Cinema’s best year ever? For decades, Old Hollywood purists have argued for 1939, which brought us “Gone With the Wind,” “Stagecoach,” “The Women,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Dark Victory,” “Intermezzo” and many more. Others plant the flag for 19-seventy-9; lately, the writer Rich Cohen has been churning out essays on Medium in praise of that year’s bounty: “Apocalypse Now,” “Mad Max,” “Being There,” “Alien,” “All That Jazz” and comedies such as “The Jerk,” “The In-Laws,” “Life of Brian” and “Real Life.”

Now comes the culture critic Brian Raftery with “Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen.” He focuses on a bumper crop of breakthrough, subversive, auteur-driven movies — virtually all of which were released theatrically in 1999 — quoting the actor Edward Norton (of 1999’s “Fight Club”), who is hard pressed to name any other 12-month span “that had more really original young filmmakers tapping into the zeitgeist.”

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