20 Great Movies From the Year 1997

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox

This might be hard to believe and you should be sitting for it – 1997 was 20 years ago. It might be difficult to grasp that someone who didn’t exist when Titanic was released has been eligible to drive for four years, so take a moment to collect your blown mind. So to commemorate the time-travel we all took part unnoticeably and unwillingly, we have 20 great movies from that year. Surprisingly enough, it was an easy list to make as it was a truly good year for the cinematic art.


The biggest movie of the decade, not just the year. There’s probably no movie-goer who hasn’t seen James Cameron’s history epic romance when it came out, and the movie made impactful waves in popular culture as well. Leonardo DiCaprio established himself as an A-list star, and so did Kate Winslet, both supported by perfectly casted auxiliary characters. Legendary scenes, quotable lines, epic conclusion, and a deeply emotional story.

The Fifth Element

1997 was a good year for great movies in the sci-fi genre, and director Luc Besson played an important role in that as he brought us the unique space adventure opera The Fifth Element. Every important cast member delivers an iconic performance, especially Chris Tucker, and you’re easily sucked up into the futuristic world that faces great perils on a small scale. A truly well-done film that doesn’t take itself too seriously without becoming a joke or a kids movie.

L.A. Confidential

A classic from the ’90s and it became so because of the complexity of its story, but also due to the performances of acclaimed actors like Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Guy Pearce. A crime and corruption story set in the 1950s Los Angeles, it is one of the better movies of the decade, not just the year, as it was also technically done perfectly.


Done by the man who wrote The Truman Show and Lord of War – Andrew Nicol, who both directed and wrote this sci-fi drama about a man trying to overcome the cards that were dealt to him. This movie proves yet again just how good of a medium sci-fi films are for portraying universal human stories. It’s one of the great movies to watch when lacking inspiration, motivation, and belief as the main protagonist goes to great lengths to pursue his dream.

Photo: Warner Bros.

One of the ultimate pure sci-fi movies, done by the brilliant director Robert Zemeckis and starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. A 2h 30-minute mind-bender with elements of all genres also packs several surprises that you wouldn’t be able to guess. Dealing with aliens as much as with the nature of humans, Contact is a must for sci-fi fanatics, and possibly the perfect gateway drug for those who aren’t into the genre.

The Game

David Fincher was making incredibly popular movies which are still relevant, and out of the four, The Game is by far the least known. In the shadow of Tyler Durden and a box, The Game puts Michael Douglas in the position of a lonely, wealthy man who gets an unexpected visit from his estranged brother, getting a special present – card for an entertainment company. Unforeseen events start to occur around the lead, and you’ll be sharing his confusion and excitement throughout the film.


The last decade of the 20th century was a fertile ground for action movies with borderline insane premises, and none was crazier than John Woo’s Face/Off. A duo of ’90s cinematic heroes John Travolta and Nicholas Cage truly delivered on the premise of the movie – FBI agent and a terrorist switch faces and continue their hunt of each other. This really shouldn’t have worked as well as it did.

Photo: Mandalay Pictures

A truly underappreciated movie and a genuinely underknown true story of an Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt) who went on an epic journey during the turbulent times of the World War II. His tale leads him to Tibet where he befriends the Dalai Lama at the time of the Chinese occupation of his land.

Good Will Hunting

The legendary drama film that put two of Hollywood’s biggest shots – Ben Affleck and Matt Damon – on the map, even though they had other parts prior to it. Robin Williams shines beside the two, and this Gus Van Sant movie remained a classic almost not losing its cultural importance throughout the 20 years.

Starship Troopers

Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi war movie inexplicably still holds up today when it comes to CGI, while all the other movies from the era look cringey. A wide young cast was perfectly chosen, and so were the older supporting actors, and besides being extremely fun and differently done, the movie had a strong message. The movie had an organic popularity resurgence in the last couple of years and brought us a fresh patch of high-quality memes.