'Sleepless in Seattle,' 'Jurassic Park,' 'Schindler's List' (Photo: Everett Collection)
"Sleepless in Seattle" (June 25, 1993). Truth be told, the 2012 passing of director and writer Nora Ephron gives the anniversary of this by-the-numbers romantic comedy a little more heft. Of the three romances that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan made together, "Sleepless" probably was the most convincing, even though the entire relationship is based entirely on the notion of promise — the two don't even meet in person until the end. It also leans heavily on the 1957 movie, "An Affair to Remember" (in itself a remake), but Ephron's ability to weave manufactured dreams and celebrate Hollywood characters (down to the cute motherless kid and the smart-alecky gal pal) make this a featherweight champ
"Jurassic Park" (June 11, 1993). Here's one thriller that has already made plans to party: A 3D re-release will be out April 5. This heady mix of Steven Spielberg's directorial talents, writer Michael Crichton's plot, and computer-generated dinosaurs cemented our pop culture obsession with special effects and prehistoric giants. The sci-fi thriller might also be credited with the subtrend of nerdism, as kids could bandy about words like "Velociraptor" without getting a playground wedgie. Mother Nature though wasn't going to take a backseat entirely to CGI: Hurricane Iniki raged over Kauai during filming, and some storm scenes were put to use in the movie.
"Schindler's List" (Dec. 15, 1993). This was basically Steven Spielberg's year: After breaking box-office records with "Jurassic Park," he delved into history to honor the story of Oskar Schindler — a project Spielberg actually tried to get other, more experienced directors to do before he finally took it on himself. Stars like Warren Beatty read for the part, but Liam Neeson ultimately starred as the German businessman who sheltered Polish Jews in his factory, spending much of his fortune to save as many lives as possible. The drama has remained on the American Film Institute's Top 10 list, and was a turning point for Spielberg, stars Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, and the way Hollywood told the story of the Holocaust.
"Groundhog Day" (Feb. 12, 1993). Watching a groundhog's shadow is more a media-manufactured event than a true holiday. Still, Bill Murray enshrined the day with this surreal, almost Buddhist tale of a rude weatherman forced to relive the same day again and again until he developed empathy. Sure, maybe it's just "Scrooged" without ghosts, but the Capra-esque vibe has made this one of Hollywood's go-to fables.
"The Wedding Banquet" (Aug. 1, 1993). A Taiwanese American co-production directed by, naturally, Taiwanese American Ang Lee, the comedy about a man who agrees to marry to hide his gay relationship from his parents was a small one, from its $1 million budget to its respectable $7 million grosses. Yet besides being nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar, the comedy showcases Lee's incredible genre-leaping bounds; his works would later include "Sense and Sensibility," "The Ice Storm," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain," "Hulk" (the snoozer of the bunch) and "Life of Pi." More than anything, "Banquet" is part of an admirable pantheon and holds up mighty well, two decades later when gay marriage has emerged as a hot-button political issue.
Honorable 2013 20th anniversary milestone mentions
- "Army of Darkness" (Feb. 19, 1993)
- "Dazed and Confused" (Sept. 24, 1993)
- "Free Willy" (July 16, 1993)
- "Ghost in the Machine" (Dec. 29, 1993)
- "Indecent Proposal" (April 7, 1993)
- "The Joy Luck Club" (Sept. 8, 1993)
- "Kalifornia" (Sept. 3, 1993)
- "Mrs. Doubtfire" (Nov. 24, 1993)
- "Much Ado About Nothing" (May 7, 1993)
- "My Neighbor Totoro" (May 7, 1993)
- "Six Degrees of Separation" (Dec. 8, 1993)
- "Strictly Ballroom" (Feb. 1, 1993)
- "True Romance" (Sept. 10, 1993)
- "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" (Dec. 25, 1993)
- "What's Love Got to Do With It" (June 9, 1993)
Watch the trailer for 'Jurassic Park 3D,' coming to theaters on April 5: