1999 Best and Worst

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When the hipsters of the year 2020--will they be called Generation A?--dismiss a film, a technology or a fashion as being so turn of the century, what will they be referring to? La Vida Loca-like videos, for sure. The Windows logo, probably. Maybe those hilarious worries about genetically modified foods. (The favorite nibble of Generation A will be carrot married to ham, though it will be banned in Europe.) What will stick in the collective memory is the best and worst of our own fin de siècle, and 1999 had a bumper crop of winners and some memorable bummers as well. Not surprisingly in the microchip age, many of the biggest achievements of 1999 were diminishments. Human speed records shrank on the track, and the No. 1 fictional character of the year was child wizard Harry Potter. Mini-Me, Austin Powers' miniature nemesis, stole a summer blockbuster while simultaneously proving you don't need to be tall to pull off a Nehru suit. The Pokémon pantheon, the secrets of chromosome 22, the iBook (a computer with a handle): small was big in 1999. There was grandeur too, as in Sir Norman Foster's crystalline rehabilitation of Berlin's Reichstag, along with unfathomably vast developments. How else to describe the swelling of such Internet entities as eBay, unknown 12 months ago and now a part of daily life for millions? By 2020, the term Internet itself may be a quaint throwback. (By then it will probably be called Life As We Know It.) But 1999 was the year our lives went online--for better or worse.