Best Films Released in 1997

Best films released in 1997 top 10 films from 1997 best movies 90s cinema film David Fincher Christopher Nolan best movie Studio Ghibli

I was sat at my desk recently, writing a script for our next YouTube video, and out of curiosity I decided to Google the films released in the year I was born, and considering the 90s was such a brilliant decade for cinema, to my disappointment 1997 was a pretty average year for films, other than the release of James Cameron’s box office landmark Titanic, not much else happened in 1997 . But that slight bit of curiosity opened a flood gate and I embarked on a journey to discover what is the best year in cinema during my lifetime.

And that leads us here, I’ve decided to make a list of Top 10 films for every year from 1997 (the year I was born) up to the present year of 2020 to uncover which year is indeed “the best”. So without further ado let’s start this voyage by taking a look at the very average year of 1997. 

10. The Game

Best films released in 1997 The Game David Fincher Michael Douglas Sean Penn

Directed by - David Fincher

Rotten Tomatoes - 73%

Nicholas Van Orton is a wealthy investment banker in San Francisco. Divorced, and childless Van Orton is cold towards other people and prefers his own company. His wayward brother gives him an invitation card to an unusual form of entertainment and, through curiosity, Van Orton decides to try it out. His contact initiates a series of bizarre events that gradually threaten Van Orten's own sanity.

The Game may not qualify as a cinematic masterpiece because it comes with a fair share of flaws ranging from few unconvincing plot twists to a rather underwhelming finale. But for all it’s flaws, Fincher’s ability to evoke such a wide range of emotions is quite astonishing plus my viewing was incredibly enjoyable and entertaining. A brilliant work of originality, The Game presents both David Fincher and Michael Douglas in stellar form and is an extremely entertaining and thriller piece of cinema that promises loads of fun throughout its runtime.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★½

Watch The Game Here!

9. Funny Games

Funny Games Michael Haneke best Film from 1997

Directed by - Michael Haneke

Rotten Tomatoes - 67%

An idyllic lakeside vacation home is terrorized by a pair of deeply disturbed young men. When the fearful Anna is home alone, the two men drop by for a visit that quickly turns violent and terrifying. Anna’s husband Georg comes to her rescue, but the two men take the family hostage and subject them to nightmarish abuse and torture.

Funny Games isn't going to be an viewing most people, even of you who aren't easily phased by a display of on-screen violence, but what makes it such an emotionally draining and sickening experience is the fact that Haneke keeps giving the viewers a reason to root for the suffering family, even allows the narrative to follow genre conventions but whenever a redeeming moment surfaces, he just pulls the rug from underneath us. The real game in Funny Games isn't the one that the two antagonists play with an innocent family, but the one that Haneke plays with us as an audience.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★¾

Watch Funny Games Here!

8. Lost Highway

Lost Highway David Lynch best films from 1997 best 1997 movies

Director - David Lynch

Rotten Tomatoes - 60%

Saxophonist Fred Madison and his wife, Renee find that someone is sending them videotapes depicting their private life. One arrives that shows a murder carried out in their bedroom. Fred is suddenly convicted and sentenced to die for first degree murder. The story twists when Fred's place is inexplicably taken by Pete who leaves the prison cell to follow a kind of parallel life to Fred's.

On paper Lost Highway should have ended up being as a confusing mess but is first becomes a brilliantly disorienting yet riveting exploration of male anxiety and a guilt-ridden mind. With its woozy tone, unforgettable sequences (the party conversation with Robert Blake’s Mystery Man is impossible to shake) and chilling horror this is one nightmare I always enjoy.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★¾

Watch Lost Highway Here!

7. Insomnia

Best films from 1997 insomnia Christopher Nolan Scandinavia noir crime film best crime films

Directed by - Erik Skjoldbjærg

Rotten Tomatoes - 97%

In a Norwegian city with a 24-hour daylight cycle a Swedish murder investigator has been brought in on a special case. Sleep deprived, he makes a horrible mistake which is discovered by the killer he has been hunting.

The predecessor to Christopher Nolan’s fantastic 2002 remake, Insomnia is a satisfying nordic noir murder mystery with thrilling twists featuring one of Stellan Skarsgård’s career best performances. Even though being a police procedural Insomnia is more of a compelling psychological study of two men who might operate on different sides of the law but are equally disturbed making them the ying and yang of each other. Haunted by their killings both try to cope with having lost their moral compass in the fog of the environment they move in. Insomnia is a movie which really resonates. I highly recommend this especially before watching the Nolan version.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★★

Watch Insomnia Here!

6. Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful best film from 1997 best films released in 1997

Director - Roberto Benigini

Rotten Tomatoes - 80%

Tells the story of a Jewish bookseller, who, during a visit to a Tuscan town in 1939 meets and courts a local teacher, charming her away from her Fascist fiancé. Years later, the couple and their son are sent to a concentration camp, where the man strives to turn the experience into a game in order to protect his son from the realities of the Holocaust.

Life Is Beautiful is a powerful piece of Cinema that expertly balances the fine line of genre. Its elements of comedy, drama, romance and tragedy are all masterfully used to illustrate the great extent a caring father goes to protect his son's innocence, and presents director and lead actor Roberto Benigni as an artist who is in complete control of his craft, both in front and behind the camera. An extremely melancholic and deeply heartfelt piece cinema that's equally amusing and emotional, Life Is Beautiful is one of the finest gems to come out of Italian cinema, and is highly recommended to every film lover out there.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★★½

Watch Life is Beautiful Here!

5. Happy Together

Happy Together Wong Kar Wai cinematography best films of 1997 best 90s movies top 10 90s films

Director - Wong Kar-wai

Rotten Tomatoes - 79%

Lai and Ho arrive in Argentina as lovers, but while driving south in search of adventures, something goes wrong and Ho leaves for Buenos Aires. Devastated, Lai finds work in a tango bar and attempts to carry on, but is consumed with the thought of being 'happy together' once again with Ho. A heady cocktail of sound and vision from the director of In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express.

Happy Together is a feast for the eyes but a knife in the heart. Like nobody else can, Wong Kar-Wai illustrates the true pain of love, with little optimism. Leslie Cheung is great as Po-Wing, putting on a performance that is irritating and sickening, which is precisely what his character is meant to be, but Cheung also refrains from being a stereotype. But it’s Tony Leung Chiu-Wai who steals the show for his incredible performance as Fai. Giving an acting masterclass  that equals the high bar he set for himself during In The Mood for Love. And as emotionally conflicting as the film itself is, Wong Kar-Wai’s story of a train wreck relationship is a must see for anyone.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★★½

Watch Happy Together Here!

4. Perfect Blue

90s films Perfect Blue best films from 1997 best anime films from 1997 best animated movies

Director - Satoshi Kon

Rotten Tomatoes - 78%

After quitting the music scene to embark on an acting career, ex-singer Mimi finds herself plagued by an unhinged fan. As the stresses of her work and personal life escalate, the boundaries between fantasy and reality eventually begin to blur.

Satoshi Kon’s much-admired anime is a smart and stylish critique of celebrity fandom, with ambitious set-pieces to rival the likes of Hitchcock and De Palma. Perfect Blue is brilliantly animated madness in the best way possible. It’s one of those films that begins to unravel itself the more you watch it. The musical score, the animation style and the writing work so cohesively to create this chilling world of ambiguity that is clearly the work of a master of his craft.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★★¾

Watch Perfect Blue Here!

3. L.A Confidential

L.A Confidential Best films from 1997 best 90s crime films film noir neo noir movies best cinematography

Director - Curtis Hanson

Rotten Tomatoes - 99%

Thriller based on the novel by James Ellroy. Set in Los Angeles in the early 1950s. Sergeant Ed Exley is an honest police officer who becomes a detective despite being told by Captain Dudley Smith that the only way there is through corrupt behaviour. Exley gets three men convicted for armed robbery at the Nite Owl Café but subsequently becomes doubtful of their guilt and begins to uncover serious corruption involving Smith.

The late Curtis Hanson's '50s set noir is a delicious concoction of corruption, sex, blackmail and murder with a wonderfully executed period L.A. background. It's terrific piece of cinema and is a true testament to his craftmanship. This film boasts a hyper-interesting story that’s jam-packed with incredible scenes all over the map.

There’s a multitude of merits on full display here, from Awe-inspiring twists to thrilling action, eloquently handled themes, and an intricate narrative show that this catch-all noir film is deserving of all the high praise it receives. L.A Confidential isn’t only one of the best films of 1997, but also one of my favourites from the entire decade, and that’s saying something considering the calibre of films that were released in the 90s.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★★★

Watch L.A Confidential Here!

2. Princess Mononoke

Best 90s anime movies Princess Mononoke Studio Ghibli best anime movies 90s best films from 1997 best films released in 1997

In the 14th century, the harmony that humans, animals and gods have enjoyed begins to crumble. The protagonist, young Ashitaka - infected by an animal attack, seeks a cure from the deer-like god Shishigami. In his travels, he sees humans ravaging the earth, bringing down the wrath of wolf god Moro and his human companion Princess Mononoke.

Princess Mononke is an expertly crafted, beautifully animated, flawlessly paced and masterfully composed work of art and entertainment which effortlessly manages to transcend the confines of its genre by producing an emotional and unique cinematic experience driven by its intriguing plot, multi-dimensional characters, adult themes, unadulterated violence and strong statements concerning environment. Princess Mononoke is a treasured gem of world cinema that exhibits the remarkable strength of animation when it’s created by masters of the craft. Princess Mononoke is undoubtedly deserving of a place at the summit of Studio Ghibli’s incredible filmography.

 Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★★★

Watch Princess Mononoke Here!

1. Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights Paul Thomas Anderson best 90s films greatest films from 1997 top 10 movies 1997 

Director - Paul Thomas Anderson

Rotten Tomatoes - 93%

In the San Fernando Valley in 1977, teenage busboy Eddie Adams gets discovered by porn director Jack Horner, who transforms him into adult-film sensation Dirk Diggler. Brought into a supportive circle of friends, including fellow actors, Dirk fulfills all his ambitions, but a toxic combination of drugs and egotism threatens to take him back down.

Everything about Boogie Nights flows with heaps of style and creativity. It’s Thrilling, striking and provocative as a narrative, Showcases artistic and technical filmmaking, "Boogie Nights" offers an intoxicating cinematic experience. Anderson’s flawless craftsmanship presents a resonant story, archetypal characters, and an exhilarating, electric vision to create a something that is fresh, timeless, and extremely human.

Masters of Movies Rating - ★★★★★

Watch Boogie Nights Here!

So, that concludes my list of top 10 films that were released in 1997. I really enjoyed writing this article and I’m looking forward to continuing my voyage into the 23 more years worth of films I have to rank in the next couple of posts. If you enjoyed this content and want to support the page then consider picking up some merch from my store. Writing this sort of stuff is super time consuming and it really helps support what we do here at Masters of Movies!