by Conner Tighe
With everything going on in the world right now, it's natural to feel some nostalgia for simpler times, like the 90s, when you could throw on a bright neon shirt, some baggy jeans, and go out and see all your friends. Luckily, I have compiled a list of the ten best movies from the decade to help you live out your 90s nostalgia during quarantine.
10. Scream (1996)
Who doesn’t remember the chilling line “What’s your favorite scary movie?” Wes Craven’s Scream took inspiration from and gave inspiration to the horror genre we know today. Playing off cheap scares and even some humor, the movie is undoubtedly a must-watch for horror fans. A young Drew Barrymore stars in the first 20 minutes, and Neve Campbell gives one of her best performances as Sidney Prescott, a high school girl dealing with a psycho killer and an even more psycho boyfriend. According to Forbes, another film is in the works for this classic franchise.
9. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Although it’s not my favorite of Tarantino’s work, Pulp Fiction brought something revolutionary to the film industry: a “back in the day” vibe with a story told from several main protagonists. It’s a cult classic! While it may not live up to the hype, it’s decent enough for a one time run. The film features a stellar cast including Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis. Pulp Fiction puts a fun spin on the classic mob tale of fortune and mischief. Plus, Travolta and Thurman’s chemistry in the famous 50s dance scene still resonates with everyone today, whether they’re Tarantino fans or not.
The film’s not all fun and games, however. Jackson gives his famous “did I break your concentration” monologue while eating a cheeseburger, plenty of foul language is thrown around, and of course there’s some gore here and there. This is nothing new from Tarantino, but it likely shocked audiences upon its initial release. All sorts of fun can be had with this mob classic.
8. Clueless (1995)
This is number eight on the list? As if! Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd gave some of their best performances as suburban high school students in this 90s classic. Cher’s (Silverstone) discovery of her feelings for her stepbrother/friend Josh (Rudd) is utterly breathtaking and heartwarming, plus an uncanny play on snotty rich kids is something everyone needs in their lives. Sure, some parts of the film have aged a bit poorly like the cringey “Rollin’ with the homies” scene and complete 90s aesthetic that surrounds the film, but what hasn’t from the 90s?
The film provides tons of laughs and giggles throughout. Strangely, the characters are all relatable in their own ways, due to the outstanding cast the filmmakers put together. I remember watching this film for the first time and being in utter disbelief, but the film grows on you. If the jokes don’t land, the underlying romance will.
Who can forget the iconic performance by Frances McDormand? This eerie yet comical cat-and-mouse game stands as one of the best 90s movies. A pregnant sheriff is something audiences had never witnessed before in film, especially as the main role. It was quirky and fresh. Chasing justice and food, McDormand’s role is funny and worth capturing in film history. Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare give excellent bad guy performances as well. The Coen brothers are no strangers to filmmaking, and Fargo is one of their best. The film’s eerie score still sticks with me all these years later.
6. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Arnold Schwarzenegger returns “badder and better” than before in the second entry to the Terminator franchise. Schwarzenegger plays the good guy this time around as he is sent back in time to protect John Connor from being killed. Although the film has aged in places such as dialogue and special effects, it still stands as the best in the franchise next to the original. Linda Hamilton provides another stellar performance as Sarah Connor, and Edward Furlong is a welcome addition to the cast and does an excellent job. With the bitter-sweet ending to this movie, the franchise appeared to have reached an end; however, money talks in the film industry.
5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Where do I even begin with this film? Anthony Hopkins gives one of his best performances to date as psychopath and cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling still sends chills down my spine in the scene where she recounts her farm story. The casting was incredibly well done in this film, to say the least, which led to the creation of many memorable scenes in the movie. The film’s conclusion was open-ended, leaving the viewers wondering where Lecter was going. This open-endedness led to future sequels that, to be honest, weren’t as good. In the Hannibal series, this one is still the best.
4. The Sixth Sense (1999)
M. Night Shyamalan frightened the world through the eyes of young Haley Joel Osment in this thriller. This was one of Osment’s best performances, as he provided a real sense of fear and confusion as to why he was experiencing paranormal phenomena. The film gave us one of the most iconic movie quotes ever (“I see dead people”) and Bruce Willis’ character gave a sense of guidance and grounding between the spiritual world and ours. The twist ending holds up even today, and is sure to leave first-time viewers in shock.
3. The Matrix (1999)
This is the film that defied gravity—literally. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Ann Moss served as the leading trio that would later star in two more franchise films. All three are excellent in this movie, providing romance, drama, and memorable monologues. The Matrix provides enough action to satisfy anyone, along with several hidden metaphors and even biblical references that may take a couple of re-watches to catch on to.
The special effects were amazing back in the 90s, no doubt, and still maintain their fantastic appeal today. Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith character is still one of the most memorable movie villains to date. His famous “Mr. Anderson” shout out to Reeves’ character, Neo, still rings in my ears. The Matrix gives a whole new meaning to the ideas of technology and the “real world.”
2. Ghost (1990)
Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore give some of their best performances in this romance/thriller. Ghost was a spin on the romance genre that no other movie had done at that time. When Sam Wheat (Swayze) is killed by Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn), he enlists the help of Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a medium, to contact Molly Jensen (Moore). Jensen is Wheat’s love interest and is in danger from Carl Bruner whom she believes is Wheat’s friend. The film provides plenty of comedy between Goldberg and Swayze’s characters. Who can forget the infamous pottery spinning scene? It’s been replicated in plenty of films since this classic.
1. Titanic (1997)
This is truly the film that defined the decade—It’s still Kate Winslet’s best role. DiCaprio and Winslet’s chemistry is undeniable as they brave a sinking Titanic in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. The film featured many other memorable actors and actresses such as Kathy Bates, Billy Zane, Bill Paxton, and Victor Garber. Titanic provides a blend of action and romance that is difficult to replicate, especially in the unique setting of a sinking ship.
The score of Titanic is brilliant and on par with the work of greats like Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman. Celine Dion lent her talent to the iconic song “My Heart Will Go On,” a song that perfectly encaptured Rose (Winslet) and Jack’s (DiCaprio) dying love (literally).
Did we miss any of your favorite 90s movies? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image: IMDb