Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Dory (Ellen Degeneres) journey through the ocean in 2003’s “Finding Nemo.” (Walt Disney Studios/MovieStillsDB.com)

Finally, we have an animated film under the Disney umbrella where the parent can swoop in and save the day for the child, but “Finding Nemo” also makes us consider if that’s still a good idea for the child’s development.

“Finding Nemo”
Released May 30, 2003
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Where to Watch

For as long as I can remember, the knock against Disney movies has been that the parents of their protagonists are almost always killed or missing in the story.

“Bambi,” “Peter Pan,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Lion King,” and “Lilo and Stitch” are just a few of the movies with the troupe, and if you start counting single parents or those who become the villain, the list will be quite long. …


Cathy Moriarty (from left), Sally Field, and Whoopi Goldberg make ridiculious drama in 1991’s “Soapdish.” (Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB.com)

“Soapdish” was never funny enough to remain in the public consciousness like other 90s comedies, but if you’re a fan of the stars of the film, you’ll find great pleasure in their performances.

“Soapdish”
Released May 31, 1991
Directed by Michael Hoffman
Where to Watch

One of the fun things about deciding to watch a set of movies from a specific period — like the summer of 1991 — is that you’ll come across a film that sounds great on paper and has a loaded cast. While there’s no guarantee it will be great or even good, the odds are strong that a talented ensemble cast have enough to play off each other to make it a easy watch.

And for the first 95 percent of “Soapdish,” they succeed until the ugly cultural…


Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) finally faces off against Darth Vader (David Prowse) in 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back.” (20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDB.com)

“The Empire Strikes Back”
Released May 21, 1980
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Where to Watch

It’s hard to imagine a world where there was just “Star Wars.” Not the massive galaxy-spanning franchise of movies, shows, books, comics, games, toys, and more. Just the original 1977 film.

But that was the world as it existed for three years in the late 70s. The George Lucas space adventure film became one of the biggest movies of all time, helping popularize the term “blockbuster” because people literally waited in movie theater lines that stretched around the block. There was no mythology, no midichlorians…


Susan Sarandon (left) and Geena Davis make a run for freedom in 1991’s “Thelma & Louise.” (MGM Studios/MovieStillsDB.com)

“Thelma & Louise”
Released May 24, 1991
Directed by Ridley Scott
Where to Watch

Two buddies hitting the road together, beginning a crime spree that sees them on the run from the law, is the kind of movie that has been celebrated since the days of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” But what makes this one movie stand out is that for the first time, the buddies are women, and their rebellion against the rules is given a fresh perspective.

“Thelma & Louise” became one of the most talked-about movies of 1991 because of what it represented in the…


Bill Murray looks to invade the life of Richard Dreyfuss in the 1991 comedy, “What About Bob?” (Buena Vista Pictures/MovieStillsDB.com)

“What About Bob?”
Released May 17, 1991
Directed by Frank Oz
Where to Watch

Few comedy actors have defined their star personas as well as Bill Murray. The former “Saturday Night Live” star became an 80s icon, thanks to the sardonic and disaffected wiseass he played in movies like 1981’s “Stripes,” 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” and 1988’s “Scrooged.”

That’s one reason why “What About Bob?” is an enduring delight because Murray swaps comedic personalities and remains just as compelling and hilarious.

Murray plays Bob Wiley, a sweet but needy neurotic with multiple phobias referred to his latest psychologist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard…


Madonna commands the stage in 1991’s “Madonna: Truth or Dare.” (Miramax/MovieStillsDB.com)

“Madonna: Truth or Dare”
Released May 10, 1991
Directed by Alek Keshishian
Where to Watch

Thanks to a much-hyped scene featuring Madonna performing oral sex on a bottle, her concert tour documentary, “Truth or Dare,” was considered controversial and titillating when it finally released all over the world.

Watching it then and now, Madonna wouldn’t have it any other way, but maybe even she didn’t realize how ahead of the curve she was at the time. “Truth or Dare” is revolutionary in establishing the many conventions of reality TV and how pop culture artists can define themselves in a documentary.


Robin Givens plays a femme fatale with a heart of gold in “A Rage in Harlem.” (Miramax Pictures/MovieStillsDB.com)

“A Rage in Harlem”
Released May 3, 1991
Directed by Bill Duke
Where to Watch

Now that movie theaters are starting to reopen on a broad scale, I’m thrilled to be in a position where I feel comfortable going to the cinemas regularly. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all appreciate many things that we once took for granted, and for me, I’m in the mood to go to the movies every week to discover a film worth watching. At this point, I don’t care if it’s part 19 in a long-running franchise or some random flick with an original…


Forest Whitaker bonds with the young Camille Winbush in 2000’s “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.” (Artisan Entertainment/MovieStillsDB.com)

“Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”
Released March 3, 2000
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Where to Watch

If you’re dialed into film culture, you’ve received countless unsolicited movie recommendations from friends. Depending on their tastes (and what they presume yours is), the quality of these picks varies. Sometimes you’ll hear about the same movie again and again from multiple sources, enough for the flick to land on your watchlist or radar. And when you eventually get around to watching it, occasionally, the movie lives up to the hype.

That’s what it felt like watching Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: The…


Stephen Root feels boxed in during 1999’s “Office Space.” (Twentieth Century Fox/MovieStillsDB.com)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

“Office Space”
Released Feb. 19, 1999
Directed by Mike Judge
Where to Watch

The moment I fell in love with “Office Space” was when Peter (Ron Livingston) walks into his job at Initech Monday morning. He pauses wearily to look at the office door’s metal handle before attempting to grab it and is immediately greeted with a small spark of static electricity.

I was working at a movie theater when “Office Space” was released in early February 1999. It remains one of my…


Bill Murray is forced to relive the same day over and over in 1993’s “Groundhog Day.” (Columbia Pictures/MovieStillsDB.com)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

”Groundhog Day”
Released Feb. 12, 1993
Directed by Harold Ramis
Where to Watch

It was only a few weeks ago when we celebrated Groundhog Day on the calendar. The holiday-inspired many people to talk about “Groundhog Day,” the 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray. The movie, however, actually came out 10 days after the holiday during its original release. Since we’re sticklers for release dates around here, that means our retrospective is also running behind the holiday.

Why Columbia Pictures didn’t release the movie…

Mark Ciemcioch

Founder of Capen Media and writer who looks back on film history every week. Read past columns at www.ultimatemovieyear.com.

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