Granted it could also be where they fail the hardest, but we try to stay positive. This week we’re back chronicling the best monologues from the 90s (be sure to hit last week’s article to see who made the cut for the 00s).
Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs 1991 – “Getting Away”
When Federal AIT Clarice Starling first met the serial killer Hannibal Lecter, it quickly became apparent this monster was unlike any before him. It was however proven when Hannibal, within mere moments, psychologically picked Clarice apart at the seams, as though that glass barrier between them didn’t even exist.
Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men 1992 – “You Can’t Handle the Truth”
In a military court, procedure and precedence are mandatory. In this classic scene, the Armed Forces codes of loyalty, honor, and duty comes under question as Navy Lt. Daniel Kaffee intensely cross-examines Col. Nathan R. Jessep about his involvement in the death of a Marine recruit during basic training.
Dennis Hopper, True Romance 1993 – “Sicilians”
A gun is pressed against your head. You’re surrounded by mobsters and time is ticking out. You know you’re not getting out of this alive. What do you do? Well if you’re Clifford Worley in True Romance, you take your final moment to smoke a cigarette and lodge one last powerful dig into the bastards about to kill you.
Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption 1994 – “Stop Wasting My Time”
After forty-years in a maximum security penitentiary, life becomes rather routine and meaningless. As each parole attempt passes by, marking each decade lost, you being to wonder what exactly is the point. Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding shows us that contempt for the system as it becomes apparent that none of it really matters in the end.
Kevin Spacey, Seven 1995 – “A Sin On Every Corner”
Why killers do what they do will confound us until Rapture. It is the rare moment when one will open up to explain the depths of his own soul and mind. With chilling emotion and a depraved sense of completion, John Doe drives home his motivations to Detectives Mills and Somerset as they drive to the completion of his masterpiece.
Michael Douglas, The American President 1995 – “I Am The President”
Few can truly capture the essence of what it means to be the most powerful man in the free world. Andrew Shepherd, at the media pulpit captures that essence as he charges headlong into cruel accusations by his leading competitor for the Oval Office. With power and panache, he throws down the gauntlet and quickly captured the nation.
Kathy Bates, Dolores Claiborne 1995 – “I Stayed For You”
A parent will do anything for their child and only when that child becomes a parent will they truly understand why. It’s a difficult thing to sacrifice one’s livelihood but one does so without question. And when that child questions the very merit of that decision, expect to get an earful. No better delivered than by Dolores Claiborne.
Al Pacino, The Devil’s Advocate 1997 – “I’m A Fan Of Man”
Sympathy for the Devil takes on a new twist as Lucifer lays down his scheme to conquer Heaven with the help of his son. With a flair only Pacino could possibly deliver, Satan spells out victory with the assistance of man. It’s a whole new ballgame and a take on God you may not have thought of before. Yeah…he’s in the details.
Kevin Smith, Chasing Amy 1997 – “You’re Chasing Amy”
When and if Silent Bob should break the silence, it usually to inspire or even awaken others with a dutiful phrase or unbiased observation of truth, like a hairy, fat fortune cookie. But when Holden McNeil begins to question his feelings for the love of his life, Bob espouses on his own “one-he-let-get-away”. Still waters do run deep.
Denis Leary, Suicide Kings 1997 – “The Gene and Mickey Mantle”
A mob enforcer usually has no time for pleasantries. But whilst searching for info on his boss’ kidnapping, Lono comes across a young beauty and her drunken, abusive father. What follows is a deep and connecting reflection on family, alcoholism and the pains that can ultimately result from it.
Kevin Spacey, American Beauty 1999 – “The Second Before You Die”
When Lester Burnham is shot dead whilst pondering his life, the moment prompts a tear-jerking reflection on the second before you die and the concept of your life flashing before your eyes. What follows is a quietly heart-wrenching monologue that pulls back the raincloud and pours appreciation onto every moment of life.
Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday 1999 – “Today”
Few can inspire like a football coach, but few have done so like Tony D’Amato as he took his team into their playoff performance. In his moment, he speaks not of football, but of life itself and sets a fire within his team that could not be extinguished. For some of the best inspiration you’ve heard, look no further than the locker room of the Miami Sharks.
Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction 1999 – “Ezekial 25:17”
Jules Winfield, a vicious, cold-blooded, afro-sporting hitman confronts and confounds his enemies with a religious diatribe that he spouts with a wicked crescendo. But it isn’t until later, when he truly begins to understand his own words, that the speech becomes something far more terrifying than just an idle threat to spew before you cap someone.
Jason Lee, Dogma 1999 – “I’d Rather Not Exist”
Motivation is key. It is the ultimate factor behind any decision. But when the demon Azrael decides to unmake existence utilizing a loophole in Catholic Dogma, few really stopped to wonder why. It was this deleted scene where Azrael explains the dire failings of mankind and the true birth of Hell that truly gave us a glimpse into what it means to hate what we are.
Terence Stamp, The Limey 1999 – “Whatever It Was…It Wasn’t Me”
Wilson is his name. And he’s looking for someone. And he’s deadly serious about it. But when a group of vigilante DEA agents pull Wilson aside to figure out his angle in the strange events surrounding their case, it inspires one of the strangest and most con-man heavy cockney dialogues you’ve ever heard. What a way to win friends.
There were so many great moments in cinema during the 90s this list was truly hard to narrow down. But these moments capture some of the best performances of these actors and leave a strong imprint on us as we watch them.