Writing this article took me far longer than I expected. I’m a 90s kid myself, so going back and trying to figure out which were the best movies from the 90s was very difficult for me. At first I was able to make a list of 30, but that’s far too much for this article. I ended up whistling it down to just 10. But to do this, I had to watch 14 movies, and I couldn’t bear leaving out the four that didn’t make the top 10. So here you have it — 14 of the best movies from the 90s!
You think John Wick is cool? Then how about going back to the action blockbuster that started it all?! Thoroughly choreographed fighting sequences? Check. Special effects that have never been done before and have revolutionized action blockbusters since? Check. A plot about all of humanity living inside a supercomputer (hi there, Elon)? Check. The Matrix was an instant classic as soon as it came out.
All I have to say about this movie to convince you to watch it is that both Nic Cage and John Travolta are in it. And then, if that’s not enough for you, the movie is actually good on its own. The conceit of the movie is interesting, the plot moves quickly, and the final gun fight between Cage and Travolta is one of the most memorable action scenes in all of cinematic history.
When Steve Jobs got kicked out of Apple he created Pixar. He went from being the boss of a company that made exquisite technology to being the boss of a company that makes exquisite animated films. To this day Pixar is still setting the bar for both animation and storytelling. With classics like Monster’s Inc., Finding Nemo, and Up under its belt, no other animation studio can compare to Pixar in terms of quality. And Toy Story is the classic movie that started it all. Definitely a “Must See”.
Long before Disney bought Pixar they were already making animated blockbusters. Lion King is the pinnacle of Golden Era Disney. It doesn’t get better than Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa singing “Hakuna Matata” as we see a lion cub grow into a lion leader!
You thought I wouldn’t mention this gem? As if! Clueless is the natural precursor to movies like Legally Blond. Likely missed by the dudes who are “too manly” to watch a teen-movie with a female lead, Clueless is actually a great movie that is both well written, well directed, and full of memorable lines. Plus, you can see Paul Rudd when he was young! (Spoiler — he looks exactly the same as he does in Avengers: Endgame.)
Bugs Bunny, Michael Jordan, and a cameo by Bill Murray — what more could you possibly want from a movie? A lot of people say that Coach Carter or Hoop Dreams are the best movies ever made about basketball, but I’m 100% confident that Space Jam is #1. If all the actors and characters aren’t enough to convince you, consider that the movie has an amazing soundtrack and makes fun of Michael Jordan’s failed baseball career.
Tarantino’s second film premiered during the Cannes Film Festival and soon thereafter took the world by storm. It’s Tarantino at (arguably) his best. The dialogue is perfect, the cast is full of A-List actors (John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, and Uma Thurman), and it has one of the best soundtracks of any movie made before or since.
Steven Spielberg is a master of cinema. His directorial skills are unmatched to this day, and Jurassic Park is a child-friendly introduction to his masterful work behind the camera. Every shot serves a purpose. Every camera movement creates tension and inspires awe. Not to mention that this movie has special effects that still look great today!
I feel like this is every guy’s favorite movie until they realize that saying “Fight Club is my favorite movie” is a cliché. That being said, this movie has great performances by both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Plus, it has the most memorable final scene of the 90s.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Terminator 2: Judgement Day is peak Arnold Schwarzenegger. It includes both of his most famous catchphrases (“I’ll be back” and “Hasta la vista, baby”), it takes a deeper dive into world building and explaining Skynet, and it’s the only movie other than Wall-E where the death of a robot could make a grown man like myself shed a tear.
The Shawshank Redemption
It’s the #1 highest rated movie on IMDB for a very good reason. Morgan Freeman delivers a spectacular performance in Shawshank Redemption. The story is captivating, and the challenges the characters face in the movie create genuine tension and fear. Furthermore, Shawshank Redemption is a thoughtful commentary on the for-profit prison complex made long before this became a topic of every-day conversation and concern in the United States.
The Usual Suspects
I don’t want to write too much about this movie because I don’t want to spoil it for you. All I can say is that if the twist to Sixth Sense surprised you, you are going to be blown away with how this movie ends.
10 Things I Hate About You
Another teenage romantic comedy that many people undeservedly ignored. 10 Things I Hate About You is a brilliant movie. First of all, you get to see young Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Secondly, the principal’s writing hobby is hilarious. And finally, if you thought this was just another silly romcom — you’re wrong. It’s based on the classic Shakespeare play “Taming of the Shrew” and its hilarious in its twist and turns.
Is it really Christmas unless you watch Home Alone? No it’s not. This movie defines the 90s just as well as it defines Christmas. “Keep the change, you filthy animal!”