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The 50 Best Movies of 1999, Part 1

Welcome to 1999 Movies Week, a celebration of one of the best years in film history. Throughout the week, The Ringer will highlight some of the year’s best, most interesting films, but there’s no better way to prove what a high-quality, diverse year ’99 was at the box office than by ranking the movies. Here is Part 1 of The Ringer’s ranking of the 50 best movies of 1999. Come back tomorrow as we reveal the top 25.

Rob Harvilla: Believe it: Two years before Mulholland Drive, David Lynch directed a warm-hearted (and G-rated, and Disney-approved) drama about an aging World War II veteran who braves a 240-mile trek on his riding mower to reconnect with his estranged brother. It’s beautiful, and shockingly wholesome, and all the more powerful for the shock.

What is the best behind-the-scenes anecdote about this movie? The title is not just Lynch’s way of telegraphing his earnestness: The Straight Story is inspired by the true tale of Alvin Straight (played by Richard Farnsworth), who in 1994, at 73 years old, made just such a journey (from Iowa to Wisconsin) on just such a lawn mower. Look at this picture. Longtime Lynch cohort Mary Sweeney co-wrote the script with John Roach after reading about Straight in The New York Times; as for Lynch himself, “In the editing room I cried like mad,” he later recounted. “I don’t tend to cry easily, but this story touches a sore point in me.”

Who stole this movie? As Alvin Straight, Richard Farnsworth radiates grizzly dignity (he got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, but lost to Kevin Spacey in

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