The 15 Best Miramax Films

Remembering the best of times for Miramax.
By  · Published on January 28th, 2010

Remembering the best of times for Miramax.

Today, the indie world and the film world at large lost a giant in the field, watching Disney close the doors and turn the lights off on Miramax. As sad a day like today is, and as uncertain as the future is, we can still hold on to the memories. Most of them are now on Blu-ray. Or at least Laser Disc (because we all own one).

Without further tears in our eyes, we’d like to remember Miramax for their 15 Best Films.

If you’re like me and Rob Hunter, your rental queue is already full.

15. Kids (1995)

The Pitch: Even if Rob Hunter doesn’t think Larry Clark’s harsh film about drug and sexual abandon amongst the youth in NYC is well acted, he’s wrong, and the movie is brilliant and challenging. The response was expectedly mixed with some critics and fans seeing it as a strong artistic endeavor and others calling it borderline child pornography. Shockingly, Disney’s name was left off of the financing. -CA

14. The Reflecting Skin (1990)

The Pitch: You probably haven’t seen this odd and creepy little flick, but if you have consider yourself one of the lucky few. It’s a dark and original coming-of-age tale set in 1950’s America and filled with beautiful cinematography, child murderers, a suspected vampire, and Viggo Mortensen. And the rights holders have never released it on US or UK DVD. Bastards. -RH

13. The Crying Game (1992)

The Pitch: This film is mostly known for its twist, which is a shame, because the entire film is a thing of beauty. With knock out performances by Stephen Rea and Forrest Whitaker, it hit the Oscars hard with six nominations (including Best Picture). More than just a pop cultural reference, the entire film should be watched for its intensity and its racial and gender commentary. -CA

12. Exotica (1994)

The Pitch: This is the movie that put director Atom Egoyan on the map. (Sadly, it was just a map of Canada). This intoxicating and slow-paced movie manages to be both mysterious and sexy in equal measures, and even though Cole Abaius scoffs at Egoyan’s cinematic oeuvre this is still independent filmmaking at its best (even if it is Canadian). -RH

11. Beautiful Girls (1996)

The Pitch: It’d be easy to say this movie’s relevance comes from my appreciation for Natalie Portman’s fresh but Lolita-esque turn as the cute neighbor girl. But even if you don’t enjoy the indiscretions of youth (or intentionally misusing known phrases to avoid sounding like a pervert) the movie also packs solid laughs, a strong ensemble cast, and the 748th film use of the song “Beth” by a repentant boyfriend. -RH

10. sex,lies and videotape (1989)

The Pitch: Some of us can still remember when Steven Soderbergh was good at barely scripting his films and using minimalist camera work. This fantastic flick won the Palme d’Or back in 1989, and launched Soderbergh’s career in earnest. If you were looking for the film that really started the indie movement’s commercial success – look no further than a film about James Spader’s sexual dysfunction. -CA

9. My Left Foot (1989)

The Pitch: Only a few years ago, modern audiences were sort of re-introduced to the genius of Daniel Day-Lewis. If you’re looking for a way to delve deeper – check out his first Academy Award win in this stirring story of a young man who can only control his left foot. Here’s where I make a comment about Day-Lewis having more acting talent in his left foot than in most actor’s entire bodies. But I’ll refrain. -CA

8. Flirting With Disaster (1996)

The Pitch: Ben Stiller leads a fantastic cast in a comedy about identity and the concept of nature vs nurture. Director David O. Russell would go on to burn professional bridges with actors and studios alike while filming Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, but for this one film he managed to keep his temper in check and the result is some stellar ensemble comedy. -RH

7. Pulp Fiction (1994)

The Pitch: Not only did it launch Quentin Tarantino even further into the cultural stage, it also relaunched John Travolta’s career. It also made a bunch of violent film fans finally memorize part of the bible. Oddly enough, Harvey Weinstein wanted Daniel Day-Lewis (who you’ll remember from the last entry) to play Vincent Vega instead of Travolta. Then again, stranger things have happened – Sid Haig was originally offered the role of Marcellus Wallace. -CA

6. Bob Roberts (1992)

The Pitch: Who knew Tim Robbins could be so politically aware? The freakishly tall actor wrote and directed this satirical faux documentary about an election, and he shines a smart and funny eye on shenanigans from both sides of the aisle. As true today as it was almost twenty years ago. -RH

5. Chasing Amy (1997)

The Pitch: Say what you will about Clerks, and Kevin Smith has said a lot to us, but Chasing Amy is really his best film to date. It’s personal and sweet underneath all that talk about fisting. A few Indie Spirit Awards, a career launch for Ben Affleck, and a 4800% return on the budget later, and you have a bona fide hit. -CA

4. Heavenly Creatures (1994)

The Pitch: Peter Jackson’s most realistic and grounded film is still one of his best. Two girls in 1950’s New Zealand live in a fantasy world where they plan a real-world murder. It’s made all the more affecting when you realize it’s based on a true story and one of the girls grew up to become Anne Perry, a bestselling writer of mysteries and thrillers. -RH

3. There Will Be Blood (2007)

The Pitch: I don’t have enough space to write all the awards this thing was nominated for or won, but if you have any doubt about the phenomenon, I’ll point you in the direction of your nearest “I Drink Your Milkshake” t-shirt wearer. Beyond becoming a catch-phrase for casual wear, this movie is one of the hardest movies that can actually be re-watched repeatedly. As opposed to, say, Kids-CA

2. City of God (2002)

The Pitch: This Brazilian gem is a small, gritty, and surprisingly human look at one of the nastiest cities on Earth. Violence and dreams collide as young kids growing up in Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous slum make choices with profound effects. It’s currently #16 on IMDB’s Top 250 Movie list which is damn impressive stuff for a film with no known stars. -RH

1. Trainspotting (1996)

The Pitch: Topping the list is the film that’s been voted the Best Scottish film of all time as well as in the Top Ten of British films. One of Danny Boyle’s first films, it takes a strange look at a group of heroine addicts. It rocked Cannes in 1996, and was picked up by Miramax for distribution in the states – giving us just a glimpse of Boyle’s talents and the talents of Scottish filmmaking. As brilliant as this film is, I’m with Ewan MacGregor in hoping that a sequel doesn’t get made. -CA

Editor’s Note: This list was lovingly compiled by Rob Hunter and Scott Beggs.

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