Film enthusiasts may disagree but I find the 90s rich with quality films. Whatever your opinion may be, I think it would be an absolute waste to not check out the films on this list. You’ll notice that I’m ignoring Sci-fi – that is simply because I’m not big on the genre in general.
These films are not listed in any specific order. Some of them are grouped according to common lead actors, directors or genres but this grouping has no implication of significance or lack thereof.
Good Will Hunting, 1997
Believe it or not, this was a breakthrough for both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Written by and starring both actors, Good Will Hunting is the struggle of a genius orphan working at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. This drama, featuring the great Robin Williams, remains one of their best, winning two Academy Awards (best script and best actor in a supporting role).
Leon: The Professional, 1994
You’ll be watching young Natalie Portman getting rescued by quiet Leon (played amazingly by Jean Reno), who happens to be a “professional” hitman and a part-time father, while Gary Oldman, in one of his best roles in my opinion, chases them both for revenge. This is the first time Natalie Portman actually appears in a leading role. And, of course, you must have heard of the “everyone” scene:
The Truman Show, 1998
Jim Carrey in a drama? Yes, this is true. This was the first drama Jim took part in (not the last though, as you’ll see). The Truman Show is the story of a guy (Truman) whose entire life is actually a TV show. The movie IS still funny at some parts (because it’s Jim!). Later in 2004, there was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind featuring Kate Winslet and The Number 23 in 2007 as well. And again, you couldn’t have missed the “good morning” scene.
The Usual Suspects, 1995
I will always regard Kevin Spacey as one of the most underrated actors out there. The Usual Suspects is an absolute mystery masterpiece. It’s one of the few films that actually keeps you wondering ALL THE TIME. From the director of the infamous TV series House comes the story of five ex-cons brought to the police as suspects of a truck hijack of which they’re not guilty. What happens after is a complete mind-fuck. On a different note, the 90s were great for Spacey as he participated in great motion pictures such as L.A. Confidential, 1997 (one of the best police stories featuring Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce) and the drama masterpiece American Beauty in 1999. Not to mention, Spacey received an Oscar for his role in The Usual Suspects.
Reservoir Dogs, 1992
Quentin Tarantino had fun in the 90s as well. Reservoir Dogs is technically Tarantino’s first movie to hit theatres. Crime is the main theme of his films and this one is no exception. A gang of five members takes over a jewelry shop but soon everything goes wrong when they suspect there is a policeman undercover in the group. This is a typical Tarantino movie, followed by Jackie Brown in 1997 featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, and the comedian Chris Tucker, as well as the one and only Pulp Fiction (for which Tarantino received an Oscar for best script) in 1994 featuring Bruce Willis, the beautiful Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and the genius Chuck Berry playing in the background. Tarantino definitely left a mark on Hollywood in the 90s. You simply can’t miss these three movies.
Jackie Brown “Get in the Trunk” scene. *spoiler*
Pulp Fiction “The Jimmy Situation.” *spoiler*
The Big Lebowski, 1998
Moving to comedy, there is no greater start than the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, featuring the hilarious Jeff Bridges in the lead. The Coen brothers also directed Miller’s Crossing, a great crime film, in 1990. “The Dude” (well played by Jeff Bridges) is confused with another guy who owes a prestigious businessman a big amount of money. “The Dude” goes through endless hilarious arguments, negotiations, deals, and situations for another guy in hopes of proving his true identity. The Big Lebowski is not the only comedy in the 90s though. Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump was also produced in 1994 and, in my very humble opinion, is one of the best comedies ever. The story of Forrest and Jenny is truly touching and the movie is effortlessly entertaining. But no, we’re not done with comedy yet till we give a shout out to Men in Black, 1998 which is nonetheless a great comedy featuring Will Smith and the serious Tommy Lee Jones. As usual, the following are my favorite impressions.
The Big Lebowski
Both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro had great time in the 90s. Heat is the one that has them both chasing each other. I find Heat quite underrated among movieholics for some reason. The film is the story of a gang led by Robert De Niro that takes over a bank but then another gang headed by Al Pacino chases them down. The funny thing is, De Niro doesn’t meet Al till the second half of the movie in one of the greatest scenes in the history of Hollywood. De Niro appears in the same year in Martin Scorsese’s Casino featuring the beautiful Sharon Stone, and his old pal Joe Pesci. Of course this is not the first time the three (Scorsese, De Niro, and Pesci) worked together, because we saw the three in Goodfellas back in 1990, which was a landmark in De Niro’s career. Al Pacino also participated in great works such as Donnie Brasco, 1997 with Johnny Depp. A great gangster-police drama as you would expect. A less known but nevertheless great film is The Devil’s Advocate (produced in 1997) where Al Pacino plays the devil featuring Keanu Reeves in the lead. Pacino and De Niro definitely made the most out of the 90s.
Fight Club, 1999
Now I’m listing an obvious choice but it’s for a good reason. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt had the 90s in their pockets as well. Fight Club left people amazed of both actors’ performance in front of the camera. Fight Club is definitely an essential mind-fuck. The 90s also witnessed both actors in great roles such as Brad Pitt in the infamous crime movie Se7en (1995) featuring Morgan Freeman and Edward Norton in American History X (1998).
American History X “Dinner Table” scene. *spoiler*
The Shawshank Redemption, 1994
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 1998
Malcolm X, 1992
A Bronx Tale, 1993
Carlito’s Way, 1993
He Got Game, 1998
Any Given Sunday, 1999
The Silence of the Lambs, 1991
The Green Mile, 1999
A Few Good Men, 1992
The Game, 1997
The Sixth Sense, 1999
The Matrix, 1999
Saving Private Ryan, 1998
Edward Scissorhands, 1990