Consider that the following films all came out in 1999 (list courtesy of Walter - and you're regularly reading his blog, I hope?):
All About My Mother, An Ideal Husband, Being John Malkovich, Buena Vista Social Club, The Cider House Rules, The Insider, The Iron Giant, The Limey, Magnolia, October Sky, The Sixth Sense, Sleepy Hollow, and South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. The Straight Story, Summer of Sam, Sweet and Lowdown, Topsy-Turvy, The Virgin Suicides, and Yi Yi.
American Pie, Dick, Mystery Men, Office Space, Stuart Little, Election, Dogma, Cradle Will Rock, Ghost Dog, and Three Kings.
But Walter forgets the best American film of 1999 and the most important American film of 1999:
And The Matrix.
Also missing from the list: Eyes Wide Shut! Star Wars: Episode I! And American fucking Beauty! Like Walter said: even the bad films were ambitious failures.
For people my age of a cinephilic disposition, that was the miracle year, the year of the comet. (I haven't seen all of the above, but I've seen most of them.) I saw Fight Club in a theatre in some suburb of Boston and came out with my understanding of film utterly changed. And walking out of The Matrix I had the same reaction. I wonder if there was something in the water, or the air, that produced such an awesome crop of films.