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imdb movies 90s

140 Favorite 90s Movies

Wazzup, home skillet! You must’ve left your pager in your other pair of Zubaz, ‘cuz the 1990s are trying to get in touch: The decade’s back, and it’s brought 140 friends!

Rotten Tomatoes, the Fresh prince of review aggregators, presents our list of the 140 Favorite ’90s Movies, ranging from Certified Fresh to Rotten, all reppin’ 10 years of cinema that upended the biz! Our selections cross the era’s cultural checkpoints, including the American independent golden era ( Pulp Fiction , Good Will Hunting ), animation renaissance ( The Lion King , the  Toy Story movies), slasher revival ( Scream ), and the full maturation of auteurs like Scorsese and Spielberg under the studio system…just as the same studios pumped out big, star-driven crass comedies ( Happy Gilmore , There’s Something About Mary ) and effects-driven blockbusters ( Titanic , Independence Day ).

So slap on that bracelet and resurrect your Tamagotchi bestie, because these aren’t just the best ’90s movies, dude — they’re totally essential! And if you’re looking for more blasts from the past, check out our list of 140 Favorite 80s Movies ! Schwing! — Alex Vo

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Empire Records (1995) 31%

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Half Baked (1998) 28%

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Showgirls (1995) 23%

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Basic Instinct (1992) 56%

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Poetic Justice (1993) 34%

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Gummo (1997) 38%

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Kids (1995) 46%

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Dead Man (1995) 70%

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The Rock (1996) 67%

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The Blair Witch Project (1999) 86%

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Pump Up the Volume (1990) 79%

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Man Bites Dog (1992) 74%

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) 50%

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Life Is Beautiful (1997) 81%

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Space Jam (1996) 43%

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Hackers (1995) 33%

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Happy Gilmore (1996) 62%

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Never Been Kissed (1999) 55%

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Tommy Boy (1995) 40%

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10 Things I Hate About You (1999) 71%

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Hook (1991) 29%

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Muriel's Wedding (1994) 81%

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Singles (1992) 79%

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Mortal Kombat (1995) 47%

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Sister Act (1992) 75%

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He Got Game (1998) 80%

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Boys Don't Cry (1999) 90%

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The City of Lost Children (1995) 80%

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American Beauty (1999) 87%

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Sátántangó (1994) 100%

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My Own Private Idaho (1991) 80%

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Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) 95%

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The Birdcage (1996) 84%

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American Pie (1999) 61%

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Babe (1995) 97%

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Raise the Red Lantern (1991) 97%

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House Party (1990) 94%

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Rumble in the Bronx (1995) 80%

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Army of Darkness (1992) 68%

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The Fifth Element (1997) 71%

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Sleepless in Seattle (1993) 75%

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Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) 96%

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All About My Mother (1999) 98%

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Men in Black (1997) 91%

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As Good as It Gets (1997) 86%

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Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) 73%

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Demolition Man (1993) 63%

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The Thin Red Line (1998) 80%

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The Crow (1994) 84%

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Run Lola Run (1998) 93%

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American History X (1998) 84%

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Three Kings (1999) 94%

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From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) 63%

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) 95%

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Pi (1998) 88%

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Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) 75%

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Wayne's World (1992) 79%

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Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) 93%

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Dazed and Confused (1993) 93%

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The Piano (1993) 90%

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Three Colors: Red (1994) 100%

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There's Something About Mary (1998) 84%

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Shakespeare in Love (1998) 92%

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Braveheart (1995) 76%

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The Sandlot (1993) 65%

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Out of Sight (1998) 94%

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Aladdin (1992) 95%

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Tombstone (1993) 73%

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Casino (1995) 78%

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Speed (1994) 95%

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Home Alone (1990) 66%

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Falling Down (1993) 75%

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Reality Bites (1994) 63%

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William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (1996) 74%

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The Crying Game (1992) 95%

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Ghost in the Shell (1995) 95%

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True Romance (1993) 93%

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Independence Day (1996) 68%

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Point Break (1991) 70%

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Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) 70%

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Election (1999) 92%

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The Player (1992) 97%

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Breaking the Waves (1996) 84%

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Forrest Gump (1994) 71%

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Face/Off (1997) 93%

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Swingers (1996) 88%

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Galaxy Quest (1999) 90%

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Total Recall (1990) 82%

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Dumb & Dumber (1994) 68%

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The Fugitive (1993) 96%

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The Sixth Sense (1999) 86%

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Ed Wood (1994) 92%

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Trainspotting (1996) 90%

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Magnolia (1999) 82%

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The Usual Suspects (1995) 88%

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Reservoir Dogs (1992) 90%

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The Truman Show (1998) 94%

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Edward Scissorhands (1990) 89%

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Beauty and the Beast (1991) 93%

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Seven (1995) 83%

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Being John Malkovich (1999) 94%

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Boogie Nights (1997) 94%

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The Professional (1994) 74%

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Chungking Express (1994) 88%

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Heat (1995) 83%

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Pretty Woman (1990) 65%

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Office Space (1999) 81%

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Clerks (1994) 90%

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The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 95%

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Good Will Hunting (1997) 97%

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Toy Story (1995) 100%

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Princess Mononoke (1997) 93%

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Groundhog Day (1993) 94%

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Fargo (1996) 94%

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Gattaca (1997) 82%

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The English Patient (1996) 86%

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Boyz N the Hood (1991) 96%

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Unforgiven (1992) 96%

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Rushmore (1998) 90%

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Hoop Dreams (1994) 98%

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The Iron Giant (1999) 96%

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Scream (1996) 81%

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Saving Private Ryan (1998) 94%

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L.A. Confidential (1997) 99%

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Goodfellas (1990) 95%

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 91%

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Clueless (1995) 81%

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Friday (1995) 76%

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Fight Club (1999) 79%

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Schindler's List (1993) 98%

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The Matrix (1999) 83%

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Thelma & Louise (1991) 86%

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Toy Story 2 (1999) 100%

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Jurassic Park (1993) 92%

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Before Sunrise (1995) 100%

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The Big Lebowski (1998) 80%

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Titanic (1997) 88%

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The Lion King (1994) 93%

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 91%

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Pulp Fiction (1994) 92%

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Actor Tim Robbins extends his hand in a scene from the 1994 film 'The Shawshank Redemption.'

100 best '90s movies

The 1990s represent a magical decade in pop culture history. The O.J. Simpson trial, gangsta rap, Must See TV, grunge music, and "Friends" dominated water cooler conversations, while the internet was just beginning to grab the attention of the world and hit college computer labs.

While all of this was happening, incredible movies from big-budget blockbusters to quiet love stories were being released nearly every weekend at movie theaters around the world. Advances in computer-generated imagery gave audiences both the scariest dinosaurs they'd ever seen ("Jurassic Park") and a heartwarming story of a cowboy and astronaut discovering life outside of the toy box ("Toy Story").

To celebrate the incredible cinematic achievements of the decade, Stacker compiled data to rank the best 1990s movies based on a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to have a premiere date between 1990 and 1999, have a Metascore, and have at least 1,000 IMDb user votes. Ties were broken by IMDb user votes. Data is updated as of September 2023.

Keep reading to discover which movie from the '90s featured one of the most disturbing scenes in cinema and which big movie star's films made the list multiple times.

#100. Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

- Director: Ang Lee - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 124 minutes

In "Eat Drink Man Woman," semiretired master chef Chu (Sihung Lung) and his aimless three daughters deal with the decline of traditional Chinese culture and their changing lives and romantic prospects through their elaborate weekly Sunday dinner. Part of director Ang Lee's "Father Knows Best" trilogy, the film is also the only of Lee's films to be entirely filmed in his home country of Taiwan. Additionally, the title paraphrases a quote from the classic Confucian " Book of Rites ," which reads, "The things which men greatly desire are comprehended in meat and drink and sexual pleasure."

#99. Short Cuts (1993)

- Director: Robert Altman - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 188 minutes

In "Short Cuts," the disparate experiences of over 20 Los Angeles residents cross in unexpected ways after a waitress accidentally runs over a young boy right before his birthday celebration. These interwoven character arcs are based on nine short stories and a poem by prolific American author Raymond Carver. The film's stacked ensemble cast includes Julianne Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, Andie MacDowell, Robert Downey Jr., Frances McDormand, and Lily Tomlin.

#98. Happiness (1998)

- Director: Todd Solondz - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 134 minutes

The indie film world embraced "Happiness" despite its less-than-wholesome content. The movie details the lives of three sisters all experiencing different degrees of trouble at home, from loneliness and self-pity to a pedophile husband. Suffice to say, nobody finds happiness. Todd Solondz was nominated for Best Director at the Film Independent Spirit Awards for his work.

#97. Chungking Express (1994)

- Director: Wong Kar-Wai - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 78 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 102 minutes

Two cops fall in love with two different women in Hong Kong. Shot in 23 days, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino felt passionate about the film and worked to get it in front of American audiences.

#96. A Bronx Tale (1993)

- Director: Robert De Niro - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 121 minutes

Robert De Niro serves as both the star and director of this 1960s mafia crime story about a father who tries to protect his teenage son when a local gangster (Chazz Palminteri) befriends the young man. Palminteri himself wrote the play the film was based on, and also adapted it for the screen.

#95. Dazed and Confused (1993)

- Director: Richard Linklater - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 103 minutes

Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused" centers on the misadventures of a group of Austin, Texas, high schoolers following their last day of school in 1976. The Criterion Collection regards the film as one of the "best teen films ever made," and Entertainment Weekly ranked it third in the site's list of the 50 best high school movies of all time. "Dazed and Confused" features memorable performances from household names and then-rising stars like Matthew McConaughey and Parker Posey.

#94. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

- Director: John Madden - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.1 - Runtime: 123 minutes

A young William Shakespeare, played by Joseph Fiennes, is running low on cash and ideas when he meets and falls in love with a beautiful woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) who inspires him. The woman is an actor in the theater but disguises herself as a man to do so. The film won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Paltrow.

#93. Magnolia (1999)

- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 78 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 188 minutes

Paul Thomas Anderson followed up his "Boogie Nights" success with this sprawling tale about the meaning of family amongst interconnected characters in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jason Robards starred in what would be one of the last films of Robards' career. The film scored three Oscar nominations, including one for Cruise's performance and another for Anderson's screenplay.

#92. Before Sunrise (1995)

- Director: Richard Linklater - Stacker score: 85.41 - Metascore: 77 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 101 minutes

Two years after helming "Dazed and Confused," Richard Linklater directed a romantic drama starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy about two young people who meet on a train to Vienna and spend one hopeful night together. While the plot isn't very extensive, a sequel was made in 2004 that picked up the story nine years later ("Before Sunset"), and a third film in 2013 ("Before Midnight") had the couple reuniting again 18 years after their first encounter.

#91. The Small Town (1997)

- Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.0 - Runtime: 85 minutes

In his feature film debut, Nuri Bilge Ceylan brings audiences a tale based on events from his childhood. The Turkish black-and-white film tells the story of a rural family from the perspective of two young children. The director used members of his own family in the film.

#90. The Promise (1996)

- Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 90 minutes

In "The Promise," a teenager comes of age in Belgium as he tries to be a different man than his criminal father, who traffics illegal immigrants. The highly acclaimed film from the Dardenne brothers is also a part of the Criterion Collection.

#89. King of the Hill (1993)

- Director: Steven Soderbergh - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 103 minutes

Based on a memoir by A.E. Hotchner of the same name, "King of the Hill" tells the story of a boy who must survive in a seedy hotel after his mother is placed in a sanatorium and his father takes work as a traveling salesman in the 1930s. Writing for The Dissolve , Noel Murray notes the film "balances an incident-packed script with muted tones, painting a rich, absorbing picture of one boy's struggle to live by his wits."

#88. Eternity and a Day (1998)

- Director: Theodoros Angelopoulos - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 137 minutes

"Eternity and a Day" protagonist Alexandros (Bruno Ganz) is an ailing Greek writer trying to finish the works of a 19th-century poet before his impending death. He obtains a new sense of purpose when he rescues a young Albanian immigrant boy from kidnappers and sets out to return him to his grandmother… however, all is not as it seems. The acclaimed Greek film won the Cannes Film Festival's coveted Palme d'Or prize in 1998.

#87. Richard III (1995)

- Director: Richard Loncraine - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 110 minutes

"Richard III" transposes the events of the classic Shakespeare tragedy of the same name onto a fictional 1930s England ravaged by the civil war between the dueling York and Lancaster families. Ian McKellen (who co-wrote the screenplay with director Richard Loncraine) stars as the titular character, who plots to assassinate Lancastrian King Henry and take the throne for himself. This reinvention is based on a National Theatre stage production, in which McKellen also starred.

#86. Nobody's Fool (1994)

- Director: Robert Benton - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 110 minutes

An adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo's novel, "Nobody's Fool" features Paul Newman as a self-indulgent man who needs to step up when his son, whose marriage failed, returns with his grandson. The film also stars Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

#85. Husbands and Wives (1992)

- Director: Woody Allen - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 108 minutes

"Husbands and Wives" begins as couple Gabe (Woody Allen) and Judy's (Mia Farrow) are shocked when their best friends (played by Judy Davis and Sydney Pollack) announce they're getting a divorce. Incidentally, this was the 13th and final film that Allen and Farrow made together before the former couple broke up.

#84. A Little Princess (1995)

- Director: Alfonso Cuarón - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 97 minutes

Before ascending in the directing world for his work on the "Harry Potter" films, Alfonso Cuarón directed this pseudo-fairy tale. "A Little Princess" follows the story of a wealthy girl banished to servitude at a New York boarding school when her father is presumed dead during World War I.

#83. The Postman (1994)

- Directors: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 108 minutes

"The Postman" tells the story of the fictional friendship that develops between Italian mailman Mario (Massimo Troisi) and real-life exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret). The film is adapted from two pieces of media: The 1985 novel called "Burning Patience," which itself was based on a 1983 film written and directed by the book's author. Troisi tragically suffered a heart attack and died just a day after principal photography ended, and was later posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

#82. Heavenly Creatures (1994)

- Director: Peter Jackson - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 99 minutes

In this crime drama, two young girls grow close. When their parents separate them because they are worried about their bond, the girls take revenge. The film, based on the 1954 Parker–Hulme murder case , marked Kate Winslet's film debut and also earned Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (the filmmaking couple behind the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy) their first Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay.

#81. Children of Heaven (1997)

- Director: Majid Majidi - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 77 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 89 minutes

Shot on location in Tehran, Iran's capital city, the story tells of Ali and Zahra, a poor brother and sister. After Ali loses Zahra's shoes, they share Ali's shoes while doing their best to avoid telling their parents. "Children of Heaven" was the first Iranian film to receive an Oscar nomination.

#80. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

- Director: James Foley - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 100 minutes

David Mamet's play found its way to the big screen after winning the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award in 1984. Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, and Jack Lemmon star in the story of real estate agents desperate to make a sale. Pacino was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his performance as Ricky Roma, the best closer in the office.

#79. Princess Mononoke (1997)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 76 - IMDb user rating: 8.3 - Runtime: 134 minutes

This Japanese animated fantasy film was distributed by Toho Studios and features many famous voices in the English-language version including Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, and Billy Bob Thornton. While trying to find a cure after being stricken with a fatal curse while trying to protect his village, Ashitaka gets caught in the middle of a battle between two groups and tries to see both sides but in doing so he angers everyone.

#78. Heat (1995)

- Director: Michael Mann - Stacker score: 85.95 - Metascore: 76 - IMDb user rating: 8.3 - Runtime: 170 minutes

Legendary actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino go head-to-head in "Heat," a cat-and-mouse story about professional bank robbers who accidentally leave behind a clue at their latest heist and find the cops on their tails. Jon Voight and Val Kilmer also star in the almost three-hour film that began as an unproduced television pilot by Michael Mann.

#77. Cold Water (1994)

- Director: Olivier Assayas - Stacker score: 86.49 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.0 - Runtime: 95 minutes

This French drama tells the story of a rebellious teenage girl and boy in love who try to escape their current lives. A period piece that takes place in the 1970s, Geoffrey O'Brien, writing for The New York Review  in 2018, said the film "can finally be recognized as a singular masterpiece on the most familiar of themes, the sufferings and misfortunes of youthful passion."

#76. Fireworks (1997)

- Director: Takeshi Kitano - Stacker score: 86.49 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 103 minutes

The tension between the common law and a personal sense of justice drives Japanese cult director Takeshi Kitano's film "Fireworks." Kitano stars as main character Nishi, who leaves the police force after a string of personal tragedies. These include his infant daughter's death, his wife's fatal illness, and his business partner's recent paralysis as a result of a gangster attack. To help his loved ones and ease his depression, Nishi borrows from a loan shark and robs a bank to clear his debt, allowing him to give his wife a few final happy memories.

#75. Central Station (1998)

- Director: Walter Salles - Stacker score: 86.49 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 110 minutes

The award-winning "Central Station" was shot in sequence, uncommon for most films. The storyline follows a young boy mourning the loss of his mother who goes on a journey to find his father with the help of a woman who works at a station in Rio de Janeiro and helps illiterate people write letters.

#74. Underground (1995)

- Director: Emir Kusturica - Stacker score: 86.49 - Metascore: 79 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 167 minutes

"Underground" tracks the turbulent history of Yugoslavia from World War II until the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s by capturing this time period through the friendship between two fictional black-market hustlers. The film landed director Emir Kusturica his second Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995, following his 1985 win for "When Father Was Away on Business." Kusturica is one of only nine filmmakers to date who have won the award multiple times.

#73. Little Women (1994)

- Director: Gillian Armstrong - Stacker score: 86.49 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 115 minutes

Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, which was loosely based on the author's life, "Little Women" stars Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Christian Bale, and Susan Sarandon. The film chronicles the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—as they live and love during and following the American Civil War. Another film adaptation of the same name was released in 2019.

#72. Breaking the Waves (1996)

- Director: Lars von Trier - Stacker score: 86.49 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 159 minutes

"Breaking the Waves" tells the strange romantic tale of a devoutly religious Scottish woman named Bess (Emily Watson), whose husband Jan (Stellan Skarsgård) convinces her that sleeping with another man after he's paralyzed is God's plan. The film was directed by respected Danish director Lars von Trier, who co-created Dogme 95 , a film movement that eschewed special effects and modern filmmaking technology in hopes of helping filmmakers earn back power from major studios. Therefore, "Breaking the Waves" follows many of the movement's rules, such as utilizing more down-to-earth production elements.

#71. Porco Rosso (1992)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki - Stacker score: 86.49 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 94 minutes

This animated Japanese film tells the story of Porco Rosso, once a World War I pilot who works as a bounty hunter. A mystery curse leaves him with the head of a pig. The film was originally conceived as an in-flight short for Japanese airlines.

#70. The Matrix (1999)

- Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski - Stacker score: 86.49 - Metascore: 73 - IMDb user rating: 8.7 - Runtime: 136 minutes

In "The Matrix," Keanu Reeves stars as a young hacker drawn into a dramatically different world, discovering that his own reality is a false construction. He joins the rebel underground to fight the people imposing that reality, which leads to some of the most iconic fight sequences in cinema that earned the film four Academy Awards.

#69. The Wind Will Carry Us (1999)

- Director: Abbas Kiarostami - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 118 minutes

A group of broadcast journalists posing as engineers show up in a rural village to observe mourning rituals, as they await the death of a very old woman. While they are there, one of them comes to some stunning realizations about life. Calum Marsh, writing for The Village Voice  in 2014, called the film, "a deeply, patiently observational film" while noting that "the details Kiarostami emphasizes—a dung beetle struggling to haul away its bounty, an apple rolling haphazardly across an uneven floor, a bone floating down a stream—seem somehow profound in their banality, a mystery of ineffable beauty."

#68. The Madness of King George (1994)

- Director: Nicholas Hytner - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 110 minutes

Queen Charlotte and the Prime Minister of England try to keep others from usurping the throne when King George III displays symptoms of madness in this comical biography. Starring Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, and Ian Holm, the film is based on the play "The Madness of George III" by Alan Bennett.

#67. The Joy Luck Club (1993)

- Director: Wayne Wang - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 139 minutes

Adapted from the Amy Tan novel of the same name, "The Joy Luck Club" tells the story of four aging Chinese-American women and their mothers who meet regularly to share family stories while playing mahjong. At the heart of the film lies the relationships between mothers and daughters and the immigrant experience.

#66. The Color of Paradise (1999)

- Director: Majid Majidi - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 80 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 90 minutes

"The Color of Paradise" tells a story about the struggles of a father who does not know how to accept his blind son, Mohammad. The film was nominated by various American critics groups for Best Foreign Language Film. Actor Mohsen Ramezani, who plays Mohammad, is blind in real life.

#65. The Player (1992)

- Director: Robert Altman - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 124 minutes

A scathing satire on the film industry, "The Player" is based on a novel of the same name by Michael Tolkin. Tim Robbins plays a studio executive who is receiving death threats from a writer whose work he rejected, though he isn't sure which writer it is. The film opens with an unforgettable eight-minute-long tracking shot .

#64. Boys Don't Cry (1999)

- Director: Kimberly Peirce - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 118 minutes

Based on the true story of young transgender man Brandon Teena, this film was Hilary Swank's breakthrough film role and one for which she won an Oscar. In the film, Teena relocates to a small Nebraska town and falls in love. When people discover that Brandon was assigned female at birth, things go horribly wrong.

#63. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

- Director: Ang Lee - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 136 minutes

Ang Lee followed up his "Eat Drink Man Woman" success with a completely different type of movie: a period adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility." Written for the screen by Emma Thompson (who also stars and earned an Academy Award for her script), the film earned a Best Picture nomination—likely in part to its all-star cast, which features Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Tom Wilkinson.

#62. The English Patient (1996)

- Director: Anthony Minghella - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 162 minutes

A romantic war drama with a stellar cast, "The English Patient" was based on the 1992 novel of the same name. A badly burned patient is tended to by a nurse at the end of World War II, and through a series of flashbacks to his past, we learn about a love affair.

#61. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

- Director: Henry Selick - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 76 minutes

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" eschewed traditional two-dimensional animation in favor of stop-motion, bringing the dark tale of Jack Skellington to life. A citizen of "Halloween Town," Skellington accidentally discovers "Christmas Town" and decides to celebrate the holiday in his own spooky way. Tim Burton came up with the original story as a poem back in 1982 as an animator for Disney.

#60. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

- Director: James Cameron - Stacker score: 87.03 - Metascore: 75 - IMDb user rating: 8.6 - Runtime: 137 minutes

Almost 10 years have passed for Sarah Connor and now her son John is targeted by a terminator, who is even more deadly than the first. A protector is sent to save John and Sarah. Writing for Empire  in 2000, Bob McCabe called the second installment in the "Terminator" franchise, "A movie that defied expectations, raised the ante for both effects movies and action sequences and gave the world the immortal 'Hasta la vista baby.'"

#59. Life Is Sweet (1990)

- Director: Mike Leigh - Stacker score: 87.57 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 103 minutes

"Life Is Sweet" is the story of a family and their lives in a working-class suburb of London. Alison Steadman, who played suburban wife and mother Wendy in the film, was married to director Mike Leigh at the time of the film's release. The couple divorced in 2001 after almost 30 years of marriage.

#58. Howards End (1992)

- Director: James Ivory - Stacker score: 87.57 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 142 minutes

Based upon the 1910 novel by E.M. Forster, "Howards End" is the story of three families at the beginning of the 20th century, from different classes, who get caught up in a complicated situation. A Merchant Ivory period piece, the film won three Oscars, including Best Actress for Emma Thompson.

#57. Naked (1993)

- Director: Mike Leigh - Stacker score: 87.57 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 131 minutes

Director Mike Leigh effectively employs a semi-improvisational style in the film. "Naked" follows a man as he moves from Manchester to London while trying to outrun a sexual act that did not end well. The film won Best Actor for David Thewlis and Best Director for Leigh at the Cannes Film Festival.

#56. The Crying Game (1992)

- Director: Neil Jordan - Stacker score: 87.57 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 112 minutes

In this film that featured a shocking twist , a member of the Irish Republican Army, Fergus, bonds with a kidnapped British soldier named Jody. When things go wrong, Fergus flees to London and looks up Jody's girlfriend. The thriller stars Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, and Forest Whitaker.

#55. The Age of Innocence (1993)

- Director: Martin Scorsese - Stacker score: 87.57 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 139 minutes

Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Winona Ryder, "The Age of Innocence" is a period drama set in 19th-century New York. The plot focuses on a man who is meant to marry one woman but falls in love with her cousin, an outcast among New York's high society. The film is based on Edith Wharton's novel of the same name for which she was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature.

#54. The Insider (1999)

- Director: Michael Mann - Stacker score: 87.57 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 157 minutes

Based on a "60 Minutes" story, "The Insider" delves into the life of whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand and the lengths to which Big Tobacco would go to silence him. The film was a major critical success, earning seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for Russell Crowe's performance in the leading role opposite Al Pacino.

#53. Rushmore (1998)

- Director: Wes Anderson - Stacker score: 87.57 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 93 minutes

American auteur Wes Anderson followed up his indie hit "Bottle Rocket" with this idiosyncratic story of a high school playwriting wunderkind (Jason Schwartzman) who befriends a downtrodden businessman (Bill Murray) as they both fall for the same woman. The film transformed Murray from big-budget comedy star into indie film darling and earned Anderson an Independent Spirit Award for Best Director.

#52. The Usual Suspects (1995)

- Director: Bryan Singer - Stacker score: 87.57 - Metascore: 77 - IMDb user rating: 8.5 - Runtime: 106 minutes

The first major motion picture for Bryan Singer ("X-Men") was "The Usual Suspects." This enthralling whodunit follows a mysterious gangster, Verbal Kint (played by Kevin Spacey), who brings a motley crew of criminals into his orbit, and an ensuing police investigation of a ship full of murders. The gangster earned a spot as one of AFI's top movie villains . The film won two Oscars for Spacey's performance and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie's script.

#51. Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)

- Director: Steven Zaillian - Stacker score: 88.11 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 109 minutes

When a young boy's parents realize he is gifted at chess, they hire a coach, taking the fun out of the game and making the boy wonder if winning is worth it. The film is based on the story of chess whiz kid Josh Waitzkin.

#50. The Double Life of Véronique (1991)

- Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski - Stacker score: 88.11 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 98 minutes

The story of two identical women living in two different places unfolds in "The Double Life of Véronique." While one woman lives in Poland and the other is in France, their lives are connected. The film won several awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

#49. Shine (1996)

- Director: Scott Hicks - Stacker score: 88.11 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 105 minutes

Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar for his breakthrough film role at the age of 45 in "Shine." The Australian biopic centered on the life of piano prodigy David Helfgott (portrayed in the film by Geoffrey Rush, Noah Taylor, and Alex Rafalowicz) and his battle with mental illness. The film received criticism for its depiction of mental illness.

#48. The Celebration (1998)

- Director: Thomas Vinterberg - Stacker score: 88.11 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 105 minutes

Unpleasant family secrets come to light at the 60th birthday celebration for the family patriarch. "The Celebration" became the first movie of the Dogme 95 movement , though filmmaker Vinterberg confessed to breaking the rules .

#47. Topsy-Turvy (1999)

- Director: Mike Leigh - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 160 minutes

"Topsy-Turvy" is a British musical set in the 1880s. It tells the story of the legendary duo Gilbert and Sullivan and focuses on a time when their partnership almost ended. The film won two Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup.

#46. Beau travail (1999)

- Director: Claire Denis - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.3 - Runtime: 92 minutes

"Beau Travail," based loosely on Herman Melville's "Billy Budd," follows a group of French Foreign Legion soldiers and the suffering Sergeant Galoup whose jealousy and obsession have brought him near ruin. The dance scene at the end of the film was shot in just a single take.

#45. Farewell My Concubine (1993)

- Director: Kaige Chen - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 171 minutes

"Farewell My Concubine" is one of the most successful films to emerge from Chinese Fifth Generation cinema, an era in which young film grads rebelled against the realism and strict formality of films made under the country's state-sanctioned film regulations in the 1950s and 1960s. The film looks at the political upheaval of 20th-century China head-on, following the long, fraught relationship between opera performers Duan Xiaolou (Zhang Fengyi) and Cheng Dieyi (Leslie Cheung).

#44. The Remains of the Day (1993)

- Director: James Ivory - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 134 minutes

"The Remains of the Day" had Oscars written all over it, with huge British stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson performing in an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's award-winning novel. The film tells the story in the flashbacks of a butler (Hopkins) who realizes he served a dishonorable man. Hopkins and Thompson earned Academy Award nominations for their roles, while the film itself and director James Ivory also received nods.

#43. The Piano (1993)

- Director: Jane Campion - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 89 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 121 minutes

Known for its graphic sexual content, "The Piano" featured Holly Hunter as Ada, a woman who doesn't speak and lives in an arranged marriage in New Zealand. When Ada's husband sells her piano, a male neighbor asks her to give him piano lessons, but there are strings attached. Jane Campion became only the second woman in the history of the Oscars to be nominated for Best Director.

#42. Sling Blade (1996)

- Director: Billy Bob Thornton - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 135 minutes

Billy Bob Thornton received serious praise for his role in "Sling Blade," playing a man with developmental disabilities just released from prison for a murder he committed as a child. He earned even more accolades for the film's script, which won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Country music star Dwight Yoakam made his first major acting appearance in the film as an abusive boyfriend.

#41. Thelma & Louise (1991)

- Director: Ridley Scott - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 130 minutes

Best friends Thelma and Louise (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) go on a road trip and end up criminals being pursued by police. The film features Brad Pitt in one of his first film roles. Sarandon and Davis received Oscar nods for Best Actress but were beaten out by Jodie Foster for her role as Clarice Starling in "The Silence of the Lambs."

#40. Trainspotting (1996)

- Director: Danny Boyle - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 83 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 93 minutes

Based on Scottish writer Irvine Welsh's first novel, "Trainspotting" is the story of heroin addict Mark Renton and his friends. The film delivered one of the most disturbing scenes in cinema. There was a sequel released in 2017 that shows where Renton and his pals ended up.

#39. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

- Director: Quentin Tarantino - Stacker score: 88.65 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 8.3 - Runtime: 99 minutes

Writer and director Quentin Tarantino wasn't even 30 years old when he made "Reservoir Dogs," an indie crime film about a squad of suit-clad criminals who deal with a crime gone wrong. The film's success helped move American filmmaking away from the iron grip of movie studios and more towards independent productions.

#38. Reversal of Fortune (1990)

- Director: Barbet Schroeder - Stacker score: 89.19 - Metascore: 93 - IMDb user rating: 7.2 - Runtime: 111 minutes

"Reversal of Fortune" is based on the true story of socialite and British lawyer Claus von Bülow, the attempted murder of his wife, the ultra-wealthy Sunny von Bülow, and his hiring of attorney Alan Dershowitz to help him overthrow his attempted murder conviction. Sunny von Bülow remained in a vegetative state for the last 28 years of her life and died on Dec. 6, 2008, at age 76.

#37. All About My Mother (1999)

- Director: Pedro Almodóvar - Stacker score: 89.19 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 101 minutes

In the Spanish film "All About My Mother," a mother goes to look for the father of her son—one that he never knew existed. The relationships that result from her journey are a major focus of the film. Director Pedro Almodóvar dedicated the film to Bette Davis, Gena Rowlands, and Romy Schneider.

#36. In the Name of the Father (1993)

- Director: Jim Sheridan - Stacker score: 89.19 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 133 minutes

"In the Name of the Father" focuses on the real-life drama of an Irishman (Daniel Day-Lewis) falsely accused of murdering four British soldiers on behalf of the IRA. The film captivated audiences and earned a huge cache of award nominations, including seven at the Academy Awards. The story was taken from Gerry Conlon's autobiography, "Proved Innocent: The Story of Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four."

#35. Boogie Nights (1997)

- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson - Stacker score: 89.19 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 155 minutes

Mark Wahlberg officially left his Marky Mark days behind him when he starred in this epic story—the tale of a burgeoning adult film star finding his way in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore received Oscar nominations for their performances, as did Paul Thomas Anderson for his script.

#34. The Fugitive (1993)

- Director: Andrew Davis - Stacker score: 89.19 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.8 - Runtime: 130 minutes

This hugely successful drama inspired by true events was a remake of the 1960s TV series, which centered on a doctor accused of murder who escapes from a prison transport and goes on the run to prove his innocence. Tommy Lee Jones won the Academy Award for his role as the U.S. Marshal determined to catch Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford). The third-most-successful film of 1993, "The Fugitive" inspired a remake ("U.S. Marshals") in 1998, in which Jones reprised his part.

#33. Only Yesterday (1991)

- Director: Isao Takahata - Stacker score: 89.73 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 119 minutes

"Only Yesterday," an animated Japanese film, focuses on a 27-year-old woman as she reminisces about her childhood. The film was based on a manga series about the woman in the film as a young girl. Writing for The Guardian , Peter Bradshaw noted, "The frankness with which Takahata evokes Taeko's puberty, her loneliness, her yearnings, and how these mesh with her adult practicality and cheerful resourcefulness, is wonderfully managed. There is real artistry here: it is a must."

#32. The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

- Director: Atom Egoyan - Stacker score: 89.73 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 112 minutes

A bus accident kills many of the children in a small town and tears its residents apart in this heart-wrenching drama. The film won three awards at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, including the Jury Prize.

#31. The Straight Story (1999)

- Director: David Lynch - Stacker score: 89.73 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 112 minutes

"The Straight Story" is an unlikely road trip movie that stars Richard Farnsworth as a man who drives across Iowa and Wisconsin in a tractor. David Lynch veered away from his traditional offbeat subject matter to direct this true story of a man trying to reconnect with his sick brother. Farnsworth's performance was nominated for an Oscar, which at the time him the oldest Best Actor contender at 79 years old.

#30. Three Colors: Blue (1993)

- Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski - Stacker score: 89.73 - Metascore: 87 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 94 minutes

This is the first film in director Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy. A woman is the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her husband and daughter. The woman, played by Juliette Binoche, sells everything and attempts to start over in Paris.

#29. The Iron Giant (1999)

- Director: Brad Bird - Stacker score: 89.73 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 86 minutes

The animated film "The Iron Giant" is the heartwarming tale of a boy in the late 1950s who makes friends with a large robot from space and tries to hide him from government agents. Directed by Brad Bird (who would go on to be one of Pixar's most prolific directors), the movie features the voice talents of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., and Vin Diesel. The film won or was nominated for just about every award at the Annies, the animation world's version of the Oscars.

#28. Aladdin (1992)

- Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker - Stacker score: 89.73 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 90 minutes

On the heels of the success of "Beauty and the Beast," Disney created this animated adaptation of one of the oldest stories in Middle-Eastern storytelling. Robin Williams famously voiced the hilarious genie (improvising quite a bit of his dialogue), and the film won two Oscars for its popular soundtrack.

#27. Maborosi (1995)

- Director: Hirokazu Koreeda - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 92 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 110 minutes

"Maborosi" filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda's debut narrative feature film is about death, a theme often found in his other films. The film finds a young widow married to a widower after her first husband dies by suicide. It won the Golden Osella for Best Cinematography at the Venice Film Festival.

#26. A Summer's Tale (1996)

- Director: Éric Rohmer - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 113 minutes

Before starting a new job, a young man takes a summer holiday and winds up juggling three different love interests in this French film. "A Summer's Tale" didn't get its official U.S. release until 2014. The film is part of Éric Rohmer's "Tale of the Four Seasons," and according to the filmmaker was the most personal because it was based on events from his own life.

#25. After Life (1998)

- Director: Hirokazu Koreeda - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 119 minutes

In this surreal fantasy film, after people die they stop at a holding area where they choose their own heaven—one pleasant memory from their life that they will live out for eternity. While many of the interviews with the deceased people in the film were scripted, others were done with real people talking in an impromptu manner about their life memories.

#24. Days of Being Wild (1990)

- Director: Wong Kar-Wai - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 93 - IMDb user rating: 7.4 - Runtime: 94 minutes

"Days of Being Wild" marks director Wong Kar-Wai's sophomore film effort. This period film, set in the 1960s, focuses on a young man, Yuddy, who finds out that the woman who raised him is not his mother. Yuddy, a womanizer, falls for two women and cannot choose.

#23. Quiz Show (1994)

- Director: Robert Redford - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 92 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 133 minutes

Based on parts of Richard N. Goodwin's 1988 memoir, "Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties," "Quiz Show" revolves around the investigation into a game show that may have been fixed and the ensuing scandal. The game show was actually NBC's "Twenty-One," which aired on the network from 1956 to 1958.

#22. Three Colors: White (1994)

- Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 7.6 - Runtime: 92 minutes

Filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski won Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival for "Three Colors: White." Starring Julie Delpy and Zbigniew Zamachowski, the film focuses on the revenge a man seeks after his wife divorces him. The second film in a trilogy that focuses on color, white is seen often throughout the film.

#21. Being John Malkovich (1999)

- Director: Spike Jonze - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 7.7 - Runtime: 113 minutes

"Being John Malkovich" is about an unemployed puppeteer (John Cusack) who finds a portal into the brain of actor John Malkovich, who plays himself. The oddball comedic drama earned music video director Spike Jonze an Academy Award nomination for his directing, while other nominations went to Charlie Kaufman for the script and Catherine Keener for her supporting performance.

#20. Unforgiven (1992)

- Director: Clint Eastwood - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 85 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 130 minutes

Clint Eastwood directed himself in this Western about a gunslinger who takes one last job long after retiring to become a farmer. Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris co-star with Eastwood, who won Oscars for Best Picture as well as his directing—plus as a nomination for acting in the film. Meanwhile, Hackman won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

#19. Toy Story 2 (1999)

- Directors: John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, Lee Unkrich - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 7.9 - Runtime: 92 minutes

The sequel to Pixar's smash hit "Toy Story" finds Woody stolen by a toy collector, sending Buzz and friends on a rescue mission to get their cowboy friend back. "Toy Story 2" grossed more than $487 million worldwide at the box office, beating the original by a significant margin, but paled in comparison to the third installment of the franchise which cleared $1 billion worldwide.

#18. Fargo (1996)

- Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 98 minutes

Another Coen brothers hit, " Fargo " had audiences everywhere speaking in a Minnesota accent. This oddball crime story featured a pregnant police chief (played by Frances McDormand) investigating the kidnapping of a woman whose husband hired two hitmen to carry out the job. The Coens won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and Frances McDormand won for her role as Marge Gunderson. In 2014, FX released a TV spinoff of the film, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, set in the same universe as the movie.

#17. American Beauty (1999)

- Director: Sam Mendes - Stacker score: 90.27 - Metascore: 84 - IMDb user rating: 8.3 - Runtime: 122 minutes

"American Beauty" racked up five Oscar wins, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor for Kevin Spacey. He plays Lester Burnham, a sexually repressed suburbanite who falls in love with one of his daughter's underage friends, while his wife cheats on him and his daughter explores her own nascent sexuality. It was director Sam Mendes' feature film debut after first finding fans as a theater director.

#16. Forrest Gump (1994)

- Director: Robert Zemeckis - Stacker score: 91.89 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 8.8 - Runtime: 142 minutes

Best Picture winner "Forrest Gump" follows the life of a simple man (Tom Hanks) who finds himself at the center of some of the 20th century's biggest moments. The film was based on a book by Winston Groom and earned Tom Hanks an Oscar for his starring role.

#15. Secrets & Lies (1996)

- Director: Mike Leigh - Stacker score: 92.97 - Metascore: 92 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 136 minutes

Filmmaker Mike Leigh is known for his unique approach to the filmmaking process. While the film's screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, much of the script was improvised. "Secrets & Lies" finds a woman establishing a relationship with her biological mother after her adoptive parents die.

#14. The Truman Show (1998)

- Director: Peter Weir - Stacker score: 92.97 - Metascore: 90 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 103 minutes

What if you were the star of your own reality show, but didn't know it? That's the story behind "The Truman Show," where Jim Carrey proved his dramatic acting chops as the leading man who has no idea his life has been filmed since birth. While Carrey won a Golden Globe for the part, he failed to receive an Oscar nomination. However, Ed Harris earned an Oscar nod for his supporting role as Christof, the creator of Truman's world (and TV show). Director Peter Weir and screenwriter Andrew Niccol also earned Academy Award nominations for their inventive work on the movie.

#13. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

- Director: Jonathan Demme - Stacker score: 92.97 - Metascore: 86 - IMDb user rating: 8.6 - Runtime: 118 minutes

"The Silence of the Lambs" dominated the Oscars with awards in the "big five" major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best (Adapted) Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress. Jodie Foster stars as an FBI agent-in-training assigned to interrogate a cannibal serial killer (Anthony Hopkins), who claims to have information about a murderer still at large. This is the second cinematic appearance of Hopkins' character Dr. Hannibal Lecter; he originally appeared in the Thomas Harris book "Red Dragon," which was turned into a 1986 film "Manhunter" with Brian Cox playing the murderous doctor.

#12. L.A. Confidential (1997)

- Director: Curtis Hanson - Stacker score: 93.51 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 138 minutes

James Ellroy's 1990 novel turned into this 1950s Hollywood crime noir story that picked up nine Oscar nominations, including a victory for Kim Basinger as Best Supporting Actress for her role as a sex worker made to look like Veronica Lake. The story follows three policemen investigating a series of murders, with corruption at every turn.

#11. The Lion King (1994)

- Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff - Stacker score: 93.51 - Metascore: 88 - IMDb user rating: 8.5 - Runtime: 88 minutes

"The Lion King" was so beloved that it became a long-running hit Broadway musical and was turned into a photorealistic CGI movie starring Beyoncé Knowles. The story follows Simba, a lion cub set to inherit the throne as king of the jungle—until he runs away after being made to believe he caused his father's death. Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane, Jeremy Irons, and James Earl Jones all provided voices for an all-star cast.

#10. A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

- Director: Edward Yang - Stacker score: 94.05 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 237 minutes

This Taiwanese coming-of-age film, set in the 1960s, is about a group of disaffected teenage boys, American rock 'n' roll music, and murder. Ultimately, "A Brighter Summer Day" is a true-crime film. Writing for The New York Times  in 2011, A.O. Scott said of the film, "In every aspect of technique—from the smoky colors and the bustling, off-center compositions to the architecture of the story and the emotional precision of the performances—this film is a work of absolute mastery."

#9. Close-Up (1990)

- Director: Abbas Kiarostami - Stacker score: 94.05 - Metascore: 92 - IMDb user rating: 8.2 - Runtime: 98 minutes

"Close-Up" tells the story of a young man named Hossain Sabzian who impersonates filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf to impress a young woman named Mahrokh Ahankhah and her family. He promises to cast them in his latest film but is later exposed and arrested for fraud. Unlike many films based on real-life events, Sabzian and the Ahankhah family members play themselves on screen.

#8. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

- Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise - Stacker score: 94.59 - Metascore: 95 - IMDb user rating: 8.0 - Runtime: 84 minutes

The first early-'90s animated Disney movie to earn legions of fans, "Beauty and the Beast" tells the story of a bookish local girl imprisoned by a cursed French prince who can only regain his human form by earning true love. Alan Menken won two Oscars for his musical contributions to the film, including the title track. Disney released a live-action adaptation of the animated classic in 2017, which was itself an adaptation of a well-known French fairy tale and a 1946 French film.

#7. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

- Director: Frank Darabont - Stacker score: 94.59 - Metascore: 82 - IMDb user rating: 9.3 - Runtime: 142 minutes

In 1982, Stephen King wrote a novella entitled "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption." Twelve years later, it became a massive hit movie, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman as an unlikely set of best friends enduring life in a Maine prison. The film garnered seven Oscar nominations, but its popularity only increased after its initial release. In 2013 alone, the film played on cable TV for more than 150 hours.

#6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

- Director: Steven Spielberg - Stacker score: 95.68 - Metascore: 91 - IMDb user rating: 8.6 - Runtime: 169 minutes

This epic war movie earned Spielberg his second Academy Award as Best Director. It depicts the story of an Army crew tasked with tracking down the last remaining brother in a family of soldiers who lost their lives in World War II. Tom Hanks stars alongside a mostly younger cast, including Matt Damon as Private Ryan.

#5. Toy Story (1995)

- Director: John Lasseter - Stacker score: 96.76 - Metascore: 96 - IMDb user rating: 8.3 - Runtime: 81 minutes

Now one of Pixar's most beloved franchises, the original "Toy Story" was a box office smash in 1995 as the second-highest-grossing film of the year. The CGI-animated movie captivated audiences with a story of two toys, a cowboy voiced by Tom Hanks and a space ranger voiced by Tim Allen, who vie for the attention of the boy who owns them.

#4. Goodfellas (1990)

- Director: Martin Scorsese - Stacker score: 96.76 - Metascore: 92 - IMDb user rating: 8.7 - Runtime: 145 minutes

"Goodfellas" is the first collaboration between Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote the novel on which the movie was based. The movie follows the life of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) who got mixed up with the mob in 1955 while he was still attending high school in New York City. Lorraine Bracco, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro also star in the film.

#3. Three Colors: Red (1994)

- Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski - Stacker score: 97.84 - Metascore: 100 - IMDb user rating: 8.1 - Runtime: 99 minutes

The third and final film of the arthouse trilogy features a model who runs over a judge's dog and then finds herself in a unique relationship with the judge. The three films of the trilogy are color-themed based on the French flag. They also revolve around the themes of the French republic, which are liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

#2. Pulp Fiction (1994)

- Director: Quentin Tarantino - Stacker score: 99.46 - Metascore: 95 - IMDb user rating: 8.9 - Runtime: 154 minutes

Quentin Tarantino hit mainstream popularity with this scattered melange of Los Angeles crime stories starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis. The film earned Tarantino an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and tallied six more nominations. The paltry $8 million dollar budget yielded massive dividends as the movie soared to more than $200 million worldwide in box office receipts.

#1. Schindler's List (1993)

- Director: Steven Spielberg - Stacker score: 100 - Metascore: 95 - IMDb user rating: 9.0 - Runtime: 195 minutes

AFI named it the eighth-best movie in history and Oscar voters agreed, bestowing a Best Picture award to "Schindler's List" along with six additional statues. The sad but heroic story follows German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who does his best to help save the lives of his Jewish workforce during the Holocaust.

Additional writing by Abby Monteil. Data reporting by Luke Hicks. Story editing by Cynthia Rebolledo. Copy editing by Tim Bruns. Photo selection by Ania Antecka.

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The 100 Greatest Movies of the Nineties

Ah, the 1990s – the decade that brought you indie-cinema breakouts and bullet-time blockbusters, fight clubs and foul-mouthed clerks, charismatic cannibal serial killers and “Choose Life!” sloganeering, Rushmore Academy overachievers and Royales with Cheese. Looking back on the movies that made the Nineties such a surprisingly fertile period for filmmakers and film lovers, you can see how so much of the foundation for the past few decades was laid so early on, from the rise of documentaries as a mainstream phenomenon to the meta touches that would turn so many mix-and-match movies into wax museums with pulses. Sundance was to independent auteurs as Seattle was to grunge rockers. We would hang with slackers and Scottish junkies, smooth-talking criminals and abiding dudes. We would get cyberpunk as fuck. We would know kung fu – whoa!

So we’ve assembled a crack team of film fanatics, culture vultures, pop-culture pundits and various critics to weigh in on the 100 greatest movies of the Nineties. From Oscar-winners to obscure-but-wonderful gems, nonfiction social-issue sagas to a seven-hour Hungarian masterpiece, Titanic to Tarantino, these are the films we still argue over, quote endlessly and return to again and again. Crank up your dial-up connection, crack open a Zima and let the arguments begin.

‘Romeo + Juliet’ (1996)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Shakespeare had a hell of a run in the Nineties, from the riot grrrl shrew-taming of Ten Things I Hate About You to Keanu as Prince Hal in My Own Private Idaho . But Baz Luhrmann really did the Bard proud with his MTV take on the tale of star-crossed lovers, snagging two of the era’s glossiest newcomers: Claire Danes, fresh from My So-Called Life ; and a baby-faced, soon-to-be-superstar Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s the play reimagined as a pulp fantasy, complete with guns, drugs, swimming pools, SoCal gang warfare (let’s rumble at Verona Beach!), angel wings, doe-eyed glances through fish tanks and a soundtrack that’s as iconic as the film itself. RS

‘Clerks’ (1994)

100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

Shot in grainy black and white and loosely based on director Kevin Smith’s life at the time, this no-budget film follows a convenience store clerk (Brian O’Halloran), and his video-store-clerk best friend (Jeff Anderson) over the course of a single day. Clerks captures both the banality of service work and a sort of dirtbag-vérité weirdness that would end up becoming a go-to template for Nineties indie movies; just for kicks, he throws in a stoner duo (hello, Jay and Silent Bob!) that would end up becoming the cornerstone of the Smithverse. Between its foul-mouthed running commentary on everything from Star Wars to dicks and its dead-on sense of grungy ennui, Smith’s D.I.Y. debut captures a certain post- Slacker cultural moment and traps it in amber. AB

‘Buffalo ’66’ (1998)

100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

A neurotic recent parolee (writer-director Vincent Gallo) abducts a dancer (Christina Ricci), forcing her to meet his parents, played with batshit majesty by Ben Gazzara and Anjelica Huston. She goes along with the act, pretending to be his loving girlfriend – she’s the only one sees right through his psycho surface to the wounded little boy inside. One of the funniest movies about male insecurity ever made, Gallo’s amour fou story becomes a breathless appreciation of upstate New York dreariness, the lunatic majesty of its creator and the idea that love means always having to say you’re sorry. And that delirious donut-shop declaration ending is a keeper. SB

‘The Ice Storm’ (1997)

ice storm

The subgenre of movies in which wealthy suburban parents watch their own failings magnified in their children was a crowded one in the 1990s – so kudos to Ang Lee for handling the adaptation of Rick Moody’s book with uncommon delicacy and insight. A Connecticut family, led by a philandering Kevin Kline and a brittle, embittered Joan Allen, try to make it through Thanksgiving ’73 alive, as their kids begin to wise up, the sexual revolution begins to cause collateral damage and the country begins to slouch in to the age of Watergate. The tragedy at the end feels sincerely mournful – like an elegy for the end of innocence in America. BT

‘The Virgin Suicides’ (1999)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Want to survive adolescence – or, better yet, adulthood? Then watch this playful, tragic memento mori about the Lisbon sisters, a quintet of Michigan teens in the 1970s who cast a spell on their small town after the youngest impales herself on a fence. She will eventually inspire her siblings to similar fates. It’s the neighborhood boys who really suffer, however, fetishizing what was left behind (postcards, travel magazines, diary entries) and aching for memory to become insight. Sofia Coppola’s intoxicating debut feature, based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, launched her singular career of films about yearning characters imprisoned by their circumstances. SG

‘Orlando’ (1992)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

This adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel about an apparently immortal Elizabethan-era nobleman who is transformed, midway through his long life, into a woman provided the perfect early showcase for Tilda Swinton’s otherworldly charisma. A poet whose romantic spirit propels him, then her, through the centuries, Swinton’s Orlando doesn’t pass as a man in the film’s first half so much as transcend gender from beginning to end. Director Sally Potter complements the career-making performance by housing it in a peerless, creative free-for-all meditation on masculinity, femininity and time. JB

‘Singles’ (1992)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Before a bunch of New Yorkers sipping coffee at Central Perk made the love lives of Generation X-ers must-see-TV, Cameron Crowe’s ensemble rom-com captured twentysomething dating in a pre-Tinder, post- Nevermind world. Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick are the adults in the room while Matt Dillon’s naïve Jim Morrison-in-flannel frontman became both a perfect symbol and a simultaneous parody of Pacific Northwestern slackerdom; this was the movie that launched a million Bridget Fonda crushes. It also masterfully documented the decade’s most enduring music movement: Armed with an instant classic soundtrack featuring Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, plus solo cuts from the late Chris Cornell, the movie doubles nicely as a subcultural time capsule – The Decline of Western Civilization of the grunge scene. DK

‘Billy Madison’ (1995)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Before the cinema du Adam Sandler meant nothing but bro baiting and phone-it-in paydays, the ex- SNL star gave us this masterclass in manchild comedy – a genuinely weird, warped story of a spoiled rich doofus who, in order to stay spoiled and rich, must do the impossible. a.k.a. repeat kindergarten through high school in record time. This is Sandler in all his unhinged abbie-doobie glory, fighting off 10-foot-tall penguins and staging elaborate musical numbers that end with operatic pleas for gum; he’d never be this over-the-top odd or out-and-out hilarious again. And it features the greatest academic competition to ever end with the words, “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” DF

‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” So says slippery Verbal Kint to a short-tempered cop (Chazz Palminteri) during the tense interrogation that forms the spine of Bryan Singer’s unforgettable second feature. Kevin Spacey won his first Oscar for his turn as the runt of a criminal quintet roped into pulling a doomed heist on behalf of a bad-guy bogeyman – the mysterious, legendary Keyzer Söze. But the film is stacked with top-notch character actors doing exemplary work, including Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Pete Postlethwaite and Giancarlo Esposito among them. And its twist ending still packs a wallop. GM

‘Lone Star’ (1996)

lone star

“Forget the Alamo”: That’s not just the final line of writer-director John Sayles’ best film but also a tidy summation of how history weighs people down. Chris Cooper plays a soft-spoken Texas sheriff investigating a decades-old murder, which forces him to confront the legacy of his father (Matthew McConaughey), the community’s beloved former lawman-in-chief. Seamlessly interweaving flashbacks and the present, Sayles’evocation about the past never really being the past was a highlight of Nineties American independent cinema – smart, sober, novelistic and politically astute. TGr

‘Dumb and Dumber’ (1994)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Masterful physical comedic performances by burgeoning movie star Jim Carrey and a straw-haired Jeff Daniels punctuate Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s endlessly quotable raunch-com classic, about two idiot friends who take a cross-country road trip in a dog-shaped truck to return a briefcase of money. Its a highpoint in Nineties lowbrow comedy, one whose ex-lax pranks, blue and orange tuxedos, urine-filled bottles of beer and annoying “Mockingbird” singing-a-longs by the movie’s dumb-ass double act are still referenced by millions of fans. The reason why is simple. It’s because we like them. We like them a lot . AS

‘The Long Day Closes’ (1992)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

An 11-year old named Bud (Leigh McCormack) comes of age in postwar Liverpool, moving between home, school, church and the movies – all wondrously linked in an extended bird’s-eye tracking sequence scored to Debbie Reynolds’ “Tammy.” Overflowing with song, sentiment and elegant compositions, this autobiographical marvel from Terence Davies, England’s maestro of conflicted nostalgia, mines the past for both burnished beauty and unshakable trauma. EH

‘Casino’ (1995)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

The rise and fall of the gangsters who turned Vegas into a violent, mobbed-up money-making machine, with both Louis Prima and loud rock & roll on the soundtrack – could this Martin Scorsese epic sound any more Martin Scorsese-ier? Like Goodfellas with glitz, the director’s look at an empire built on crime and paranoia employs a lot of his signature elements – it’s like a one-stop Marty shopping spot, complete with an angry Robert De Niro, La Cosa Nostra, Rolling Stones tunes, a Nicholas Pileggi script, incredible Steadicam set pieces and a brutal Joe Pesci death sequence. Plus you get a Golden Globe-winning Sharon Stone as a femme fatale who destroys a “good thing” in the desert and nearly brings down Sin City in the aftermath. DK

‘Velvet Goldmine’ (1998)

imdb movies 90s

Right from the opening credits scene, featuring a group of colorfully dressed glam rock British kids running down the street to Brian Eno’s “Needles in the Camel’s Eye,” Todd Haynes’ ode to Seventies glam virtually screams with glee. Told Citizen Kane- style as a journalist (Christian Bale) tries to track down a Bowiesque figure named Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) years after his chart-topping heyday, the movie stews in the glitter and mythology that characterized a bygone era of rock history and reclaims it for the modern New Queer Cinema era. KYK

‘A Brighter Summer Day’ (1991)

brighter summer day

Taiwanese director Edward Yang’s long, sprawling history lesson tells two parallel stories: the first chronicles warring youth street gangs in 1960’s Taipei; and the second follows a family struggling to maintain their modest lifestyle under uneasy circumstances. In the center lies a young rebel (Chang Chen) who falls for a gang leader’s girlfriend, with tragic results. This expansive, intimate period epic filters a universal tale of adolescence through an unstable political environment, creating a work both bound to its cultural context and completely stuck out of time. VM

‘Titanic’ (1997)

imdb movies 90s

A flower-child, a macho fetishist, a tech nerd – James Cameron can be all these things at once. And with this tragic romance set aboard the doomed, iceberg-bound ocean liner, he proved he could speak fluent teenager as well. Yes, Titanic ‘s amazing effects and impressively choreographed scenes of chaos recreate the sinking ship going down with FX-heavy fidelity. But an entire generation of moviegoers still embrace this megablockbuster because Cameron crafted an earnest, swooning romance between two kids, and in Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, he found two ideal actors – perched between teen stardom and adulthood, able to convey both free-spirited puppy love and genuine depth and despair. Come for the awe-inspiring spectacle; stay for the breathtaking moments of tenderness. BE

‘Swingers’ (1996)

imdb movies 90s

Actor Jon Favreau’s writing debut is a sharp, witty meditation on feeling like a loser. A down-on-his-luck wannabe movie actor (Favreau) is stuck on the girlfriend who dumped him when he left New York City for L.A. His fast-talking friends – played by Ron Livingston and Vince Vaughn in his breakout role – try to cheer him up with a trip to Las Vegas and endless hipster-bro hang-outs. Nothing seems to work. Then he meets a woman (Heather Graham) who likes swing dancing. The film’s off-the-cuff D.I.Y. sensibility, unique dialogue (“Look at all the beautiful babies here,” “I’m a Dorothy”) and hilarious dynamic between sad-sack Favreau and fun-loving Vaughn made it a Nineties touchstone. It was so money and it didn’t even know it. KG

‘Last Night’ (1998)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Welcome to the most Canadian apocalypse ever envisioned. The world is ending at midnight, as a result of some mysterious environmental catastrophe. Some people pray, some party, some riot in the streets. But most are painfully polite – the manager of Toronto’s gas company spends his final hours calling customers at home to assure them the power will stay on. (How much more Canadian could it get? He’s played by David Cronenberg.) It’s a heart-piercing gem from writer/director Don McKellar (of the cult sitcom Twitch City ), who – along with a then-unknown Sandra Oh, Sarah Polley and Genevieve Bujold – spends his last hours searching for some kind of human connection before it’s too late. RS

‘Raise the Red Lantern’ (1991)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

The major breakthrough work of China’s “Fifth Generation” filmmaking wave, Zhang Yimou’s colorful, caustic tale follows a young woman (a breathtaking Gong Li) who’d rather become a rich man’s courtesan than a poor man’s spouse – and comes to realize that a gorgeous gilded cage is still a prison. Also, when you’ve taken the position of “fourth wife,” you’re likely to incur the wrath of your fellow mistresses fighting for scraps. A damning tale of a smart woman slowly suffocating under social constraints, and proof that Zhang and his star were one of the decade’s greatest director/actress combos – a mainland Von Sternberg and Dietrich for the modern age. SB

‘Election’ (1999)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Pick Flick! Reese Witherspoon’s obnoxiously plucky Tracy Flick is determined to win the election for student council president at her Omaha high school. Matthew Broderick is the civics teacher who decides to stand in her way, convincing a popular jock (Chris Klein) to run an opposing campaign. Illicit affairs, political treachery and one very uncomfortable looking bee-sting helped make Alexander Payne’s brilliant black comedy a critical hit. His gleefully subversive script, written with longtime collaborator Jim Taylor and adapted from Tom Perrotta’s novel, earned an Oscar nomination. Any resemblance between the characters here and real-life politicians are, of course, completely coincidental. GM

‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ (1998)

johnny depp, fear loathing las vegas

Only Terry Gilliam could mount such a chaotic and kaleidoscopic adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo dispatch – a mescaline-penned eulogy for the Summer of Love and an eerie premonition of the Watergate era. Johnny Depp completely embodies the late, great journalist as his “Raoul Duke” teeters along the Las Vegas Strip and inhales an ether-soaked American flag, with Benicio Del Toro’s unhinged lawyer playing the buzzing Bonnie to our tour guide’s acid-fried Clyde. The film’s bizarre epilogue: Seven years after its release, Depp helped fire Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon at the writer’s funeral. DK

‘Bad Lieutenant’ (1992)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

A relentless odyssey of a New York City detective on a violent, drug-fueled downward spiral, Abel Ferrara’s free-form descent into the depths follows the sort of law-enforcement antihero who isn’t above swiping dope from a murder scene or publicly masturbating during a routine traffic stop. So far, so Ferrara – and then this scuzzfest begins to reveal itself as a stations-of-the-cross spiritual inquiry, at which point the surreal episodes emanating from the Lieutenant’s pickled mind suddenly take on a serious gravitas. Aided and abetted by Harvey Keitel’s gone-nuclear performance (that howling Man v. Christ vignette!), the director’s take-no-prisoner’s tale of redemption is one of the most religious movies of the decades – a perfect melding of the poetic and the profane, the agony and the ecstasy. SB

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (1994)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

“Get busy living, or get busy dying,” notes jailbird Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in Frank Darabont’s prison drama about a wrongfully convicted banker navigating the harsh realities of life in the joint, and the friends and foes he meets along the way. Narrated with a novelist’s wit by Morgan Freeman’s Red, and featuring the justly famous shots Robbins stripping a shit-stained denim shirt off in the pouring rain – Shawshank is a tale of triumph and tragedy, crime and punishment. There’s a reason it’s been on or near the top of IMDB’s most-popular-movies rankings for ages. AS

‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

It’s not the T-1000 that makes James Cameron’s sequel better than his brilliant 1984 B-movie original –– although an indefatigable orb that can melt, shatter and reconstitute itself is a lot more menacing than today’s supervillains. No, the glory belongs to the film’s ripped-up in-house Wonder Woman: The director’s then-wife Linda Hamilton, reprising her role as a fierce Madonna who must protect her savior-in-the-making son (Edward Furlong). Young John Connor’s bond with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s increasingly sentient, former killing machine is touching, and the violence is deftly orchestrated. But Hamilton’s muscular transformation and badass military bearing is what really gives shape to this ultimate showdown between creation and destruction. It’s comforting to believe that tough mothers can help prevent the apocalypse – then and now. PR

‘The Age of Innocence’ (1993)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Overshadowed by fellow period dramas  Schindler’s List , The Remains of the Day and The Piano , Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Edith Wharton’s gutting novel about 19th-century New York now seems like a Hollywood miracle. Thanks to its elaborate, anal-retentive interiors and costumes, the film comes on like a tasteful frock drama, but underneath those corsets and bowler caps are piranhas at their most vicious and unsparing. Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer play people whose mutual simmering passions are no match for societal rules and decorum, putting the lie to notions of American liberalism and upward mobility. It’s a movie that will inspire violent crying jags from even the manliest of Goodfellas fans. EH

‘There’s Something About Mary’ (1998)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Let us praise Cameron Diaz, who’s career-defining role in Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s hit comedy is ridiculously flawless: a rail-thin, goofy-grinned, beer-chugging orthopedic surgeon with a yen for SportsCenter. Yet the brothers brilliantly subvert that idolatry with a farce about maniacal male desire, as Ben Stiller’s sweet-natured suitor, smitten since high school, soon faces a widening circle of testosterone-fueled obsession. But what’s really remarkable is the film’s joyous profanity, be it Stiller’s zippered genitalia (a five-minute reverie), Diaz’s semen-stiffened bangs or an electrocuted border terrier. There’s a huge heart behind the shenanigans, making this lark the missing link between Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker’s Airplane!/Naked Gun antics and Judd Apatow’s humane hilarity. SG

‘The City of Lost Children’ (1995)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

French directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro build on the demented irreverence of their debut Delicatessen with this visually audacious sci-fi fantasy about a mad (in every sense of the word) scientist who, unable to dream himself, kidnaps nearby orphans and attempts to rob them of their REM cycles. Rubber-faced clones, talking brains and a distinct green mist all add fractured fairy-tale elements, while Ron Perlman (who, according to Jeunet, fired his agent for not showing him the script) brings the pathos as the film’s in-house gentle giant. JN

‘Schindler’s List’ (1993)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

It may be sandwiched between Jurassic Park movies – but Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Holocaust drama signaled a new phase in his career, with the blockbuster maestro opening up to far more austere considerations. (You do not get Munich or Lincoln without it.) Shot in a black-and-white that’s as wondrously decadent as often as it’s stark and newsreel-like, it’s a film about flawed and revealingly human men, starting with Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a war profiteer who efforts to shelter the Jews in his factory are accidental before they turn deliberate. Through his awakened conscience, Spielberg’s film will forever provoke our own. ST

‘Before Sunrise’ (1995)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

One of the movies’ greatest meet-cutes, Richard Linklater’s walking-and-talking travelogue follows two strangers – an an American boy (Ethan Hawke) and a French girl (Julie Delpy) – who impulsively spend an evening wandering around Vienna together. Flirtations and awkward first-date interactions share screen time with getting-to-know-you type games and typical self-aware twentysomething commentary on their own rose-tinted romanticism. It doesn’t have a happy ending so much as a “will they or won’t they?” fade-out – a question which would get answered as Linklater fashioned the story into a trilogy. The first time, however, is still a singular charm. KYK

‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Tim Burton’s skewed tale on a latex-clad misfit with shears for hands (Johnny Depp at his moist-eyed Gothiest) is more than just a Frankenstein riff set in cartoonish suburbia; it’s also his most personal film to date, a sensitive tribute to social outcasts, artistic outliers and anyone who’s ever felt like the world doesn’t get them at all. Even when the director is paying homage to influences ranging from Hammer horror movies to Disney fairy tales, the movie never feels like a sum of its stitched-together parts or an ironic put-on. What started as a sketch from the margins of the filmmaker’s notebooks is now an iconic symbol of isolation – the man who truly hurts everything he loves. BT

‘When We Were Kings’ (1996)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

If he hadn’t been the century’s most compelling athlete, Muhammad Ali could have had a career in pictures. This Oscar-winning documentary about the champ’s legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” bout with George Foreman in Zaire covers many topics: our fascination with boxing, the preparations that went into the fight, America’s political and racial divide. But rising above it all is Ali, who (at age 32) was considered a has-been destined to be destroyed by the younger, fiercer Foreman. Director Leon Gast lets the boxer take center stage, and the archival footage remains remarkable: Here is a fighter who had already taken on the U.S. government by refusing to enlist in the Vietnam War, now staring down the possibility of retirement, as well as an opponent determined to slay him. Fictional sports movies are rarely this powerful and inspiring. TGr

‘La Belle Noiseuse’ (1991)

Belle Noiseuse

The late,great French New Wave auteur Jean Rivette hit an autumnal peak with this elegiac meditation on pain and creativity. It’s nearly four hours of Emmanuelle Beart naked – and that’s not even the most audacious thing about it. Michael Piccoli is an aging painter who put down his brush years ago, abandoning his unfinished opus, “The Beautiful Nuisance.” But Beart goads him into starting again, with her as his model. Long stretches of the film are just the two of them at work, as he paints over his past, stroke by stroke – a mediation on the creative process and emotional turmoil that goes with it for both artist and muse. (And wife Jane Birkin.) He aspires to “blood on the canvas” – which is exactly what Rivette achieved. RS

‘Friday’ (1995)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Ice Cube and co-writer DJ Pooh hoped to make what the rapper has called a “hood classic” in the vein of Car Wash or Cheech and Chong’s movies – instead, their stoner comedy, made for an estimated $3.5 million, transcended their expectations, pulling in some $28 million at the box office and became a bona fide cult favorite. Down-on-his-luck Craig (Ice Cube) gets fired on his day off; he and his loquacious pothead friend Smokey (Chris Tucker) then have to beg, borrow or steal $200 to pay off a frightening drug dealer. The film spawned two memes (“You got knocked the fuck out!” and the enduring “Bye Felicia”) and solidified the former N.W.A growler and the future Rush Hour star as box-office draws into the next decade. KG

‘Life Is Sweet’ (1990)

imdb movies 90s

Mike Leigh’s breakthrough feature expounds on that notion about every unhappy family being unhappy in its own way … as well as being joyous, angry, sorrowful and completely fucked up in equally singular fashions. The more time you spend with the movie’s clan – the culinary paterfamilias (Jim Broadbent), the ray-of-light mom (Alison Steadman), the raging, bulimic Nicola (a pre- Absolutely Fabulous Jane Horrocks) and her butch twin sister Natalie (Claire Skinner) – the more Leigh & co. let you see how, in good times and bad, the bond between them runs deeper than blood. Throw in Timothy Spall’s amateur restaurateur and ladies’ man Aubrey, arguably the funniest character in the director’s back catalog, and you have a 360-degree heartfelt, humanistic portrait of Britain’s lower-middle-class. There’s as much bitterness as there is sweetness. But you never think the title is ironic for a single second. DF

‘Madonna: Truth or Dare’ (1991)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Madonna did loads of acting in the Nineties, even picking up an English accent somewhere along the way. But as this documentary proved, the character she was born to play was Madonna. Truth or Dare is Peak Ciccone, raging on her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour, terrorizing her entourage of dancers and back-up singers. It’s a pre-reality-TV time capsule of a moment when Madge was the only pop star who mattered – as she says, “I’m interested in pushing people’s buttons, being provocative and political.” (The scene where her dancers attend an ACT UP rally was the first time most Americans got to hear a “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” chant.) When the Toronto police threaten to arrest her if she masturbates onstage during “Like a Virgin,” she asks how the cops define masturbation: “When you stick your hand in your crotch.” Spoiler: She sticks her hand in her crotch. RS

‘Satantango’ (1994)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Set over a miserable two-day period (and sometimes feeling just as long in the viewing), Béla Tarr’s grimy, spectacularly immersive seven-hour odyssey is the Nineties landmark that all serious film fans must reckon with. Commit an afternoon to this Hungarian-made epic and your mind will be rebooted: Hypnotic shots span an uninterrupted eight minutes or more, composer Mihály Víg’s seesawing accordion score creates a dark carnival in your head and crisp black-and-white imagery brings on a waking Lynchian nightmare. The material itself isn’t easy, concerning (but not limited to) power grabs in a depressed farming community, the oblique specter of fascism and one extremely unlucky cat. But the takeaway is nothing less than profound: the whole of cinema reinvented. JR

‘Wayne’s World’ (1992)

wayne's world

Still the most successful film adaptation of a Saturday Night Live sketch to date, Mike Myers and Dana Carvey’s most excellent feature-length romp brings their titular public-access goofballs to the big screen, complete with a sleazy corporate producer (Rob Lowe), a gleeful skewering of product placement and a “choose your own adventure” style ending. It’s endlessly quotable (“Babe-raham Lincoln,” “That’s what she said!” and the gloriously onomatopoetic “Schwing!”) and a peerless example of how to combine headbanging dude-ness with genuine sweetness, one “Bohemian Rhapsody” sing-along at a time. Party on. AB

‘Jackie Brown’ (1997)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

The early rap on Quentin Tarantino was that he was merely the sum of his pop culture influences – then right when everyone was expecting Pulp Fiction II, he dropped this rich adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s crime novel and proved that cinematic obsessions and insight into human nature weren’t mutually exclusive. The story of an aging stewardess (Pam Grier) caught up with a rat-tail–sporting gangster (Samuel L. Jackson) and some stoic-to-stoned unsavory types has his typical rat-a-tat dialogue, soundtrack deep-cuts, dynamic set pieces and meta-references. But it also has a surprisingly sincere middle-aged romance between its lead character and Robert Forster’s bail bondsman – it’s still his most “mature” movie to date – and his blushing fascination with blaxploitation icon Grier doubles as a tribute the soulful black culture of his youth. SB

‘Audition’ (1999)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

A widowed TV producer dives back into the dating pool with the help of his devious pal, who sets up an audition purely for the purpose of attracting eligible women. The scam works. Our hero falls for a shy, pretty loner half his age. It sounds like the plot of a dopey rom-com, and director Takashi Miike, Japan’s reigning master of all things gory and twisted, takes nearly 45 minutes to drop his first hint that this is actually a horror movie. But he only needs one shot to shatter the banal original premise and transform the film into a gruesome, indelible allegory for the pain men unthinkingly inflict on women. You’ll know it when you see it. Then all hell breaks loose. Good luck. JB

‘Clueless’ (1995)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Speak the truth, Alicia Silverstone: “Searching for a boy in high school is like looking for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.” Over a decade after directing the Eighties’ finest teen comedy ( Fast Times at Ridgemont High ), Amy Heckerling did the same favor for the Nineties, with one deliriously quotable barb after another – from “going postal” to “surfing the crimson wave.” Silverstone, everybody’s favorite Aerosmith video vixen, stars as aspiring fashion plate Cher Horowitz, shopping her way through an L.A. full of Baldwins, Bettys, Monets and virgins who can’t drive. The late great Brittany Murphy shines as the Mentos-loving skater girl. (You’re rolling with the homies in our hearts, Brit.) And Cher’s thoughts on immigration are timelier than ever in 2017 – it still does “not” say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty. As if! RS

‘Natural Born Killers’ (1994)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Director Oliver Stone was no stranger to controversy when he set out to helm the phantasmagorical, media-fried story of serial-killer celebrity couple Mickey and Mallory Knox, played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in career-peak performances. Alleged copycat killings and lawsuits (including one brought by author John Grisham) ensued. But the director’s ruthless satire of American infotainment bloodlust – embodied by Robert Downey Jr.’s sleazeball tabloid-TV host Wayne Gale, his pre– Iron Man peak – stands the test of time. So, for that matter, does the film’s hyperkinetic editing, surrealist imagery and Trent Reznor–curated soundtrack. It’s incredibly Nineties, right down to the original story by Quentin Tarantino. STC

‘Being John Malkovich’ (1999)

being john malkovich

A marionette-obsessed office schlub (John Cusack) finds a gateway into the brain of the titular Oscar-winning actor; soon, the celebrity’s cranium becomes home to a battle royale between the puppeteer, his wife (Cameron Diaz) and a coworker (Catherine Keener). Perhaps the strangest movie to ever receive Oscar love – and the only one that features wormholes that exit on the New Jersey Turnpike, bizarre love triangles and Charlie Sheen playing a future version of himself – the feature debut of music-video visionary Spike Jonze remains a mini meta-masterpiece. It was also an introduction into the mind of avant-screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s most unique voices. DK

‘Scream’ (1996)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

“What’s your favorite scary movie?” This meta-horror hit turned a simple question into an almost existential quandary, thanks to A Nightmare on Elm Street mastermind Wes Craven and a self-aware script that toyed with horror clichés (e.g., “if you have sex, you’ll probably die”) by future Dawson’s Creek creator Kevin Williamson. Neve Campbell and a cadre of no-goodnik teens attempt to unmask the chatty, horror-movie–obsessed serial killer who’s been offing them, with little help from the nosy newscaster (Courtney Cox) and fumbling cop (David Arquette). It inspired three sequels, a MTV series and the successful Scary Movie parody franchise, and its snarky sense of irony inspired countless stylistic rip-offs that paled when compared to the original and its Ghostface killer. KG

‘Dazed and Confused’ (1993)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Director Richard Linklater considers this follow-up to Slacker an exorcism of painful high school memories – the scores of stoners and nostalgists who have worn out VHS and/or DVD copies of this teen-movie gem, however, clearly feel otherwise. The rituals and keggers of the last day of school circa 1976 are so vividly recreated that the film almost doubles as a time machine, immersing you in the fashion, music and pot-fueled meanderings of another era. But the perfect evocation of the confusion and freedom of youth, however, feels timeless. It’s also a prescient casting call for the next generation of stars, including Parker Posey as an alpha mean girl, Ben Affleck as a hilariously apoplectic fifth-year senior and Matthew McConaughey as a skeevy twentysomething with an interest in high school girls. Alright, alright, alright. ST

‘Seven’ (1995)

seven, brad pitt, morgan freeman

In this heir apparent to The Silence of the Lambs , David Fincher masterfully recalibrates the noir genre for a nihilistic tale of Biblical vengeance. The sun literally never shines on Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman’s odd-couple detectives as they hunt down a grimly imaginative serial killer (an unnerving Kevin Spacey). This tense, unrelenting and expertly paced thriller was an early indication of the director’s massive talent, and add “being the first to discover the violent poetry of Gwyneth Paltrow’s head” to the list of Fincher’s many accomplishments (see also: Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion ). What’s in the box indeed. PR

‘Babe: Pig in the City’ (1998)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

The original Babe remains a staple of anthropomorphic-animals kid’s cinema, but the tale of a pig who finds love and acceptance among sheepdogs took a much weirder, stranger turn in this sequel, directed by, of all people, Mad Max mastermind George Miller. This follow-up transports the titular piglet to a hotel full of beasties in a fantastical, Dickensian metropolis; a pit bull nearly drowns in a hallucinatory, Lynch-esque scene and an elderly Mickey Rooney plays a sinister clown. Pig in the City didn’t just build upon its predecessor; it reinvented it, and wasn’t afraid to wrap its sweetness in a darkly stylish wrapper. JS

‘Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills’ (1996)

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The story of three teenagers’ convictions and subsequent legal battles over the murders of three children in West Memphis, Arkansas led to one of the decade’s most engrossing and enraging crime documentaries. Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky ( Some Kind of Monster ) give all sides – the overzealous prosecutor, the bewildered defendants, the thirst-for-blood community – a platform to vent their opinions on the controversial case. But as the film progresses and doubt about the teenagers’ guilt builds up, the duo peels the layers back on a small town desperate for a villain. Thanks to the movie and it subsequent follow-ups, the case would become a pop culture rallying cry, with Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp and Metallica, among many others, championing the trio’s release. You couldn’t ask for a better example of deep-dive docu-journalism. JN

‘Wild at Heart’ (1990)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Somehow in the midst of creating one of the most influential TV series ever, David Lynch banged out this transcendent romance – a Wizard of Oz -influenced take on Barry Gifford’s novel about two sexed-up lovers and the weird-Americana, nightmarish world of trouble that their relationship unleashes. Nicolas Cage’s magnetic, Elvis-obsessed Sailor and Lynch mainstay Laura Dern make the journey hotter than Georgia asphalt, as this warped, wild road movie propels the couple towards a macabre, brutal but (for Lynch, anyway) uncharacteristically optimistic fate. TGi

‘Metropolitan’ (1990)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Indie writer-director Whit Stillman may be the movies’ most eloquent (and low-key hilarious) bard of the vagaries of the American upper classes. He came out martini glass swinging with his first film, about a middle-class Princeton kid (Edward Clements) who stumbles his way into a circle of wealthy young Manhattanites during debutante ball season. With enough witty bon mots to fill a Noël Coward play, Metropolitan is both a cutting takedown of the 1-percent and a loving ode to its quirks. Bridging the divide between the Eighties and Nineties, this was probably also one of the last movies where you’ll find a pack of teenagers unironically rocking tuxes and ball gowns for a night on the town. JS

‘South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut’ (1999)

100 Best Movies of 1990s

Think back to when a big screen version of the low-rent animated cable comedy series sounded misguided. Also, it was going to be a musical . And then you sat in a multiplex and watched Saddam Hussein get buggered by Satan (a behooved, emotionally well-adjusted Beelzebub at that). Trey Parker and Matt Stone not only took their small-screen hit to the big screen without embarrassing themselves, they created a goofy, giddy portrait of a war-crazed America that you could tap your toes to. Every crazy profane idea suddenly seemingly permissible – so were decidedly non-anarchic endeavors like songcraft and sincerity. The duo pissed on our heads and called it art. And it was. EH

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News | 100 best ’90s movies

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To celebrate the incredible cinematic achievements of the decade, Stacker compiled data on all 1990s movies to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to have a premiere date between 1990 and 1999, have a Metascore, and have at least 1,000 votes. Ties were broken by Metascore and further ties were broken by votes.

Keep reading to discover which film featured one of the most disturbing scenes in cinema and which big movie star made the list multiple times. (Fotos International/Getty Images)” title=”100 best ’90s movies | The 1990s represent a magical decade in pop culture history. The O.J. Simpson trial, gangster rap, Must See TV, grunge music, and “Friends” dominated water cooler conversations, while the internet was just beginning to grab the attention of the world and hit college computer labs. While all of this was happening, incredible movies from big-budget blockbusters to quiet love stories were being released nearly every weekend at movie theaters around the world. Advances in computer-generated imagery gave audiences both the scariest dinosaurs they’d ever seen (“Jurassic Park”) and a heartwarming story of a cowboy and astronaut discovering life outside of the toy box (“Toy Story”).

Keep reading to discover which film featured one of the most disturbing scenes in cinema and which big movie star made the list multiple times. (Fotos International/Getty Images)” data-src=”/wp-content/uploads/migration/2021/04/08/SFTWDFIKUJEF3OSCZZ5QACNW5A.png”>

99. Living in Oblivion (1995) | Director: Tom DiCillo - Stacker score: 85.2 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 90 minutes | This low-budget film, shot in 16 days, follows events as they unfold over the course of one day. His role as Tito marked Peter Dinklage's first credited film role. The film also starred Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, and Dermot Mulroney. (JDI Productions)

Description: – Director: Michael Mann – Stacker score: 86.3 – Metascore: 76 – IMDb user rating: 8.2 – Runtime: 170 minutes

Legendary actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino go head-to-head in “Heat,” a cat-and-mouse story about professional bank robbers who accidentally leave behind a clue at their latest heist and find the cops on their tails. Jon Voight and Val Kilmer also star in the almost three-hour film that began as an unproduced television pilot by Michael Mann. (Warner Bros. Entertainment) <img loading="" class="lazyload size-article_feature" data-sizes="auto" alt="90. Chungking Express (1994) | Director: Wong Kar-Wai – Stacker score: 86.3 – Metascore: 77 – IMDb user rating: 8.1 – Runtime: 102 minutes

Two cops fall in love with two different women in Hong Kong. Shot in 23 days, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino felt passionate about the film and worked to get it in front of American audiences. (Jet Tone Production)” title=”90. Chungking Express (1994) | Director: Wong Kar-Wai – Stacker score: 86.3 – Metascore: 77 – IMDb user rating: 8.1 – Runtime: 102 minutes

Two cops fall in love with two different women in Hong Kong. Shot in 23 days, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino felt passionate about the film and worked to get it in front of American audiences. (Jet Tone Production)” data-src=”/wp-content/uploads/migration/2021/04/08/UBIKPIXUPNAQRLR77MVBECEJ6M.png”> 90. Chungking Express (1994) | Director: Wong Kar-Wai – Stacker score: 86.3 – Metascore: 77 – IMDb user rating: 8.1 – Runtime: 102 minutes

imdb movies 90s

While exiled to a small island, famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda befriends a postman, Mario. Mario learns to love poetry and enlists Neruda's help when he falls in love with a local woman, Beatrice. Massimo Troisi, who co-directed the film and played the postman Mario, postponed heart surgery to finish the film, and just 12 hours after filming ended he had a fatal heart attack . (Cecchi Gori Group Tiger Cinematografica)” title=”87. Il Postino (1994) | Directors: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi – Stacker score: 86.3 – Metascore: 81 – IMDb user rating: 7.7 – Runtime: 108 minutes

While exiled to a small island, famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda befriends a postman, Mario. Mario learns to love poetry and enlists Neruda’s help when he falls in love with a local woman, Beatrice. Massimo Troisi, who co-directed the film and played the postman Mario, postponed heart surgery to finish the film, and just 12 hours after filming ended he had a fatal heart attack . (Cecchi Gori Group Tiger Cinematografica)” data-src=”/wp-content/uploads/migration/2021/04/08/MJHZ67YA5RBHTI7QUHZCQYARCA.png”> 87. Il Postino (1994) | Directors: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi – Stacker score: 86.3 – Metascore: 81 – IMDb user rating: 7.7 – Runtime: 108 minutes

imdb movies 90s

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Romantic film: Titanic

The best movies of the 1990s, ranked

Dust off your Game Boy and get our your hair crimpers as we count down the best ’90s movies of all time

Here’s a hot take for you: the 1990s were the best decade for movies ever. It shouldn’t be that controversial when you really give it some thought. It was a time of mindblowing innovation, not just in terms of special effects but the kind of stories major studios felt comfortable telling. It was the era when the indies blew up and blockbusters got even bigger. International cinema reached wider audiences than ever before. It was when going to the movies truly felt like an experience, because anything seemed possible.

And if you weren’t alive to experience it in real time, well, sucks for you. But don’t worry – we’re here to help you catch up with a list of the absolute best movies of the 1990s. Some are obvious, others are lesser-known gems, while some are conspicuous in their absence. (Sorry, Forrest.) But whether you’re nostalgic for the era or missed it all together, we’re certain you’ll agree that it was an exciting time to be going to the movies. Dust off that Game Boy and crack open a Surge – these are the 50 best movies of the 1990s.

Written by Cath Clarke, Gail Tolley, Chris Waywell, Dave Calhoun, Tom Huddleston, Kate Lloyd, James Manning & Matthew Singer

Recommended:

🔥 The 100 best movies of all-time 🤣 The 100 best comedies of all-time 🌏 The 50 best foreign films of all-time 🎸 The 50 best ‘90s songs  

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The 50 best '90s movies

Pulp Fiction (1994)

1.  Pulp Fiction (1994)

Director   Quentin Tarantino

Cast   Samuel L Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman

Most ’90s moment   Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace puffs away over dinner at Jack Rabbit Slims. Who said smoking wasn’t cool?

Blood, guns, gangsters, drugs, more blood and cheeseburgers; Quentin Tarantino’s disorientating black-comedy masterpiece is a lesson in post-modern storytelling and one of the most iconic films of the ’90s. Taking four of the most clichéd storylines from the ‘pulp fiction’ crime tales of mid-twentieth-century America, hacking them apart and churning them back together to create something entirely new, ‘Pulp Fiction’ is an intoxicating, thrilling ride, as trashy as it is refined, delighting and disgusting.  JC

Fargo (1996)

2.  Fargo (1996)

Director   Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Cast   Frances McDormand, William H Macy, Steve Buscemi

Most ’90s moment   The hairspray fringes and cat jumpers.

Yes, the TV reboot is pretty darn fantastic. But nothing beats the original – the Coen brothers’ 1996 masterpiece of black comedy starring Frances McDormand as seven-months pregnant cop Marge, who’s investigating a triple murder case in small-town Minnesota. Acted-to-perfection, ‘Fargo’ mixes quirky humour, hapless criminals and film noir, an unbeatable formula copied by the TV show. One of the best movies of the ’90s, and the one that introduced indie up-and-comers Joel and Ethan Coen to the world.  CC

GoodFellas (1990)

3.  GoodFellas (1990)

Director  Martin Scorsese

Cast  Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci

Most ’90s moment The ‘You think I’m funny?’ bit isn’t inherently ‘90s – the scene takes place in the 1960s, after all – but it’s one of the most iconic film moments of the decade, endlessly referenced and parodied even today. 

Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic was once thought of as a next-generation The Godfather , but it turns out that was selling it short: three decades later, it’s debatable which of the two is more influential. Certainly, Goodfellas holds a bigger spot in the contemporary public imagination, in part because it always seems to be playing on TV somewhere, and because whenever you happen to catch it, you’ll always stop to watch, no matter what you’re doing or how many times you’ve seen it. It’s not just that it’s impossibly engrossing, even though it is, telling the true-ish tale of mobster Henry Hill (a never-better Ray Liotta) in one of the few biographical films that goes from one end of a person’s life to the other without ever losing steam or feeling rushed. It’s also just extremely easy to watch – never have two and a half hours flown by so fast.  MS  

The Lion King (1994)

4.  The Lion King (1994)

Director  Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

Cast  Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones (voices) Most ’90s moment  Rowan Atkinson as king’s helper Zazu, singing ‘I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts’.

Imagine ‘Game of Thrones’ with less flaying and more speeches about being yourself, and you’ll end up with something close to ‘The Lion King’. This Disney classic is truly epic, following royal lion cub Simba as he grows up to avenge the murder of his father. It’s a children’s movie that’s not afraid to shy away from dark, complex issues like revenge, destiny, death and politics, and its villain Scar (played by Irons) is genuinely spine-chilling. Add to this an Elton John soundtrack that’s burned into the minds of most ’90s kids and it’s no surprise the film has spawned Broadway’s third-longest-running show ever.  KL

Boyz N the Hood (1991)

5.  Boyz N the Hood (1991)

Director   John Singleton

Cast  Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne

Most ’90s moment  Tre cries tears of humiliation as a black police officer throws him against the bonnet of car. 

Director John Singleton was a 22-year-old film school graduate when he persuaded one of his musical heroes, gangsta rapper Ice Cube, to star in his debut film. Cube took the part because – as he recently told   Vanity Fair   magazine – the South Central LA of Singleton’s script felt so real. The characters, he said, ‘were all people I grew up with and knew’. The film powerfully tells the story of Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding Jr) an African-American teenager growing up in South Central with tough choices. This was a few years after the beating of Rodney King by police sparked race riots in the city.  CC

Three Colours Trilogy (1993-4)

6.  Three Colours Trilogy (1993-4)

Director  Krzysztof Kieślowski

Cast  Juliette Binoche, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Irène Jacob Most ’90s moment  Irène Jacob’s gum advert photoshoot in ‘Red’ – that wet-look hair!

Best line  ‘Now I have only one thing left to do: nothing.’ Kieslowski’s trilogy manages to be one of the towering achievements of European arthouse cinema  and  a riveting watch from start to finish. Across three films – ‘Blue’, ‘White’ and ‘Red’ – the director presents a skewed take on the French revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. But the conceptual scaffolding never restricts the power of the stories: a composer’s widow trying to escape the weight of the past, a down-and-out Polish exile scheming his way to riches and revenge, and a fashion model fascinated by a reclusive retired judge. The performances are incredible, the visuals unforgettable. There can't be many better ways to spend five hours sitting in the dark.  JM

Titanic (1997)

7.  Titanic (1997)

Director James Cameron

Cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane

Most ’90s moment Billy Zane going full hissable villain, curtain haircut and all.

With 11 Oscars to its name, James Cameron’s three-hour romantic epic set aboard the fated voyage of the Titanic wasn’t just a hit but a global phenomenon. Currently still the third highest grossing movie of all time (it’s preceded by Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’), the tragic story of Rose and Jack, two star-crossed lovers from different worlds (she was rich; he was poor), struck a chord with audiences. Perhaps it was the chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, both essentially newcomers at the time? Or the undeniably powerful story? Or maybe it was because James Cameron spent an absolute fortune on set pieces, special effects, costumes and a dive so he could film the actual Titanic? Whatever it was, ‘Titanic’ was the movie event of the decade.

Being John Malkovich (1999)

8.  Being John Malkovich (1999)

Director  Spike Jonze

Cast  John Malkovich, John Cusack, Cameron Diaz

Most ’90s moment  The whole meta concept of the film – an actor playing a version of himself – now feels unmistakably ’90s.

The combination of director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman: does it get more ’90s than that? This was Jonze’s first feature: best known till then for his inventive music videos for the likes of The Beastie Boys and Björk. It was also the first feature by the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who went on to write ‘Adaptation’ and ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. Its premise is loopy: John Cusack is a filing clerk on a building’s seventh-and-a-half floor who discovers a portal into the head of the actor John Malkovich. Naturally, he starts selling tickets so that others can also enjoy the experience. In retrospect, it seems the perfect film for the very dawn of the Internet age when other people’s lives would become our own like never before.  DC

The Matrix (1999)

9.  The Matrix (1999)

  • Science fiction

Directors Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Cast Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne

Most ’90s moment Less a movie moment, more a fashion moment – those black leather trench coats and wraparound shades.

‘The Matrix’ became the first movie to sell 1 million copies on DVD – just one reason to argue the case for it being the most iconic movie of the ’90s. We all know the story: Keanu Reeves is Neo, the software writer who discovers that the world doesn’t exist. Life on Earth as we know it is actually a form virtual reality, created by intelligent machines who have enslaved the human race. Is Neo ‘The One’, who will lead the rebels to victory and the salvation of mankind? Someone, somewhere on the internet, has probably compiled a list of films inspired by ‘The Matrix’ – which would stretch four times around Mars and include everything from copycat cyber action thrillers to head-scratchers like ‘Inception’. With ground-breaking digital effects, the techno soundtrack and Keanu looking all blank and pretty, this is the ultimate ’90s movie.  CC

Dazed and Confused (1993)

10.  Dazed and Confused (1993)

Director  Richard Linklater

Cast  Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Mattthew McConaughey Most ’90s moment  The McConn is on – and a star is born. A movie tailor-made for the 90s nostalgia boom, 'Dazed and Confused' was clearly conceived by Linklater as his generation's answer to 'American Graffiti': a loose-limbed, freewheeling coast through small-town USA on the last day of school, 1976 (it even, like it's predecessor, inspired a TV series: what was 'That 70s Show' if not a rebooted 'Happy Days'?). There's no real story as such, just a series of encounters in pool halls, strip-malls and parties. But it's beautifully played – McConaughey's not the only star-to-be here – and flawlessly written, and the tone of wistful, half-stoned longing is effortlessly maintained.  TH

Toy Story (1995)

11.  Toy Story (1995)

Director  John Lasseter

Cast  Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles (voices) Most ’90s moment  The space-themed pizza parlour and arcade that's home to the aliens who worship 'the clawwww' is peak ’90s. What do toys get up to when kids aren’t looking? Turns out it’s everything from existential crises to friendship dramas and escaping from sadistic next door neighbours. While Pixar’s first feature focuses on the competition between a pull-the-cord cowboy Woody, and new-fangled spaceman toy Buzz Lightyear, it’s the supporting characters who steal the show. Best of all are anxiety-ridden dinosaur Rex and grouchy Mr Potato Head.  KL

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

12.  Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Director  James Cameron

Cast  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong Most ’90s moment  Sarah Connor rocking an AK-47, a tank top and the world’s coolest shades: iconic.

Why can't every blockbuster sequel be this great? James Cameron’s original 1984 film was a solid mash-up of sci-fi, action and horror, but ‘Judgment Day’ went deeper, darker and harder. The terrifying T-1000 and the imminent prospect of fiery nuclear armageddon (stunningly visualised in the opening minutes) are the driving force for the drama. But there's also time for some surprisingly deep meditations on fate, responsibility and the unknown consequences of our smallest actions. And Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor is the baddest ass since Ripley.   JM

Robinson in Space (1997)

13.  Robinson in Space (1997)

Director  Patrick Keiller

Documentary

Most ’90s moment  It marks a point just before Britain was rebranded and the internet revolutionised conspiracy culture.

In Patrick Keiller’s documentary an unseen narrator tells the story of Robinson, who has been commissioned to investigate ‘the problem of England’. They tour the country together, visiting the bits of it that no one wants to look at or think about: corporate headquarters, business parks, container terminals. Keiller’s genius here is to make these places seem lyrical, mysterious even. In the year that Tony Blair got elected, Keiller suggests that not only is Cool Britannia not very cool, but that most of us have very little idea of what actually goes on in huge swathes of our country.  CW

Wayne's World (1992)

14.  Wayne's World (1992)

Director   Penelope Spheeris

Cast   Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe Most ’90s moment  The product placement montage is distinctly of its time.

Before Austin Powers there was Wayne. The story of the scruffy suburban metalhead who broadcasts a public-access TV show from his parents’ basement with his friend Garth was Mike Myers’ first big screen outing – spawned from a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit. From the music and hairstyles, to the clothes and the concerts, the movie gleefully captures a moment in time as it bounds along with jokes and one-liners. It’s silly to the core, but it’s also immensely entertaining and gave a generation of early ’90s teenagers an artillery of annoying catchphrases to fire at parents, teachers and friends. ‘A sphincter says what?’ Exactly.  JC

Home Alone (1990)

15.  Home Alone (1990)

Director  Chris Columbus

Most ‘90s moment It’s not a single ‘moment’ per se, but for a couple years every nine-year-old in America (and Michael Jackson) wanted to be friends with Macaulay Culkin. You really had to be there.

An entire generation of kids dreamed of being left behind on vacation after this John Hughes-penned comedy became one of the decade’s most smashing successes. Sure, the ultimate message is about the importance of family – and of doing a headcount before rushing to the airport to catch a flight to Paris – but it comes on the back of whole lot of little-kid wish fulfilment, as young Kevin McCallister (Culkin) spends Christmas alone in his giant suburban Chicago house, eating heaping bowls of ice cream, watching violent movies and beating the crud out of some bungling burglars. It’s just about the silliest thing Hughes ever put his name on, but it’s still a blast to watch as an adult – although it’ll make you realise the best part in the entire thing is John Candy’s (largely improvised) monologue about being abandoned by his parents in a funeral home as a kid.  MS

The Usual Suspects (1995)

16.  The Usual Suspects (1995)

Director  Bryan Singer

Cast  Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri

Most ’90s moment   The stomach-lurching scene at the end when Chazz Palminteri's cop drops his coffee cup as the penny drops about the identity of Keyser Söze.  

This is the movie that practically invented the spoiler alert. On paper, ‘The Usual Suspects’ looked like a straight-up heist movie: five crooks meet at a police line-up and plan a robbery. Of course there’s more to it than that.  It’s a cult classic, but the script was rejected by over 50 funders and studios, and was eventually shot in just 35 days by up-and-coming director Bryan Singer (now best known for ‘X-Men’). ‘The Usual Suspects’ went on to win two Oscars and spawn a gazillion ‘Keyser Söze’ t-shirts and posters. Bill Clinton is said to have kept a copy on Air Force One. Incidentally, the character of Keyser Söze was in part based on John List, who murdered his mother, wife and three children at their home in 1971 and went on the run for 18 years, assuming a new identity.  CC

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

17.  The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Director  Jonathan Demme

Cast  Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins Most ’90s moment  The depiction of transgenderism as somehow perverted and dangerous. Hey, it was a different time. English baddies had been a Hollywood staple since the silent era, but Anthony Hopkins raised it to a whole new level of lip-smacking, wall-chewing ham as Hannibal the Cannibal, the incarcerated flesh-gobbler who helps Foster’s budding FBI agent catch a serial killer. Amazingly, viewers took Hopkins’s performance seriously, he took home an Oscar and never really had to work hard for a role ever again. But the film still stands up brilliantly, walking a tightrope between Hammer-horror camp and genuine chills, and taking a smart, subtle slant on the role of women in law enforcement – and movies about it.  TH

Boogie Nights (1997)

18.  Boogie Nights (1997)

Director  Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast  Mark Wahlberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham

Most ’90s moment  At the end of the film we finally see Dirk Diggler’s huge manhood in all its, er, glory. It felt like a milestone at the time.

For many, this was the first film they saw by Paul Thomas Anderson, the writer-director who went on to help define leftfield American cinema in the 2000s with films including ‘Punch-Drunk Love’, ‘The Master’ and ‘Inherent Vice’. ‘Boogie Nights’ is an epic marvel: a tragicomic portrait of the late 1970s Californian porn industry, and the fate of one young man, Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg), who has an extremely large – and so extremely in-demand – penis. It’s a stylistic tour de force, blessed with a brilliant soundtrack and a cast to die for. It’s hard to watch it now and not feel extremely sad for the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays Scotty, a troubled boom operator romantically obsessed with Diggler. DC

Happy Gilmore (1996)

19.  Happy Gilmore (1996)

Director  Dennis Dugan

Cast  Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald Most ’90s moment  Sandler's soft-focus dream, complete with the leading lady in suspenders holding two tankards of beer.

No ’90s list would be complete without at least one Sandler movie, and the choice was conveniently narrowed by the fact that almost all of them are awful. In the end, it was a close-run race between this and the similarly wondrous 'The Wedding Singer', and while the latter is undoubtedly the smarter movie, 'Happy Gilmore' is just so gloriously silly it had to take the prize. The goofiest film of a seriously goofy career, it's a treasure trove of oddball characters, weirdo cameos, dumb-but-smart one-liners and outright surrealism. And Sandler's performance is just a delight, walking the perfect line between loveable, obnoxious and just plain nuts.  TH

Kids (1995)

20.  Kids (1995)

Director  Larry Clark

Cast  Leo Fitzpatrick, Chloe Sevigny

Most ’90s moment  The soundtrack’s artful blend of hip hop and indie rock is pure ’95.

Another tabloid bugbear (see also ‘Crash’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’). But for those of us who were actual teenagers when it came out, ‘Kids’ didn’t inspire us to go out there and have random, meaningless sex with anything that moved (chance would be a fine thing). If anything, it just made us insanely jealous because we weren’t wealthy, good looking and living in New York. Viewed now, ‘Kids’ feels like a museum piece, a snapshot of NYC before the gentrification really kicked in, and a portrait of a nation’s youth before cellphones and social media. And it’s oddly heartbreaking.  TH

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

21.  The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

  • Action and adventure

Director   Michael Mann

Cast   Daniel Day-Lewis, Russell Means

Most ’90s moment   The action takes place in 1757 – but that Enya-ish soundtrack gives it away.  

Daniel Day-Lewis hurtles through the forest in eighteenth-century America as Hawkeye, the son of English settlers adopted by Mohicans after his parents were killed. When he comes to the rescue of a British general’s daughter Cora (Madeleine Stowe), an epic romance unfolds – alongside some thrilling and bloody action from ‘Heat’ director Michael Mann. Back in 1992, everyone was still obsessed with Day-Lewis’s method acting. To play Hawkeye, he learned to skin animals and build canoes. 

Daniel Day-Lewis hurtles through the forest in eighteenth-century America as Hawkeye, the son of English settlers adopted by Mohicans after his parents were killed. When he comes to the rescue of a British general’s daughter Cora (Madeleine Stowe), an epic romance unfolds – alongside some thrilling and bloody action from ‘Heat’ director Michael Mann. Back in 1992, everyone was still obsessed with Day-Lewis’s method acting. To play Hawkeye, he learned to skin animals and build canoes.  CC

A Room for Romeo Brass (1999)

22.  A Room for Romeo Brass (1999)

Director Shane Meadows

Cast Andrew Shim, Ben Marshall, Paddy Considine

Most ’90s moment The sight of Paddy Considine shuffling across a playing field in his battered baseball cap.

Shane Meadows could be the best director of actors this country has ever produced: the performers in his films may be young, untrained and out of their depth, but every line somehow manages to feel real, honest, lived-in. Paddy Considine had never acted before he took the role of Morell, the emotionally disturbed man-child who first befriends, then divides, then terrorises a pair of suburban adolescents. But his performance is perfect – Morell may be a freak, but we've all met men like him and we know how dangerous they can be. At times, 'Romeo Brass' is less like watching a film and more like looking out the window, and that's brilliant.  TH

One False Move (1992)

23.  One False Move (1992)

Director Carl Franklin

Cast Bill Paxton, Cynda Williams, Billy Bob Thornton

Most ’90s moment Any scene showcasing Billy Bob Thornton's sleazy record-executive ponytail.

One of the least known films on our list, 'One False Move' is also one of the simplest: the straight story of a drug heist gone violently wrong, and a small-town Sheriff left to pick up the pieces. So what makes it so remarkable? Partly it's the performances: Paxton aches with disappointment as the hillbilly cop with ambitions he'll never get to fulfil; Williams toys gently with everyone around her, never as helpless as they think she is; and Thornton and Michael Beach are flat-out terrifying as a pair of psycho crooks. The writing is flawless, subtly raising the stakes until the tension is almost unbearable and it all starts to feel heartbreakingly real. Seek it out.  TH

La Haine (1995)

24.  La Haine (1995)

Director Mathieu Kassovitz

Cast Vincent Cassel, Saïd Taghmaoui, Hubert Koundé

Most ’90s moment Hubert painstakingly slicing up a block of hash in his bedroom.

Paris might be known as the ‘city of love’, but as the title of Matthieu Kassovitz’s critically lauded 1996 movie boldly declares, it’s not all macarons, haute couture and dainty pavement cafés. ‘La Haine’ translates as ‘The Hate’ and shows a side of Paris and its residents you won’t find in any guidebook. Focusing on three teenagers from the neglected ‘banlieues’ around the French capital’s edge on a nighttime journey across the city after being arrested for one of many skirmishes with police, ‘La Haine’ casts a black-and-white light on a Paris of crime, brutality, racism and neglect. It showed the world that, for those born on the wrong side of the tracks, the city of love is also the city of hate.  JC

Princess Mononoke (1997)

25.  Princess Mononoke (1997)

Director  Hayao Miyazaki

Cast  Claire Danes, Billy Crudup (English dub voices) Most ’90s moment  The finale: the forest is restored and nature rebalanced. Eat your heart out, Disney Renaissance!

War, ecological collapse, writhing demons and a whole load of severed heads. After an early-’90s run of quirky fantasies, Studio Ghibli proved it could still do epic darkness with ‘Princess Mononoke’. A cursed prince journeys across medieval Japan to lift a spell, and ends up helping a half-feral princess defeat the forces of human greed and industry and saving an ancient forest. But this is not a simple tree-hugging fable: the power of ‘Princess Mononoke’ is that there are no easy answers, even in a world of magic.  James Manning

Raining Stones (1993)

26.  Raining Stones (1993)

Director   Ken Loach

Cast   Ricky Tomlinson, Bruce Jones

Most ’90s moment   The general post-1980s gloom.

The career of veteran British director Ken Loach (‘Kes’) began a productive second chapter in the early 1990s (he’d spent most of the 1980s struggling to get anything made). ‘Raining Stones’ is the sometimes funny but mostly deeply tragic story of a man, Bob (Bruce Jones), trying to make ends meet in a Yorkshire community decimated by the collapse of traditional industries under Margaret Thatcher. Things escalate dangerously when Bob takes desperate measures to find the money to buy a dress for his daughter’s first holy communion. In the 23 years since, Loach has continued to make compassionate and powerful films about similar characters – the sort too rarely seen on the big screen.   DC

Starship Troopers (1997)

27.  Starship Troopers (1997)

Director  Paul Verhoeven

Cast  Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards Most ’90s moment  The insanely militaristic ‘newsflash’ inserts, reflecting the rise of Fox News. Science fiction has always relished satire, but rarely has it been served as raw as in Paul Verhoeven’s batshit Gulf War pastiche, in which a group of chiseled, rough-‘n’-tough marines are dispatched to the desert to pre-emptively strike against a faceless, little-understood enemy, only to find themselves in very deep shit. The still-stunning special effects coupled with Verhoeven’s penchant for throat-grabbing ultraviolence ensure a high entertainment value, but it’s the fascist overtones that make ‘Starship Trooper’s resonate. Still, some scenes that seemed funny at the time – like Neil Patrick Harris in full Gestapo gear lecturing platoons of 15-year-old boy soldiers – feel a little too close to the bone in the age of Trump.  TH

True Romance (1993)

28.  True Romance (1993)

Director  Tony Scott Cast  Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette

Most ’90s moment  Where to start? Probably with the fact that Christian Slater plays a comic-book nerd who can’t get a date. Sure…

If you’re searching for the roots of aggressive nerd-dom, you could do worse than take a look at Quentin Tarantino and Tony Scott’s dizzy slice of hipster trash magic. In Clarence, the loveable but lonely comic geek who kills a drug dealer, steals his stash and embarks on a coast-to-coast road trip with the woman of his dreams, we see the geek’s greatest wish made real – no wonder they’re no longer satisfied with tech jobs, but feel the urge to plaster their frustrated fantasies all over the internet. Still, it’s not Scott’s fault, and only a little bit Tarantino’s – and ‘True Romance’ is still giddily, uproariously wonderful.  TH

Crash (1996)

29.  Crash (1996)

Director  David Cronenberg

Cast  James Spader, Holly Hunter Most ’90s moment  When the Daily Mail had a total meltdown and the film got banned in Westminster.

It's almost unbelievable that, on release, Cronenberg was repeatedly forced to explain in interviews that his film was a black comedy inspired by a work of classic English literature and not an exhortation to go and fuck in car wrecks. The mid-90s was a time of almost unparalleled tabloid frenzy – they'd already managed to ban 'Reservoir Dogs', 'Child's Play 3' and 'Man Bites Dog' – but the furore over 'Crash' was the most idiotic of all. Because the film isn't – and was never meant to be – particularly shocking. This is a work of sleek, otherworldly science fiction. Transcendent and gorgeously strange, simultaneously an attack on and a celebration of shallowness, self-gratification and yuppie values. It's damn funny, too.  TH

A Taste of Cherry (1997)

30.  A Taste of Cherry (1997)

Director   Abbas Kiarostami

Cast   Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari, Safar Ali Moradi, Mir Hossein Noori

Most ’90s moment   The enigmatic final scene, in which Kiarostami gives a glimpse into the making of the film.

Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami – who died in July 2016 – is heralded as one of the world’s most poetic and intelligent filmmakers. This haunting and thought-provoking film, which won the Palme d’Or in 1997, might just be his masterpiece. A middle-aged man drives around the outskirts of Tehran trying to find someone to help him, but his request is a morbid one: he wants to kill himself and is looking for an accomplice to throw soil on his body. Minimalist in approach but rich in subject matter, this a deep, complex look at humanity that slowly takes hold and is hard to shake off.   GT

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)

31.  Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)

Director  David Lynch

Cast  Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise Most ’90s moment  David Bowie teleports into the middle of a scene and starts bellowing about Judy in a ropey Louisiana accent. Cheers, Dave. Controversially, we've selected David Lynch's prequel to his groundbreaking TV series over its better-reviewed bookends 'Wild at Heart' and 'Lost Highway', partly because 'Twin Peaks' the series remains a defining work of 90s art, and partly because for some people – this writer included – it's his masterpiece. The tale of how doomed homecoming queen Laura Palmer confronts the demon that has invaded her family home and how her resistance to these dark supernatural forces results in her death, this was Lynch's most unfettered and emotional work since 'The Elephant Man', a film of pure, head-spinning sensation. Oh, and it has the best soundtrack of all time.  TH

Show Me Love (1998)

32.  Show Me Love (1998)

Director Lukas Moodysson

Cast Alexandra Dahlstrom, Rebecka Liljeberg

Most ’90s moment Two girls set out to hike from their home town of Amal to the bright lights of Stockholm, and get as far as the end of the street.

It's easy to overlook how massively the representation of gay characters developed during the 1990s – things were already improving, but the tectonic shift from screeching stereotypes to just regular people definitely gathered pace across the decade. Lukas Moodysson's heartfelt, effortlessly lovely coming of age drama is a prime example: the fact that his central characters are gay is almost less important than the fact that they're outsiders, bonded by a hatred of small minds and small towns – after all, the Swedish title of the film is 'Fucking Åmål'.  TH

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

33.  The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Director: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez

Cast: Heather Donahue, Michael C Williams, Joshua Leonard

Most ’90s moment: Hey, remember when not all handheld video cameras were iPhone quality?

When The Blair Witch Project first hit theatres, it was common to walk out of a screening and overhear grumbling. ‘That’s it?’ ‘What even was that?’ ‘I don’t think that was real, bro’. It’s understandable: audiences had never really seen a movie like it before, and most couldn’t figure out what they just saw. While it wasn’t the first film to use the found footage concept, the producers had built its entire marketing campaign around presenting the movie as the literal remnants of three amateur filmmakers who disappeared in the Maryland woods while investigating a local myth. As such, it needed to feel as legit as possible, which meant non-cinematic camerawork, improvised dialogue and long stretches where not much happens. When viewers caught on that they were not, in fact, watching an actual snuff film, many felt bamboozled. Decades removed from the hype, though, it’s easier to appreciate The Blair Witch as a masterclass in atmospheric, no-budget horror. If there’s a scarier moment in the last 20 years than when those childrens’ hands imprint on the tent, it probably cost a hell of a lot more money to create.  MS

The Big Lebowski (1998)

34.  The Big Lebowski (1998)

Director   Joel Coen

Cast   Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston.

Most ’90s moment   With his skin-tight trousers and facial fur, John Turturro (as Lebowski’s arch bowling nemesis Jesus Quintana) was the undoubted blueprint for noughties hipsterdom.

Is there a more ’90s character than The Dude? Jeff Bridges’s dressing gown-wearing, white russian-drinking washout is a hero for the slacker generation. In a case of mistaken identity, he becomes embroiled in a bizarre, increasingly complex caper with his bowling team buddies in tow. The dialogue is sharp and unrelentingly funny, and the twists become more surreal and joyful as the film goes on. It did so-so at the box office but today it’s the definition of a cult classic, spawning an annual festival and even a religion called Dudeism.   GT

Jurassic Park (1993)

35.  Jurassic Park (1993)

Director  Steven Spielberg

Cast  Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum Most ’90s moment  The first Brachiosaurus reveal is a nothing-would-ever-be-the-same-again moment in digital effects technology.

For a film that was made nearly 30 years ago, the digital effects in ‘Jurassic Park’ have stood the test of time. Sure, there are odd moments where the dinosaurs look like something from a Windows 95 screensaver, but there are many more examples where you’d be hard pressed to differentiate this three-decade old blockbuster from what’s being released today. The T-rex chase, for example, is every bit as thrilling as it was in 1993, while the scene with the Velociraptors in the kitchen is still a masterclass in nail-biting horror. But these have more to do with Steven Spiellberg’s skill for spectacle and his sense of showmanship than CGI: like the best kind of theme-park ride, he cranks up the tension to breaking point, then lets all hell break loose.

Audition (1999)

36.  Audition (1999)

Director  Takashi Miike

Cast  Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina Most ’90s moment  The audition itself, as women line up to be questioned and inspected by our 'hero'. One of the best horror films of the 1990s begins almost like a comedy. In Japan, an unenlightened middle-aged widower, egged on by his teenage son and TV-producer friend, decides to find a new wife. But how? Easy: set up a fake audition for young, single girls. His whirlwind romance with the 'winner', a dainty little geisha-girl, slowly goes from sweet to unrelentingly horrifying. There are images here you'll never, ever be able to wipe from your mind.  TH

Dead Man (1995)

37.  Dead Man (1995)

Director  Jim Jarmusch

Cast  Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer Most ’90s moment  Any of the shots of Johnny Depp’s face in repose, looking absurdly, ’90s-ish-ly beautiful. Jim Jarmusch took his drawling, stoner-y indie-hipster schtick out to the Old West, added a hefty dollop of hazy spirituality, sprinkles of harsh, abrupt violence, a rumbling Neil Young soundtrack and the world’s prettiest man, and hey presto: a masterpiece. Like its heroes, befuddled settler William Blake and irascible Native American tracker Nobody, ‘Dead Man’ keeps its own pace, wandering episodically through a monochrome wilderness populated by outlaws, lawmen, tribal elders and Iggy Pop in a dress. Surrender to its oblique, unique charms, and you’ll be transported.  TH

Beau Travail (1999)

38.  Beau Travail (1999)

Director  Claire Denis

Cast  Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin

Most ’90s moment  The film is pretty timeless. More obviously ’90s are the adverts that star Denis Lavant made for Stella Artois (back when Stella was the best-quality beer you could find on tap).

If you were a teenager who fell in love with arthouse movies in the ’90s, French auteur Claire Denis’s extraordinary Foreign Legion drama might well be one of the first subtitled films you watched. Not that you really need subtitles for this virtually dialogue-free ballet of a movie set in the East African state of Djibouti. Denis Lavant is Galoup, an ex-soldier who is in a bar in Marseilles recalling the power struggle with a new recruit that led to his recent court-martial. If you’ve never seen it, this haunting and beautiful film will blow you away.   CC

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

39.  10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Director Gil Junger

Cast Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Most ’90s moment Alt-rockers Letters to Cleo playing the high school prom.

The ’90s were full of high school remakes of Shakespeare plays, but this ‘Taming of the Shrew’-inspired romcom has more fire in its belly than all of them put together. Heath Ledger’s bad boy Patrick is paid to seduce angry feminist Kat (Stiles) before accidentally falling in love with her. While that sounds ridiculous, the story is actually full of painfully realistic teen awkwardness. Heath Ledger’s off-pitch performance of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ (bellowed through a loudspeaker on the sports stands) is to the ’90s what John Cusack standing in the garden with a boombox is to the ’80s.  KL

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996)

40.  William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Director   Baz Luhrmann

Cast   Claire Danes, Leonardo DiCaprio

Most ’90s moment   Impossibly beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio peering through the fish tank.

Best line   ‘I never saw true beauty ’til this night.’

It was a match made in ’90s indie heaven. Claire Danes was the girl in Doc Martens from ‘My So-Called Life’. Leonardo DiCaprio was the kid from ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ (this was pre Leomania, pre-Pussy Posse and pre-‘Titanic’). The pair were perfect for Baz Luhrmann’s retelling of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the MTV generation – with added guns, hip hop and fast editing. Still, ‘Romeo + Juliet’ never loses sight of the heart of Shakespeare’s tale – and it’s impossible to watch the death scene without tissues.  CC

Point Break (1991)

41.  Point Break (1991)

Director  Kathryn Bigelow

Cast  Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey Most ’90s moment  Keanu and Swayze’s wrestle in the surf, a moment of sweetly innocent homoerotic macho-bondo glory.

Guys, huh? Always hitting things, shooting things, jumping out of things and sticking things up at gunpoint. Still, you gotta love ‘em. At least, that’s the attitude taken by Bigelow’s peerless surfin’ ‘n’ skydivin’ classic, a film that takes the masculine movie stereotypes we‘re all familiar with – the rookie cop, the wise guru, the salty old-timer – and has a fond, good-natured chuckle at their expense. That Bigelow pulls this off while at the same time delivering full-throttle thrills and just a hint of genderbending is what makes ‘Point Break’ a near-perfect pleasure. Just stay the hell away from that disastrous remake.  TH

Festen (The Celebration) (1998)

42.  Festen (The Celebration) (1998)

Director   Thomas Vinterberg

Cast   Ulrich Thomsen, Henning Moritzen, Thomas Bo Larsen

Most ’90s moment   The wobbly camera work.

For many filmgoers, this Danish film by Thomas Vinterberg (made adhering to the radical filmmaking rules of the Dogme 95 manifesto) was their first taste of the sort of shaky-cam digital filming style that would become entirely mainstream. ‘Festen’ is a disturbing portrait of a country-house family reunion where all sorts of skeletons come tumbling out of the cupboards. The lightweight digital cameras meant Vinterberg and his crew could wander easily in and out of rooms, and the results feel strikingly immediate and intimate, giving the story the feel of a raw documentary or someone else’s horrible home movie that we’ve stumbled on by accident and really shouldn’t really be watching.   DC

Rushmore (1998)

43.  Rushmore (1998)

Director  Wes Anderson

Cast  Jason Schwartzmann, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams Most ’90s moment  This is a film that exists outside of time – but that, in itself, is kinda ’90s. For many of us, this was our first exposure to the world of Wes Anderson – and we’d have been quite happy to pack up and move there permanently. ‘Rushmore’ remains arguably his most perfectly imagined film, toying with the conventions of the high school movie but taking them into all sorts of obscure, inventive, bizarrely resonant new directions. The script crackles (‘OR they?’), the characters balance between complete loveliness and obnoxious self-involvement, the British invasion soundtrack is spookily spot-on and the whole film just sings with life and wit and strangeness.  TH

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

44.  The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Director  Frank Darabont

Cast  Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton Most ’90s moment  It’s set in the mid-’60s, but that famous post-escape rain shot sure does look like a Bryan Adams video.

Tom Hanks was one of several leading men who said no to ‘Shawshank’. So it fell to Tim Robbins to put in a career-high performance, as an ordinary guy whose inner strength emerges under the horrific pressure of the US penal system. Morgan Freeman’s hollow-eyed con and Bob Gunton as a psychopathic warden complete the dramatic triangle in one of the greatest Hollywood films of its era – albeit one that seriously flunks the Bechdel test.  JM

Clueless (1995)

45.  Clueless (1995)

Director  Amy Heckerling

Cast  Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd

Most ’90s moment  Brittany Murphy dancing to ‘Rollin’ With My Homies’ in a crop top, choker and tartan jacket.  

You might think ‘Clueless’ isn’t very realistic. But you’re missing the point. This teen classic starts with Cher (Alicia Silverstone) picking her outfit from a hi-tech digital wardrobe and ends with her hooking up with her step-brother. It’s supposed to be over-the-top. In fact, it takes the plot of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ and uses it to paint the perfect parody of the pains of high school: popularity, virginity, touchy-feely douchebags and friendship. Plus, the script is full of LA sass: ‘Ugh, as if!’  KL

Naked (1993)

46.  Naked (1993)

Director   Mike Leigh

Cast   David Thewlis, Katrin Cartlidge, Peter Wight

Most ’90s moment  When David Thewlis’s Johnny shares his paranoid world views with a deep-thinking security guard late at night – including his belief that the world will end in 1999.

Until 1993’s ‘Naked’, British director Mike Leigh was seen by many as a director of television plays, and especially the 1970s ones that made his name, including ‘Nuts in May’ and ‘Abigail’s Party’. ‘Naked’ was in fact Leigh’s fourth film for cinema, but there was something newly cinematic about it – it had a dark, brooding, dangerous energy not seen in his work before. Wild-eyed and intense, Johnny (David Thewlis) is a man apart from mainstream society – a drifter who flees Manchester after attacking a woman and who turns up at his ex-girlfriend’s Dalston flat before embarking on a long, dark night of soul on London’s streets. The result is angry, disturbing and oddly funny. It’s clearly a darkly personal work, but it also stands as a moody, poetic state-of-the-post-Thatcher-nation scream into the void.   DC

Groundhog Day (1993)

47.  Groundhog Day (1993)

Director   Harold Ramis

Cast   Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell

Most ’90s moment   Andie MacDowell’s pastel knits. Only in the ’90s.   

In the most Bill Murray-ish role of his career, Bill Murray plays a cynical TV weatherman cursed to relive the same day   every   day in smalltown Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. An absolute classic, the funny thing about ‘Groundhog Day’ is that that it could have been made anytime in the past 70 years. It’s a near-perfect movie, smart, funny and warm, packed with a few home truths: life is groundhoggy, boring and repetitive, but a little kindness and love go a long way.   CC

Trainspotting (1996)

48.  Trainspotting (1996)

Director  Danny Boyle

Cast  Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle

Most ’90s moment  Ewan McGregor crosses Waterloo Bridge into a bright Blairite future – soundtracked by Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy (NUXX)’. There’s a reason why we’re all still hooked on ‘Trainspotting’ – as Begbie might have put it, it’s pure fuckin’ brilliant. Danny Boyle trimmed down Irvine Welsh’s sprawling novel into a manically wired hallucinogenic caper. But it’s easy to forget that for all its quotable screenplay, banging soundtrack and stylised camera work, ‘Trainspotting’ packs a serious emotional punch. ‘First it’s fun, then it isn’t, then it’s hell,’ said John Cooper Clarke on the subject of heroin, and ‘Trainspotting’ charts that course like no other film.  JM

The Thin Red Line (1998)

49.  The Thin Red Line (1998)

Director  Terrence Malick

Cast  Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Adrien Brody Most ’90s moment  John Cusack pops up, destroys a nest of Japanese snipers then pops off again.

Best line  'Do you imagine your suffering will be any less because you loved goodness and truth?' It was the comeback no one saw coming: after two decades in the wilderness, 'Badlands' director Malick re-emerged with a film that could have been made by no other artist, anywhere, ever. Taking the bare bones of James Jones's novel about the American invasion of Guadalcanal, stuffing it with Hollywood's finest actors and transforming it into a meandering essay on mortality, morality and existence, Malick proved that big-budget experimental cinema hadn't died in the late 70s. The fact that he's since been making variations on the same theme with steadily decreasing results hasn't dented the unearthly power of this immense film.  TH

Magnolia (1999)

50.  Magnolia (1999)

Cast  Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, John C Reilly Most ’90s moment  Tom Cruise's berserk 'respect the cock!' seminar.

The No 1 film on our list has everything: indie smarts, blockbuster stars, grand ideas, big laughs, high drama, heartrending tragedy, deep empathy, gobsmacking performances, beautiful songs and raining frogs. Paul Thomas Anderson’s intimate epic sprawls like LA itself, in every direction at once, piling story upon story: Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a live-in nurse to a dying man; William H Macy is an ageing, in-the-closet former child genius; Tom Cruise gives the performance of a lifetime as a testosterone-crazed motivational speaker. And through it all weave Aimee Mann's songs, adding light and melody to Anderson's ambitious, risk-taking, raw, honest, vicious, imperfect and unashamedly emotional character drama.   TH

More '90s nostalgia

The 100 best teen movies

The 100 best teen movies

It’s possible that no other genre of film hits home for people the way teen movies do. There’s a sense of nostalgia for these movies, even if they don’t mirror our particular adolescent experience. Whether you suffered or sailed through your teenage years, there’s a film on this list of the 100 best teen movies you’ll relate to...

The 50 best ’90s songs

The 50 best ’90s songs

Welcome to our round-up of the very best ’90s songs...

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Movie Reviews

Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, ebert & scorsese: best films of the 1990s.

imdb movies 90s

Ebert's 10 best:

1. " Hoop Dreams "

2. " Pulp Fiction "

3. " GoodFellas "

4. " Fargo "

5. "Three Colors Trilogy": " Blue ," " White ," and " Red "

6. " Schindler's List "

7. " Breaking the Waves "

8. " Leaving Las Vegas "

9. " Malcolm X "

10. " JFK "

Scorsese's 10 best:

1. "Horse Thief"

2. " The Thin Red Line "

3. "A Borrowed Life"

4. " Eyes Wide Shut "

5. " Bad Lieutenant "

6. " Breaking the Waves "

7. " Bottle Rocket "

8. " Crash "

9. " Fargo "

10. " Malcolm X " and " Heat " (tie)

Ebert's Best Film Lists1967 - present

GUEST CRITIC: MARTIN SCORSESE, DIRECTOR

TAPE DATE: 12/99 AIR DATE: 2/26/00

ROGER EBERT (ON CAMERA): Coming up next, filmmaker Martin Scorsese joins me to pick the best films of the 1990s.

ROGER EBERT: " Fargo ," " The Thin Red Line ," " Pulp Fiction ." At the end of the first century of film, one of America's greatest filmmakers joins me to select the top ten films of the 1990s. I'm Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times . And on this special edition, I'll be joined by the director whose films " Taxi Driver " and " Raging Bull " were voted by many groups as the best films of the 1970s and the 1980s.

MARTIN SCORSESE: I'm Martin Scorsese. Hello. And thank you Roger for bringing me back to Chicago and the snow.

ROGER: You know, in the film business we kind of came in together because at my first Chicago film festival, in 1967, I reviewed your first film. And I predicted in that article that you would be a great director, and boy, was I right! And on today's show, we're going to review the top four films on our separate lists, and then list our top ten films of the decade. So let's start with my Number 4 film, which is " Fargo ," from 1996, by Joel and Ethan Coen . And here are two of everyone's favorite performances from the decade- Frances McDormand as a very pregnant police chief, questioning William H. Macy , as a very nervous car salesman who is up to his neck in a false kidnapping.

ROGER: The most remarkable thing about " Fargo " is the way it combines a genuinely exciting and ingenious crime plot with such a good-hearted portrait of a plucky policewoman. And the photography makes the weather into a character, too--that cold white snowy wasteland where cars won't start and even the cops wear Elmer Fudd hats. " Fargo " -- one of the best films of the decade.

MARTIN: I loved the picture, especially the scene you just showed, the wonderful interrogation scene and the wonderful performances by everybody in the picture, Macy and McDormand. And particularly Macy's kind of passive-aggressive character. I liked the whole picture, because it's sort of a, it's a comedy of manners. It's a movie that once it's on, if it's on television I'll keep watching the whole thing. I get caught up in it. And there's also that wonderful scene with this Asian-American guy. Everyone else seems to be holding back their emotions and this guy completely disintegrates

ROGER: "I'll sit over here with you," and she says

MARTIN: “I think you better sit.”

ROGER: "No I think you better sit back over there." But then the next morning she calls her friend and she finds out everything that guy told her was a lie and that's when she decides to go back and talk to Macy again in the scene we just saw --

MARTIN: Exactly. Exactly.

ROGER: -- because she realizes maybe this guy was lying too. And that's her entry into the whole case.

MARTIN: Yeah. And the photography was wonderful. Roger Deakins . Beautiful stuff.

ROGER: Yes it is.

MARTIN: My Number 4 film is " Eyes Wide Shut ," Stanley Kubrick 's last, which was released in July of 1999 and it stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a happily married couple who realize, thanks to a conversation that begins very casually, just how fragile the bond between them actually is. This sets Cruise's character off on a real odyssey.

The key stop on his journey is a Long Island mansion, where a bizarre secret ceremony is underway.

MARTIN: I think a lot of people were looking at " Eyes Wide Shut " from the wrong angle - it's not to be taken literally. It's Manhattan as you'd experience it in a dream, where everything feels familiar but very strange. And I think " Eyes Wide Shut " is a profound film about love, sex, and trust in a marriage, about learning to take things day by day, and either accepting or ignoring whatever unpleasant truths come along. It's also a film I cherish because it puts you in the authoritative hands of an old master, with a style that flies in the face of every modern convention.

ROGER: It does. And, you know, people put it up to this test of reality as if that means anything.

MARTIN: I know.

ROGER: I got e-mail from people saying, "Well, you could see that there was an English sign in the window of one of the stores," or "It wasn't really shot" or "There's no street in Manhattan that's that narrow or doesn't have any traffic." Of course there isn't. You know, I've got news for them, " Rear Window " wasn't shot in a real city either.

ROGER: The whole point is that you elevate the material with your style into something special. Otherwise just go out and visit New York if that's what you want to see.

MARTIN: Exactly. Exactly. And there are all kinds of clues in the film as to that in a way, because you really take a journey inside Tom Cruise's mind in a way. And this wonderful sense of sexuality and guilt and unpleasant discoveries and the journey the marriage has to take, all building up to the last line, which is a beauty.

ROGER: Yes it is. Yeah, it's a great film.

MARTIN: Continuing our special show on the best movies of the '90s, my choice for Number 3 is a 1994 Taiwanese film called "A Borrowed Life," directed by Wu Nien-jen. The Chinese title is “Do-sang," which means "Father." It's an autobiographical story about a poor family in the Taiwanese countryside during the 1950s, right after the end of Japanese rule and the nationalist secession from the mainland.

MARTIN: The camera remains still, it lives with the characters, and it observes their most difficult emotional interactions with a restraint that often becomes painful. This is a movie that forces you to re-think how you view movies. If you go with it, if it clicks for you, the results are very rewarding.

ROGER: The camera holds back, it doesn't become a protagonist along with the characters. And here's the mother --

MARTIN: Yeah.

ROGER: -- and here's the father --

ROGER: -- and here's the kid.

ROGER: It says here they all are and here is this period of time they're living through and you begin to realize that you're like another observer there in their house.

MARTIN: Exactly. You become part of the family --

ROGER: Yes.

MARTIN: -- whether you like it or not. Because the picture has a lot of domestic violence in it. In fact, in one scene the camera's inside the house and the husband and wife go outdoors and you hear them fighting outside. The camera stays inside and in a way you don't want to go out there, but you're part of the family.

ROGER: It stays inside, like the narrator who was the little boy --

MARTIN: -- as a little boy. Yeah.

ROGER: -- and he probably stayed inside and he heard his parents fighting and this has made an impression on him.

MARTIN: And it's a true story. I mean, this writer-director is the writer for Hou Hsiao-hsien's films "Dust in the Wind" and "The Puppetmaster." And I think "Dust in the Wind" is the same story from the other point of view.

ROGER: Okay. Now for my Number 3 film, which is named " GoodFellas ," from 1990, by -- Martin Scorsese. It's based on the life of Henry Hill, a mid-level professional criminal who told his story from the safety of the witness protection program. And Henry Hill knows the mob from the inside out, but so I think in a way, do you, Marty. I think this scene that we're looking at now may be based as much on your childhood as on Henry Hill's, since you grew up in New York's Little Italy and observed the local characters at first hand. " GoodFellas " stars Ray Liotta as Hill, and Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci as two of Henry Hill's associates in crime, in a world where good-natured kidding can turn in the flash of a moment to sudden violence.

ROGER: The visual style of " GoodFellas " subtly keys off the movie styles of the decades it considers, and the rhythm relentlessly builds, until at the end, as Henry Hill senses capture growing closer, we realize we're breathlessly running right along with him. " GoodFellas " combines wisdom about human nature with a spellbinding story, and it's one of the best films of the '90s.

MARTIN: Thank you. I don't have much crosstalk on this one so…

ROGER: Is it true that you tried to reflect in the various decades of the film the way that the movies from those decades more or less looked?

MARTIN: In a way yeah, particularly, but I really tried to take care of that in the costuming and the set decoration really. That's the main thing. And music of course.

ROGER: To me the most remarkable thing about the film is the way that without really calling our attention to it you get us all wound up with tension at the end when he realizes that the net is drawing closer.

ROGER: And he's trying to just go through the daily tasks of an ordinary day --

MARTIN: Yes.

ROGER: -- and it's not.

MARTIN: Well, the whole lifestyle has destroyed him, especially the drug taking. He believes helicopters are chasing him, well they become just as important as the tomato sauce. Now something's wrong. All the priorities are upside down and that's I wanted to give the people in the audience who never had a feeling of paranoia like that or the feeling of paranoia whether it was induced by reality or by drugs, I wanted to give them that impression of what it feels like.

ROGER: It's remarkable that anything can be more important than the tomato sauce.

MARTIN: I would go for the sauce of course, naturally.

Segment III ROGER: Continuing this special show, Martin Scorsese and I make our personal selections of the best films of the 1990s. And the Number 2 film on my list is possibly the most influential film of the decade, Quentin Tarantino 's " Pulp Fiction ," from 1994. The movie looped through time to tell parallel stories involving two-bit criminals, broken-down boxers, low-level drug dealers, gangsters' girlfriends and hit men, in a movie that combined sudden bursts of action with ironic comedy, parody, and characters who loved to make small talk on their way to big moments.

ROGER: If you follow the characters through the loop-the-loop of the plot, you also find that most of them do find personal redemption in one way or another so that " Pulp Fiction " becomes a comedy masquerading as hard-boiled. And it's a complete original, which unfortunately inspired way too many other young filmmakers to write way too much Tarantinian dialog. They knew the words, but not the music.

MARTIN: What I love about the picture is the structure, the way he tells the story, the many different stories and literally the humor, the irony and all based on the bedrock of the American pop culture. Which threw me at first in terms of … at first I approached the picture as a kind of realistic film in a way or naturalist. Not naturalistic, but realistic in the way these people would behave. But who are these people? I've never met people like this.

ROGER: You know, Paul Schrader , who has written four of your films, was telling me that he feels in the '90s that existentialism, the idea of what we do with our lives, has been replaced by irony so that everything has quotation marks around it. Your films are not in quotation marks, they are meant. Do you feel any urge at all to start using the quotation marks or is it just

MARTIN: Oh no. Never.

ROGER: Alien to you as a filmmaker.

MARTIN: No, no I just can't. I just have to be attracted to the material, really the characters; the morality of the characters is what I'm interested in. And how one deals with morality in today's world.

ROGER: And " Pulp Fiction " isn't really about morality at all.

MARTIN: No. My choice for Number 2 is Terrence Malick 's adaptation of James Jones' novel, " The Thin Red Line ." There are many great actors in this movie, including Sean Penn , Nick Nolte , John Savage , Jim Caviezel and others, but there's no star. The film has a deliberately loose structure, and the story is told through multiple voiceovers and points of view. " The Thin Red Line " is actually the story of every soldier who took part in the endless battle to secure Guadalcanal.

MARTIN: " The Thin Red Line " works very differently from most films. As you watch it you wonder: What is narrative in movies? Is it everything, and if so, is there only one way to handle it? I realize now that each of the four top movies on my list moves at a very slow tempo. If Malick had just done a straightforward narrative, could he ever have achieved the kind of poetry he does here, or made a film where you really come to see the world as a primeval place? I don't think so.

ROGER: You know, I was thinking that, too, about your top four films, because in your films characters are very much in the foreground. Your films are about people --

ROGER: -- and about their souls, their guilt, their anguish. And here these people are at arms length. I loved the film too, because once again though its kind of like a dream. The narrator comes down from above and thinks about this material, rather than really being up to his neck in it.

MARTIN: Well, it takes you to a place in time. It takes you to a place You begin to think about you know, what are we as human beings, what are these soldiers doing on this primeval island?

ROGER: Do you think that audiences are open-minded when they see a film that doesn't play just like a standard TV movie?

MARTIN: No, I'm worried that they're not at this point. That's what worries me.

ROGER: Yeah. I worry about that, too.

MARTIN: I'm very worried. That's why I think " The Thin Red Line " is so important. You could come in the middle of it, you can watch it. It's almost like an endless picture. It has no beginning and no end. People say, "Well, sometimes I can't tell whose voiceover it is." It doesn't matter. It's everybody's voiceover.

MARTIN: Now I'm cheating a bit with my choice for the Number 1 film in the '90s, because it was actually made in '86. But it didn't really become widely known in the United States until the early '90s, which is when I saw it for the first time. It's called "Horse Thief," and it was made in Tibet by the mainland Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang. The story of the film is as simple and elemental as the lives of the people it depicts: a man is ostracized from his tribe for stealing horses, his living conditions become so severe that his son dies, he repents and is accepted back into the fold, and he's forced to steal horses again to keep his second child alive.

MARTIN: Now, I have a great interest in anthropology, and Tian takes you inside a culture that, initially, felt as distant to me as the surface of the moon. And because he stays so simple and so specific, the point of view becomes universal. This is what life is all about: struggling to keep your family alive. "Horse Thief" was a real inspiration to me. It's that rare thing: a genuinely transcendental film.

ROGER: This movie is like an Italian neo-realist film. It made me think of " The Bicycle Thief ," although it's more despairing even than " The Bicycle Thief ." It's about people who are hungry and who are cold. He's walking around in the snow barefoot at one time. And his choice is be a horse thief or be dead you know, be a horse thief or my child starves and he's already lost one child.

MARTIN: Right.

ROGER: And he's up against the absolute extremities of economic desperation.

MARTIN: Yeah. The director made " The Blue Kite ," back in '93, right afterwards, which is a similar way into that society a very interesting way, where he shows you the microcosm and you get the whole macrocosm from it. Unfortunately since then he hasn't been making pictures in mainland China.

ROGER: Maybe because he was too perceptive in these two films.

ROGER: That's the problem in China. We get great films out of China, then their directors suddenly have to retire.

MARTIN: Can't work. Yeah, exactly.

ROGER: But we have so many of these second hand pop images of China which are totally irrelevant. When you look at a film like this you realize these are people leading their daily lives. This is the information we don't have when we look at the news --

MARTIN: Exactly.

ROGER: -- or when we try to make sense out of the newspaper.

ROGER: Okay. Now for my Number 1 film of the 1990s, and my choice isn't a fiction film, although it plays like one, but a documentary, named " Hoop Dreams ," from 1994. It started as a half-hour documentary about two inner city kids named William Gates and Arthur Agee, who were promising basketball players in junior high school. But then the film just kept on growing as it followed their lives covering almost five years --as they're both recruited by a suburban high school basketball powerhouse, and fate makes a twist in their destinies.

ROGER: To me the greatest value of film is that it helps us break out of our boxes of time and space, and empathize with other people -- it lets us walk in someone else's shoes. " Hoop Dreams ," made by Steve James , Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert, gave me that gift.

MARTIN: Well, I think it's a extraordinary film. I mean, you have real people becoming dramatic characters. You follow their lives like everyone's life I think is a drama in a way. And the dedication of the filmmakers was remarkable. It reminds me Goes back to Flaherty where they live with the people and stay with them for years. Again, this is a new way, a new interesting look at story telling. And what's great too is you begin to see the relationships in the family and how they change, the boy and his father.

ROGER: When we reviewed the movie on this show Gene Siskel said that the best scene for him was where the mother turns out to have been attending nursing school --

MARTIN: Oh, that was a great scene!

ROGER: -- and she has her graduation. And he says, "That's where the crowd should have been, not at the basketball game.”

MARTIN: Just catches you, that scene.

ROGER: Martin Scorsese and I have discussed the top four titles on our lists of the best films of the 1990s, and now let's go through our complete lists.

Number 10 on my list -- Oliver Stone's " JFK ," a dazzling stylistic recreation of the paranoia, suspicion and mystery that still surround the Kennedy assassination.

Number 9 -- Spike Lee 's " Malcolm X ," with Denzel Washington's great performance as the charismatic black leader who provided an angrier and more radical alternative to the voice of Martin Luther King.

Number 8 -- " Leaving Las Vegas ," with its great performances by Nicholas Cage as a suicidal alcoholic, and Elisabeth Shue as the Las Vegas call girl who gently accompanies him on his doomed final journey.

Number 7 -- Lars von Trier 's " Breaking the Waves ," with Emily Watson as a simple Scottish girl from a repressive background, and Stellan Skarsgard as the oil rig worker who makes her dizzy with love.

Number 6 -- of the decade's best films, Steven Spielberg's " Schindler's List ," with Liam Neeson as a daring and good-hearted man who saves the lives of 11-hundred Jews by conning the Nazis with their own cruel rules.

Number 5 -- Is a trilogy: Krzysztof Kieslowski's “Three Colors Trilogy”: " Red ," " Blue " and " White ," interlocking works that dealt with the way our lives are lived at the mercy of fate, coincidence and blind chance.

And briefly again, my Number 4 -- film was " Fargo ," by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Number 3 --on my list was Martin Scorsese's " GoodFellas ."

Number 2 -- was Quentin Tarantino 's " Pulp Fiction ."

And my choice as the best film of the 1990s was Steve James' documentary " Hoop Dreams ."

MARTIN: Here's my complete top ten complete list.

Number 10 -- is a tie between two modern American epics. The first is Spike Lee 's " Malcolm X ," a biography of one of our most daring political leaders, the second: Michael Mann's " Heat ," a thrilling crime drama by one of the finest filmmakers in America, with a brilliantly cold, minimal look and great performances by Bob DeNiro and Al Pacino .

Number 9 -- the Coen brothers' " Fargo ."

Number 8 -- David Cronenberg 's " Crash ." Genuinely erotic, but also profoundly disturbing, beautifully controlled, and completely unconventional.

Number 7 -- Wes Anderson 's " Bottle Rocket ." I love the people in this film, who are genuinely innocent, more than even they know.

Number 6 -- Lars von Trier 's " Breaking the Waves ," a genuinely spiritual movie that asks what is love and what is compassion?

Number 5 -- Abel Ferrara 's " Bad Lieutenant ," starring my old friend and collaborator Harvey Keitel . He's always taken risks as an actor, and in the '90s, in this film in particular, he really reached his prime.

Number 4 -- Stanley Kubrick 's " Eyes Wide Shut ."

Number 3 -- Wu Nien-jen's "A Borrowed Life."

Number 2--" The Thin Red Line ," by Terrence Malick .

And my Number 1 film of the decade -- even though it was made in the late '80s -- Tian Zhuangzhuang's "Horse Thief."

ROGER: So, good video-rental ideas. And thanks for being here in the balcony, Marty. We've known each other a long time, and it was really an honor for me to invite you to share in this program.

MARTIN: Thank you. It was an honor for me, too, Roger.

******************

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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The Best Films of the ’90s: Edgar Wright, Lulu Wang, Bill Hader, John Boyega, and More Share Their Picks

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We ranked the 100 best movies of the ’90s . We listed our favorite performances , scores , and even made a video countdown of the decade’s greatest needle-drops . We wrote about how ’90s movies shaped us , how visionary artists like Gregg Araki and Bill Duke shaped them, and what love had to do with it .

So now, as IndieWire’s ’90s Week extravaganza winds down, we thought we’d turn the mic over to the people on the other side of the screen, and see what they find most precious about the decade that was. We reached out to over 60 actors, directors, writers, and so forth — an eclectic mix of luminaries from then and now and all points in between — with a simple question: What are your 10 favorite movies of the ’90s?

The responses we received ran the gamut (though some choices were inevitably common). Some participants chose to provide insightful lists, while others bared their soul with annotated confessionals. If the spectrum of answers — and the enthusiasm with which we received them — made one thing perfectly clear, it’s that every week is still ’90s week for someone.

This article was published as part of IndieWire’s ’ 90s Week spectacular.  Visit our ’90s Week page for more .

BRADEN AFTERGOOD, producer (“Samaritan”)

imdb movies 90s

“The Rock” — Michael Bay at the height of his powers. The perfect chemistry between Cage and Connery. Hans Zimmer’s propulsive score.   Michael Biehn taking things REALLY seriously. This feels like the moment where the dam broke — where every shot suddenly became active and epic and it didn’t matter if it was a missile firing at San Francisco or two guys having a conversation. “The Rock” is a ride, perfectly executed and incredibly satisfying. Action cinema at its best.   

“L.A. Story” — Chuck Klosterman writes about the ’90s actually starting in 1991, and “L.A.” Story is a movie that perfectly encapsulates the weird and whimsical period of transition before grunge took hold. From a decade of excess into a decade of ripped jeans and nihilism, this film is in the middle of a pop-culture fade-in. It’s beautiful and magical and it celebrates life, love and Los Angeles with the perfect amount of gloss; Every viewing makes me want to sit outside and have brunch in the middle of an Earthquake with a twist of lemon.   

“Being John Malkovich” — There’s one scene in particular that sums up why I love this movie. Craig gets on the elevator for the first time and the woman next to him says “7 and a half, right? I’ll take ya through it.” And then we see the crowbar lying by the door, and the door has a million dents as though jamming a crowbar into it is the most natural thing in the world. The filmmakers have gone out of their way to take this exceedingly absurd idea and make it feel mundane; we shouldn’t even question it.   In this way, the high concept never feels like it’s getting in the way of the fundamentally human story — the movie is ‘Malkovich Malkovich’ but it’s also about being satisfied with what you have and who you are.    

“Dead Man” — “Dead Man” is quintessentially ’90s cool — Vaguely nostalgic for the 1970’s but still steeped in that grungy post-cold war ambivalence. This movie is beautiful and haunting and irreverent and somehow still shrugs its shoulders and says “whatever….who cares?”   If you haven’t watched the behind-the-scenes footage of Neil Young’s scoring session, do yourself a favor.    

“True Romance” — “Fanboy as hero” would grow to become a ubiquitous offering throughout the 90’s, and it could be argued that this movie kicked off the trend. This is the perfect marriage of the Tarantino homage-to-the-classics pastiche with the uber-commercial vision of Tony Scott. The result is arthouse film masquerading as popcorn, without a single ounce of fat.   When’s a guy supposed to get up and use the restroom if every scene is more magnetic than the last? I like you, Clarence; always have, always will.   

“Fargo” — I’m not going to say anything about “Fargo” that hasn’t already been said, but I will flag what I think is most significant:  I have no idea what genre it is. A comedy? A drama? A thriller? It somehow executes all of those tones and each one is pitch-perfect.    

“Pulp Fiction” — Filmmakers find inspiration everywhere they look, but this was the first film where inspiration felt like it was coming squarely from within the aisles of the video store. Suddenly a movie geek was taking all his geeky favorites and packaging them into something that felt mainstream and commercial. I downloaded the script off a janky BBS when I was in middle school and promptly memorized the whole thing.   Yes, I had lots of free time on my hands.    

“Dazed and Confused” — Are you in high school? Are you bored? Do you just want to drive around and find a good time and maybe there’s a tiny bit of existential dread as you contemplate the future? Well guess what….you are not alone. At their best, films make you feel like you’re a part of something larger; they make you realize that your experiences are shared. For me, Dazed and Confused defines this power — nostalgia for another time while also acknowledging that those people weren’t any different than you.    

“Point Break” — “Point Break” is what happens when you take your movie seriously, no matter how ridiculous the story.   Surfing bank robbers?   Sure, sounds like a cheesy gimmick-movie trying to cash in on the Lollapalooza crowd. But instead, Kathryn Bigelow somehow does the impossible – present a world, ridicule it, then make you want to be a part of it. The result is seductive; epic and beautiful and perfectly celebrating its time and place. Mark Isham’s score and Donald Peterman’s cinematography further elevate this into a full-blown masterpiece. Even the final needle drop — Ratt’s “Nobody Rides for Free”…somehow feels awesome and contemporary and right at home in a post-Nevermind world.     

“Jurassic Park” — This must have been what it felt like to watch Oz go from black-and-white to color. A masterclass in technique – every frame of this movie somehow feels more real than anything put out in the 20 years since its release. A seamless combination of real places, practical effects and judicious vfx enhancement; the peak of the mountain before we plunged into CGI plasticity. 

KATIE ASELTON, director (“Mack & Rita”)

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 10: Katie Aselton attends the NeueHouse x Mack & Rita Premiere at NeueHouse Los Angeles on August 10, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for NeueHouse)

“Before Sunrise” “The Big Lebowski” “Clueless” “Fargo” “Forrest Gump” “Four Weddings and a Funeral” “Pretty Woman” “Reality Bites”  “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” “The Silence of the Lambs”

ARI ASTER, writer-director (“Midsommar”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 27: Director Ari Aster attends the "Midsommar" New York screening at Metrograph on June 27, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

“Goodfellas” “Eyes Wide Shut” “Topsy-Turvy” “Starship Troopers”   “And Life Goes On” (aka “Life, And Nothing More”)  “Defending Your Life” “Safe” “The Kingdom” & “The Kingdom II” (aka “Riget” & “Riget II”)  “Raise the Red Lantern”  “The Hudsucker Proxy”

SEAN BAKER, writer-director (“Red Rocket”)

ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 21: Director Sean Baker attends the red carpet of the movie "Red Rocket" during the 16th Rome Film Fest 2021 on October 22, 2021 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Stefania M. D'Alessandro/Getty Images for RFF)

“Lovers on the Bridge”  “Buffalo ’66” “Bad Lieutenant” “Naked” “Breaking the Waves” “The Idiots” “Slacker”  “Seven” “Groundhog Day”  “Hard Boiled”

JOHN BOYEGA, actor (“Breaking”)

imdb movies 90s

It’s impossible to rank these movies, they’re all dope in their own way. — JB 

“The Lion King” “Life” “Juice” “Menace II Society” “Friday” “Rush Hour”   “Mars Attacks” “Independence Day” “Boyz N the Hood” “The Wood”

MARGARET BROWN, director (“Descendant”)

attends the premieres of "Company Town" and SBF "The Black Belt" during the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival at Arclight Cinemas Culver City on June 7, 2016 in Culver City, California.

“Hands on a Hard Body” — When I watched it the first time I immediately watched it again.

“Slacker” — I could watch this on repeat for an Austin that has vanished. Makes me feel nostalgic for something I never experienced.

“Starship Troopers” & Showgirls” — I discovered these Verhoevens way past the ’90s but I love them so much. 

“Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” — My second-favorite Jarmusch 

“Mulholland Drive” — This is 2001 but arguably 1999. I only own two movies on Blu-ray: this and “Step Brothers.”

“Wild at Heart” & “Gummo” — I used to love these. I need to rewatch them but leaving them on the list for now.

“The Big Lebowski” — Does everyone put this? I’m already bored with myself but it’s in the top 10 for sure.

“Happy Together” — So many scenes and colors in this film are just stuck in my head.

REID CAROLIN, director, producer (“Dog”)

imdb movies 90s

“The Big Lebowski” “The Thin Red Line” “Goodfellas” “The Matrix” “Pulp Fiction” “Fight Club” “Groundhog Day” “Dazed And Confused” “Magnolia” “Hoop Dreams”

AYA CASH, actor (“The Boys”)

imdb movies 90s

Since I was a 90s teen, my “best movies” picks are movies that meant something to me at that time in my life. Also this is an impossible task and everyone is going to put “Pulp Fiction” and “Bottle Rocket” so here are some of my deeply personal favs in no particular order.  

“Cry Baby” — John Waters forever. I definitely had a jar marked “tears” next to my bed in high school.

“Defending Your Life” — I truly think the world would be a better place if Albert Brooks still made movies. 

“Sister Act” & “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” — I still know all the songs and these count as one pick and should be watched together. 

“Clueless” — Maybe the most ’90s movie of all ’90s movies (except “Empire Records,” which narrowly missed this list).

“Strictly Ballroom” — Baz Luhrmann’s first movie and, dare I say, a lesson in limitations breeding creativity.  

“Death Becomes Her” — Panned at the time. They were wrong.  

“But I’m a Cheerleader” — Campy, hilarious and an explosion of talent in every department.

“Fargo” — Might be a perfect film? Could also be titled “Fargo: Discovering Frances McDormand.”

“Welcome to the Dollhouse” — We are all Dawn Wiener.

“Edward Scissorhands” — Tim Burton showed that you could be as creative and weird as you want and if you did it well enough the masses would still come to see it. Hint hint, Hollywood. 

RAÚL CASTILLO, actor (“Cha Cha Real Smooth”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 13: Raúl Castillo attends the "Cha Cha Real Smooth" premiere during the 2022 Tribeca Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on June 13, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival )

In no particular order:

“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” — I just got to work with writer Peter Hedges on his new film “The Same Storm” and I was geeking out because he was the mind that created this gorgeous story. 

“Desperado” — It would have been “El Mariachi,” but with “Desperado,” Robert Rodriguez finally had all the toys to build the cinematic language that makes him a genius.

“My Own Private Idaho” — This was one of the movies that made me want to be an actor. River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves and Flea in one movie? Sign me up.

“Malcolm X” — The film that should have earned Denzel the Best Actor Oscar.

“All About My Mother” — The first Almodóvar movie I saw, and he quickly became one of my favorite writer/directors.

“Basquiat” — Jeffrey Wright is an acting pillar for me and this was the movie that introduced him to me. Plus, it’s full of so many great cameos. 

“Fallen Angels” — A couple of the films on this list I didn’t actually watch in ’90’s but discovered later; this is one of them. Wong Kar-Wai is a genius.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley” — Why do I find myself identifying with Tom Ripley so much? Patricia Highsmith is such a fascinating storyteller, and this is such a beautiful adaptation.

“Boyz N The Hood” — No explanation needed.

“La Haine” — One of the first non-Spanish language foreign films I saw as a young man, and it shook me to the core. 

CARRIE COON, actress (“The Gilded Age”)

imdb movies 90s

In chronological order:

“To Sleep With Anger” “Light Sleeper” “Naked”  “The Remains of the Day” “The Story of Qui Ju”  “Chungking Express” “Three Colors: Blue” “American Movie”  “Topsy-Turvy” “35 Up/42 Up” (1991/1998)

BRADY CORBET, actor, writer-director (“Vox Lux”)

VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Brady Corbet and Mona Fastvold attend Miu Miu Women's Tales Dinner during 78 Venice Film Festival on September 04, 2021 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images for Miu Miu)

“The Idiots” “Sátántangó” “Crash” “The Puppetmaster” “Taste of Cherry” “Eyes Wide Shut” “Gummo” “No Fear No Die” “Lovers on the Bridge” “The Double Life of Veronique” “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me” “Van Gogh”

ABI DAMARIS CORBIN, writer-director (“Breaking”)

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 22: Director Abi Damaris Corbin attends the 46th annual Atlanta Film Festival opening night at Plaza Theatre on April 22, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

’90s films are the stories of my childhood. My siblings, parents and our friends gathered for home film nights with pitchers of iced orange juice and giant bowls of popcorn. When I watch a film I still reach for the OJ and feel like I’m that kid again, drawn into another world. 

Here’s my 10: 

“Good Will Hunting” — The filmmakers shot this around the corner from where I grew up and I have a very faint memory of a call for extras going out at L. Street Tavern. It was also the first script that I purchased in hardcopy. It still sits on my desk.  

“Life Is Beautiful” — The first non-English language film that I watched and one of my most powerful cinematic experiences to date. I was wrung inside out by Guido’s love.    

“Mrs. Doubtfire” — Another Robin Williams masterclass. 

“Seven” — I learned about building tension through visual design here. 

“The Prince of Egypt” — I wore this VHS out as a kid, memorized every song and sang along. I still blast this soundtrack. 

“Air Force One” — My brother growled “GET OFF MY PLANE” for months after we watched this and now as an adult it’s still a favorite. It’s a ride. 

“Jurassic Park” — Iconic soundtrack, characters, visuals, and, of course, dinosaurs. 

“Home Alone” — I just love this film. 

“Misery” — I watched this one as an adult and had never seen anything like it. Incredible tension. Such angst. This film flipped a switch in me as a filmmaker. From it, I understood capturing humanity in a stronger, more honest, way. 

“Titanic” — This expanded what’s possible for cinema and drove me to learn “My Heart Will Go On” for piano. Also loved the costumes. 

RJ CUTLER, writer, director (“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry”)

AGOURA HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 21: Director RJ Cutler takes part in an audience Q&A session at a screening of "Billie Eilish: The World's A Little Blurry" presented by the Malibu Film Society at Regency Agoura Hills Stadium on January 21, 2022 in Agoura Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

RJ’s 1990s Film Festival (or Films That Helped Shape Me in the 1990s)    In chronological order:

“Goodfellas,” dir. Martin Scorsese (1990)  “Trust,” dir. Hal Hartley (1990)  “Hearts of Darkness,” dirs. Fax Bar, George Hickenlooper (1991)  “Dazed and Confused,” dir Richard Linklater (1993)  “The Piano,” dir Jane Campion (1993)  “Shallow Grave,” dir Danny Boyle (1994)  “Hoop Dreams,” dir. Steve James (1994)  “Fargo,” dir. Joel Cohen (1996)  “Paradise Lost,” dir. Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky (1996)  “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,” dir. Trey Parker (1999)    Honorable Mentions: 

“Brian Wilson: I Just Wasn’t Made for these Times,” dir. Don Was (1995)  “Unzipped,” dir. Douglas Keeve (1995)  “When We Were Kings,” dir. Leon Gast (1996)    Plus two non-features:   “Ohne Mich” (“Without Me”), dir. Dani Levy (1992)  “Dream Deceivers,” dir. David Van Taylor (1992)    Excluding (but not failing to mention) films of my own: 

“The War Room,” dir Chris Hegedus, DA Pennebaker (1992) “A Perfect Candidate,” dir R.J. Cutler, David Van Taylor (1996) 

NIA DACOSTA, writer-director (“The Marvels”)

attends the Los Angeles Pink Carpet Premiere of "Little Woods" hosted by Refinery29, NEON and Rooftop Cinema Club at NeueHouse Hollywood on April 1, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

A nowhere-near-exhaustive list of my top 10 as a ’90s kid: 

“Eve’s Bayou” — On repeat in every house I was babysat or lived in. Way too young to be watching this and when I tell you I was shook!

“Jurassic Park” — I was taken to see this in theaters when I was three years old and I started crying so much during the T-rex attack that by the time the brontosaurus appeared I had to be taken home. It’s now a movie that I can’t not watch if it’s on television. 

“American Beauty” — This VHS was in my house and I watched it over and over again. I couldn’t grasp the nuance of what was going on at the time but I was always drawn back to the central performances and the earnestness and urgency of the storytelling.  

“The Lion King” and other Disney Films (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas”) — Let’s be real: I was born in 1989 so my cinematic life, when I wasn’t being a precious weirdo, revolved around the last great era of Disney’s hand drawn animation. “The Lion King” in particular was incredibly effecting — story, score, art… It had everything. 

“House Party” — Just fun as fuck and if you told me there were 12 sequels all released in the ’90s, I would believe you. 

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” — Always on television in the ’90s, the rare sequel that’s better than the first film.  

“The Silence of the Lambs” / “Philadelphia” — I bow at the altar of Jonathan Demme.  

“Batman Returns” — The best live-action Batman movie. Period. I’ll be taking no questions at this time.  

“Candyman” — Too obvious? 

“4 Little Girls” — There are so many ways in which a little Black girl learns her place in America. For me, this film was one of them.  

JULIE DASH, writer-director (“Daughters of the Dust”)

CHAMPAIGN, IL - APRIL 21:  Director Julie Dash attends the Roger Ebert Film Festival on Day four at the Virginia Theatre on April 21, 2018 in Champaign, Illinois.  (Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for Roger Ebert's Film Festival)

“Chungking Express” “Farewell My Concubine”  “The Red Violin” “Malcolm X” “Ju Dou” “Boyz N the Hood” “The Best Man” “Run Lola Run” “The Piano” “Raise The Red Lantern”

SEAN DURKIN, writer-director (“The Nest”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Director Sean Durkin and Elizabeth Olsen attend the "Martha Marcy May Marlene" 10th anniversary screening Q&A at Metrograph on December 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

In no particular order:  

“White Men Can’t Jump” “Dazed and Confused” “The Silence of the Lambs” “The Talented Mr Ripley” “The Ice Storm” “Funny Games” “Point Break” “Boogie Nights” “The Big Lebowski” “The Last Days of Disco” 

CLEA DUVALL, actor, director (“High School”)

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Lipson/Kushner-Locke/Ignite/Kobal/Shutterstock (5880542b)Clea Du Vall, Natasha LyonneBut I'm A Cheerleader - 1999Director: Jamie BabbitKushner-Locke/IgniteUSAScene Still

“The Silence of the Lambs” “Fargo” “Paris is Burning” “Misery” “Groundhog Day” “Goodfellas” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” “Heavenly Creatures” “To Die For” “Scream”

JACOB ELORDI, actor (“Euphoria”)

imdb movies 90s

“Bottle Rocket” “Romper Stomper” “Magnolia” “Before Sunrise” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” “The Player” “My Own Private Idaho” “Three Colors: Blue” “Good Will Hunting” “The Truman Show”

JOHN GALLAGHER JR., actor (“Gone in the Night”)

imdb movies 90s

“Goodfellas” — A pitch-perfect feat of filmmaking filled with virtuoso performances that hasn’t lost a step with age. Released in 1990, I always think of this instant Scorsese gem as the rallying cry of a new decade in American cinema.  

“The Silence of the Lambs” — A timeless classic that boasts not one but two of the most bone chilling villains of all time and one of the best act structures in movie history. It still boggles the mind how Jonathan Demme pivoted from music videos to comedies to this astounding thriller.  

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” — There are sequels and then there is “T2.” A deliriously imaginative blend of science fiction and action. Jam packed with stone cold sequences of suspense and groundbreaking visual effects.  

“Jurassic Park” — A staggering achievement. Just like “Jaws” and “Close Encounters” in the ’70s and “ET” and “Indiana Jones” in the ’80s, Spielberg once again defines an entire decade at the movies with an expertly executed piece of innovative movie magic the likes of which had never been seen before and likely never will be again.  

“Schindler’s List” — Simply a towering tour de force. It’s unthinkable to imagine Spielberg making Jurassic Park and this film in the same year and yet somehow he did just that. A searing cinematic document of historic social significance featuring inspired performances all around.  

“The Fugitive” — This movie really doesn’t have a right to be as good as it is. Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones are at the peak of their powers. A masterclass in tension and release style suspense.  

“Speed” — If “Die Hard” is the great high-concept action movie of the 80s then surely Speed is its natural ’90s kindred spirit. A nonstop thrill ride that’s still an impressive thing to behold.

“Heat” — A sprawling, Dickensian LA crime opus starring De Niro and Pacino and a crackerjack ensemble cast? It still sounds too good to be true! Michael Mann’s masterwork.  

“Pulp Fiction” — Tarantino’s explosive, hard-boiled, sprawling, ensemble driven, genre bending game changer would leave filmmakers scrambling but never quite succeeding to emulate his snappy, singular style. A real turning point for the way we consume and comment on the history of film. 

“Boogie Nights” — Arriving in 1998 and owing much to “Goodfellas” in its pacing and plotting, this first sweeping epic from Paul Thomas Anderson feels like a generational baton pass at the end of the era.  

HONORABLE MENTIONS & RUNNERS-UP: “Miller’s Crossing,” “State of Grace,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” “The Age of Innocence,” “Reality Bites,” “The Paper,” “Scream,” “Swingers,” “Suburbia,” “That Thing You Do!,” “LA Confidential,” “The Big Lebowski.”

SACHA GERVASI, director (“Anvil! The Story of Anvil”)

arrives for the HBO Films' "My Dinner With Herve" Premiere held at Paramount Studios on October 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

1. “The Remains of the Day” 2. “Schindler’s List” 3. “Naked” 4. “Goodfellas” 5. “La Belle Noiseuse”  6. “Secrets and Lies” 7. “Boogie Nights” 8. “Searching for Bobby Fischer” 9. “American Movie” 10. “Metropolitan”

EMILY GORDON & KUMAIL NANJIANI, writers, producers, actor (“The Big Sick”)

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 18: Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon attend the GQ Men Of The Year Celebration on November 18, 2021 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/FilmMagic)

Emily’s Five:

“Blade” “The Doom Generation” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” “Pump up the Volume” “Boomerang”

Kumail’s Five:

“Four Weddings and a Funeral” “Groundhog Day” “Before Sunrise” “Edward Scissorhands” “The Silence of the Lambs”

WILL GRAHAM, writer, showrunner (“A League of Their Own”)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 04: Will Graham, Co-Creator & Executive Producer speaks during the official Los Angeles red carpet premiere & screening of "A League Of Their Own" on August 04, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Prime Video)

“A League Of Their Own” “The Talented Mr. Ripley” “Out Of Sight” “Boogie Nights” “Princess Mononoke” “All About My Mother” “The Fugitive” “Paris Is Burning” “Clueless” “But I’m A Cheerleader”

ROBERT GREENE, writer, director, editor (“Procession”)

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 25:  Director Robert Greene speaks onstage during the Q&A for "Procession" during the 24th SCAD Savannah Film Festival on October 25, 2021 in Savannah, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

“Frost” (Fred Kelemen)  “A Moment of Innocence” (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)  “Beau Travail” (Claie Denis)  “From the East” (Chantal Akerman)  “Belfast, Maine” (Frederick Wiseman)  “After Life” (Hirokazu Kore-eda)  “Happy Together” (Wong Kar Wai)  “Hoop Dreams”  (Steve James)   “Paris Is Burning” (Jennie Livingston, et al.)  “How to Live in the German Federal Republic” (Harun Farocki) 

Shout out to Bennett Miller’s “The Cruise” and Chris Smith’s “American Movie” for changing American documentary forever. 

GIGI SAUL GUERRERO, writer-director (“Bingo Hell”)

attends the 6th Annual Etheria Film Showcase held at American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre on June 29, 2019 in Hollywood, California.

I was born in 1990… though the ’90s is filled with impeccable storytelling, this was the era of my childhood. My influences to who I am today! Since my list can’t be the top 50 fave ’90s folks, this is “Gigi’s childhood list of the most watched top 10 ’90s film.s”    I can practically quote all these movies:

“The Faculty” “The Frighteners” “Mars Attacks!” “Tremors” “Seven” “From Dusk Till Dawn” “The Addams Family Values” “The Mask” “The Good Son” “Small Soldiers”  

JORGE GUTIERREZ, writer-director (“Maya and the Three”)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 19: (L-R) Jorge Gutierrez and Anna Alvarado attend Netflix unveiling of interactive installation of the world of "Maya and the Three" featuring LatinX artists at Eugene A. Obregon Park on October 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Netflix)

The ’90s were a magical time for me and completely formed me as an artist and storyteller. I lived in Tijuana and Los Angeles and drove back and forth maybe a thousand times that decade thinking about these films. I finished high school in 1994 and attended film school (CalArts, Experimental Animation) for my BFA 1997 and MFA 2000. The wild energy and rebellion of 90s cinema was endlessly intoxicating and it changed and empowered our generation completely. My list is the ’90s films I have rewatched the most and have had the most influence on me.  

“Goodfellas” “Unforgiven” “Once Upon a Time in China” (also “OUTIC 2 & 3”) “The Nightmare Before Christmas” “Ninja Scroll” “Pulp Fiction” “Chungking Express” “El Mariachi” / “Desperado”  “Heat” “Trainspotting”

My first list was about 27 films so it was really tough to cut it down to 10!

BILL HADER, actor, writer-director (“Barry”)

imdb movies 90s

“Goodfellas” “Barton Fink”  “Silence of the Lambs” “Cure”  “Dazed and Confused” “Election” “Bottle Rocket” “Paris Is Burning” “The Thin Red Line” “Secrets and Lies”

ANNIE HAMILTON, writer-performer (“Mack & Rita”)

imdb movies 90s

1. “Stepmom”

I watch this movie — three, four times a year? — I don’t know. It’s deservedly numero uno. It makes me cackle and it makes me weep. I used to watch the scene where Jena Malone asks her mom, Susan Sarandon, if she’s dying (while they’re QUILTING cus it’s the NINETIES) in audition waiting rooms back in Los Angeles, so I’d be able to feel something, anything. It didn’t matter if I was going out for a sitcom or for General Hospital, Stepmom is the perfect way to be reminded of the glory and pain of having a family and of being alive.   

2. “Monster in a Box”

For an hour-and-a-half Spalding Gray is mostly seated, but he’s basically dancing. It’s so well written that it comes off like free association. His performance is so desperate and so easy at the same time. I watched this a lot while I was writing my last show for Cherry Lane and it really inspired me. 

3. “My Sex Life…Or How I Got Into an Argument” 

An ex-boyfriend showed me this movie and it made me fall in love with him. Desplechin is one of my favorite directors — “My Golden Days” and “A Christmas Tale” are big for me — and “My Sex Life” was my introduction to his work. Probably the best movie title I know of, too. Also Marion Cotillard makes a cameo and it rocks. 

4. “Postcards from the Edge”

I’m tied here between “Postcards” and “The Birdcage.” Mike Nichols!!!!!! Mike Nichols! I watched “Postcards,” “Birdcage,” and “Working Girl” (not the 90s sorry) on repeat the first 3 months of quarantine. That’s all I could stomach. Everything else made me jealous or bored. These movies are instant cures for purposelessness. They repair your self-esteem. 

5.) “Private Parts”

Howard Stern is just the best and Private Parts is HOWARDS STORY! The musty offices, the greasy hair and crumpled outfits – the aesthetic is startlingly visceral. I can smell everything. I like watching it on dates, too. It’s a good date movie. 

6. “Husbands and Wives”

I debated putting this on here cus I didn’t want to upset anyone, and I don’t think you should give Woody Allen your money, but this is my favorite of his movies by far. It’s the first movie that made me think about how a movie is filmed. The way the camera literally corners the characters in the way they’re being cornered emotionally. Watch it when you have a therapy session coming up, not immediately after therapy.  

7. “The Talented Mr. Ripley”

My socialite freshman roommate who I tried desperately to fit in with came home one night and told me I reminded her of Matt Damon in Mr. Ripley. I hadn’t seen the movie so I lied, just like she wanted me to, and thanked her for her compliment. Years later I saw it. She wasn’t wrong. I think I’ve changed since then cus I can actually watch it now without closing one eye. 

8. “The Basketball Diaries”

I really, really wanted to leave this out of my list. I really, really wanted to. But I watched this every. single. night. from 14-17 years old?! I had a poster of it that I kept UNDERNEATH my bed because I didn’t want my mom to get the wrong idea about me. Lorraine Bracco gives an amazing performance. Obviously Leo knocks it out of the park. The male camaraderie! The utter anguish! The city living! Jim Carroll! I love it. 

9. “The Age of Innocence”

Since no one ever asks me about my favorite movies, I just have to say that Raging Bull is my fave Scorsese. Okay. We watched The Age of Innocence in our History of NY class in High School, and it is one of the only things I remember learning about in school. I walked outta class that day and bought fake fur earmuffs on 42nd Street and then booked it to Fifth Avenue. Every NYC high school should play this for the kids.  

10. “Before Sunrise” 

Great flick but “Before Sunset” is the best one. I’m sorta cheating, sorry. “Before Sunset” is the ONLY movie where I actually needed to see the characters kiss. I was tweaking out, man. Tweaking for the kiss to come! But you have to see “Before Sunrise” first in order to really tweak out like that. If you’re American you also just have to see these movies before you travel. Going up to strangers on the Eurostar is one of the most exciting things a person can do. Or the Metro North. It’s not the same, but it works. 

JULIA HART, writer-director (“Hollywood Stargirl”)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 23: Julia Hart attends Disney's "Hollywood Stargirl" Premiere at El Capitan Theatre on May 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

1. “Thelma and Louise”

2. “He Got Game”

3. “Being John Malkovich”

4. “Misery”

5. “Before Sunrise”

6. “Chungking Express”

7. “Jerry Maguire”

8. “Daughters of the Dust”

9. “Groundhog Day”

10. “A League of Their Own”

CHAD HARTIGAN, writer-director (“Little Fish”)

attends the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 25, 2017 in Santa Monica, California.

Ah, the ;90s. When there were just 3,000 prints of “Tommy Boy” floating around and thousands of 16-year-old burnouts that knew how to inspect and thread them through a projector. What a time! I was lucky enough to live through all of it as an avid cinema-goer and then cinema worker, so I was at first tempted to make a list of my 10 favorite movie theater experiences, but the word count would have been too high. Needless to say, being 15 and seeing “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” on opening night with my friends Phil and Sara and losing my mind at the part where the dinosaur stepped on a guy and then losing my mind even more when I looked over and saw that they were making out instead of watching it, would be on there. Instead I opted for a list that contains films I honestly do believe to be 5-star bangers but also have some added special meaning to me that puts them above the rest (and I added in the venue I first saw them for kicks). In chronological order…

“The Lovers on the Bridge” (rented DVD from Video Update) 

“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (VHS at a friend’s slumber party) 

“Jurassic Park” (Syufy Theatre, Reno) 

“Pulp Fiction” (Zena Palace, Cyprus) 

“Dumb and Dumber” (pirated VHS my Dad bought in Abu Dhabi) 

“Titanic” (Regal Greenbrier, Virginia Beach) 

“Good Will Hunting” (Kempsriver Cinema Cafe, Virginia Beach) 

“Can’t Hardly Wait” (Regal Greenbrier, Virginia Beach) 

“Meet Joe Black” (Kinepolis, Brussels) 

“American Movie” (Main Theatre, NCSA Film School) 

PAUL WALTER HAUSER, actor (“Black Bird”)

imdb movies 90s

1. “Fargo” — Steve Park’s performance is a huge inspiration for me; McDormand & Lynch’s marriage is a portrait of virtues I wish I had.

2. “Toy Story” — Game-changer for animation. RIP Jim Varney ❤️ 

3. “The Matrix”  

4. “Pulp Fiction”

5. “Hoop Dreams” — The doc that made me love documentaries 

6. “American Movie” — One of the most painfully-underrated films of all time; should be as celebrated as “Harlan County, USA”  

7. “Schindler’s List” — Saw it recently for the 1st time & I wept while I wept.  

8. “Dazed and Confused” — The greatest hangout movie of all time. 

9. “Waiting for Guffman” — Catherine O’Hara is my Marlon Brando.

10. “The Shawshank Redemption”

JORDAN HOROWITZ, writer, producer (“Hollywood Stargirl”)

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 23:  Executive Producer Jordan Horowitz attends the For Your Consideration Event For Starz's "Counterpart" And "Howards End" at LACMA on May 23, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

1. “Being John Malkovich”

2. “Thelma and Louise”

3. “Jerry Maguire”

4. “The Sweet Hereafter”

6. “The Silence of the Lambs”

7. “Pulp Fiction”

8. “A League of their Own”

10. “The Player”  

Honorable Mentions:  

“As Good As It Gets,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Blair Witch Project,” “Boogie Nights,” “Buffalo ’66,” “Defending Your Life,” “Fargo,” “Fearless,” “King of New York,” “Leap of Faith,” “Magnolia,” “Nothing But Trouble,” “Out of Sight,” “Red Rock West,” “Rushmore,” “Seven,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “That Thing You Do,” “The Truman Show,” “The Usual Suspects,” “Waiting for Guffman.”

STEPHAN JAMES, actor (“Surface”)

imdb movies 90s

“Clueless” “Forrest Gump” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” “My Girl” “Friday” “Boyz N the Hood” “White Men Can’t Jump” “The Mask” “The Brady Bunch” “Rush Hour”

RIAN JOHNSON, writer-director (“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 31: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Writer/director/producer Rian Johnson attends the SAG-AFTRA Foundation's The Business: "Knives Out" at The Robin Williams Center on January 31, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

“Goodfellas” — This list is not ranked except for this one which is an indisputable #1.

“Barton Fink” — I could honestly swap with “Miller’s Crossing,” “Fargo,” “The Big Lebowski,” you name it…

“Pulp Fiction” “Chungking Express” “Fight Club” “The Matrix” “Dead Man” “Unforgiven”

“Terminator 2” — I went back and forth with “Total Recall,” but I’ve watched “T2” more.

“American Movie”

NIKYATU JUSU, writer-director (“Nanny”)

imdb movies 90s

“Death Becomes Her” “The Devil’s Advocate” “Audition” “Hyenas” “Belly” “Blade” “Magnolia” “Eve’s Bayou” “The Fifth Element” “The Celebration”

TARAN KILLAM, actor (“Impeachment: American Crime Story”)

imdb movies 90s

10. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” — Maybe have viewed this one the most.

9. “Waiting for Guffman” — Most quotable.

8. “Aladdin” — Favorite Disney animated film, although “Beauty and the Beast” is probably the best.

7. “My Best Friend’s Wedding” — For the Rupert Everett sing-along alone. Additional points for early Paul Giamatti.

6. “Jurassic Park” — My first date movie ever.

5. “Léon: The Professional” — My childhood crush: Natalie. My adult crush: Gary.

4. “Se7en” — It was this or “Silence of the Lambs.” This one haunts me a smidge more.

3. “Braveheart” — Sseparating the art from the artist. Hardest cry movie.

2. “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” — My first rated-R movie in the theater. The BEST rated R movie in the theater.

1. The Jim Carrey Trilogy: “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask,” and “Dumb & Dumber” — A cheat, I know but they ALL came out in 1994! What a year!!!

TRACY LETTS, actor, playwright (“Deep Water”)

imdb movies 90s

1. “Hoop Dreams” (Steve James) — 1994 

2. “The Story of Qiu Ju” (Zhang Yimou) — 1992 

3. “Naked” (Mike Leigh) — 1993 

4. “Crumb” (Terry Zwigoff) — 1994 

5. “Lone Star” (John Sayles) — 1996 

6. “The Double Life of Veronique” (Krzysztof Kieślowski) — 1991 

7. “Ladybird, Ladybird” (Ken Loach) — 1994 

8. HANA-BI” (“Fireworks”) (Takeshi Kitano) — 1997 

9. “La Cérémonie” (Claude Chabrol) — 1995 

10. “Breaking the Waves” (Lars von Trier) — 1996 

LAWRENCE LEVINE, actor, writer-director (“Black Bear”)

PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 24: Screenwriter and director Lawrence Michael Levine attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival - "Black Bear" Premiere at Library Center Theater on January 24, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

“Raise the Red Lantern” “Unforgiven” “Hoop Dreams” “Taste of Cherry” “Short Cuts” “The Dreamlife of Angels” “Moloch” “Schindler’s List” “Naked” “Close-Up” 

DAVID LOWERY, writer-director (“The Green Knight”)

US director David Lowery poses with his awards after receiving the Jury Prize, the Revelation Prize and the Critic's Prize for his film "A Ghost Story" during the closing ceremony of the 43rd Deauville US Film Festival on September 9, 2017 in the northwestern sea resort of Deauville. / AFP PHOTO / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU        (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

This is an impossible list: The ’90s carried me from the ages of nine to 19 and are therefore rife with not only truly great movies but landmarks in my own development as a cinephile and person. No decade feels longer and more all-encompassing to me and trying to pare it down to ten films is nonsense. So here I go. I am on principle excluding movies from 1999, which was basically a decade unto itself, and for the remaining nine years trying to find a balance between cultural value and nostalgia. I have already failed. 

In alphabetical order: 

“Bram Stoker’s Dracula”

I kept flip-flopping this title with Disney’s “Beauty & The Beast.” Both are masterpieces of craft, both involve gothic castles and wilting flowers, and in 1992, I was definitely listening exclusively to the soundtracks to both of these films on cassette tape. “Beauty & The Beast” is revolutionary and looks to the future, Coppola reaches into the past, both are incredible, but there’s only one I still watch almost every year. 

“Boogie Nights” 

This could just have easily been “Magnolia,” were it not for my 1999 rule, but “Boogie Nights” is the cinematic equivalent of rose-colored star-shaped glasses. It is full of terrible things we remember warmly and can’t wait to revisit. The declarative nature of its filmmaking just gets better and better with age. A perfect movie. 

“Buffalo ’66”

Let this title represent your own does-it-still-hold-up ’90s Sundance title of choice! This one is mine. 

“Crash”

I think this was my first NC-17 movie? I was not old enough to see it when it opened, and also not mature enough to appreciate it when I rented it on VHS. I just revisited it for the first time since the ’90s and was surprised to discover that it is not only one of the very best films of the ’90s, but it might be one of the best movies ever made. I think I might write a book about it. 

“Fargo” 

I think about the Mike Yanagita scene at least once a week, and the last scene with the Gundersons in bed even more often than that. Another perfect movie! 

“He Got Game”

This was a movie I watched repeatedly during my early tenure as a projectionist and then lost track of. Revisiting it during the lockdown, I wondered how it could be so forgotten: I think this might be Spike Lee’s best movie of the ’90s, second best movie overall, and probably the most aggressively poetic he’s ever been. The final moments of outright magical realism had an unexpectedly outsize influence on this Peter Pan movie I’m making. 

“Mars Attacks!”

I needed to put a ’90s blockbuster on this list, and weighed all the best of them, from Speed to “The Fugitive” (the first movie I ever bought on VHS!) to “The Rock” to “Face/Off” to “Starship Troopers” — but ultimately, this spot had to go to Tim Burton’s unloved but brilliant masterpiece of misanthropy that, from its concept to its cast to its budget, could only have been made in the late ’90s. No one in any decade will ever make another movie like this one.  

“Naked”

“Secrets & Lies: and “Naked” demarcate 90s Mike Leigh’s for me. I remember being very intrigued by the newsprint ads for “Naked” in the Sunday paper, tiny and grimy and tucked away beneath “Schindler’s List” (which should also be on this list!). A few years later, my mom and I went to see “Secrets & Lies: in the theater but we got lost en route to the mall (because back then Mike Leigh movies played at the mall). I finally saw both films on DVD in 2007. One is full of warmth and empathy, the other spit and poison. Having just rewatched both of them, I’m going with the latter.  

“The Piano”

This movie’s release coincided with my brief obsession with the Oscars, so by the time I finally saw it, I knew it was a big deal, knew the music, knew that Anna Pacquin did cartwheels on the beach. Eventually my local library got a copy of it and I checked it out and swooned. I was just starting to get into goth culture; this movie expanded my concept of what Gothic could be. A lot of my taste in storytelling can be traced to that final shot. 

“Pulp Fiction”

I debated whether or not it was rote to put “Pulp Fiction” on this list instead of, say, an Almodovar or Kieslowski or Heat (another perfect movie) my beloved “Meet Joe Black,” but then remembered that this list isn’t fair in the first place, and “Pulp Fiction” is the definitive ’90s movie, so here it is, encompassing all that Tarantino brought to the decade, including “True Romance,” “Natural Born Killers” and that classic Siskel & Ebert episode. A classmate and I performed the climactic diner scene in our 9th grade theater class and the script is so undeniable that our drama teacher let us keep the swear words in. I already regret giving this movie a spot. 

“Romeo + Juliet”

I saw this movie six times in the cinema in the span of about a month. Four Baz Lurman epics later and it is still ahead of its time. On a cultural level, maybe this spot should go to “Titanic,” which packaged a similar sentiment in a more streamlined package (and is also a masterpiece that is one of the best movies of the ’90s and should definitely be on this list). On a personal level, it could have gone to “Edward Scissorhands,” which made baby me feel seen in the same way this movie did. But that movie is timeless and this list is all about a moment in time, and I can’t think about 1996 without hearing “Number One Crush” in my head. 

“Satantango”

The most momentous black-and-white art film that I actually saw in the 90s proper was Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man,” which I watched on VHS with my dad, and has since become one of my favorite movies of all time. But so has “Satantango,” which I saw a decade later and which deserves a spot on this list on account of the sheer weight of its 35mm print alone. That said print is now not the only way in which to endure this epic is conservationally comforting but also a little bit sad. I only ever want to see this movie in the theater, once every ten years or so, with intermissions imposed by the sheer amount of celluloid running through the projector. 

JENA MALONE, actress (“Adopting Audrey”)

imdb movies 90s

“Thelma and Louise” — The film that opened my world to acting , making stories that were meaningful and the importance of friendship. This one will always take the cake for me.  

“A League of Their Own” — A personal favorite as a child. Just a fucking classic that I still reach to rewatch when I need a fix.  

“The Shawshank Redemption” — This may be one of my favorite films ever made. Maybe more meaningful that I saw it when I was so young and it had a very powerful effect on me  

“A Time to Kill” — I haven’t rewatched in a long while but it had a very powerful impact on me as a child. Need to revisit but here it is on the list none the less.  

“Edward Scissorhands” — The joy of sharing this film with my son made me realize how important this film truly is. What a perfect movie !  

“Falling Down” — Phew buddy!! This film blew me away as a child. I remember studying. Micheal Douglas’s performance in this one again and again.

“Magnolia” — I wasn’t allowed to watch Boogie Nights” ’til I was older for some reason so this was the first Paul Thomas Anderson film I watched and will always remain with me. Growing up in the valley, this film opened up an entire emotional landscape I had never known before.

“Girl, Interrupted” — This was at the tale end of the ’90s but still as a young actress this one was a big deal.  

“Clueless” — Duh.  

“Powder” — I was looking for more films to put on this list and I stumbled across this one and my heart started singing. I loved this film as a child. I’m literally finding to re-watch right now. If it doesn’t hold up , my apologies.

“Contact” — The best film I’ve ever been apart of. Hands down. Still holds up. Love love love love this one so much  

“From Dusk ’til Dawn” — I know I know everyone will say pulp fiction. But this one was more impactful to me for some wild reason. I loved it so much. And now will be rewatching to make sure I wasn’t a little disturbed as a child. Hahaha.

DAVID MANDEL, writer, producer, showrunner (“Veep”)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 21: David Mandel speaks onstage during the Writers Guild Foundation's Sublime Primetime at Writer's Guild Theater on August 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

I like to “watch” movies while I write. Some people are confused by this, and most people are really bothered by it. I don’t watch as much as I listen, kind of like a normal person listens to music. Therefore, the movies that I watch when I write are movies I have seen over and over again. They allow my conscious to be distracted while my subconscious does the work. Since there were no rules for what this list should be, I decided to choose my Top 10 ’90s movies that I like to watch while writing. In no particular order and with apologies to all the ’90s movies I left off the list…

“Boogie Nights” — I can put this on from the beginning or randomly come across it at any point and watch till the end.

“JFK” — Especially if I am pulling an all-nighter, this movie is three-and-a-half hours long and never stops.

“Postcards from the Edge” — Carrie Fisher’s writing coming out of Meryl Streep’s mouth has a melodic rhythm to it. Plus, a couple of actual musical numbers. (Does anyone have a copy of “I’m Checking Out” for me? Please reach out.)

“The Cutting Edge” — Toe pick!

“Sneakers” — So re-watchable. Just a fun heist movie with a great cast.

“The Last Boy Scout” — If anyone else puts this on their list, I am going to dance a jig!

“Volcano” – There is something about writing in Los Angeles, while watching Wilshire Boulevard get destroyed by a volcano that I find inspiring. I once worked on a pilot with my friend Brian Kelley (“The Simpsons”) and made him watch this movie over and over. He has never forgiven me.

“Miller’s Crossing” — This is the rumpus.

“Bowfinger” — Possibly the funniest Eddie ever. Even though I feel like I might ignite, I probably won’t.

“Goodfellas” — At this point, I have it memorized like my Torah portion. I don’t even need to put the sound on.

HEATHER MATARAZZO, actress (“Welcome to the Dollhouse”)

imdb movies 90s

“Heavenly Creatures” “Trainspotting” “Like Water for Chocolate” “The Crying Game” “The House of Yes” “Waiting for Guffman” “High Art” “Flirting With Disaster” “Boy’s Don’t Cry” “Muriel’s Wedding” “Election” “The Last Days of Disco” “Lost Highway”

PETE NICKS, director (“Homeroom”)

speaks during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Awards Night Ceremony at Basin Recreation Field House on January 28, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

“Paris Is Burning” — A truly seminal doc that breaks stereotypes while immersing you in a vibrant world.

“The War Room” — A master class of access. 

“American Movie” — To date, I still haven’t seen a doc that’s made me laugh like this one did.  

“Goodfellas” — The writing. The camera work. The acting. It’s all there. 

“Sing Faster: A Stagehands’ Ring Cycle” — One of this generation’s great vérité masters doing his thing.

“Hoop Dreams” — This movie opened my eyes to the narrative potential of nonfiction and the power of commiting to characters over an arc of time.  

“Buena Vista Social Club” — One of the first music films I fell in love with and also inspiring for showing the cinematic potential of nonfiction.

“4 Little Girls” — One of the great directors of our time shows a remarkably deft nonfiction touch with this powerful story.

“Pulp Fiction” — Dialogue. Dialogue. Dialogue. 

“Muhammad Ali: When We Were Kings” — One of the best athlete profiles I’ve seen. 

LEE PACE, actor (“Bodies Bodies Bodies”)

BODIES BODIES BODIES
(L-R) Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace
Credit: Gwen Capistran/A24

“The Fifth Element” “Dazed and Confused” “The Talented Mr. Ripley” “Happy Together” “Pulp Fiction” “My Own Private Idaho” “Romeo + Juliet” “True Lies” “La Haine” “Paris is Burning”

ALEX ROSS PERRY, actor, writer-director (“Her Smell”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Alex Ross Perry speaks during the "Martha Marcy May Marlene" 10th anniversary screening Q&A at Metrograph on December 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

These are all films that I lost time with. I saw none upon initial release and caught up with them later. This is true for a lot of 90s movies released during the tail end of my childhood (“Goodfellas,” “Pulp Fiction,” etc), but I saw those films as soon as I was ready and was prepared to correctly engage with them, and not a moment later. 

The list below is different. In every instance, I lost time that I will never regain with the movie. Those are missed repeat viewings at home, missed “you’ve never seen this? Let’s put it on right now” interactions with friends, missed repertory screenings and missed opportunities to have been inspired. All remedied now, and I hope in 10 more years to have another 10 films from the 1990s that I have not seen as of today. 

“The Age of Innocence” “Before Sunrise” “Belfast, Maine” “Breaking the Waves” “Hard Boiled” “Khrustalyov, My Car!” “Lovers on the Bridge” “Paradise Lost” “Point Break” “The Remains of the Day”

STEVE PINK, actor, writer-director (“The Wheel”)

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 13: (L-R) Steve Pink and Pam Knoll attend "The Wheel" Photo Call during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Juanito Aguil/Getty Images)

“Pulp Fiction” “Goodfellas” “Fargo” “Election” “The Matrix” “Seven” “Trainspotting” “Life is Beautiful” “Run Lola Run” “Hoop Dreams”

“Grosse Pointe Blank” as the #11 ALT since it’s one of mine!

  

The honorable mentions! 

Devil In A Blue Dress 

Princess Mononoke 

When We Were Kings 

Delicatessen 

To Live 

Malcolm X 

JAMES PONSOLDT, writer-director (“Summering”)

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 05:  James Ponsoldt speaks onstage during Film Independent presents live read Of "Singles" at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on November 05, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)

1. “Three Colors” trilogy 2. “Beau Travail” 3. “Princess Mononoke” 4. “Eve’s Bayou” 5. “Show Me Love/Fucking Åmål” 6. “Paris is Burning” 7. “Devil in a Blue Dress” 8. “Gas Food Lodging” 9. “Sick” 10. “To Sleep with Anger”

P.S. For what it’s worth, the other films that were on the list/off the list over and over were “Secrets and Lies,” “After Life,” “Close-Up,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Heavenly Creatures,” “The Matrix,” “The Dreamlife of Angels,” “Swoon,” “The Virgin Suicides,” “Boogie Nights,” “Safe,” “Short Cuts,” “Breaking the Waves,” “Chungking Express,” “Clockers, “Go Fish,” “The Sweet Hereafter,” “The Piano,” “Fargo,” “Jackie Brown,” “Slacker,” “Dead Man,” and, and, and… 

ALEX PRITZ, director (“The Territory”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 16: Alex Pritz attends National Geographic Documentary Films' New York Premiere Screening of THE TERRITORY at the CPC Summer Film Festival on August 16, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for National Geographic  Documentary Films)

What an incredible decade! As a ’90s kid, this is truly the list that got me hooked.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley” — The top film on the list, without a doubt. 

“My Best Fiend” — We now call them toxic work relationships, but this was next level.

“Pi” — Brilliant storytelling on a budget.

“Hands on a Hardbody” — I didn’t appreciate this one until I got older, but now I reference it all the time.

“Gattaca” — between CRISPR, 23andMe, and Social Credit Systems, this film was ahead of its time.

“Trainspotting” — Wildly creative editing.

“Fargo” — I would die for Frances if she asked me to.

“Hoop Dreams” — The documentary that got me into nonfiction.

“Jurassic Park” — A children’s fable about capitalist greed.

“Paris is Burning” — The cinematography in this film is out of this world. 

TEGAN AND SARA QUIN, writer-producers (“High School”)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Sara Quin and Tegan Quin celebrate their new memoir "High School" at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on September 26, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

“Dazed and Confused” — THIS STILL HOLDS UP! A perfect balance of skeezy and sweet. Soundtrack was excellent and we tried hard to dress as cool as Randall “Pink” Floyd. 

“Reality Bites” — Two words: Janeane Garofalo. 

“Empire Records” — Great soundtrack! Working at a record store and being a band was a fantasy and this film was aspirational. Also, had the hots for Liv Tyler and was tormented by the blue fuzzy sweater she wore in the movie poster. 

“Kids” — This movie terrified us. It was a glimpse into a world far crueler and alive than ours and it made me want to move to New York City immediately. 

“High Art” — This absolutely floored us and we returned to the theater to see it twice. Queer stories were nearly non-existent and finding one was life saving. 

“True Romance” — Is there anyone cooler than Patricia Arquette? 

“The Crying Game” — Our parents were obsessed with this film and we were deemed mature enough to watch it at a holiday party in grade eight. Haunting. 

“Chungking Express” — I did not see this film in the 1990’s but after moving to Montreal in 2003 I stumbled upon the films of Wong Kar-wai at Cinema Du Parc. 

“But I’m a Cheerleader” — We weren’t yet cool enough to get all the jokes, but we fell in love with Clea Duvall. 

“Rushmore” — At the time, Wes Anderson vibes hadn’t yet permeated everything and this movie felt so fresh and clever. 

THEO ROSSI, actor (“Emily the Criminal”)

imdb movies 90s

“Goodfellas” — “Goodfellas” felt like I was watching snapshots of my childhood and surroundings growing up. To this day it’s easily the film I’ve seen the most.

“Menace ll Society” — My son is named Kane in large part to Menace. (Also Big Daddy Kane and “Citizen Kane”). Great films show you worlds you have never entered and in “Menace” you feel like you’re walking with O and Caine in the heat of LA. You exist in their lives.

“Heat” — “Heat” is like riding a motorcycle on a highway at night and turning the speed up every 10 minutes until you feel like you have transcended time. It’s as close to a perfect film for me as there is. 

“Carlito’s Way” — In “Carlito’s Way” I related at a young age so much to the struggle of trying to abandon who you were to become who you wanted to be. Also Penn puts on an acting clinic for the viewer.

“Seven” — “Seven” is a film you can smell. It’s so visceral and grimy that you’re part of the hunt to find Doe. Also, adds like the train that shakes apartment is the chefs kiss. It never stands still.

“Reservoir Dogs” — “Reservoir Dogs” changed the way I looked at pictures. It’s like someone reset the Hollywood system. The group of character actors being the stars paved the way for everything including “Sons of Anarchy.”

“The Truman Show” — “The Truman Show” is a timeless film that becomes more obvious as the years progress. Every emotion is emoted by the audience because of the specificity of the storytelling.

“Get Shorty” — “Get Shorty” has one of the absolute best performance by one of my all time favorite actors Dennis Farina. It’s such a fun ride and the ways it’s intertwined with the Hollywood system is magnificent.

“Good Will Hunting” — I watched “Good Will Hunting” in the theatre 3 times and it solidified Robin Williams as my absolute favorite all time artist. Perfect film and the perfect time in my existence.

“Pulp Fiction” — “Pulp Fiction” changed cinema in every single way possible and has influenced how everyone operates in it since it’s debut. It’s my generation’s “Godfather.”

ELI ROTH, actor, writer-director (“Borderlands”)

imdb movies 90s

The 90s  by Eli Roth 

In the fall of 1990, I was a freshman at NYU film school, living more an Andrew Bergman film than Ingmar, and I was hungry for anything weird.  And suddenly, the ’90s happened. The Coen Brothers. Tarantino. Jeunet and Caro. P.T.A. It felt like what was happening in the ’70s, with the rise of the Miramax and the rebirth of New Line Cinema and I was watching it unfold in real time with all the other aspiring filmmakers in my class.    

So here are the films that blew my mind and showed me new possibilities of what you can do as a filmmaker. I’m gonna leave out a lot of film I love (“Goodfellas,” “Terminator 2,” “Boyz N The Hood,” “The Crying Game,” “Jurassic Park,” “Forrest Gump,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Scream,” “Sling Blade,” “Starship Troopers,” “The Sixth Sense”) because they’ve been written about a lot, and I want this to be under 10,000 words, as well as throw in a few films people might have overlooked.  

In chronological order.  

1. “Cinema Paradiso” 

Okay, I’m already cheating because this film played European film festivals in 1989, but it wasn’t released in the U.S. until February 1990, and in a time when streamers didn’t exist, as far as I’m concerned, for me that makes it a ’90s movie. This was the last film I saw before leaving for N.Y.U. film school. I remember “The Freshman” also came out that summer, a comedy about Matthew Broderick starting as a freshman at N.Y.U. film school, and although I enjoyed it, that film didn’t resonate with me the way “Cinema Paradiso” did. Tornatore’s masterpiece encapsulated everything I loved not just about movies, but about loving movies. I watched the scene of the director screening all the censored kisses and broke down in tears. The heartbreak of devoting yourself to cinema at the cost of the love of your life — it was too much for me at 18. Was that going to be me? (I secretly hoped so.) I listened to the soundtrack so much I wore out the cassette tape. I noticed that the film bore the logo of a new distribution company — Miramax. Their only other movie I could recall was “The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick” which looked a little schmaltzy to me, even as a Jewish kid. Who knew, maybe this company was going to be something… 

2. “Barton Fink”

“Devil on the Canvas, take Charlie!”  “I will destroy you!”  Not since “Eraserhead” have hotel room radiators been so absorbing and hypnotic. I really liked “Miller’s Crossing,” but this movie changed what I thought movies were supposed to be and I still quote it to this day.  

3. “Delicatessen”

I remember going to see this because it said “Terry Gilliam Presents.”  I had never seen anything like it. Perfect in every way, especially the casting. Something just felt different in how movies were being made.  

4. “Ruben and Ed”  

Crispin Glover screaming “I’m the King of the Echo People!” Crispin Glover proudly bragging  “My cat can eat a whole watermelon!” Howard Hessman as a pyramid scheme salesman trying to help Crispin Glover find the perfect spot to bury his frozen dead cat. Need I say more?  Just… trust.  Just watch it.   

5. “Man Bites Dog” 

What a tragic loss that Rémy Belvaux died age 39. I was lucky enough to see this on an invite to the New York Film Festival, and hung out with the filmmakers after. I was twenty years old, I thought they were the coolest.  A brilliant, brutal, hilarious film that was so sick and so funny at the same time it really made an indelible impression on me.   

6. “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” 

I remember this film being reviled at the time it was released, and now it’s regarded as one of the greatest films of the decade and of Lynch’s incredible career. Wildly creative, beautifully rendered, it moves at its own pace in its own world and doesn’t try to please anyone. I love it. I helped dig up the original elements to transfer it on DVD and found a lot of the lost scenes.  I still write to Badalamenti’s hypnotic score.  

7. “Reservoir Dogs”

I was lucky enough to see this in the theater without knowing anything about it. It absolutely blew my mind: violence was back. I was a Resident Assistant in my dorm at NYU and was in charge of decorating the floor.  I decorated the entire floor as an homage to Tarantino, and Lawrence Bender’s sister Karen was a friend and lived on my floor. Lawrence happened to be in town shooting “Fresh” across the street and came by and saw it and was completely amazed there was already a Tarantino Superfan. My student film was called “Restaurant Dogs.” I told Quentin I was the original Tarantino ripoff. By “Pulp Fiction” everyone was copying him. I was the first! Years later I got to run my 16mm print of “Restaurant Dogs” at Quentin’s cinema The New Beverly. Life is pretty cool sometimes.  

7A. “Bad Lieutenant”

I mean… what a year for movies 1992 was. I love Abel Ferrara, I could list so many of his films as my favorites of the 90s but this one just blew me away. Keitel is absolutely unhinged, written by “Ms. 45” herself Zoe Lund.  “Bad Lieutenant” and “Reservoir Dogs” in the same year? And the baseball subplot on the radio — it was genius. I can’t leave it off the list it’s too good.  

8. “Menace II Society”

I remember this film being billed as a reaction to “Boyz N the Hood.” There was a real danger to this movie — stories of people were being shot in the cinemas. It blew me away. 

8. “Mute Witness”

I saw in the theaters, and for the first 45 minutes I was completely exhilarated. Here was an original, no holds barred cat-and-mouse slasher film with a fantastic premise of the mute make up artist who accidentally walks in on a snuff film after hours and can’t call for help. As brilliant as the first 45 minutes were is as messy as the second half is where the film can’t sustain its premise and falls apart. But I still watch that first half as a masterclass in horror film tension and suspense.  

9. “Kids”

This was the new cinema. I lived right there in Washington Square Park where they filmed so much of it, it felt so real. A terrifying wake up call for people, to me something changed in terms of who was now allowed to make movies. You could write a film at 19 years old? What?

10. I can’t believe I’m at 10 already! Okay I’m going to cheat more.  

“Friday”

Still holds up as one of the funniest movies ever made. Masterpiece.  People say “Bye Felicia” not even knowing it’s from this film.   

10A. “Trainspotting”

When was the last time you left the theater and people were bouncing around the streets singing the music for the film? For me that was “Trainspotting.” Felt like something changed after that movies, this was the new cool.  

10B. “Scream”

I lied. I want to write about “Scream.” I remember July 4th, 1995, age 22, giving my agent the first draft of “Cabin Fever” and he handed me back a script called “Scary Movie” written by Kevin Williamson and said “This script just sold to Miramax for $500,000.”  I read it on the bus ride home from NYC to Newton, Mass, thinking “Oh…this is what a real script reads like….” At the end of the ride I was too depressed to get off. I just thought man, I’ll never write anything this good.  Great writers can either inspire you or be so great they make you feel like quitting.  

11. “Boogie Nights”

This film subverted my expectations on every level. I thought it would be a fun throwback film about 70s porn, not one of the greatest dramas I had ever seen. It’s one of those movies that now feels too short when I watch it. I wish it went on forever so I could just live with those characters in that world.

12. “The Big Lebowski”

Okay I’m breaking my rule about movies that were discussed to death, but man, this movie… it just ties the article together. And at the time it wasn’t a hit – people were talking about how the movie didn’t make any money and wasn’t as good as the other Coen brothers other films. And then there were those of us who saw it and went and bought bowling balls and had the name WALTER engraved on them and bowled at the same bowling alley (now closed) on Hollywood boulevard where they filmed — recreating the Lebowski scenes week after week after week. Guess which group I was in. 

13. The Blair Witch Project” 

I got a VHS tape from my friend Kevin Foxe who told me “This movie I’m a producer on just got into Sundance. I know you’re into horror, check it out.” I watched it in my apartment alone, then slept with the lights on. That hadn’t happened since I was a kid.   

14. “American Movie”

I still quote it to this day. All-time favorite. I related to this movie so much. Borchardt is a poet and Mike Shank is his muse.   

BENNY & JOSH SAFDIE, actor & writer-directors (“Uncut Gems”)

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 08:  (L-R) Joshua Safdie and Benjamin Safdie, winners of Best Director for "Uncut Gems," attend the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 08, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

There are two of us, so two top 10s in one:

  “Goodfellas” “The Lovers on the bridge” “Close-Up” “Jackie Brown” “Short Cuts / “The Player” “Kids” “Beau Travail” “Fargo” “Indecent Proposal” “Hero”  “Naked” “Single White Female” “Narrow Margin” “Ed Wood” “Crooklyn” “The Wedding Singer” / “Big Daddy” “Boogie Nights” “The Slums of Beverly Hills” “Total Recall” “Cliffhanger” “Buffalo ’66” “Fire in the Sky”

DEVON SAWA, actor (“Chucky”)

imdb movies 90s

In no particular order: 

“Goodfellas” — It’s my favorite movie ever made. It’s a movie that I can watch whenever it’s on. The performances, soundtrack, cinematography… It’s the definition of great cinematic chemistry.  

“Schindler’s List” — As a young person viewing this film, I felt conflicted. A beautifully crafted masterpiece about one of the most horrific events in modern history. I appreciated it and I hated it.   

“True Lies” — James Cameron’s most underrated gem. It’s what popcorn was made for.  

“The Blair Witch Project” — I sat in the theater for about 5 minutes after the end credits thinking to myself, “what the f*ck just happened?”.  I knew nothing about it, going in and it took me a bit to realize it wasn’t a real documentary. It was an incredibly original and powerful idea, at the time. Perfectly executed.  

“Pulp Fiction” — This movie was extremely important to me. It was the film that came at a time when I was ready to start looking at my job in a different way. I was 15 and this movie set me on a whole new path. It made me want to start making art by thinking outside the box.  

“Dumb And Dumber” — Never had I laughed so hard in a theater. It’s genius. Jim Carrey as a young fearless movie star.  

“Silence Of The Lambs” — Anthony Hopkins demonstrating how an actor can be huge, while staying grounded. Watching Hopkins, with Jodie Foster, going toe-to-toe…  An acting clinic.  

“Boogie Nights” — Along with “Pulp Fiction,” and unlike “Goodfellas,” this film really made you feel like this new generation of filmmakers were throwing out the classic filmmaking rules and doing things their way. These new styles were fun to watch. “Boogie Nights” had a fresh new explosive energy with an up-and-coming, badass cast.  

“The Shawshank Redemption” — The second-best Stephen King adaptation, next to “Stand By Me.” It’s a perfect film and might be my number two. 

“As Good As It Gets” — Jack Nicholson is absolutely flawless in this film. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I haven’t stolen from Jack Nicholson, for my own work. He’s always so watchable. 

PAUL SCHRADER, writer-director (“Master Gardener”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 29: Paul Schrader attends the 2021 Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on November 29, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

“A Brighter Summer Day” “Affliction” “All About My Mother” “Boogie Nights” “GoodFellas” “Natural Born Killers” “Pulp Fiction” “Taste of Cherry” “Three Colors” “The Truman Show”

ANDREW SEMANS, writer-director (“Resurrection”)

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 09: Andrew Semans, director of a psychological thriller 'Resurrection' attends the Filmmaker and Press Breakfast event for the Sundance Film Festival: London 2022 at Picturehouse Central cinema in London, United Kingdom on June 09, 2022. The London edition of the festival, running from 9 - 12 June at Picturehouse Central cinema, will present twelve specially-selected feature films from the main festival programme of Sundance Film Festival in Utah. This year's selection features an equal number of male and female directors across features and shorts, allowing a range of British, Finnish, French, Australian, Emirati, Indonesian, Canadian, Lebanese and American filmmakers to tell their authentic stories. (Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The film from the ’90s that means the most to me is “Safe.” Nine other favorites from the decade are:

“An Angel at My Table” “Beau Travail” “Cold Water” (L’eau froide) “Crumb” “Goodfellas” “Miller’s Crossing” “Naked” “Ratcatcher” “The Thin Red Line”

CHLOË SEVIGNY, actress (“The Girl from Plainville”)

imdb movies 90s

“Breaking the Waves” “My Own Private Idaho”  “Gummo” “The Lovers on the Bridge” “The Piano” “Saving Private Ryan” “The Silence of the Lambs”  “Short Cuts”

MICHAEL SHOWALTER, actor, writer-director (“The Dropout”)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 12: Michael Showalter attends the Emmy FYC "Clips & Conversation" Event For Hulu's "The Dropout" at El Capitan Theatre on June 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

1. “Safe” 2. “Fargo” 3. “Dazed and Confused” 4. “The Fugitive” 5. “L.A. Confidential”  6. “Clueless” 7. “Election” 8. “Swingers” 9. “The Sweet Hereafter” 10. “The Sixth Sense”

RILEY STEARNS, writer-director (“Dual”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 10: Director/writer Riley Stearns attends the Build Series to discuss "The Art of Self-Defense" at Build Studio on July 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Was going to watch a bunch of stuff i’d been meaning to but ended up just going with what I’d already seen. I was born in 1986 and only really started “watching” films around 17 so the ’90s were a sort of school for me in discovery of voice and style. Notice the utter lack of anything foreign or ultra-indie because I was just scratching the surface then.    1. “Fargo”  2. “Eyes Wide Shut” 3. “The Silence of the Lambs” 4. “The Thin Red Line” 5. “Being John Malkovich” 6. “Jurassic Park” 7. “Rushmore” 8. “Boogie Nights” 9. “Starship Troopers” 10. “Pulp Fiction”

MARTHA STEPHENS, writer-director (“To the Stars’)

PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 25: Martha Stephens at the “To the Stars” party at DIRECTV Lodge presented by AT&T at Sundance Film Festival 2019 on January 25, 2019 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for AT&T and DIRECTV)

“Dazed and Confused” (Richard Linklater, 1993)

A seminal film for all us middle school aged oddballs, just wishing and praying that high school would be the thrill we all dreamed it would be. This was watched at countless slumber parties, an anthem for restless Appalachian youth! 

“Dogfight” (Nancy Savoca, 1991) 

Lili Taylor’s soft, hushed voice is a warm balm and her performance is beguiling. One of the most tender love scenes accompanied by dare I say the best use of Bob Dylan in a movie ever???

“Edward Scissorhands” (Tim Burton, 1990)

A treasured childhood favorite that still wrecks me. 

“Heat “(Michael Mann, 1995)

I can’t say anything about Heat that hasn’t already been said, but every viewing sends me starry-eyed and slack-jawed. 

“One False Move” (Carl Franklin, 1992)

Seedy, sweaty, strange, and deliciously hard boiled. Carl Franklin delivers with workmanlike precision. Billy Bob Thornton’s script is full of thorny pulpy goodness.

“The Apostle” (Robert Duvall, 1997)

Wild card selection! My screenwriter friend Ryan Binaco urged me for months to watch this. When I finally did, I was completely enamored. What a disarming, peculiar character study with a balls to the wall performance by Duvall. Would pair well in a double feature with Slingblade. 

“The Company of Strangers” (aka Strangers in Good Company) (Cynthia Scott, 1990)

A lesser known gem and a recent discovery that charmed my pants off. I wish I had seen this prior to making Land Ho! 

“The Long Day Closes” (Terence Davies, 1992)

A ghostly and exquisite tapestry of memory. 

“The Silence of the Lambs” (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

This movie is near perfection and I’ll die on a hill on this.

“Wild at Heart” (David Lynch, 1990)

One of my favoite love stories and the namesake of my beloved cat of nearly eighteen years, Sailor Ripley, who passed away this Spring. He also stood for his individuality and belief in personal freedom. 

SOPHIA TAKAL, actor, writer-director (“Black Christmas”)

PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 27: Sophia Takal attends the SAGindie Filmmakers Lunch At Sundance Film Festival at Cafe Terigo on January 27, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie)

“Antz” “As Good As it Gets” “Clueless” “The Game” “Heat” “The Player” “Schindler’s List” “Short Cuts” “Six Degrees of Separation” “Waiting for Guffman”

SANDI TAN, director (“Shirkers”)

imdb movies 90s

“Bitter Moon” “Lovers on the Bridge” “My Own Private Idaho” “Leolo” “Boogie Nights” “The Double Life of Veronique” / “Center Stage” aka “Actress” (tied”) “In the Heat of the Sun”   “Man on the Moon” “Portrait of a Lady” “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me”

JOACHIM TRIER, writer-director (“The Worst Person in the World”)

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 28: Jury Members Joachim Trier and Noomi Rapace attend the Palme D'or winner press conference during the 75th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 28, 2022 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

“Beau Travail” “Close-up” “My Sex Life… Or How I Got into an Argument”  “Cyclo” “Goodfellas”  “Heat” “Husbands and Wives” “The Idiots” “Lost Highway” “Three Colors: Blue”

PEJ VAHDAT, actor (“The Old Man”)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Pej Vahdat attends The Old Man" Season 1 NYC Tastemaker Event at MOMA on June 14, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

“The Shawshank Redemption” — Still one of my favorites of all time.

“Casino” — This is my favorite Pesci performance.

“Goodfellas” — I always get hungry for pasta watching this. 

“Friday” — I have watched this at least 100 times. 

“Dumb and Dumber” — Jeff Daniels is brilliant.

“White Men Can’t Jump” — Woody has game! 

“Jerry Maguire” — Tom Cruise is fantastic in this.

“Good Will Hunting” — Robin Williams is one of my favorites of all time.  

“Can’t Hardly Wait” — To this day I still watch if it’s on TV. 

“Forrest Gump” — Tom Hanks is a genius.

LULU WANG, writer-director (“The Farewell”)

UNSPECIFIED: In this screengrab released on April 22, Lulu Wang speaks during the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards broadcast on April 22, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Film Independent)

I couldn’t list just 10 so here’s a longer list in no particular order.     “Three Colors” “Contact” “Chungking Express”  “Eat Drink Man Woman” “Secrets and Lies” “The Celebration”  “The Wedding Banquet” “After Life”  “Maborosi” “Princess Mononoke” “Home Alone” “Kids” “Safe” “Gattaca” “Short Cuts” “The Piano” “Good Will Hunting” “As Good As It Gets” “Magnolia” “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”

WILEY WIGGINS, actor (“Dazed and Confused”)

imdb movies 90s

I have a terrible time with lists. I hate quantifying art. When I think about movies especially, I think about what was going on when I saw them, who I was with, how they related to what was happening at the time, not ranking them against one another. Picking 10 movies from a decade where I was watching a lot of movies was hard, especially since I didn’t give myself a very clear criteria — movies that I saw multiple times when they played, movies that stayed with me, movies that have held up over time.

There are a lot of big, great omissions here that were maybe too popular, and then plenty of movies that need more eyeballs but are a tough argument for placement on a top 10, and what stayed is in no order. Also — so many movies I wanted to include that I realized came out in 2000 or 1989 (“In the Mood for Love”! “Parents”!). There were also incredibly memorable moments and performances in 90’s films that couldn’t fit here (Samantha Morton dancing to “Sweet Pea” in “Jesus’ Son” should be its own whole list). I’m a wreck now, thanks. With all that hand-wringing behind me, here’s 10 of my keepers from a decade I’m stuck being associated with, by virtue of a weird summer job I had when I was 15. 

“Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”

I don’t remember at what point in my first viewing of this incredible, tone-spanning film that people started leaving the theater, but one-by-one the “cherry pie and coffee” fans of the television show walked out — scared, confused and disgusted. I think it’s the strongest in a decade of career-bests for Lynch, which includes the underrated “Straight Story” and “Wild at Heart.” I’m glad that people seem to have finally caught up with this film, derided by critics on its release. Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise are unstoppable here, especially considering how difficult the material is. Also, Moira Kelly is the better of the two Donnas, fight me.  

“Careful” 

I’ve loved Guy Maddin since seeing “Tales from the Gimli Hospital” on VHS. His first color feature, “Careful,” is surreal and expressionistic, loaded with pathos and unfathomably weird and Canadian. 

“Naked” is an unforgettable collision of actors at the height of their abilities working with difficult characters in punishing situations. I hadn’t expected to have quite so much sexual violence on this list, but it’d be impossible for me not to include this unsettling and unflinching achievement by Mike Leigh. 

“Barton Fink”

Like Lynch, the Coen Brothers had an incredibly strong decade with “Miller’s Crossing,” “Hudsucker Proxy,” “Fargo,” and “The Big Lebowski” (that was still in the ’90’s?). “Barton Fink” is somehow still my favorite, simultaneously funny and horrifying and mad, following a caricatures of Clifford Odets and William Faulkner as they slum in Hollywood, losing their footing and their minds in the process.  

“Princess Mononoke”

Beyond being one of the most beautiful animated films of all time, Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke” sets itself apart from so many fantasy stories in its absolute refusal of black-and-white moralizing, and in the way that it defuses and de-escalates its conflict into a sort of homeostasis rather than a righteous hero destroying an unrepentant villain. It was really difficult to pick between this and “Porco Rosso,” which I also love, but “Princess Mononoke” dominated my imagination when it came out, and “Porco Rosso” came out of its shadow only later for me, so I went with “Mononoke.”

“The City of Lost Children”

’90s science fiction in retrospect feels incredibly homogenous to me, all so much bank gothic typefaced soggy rave flyers. “The City of Lost Children” felt fresh, displaced in time (excellent costuming by Gaultier, who seemed to be costuming every science fiction movie around the time, but carefully helped make the mood here).  

“Chungking Express”

Fresh, expressionistic, beautifully shot, loaded with trademark longing and charm. Like many of the movies on this list I remember seeing it in the Dobie theater in Austin multiple times, caught up in its moody pleasures.   

“Beau Travail”

Physical, musical, haunting and extremely French. An incredible interaction of landscape and bodies in time.  

“Slacker”

Before I had any relationship with Rick Linklater, I’d already seen this movie several times during its run at Austin’s Dobie theater. It was a vertiginous feeling to see the streets and environments I was living in suddenly become cinema, become the main character of a movie, crawling with a variety of people that movies at the time seemed to shun.    

“Tetsuo the Iron Man”

This was an impulse pick. Is Tetsuo a “better” movie than “Ed Wood” or “Silence of the Lambs?” No? Is it a muscular spasm of expressionistic junkpunk madness that kind of bookmarks the 90’s for me? Yes!  

EDGAR WRIGHT, writer-director (“Last Night in Soho”)

imdb movies 90s

This was a very difficult list to make as there are so many great films of the decade that I couldn’t fit on (“La Haine,” “Heat,” “American Movie,” “All About My Mother”) are well as personal faves that equally I was unable sneak on (“Point Break,” “Tremors”). But ultimately I narrowed it down to one film per director and ranked it alphabetically, as I cannot not subjectively say which is of these 10 is ‘greater’ than the other (a foolish concept!). 

This top 10 represent films I saw at the cinema on their initial release that left me feeling awed, and inspired as well as envious. All of them made me excited about film and desperate to make movies. And still do.

Limited myself to one entry per director, aside from the end one. 

“Boogie Nights” “Delicatessen”   “Election” “Goodfellas” “Hard Boiled”  “Reservoir Dogs” “Run Lola Run” “Rushmore” “The Silence of the Lambs” “Trainspotting”

Bonus cheat selection – The “Three Colors” trilogy

Bonus short – “The Wrong Trousers”

ELIJAH WOOD, actor, producer (“The Faculty”)

imdb movies 90s

“Bottle Rocket” — Before Wes Anderson’s beloved signature aesthetic was established, came this delightful heist film oozing with charm. anthony + inez 4ever.

“Delicatessen” — A dizzyingly inventive debut from Jeunet & Caro, whose incredible world-building production design and colorful cast of characters came to define them as singular auteurs.

“Léon: The Professional” — The montage set to Björk’s “Venus as a Boy” is a highlight in this beautiful and violent story of an unlikely friendship between hitman and a young just-orphaned girl.

“Festen” (aka “The Celebration”) — A proverbial bomb is dropped at a family gathering that reverberates through the entire film, in this pinnacle of the Dogme 95 movement that will undoubtedly leave you shook. one of my all time favorite films.

“Audition” — The moving-body-in-the-sack moment is reason alone to watch this disturbing tale of what goes wrong for a recently widowed man in his pursuit of a wife. Best-of-genre stuff.

“Cube” — How to make a film with nearly no budget? Set it in a single room that you need to find a way out of, only to find the rules change upon each successful escape. A truly brilliant debut.

“The Frighteners” — A deliciously wild tonal balance of horror, comedy and adventure; the kind of film that just isn’t made anymore, but should be.

“The Vanishing” — A masterful, unmatched film that tells a chilling story of both the abducted and the abductor.

“The Game” — The possibility of this kind of elaborate immersion experience was — and still is — so thrilling. It remains a favorite Fincher film of mine.

“Barton Fink” — The first Coen Brothers film I remember seeing. That dripping wallpaper is still etched in my mind.

Bonus: “Out of Sight” — clooney + guzman + cheadle + zhan + rhames + keener + farina + lopez + brooks + soderbergh = fuck+yes 

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25 Great 90s Movies That Time Forgot

90s nostalgia is at an all-time high but we wanna pump up the volume of some of these great flicks that don't get talked about enough.

Everybody has that movie that they love or greatly admire, but no one ever seems to talk about. It’s no wonder. After all, hundreds of movies are released every year; some good, many bad, and a few great, so it’s easy for quality films to slip under the radar and fall into obscurity over the years. Even when 90s nostalgia hits an all-time high it tends to be only around certain agreed upon movie titles that best represent the decade. But as any cinephile or VHS warrior knows, there's greatness to be found in the cracks.

Thanks to VOD and streaming services it’s easier than ever to access these forgotten gems, and you really should. It’s a blast, and a great reminder that movies mean more than box office and franchising. In putting together this list it became obvious that one way in which the 90s differed from the 80s was a reverberation of the effects of unchecked capitalism and gender roles that Generation X said "no thanks" to and punched the Baby Boomer generation right in the kisser. As such, satire saw a major storytelling comeback, from dirtying up fairytales to tackling the previous generation's various political scandals.

This list was started by Haleigh Foutch and the like-minded Brian Formo took the template and added a few decades—using an under 10,000 votes criteria from IMDb to unearth some truly underseen flicks for 1970s and 80s themed lists. But with the 90s being the decade that birthed IMDb that criteria wasn't used to update this list. Most everything here has under 20,000 votes on IMDb but more than half do fall under 10,000. The lone outlier and most still beloved title on this list is one of Haleigh's all-time favorites and features on of Brian's go to karaoke joints (by the Violent Femmes) so we're letting that slide. So, let us go on; 25 of our favorite forgotten 90s movies are below.

Pump Up the Volume (1990)

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"Do you ever get the feeling that everything in America is completely fucked up?"

Released in 1990, Pump up the Volume is more in tune with 80s cinema than 90s, but it’s just too damn good and too neglected to leave off the list. From writer-director Allan Moyle , Pump up the Volume is the unsung sibling film to his revered cult classic Empire Records . The film stars 90s ultra-babe Christian Slater as Mark Hunter, a socially awkward and extremely bright high school student who “can’t talk” to the people he wants to in his real life, so he takes to the air waves with a pirate radio program as Happy Harry Hard-On, a filthy but eloquent voice sounding out the injustices and difficulties of teenage-dom. Shy A-student by day and rabble-rouser by night, Mark fills the airwaves with his rants against injustice, earnest attempts to counsel his listeners, and occasional simulated masturbation (he is a teenage boy after all). What starts out as a way for Mark to vent his frustrations and communicate with the world ends up sparking rebellion in his fellow students and inspiring them to change their lives.

In between tackling heavy subject matter like homosexuality, suicide and educational rights, the film occasionally veers into teenage melodrama, but never drowns in its own angst thanks to Moyle’s heartfelt script and ace performances from its young cast. Slater carries the film, balancing the wavering tones of comedy, heavy material, and Mark/Harry’s conflicting personas with ease. Samantha Mathis (who should have been a bigger star) is radiant as Nora, a clever and talented young woman who seeks out Harry’s true identity and finds her match in Mark. Though the romantic subplot is one of the film’s weaker elements, and there’s a really bizarre amount of lip-licking before every kiss, the two share a lovely chemistry.

For a 27-year-old teen movie, Pump up the Volume holds up incredibly well. Themes of teenage alienation and disaffection are bound to stay relevant, but the ideas the film puts forth about shared community are oddly even more pertinent in our Internet age. Here we are, able to instantly connect with nearly anyone the world over, and yet we feel as isolated as ever. The themes remain so applicable that Pump up the Volume is practically begging for a remake with a Hard Harry spouting his anthems from a podcast or YouTube Live, or any of the new ways we clamor to connect. Not that I want to see that happen; it’s just probably going to. You’ve been put on notice. Talk hard. — Haleigh Foutch

To Sleep with Anger (1990)

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"You got to work at evil."

You've probably heard the advice "don't go to sleep with anger." The characters in  Charles Burnett 's  To Sleep with Anger have to sleep with anger because a long lost family friend has shown up and refuses to let sleeping dogs lie; he digs up old ills and turns a family household in on itself—merely by testing their politeness. That friend is Harry and he's played with charm by  Danny Glover  because Danny Glover is a charming actor. At the height of  Lethal Weapon  fame this is Glover at his most likable. Who wouldn't let him in if he came knocking at your door?

Harry's presence at an old friend's house in Los Angeles is like a ghost from the past of the rural south. You can take a friend out of the south, but they'll still attempt to retain that southern hospitality as long as possible. And drifters know how to ride hospitality to the end of the line. Harry is a drifter. He knocks on the door of Gideon's home and he looms over the child who answers it. There's something surreal to a child about a stranger at the door that's invited in. We tell our children not to talk to strangers but we invite anyone to stay with us whom we've not seen for years, even though years of separation can make people strangers again.

Harry says he'll stay for a few days, but he's there drinking and playing cards much longer; he questions the masculinity of the men in the family and brings up old grudges that everyone but Harry has buried—but it's always done with a smile. Eventually, Gideon ( Paul Baker ) and his family begin to suspect that Harry is the devil himself.  To Sleep with Anger  is the most Southern film that's not set in the South and it's the closest film to achieve magical realism without actually engaging with any magic. It's a very interesting approach from Burnett to apply a type of voodoo to a film where those beliefs would be a stranger to the area. And Glover is simply magnificent. Though he wears out his welcome with Gideon and his family, he's always a welcome watch for the audience. And so goes the magic of movies: we enjoy spending time with characters we'd love to kick out of our own homes.  — Brian Formo

Trust (1990)

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"I had a bad day at work. I had to subvert my principles and kow-tow to an idiot. Television makes these daily sacrifices possible. Deadens the inner core of my being."

A few years before  Bottle Rocket put an indie crown on  Wes Anderson 's head,  Hal Hartley  was the indie soap opera star of the working class. And  Trust  was his  Rushmore .  Hartley's characters have delusional goals because they've watched so many hours of TV and TV is a distraction from their miserable lives—but they hold everyone else to a standard that no one else is interested in meeting because life sucks. Outside of  Richard Linklater 's  Slacker ,  Trust  is the most Gen-X movie imaginable. Hartley takes the consumer aspects of our society and treats them as serious as Jane Austen  did with feelings.

Did I mention that it's bitingly funny? The plot to  Trust  is almost indescribable, not because amazing things happen, but because Hartley is amused by the incredibly mundane tasks that we have to do. Maria ( Adrianne Shelly ) is in high school and she's pregnant. She tells her parents her plan to marry the football stud boyfriend and her father drops dead upon hearing the news. She tells her boyfriend her plan and he tells her he has football practice. After being kicked out of the house she meets Matthew ( Martin Donovan ) who might be a future serial killer or her soul mate. Matthew has a terrible manual labor job and his father makes him clean the bathroom for hours. These are the things that could lead him to mass murder. Or perhaps Maria and her baby will put him on the right path to being a bored stiff who has no urge to kill, but just to exist.

Scenes in  Trust  move with great precision where language escalates quickly and absurdly but action doesn't. It essentially operates as a preposterous soap opera without the action. Hartley's films are different types of entertainment jammed into one narrative because we're too lazy to change the channel. It's a unique product of its time and if you loved anything alternative, you've got to give it a shot.  — Brian Formo

Mo' Better Blues (1990)

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“I may have been born yesterday, but I stayed up all night.”

Mo' Better Blues is Spike Lee 's masculine answer to She's Gotta Have It , wherein a two-timing man only needs to choose a woman once his job no longer provides him an identity. And in Blues , that man's downfall comes by association and loyalty to another man whose job it is to promote his greatness. Denzel Washington is a trumpet player named Bleek who leads a quartet with his name on it; even though they have a regular gig that's packed, his manager ( Spike Lee ) is probably the one holding the group back because he's not big in the business (despite his name being Giant) as he was just hired due to his friendship with Bleek; but Giant’s side debts are receiving more attention than Bleek's steady ensemble.

Mo' Better Blues is full of charisma, and jazzy peaks and valleys. Working within a jazz club and a jazz musician's bedroom is the perfect setting for Lee's free jazz camera excess; the camera spins, it glides through aisles, it drops into the garbage heap. This movie holds perhaps my favorite Lee camera moment, as the camera follows each of Bleek's two women as they enter in the club in the same red dress, pans back to Lee's manager watching them sit down, and then follows him upstairs to declare that he predicted this would happen.

But back to the answer to She's Gotta Have It , although the film exists in its own hazy bubble of brass and ass, the reason Bleek is forced to settle down is the ultimate moment of wounded masculinity: losing work. Being revered for his work is what makes Bleek appealing to enough women that he doesn’t feel the need to commit to one; but after external events knock him down, tries to choose a woman when he needs to be lifted up.

Coming after Do the Right Thing , this was the first time Lee had been given the runtime canvas to get more excessive, and he continues the narrative beyond that wounded state to show that it's acceptance of self-limitations that can create the fuller acceptance of others, and thus, a love supreme. Although the hangout portions of Blues are great (here’s the place to plug that Wesley Snipes is in Bleek’s band), it's the third act (and following epilogue) that makes Mo’ Better one of Lee's best. ~ Brian Formo

Chameleon Street (1990)

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“Oh, I wish I could speak French like that.”

I've seen Steven Soderbergh 's Out of Sight a handful of times and in a knockout top-to-bottom cast, Jenifer Lopez’s boss Daniel always stood out in a cast of who's who. His honey voiced/above it all reading of the line "whatever" with the eye roll and the hands up is just so goddamn perfect. Anyway, Daniel is played by Wendell B. Harris, Jr . and Soderbergh hired him because the year after sex, lies, and videotape changed the Sundance Film Festival forever, Soderbergh served on the Jury the following year and awarded Harris the Grand Prize for Chameleon Street , a film that Harris wrote, directed, starred in and produced, and also that Hollywood completely screwed him over with right after Soderbergh’s prize should’ve set the groundwork for a major career.

You see, this micro-budget film, has a Hollywood story right there: the true story of a black ex-con (Harris) who successfully passed himself off as a Detroit Tiger, a doctor, a French graduate student, and a lawyer, and even performed successful surgeries that he learned on the fly. Hollywood had a leading man remake in mind when it was purchased, it wasn’t purchased to show on its own. The film that they bought, and didn’t release, was shot like an industrial film and uses narration to fill in the gaps (but also hit you with some belly laughs). Chameleon Street lacks standard pizazz, but has an angry undercurrent on how black men have to adopt personas in order to get respect and/or equal opportunity. (Did I mention it's funny?)

Chameleon Street is quite a feat to watch today, and we're benefited by watching the 90s independent film movement unfold, as it shares some look and tone of other indie gods like Hal Hartley and Gregg Araki . But Harris beat them to the punch and suffered for it. Warner Brothers had no intention of releasing his film, just remaking it, and so the film languished in obscurity, the prize-winning videotape that followed sex, lies, and videotape that was gobbled up by lies and never saw actual distribution until Harris released it on home video in 2007. (A remake was never done either, though Six Degrees of Separation shares many character similarities and Smith was considered for the remake role.)

Street benefits greatly from Harris' voice, which stood out in Out of Sight , a syrupy tone that moves slowly; and as it moves, it unfurls. First, a hint of education in every word, and second a "fuck you" tucked away to rebut your entranced state. This is a distinctly 1990 Sundance Film in all of the absolute best ways. It's intelligent, it's personal, it's all put together by someone who had no access to Hollywood. And it features a scene where Harris is dressed up like Jean Cocteau's Beast and though he's been found out by a fellow French student that he’s not actually French, he's still in awe of the translated insult that comes his way. Instead of responding incredulously to being labeled a "skinflint transvestite" who should be drinking "lukewarm cat piss," Harris' eyes roll into an orgasmic state behind the Beast mask and he says, "Oh, I wish I could speak French like that .” True indie movie heaven. ~ Brian Formo

Blue Steel (1990)

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“Police! Put the gun down!”

“Oh, get out of my face, lady!”

Blue Steel is the ultimate #MeToo movie; it comes 28 years prior to the long overdue movement, and from the first and only female director to win a Best Director Oscar, Kathryn Bigelow , who rose through the movie ranks by making "manly movies." The entire movie is about a woman ( Jamie Lee Curtis ) doing a job that's been fetishized to make men heroes and an affluent man ( Ron Silver ) who fetishizes the female cop he witnesses shoot a holdup man at the supermarket. As the man begins to stalk her, he's afforded every creepy entrance into her personal space simply because he has a great lawyer and the police department doesn't want the headache of the press if they put the dude in jail. This is the modern gender narrative that's filmed like a 70s exploitation film; all leering closeups, slow motion blood blasts, and all the microphones dialed to 11 to catch every sloppy kiss, belly button lick, and bullets that blast through a megaphone.

Right from the get go, Bigelow stages an opening gut punch. Bigelow amplifies a domestic argument that sounds very, very close to boiling over into physical abuse or worse. We hear it dialed up while Curtis walks down an apartment hallway, gun drawn. She enters the apartment and the man has a gun to a woman's head. She is able to shoot him first but she never looks at the woman who goes to collect her lover's gun and bang Curtis would be dead. Would be, because it's a simulation, the woman's gun never goes off; everyone laughs at her for not considering the woman as a threat.

The reason this opening works so well is because the sound of the argument is so intense, just peering into the doorway, gun drawn shows why movies have fetishized and built cops as heroes incarnate. It's brave to enter that situation and it's extra horrific because the anger of a man, well, you never know what you'll see behind that door. But then the extra beat that this female cop would overlook the victim and then be killed by the victim is very telling. She's out to get bad guys. But only once she's a simulated victim does she start to see victimized women everywhere. And she starts sticking up for them because the men in her department don't believe her story of the supermarket shootout because the gun wasn't found. That's just the floor of the power pyramid which takes her literally up into the NYC helicopter zone of untouchable men.

Blue Steel definitely has a few messy sexual moments but Bigelow ultimately gives a visceral tap on the shoulder of, this is consent, and this isn't. Bigelow stages many different invasions of Curtis’ personal space in which she is told simply nothing can be done. The system allows for worse things to happen to her. And when she is assaulted, Bigelow doesn't focus on that act but instead the system that silences women; particularly because this is a cocktail of silence being carried out by powerful men with badges and powerful men with money.

There's also a very funny exchange when Curtis' cop has a conversation with a man at a BBQ who is threatened by her profession, since it's usually men who have that authority. His attraction goes from red hot to downward. He asks her why she would do it and she says, "because I like to bang heads against the wall." The man then says he has to leave and she tells him to not be so serious and lighten up a little. I couldn't help but think that that BBQ conversation could've happened with Bigelow as such, "What do you do?" "I'm a film director." "Oh, so you make rom-coms?" Bigelow: "I bang men's heads against the walls." Man walks away and Bigelow says, "Relax, that's what you like to see isn't it?" ~ Brian Formo

Flirting (1991)

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"It's all right, you don't have to tell me... But I think, if I liked someone enough, I'd want to..."

Watching now, Flirting   has a built-in holy smokes!  factor because it features very early work from future Hollywood stars  Thandie Newton, Nicole Kidman  and  Naomi Watts  and the future Aussie character actor,  Noah Taylor . But  John Duigan 's underseen coming-of-age gem is so much more than a "before they were stars" clip show. Do you love  Harold and Maude ? Consider this the   version of what if what separated Harold and Maude was not age but race, continents, and genocide.

Physically, what actually separates Thandiwe (Newton) and Danny (Taylor) is actually a lake that's between the boy's academy and the girl's academy of a private Australian boarding school. Danny, here's the Harold part, is an eccentric misfit who envisions the headmaster as part of the Third Reich and doesn't attempt to make any pals at school. Thandiwe is the daughter of a Ugandan diplomat who's teaching at an Australian university because his opposition to the new Ugandan government has made him unwelcome. It's 1965 and the rock-and-roll radio invasion has found its way to this distant school across a much larger pond, where caning is still a regular part of discipline and dance attendance requires a haircut. Thandiwe is drawn to Danny because he has a rebellious spirit. He rows across the lake after midnight to flirt with her, she hides in the boys bathroom when she stays past curfew. It's a very sweet courtship, but what makes it different here than any other similar film is that a conflict in Africa determines how long they'll actually have to spend together. It's a continent that young rebels had never really given much thought to at the time and everything that Danny learns is new. Not just kissing, foreplay or sex, but entirely new ideas of democracy, globalization, and revolution.

In addition to this fractured globe love affair that's played out across a lake, what makes  Flirting  extra special is that Duigan understands how complex teenagers actually are. In a lesser film, the mean girls who at first tease Thandiwe will get meaner and the boy who bullies Danny for his stutter will turn him in for leaving late at night to lay down with Thandiwe. Instead, the at-first icy Nicola (Kidman) and the bully reveal themselves to have layers and compassion for their fellow students' plight. That compassion doesn't come from an  a-ha  speech, but just small and natural moments where they choose to not stop the lovebirds. It's an awareness that the world is bigger than them and for this couple it's a world that's actually keeping them apart, but has somehow thrust them together for a brief moment.  Flirting  is a lovely film that any fan of the above actors or the coming-of-age drama needs to seek out; though it's been repackaged to look like an early Kidman vehicle, this is the rare "before they were stars" film that will actually lift your spirits to the stars.  — Brian Formo

The Man in the Moon (1991)

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"I wanna know you more... I wanna know you all I can."

A 14-year-old Reese Witherspoon falls in love with a neighbor boy ( Jason London ) in this note-perfect coming-of-age drama. She’s taking her first steps toward womanhood and becoming a woman also means dealing with jealousy. When her sister ( Emily Warfield ) falls for the same boy (which is a more age appropriate circumstance — but try telling that to a 14-year old) it tests her resolve. The Man in the Moon  was the last film directed by Robert Mulligan ( To Kill a Mockingbird ) who, though northeastern bred, seems most at home in the deep south.

The Man in the Moon isn’t a film full of sweeping romantic moments, but instead awakens the strange feelings of first attractions and how everything feels amazing and awful all at once. When Dani (Witherspoon) asks her sister how to kiss a boy, her sister shows her how to practice on her hand. The romance here is in the teenaged practice to receive it. And practice makes perfect. — Brian Formo

Jamón, Jamón (1992)

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"You won't be famous. Unless your balls make you famous."

There are three businesses in the sweaty Spanish pueblo depicted in Jamón Jamón : there’s the underwear factory, the ham factory, and the whorehouse. Sound like a set-up to a joke? It is. But there’s more. The town has a billboard of a bull whose testicles are so large they can be seen from miles away. The sun rises and sets, casting shadows from two big balls.

Conchita ( Stefania Sandrelli ) has some pretty big balls, too. She’s not too happy that her son, José Luís ( Jordi Molla ), has impregnated Silvia ( Penelope Cruz ). For no underwear magnate son of hers will marry the daughter of a prostitute. Conchita hires a hunk at the ham factory, Raúl ( Javier Bardem ) to seduce Silvia away from her son. But then that’s complicated when Conchita decides that she wants Raúl, too. Those are the basic ingredients for a hammy (guilty pleasure) melodrama. The characters are hungry for sex and power—and all of the town's industries partake in animal flesh.

A delicious taste is damn near impossible to capture on screen. But an orgasm isn’t. Director Bigas Luna combines those two often: taste and sex.

The double ham is Silvia, who is renowned for her omelets: both the breakfast she makes and her breasts, which her lovers say taste like a ham omelet. When the men visit the brothel they explain that they’re hungry. There metaphors everywhere in  Jamón Jamón ; you know those billboard testes will eventually get castrated; two men (let's call them pigs) fight to the death with big shanks of ham.  Jamón Jamón is most delicious when it provides a dash of foreplay. Such as when Raúl inserts a garlic clove into a pig’s anus prior to one of his many sexual conquests. Afterward he’s gonna slaughter that pig, put it in an omelet and it’s going to taste just as good as his lovers body. — Brian Formo

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992)

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The other day, I was on the number 2 train with my friends, just buggin’ out, having a good time, and people started starring at us like we were some sort of street girls with no future. Yo, when I’m with my friends, I act like it don’t matter, cuz it don’t! But between you and me, that shit pisses me off. When they think they can just judge you by the way you dress, uh-uh! I always get As and Bs in all my classes. I’m the best student in my calc class! People be trippin’ when they find out how smart I really am.

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. is Leslie Harris’ only film and it’s a damn shame, but at least with one film she gave us an instantly memorable character for anyone who sees it. Chantel ( Ariyan A. Johnson ) is a hip, outspoken, and immensely intelligent Brooklyn teenager. She’s also black and her friends are black and though she can fire back at the preconceived notions of people on the train who don’t even know her, she also knows she faces extra external challenges to meet her goals without accepting compromises. Chantel wants to go to medical school, she wants to raise a family, and she wants to escape the Brooklyn life that her friends have accepted as their only option.

Chantel speaks the truth in every class and Harris’ film is alive with immense energy and awareness of expectations; individuality doesn’t need to be shoved down in order to defeat expectations, but rather to flourish in their natural pluralities. I wish this were the 90’s teen hit it deserves to be. ~ Brian Formo

Deep Cover (1992)

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“Money doesn't know where it comes from, but I do. If I keep it, I'm a criminal. If I give it to the government, I'm a fool. If I try and do some good with it, maybe it just makes things worse.”

Deep Cover starts and ends with blood money. Crumpled and ugly, handed over. Director Bill Duke and Laurence Fishburne , who plays an undercover cop, charge head first into a Deep State drug conspiracy. "Follow the money" is not only the proper way to investigate but it's the thesis of the entire film. A lot of what happens in Cover 's undercover portrayal is a visual re-enactment of Fishburne's famous Boyz N the Hood monologue about why there's a liquor store on every corner of a black neighborhood. But as angry as Duke and Fishburne's undercover cop are that drug arrests over-target black neighborhoods, the thematic arc of the film isn't identifying race as what needs to be overcome but poverty. “Stay black” a high roller says and the black barkeep replies, “stay black? How ‘bout stay off crack?”

Deep Cover 's police work starts and ends with being asked the difference between a racial epithet and a racial identity; Fishburne's answer to that question at the start gets him a job but after what he sees on the streets and from his superior ( Charles Martin Smith ) he changes his answer and it signifies his mistake at the beginning. Whom he looked down upon, he then becomes. So if identity is flexible—and as stated, his distrust of authority/"criminal traits" were as strong as his "police traits" thus making him a good candidate for undercover work—then the only thing that's constant in modern society is money. What you have of it, what you lack of it. And then, once you have it, what you do with it.

Obviously, we live in a world of systemic racism and sexism and power structures that either maintain that order or flexibly change it. But money is post-racial. Fishburne works undercover with Latin drug dealers and a white lawyer ( Jeff Goldblum ) who money launders for them; any level of distrust amongst them is primarily work ethic, what brings in money. They do not discuss race as to why someone should be whacked, it's because they're not pulling their share or they rest on their laurels—their money—instead of getting even more.

Deep Cover is a pulsing and angry movie. Sometimes that anger pushes the blood of the narrative to different corridors, but it's very intelligently tethered to a single through line: follow the money. From crumpled up and bloody $5 bills to a van full of cash at the docks. Every bit of currency is all you have in the world and all you leave behind.

Finishing with Dr. Dre 's first post-NWA single "Deep Cover (187)" over the credits, Duke’s film is angry about the past, present, and future. The more we allow money to maintain power structures the less we know of the potential outcome and the more maddening the poverty that's forced on others becomes—it just becomes a gulf between humans. It's $5 covered in blood or a van full of millions and very little in between. ~ Brian Formo

Passion Fish (1992)

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“I didn’t ask for the anal probe.”

Despite an overbearing electric guitar as the soundtrack (particularly egregious during the opening credits), John Sayles ' Passion Fish has aged like the finest of wines. A movie where characters get to make decisions and have monologues and just plain exist before we learn about their past histories and how that echoes in the present. Does Alfre Woodard , playing nurse to an alcoholic wheelchair-bound former soap opera star ( Mary McDonnell ), become a stereotypical early 90s black character? Yes and no. Yes, she does have a past that the movies were very interested in at the time but Sayles lets her introduce herself and stake a claim in the story as an individual with enough character beats that when her past is revealed; it's quite a blessing to think back on how much runway she was given so as to not be defined by the reveal but only to have that become seen as a shadow that follows her but does not define her. Instead it's the white woman who is introduced entirely through her faults and has to slowly reveal her humanity.

Pepper in David Strathairn as a Cajun handyman and one dazzling monologue about an anal probe (delivered by one of McDonnell's soap opera friends about an early audition; subtext: our expectations are routinely never met but still giving it your best is the road to contentment) and voila! Sayles' film is a slow cooker of character moments, less interested in revelations but more in how company is so vital to our life force, especially when needing to start anew.

No one asks for the anal probe. But sometimes, we just get it. This level of thoughtfulness (and ability to embrace some crude humor from time to time without being tied to it) and openness to just sit with women is the American indie that became what’s defined Pedro Almodovar ’s second half of his career. ~ Brian Formo

Light Sleeper (1992)

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“I feel my life turning. All it needed was a direction. You drift from day to day, years go by. Then a change comes. I am able to change. I can be a good person. What a strange thing to happen, halfway through your life. What luck.”

Paul Schrader has profiled many avenging misanthropes, most iconic among them is Travis Bickel in Taxi Driver . In that film the socially unrefined loner openly wishes for a great rain to wash away all the filth in New York City: the pimps, the prostitutes, the drug pushers, etc. 15 years later Schrader is here to atone that stance by focusing on a drug dealer who's actually a good guy, damn near a Robert Bresson priest stand-in, in Light Sleeper .

Willem Dafoe 's John LeTour makes hand-to-hand deals with upper-level buyers. He was once an addict, he's gone straight on taking drugs but began dealing as a way to feed his habit and thus, as he's approaching 40, it's pretty much all he knows how to do. The party is over. And we get the sense that LeTour doesn't remember much of it, asking his boss ( Susan Sarandon ) if they ever had sex in previous years. "We tried," she says, hinting at intoxication. He was married to a woman that he did drugs with. He remembers their good times but she reminds him that he once left for three months and only called her once.

Despite the looks backwards, Light Sleeper isn't a morose film. For a movie about a drug dealer coming to terms with his past it's surprisingly peaceful and delicate. Much of this is attributed to Dafoe's discreet and alluring performance, Sarandon's sass, and Schrader's decision to let the movie play out like a waft of cigarette smoke spiraling up into the air. Less a spiritual sequel to Taxi Driver, and more so a look at someone who must've spent time in that very gutter that Bickel wanted the water to wash away, Schrader starts the film with some dialogue about how the NYC sanitation workers are on strike and there is garbage strewn in the streets and alleys. John routinely uses cologne to cover the smell around him, applying more as the film goes on, routinely hearing comments about his flowery smell. He is close to emerging from this business clean. He sends money to his sister. He attempts to reconnect with his ex-wife. He visits a fortune teller. He keeps a composition notebook of physical traits. He delivers drugs. And he buys CDs (when Dafoe and Sarandon have dinner together to discuss her attempts to get out of the trade and into cosmetics, she asks where all of his tax-free money has gone and it's delightful how her face lights up and she says CDs at the same time as Dafoe; I miss the 90s. All my CDs are now gone, but damn, so much money spent on those discs).

Similar to Taxi Driver , this does conclude with a violent ending, but this one is hopeful, not heroic. Perhaps it's Schrader being older, but there's a believable warmness between Dafoe and Sarandon and even though the final 15 minutes of this movie are very similar to Taxi Driver it feels as if this one is aware that humanity is more believable than heroism. ~ Brian Formo

Matinee (1993)

imdb movies 90s

"You make the teeth as big as you want, then you kill it off, everything's okay, the lights come up...  "

One of the many under-loved classics by the great Joe Dante , Matinee is a charming and delightful coming-of-age comedy that taps into national hysteria and a deep love of cinema. Set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, at the peak of nuclear fear, the film centers on Lawrence Woolsey ( John Goodman ), a B-movie producer who brings his latest creature feature "Mant" (an atomic mutation of a man and ant, naturally) to Key West where he meets his biggest fan, high school student Gene Loomis ( Simon Fenton ). Gene is a movie buff and a sci-fi fanatic who considers Woolsey a great man. He's also a kid terrified by the threat of nuclear war, afraid for his Naval officer father, and is coming to terms with his own hormonal advancement (a bomb itself).

Woolsey is all about showmanship, realizing that the age of American innocence is over and audiences need a (sometimes literal) jolt to the system to get scared at the cinema. He rigs the entire theater with gimmicky tricks including electric buzzers in the seats, waivers releasing the theater of any legal liability in the the event of a heart attack, and a man dressed in a Mant costume that jumps out to fright the audience. The movie within the movie, Mant, is affectionately made and it’s clear that Dante has a lot of love for the kitschy creature features of yesteryear. Woolsey, too, shares this obvious love of cinema, a genial man who enjoys his work and gets a genuine kick out of thrilling his audience.His Saturday showing of “Mant” brings the town together in a culmination of their nuclear anxieties and they youngsters brimming hormones. The audience is putty in Woolsey’s hands as their fear of human annihilation and nuclear mutations drives them to the peak of hysteria—with a little help from Woolsey’s tricks.

Dante locks up the resolution sweetly, tying together the threads of impending doom and hormonal maturation in a culminating set piece that’s a dream for any movie theater junkie like myself. Matinee is a lovely little film that manages to capture the innocence of a time long past. It’s not a laugh-out-loud comedy, but it is a feel-good treat that will put a broad smile on your face. — Haleigh Foutch

Wild Reeds (1994)

imdb movies 90s

"You think you're smart but you're just a tacky Tarzan."

Andre Techine  is one of the most interesting voices in queer cinema because he frequently shows how closely related the emotional response of revulsion and arousal are within sexuality, regardless of orientation. And consequently, how heterosexuality and homosexuality are always close to crossing currents, particularly in the younger years.  Wild Reeds presents the difficulty of finding comfort with arousal from both genders at the forefront of a coming of age story that's also bubbling with ideological influences that are constantly changing around the French-Algerian War. If ideological ideas of nations and war consistently change, why can't the ideas of sexuality be just as fluid?

It's 1962 and four teenagers are struggling with nationalist and sexual identities in the idyllic French countryside. Francois ( Gael Morel ) realizes his homosexuality with a new student, Serge ( Stephane Rideau ) in a late night study session that will not be repeated, but will change Francois forever. Francois' next obsession is Henri ( Frederic Gorny ), who was born in Algeria and is pro-France's governance of the Muslim country; meanwhile Serge, whose brother just died after being drafted to fight in Algeria, has set his sights on Francois' best friend Maite ( Elodie Bouchez ), who has secretly been in love with Francois since they were children. She identifies as a Communist and resists the advances of Serge, but she is drawn to Henri despite despising his political ideologies.

In this four-way quandary of potential sexual pairings, all have reasons not to lay together; in the pairings that do occur, the lingering attachment exists for one party alone, the other vowing not to repeat. Each student is trying on sexuality with the same clumsy beginners approach that students attempt in trying on ideologies. A Communist might become a Socialist or a moderate liberal and someone who's pro a France-Algeria union at one point, still has the ability to change stances with new information that guides their feelings. Why shouldn't our genitals be allowed to do the same? — Brian Formo

Joan the Maid (1994)

joan-the-maid

“Men think that because they pump a few times to create life that they are the makers of the world, when it’s a woman that keeps the seed alive.”

Jacques Rivette and Sandrine Bonnaire partook in a two-part film concerning two distinct chapters in Joan of Arc’s life: what led her to suit up for battle and how she carried herself in prison before her trial and execution.

Though Bonnaire puts on armor and learns to joust and orders legions into battle, what The Battles mostly concerns is Joan of Arc’s battles with men to defeat their egos by massaging their egos. Rivette isn't concerned with whether or not God actually spoke to her, indeed her conversations are more observed by people around her who describe watching her tranquility by the fire, listening; instead, Rivette shows how she was able to win over so many men by coming at them directly: you are the rightful king, she tells the Dauphin, whom has been waiting in exile to hear that; the men enjoy her sleeping beside them because it makes them feel special to be lying next to a beautiful virgin who desires to go to battle, she even giggles at their impure thoughts which gives them shame and they'll use that to go to battle for her when the English call her a whore. Rivette even shows Joan of Arc as a bit of a bully, pushing men around until they fall into line. She's unlike any woman they have encountered and they like the approach.

Although presented as matter-of-factly as possible and without rising adventure, there's delicate reverence and folly at play in Battles . And Joan isn't presented as a martyr but rather as someone who is convincing in her beliefs, young in her energy, and how that combination grants her access to men who've felt long defeated by the English and needed someone to stir their self-importance. Indeed, she's able to make everyone around her feel important, whether it's the would be king, or her Uncle, or a local nun, which is aided by her belief in the guiding hand of God. For a time, she stayed amongst the men because you don’t shoot the messenger when the messenger is there to exalt your higher place in society.

Still, despite the focus on ego massage, Rivette inserts direct messaging that societal order has been centered around men unfairly. But as it was ordered as such, this was how Joan the Maid was able to gain access despite societal rank and gender, by appealing to one man's ascension to govern.

We know that Joan of Arc will eventually be burned at the stake, but that's only four minutes of this 5+ hour dual movie. That runtime is meant to show Joan of Arc’s life, deeds, and conviction but it's also meant to show how men behave around her and that because they've assumed all roles of power—courts, priesthood, bishops, governors, kings, etc.—what irks them most is that she refuses to wear a dress. And in those five hours we see Joan of Arc command an army, stroke the ego of a would-be-king, bully men and women alike, all while wearing a top and a bottom.

The potential voices that she hears isn't the problem by the time Rivette and Bonnaire take us to The Prisons , it's that a woman has inserted herself within a French-English truce and that's not something that a woman should do. Her final undoing is putting back on her "male outfit" simply because the English guards have used her pariah status as providing them the freedom to chain her, molest her, and degrade her. During those uncomfortable scenes she is in a dress and she resorts to retrieving the outfit that afforded her some respect, or at least not this type of treatment. And thus, Joan the Maid , taken on a whole is a double feature in which we all know what is coming but with its five-hour runtime it's actually an epic dissection of despicable and frequent "she had it coming" narratives. For once she is in a dress and once the men have a narrative of who she is, a virgin who "hears voices," then those men who label her as beneath them then think they can do whatever vile thing they think of. Joan remarks that this treatment wouldn't happen if she was in a prison with women guards, or at least a woman's presence in a church prison. Because she is now in a dress—she is chained, what was promised to her is unfulfilled, and a "she deserved it" hangs in the air of every imaginable action. She is burned at the stake for refusing to go back to the dress. And the men, who hold all positions of power during this discussion, see that as her heresy, nothing to do with hearing voices from God, but disobeying their control of her body.

Bonnaire crafts a magnificent performance across two films; in Battles, she is perfectly poised and stoic with just enough girlish traits (like kicking her legs as she talks in one scene, or giggling at a man’s lascivious conversation in another). She has conviction and charm. In Prisons , though the torment in the final moments is not as intense as the classic silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Bonnaire plays it differently, also not looking at Joan's potential insanity for tics in her performance, but instead as firm, until the very end. ~ Brian Formo

The Addiction (1995)

imdb movies 90s

"We're not evil because of the evil things we do, but we do evil because we are evil."

In The Addiction ,  Lili Taylor —one of the indie queens of the 90s, now most known for the clapping game that conjures spirits in The Conjuring —stars as a philosophy student who’s hungry for knowledge before she gets bit by a vampire in a New York alleyway and then gets “the hunger” for blood. It’s become pretty chic to investigate the negative aspects of eternal life in recent times, but Abel Ferrara ’s sparse, black and white film definitely grapples with the most issues, using a vampiric newbie to explore religion, drug dependency, rape and the AIDs epidemic. Luckily Taylor encounters a silky-tongued Christopher Walken —as a nightwalking spiritual guide—who gives her a lesson on how to adapt to her new affliction. The Addiction is extremely academic, but though it waxes philosophical, it’s got a specific digestible rhythm that wouldn’t turn off the non-Jean-Paul Sartre inclined.

At the center of The Addiction is the idea of how we always change our philosophy of life to better serve our current circumstances—whether it’s addiction, a reaction to trauma, the economic discrepancies in a cosmopolitan city, or sudden and unexpected vampirism. — Brian Formo

Clockers (1995)

imdb movies 90s

"It's motherfuckers like you who robbed Rosa Parks."

On a basic story level,  Spike Lee 's  Clockers  is a whodunit concerning drug-pushing corner kids who hang at benches all day under the watch of the neighborhood kingpin, Rodney Little ( Delroy Lindo ). When a night manager at a take-n-go eatery gets shot four times, the older brother, Rocco ( Isaiah Washington ) of one of the corner kids, Strike ( Mekhi Phifer ), confesses to the murder. But detectives Rocco Klein ( Harvey Keitel ) and Larry Mazzilli ( John Turturro ) think he's covering for his younger brother in an attempt to get him to wake up and distance himself rom Little; the detectives believe that Rodney and Strike killed the man as an initiation to move up the chain.

Clockers  was originally set up for  Martin Scorsese  to direct but he ended up passing the project onto Lee and became a producer. Lee, working for a script from the novel's author  Richard Price , flipped the original POV from Klein to Strike and the resulting story became immensely more interesting than a standard procedural mystery. Strike, though in his late teens, is often shown playing with trains during his downtime and drinking chocolate milk to ease his ulcer pains. These could be easy props to show that Strike is a youth who happens to be stuck in this violent circle, but Lee uses it to introduce the thought that neighborhoods that are overtaken by drugs make it so that a young man rarely advances past young interests because they're hardened to believe that they have no future.

But Lee isn't content on making Strike a mere victim who had the deck stacked against him. While the investigation swirls around Strike, Lee features two side characters who serve as a confrontational chorus for Strike. There's the beat cop, Andre the Giant ( Keith David ) and the mother ( Regina Taylor ) of a neighborhood child that looks up to Strike, who lecture Strike about the detriment he's causing the community by sitting on a bench all day open for business. Taylor gives one of the all-time greatest single-scene performances and David, lean and fierce, gives one of his fieriest performances as a cop who's disgusted that Strike doesn't even know who Rosa Parks is. Though these characters lecture like a Greek Chorus, they're not painted as saints, but rather that they're imparting wisdom but are also flawed because they don't listen to the response. The older generation experienced the Civil Rights Movement and witnessed an incremental movement of change and are expecting the next generation to step up, but are also oblivious that that change stagnated and helped create a system of inequality that's damn near impossible to escape a neighborhood without having to participate in what earns that neighborhood money; a vicious cycle has been created and it's extremely hard to escape.

Choosing to shoot from Strike's point of view gives extra tension to the investigation because ultimately you're hopeful that Strike isn't culpable. It's a difficult task for Lee to make Strike sympathetic while also presenting that he could be a killer and Strike is indeed flawed and impish, but it's a viewing experience that makes Clockers  unlike other films of its ilk. Ultimately,  Clockers   would be devastating no matter the outcome of this case. And that's the point. That tightrope moral balance and a superb cast makes this the most underrated film in Lee's oeuvre. — Brian Formo

Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

devil-in-a-blue-dress-don-cheadle-denzel-washington

“A man once told me that you step out of your door in the morning, and you are already in trouble. The only question is are you on top of that trouble or not?”

Devil in a Blue Dress works magnificently as a film noir, but what truly makes it soar is how it gives us a new prism to look through. It's another 1940s Los Angeles potboiler, but when this movie's femme fatale ( Jennifer Beals ) tells the private investigator, Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins ( Denzel Washington ) that her hotel is “whites only” and to use the service entrance in order to meet her, that's but one example of how deprived the whole detective genre has been of diversity. There are numerous instances in which Carl Franklin sprinkles this in as lived-in, not with a hammer over the head. There's a running joke about Rawlins' protecting his home from a gardener he has not hired, but who attempts to do some work without being seen, to try to force payment later. Rawlins frequently aims his hose at this man, or berates him in the street. But it's Washington's stern pride that makes these scenes work, because unlike many of the black sections of town that he goes to investigate the missing woman, Rawlins is a home owner and his home is guarded not just because gangster toughs and the police are coming by to rough him up, but because it's a symbol of his hard work; he's a black home owner in post-WWII Los Angeles.

The central mystery as to why the woman ran away from her would-be-mayor boyfriend is secondary to the tapestry within Franklin’s deft storytelling: different rules for different races. And unlike L.A. Confidential , its closing shootout doesn't feel like an attempt to wrap up the plot neatly, but rather something necessary for the characters to do because the police have already been established as an oppositional force.

Franklin also expertly introduces Don Cheadle 's iconic character, Mouse. Mouse is mentioned in passing by Rawlins a few times, but never in a way that his presence feels close, and when he arrives he's the perfect, classic third-name-in-the-credits film noir hothead. It's truly a crime that we didn't get more Rawlins and Mouse movie pairings from Walter Mosley 's books, as Washington and Cheadle act circles around most every neo-noir film of the 90s. It's also a shame that Franklin's been in TV jail for almost the entire 21st century. His first two films, this and One False Move (almost made this list), are tensely plotted and magnificently acted. His career reveals that for Hollywood, it truly is one false move when it comes to black directors, where hacks-for-hire can always get a new gig but one perceived misfire from a minority is impossible to overcome.

As for Washington, this is one of his best performances, and though Washington never starred in a sequel until The Equalizer 2 , his Easy Rawlins should've been his Philip Marlowe. He's steady, prideful, has the warmest and widest grin of any man ever put on celluloid; the defining moment for Washington's performance is his sex scene. While his friend is passed out drunk, Rawlins and his friend's wife have sex in the parlor, she been coming on to him all night, but when she stops in marital shame mid-coitus, Washington pleads with a quiver of bewilderment. We never saw Marlowe, or Spade, or any of the 40s stars have to beg for it; they’d just give a facial gesture with a cigarette hanging out the side of their mouths and turn off the lights. Different movie rules for different times, too. ~ Brian Formo

Freeway (1996)

imdb movies 90s

"I'm pissed off and the whole world owes me."

Every time I watch Freeway , I can’t believe what I’m seeing. Gaudy violence, raunchy antics, and Reese Witherspoon , America’s sweetest sweetheart, dropping F-bombs like it’s her sworn duty—all of it so in your face that it’s easy to miss the fact that the film actually does a pretty damn good job at depicting the hopelessness of underprivileged kids who enter the system too young.

An exploitation style retelling of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, Freeway follows Witherspoon as Vanessa Lutz, a headstrong, foul-mouthed illiterate high schooler who goes on the run when her cracked out mother and lecherous stepfather are arrested for solicitation and possession. Rather than entering foster care again, Vanessa hits the road to find her long lost grandmother and start a new life, until her car stalls on the side of the freeway and the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, Bob Wolverton ( Kiefer Sutherland ), a serial killer and necrophile, offers her a ride. Bob presents himself as a soft-hearted youth counselor, cleverly extracting Vanessa’s darkest secrets and most perverted stories of abuse, before Vanessa catches wise to his game and turns the tables faster than you can say, “What big teeth you have.” From here, the film takes a left turn at every opportunity for conventional narrative, which manifests itself most obviously in the moments where you expect Vanessa to be victimized.

For all the talk these days about “strong female characters”, Vanessa Lutz is the real deal in the midst of all these trashy shenanigans. She’s fearless, self-reliant, and against all odds, always in control of her own fate. She operates solely on the basis of her own agenda, takes shit from no one, and ain’t no trick baby. She’s also occasionally terrifying. When Bob picks up this spunky little blonde he has no idea he’s finally met his adversary.

I’m keeping this one brief because I don’t want to spoil the twists and turns of this wildly outrageous movie for those who haven’t seen it, but the fallout from their encounter leads to all kinds of fucked up directions. It’s the blackest of comedies, completely degenerate, utterly twisted, and often laugh-out-loud funny.  — Haleigh Foutch

Yardbarker

24 movies played at every sleepover in the '90s

Posted: February 25, 2024 | Last updated: February 25, 2024

<p>Sleepovers are a must for every childhood. It’s where pranks are had, friendships are bonded, and most importantly, movies are watched. Today, kids can browse a multitude of apps and scroll through an endless list of films, but back in the ‘90s, it was about that glorious trip to the local video store to rent the perfect movie for one’s slumber party. Without further ado, let’s look at the movies that were played at every sleepover in the ‘90s.</p>

Sleepovers are a must for every childhood. It’s where pranks are had, friendships are bonded, and most importantly, movies are watched. Today, kids can browse a multitude of apps and scroll through an endless list of films, but back in the ‘90s, it was about that glorious trip to the local video store to rent the perfect movie for one’s slumber party. Without further ado, let’s look at the movies that were played at every sleepover in the ‘90s.

<p><span>One has to wonder how many kids felt like paleontology was their destiny after popping in <em>Jurassic Park</em> at a sleepover.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_20_best_songs_about_the_music_industry_110223/s1__24424633'>The 20 best songs about the music industry</a></p>

‘Jurassic Park’

One has to wonder how many kids felt like paleontology was their destiny after popping in Jurassic Park at a sleepover.

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<p>Jim Carrey movies were never not on a sleepover must-have list, especially <em>Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls</em>. Every scene, every joke, every ridiculous thing Carrey did made for a great time alongside a large pizza and a two-liter of soda.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls’

Jim Carrey movies were never not on a sleepover must-have list, especially Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls . Every scene, every joke, every ridiculous thing Carrey did made for a great time alongside a large pizza and a two-liter of soda.

Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.

<p><span>Alicia Silverstone and Co. came together and set a new standard for teen movies in 1995, and it wasn’t just older kids who enjoyed this movie. Kids of all ages instantly fell for the iconic lines, fashion, and comedy of <em>Clueless </em>as soon as Cher asked, “Should I leave a note?”</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/20_facts_you_might_not_know_about_die_hard/s1__26772467'>20 facts you might not know about 'Die Hard'</a></p>

Alicia Silverstone and Co. came together and set a new standard for teen movies in 1995, and it wasn’t just older kids who enjoyed this movie. Kids of all ages instantly fell for the iconic lines, fashion, and comedy of Clueless  as soon as Cher asked, “Should I leave a note?”

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<p><span>For as many remakes and reboots as <em>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles</em> has gotten over the years, the original movie from 1990 still reigns supreme. Everything from the costume design to the gritty nature of the crime-fighting sewer turtles made kids go bananas. It gave parents headaches as kids would spend the rest of the night trying to emulate the turtles' every move while play-fighting in the living room.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

For as many remakes and reboots as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has gotten over the years, the original movie from 1990 still reigns supreme. Everything from the costume design to the gritty nature of the crime-fighting sewer turtles made kids go bananas. It gave parents headaches as kids would spend the rest of the night trying to emulate the turtles' every move while play-fighting in the living room.

<p><span>If there was one genre of movie that was undeniable to almost every kid in the ‘90s, it was a kid-friendly sports movie, and none of them were as sought out for sleepovers as the ones from <em>The Mighty Ducks</em> series. However, <em>D2 </em>is arguably the best of the franchise because of the addition of Kenan Thompson and the Beverly Hills scenes that many ‘90s kids still quote today.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_greatest_music_producers_of_all_time_012524/s1__37736788'>The greatest music producers of all time</a></p>

‘D2: The Mighty Ducks’

If there was one genre of movie that was undeniable to almost every kid in the ‘90s, it was a kid-friendly sports movie, and none of them were as sought out for sleepovers as the ones from The Mighty Ducks series. However, D2  is arguably the best of the franchise because of the addition of Kenan Thompson and the Beverly Hills scenes that many ‘90s kids still quote today.

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<p><span><em>Wayne’s World</em> may not seem like the typical sleepover movie, but it was the ‘90s, and parents were way more hands off. Kids were allowed to indulge in humor that may have been a little beyond their years, but they didn’t care that they didn’t get every joke. All that mattered were the head-banging and schwing!</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘Wayne’s World’

Wayne’s World may not seem like the typical sleepover movie, but it was the ‘90s, and parents were way more hands off. Kids were allowed to indulge in humor that may have been a little beyond their years, but they didn’t care that they didn’t get every joke. All that mattered were the head-banging and schwing!

<p><span>Will Smith was like an addiction for kids in the ‘90s. His movies were the go-to for wanting a sleepover movie to be comical and action-packed, which <em>Men in Black</em> was.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_best_pop_songs_of_the_2000s_022424/s1__39764827'>The best pop songs of the 2000s</a></p>

‘Men in Black’

Will Smith was like an addiction for kids in the ‘90s. His movies were the go-to for wanting a sleepover movie to be comical and action-packed, which Men in Black was.

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<p><span>The ‘90s kids that would later become Hot Topic teens most definitely made their parents rent <em>The Craft</em> for every single sleepover they had growing up.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘The Craft’

The ‘90s kids that would later become Hot Topic teens most definitely made their parents rent The Craft for every single sleepover they had growing up.

<p><span>Long before <em>The Super Mario Bros. Movie</em> raked in millions of dollars at the box office, <em>Mortal Kombat</em> caused countless VHS tapes to fly off Blockbuster shelves.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/much_hyped_albums_that_were_commercial_disasters_020624/s1__37555367'>Much-hyped albums that were commercial disasters</a></p>

‘Mortal Kombat’

Long before The Super Mario Bros. Movie raked in millions of dollars at the box office, Mortal Kombat caused countless VHS tapes to fly off Blockbuster shelves.

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<p><span>When Michael Jordan was enlisted to save the Looney Tunes using his basketball skills, a sports moment in history and cinema was born.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘Space Jam’

When Michael Jordan was enlisted to save the Looney Tunes using his basketball skills, a sports moment in history and cinema was born.

<p><span>Roughly 69% of all '90s kids' personalities were based on watching Adam Sandler movies in the ‘90s.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_most_memorable_quotes_from_the_star_wars_films_012524/s1__38957507'>The most memorable quotes from the 'Star Wars' films</a></p>

‘Billy Madison’

Roughly 69% of all '90s kids' personalities were based on watching Adam Sandler movies in the ‘90s.

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<p><span>Much like how Gen X really came of age due to <em>Porky’s</em> and<em> Fast Times at Ridgemont High</em>, millennials did the same with <em>American Pie</em>.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘American Pie’

Much like how Gen X really came of age due to Porky’s and  Fast Times at Ridgemont High , millennials did the same with American Pie .

<p><span>The Spice Girls were the biggest sensation in the late ‘90s, and kids ate up everything they released — from candy to dolls to their very own movie, <em>Spice World</em>. Was it the greatest film ever made? No. Even then, kids knew that. But it didn’t matter because the Spice Girls were in it, and the songs were amazing.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_25_best_songs_about_breakups_012524/s1__31296587'>The 25 best songs about breakups</a></p>

‘Spice World’

The Spice Girls were the biggest sensation in the late ‘90s, and kids ate up everything they released — from candy to dolls to their very own movie, Spice World . Was it the greatest film ever made? No. Even then, kids knew that. But it didn’t matter because the Spice Girls were in it, and the songs were amazing.

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<p><span>The Power Rangers were basically The Beatles for ‘90s kids, and the movie pushed the hysteria into hyperdrive.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie’

The Power Rangers were basically The Beatles for ‘90s kids, and the movie pushed the hysteria into hyperdrive.

<p>Every generation has those few films that will stick with them forever and never fail to take them back to a time and place, and for millennials, one of those is <em>The Sandlot</em>. Its perfectly balanced plot combined the beauty of friendships and a silly storyline, and that made it a must-have at slumber parties since 1993.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_25_best_songs_about_breakups_020624/s1__31296587'>The 25 best songs about breakups</a></p>

‘The Sandlot’

Every generation has those few films that will stick with them forever and never fail to take them back to a time and place, and for millennials, one of those is The Sandlot . Its perfectly balanced plot combined the beauty of friendships and a silly storyline, and that made it a must-have at slumber parties since 1993.

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<p><span>Slumber parties were about more than just prank calls and board games; they were also about watching a horror movie together and bonding over the innate fear it instilled in everyone in the room.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

Slumber parties were about more than just prank calls and board games; they were also about watching a horror movie together and bonding over the innate fear it instilled in everyone in the room.

<p><span>If there is one actor’s work that should forever be introduced to kids, it’s Robin Williams'. He made some of the most beloved movies from the ‘90s that kids just could not get enough of, from <em>Mrs. Doubtfire</em> to <em>Jack</em>, but it was the wildlife adventure of <em>Jumanji </em>that made sleepovers everywhere much more thrilling.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_50_greatest_beatles_songs_110223/s1__30112769'>The 50 greatest Beatles songs</a></p>

If there is one actor’s work that should forever be introduced to kids, it’s Robin Williams'. He made some of the most beloved movies from the ‘90s that kids just could not get enough of, from Mrs. Doubtfire to Jack , but it was the wildlife adventure of Jumanji  that made sleepovers everywhere much more thrilling.

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<p><span>Looking back, <em>Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery</em> was not the most appropriate movie for kids, but it was a different time.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’

Looking back, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was not the most appropriate movie for kids, but it was a different time.

<p>Movies centered around a holiday usually are destined only to be played during that part of the year, and that is where <em>Hocus Pocus</em> vastly differed from the start. It was one of the first movies that made ‘90s kids realize spooky season could be anytime!</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_25_greatest_english_rock_bands_022424/s1__30317819'>The 25 greatest English rock bands</a></p>

‘Hocus Pocus’

Movies centered around a holiday usually are destined only to be played during that part of the year, and that is where Hocus Pocus vastly differed from the start. It was one of the first movies that made ‘90s kids realize spooky season could be anytime!

You may also like: The 25 greatest English rock bands

<p><span>Kung fu movies started making their way into moviegoers' hearts in the ‘70s, and <em>The Karate Kid </em>only pushed that interest further the following decade. In the ‘90s, almost every kid was enrolled in a karate class because of a number of movies and TV shows, including the <em>3 Ninjas</em> series. However, <em>3 Ninjas Kick Back</em> is the best of the bunch because of the adventures in Japan.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘3 Ninjas Kick Back’

Kung fu movies started making their way into moviegoers' hearts in the ‘70s, and The Karate Kid  only pushed that interest further the following decade. In the ‘90s, almost every kid was enrolled in a karate class because of a number of movies and TV shows, including the 3 Ninjas series. However, 3 Ninjas Kick Back is the best of the bunch because of the adventures in Japan.

<p><span><em>Batman Returns </em>was and is still one of the best comic book movies due to Michael Keaton leading a stellar cast as the Dark Knight himself alongside some of the best villains to ever grace the big screen: Michelle Pfeiffer and Catwoman and Danny DeVito as The Penguin.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/the_best_opening_lines_from_movies_110223/s1__38606670'>The best opening lines from movies</a></p>

‘Batman Returns’

Batman Returns  was and is still one of the best comic book movies due to Michael Keaton leading a stellar cast as the Dark Knight himself alongside some of the best villains to ever grace the big screen: Michelle Pfeiffer and Catwoman and Danny DeVito as The Penguin.

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<p><span><em>The Mummy </em>was and will forever be iconic.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘The Mummy’

The Mummy  was and will forever be iconic.

<p><span><em>Titanic</em> caused a lot of excitement and inspired kids everywhere to become obsessed with one of the most horrific things in modern history. However, that may not be the reason it was a big hit at sleepovers because imagine being a parent in the ‘90s and being able to put on a three-plus hour movie that would keep a bunch of kids occupied...</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/entertainment/articles/21_of_the_absolute_best_fictional_princesses_022424/s1__39455130'>21 of the absolute best fictional princesses</a></p>

Titanic caused a lot of excitement and inspired kids everywhere to become obsessed with one of the most horrific things in modern history. However, that may not be the reason it was a big hit at sleepovers because imagine being a parent in the ‘90s and being able to put on a three-plus hour movie that would keep a bunch of kids occupied...

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<p><span><em>Wild Things</em> was one of those movie rentals that kids definitely had to be sly about getting past their parents because while parents were way more laid back then, this movie was still insanely risqué.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.</a></p>

‘Wild Things’

Wild Things was one of those movie rentals that kids definitely had to be sly about getting past their parents because while parents were way more laid back then, this movie was still insanely risqué.

Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive entertainment content.

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Screen Rant

The 10 best '90s movies on tubi right now.

Tubi has thousands of movies to watch, including a plethora of highly-ranked '90s films. Which '90s movies are the best on the platform?

The best Tubi movies prove that the streaming service has plenty of gems for subscribers to find. Tubi is a newer subscription service that looks to compete with big names like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus. However, it also sets itself apart due to being free and viewers never needing a login to watch movies or shows. Tubi doesn’t always have the newest releases, but the network is a great service for fans to dig deeper into some classic movies and even rediscover some of their old favorites from decades past. This includes some of the best Tubi movies from the '90s.

The movies of the 1990s show what an important decade it was for film. With new and influential voices emerging from the indie scene, huge franchises being established and some of the biggest stars still showing box office draw, there are some nostalgic greats to look back on. Tubi offers a variety of '90s movies for fans. From intense action movies and beloved comedies to hard-hitting dramas, there is something for everyone to satisfy any mood with the best '90s movies on Tubi right now.

RELATED: The 25 Best Movies On Netflix

10 White Men Can't Jump (1992)

Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson on the beach in White Men Can't Jump

A great sports comedy is a rare thing, but there is a reason White Men Can't Jump is at the top of the genre. The movie stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as two street-hustling basketball partners who form an unlikely partnership in order to win an upcoming tournament. What is important in these movies is showing a genuine love of the game at the center of the story while also delivering big laughs. White Men Can't Jump certainly achieves this, as the basketball scenes are thrilling while the chemistry between Harrelson and Snipes is the highlight of the comedy.

9 Ghost In The Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell Atsuko Tanaka as Major Motoko Kusanagi looking at skyline

There is a great collection of anime movies among the best Tubi movies, but one standout from the '90s is certainly Ghost in the Shell . This stunning and compelling sci-fi journey takes place in the future and follows a cyborg policewoman on the trail of a cyber criminal who is able to hack into the minds of cyborgs to use for criminal purposes. Those who have yet to see the movie will be struck by how much it has inspired later sci-fi movies, especially The Matrix . While the controversial Ghost in the Shell remake starring Scarlet Johansson can be skipped, this anime is still an eerily beautiful ride that will please those fans of anime and those new to the genre.

RELATED: Best Order To Watch Ghost In The Shell Movies & TV Shows

8 The Man In The Moon (1991)

A young Reece Witherspoon in The Man In The Moon

Reese Witherspoon is the rom-com queen and has been working since she was a young girl. She has one of the most impressive resumes in Hollywood and continues to make impressive hits. One of Witherspoon’s earlier movies is 1991's The Man in the Moon. The coming-of-age tale focuses on Dani (Reece Witherspoon) and her crush on her neighbor, Court. Although the two detest each other at the start, they form an unlikely friendship and develop feelings for each other. This all changes when Court meets Dani’s older sister, Maureen. What follows is angst, drama, and mourning as their lives change forever that summer. It is a charming tale of young love that helped launch Witerspoon's career.

7 The Blair Witch Project (1999)

A girl cries in Blair Witch project

One of the most influential horror movies of the 1990s, as well as one of the most successful indie movies of all time, The Blair Witch Project is available on Tubi. The movie helped popularize the found-footage horror movie trend in the story of three documentarians who venture into a dense forest to investigate a local supernatural legend only to discover horrors they didn't imagine. The movie has been parodied endlessly and its style might not be as effective as in was it 1999. However, it is still a well-made horror movie that makes impressive use of its format, providing some moments that remain iconic scenes of the horror genre.

6 Tombstone (1993)

Val Kilmer Sam Elliot Kurt Russell and Bill Paxton in Tombstone

While Westerns were not particularly popular in the 1990s, Tombstone rises to the top as one of the all-time greats of the genre. Kurt Russell stars in the movie as legendary lawman Wyatt Earp who, along with his trusted deputies, takes on a group of ruthless cowboys. Russell is a Western icon himself and he steps perfectly into the role of this no-nonsense hero delivering some epic tough-guy one-liners. He leads a massive and impressive cast that includes Sam Elliott, Michael Biehn, and Bill Paxton. However, the show is stolen by Val Kilmer who gives a charismatic and haunting performance as legendary gunslinger Doc Holliday.

RELATED: Every Kurt Russell Western Ranked Worst To Best

5 The Mask (1994)

Jim Carrey making a concerned face in The Mask

The Mask was one of Jim Carrey’s highest-grossing movies , earning more than $350 million at the box office ( Box Office Mojo ). For the period, this was a huge deal for Carrey’s career. The fantasy/comedy shows Carrey as a so-called normal guy, Stanley, who works at a bank, but his life changes forever when he finds an old mask that transforms him into an alter ego that is like a cartoon character come to life. The role is ideal for Carrey, who is appropriately reserved as Stanley but gives his most over-the-top and manic performance as the green-faced anti-hero. It makes for a fun comic book adventure with some genuine thrills and endless hilarious moments courtesy of Carrey's Golden Globe-nominated performance.

4 A Few Good Men (1992)

imdb movies 90s

Fans of courtroom thrillers will find one of the best among the best Tubi movies. A Few Good Men is a star-studded drama with Tom Cruise as a Navy lawyer defending two soldiers who are accused of killing a comrade in a hazing incident. Cruise must contend with the intimidating commanding officer (Jack Nicholson) in order to get to the truth about the suspicious death. Also starring Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland, the sharp and exciting script by Aaron Sorkin makes for some epic courtroom showdowns, including the famous climactic moment between Cruise and Nicholson. The movie was a box office hit that earned four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

3 The Usual Suspects (1995)

A police line-up in The Usual Suspects

Winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, The Usual Suspects is a twisty mystery featuring one of the best iconic movie plot twists of all time. The Usual Suspects takes place in the aftermath of a heist gone wrong then looks back on the circumstances that brought a group of criminals together and the shadowy figure pulling the strings of it all. Even though most people know the big reveal behind Keyser Soze, this is still a stellar crime movie with a terrific ensemble. Anyone who has somehow avoided spoilers for this long will be treated to a jaw-dropping moment in the final scene.

2 The Matrix (1999)

The matrix Construct explained

Along with spawning a popular franchise of its own, The Matrix went on to inspire countless action movies thanks to its stylish look and inventive filmmaking techniques. With Keanu Reeves as the main character, Thomas Anderson (aka Neo), the movie had countless accolades for its storytelling and originality. Neo spent the majority of his time thinking there was more to life that was unknown to the general public only to be introduced to a reality beyond his own. The movie was intense and an illusion for many that opened up a new way of thinking. It also features some incredible action scenes, from hand-to-hand combat to epic shootouts. It also helped popularize the shot that became known as "bullet time."

1 Malcolm X (1992)

Malcolm X sitting behind mics in Malcolm X.

Directed by Spike Lee, Malcolm X stars Denzel Washington as the famed activist based on Malcolm’s autobiography. The film dissects Malcolm’s childhood and the intense situations he was forced to face as a young Black man. After being jailed for six years, Malcolm learned more about the Muslim religion and dedicated his future to its teachings among other issues around race. Lee shoots the movie like an old Hollywood epic, giving scope and power to this incredible true story. Washington gives one of the best performances of his career, leading to an Oscar nomination along with the movie's nomination for Best Picture. It is now regarded as one of the great biopics of all time and one of the best movies of the 1990s.

MORE: Every Spike Lee Movie Ranked From Worst to Best

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  1. The best 90s movies ranked by IMDb (30 Photos)

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COMMENTS

  1. Top 200 Movies of The 90's

    1. Goodfellas (1990) R | 145 min | Biography, Crime, Drama 8.7 Rate 92 Metascore The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mafia, covering his relationship with his wife Karen and his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito. Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco

  2. 140 Favorite 90s Movies

    Rotten Tomatoes, the Fresh prince of review aggregators, presents our list of the 140 Favorite '90s Movies, ranging from Certified Fresh to Rotten, all reppin' 10 years of cinema that upended...

  3. 100 Best '90s Movies

    The 1990s represent a magical decade in pop culture history. The O.J. Simpson trial, gangsta rap, Must See TV, grunge music, and "Friends" dominated water cooler conversations, while the internet was just beginning to grab the attention of the world and hit college computer labs.

  4. The 10 Best '90s Movies, Ranked According to IMDb

    There isn't an underdog title from the best of the 1990s. IMDb's Top 250 left almost no genre stone unturned as reviewers gave high praise to war features, a science fiction classic, serial...

  5. 35 Best '90s Movies, Ranked

    There were a host of great films released between 1990 and 1999, and of those great ones, the selection is surprisingly diverse. It was a decade that saw the release of plenty of iconic...

  6. The 100 Greatest Movies of the '90s

    Ah, the 1990s - the decade that brought you indie-cinema breakouts and bullet-time blockbusters, fight clubs and foul-mouthed clerks, charismatic cannibal serial killers and "Choose Life!"...

  7. 100 best '90s movies

    Living in Oblivion (1995) | Director: Tom DiCillo - Stacker score: 85.2 - Metascore: 81 - IMDb user rating: 7.5 - Runtime: 90 minutes | This low-budget film, shot in 16 days, follows events as...

  8. 65 Best '90s Movies, Ranked

    64. GoldenEye (1995) A breath of fresh air delivered Bond to the '90s. Directed with muscle and wit by Martin Campbell (who returned a decade later for Casino Royale ), GoldenEye is a terrific...

  9. The 100 Best '90s Movies

    "The Apple" (dir. Samira Makhmalbaf, 1998) The Iranian filmmaker Samira Makhmalbaf directed her first feature in 1998 when she was just 17 years old. She grew up observing her acclaimed filmmaker...

  10. Advanced search

    1. Twister 1996 1h 53m PG-13 6.5 (211K) Rate 68 Metascore Bill and Jo Harding, advanced storm chasers on the brink of divorce, must join together to create an advanced weather alert system by putting themselves in the cross-hairs of extremely violent tornadoes. Votes 211,067 2. The Shawshank Redemption 1994 2h 22m R 9.3 (2.9M) Rate 82 Metascore

  11. 50 Best '90s Movies, Ranked

    Dust off that Game Boy and crack open a Surge - these are the 50 best movies of the 1990s. Written by Cath Clarke, Gail Tolley, Chris Waywell, Dave Calhoun, Tom Huddleston, Kate Lloyd, James...

  12. Ebert & Scorsese: Best Films of the 1990s

    MARTIN: Continuing our special show on the best movies of the '90s, my choice for Number 3 is a 1994 Taiwanese film called "A Borrowed Life," directed by Wu Nien-jen. The Chinese title is "Do-sang," which means "Father." It's an autobiographical story about a poor family in the Taiwanese countryside during the 1950s, right after the end of ...

  13. The Best Films of the '90s: Stars Share Their Favorites, Lists

    We ranked the 100 best movies of the '90s.We listed our favorite performances, scores, and even made a video countdown of the decade's greatest needle-drops.We wrote about how '90s movies ...

  14. 10 Best '90s Movies On The Criterion Collection, According To IMDb

    Close-Up (1990) - 8.3. The Iranian docufiction movie Close-Up initially received negative critical reviews in its home country, but went on to be widely acclaimed when shown abroad. Expertly combining elements of documentary and fiction, the movie depicts the true story of how a man impersonated filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf by persuading a ...

  15. Top 10 Movies Of The '90s According To IMDb

    Here are the current Top 10 Movies Of The '90s, According To IMDB. Saving Private Ryan (1998) When Steven Spielberg is on, there is absolutely no director on Earth who can put you into the emotion of a scene. D-Day was one of the largest battles the modern world has ever seen and plenty of young men had never seen the gruesome theater of war.

  16. The 10 Best '90s Movies That Are Over 3 Hours Long, According To IMDb

    Schindler's List (1993) - 8.9 - 3 Hours & 15 Minutes. In 1993, Steven Spielberg directed one of the greatest, most epic movies of all time that was full of drama and high stakes: Jurassic Park. However, in the same year, the celebrated filmmaker also directed the most emotionally exhausting but beautiful war drama in history, Schindler's List.

  17. My Top 100 Films of the '90s

    My Top 100 Films of the '90s by Hojon | created - 01 Oct 2010 | updated - 11 Aug 2011 | Public Refine See titles to watch instantly, titles you haven't rated, etc 100 titles 1. The Big Lebowski (1998) R | 117 min | Comedy, Crime 8.1 Rate 71 Metascore

  18. Best 90s Movies that Time Forgot

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  19. Every movie from the 1990's (1990-1999)

    Every movie from the 1990's (1990-1999) by mattaaron | created - 02 Jun 2020 | updated - 07 Jun 2020 | Public 15,465 movies came out between 1990-1999. 2,348 of those were released in the theater. This list contains those 2,348 movies that were in theater. I've got other lists too, just click my name on the right column >

  20. Tom Hanks' 10 Best 90s Movies (According to IMDb)

    Forrest Gump - 8.8. A deeply sentimental yet effective drama, epic in scale by illustrating a comprehensive life with intimate details. The film truly captures the expansive nature of its source material, and is considerably inspirational. The unfettered positivity of the protagonist, and Tom Hanks himself, is crucial.

  21. 24 movies played at every sleepover in the '90s

    Wayne's World may not seem like the typical sleepover movie, but it was the '90s, and parents were way more hands off. Kids were allowed to indulge in humor that may have been a little beyond ...

  22. The 10 Best '90s Movies On Tubi Right Now, According To IMDb

    Home Movies Movie Lists The 10 Best '90s Movies On Tubi Right Now By Lynn Gibbs Updated Mar 20, 2023 Tubi has thousands of movies to watch, including a plethora of highly-ranked '90s films. Which '90s movies are the best on the platform? The best Tubi movies prove that the streaming service has plenty of gems for subscribers to find.

  23. "Quickly Kevin; will he score? The 90s Football Show" Chapter 3 ...

    IMDb is the world's most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content. Find ratings and reviews for the newest movie and TV shows. Get personalized recommendations, and learn where to watch across hundreds of streaming providers.