I have never received as many responses as I did to last month’s column about the darkness and cynicism in films over the last several years, particularly 2007. Many of you asked me to recommend some movies that would dissipate the bad taste from last year. As I started to look for some of those films, I was intrigued to discover how many amazing films were released in one particular calendar year: 1998.

Why 1998? Perhaps the penultimate year of the last millennium ushered in the promise of our humanity. Whatever the cosmic reason, 1998 may indeed have been the high-water mark for a year in which so many films asked the big questions about who we are as humanity and why we are here.

THE TRUMAN SHOW was truly visionary about our obsession today with so-called "reality TV" and is also a beautiful and poignant metaphor for how we choose to live this illusion we call life.

SLIDING DOORS is a clever, romantic, and witty look at what turning the right corner (or descending the right staircase) at the right moment can mean in our lives. The film also has a very hopeful and empowering perspective on how destined soul mates truly are to find each other.

CITY OF ANGELS, Ok, yes, it’s sad at the end. I know. I know. Still, it’s a deliriously passionate look at life and a powerful reminder of what a gift being human truly is; moreover, Dennis Franz’s character of Nathaniel rivals the character of Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life for most-engaging angel ever in a "supporting" role.

MEET JOE BLACK is a beautiful, if at times slow-paced, meditation on the meaning of life and love. Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of a man who, at 65, meets death head on (in the persona of Brad Pitt) is one of his best performances ever. Maybe it’s because I’m now in my sixties, as well. Maybe it’s because I so feel his love for his daughters. Maybe it’s because I just love a film that is a throwback to the glamour of a bygone era. Whatever the reason, I always cry at the end of this film.

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Stephen Simon is the author of the new book Bringing Back The Old Hollywood. For more information, visit www.TheOldHollywood.com. He also co-founded www.spiritualcinemacircle.com, produced such films as Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come, and both produced and directed Indigo and Conversations with God.

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