In college, I had this class where we were supposed to learn about 19th century upper-class British culture by analyzing hundreds of paintings commissioned and hung in wealthy British estates during that time period. Some insights are surface level, like British people loved to hunt foxes. Other potential insights were hotly debated in class, like whether the presentation of women tended towards subservience or maternalism, or both, or neither, etc.
Either way, it was surprisingly fun, and I enjoyed sort of doing it again with Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen, by Brian Raftery.
The book examines dozens of 1999’s best movies, ranging from entire chapters dedicated to Blair Witch Project, Fight Club, and Sixth Sense, to brief interludes on American Pie, The Mummy, and Varsity Blues, to passing mentions of many more films. Between the stories, Raftery offers his own nuggets of speculations on the cultural, filmmaking, and business trends that caused 1999 to be such an incredible movie year.