Was 1999 the best year in movie history? We think it might be!
John Brooks and Jenn Tisdale will work their way through all the year has to offer, one movie at a time, and we’ll ask special guests to share their memories of this amazing year and the movies that made it unforgettable. Unfortunately, nobody can be told what 1999: The Podcast is… you have to hear it for yourself!
THE RAGE: CARRIE 2: "All The Rage" - with Paul Haynes
The Rage: Carrie 2 was not a box office success, but it wasn't the disaster a lot of people remember either. Finishing at #91 for the year, just ahead of Go and (somehow) just behind the Melissa Joan Hart/Adrian Grenier vehicle Drive Me Crazy, The Rage: Carrie 2 opened in late March at an impressive #2 behind the 1999 comedy hit Analyze This.
But it didn't quite make back its budget, and it as since largely been forgotten about.
Which is a shame, because it has a lot to offer. While the film was initially called The Curse and had nothing to do with 1976's Carrie, the similarities led the studio to call for a retooling that set the production back a couple years. And actor Amy Irving, who played Sue Snell in the original, was called in to reprise the role. A last-minute change of director (Poison Ivy director Katt Shea) further impacted the production.
But both the fact that The Rage: Carrie 2 finally hit cinemas just a few weeks before Columbine, and its use of a real-life true crime story (the notorious Spur Posse) has led to a lot of revision of its legacy in the quarter century since. As such, we invited horror fan and true crime guy Paul Haynes (collaborator on Michell McNamara's 2018 book I'll Be Gone In The Dark) to talk it out with us.
STIGMATA: "St. Frankie" - with Kelly Baker
Stigmata was, impressively, the 49th-highest grossing movie of 1999, finishing just ahead of House on Haunted Hill at 50th (which is upcoming in this round!)
It made $50 million domestically and just shy of $90 million worldwide on a $29 million budget.
Opening at #1 on September the 10th at over $18 million on a spooky box office weekend that saw The Sixth Sense take second with $16 million and ALSO opening, Stir of Echoes, debuting at $5.8 million in 3rd, the music video of a movie was directed by, appropriately, a music video director named Rupert Wainwright and cowritten by Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage, all three of whom having very limited experience in feature films prior to Stigmata.
While Stigmata was a modest box office success, it was critically derided and has been largely reduced to a memory of the late 90s. It may well be the 1999est movie we've ever covered, and it does, at the very least, attempt to say something interesting.
This week, John and Jenn are joined by John's OTHER co-host at Pod Only Knows, Kelly Baker, to talk about this interesting little relic.
EXISTENZ: "Pod People" - with Julia Sirmons and Jess Collins
At 174th place at the box office, eXistenZ was not one of the big hits of 1999, though the it has some proud company in the 170s, including The Limey, Cradle Will Rock, Princess Mononoke, and Jawbreaker
It’s not clear that it ever had the makings of a runaway hit, but it can’t have helped that another heady sci-fi thriller about people who aren’t sure if the reality they exist in is real (and it isn’t) was released three weeks earlier in the form of The Matrix.
Cronenberg was hardly a bankable commercial director, either, and the gooey, heady, psychosexual horror-scifi mashup struggled to find an audience.
But critics liked eXistenz. It has a 74 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and 68 Metacritic score with fairly comparable audience scores on both sites.
And, as we discover in this episode, it was oddly prescient on so many levels and way, way ahead of its time.
This week, John and Jenn welcome back Julia Sirmons, a fan of both weird Davids (Lynch and Cronenberg), as we learned in our The Straight Story episode, and friend of the network Jess Collins, who loves eXistenZ and is apparently really into movies that Sarah Polley made in 1999.
STIR OF ECHOES: "Paint it Black" - with Mary Beth McAndrews
Stir of Echoes was David Koepp's second directorial venture following the success of his 1996 thriller The Trigger Effect. Adapted from a lesser-known work by genre legend Richard Matheson, the film hit at a weird and perhaps unfortunate time.
Just 6 years off his massive breakthrough penning Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park (a film he wrote when he was not yet 30 years old), Koepp was riding high in the industry.
But Stir of Echoes was a low-key ghost story thriller involving a boy who can see and talk to dead people, and, suffice to say, a lot of that oxygen had been sucked up when it arrived more than a month after the runaway hit The Sixth Sense.
Still, it was a modest, fairly low-budget success that enjoyed critical admiration for the most part, especially in the form of Kevin Bacon's well-tuned performance - one that could have easily gone off the rails in the hands of a different actor.
But is Stir of Echoes actually good? Is it scary?? We invited horror journalist Mary Beth McAndrews to talk to us about her experiences with the film and ask those very questions.
You can learn more about her here: https://www.mbmcandrews.com/
A VERY SPECIAL ROUND FOUR RECAP EPISODE - With A Very Special Guest
It's time for our Round Four recap and it's a very special one!
After 40 episodes and 36 movies, and two specials...big changes are coming to 1999: The Podcast. Is it our very own Y2K?? Are we pivoting to video??? Will we both be replaced by cheaper AI alternatives?????
But find out what IS coming following a look back a the nine movies from the round. We'll recap our favorites, our biggest surprises, our least favorites, and how Wild Wild West artificially inflates the round's total box office and lowers its overall Rotten Tomatoes score!
Plus, we'll preview what's ahead for Round 5 (and, yes, there is going to be a round 5!)
TOPSY-TURVY: "Stan Leigh" - with Shreds
Topsy-Turvy, writer-director Mike Leigh's ambitious period musical about the creation of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado", was not a commercial hit, losing about $14 million of its $20 million budget.
But like almost all of Leigh's work, it was a critical smash, remaining one of his best-reviewed movies and the recipient of a number of awards, including two Oscars, and landing on a number of year-end best-of lists in 1999.
Topsy-Turvy never really had "commercial hit" written all over it, though. It offers a uniformly spectacular cast including Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall, Kevin McKidd, Lesley Manville, and Andy Serkis, and absolutely none of them were at the time (or really are today) bankable stars. And much of its appeal depends on how you feel about (or even if you know the first thing about) the work of Gilbert and Sullivan, hardly tapping into the zeitgeist of mainstream 1999 popular culture.
And Leigh's most commercially successful film had been 1994's Secrets and Lies, a runaway, word-of-mouth indy hit and critical and awards season darling. But Leigh is one of the most consistent directors alive, both in terms of the quality and very nature of his films.
So in our final "hosts choice" round selection, we invited Joey's co-host on How to Win the Lottery, "Shreds", himself a giant Leigh stan, to discuss Leigh's first real dip into the waters of grand period drama.
Taking Me Back
Absolutely love that they chose 1999 to build their podcast around. Such a great year in cinema. The hosts do a great job giving context to all of the things happening during the time of the release of each film while also providing info on how it was received by the public. Love their fun hot takes and chemistry with their guests. Will definitely be coming back for more. -Danielle, No More Late Fees Podcast
Great guests, amazing hosts
I love how you two have made me want to revisit movies released in 1999 all over again. Plus, you’ve revived my interest in movies in general. Keep up the great work. Love the guests you have had, too.
Party like it’s 1999
I honestly never realized how stacked 1999 movies were until I listed to this podcast. Great hosts & conversation!