unexpectedly engaging.

This is one of the best movies of 1997 that is nonetheless an outstanding accomplishment despite its subtlety and humility.

4. Happy Together

  • Director: Kar-Wai Wong
  • Cast: Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Chang Chen, Gregory Dayton, and Shirley Kwan
  • IMDb rating: 7.7/10

In his other movies, director Wong Kar-wai often uses nostalgic gazes to convey feelings of love and desire, but Happy Together is by far his most passionate work. 

As they travel across Argentina, a romance between two Chinese guys that breaks up gets back together, then breaks up again is raw and wild.

The issue with Tony Leung’s Lai Yiu-Fai and Leslie Cheung’s Ho Po-wing is that they are hopelessly dependent on one another.

Two of the greatest male stars in Hong Kong cinema at the time, and in a nation where homosexuality was just decriminalized in 1991, the movie starts with a sex scene between them. 

Leung plays a wounded puppy dog who is distressed and dedicated despite often being pushed aside, while Cheung is spoiled and unwilling to face his issues. 

It is some of the best performances of their careers. Happy Together is both a devastating depiction of love and loneliness and a metaphor for Hong Kong’s handover to China, which occurred the year it was released. This is one of the best movies of 1997.

5. Irma Vep

  • Director: Olivier Assayas
  • Cast: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard, Antoine Basler, Nathalie Boutefeu, Alex Descas, Dominique Faysse, and Arsinée Khanjian
  • IMDb rating: 7.0/10

In this uncategorizable experiment, Olivier Assayas’ love of movies and his fascination with Hong Kong movie actress Maggie Cheung playfully meet and clash.

Cheung takes on the main part in a remake of the silent serial Les Vampires while playing a confused but willing version of herself. 

The insanity and confusion build to a magnificent avant-garde ending that destroys and reimagines the medium.

It seems as if Assayas wrote this movie as an open letter to himself in which he questioned his motivation for making it.  

It’s more stimulating fun than one could think watching him struggle to develop anything like a logical response. This is among the best movies of 1997.

6. Boogie Nights

  • Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Luis Guzmán, Rico Bueno, John C. Reilly, Nicole Ari Parker, and Don Cheadle
  • IMDb rating: 7.9/10

Mark Wahlberg plays the wide-eyed and well-endowed young protagonist who starts a career in porn in the 1970s and 1980s in Anderson’s extension of his 1988 short The Dirk Diggler Story. 

Along with Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, John C. Reilly, and John C. Reilly, who carry the comedy and tragedy of Anderson’s flawless writing, Wahlberg delivers an amazing performance. 

Boogie Nights mine the evolving California mindset, still desperately clinging to the last remnants of the free love 60s. It alternates between comedy, coming-of-age drama, and sex romp.

7. The Sweet Hereafter

  • Director: Atom Egoyan
  • Cast: Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, Caerthan Banks, Tom McCamus, Gabrielle Rose, Alberta Watson, Maury Chaykin, and Stephanie Morgenstern
  • IMDb rating: 7.5/10

A key aspect of The Sweet Hereafter is that it neither opens nor closes with a horrific event.

Instead, the school bus catastrophe that decimates a tiny Canadian village is placed in the midst by writer-director Atom Egoyan, an expert at purposely messing with chronology. 

This haunting, heartbreaking drama, based on a 1991 book by Russell Banks, was put together with a sophisticated emotional logic. 

As an ambulance chaser visits families to gather the grieving parents into a class-action lawsuit, a vision of a community seized by open and hidden traumas begins to take shape. 

From here, Egoyan’s movies would suffer a sharp decrease in quality, so seeing his career in reverse may be preferable, with The Sweet Hereafter serving as the enigmatic, lasting hub. This is undoubtedly one of the best movies of 1997.

8. Jackie Brown

  • Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Michael Bowen, and Chris Tucker
  • IMDb rating: 7.5/10

The best movies of 1997 were depressing. More than three years after his groundbreaking “Pulp Fiction,” Quentin Tarantino returns with the first comedy in a successful encore. 

Pam Grier and Robert Forster, two actors whose careers have suffered setbacks, are flawlessly paired in this movie.

She plays a worn-out stewardess who smuggles cash for a gun dealer, and he plays the bondsman who posts her bail. 

As Grier concocts a smart scheme to keep the gun dealer (Samuel L. Jackson) from murdering her while keeping him from his money, an unresolved bond develops between them.

Elmore Leonard, renowned for his dialogue, wrote the book Rum Punch, on which the movie is based. 

The characters are smart, quick, and vibrant, using language peculiar to their personalities to help identify who they are.

The feeling of freedom over time and place in the movie makes it unique. 

9. La Vie De Jésus

  • Director: Bruno Dumont
  • Cast: David Douche, Marjorie Cottreel, Kader Chaatouf, Sébastien Delbaere, Samuel Boidin, Steve Smagghe, Sébastien Bailleul, and Geneviève Cottreel
  • IMDb rating: 7.0/10

Bruno Dumont established himself as the successor to that tradition with his 1997 debut, La Vie de Jésus.

This movie is a blunt portrayal of the boredom of a group of boys growing up in the little village of Bailleul, where Dumont was born, including Freddy, who has epilepsy. 

This unsettling, depressing, but often strangely beautiful movie also has similarities with Harmony Korine’s Gummo in its loomingly physical attention to its characters’ and imperfections. 

Locked into a life of uncertainty, Dumont’s characters engage in bigotry, bullying, and sexual harassment to pass the time.

This results in tragedy when Freddy’s girlfriend develops feelings for a charming Arab guy. 

Dumont’s movie now seems to be a source for a certain school of modern British realism, including Fish Tank (2009) and The Goob (2014). This is undoubtedly one of the best movies of 1997.

10. In the Company of Men

  • Director: Neil LaBute
  • Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy, Stacy Edwards, Michael Martin, Mark Rector, Christopher P. Hayes, Jason Dixie, and Emily Cline
  • IMDb rating: 7.1/10

No movie was more insensitive or harsh this year. Two people working for an anonymous corporation who are deployed to a branch office outside of town are the subject of Neil LaBute’s razor-sharp, astute movie. 

To perpetuate a terrible practical joke on a lady at the new site, one recruits the other, who also has a specific hatred towards women.

The fact that the victim is deaf further emphasizes the brutality of the scheme.

The narrative contains more shocks than some characters expected because of the harsh and demeaning dialogue, the evil strategy, and the plot.

This type of movie begs to be debated or battled over after it is over. It is also one of the best movies of 1997.

11. Cure

  • Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Cast: Masato Hagiwara, Kôji Yakusho, Tsuyoshi Ujiki, Anna Nakagawa, Misayo Haruki, Yoriko Dôguchi, Denden, and Ren Ôsugi
  • IMDb rating: 7.5/10

Japanese cinema underwent a remarkable turnaround in 1997, both domestically and internationally. 

In this captivating psychological thriller, Kenichi Takabe is a troubled police investigator.

He is tasked with investigating a mysterious surge of killings across the deserted urban areas of a post-bubble Tokyo, where the once-bright city lights have long since dimmed. 

Cure is both a slow-burning character study and a genre reinvention that develops in a limited and distant manner. 

The connection between Tanabe and his mentally ill wife adds a sad undertone to the overall atmosphere of end-of-the-century melancholy. Surprisingly, the movie has never been shown in the UK.

12. Starship Troopers

  • Director: Paul Verhoeven
  • Cast: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Clancy Brown, Seth Gilliam, and Patrick Muldoon
  • IMDb rating: 7.3/10

When Paul Verhoeven’s gung-ho, bug-slaying Reich-fest first appeared in theaters in 1997, it was one of the cruelest satires of its time.

From the gory effects and rousing battle scenes to the sneakily quotable script and darkly stirring score, it’s just too well-made for its good. 

Young people are transported to the faraway planet Klendathu in the fascist 23rd century, where they wear space Stahlhelms and Gestapo leathers before being sacrificed to the military-industrial-media complex. 

The movie is as blatant as it is subversive, turning sci-fi’s obsession with high-tech militaria into parody and hardly hinting at its aims. It is filled with violence, excessive nudity, and gorgeous young actors. 

When it comes to mocking current patriotism, Starship Troopers comes as near as anything has gotten, yet it still manages to be a ton of fun. This is undoubtedly one of the best movies of 1997.

13. The Ice Storm

  • Director: Ang Lee
  • Cast: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Henry Czerny, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, and Adam Hann-Byrd
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

In addition to the country being in turmoil, the people are also stranded: pulled along by the sexual revolution, they urgently seek ways to alleviate the agony with wife-swapping, barbiturates, and booze.

Two dysfunctional families that reside in Connecticut around the Thanksgiving weekend were introduced.

His bright teenage daughter, Wendy (Christina Ricci), is busy flirting with Janey’s boys, Mikey (Elijah Wood) and Sandy (Adam Hann-Byrd). 

Ben Hood (Kevin Kline), who lives next door, is having an affair with her.

In this movie, everyone looks emotionally frozen and disconnected from one another as the parents negotiate their way through a mid-life crisis and their children deal with adolescent angst. 

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