Fifteen Memorable ’90s Films
Recently we brought you a list of Fifteen Memorable ’90s Songs, and today we continue in similar fashion with a list of great movies. We won’t keep you in agony with a long intro since we said all we had to say in our first ‘90s article and the only thing we would like to add is that movies back in the ’90s were simply awesome.
The decade of the ’90s involved many significant films. We were lucky to watch some all time classic pieces and the rise of many superstars of the film industry that continue to rock our world. Of course some of you might not see your favorite movie making the cut, but let’s be honest, this is the beauty in such lists; the mixed feelings and memories you get while reading it and the agony to see which one of your favorite films made it and which ones didn’t make the cut. One way or another I hope you enjoy the reading and memories as much as I did while listing down these fifteen memorable films from the ’90s.
15. Pulp Fiction (1994)
First off, the music alone in this film is simply amazing, but the film itself is quite phenomenal too and on so many different levels. These days we all know that Quentin Tarantino is a crazy but talented director that goes to no end to make his films powerful beyond belief; Pulp Fiction is just one example of the many great ones that followed later. However we didn’t know any of this back then and that’s why Tarantino managed to shock us all with this film. The moment you turn on Pulp Fiction, you know you’re in for quite a ride. This is probably the most classic American film of the ’90s.
14. The Mambo Kings (1992)
Ok… maybe this is a shocker to some of you, but for those who can appreciate a good biographical film with colorful music themes, this is the movie for you. In all honesty we don’t know what’s the best part of this movie. On one hand you have the amazing performances by Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas as the two Cuban brothers and musicians who are attempting to make it big in the US back in the 50s. On the other you have the fantastic soundtrack which is a must have, especially if you are into Latin music.
The collection of Mambo songs in this film is truly stellar. Let’s not forget that Mambo Kings was the film that introduced Hollywood to the great Antonio Banderas, who could barely speak English at the time. We must admit, the rating is strictly biased when it comes to this film but we bet you will forgive us.
13. Titanic (1997)
Ok, I’m not much of a fan of this film. so I must admit that I have never watched the whole thing at once. Titanic is a boring film really, with painfuly plain performances (OK, OK… Leonardo Di Caprio was good) but love or hate it, this film is the highest grossing of that decade and the second ever behind Avatar. The records it set, all the awards it earned, the millions of tickets it sold, and the popularity of this film alone, earns it a position in this list. Fair is fair.
12. All About My Mother (1999)
We don’t intend to start any silly debates and it’s not a competition really, but Pedro Almodóvar might be the most talented director in this list and for that matter he might even be the most talented director of this generation, period. All About My Mother just proves why he’s such a great director and we would suggest to anyone who hasn’t watched this movie yet to do so ASAP.
To get an idea what a genius and master of cinematography Almodovar is, just think who else could take such esoteric materials and make it not only enjoyable, but relatable too. It takes a lot of “creative nerve” for a male director to swan dive into the gulf of “womanhood” and emerge with such truth, the one and only human truth. We are so glad he made this film during our beloved ’90s. This film won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1999 and another 49 awards in over 15 countries.
11. Goodfellas (1990)
If there was an award for the most influential movie of the ’90s, it’s very possible that Goodfellas would earn it. It was released at the start of the decade in 1990 and it was meant to leave its legacy for a really long time. Films like Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, Fargo, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels would have never been made as good as they were without the influence of GoodFellas. This isn’t just our observation, the directors of those movies themselves have admitted it.
Back to the movie of this entry though, this is the gangster film at its finest and Scorsese is on top form as are Pesci and De Niro. While The Godfather and Scarface will rank higher in the all-time greatest gangster films, Goodfellas is the best of the ’90s.
10. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Shawshank Redemption is a great film but at the same time it feels somewhat overrated too. It is currently ranked at number one in history of film– in the not so prestigious list of IMDb Top 250– which we believe is the biggest exaggeration in the history of any form of art. Sure it is a great film and sure it might be Stephen King’s best adapted movie so far, but come on guys it’s not THAT great.
It’s indeed a truly brilliant, moving and touching story but it feels like the acting could have been better and even though Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are really good actors, they are not THAT great either. The movie itself is not that challenging cinematically and a bit of a fantasy that pawns itself off as gritty realism. So while we clearly can’t name it the best ever, it certainly deserves a place on this list.
9. The Matrix (1999)
We probably all agree that The Matrix is the greatest sci-fi movie of the ’90s, don’t we? The stunts and effects of this masterpiece introduced us to a new era of action filming and fight scenes from this movie have been copied across multiple genres. It would not be an exaggeration to say that action and sci-fi films are divided now in two categories: Pre Matrix and Post Matrix.
Keanu Reeves is not a great actor and we already know this but with this film he managed to “invade” the pantheon of the very few people who will always be remembered for a legendary role. We will always remember Keanu Reeves as Neo, and maybe Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan.
8. Run Lola Run (1998)
Let’s make clear first that if this was my own personal list, this movie would probably get the first position. Sure there are a few greater movies than this one in the list, but none of them can be considered more ’90s than Lola’s film.
We are not normally big fans of German films, when it comes to foreign films we prefer French, British and Argentinian but truth to be told is that when Germans make a good film then the film is really GOOD. This is the case with Run Lola Run.
Tom Tykwer literally proved himself as the filmmaker to watch with this amazing film. The little known German director has produced a modern-day masterpiece; a dazzling technical film about how life consists of the decisions we make. And even though this is a film you expect to see at an Independent film festival or an experimental film academy or something, it is such a beautifully mastered technical film that uses every filmmaking technique in the book.
How about the soundtrack of this movie? Awesome is the only word that can describe it and trust us, we don’t exaggerate at all if we say that this is the best rave/jungle music themed soundtrack of all time. This is a bizarrely brilliant film, folks. Make sure to watch it.
7. The Sixth Sense (1999)
This film is simply beautiful. It was a cinematic masterpiece with an incredible scenario that was many years ahead of its time. You know a scenario is great when tons of other directors will try to copy it and this was the case with this superb work of Shyamalan. While it was probably Bruce Willis’ greatest performance to this day, Haley Joel Osment steals the movie. Despite being so young, he gives a very dramatic, emotive and unexpected depth to his character. Unfortunately Shyamalan didn’t manage to surprise or charm us with any of the films he made after this piece of art.
6. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
This great film introduced us to the even greater Guy Ritchie. One of the greatest directors of this generation that unfortunately is known to the big masses as the ex-husband of Madonna (we forgive him for that) debuted with this awesome and typical British “farce”.
Like every European film on this list, this one greatly relies more on acting and the “catchy” scenario than special effects or an extremely expensive production like it seems to be the standard for most American blockbusters. This film might remind you of Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction or even Goodfellas at times, but it amazingly manages to remain as original as it gets; Guy Ritchie is truly a genius and he’s a real master in the art of habdling and controlling well his artistic influences to the point that his movies will always slightly remind you of other great films of the past, but at the same time will be totally authentic. It’s like he plays with the scenario while he’s directing in a way that he pays contribution to the films that inspired him, but not to the point he will commit the unforgivable “copy and paste” sin.
How about the cast of this movie? It simply doesn’t get any better than that. One of the most impressive action movie stars of our times, Jason Statham, debuts in this film, while Vinnie Jones at his very best takes part in this as well. What more can you ask? This movie is a ’90s classic and London has never looked cooler in a film before.
5. Braveheart (1995)
We probably all agree that Braveheart was the most epic film of the ’90s. The soundtrack is amazing, the scenes are ingenious, the performances are incredibly good and the story is simply excellent; no wonder why it won nearly every award (including 5 Oscars) there was.
For the haters, we know what you will probably say how the historical content may have been distorted, and even if that’s the case (and it is really), this movie was meant for entertainment. It is not a history lesson caught on video. Mel Gibson has many reasons to be proud of Braveheart. It is a motion picture that dares to be excessive and Mel presents passionately the most spaciously impressive battles (don’t get upset, 300 was released 12 years after) we had ever witnessed on film at the moment. The horror and futility of massed hand-to-hand combats are exciting, yet rather repulsive. Simply put…EPIC.
4. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
This movie is just so “’90s” if you know what we are trying to say here. What’s incredible with this film is that many fans –especially women– who were not into vampire movies at the time, simply loved this one. And how could they not? Two of the biggest stars and the two absolute male sex symbols of the specific decade joined forces in this masterpiece that some consider one of the best vampire movies of all time. Add in the mix the young Antonio Banderas who meets with Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) in the atmospheric theater of vampires in Paris and you have a classic ’90s piece and one of the few movies that made so many women around the world happy and willing to get bitten by a vampire. This is unfortunately the reason why most fans will not remember the début of a very young Kirsten Dunst.
3. Trainspotting (1996)
Clubbing and rave parties in Europe back in the ’90s were at an absolute high and drug abuse was a regular problem concerning most European governments. Pop culture was pushing the limits and changing what many people on the drug scene were used to. The problems were being told through the news, the radio and the newspapers frequently. Then in 1996 an independent British film hit cinema causing uproar, controversy, worldwide success and critical acclaim. This film was Trainspotting.
This film is literally gritty and dirty. At the same time it’s a very smart movie, focusing on hard subjects in a very peculiar way which makes it both entertaining and disturbing. The film has a great text, camera angles, photography, art direction and it´s all very well-orchestrated. As we already said its topic is really annoying and disturbing most of the times but this was the case back in the specific decade when it came to wild youth, drugs, parties and violence. Unarguably the very best film Danny Boyle ever made.
2. Léon (1994)
There’s not much one can say about this masterpiece that hasn’t been said already. In our opinion this is one of the best action movies in history and probably the very best of its kind. Keep in mind that this is the film that MADE Natalie Portman the star she is today, established Jean Reno as a Hollywood star and allowed us to enjoy one of the greatest performances of the ’90s and we are of course referring to Gary Oldman’s “crazy cop” role. This movie is undoubtedly a treasure of action and drama, while it’s easily Luc Besson’s best film yet. Just watch it if you haven’t already.
1. The Usual Suspects (1995)
“Keaton always said: I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him. Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.”
This ladies and gentlemen is the most memorable quote from the greatest ’90s movie for this list and don’t be shocked if you see it getting the number one spot in other similar lists of this kind. We don’t want to say much about the plot of this movie since some of the readers might have not watched it yet and we honestly don’t want to ruin it for them. We can tell you however that this all-time classic film is a MUST-SEE for every movies fan, while the scenario (especially for its time) is as smart, misleading and sneaky as it gets. “The Usual Suspects” is the definition of a thrilling crime drama, filled with suspense and Kevin Spacey in the role of his life is simply amazing.