A Brief Guide to Pop Culture in 1999

Tomorrow, Jim, Michelle, Stifler, and friends are heading back to high school. The American Pie crew — who we were first introduced to back in 1999 — will be getting the class together again for American Reunion. In order to prepare ourselves for the flashback, we’ve put together a brief pop culture primer that reviews some of the biggest trends and happenings that year. Prince partied like it was 1999 in 1982, but we’re bringing it back in 2012. So, let’s get way too ponderous about The Matrix, dust off that copy of Harry Potter, and panic about Y2K all over again. Head past the break for a look at 1999, and leave your favorite memories in the comments below.

Film

The top grossing films in the US in 1999:

1. The Sixth Sense
2. Toy Story 2
3. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
4. The Matrix
5. Tarzan

The Academy Award for Best Picture went to Sam Mendes’ suburban crisis tale, American Beauty. The filmmaker also won the Best Director category. Best Actor went to the film’s lead Kevin Spacey, but Hilary Swank managed to crack their winning streak by nabbing Best Actress for Boys Don’t Cry for her role as transgendered teen, Brandon Teena.

This was also the year that Stanley Kubrick’s final feature film made its debut. (He died that March.) Eyes Wide Shut caused a stir due to rumored real-life sex scenes between then husband and wife Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. The Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Fight Club directed by David Fincher also hit theaters and made waves due to the movie’s violent tone.

Sadly that year, cinema lost famed film critic Gene Siskel and French New Wave director Robert Bresson. Meanwhile, now famous pop stars like Justin Bieber were turning five years old.