In theory, the fact that it’s 2017 shouldn’t make you feel too old. It was 2016, and now it’s 2017. No biggie, right? Well, you may feel old when you consider that it’s been 20 years (!!!) since 1997. Yes, babies born in 1997 are 20 year olds who send inappropriate Snapchats and drink too much jungle juice. Jungle juice is still a thing, right?
It may make you feel old that those ’97 babies were able to vote in the last election. It may make you feel even older to think that it's been 20 years since these 1997 films were released. Whether you were in grade school, high school, college, or already graduated, you most likely remember the hype around some of these films. Hell, you can probably even remember seeing a few of these films in the theater. I know everyone still remembers crying to the end of Titanic. And yes, Titanic came out in 1997. It's been 20 years since Rose didn't share the door with Jack "King of the World" Dawson.
1997 was a time before the Y2K scare, before iPhones, before Instagram, before the possible impeachment of Bill Clinton. Guys, 1997 was before Britney Spears was even a thing. The "...Baby One More Time" music video didn't exist yet. We didn’t even know Britney! In the twenty years since 1997, our world has changed for the better and the worse, but at least we'll always have these 1997 movie gems to remind us of those simpler days.
Below are 18 movies that just turned 20 years old. Prepare to feel really, really old.
18 Good Will Hunting
Yes, it's been 20 years since Good Will Hunting introduced us to the bromance that is Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The BFFs wrote the screenplay about a genius living in Boston, played by Damon. Torn between his slacker friends (Ben and Casey Affleck), his Harvard girlfriend (Minnie Driver) and his therapist (Robin Williams), the smarty pants faces his demons and embraces his future.
The emotional turn of Williams in a serious role earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. And yes, it's been 20 years since Williams first made you sob with his monologue about his dying wife. Damon and Affleck won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. This made the pair the youngest people to win this Academy Award. The film also earned Academy Award nominations for seven other categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Matt Damon and Best Supporting Actress for Minnie Driver.
On a teeny budget of $10 million, the film went on to bring in $225.9 million at the box office. Now, Ben Affleck is busy playing Batman, and Matt Damon a Martian. Oh, how times have changed.
17 My Best Friend’s Wedding
It’s been 20 years since Julia Roberts was trying to steal someone's man, but Julia Roberts, now 49, looks remarkably the same. If someone could explain how Roberts has not aged in 20 years, that would be great. We're thinking she may be a vampire or a witch. There is definitely magic involved.
In My Best Friend's Wedding, Roberts plays Julianne Potter, an almost-30, single restaurant critic. She receives a call from her best friend Michael, played by Dermot Mulroney, who tells her he's getting married. Yay, except Julianne isn’t all that thrilled about it. She decides that she’s been in love with Michael all this time and that she had to stop this wedding. Michael is marrying Kimmy, played by a very young Cameron Diaz. If you want to see why Diaz is a Hollywood star, check out her hilarious and surprisingly emotional performance in this one.
The romantic comedy plays out like a pretty typical romantic comedy, but it is elevated by great performances. In the end, Michael and Kimmy still end up marrying. Julianne ends up alone, dancing with her gay best friend on the dance floor. This romantic comedy is actually fresher and more progressive than some rom-coms being released in 2017. The box office agreed. On a budget of $38 million, the film raked in $299.3 million.
The movie Face/Off was yet another box office hit of 1997. On an $80 million budget, the film raked in $245.7 million. All Nicolas Cage jokes aside, this film was well received by critics. It still rocks a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the film, Nicolas Cage plays a terrorist, while John Travolta also stars as an FBI agent. The two enemies assume each other’s physical appearances. The terrorist and FBI agent then engage in a cat and mouse type chase, wonderfully directed by John Woo. The film went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Sound Effects Editing.
The following year, Cage would star as the very sad angel who falls in love in City of Angels. Ah, the ‘90s. What a time to be alive.
Disney’s Hercules may never earn its place among the greatest Disney films, but it’s still an enjoyable watch. On a budget of $85 million, the film earned $252.7 million at the box office. While that is not a box office bomb by any means, it definitely under performed at the box office in comparison to the Disney films released around that time. 1995’s Pocahontas earned $346.1 million, 1992’s Aladdin earned $504.1 million, and - Disney’s true gem of the ‘90s - 1994’s The Lion King earned $968.5 million. The point of that was really just that Disney is rich AF.
The film stars Hercules, the son of Zeus and Hera. The half-god half-mortal must prove himself to be a hero on Earth before he can return home to Mount Olympus. The film went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, y’know like all Disney releases do.
14 Boogie Nights
Compared to the other films already listed in this article, Boogie Nights had a very meager box office success, making just $43 million on its $15 million budget. However, it was an R-rated film about the porn industry, so the possible audience for such a film was relatively smaller than say, Hercules.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Eddie Adams, a high school drop out who begins a career in the ‘70s porn industry. Adams becomes famous for his huge penis (We knew it, Marky Mark!). The film showcased what a bleak and addictive world the porn industry can be. This dark film was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who went on to direct Magnolia and There Will Be Blood. So basically dark, bleak movies are kind of Anderson's thing.
13 Scream 2
The Scream franchise is kind of like the killer in a horror movie – just when you think it’s dead, it comes back for more. 1996’s Scream was so successful that it launched three follow-up films and an MTV television show. There's already been talk of Scream 5 so, like we said, it just keeps coming back for more.
Considering that the original film came out in 1996, the fact that the sequel was released in 1997 means there was a very quick turnaround. The speed with which the sequel was made apparently didn’t affect the quality of the film. Scream 2 was praised by critics, as much as a horror flick really can be praised by critics. The praise was largely due to the way the film poked fun at sequels while being a sequel itself. Oh, you Scream movies are always so cleverly meta.
With a budget of $24 million, Scream 2 went on to earn $172.4 million, which was on par with the first film. With fun cameos from Jada Pinkett Smith, Heather Graham, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, this film is definitely worth watching.
12 I Know What You Did Last Summer
Apparently, 1997 was the year of teen horror films. One can only assume that this film was most likely green lit due to the success of 1996’s Scream, because hat’s how Hollywood works. When one film does well, 16 other films just like it come out the following year. At the box office, it performed well. On a $17 million budget, it earned $125.2 million.
Unlike Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer was not praised by the critics. While the Scream films are essentially teen slasher films, they work hard at earning their spot in the horror genre. They feature sharp dialogue and mock horror film tropes. I Know What You Did Last Summer, however, does little to further the horror genre. It's a straightforward teen slasher film. With that said, it’s still a wonderfully classic ‘90s film, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. If you’re looking for a film starring four of the hottest young actors of the ‘90s, this is it.
11 As Good As It Gets
The film As Good as It Gets was a romantic comedy wildly popular among fans and critics alike. On a $50 million budget, the film went on to earn $314 million at the box office. The two leads, Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, won Oscars for their performances. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Greg Kinnear, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Score. So, yeah, popular with audiences and critics alike.
This is one of the few films that James L. Brooks has actually directed. In his expansive career, he’s only directed six films, including Terms of Endearment. He also has a ton of producer and writer credits under his belt. He’s perhaps most popular for creating The Simpsons, a show which seems like it will simply be on television until the end of time.
In the film, Jack Nicholson plays an obsessive writer, who is, well, kind of an asshole. Jack Nicholson did what Jack Nicholson does best – he played a character who isn’t very likable. Helen Hunt plays a single mother and Greg Kinnear a gay artist. These quirky characters are all brought together by a robbery and a cute dog.
10 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
1997 saw the release of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. The James Bond spoof was so successful that it spawned 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and 2002’s Austin Powers in Goldmember. The film saw average box office success, raking in just $67.7 million on its $16.5 million budget. The humor, however, has since become pop culture gold, as Dr. Evil and Scott Evil have become repeated jokes in other mediums. The film also features Elizabeth Hurley being so very Elizabeth Hurley. (Hugh Grant, you lucky idiot.) The film also features an appearance by the late, great Carrie Fisher. What else could a film possibly need?
Hot off his success from SNL and Wayne’s World, Mike Myers wrote and starred in the film. While a film like this can be panned by critics, the reviews were mostly positive, praising it as a light, goofy comedy.
9 The Fifth Element
Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element was well received by critics for being inventive popular sci-fi. The film also did well in the box office, earning $263.9 million on a $90 million budget. At the time, this was the most expensive European film ever made. It was also the highest-grossing French film until the release of 2011’s The Intouchables.
The film stars Bruce Willis as a taxicab driver in the 23rd century. The ‘90s was Bruce Willis' time to shine, with roles in such hits as Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, Armageddon, and The Sixth Sense. Willis’ success has obviously carried over well past the ‘90s, as has Luc Besson’s success.
Before The Fifth Element, Besson wrote and directed 1994’s Leon: The Professional, which starred a young Natalie Portman who looks exactly like she does now. It's a little weird. Besson also wrote and directed 2014’s Lucy, which was a mega box office success. Cheers to Besson for creating strong female roles in action films. Besson is also the brains behind The Transporter and Taken franchises. Basically, if it’s a great action film, Besson probably has something to do with it.
8 Liar Liar
The premise of Liar Liar is pretty easy to follow. It’s about a lawyer who is unable to lie for 24 hours, as per his son’s birthday wish. Unable to lie, we watch as the protagonist struggles with the truth, even telling a woman he’s had better sex.
On a $45 million budget, the film grossed a whopping $302.7 million. The film’s success can largely be attributed to Jim Carrey’s brand of wacky, physical comedy. Carrey’s performance in Liar Liar would even be nominated for a Golden Globe.
The ‘90s solidified Carrey as a slapstick genius, with his roles in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask. Since the ‘90s, Carrey has been trying to prove himself as a serious actor, with roles in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Number 23. He, of course, keeps fans happy with comedies like Bruce Almighty and Yes Man.
7 Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
The film Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion may have earned only $29 million at the box office, but it has since become a cult classic. The film's longevity is in part due to the fact that it is so relatable. It centers around two 28-year-olds who are forced to evaluate their lives when their high school reunion looms. Feeling embarrassed about their shortcomings in life, the two women lie about the amount of success they’ve achieved in the time since graduation. Who can't relate to a premise like that? Of course, no one can lie now because of social media, but in 1997 this plot was totally plausible.
Lisa Kudrow played the role of Michele. Kudrow was obviously killing it in the ‘90s, with her role as Phoebe Buffay on Friends, one of the biggest television shows of the time.
6 Picture Perfect
From one friend to another friend, we now have the Jennifer Aniston vehicle Picture Perfect. It would be great if Jennifer Aniston still looked that good. Oh, wait, Jennifer Aniston still totally looks that good. In fact, some would say she looks even better today. Another thing that's better today is Aniston's choice in films. Unlike fellow 1997 romantic comedies As Good as It Gets and My Best Friend’s Wedding, Picture Perfect was not well received by critics and only raked in $44.3 million at the box office. This film may have been a flop but Aniston was still starring in the biggest show on television, so it was all good.
In the trite romantic comedy, Aniston stars as an advertisement executive, who lies about having a fiancé in order to gain a promotion. This lie sparks the interest of the office bad boy played by Kevin Bacon. Blah blah blah, Aniston learns her lesson and ends up with the guy she’s meant to be with. If you're having a 1997 binge, skip this one.
5 L.A. Confidential
The movie L.A. Confidential may have been the most critically beloved film of 1997. It was the critic's darling and earned 9 Academy Awards nominations that year, including Best Picture. It went on to only win Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Kim Basinger’s knockout performance.
The film is a neo-noir, calling back to the film noirs of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Not only is the film entertaining and stylistic, but it also examines Hollywood celebrity, police corruption, and racism. Despite being a well made film, it only gained $126.2 million at the box office on its $35 million budget. In 2015, the film was inducted into the National Film Registry for preservation.
Uh, Titanic, you guys! Titanic came out 20 years ago! That means it’s been 20 years since Leonardo DiCaprio became the golden boy of Hollywood. It's been 20 years since women all over the world fell in love with Leo. It's been 20 years since Leo started dating every single working model. That last one leaves us to wonder who exactly models dated before 1997. Hmm...
Titanic received mostly positive reviews. While the film visually holds up even 20 years later, the melodramatic plot doesn’t fare as well. That aside, the film is a part of pop culture history. It's spawned so many nuggets of dialogue that everybody can connect to this film - "I’m king of the world," "I'm flying, Jack," "Draw me like one of your French girls," "I’ll never let go." That’s just to name a few. It will go down as one of the most iconic films of our time.
On a budget of $200 million, the film grossed $2.187 billion at the box office. It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, of which it went on to win in 11 categories. It may seriously be the biggest film of all time, aptly named Titanic.
3 Batman & Robin
It has been 20 years since this low point in the Batman franchise. Despite being very poorly received by critics, the film went on to bring in $238.2 million on its $140 million budget. For a superhero film, though, that box office success isn’t too impressive. 1997 was, however, a time before superhero films were taken seriously. 2005’s Batman Begins and 2008’s Iron Man brought about a new standard for superhero films. Now, we expect well-made superhero films that will be high quality and entertain us.
The fact that this film was a flop was a disappointment since it had so much working for it. George Clooney starred as Batman, and, at the time, he was everyone’s favorite doctor on mega hit E.R. Off of 1994’s Pulp Fiction success, Uma Thurman played villain Poison Ivy. Alicia Silverstone, hot off of 1995’s Clueless, played Batgirl. The potential was there, but it failed.
Let’s just say that we’re glad it’s been 20 years.
2 The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Speaking of films that we’re glad it’s been 20 years since, here’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park. While it’s in no means the worst film ever created, it’s a far cry from the brilliance of the original Jurassic Park. Despite not being as critically loved, the film managed to bring in $618.6 million on a $73 million budget. By the way, the original brought in over $1 billion at the box office. We just wanted to add that in there for funsies because $1 billion is a big deal.
This film stars Jeff Goldblum, as all Jurassic Park movies should. It also stars Julianne Moore and Vince Vaughn, before their two careers skyrocketed in the following years. The film went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
The franchise was rebooted with 2015's Jurassic World, which raked in $1.670 billion despite the fact that it featured a heroine who ran from dinosaurs in high heels. Ugh, Hollywood.
1 Men In Black
Yes, it’s been 20 years since the soundtrack to Men in Black got stuck in your head for the first time.
Men in Black was very well received by critics, especially considering that it’s a blockbuster, a type of film that critics aren’t normally too kind towards. The fun script and performances are largely to thank for making this film so enjoyable. While Will Smith had already proven to be a television star with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, the combined success of Men in Black and Independence Day is what pushed him into movie star fame.
The film earned $589.4 million on its $90 million budget. It also went on to be nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Makeup, Best Art Direction, and Best Score.
If you are feeling incredibly old because it’s been 20 friggin’ years since these 18 movies came out, you’re not alone. 1997 was a much, much simpler time in the world.
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