HomeMoviesThe Top 10 Movies of 1996

The Top 10 Movies of 1996


Release Date: December 13th

Cast: Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jonathan Lipnicki, Bonnie Hunt, Regina King, Jay Mohr, Kelly Preston.

Random Cast Note: There a number of name actors who are uncredited, or have minor roles like: Beau Bridges, Lucy Liu, Donal Logue, and late Eagles singer Glenn Frey.

Director: Cameron Crowe

Why I Love It (Matt Taylor): There might not be another movie as broadly appealing as Jerry Maguire. This is, quite literally, a movie with something for everyone: romance, comedy, football, precocious kids, quotable one liners, a memorable soundtrack and even one of the most suspenseful scenes in the history of sports movies. The fact that Jerry Maguire grossed $153 million back in 1996 (a staggering $291 when adjusted for inflation) has very little to do with the fact that it was released in the midst of Tom Cruise’s reign as the king of the box office. To put it bluntly, it’s impossible not to love Jerry Maguire. This is one of the most enduring Hollywood romances, and one of the cinematic gems from the 1990s.

Jerry Mguire poster

Regardless of Tom Cruise’s current reputation, the actor’s manic energy and effortless charm is put to great use in Jerry Maguire, where he plays the titular sports agent who finds himself having something of a nervous breakdown after he begins to question how happy he truly is. While this may not be Cruise’s best performance (an honor that would go to his more challenging work like Born on the Fourth of July or Magnolia), this is Cruise at his most likable. It’s the sort of performance that only a movie star could give: he is the quintessential leading man, and manages to convince the entire audience to fall in love with him. But Cruise, thanks in part to the intelligent script by Cameron Crowe, is wise to keep this character human: he is flawed, and Cruise is sure to capture these elements of his personality, while still coming off as likable. It is because of this balance that Cruise is able to carry the film.

But a leading man is only as good as his supporting cast, and Jerry Maguire is filled with strong leading performances. While Cuba Gooding Jr.’s filmography has been lacking as of late, his Oscar winning turn as a cocky football player and Jerry’s best friend is terrific. His place in the history of great comedic performances was cemented the minute he yelled, “Show me the money!” But, in addition to Gooding Jr., there are strong supporting turns to be found from Bonnie Hunt and the perpetually underrated Regina Hall. Hell, even Jonathan Lipnicki manages to come across as genuinely cute and precocious without ever becoming annoying. But the distinction of being the best actor in the ensemble goes to Renee Zellweger, playing the object of Jerry’s affection, Dorothy.  Zellweger exudes likability and charm, and manages to turn what could have been an annoyingly quirky character into someone more believable. Even more impressive: this was one of Zellweger’s first major roles in a Hollywood movie, yet she can effortlessly go toe-to-toe with Tom Cruise, regardless of whether they’re flirting or fighting. By the end of the film, Zellweger manages to make the audience care for her so much that we’re on the edge of our seats purely because we want to make sure she gets a happy ending.

With a compelling romance at its center, fully developed subplots about the sports industry, Oscar worthy performances and multiple memorable one liners, it really isn’t a surprise that Jerry Maguire stands out as one of the best films from the 1990s, let alone 1996. It’s the sort of film that’s so lovable, and so desperate to be loved back, that walking away from it cold means you probably don’t have a pulse.

Best Scene: There are so many to choose from, but mine would have to be when Jerry and Dorothy go out on their first date together, especially once Bruce Springsteen’s “Secret Garden” starts playing.

Best Line: “Help me, help you.” (Jerry)

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Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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