In 1996, the minimum hourly wage was raised to $5.15. Mad Cow Disease hit Britain. eBay and Ask Jeeves were launched. Joe Klein admitted that he is "Anonymous", the author of Primary Colors. The Spice Girls invaded America's shores and had a No. 1 hit with "Wannabe." Los Del Rio tortured the organized dance-averse with "Macarena." No Doubt permeated air waves with "Just a Girl" and "Spiderwebs." Little Miss Sunshine herself, Abigail Breslin, was born. Tiny Tim died. On TV, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Everybody Loves Raymond debuted, while The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air called it quits.
It's no wonder that Will Smith was leaving television - his movie career was white hot. After impressive turns in Made in America and Bad Boys, Smith broke free and became a bona fide A-list action hero with his turn in Independence Day - the biggest movie of '96. There were plenty of solid movies that year, and the following just barely missed the cut: Courage Under Fire, From Dusk Till Dawn, Beautiful Girls, The Birdcage, That Thing You Do, A Time To Kill, Bottle Rocket, and The Cable Guy.
Other choice selections released in '96 include Twister, Mission: Impossible, Ransom, Eraser, People vs. Larry Flynt, Bound, Broken Arrow, The Nutty Professor, The First Wives Club, The Frighteners, Kingpin, The Long Kiss Goodnight, One Fine Day, Sleepers, and Star Trek: First Contact. Notice how I left off any mention of The English Patient up until now. And here are your Essentials: