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14 Movies of the 1990s Everyone Should Watch

Although some years have passed since the nineties, it is widely believed that this era was filled with significant events and advancements that continue to impact us today. The film industry also underwent remarkable transformations during this time, becoming larger, more spectacular, and more diverse than ever before. To remind you of the breathtaking, thrilling, captivating, and innovative cinema of the 90s, we have compiled a list of what we believe are the top 14 films from that decade. If you have already seen them, you will surely enjoy reliving the memories, and if you haven't, we highly recommend giving them a watch.

classic 90s movies

1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

This psychological thriller from the 90s is widely regarded as a cinematic classic and has achieved great success. Its numerous Oscars, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actors, have only added to its reputation. In this unforgettable film, Anthony Hopkins delivers a remarkable performance as Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist who is revealed to be a serial killer and ruthless cannibal, preying on young girls, murdering them, and consuming their bodies. Jodie Foster portrays Clarice, a young FBI agent assigned to investigate these horrifying murders and engage in a tense psychological battle with the cunning and malevolent Lecter. 

2. Jurassic Park – 1993

The movie that brought dinosaurs back into the spotlight in the early 1990s was not only a financial success (it broke records for the highest grossing film at that time), but it also revolutionized the use of special effects and technology. Director Steven Spielberg and his team brought dinosaurs to life in a way that amazed and captivated audiences. The film follows a group of researchers who visit an isolated amusement park created by a dinosaur enthusiast where these ancient creatures roam thanks to innovative technology. However, things take a turn for the worse and the park becomes a dangerous place where humans must fight to survive and escape from the hungry dinosaurs.

3. Pulp Fiction - 1994

Even before the release of "Pulp Fiction" Quentin Tarantino gained recognition for his debut film "Reservoir Dogs." However, it was Pulp Fiction that catapulted him to great fame, a reputation that endures to this day. This film showcases several signature Tarantino elements, including quick and witty dialogues, unconventional camera angles, pop culture references, and the juxtaposition of violence with irony. The story revolves around various fringe characters involved in the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, with Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winifeld (Samuel L. Jackson) as the lead hired killers. The film also features renowned actors such as Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, and Harvey Keitel. Many iconic lines from this movie continue to be quoted in various contexts.

4. The Matrix – 1999

In the late 1990s, as the new millennium approached, a groundbreaking film emerged, offering a captivating glimpse into the future and showcasing never-before-seen technological effects on the big screen. This film, "The Matrix," quickly became a defining movie of the 90s. The story revolves around Neo, a young hacker who becomes aware of a disturbing anomaly in his world. He crosses paths with Trinity and Morpheus, two international criminals, who unveil the shocking truth that humanity is living in a virtual reality controlled by machines. As Neo's life takes a drastic turn, the plot unfolds in unexpected ways.

5. Titanic – 1997

No discussion of the 90's would be complete without mentioning James Cameron's renowned and highly successful masterpiece. With a substantial budget, the film quickly recouped its investment and held the title of the highest-grossing film for a decade. Additionally, "Titanic" earned an impressive 11 Oscars and became an instant classic upon its release. The captivating love story between Jack, a young and impoverished artist, and Rose, the engaged daughter of a wealthy family, aboard the infamous cruise ship that sailed from Great Britain in 1912 and met a tragic end, enthralled millions of viewers worldwide, evoking tears throughout the film.

6. Forrest Gump – 1994

Do you recall the famous line "Run Forrest Run" from the beloved 90's film? Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this movie beautifully combines magical action with key moments from 20th century American history, resonating with many viewers. Tom Hanks portrays Forrest Gump, a unique individual with physical challenges that make it hard for him to fit in socially. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Forrest's extraordinary life, as he remarkably finds himself present during pivotal moments in American history and achieving what no one thought possible. 

7. The Truman Show – 1999

Moving on to "The Truman Show" (1999), the tone of voice remains neutral.
The late 90s marked the rise of the "reality era" with the emergence of popular reality shows like "Survival" and "Big Brother" dominating television screens worldwide. "The Truman Show" offered a glimpse into a future where the obsession with this type of television reaches extreme levels. Directed by Peter Weir and starring Jim Carrey, the film introduces us to Truman, an ordinary and likable man who is unaware that his entire life is being staged, documented, and broadcasted as an endless reality show for the world to see. As viewers, we come to realize that Truman's existence is based on a lie designed for the cameras and audience. When things start to unravel and Truman begins to question his reality, the crisis he faces becomes apparent to everyone watching.


8. Fight Club - 1998

Although initially not a commercial success upon its release in the late 1990s, this film has since gained the recognition it deserves and has become a cult classic, regarded as one of the most important films of the previous millennium. Directed by David Fincher, "Fight Club" is a tightly crafted and darkly captivating comic thriller, incorporating elements of violence and complexity. The story revolves around an unnamed protagonist (portrayed by Edward Norton), a socially dysfunctional insomniac. During one of his flights, he coincidentally encounters Tyler Darden (played by Brad Pitt), leading them to establish a club called "Fight Club" dedicated to brutal fights. As the plot unfolds, the protagonist's life undergoes a radical and unsettling transformation, revealing an unexpected continuation of events. Try to know as little as possible about this movie before seeing it for the best experience.

9. The Usual Suspects - 1995

Considered one of the top thrillers of the 90s, this crime film owes much of its success to an outstanding performance by Kevin Spacey - a former Hollywood superstar whose reputation suffered greatly due to a sexual harassment scandal. "The Immediate Suspect" centers around a police inquiry into the robbery of a truck transporting weapons. The authorities apprehend five suspects, all with extensive criminal backgrounds, one of whom is Roger Kint (played by Spacey). Kint, a disabled man known for his fraudulent activities, surprises everyone with his reserved demeanor, in stark contrast to his talkative criminal associates. The investigation primarily revolves around the search for Kaiser Souza, an unidentified criminal believed to be responsible for various serious offenses, including the theft of the weapon-laden truck.

10. The Big Lebowski - 1998

This crime comedy, created by the talented Jewish-American brothers Ethan and Joel Cohen, quickly gained a massive following in the 90s, becoming a cult film that continues to be beloved today. The story follows Jeffrey Lebowski, also known as "The Dude," an aging hippie living in California without a job or family. Always dressed casually and embodying a laid-back attitude, The Dude finds himself caught up in a world of crime, surrounded by a diverse group of characters who don't necessarily make things easier for him. The unexpected and comical twists that occur in The Dude's life, combined with the well-developed characters, are what truly make this film standout and attract such a dedicated fan base.

11. The Sixth Sense - 1999

This chilling psychological horror film, directed by M. Nate Shamlan, achieved great success in the late 90s due to its captivating storyline and exceptional performances by the esteemed Bruce Willis and the talented child actor Haley Joel Osmont, who was just 11 years old at the time of filming. Willis portrays Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a renowned child psychologist who embarks on treating a troubled young boy named Quall (played by Joel Osmont), the son of a single mother dealing with anxiety and various social issues. As the therapy progresses, Dr. Crowe discovers that Quall's anxieties stem from his ability to communicate with ghosts, perceiving them as ordinary people among us. The sequel offers an unexpected and terrifying continuation.

12. Schindler's List – 1994

The Holocaust, a tragic event in the history of the Jewish people, has been the subject of numerous films. However, "Schindler's List" stands out as a film that has become closely associated with this dark period. Directed by the talented Steven Spielberg, who considered it one of his most significant projects, the movie successfully generated interest in the Jewish Holocaust, even among audiences who had little prior knowledge or curiosity about it. This accomplishment is undoubtedly Spielberg's greatest achievement. The film centers around the extraordinary actions of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist and Nazi Party member, who covertly saved thousands of Jews from extermination by employing them in his factory. It also offers a glimpse into the pre-war lives of European Jews and their harrowing experiences in ghettos and extermination camps, providing viewers with a crucial perspective on these atrocities that must be remembered and preserved.

13.  The Shawshank Redemption – 1994

There's no denying that "The Shawshank Redemption" is a cherished 90s film, still ranking high among audience favorites in the cinema world. It's no surprise, considering its optimistic and empowering message that resonates with almost everyone. Directed by Frank Darabont, the movie is set in 1947 and follows the story of Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins), a banker wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Andy finds himself in Shushank Prison, one of the toughest in the country, where he witnesses the violence and harsh conditions. His only ray of hope comes from his friendship with Red (played by Morgan Freeman), an older African-American inmate who provides support and helps him navigate the challenges of life behind bars.

14. Saving Private Ryan - 1998

Steven Spielberg returned to the events of World War II, this time focusing on the perspective of American soldiers. Like his masterpiece "Schindler's List," Spielberg's portrayal is powerful, patriotic, and deeply moving. The film opens with a gripping 25-minute sequence depicting the invasion of Normandy, which remains a standout cinematic moment of the 90s. The story then follows Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks) as he leads a search mission through the war-torn landscapes of occupied France. Their objective is to find Private James Francis Ryan, a soldier who has lost both his brothers in battle, and bring him back to his grieving parents.

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