Top 100 Films of the 1990s

Following up on our list of our favorite films of the 2000s, we bring you our definitive (at least definitive as of today) list of our favorites from the 1990s. We all came of age as filmwatchers in the 2000s, but the ’90s was arguably when our collective love and appreciation for the wonder of film began to first grow and flourish. These are what we consider to be the most lasting and impactful films of not only our times growing up but also as more mature lovers of film looking back at the decade that was. It was a fantastic time for cinema, and certainly a fantastic time for us to learn to love cinema, so we hope you enjoy our top 100 films of the 1990s.

Following up on our list of our favorite films of the 2000s, we bring you our definitive (at least definitive as of today) list of our favorites from the 1990s. We all came of age as filmwatchers in the 2000s, but the '90s was arguably when our collective love and appreciation for the wonder of film began to first grow and flourish. These are what we consider to be the most lasting and impactful films of not only our times growing up but also as more mature lovers of film looking back at the decade that was. It was a fantastic time for cinema, and certainly a fantastic time for us to learn to love cinema, so we hope you enjoy our top 100 films of the 1990s.

In addition to the list, you can find some interesting statistics about the breakdown of the films and where things shook out as well as our individual ballots as a way to see where our tastes might veer off from one another.

Spawn 100. Spawn (1997)
Director
Mark A.Z. Dippe
Stars
John Leguizamo
Michael Jai White
Martin Sheen


Bear with me; I do have a reason for making Spawn the first movie you see on our list for "Top 100 Movies of the 1990s."

Spawn marked the first time I saw a comic book character who I knew to be fake do battle against a villain who I wasn’t so sure was fake—Satan. The concept that comic book heroes inhabit the same world as demons, and by extension God, was reassuring. At the time, I was sobering up to the idea that the characters of childhood "good vs. evil" and adulthood "good vs. evil" need to live in different parts of my brain. But Spawn bridged those battlefields. It revitalized my faith in the comic book heroes and the defeatability of Satan himself. - Brian Urrutia

What About Bob?
99. What About Bob? (1991)
Director
Frank Oz
Stars
Bill Murray
Richard Dreyfuss
Julie Hagerty


Bill Murray in goofball style comedic form plays Bob, the habitual line-stepping patient of psychiatrist Leo (Richard Dreyfuss). Bob finds Leo and his family on their vacation, where he blurs the line between patient, family member, and friend. - BU

A Bug's Life
98. A Bug's Life (1998)
Director
John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton
Stars
Kevin Spacey
Dave Foley
Julia Louis-Dreyfus


Pixar’s sophomore feature film doesn’t disappoint. It is rich with humor, wit, and tropes that Billy Shakespeare would envy. - Jarryd Baxter

U.S. Marshals
97. U.S. Marshals (1998)
Director
Stuart Baird
Stars
Tommy Lee Jones
Wesley Snipes
Robert Downey Jr.


What can I say? I've taken some grief for having this on my list.

My excuses are:
1. Tommy Lee Jones reprising the role he was born to play.
2. RDJ
3. The fact that they made a sequel to The Fugitive when there was no need whatsoever for a same-universe movie besides excuse #1. That's right. TLJ leads a search team so damn well they let him do it for a whole 'nother movie. - Clark Carmichael

Goldeneye
96. GoldenEye (1995)
Director
Martin Campbell
Stars
Pierce Brosnan
Sean Bean
Izabella Scorupco


I honestly wonder how much of GoldenEye (the film's) legacy is directly tied to GoldenEye (the video game's) long-lasting appeal throughout most of our adolescent lives. Not one of us can say that we don't have fond memories of staying up past any reasonable hour next to three other bloodshot-eyed boys, empty Sprite cans and chip bags strewn about the floor, running around the complex level trying to shoot each other. There was always that one guy who unfairly picked Oddjob and would run up to you can light you up at close range. If you're reading this, you know who you are. - Jeff Pearson

Bowfinger
95. Bowfinger (1999)
Director
Frank Oz
Stars
Steve Martin
Eddie Murphy
Heather Graham


I'm disappointed in everyone who didn't include Bowfinger in their list, which shamefully turned out to be every single one of you. Just look at that picture and feel your shame. - JP

Varsity Blues
94. Varsity Blues (1999)
Director
Brian Robbins
Stars
James Van Der Beek
Jon Voight
Paul Walker


I’ve read reviews of this movie that compare it to a "dumpster fire." These folks aren’t very fun and don’t enjoy wearing whipped cream bikinis. I’m not certain if this is supposed to be satire, but Jon Voight and the rest of the cast straddle the line so well that the result is satisfying on either side. - JB

The Fifth Element
93. The Fifth Element (1997)
Director
Luc Besson
Stars
Bruce Willis
Milla Jovovich
Gary Oldman


It’s now a cult classic, but The Fifth Element was originally just flat-out the weirdest movie I’d ever seen. The movie’s real star is Milla Jovovich, who plays Leeloo, a humanoid robot. She’s so good here that they wrote like forty Resident Evil for her to basically reprise her ass-kicking ways. - BU

The Fugitive
92. The Fugitive (1993)
Director
Andrew Davis
Stars
Harrison Ford
Tommy Lee Jones
Sela Ward


A great mid-nineties action/thriller. Tommy Lee Jones barking orders at his team, Harrison Ford evading capture to seek the truth behind the one armed man, and it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. - CC

The Man Who Knew Too Little
91. The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)
Director
John Amiel
Stars
Bill Murray
Joanne Whalley
Peter Gallagher


Bill Murray just makes anything funny. A very simple, stupid, and charming movie. "My dog is dead!" - Anders Oster

Die Hard: With A Vengeance
90. Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
Director
John McTiernan
Stars
Bruce Willis
Jeremy Irons
Samuel L. Jackson


Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Irons in a die hard movie. Should've been higher on our list. Jeremy frickin' Irons plays Hans Gruber's brother, Simon. Amazing. - CC

There's Something About Mary
89. There's Something About Mary (1998)
Director
The Farrelly Brothers
Stars
Ben Stiller
Cameron Diaz
Matt Dillon


Possibly the funniest movie Ben Stiller ever did. Hilarious from beginning to end, especially the bits with Ben Stiller as a high schooler. - AO

Beauty and the Beast
88. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Director
Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Stars
Paige O'Hara
Robby Benson
Richard White


This has the best music of any Disney movie, period. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this charming tale of a bookworm finding love in an unexpected place. - JB

Cry-Baby
87. Cry-Baby (1990)
Director
John Waters
Stars
Johnny Depp
Ricki Lake
Amy Locane


John Waters understands what motivates teenage culture as good as anyone. In Cry-Baby­ he captures all of the promise and optimism of what we’ve come to expect from stories of the '50s (pomade and Bel Airs and early rock ‘n roll) but focuses, not on jocks and cheerleaders, but delinquents. If I had to go back to the '50s, I’d take Waters’ version of Mad Men every time. - BU

From Dusk Till Dawn
86. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Director
Robert Rodriguez
Stars
Harvey Keitel
George Clooney
Juliette Lewis


What a weird and awesome movie. It starts out as a movie about father reconnecting with his kids on a long road trip and ends up being a movie about father reconnecting with his kids during a bloody vampire massacre. - AO

Hercules
85. Hercules (1997)
Director
Ron Clements, John Musker
Stars
Tate Donovan
Susan Egan
James Woods


Amazing original music, great comedy with Danny Devito, and a great story of triumph over James Woods. - CC

A Goofy Movie
84. A Goofy Movie (1995)
Director
Kevin Lima
Stars
Bill Farmer
Jason Marsden
Jim Cummings


I feel honored that I was given the blurb for the movie that has held such an important place in the hearts of each of the Bit Players. I hope this blurb will help you to see "I2I" with me about how much of a "Stand Out" this movie is. - AO

Office Space
83. Office Space (1999)
Director
Mike Judge
Stars
Ron Livingston
Jennifer Aniston
David Herman


This movie is an absolute perfect satire of office life and still makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it. Full of hilarious side characters, the best of which is probably Lawrence, the next door neighbor. - AO

Tremors
82. Tremors (1990)
Director
Ron Underwood
Stars
Kevin Bacon
Fred Ward
Finn Carter


Entirely original idea that achieved camp- perfection. - CC

Boys Don't Cry
81. Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Director
Kimberly Pierce
Stars
Hilary Swank
Chloe Sevigny
Peter Sarsgaard


A movie whose importance extends far beyond the doors of a movie theater. Hillary Swank won an Oscar for her amazing performance as the trans man Brandon Teena whom Lana Tisdel (Chloë Sevigny) falls in love with. Much like Brokeback Mountain did, Boys Don’t Cry emphasized the universal elements of a love story while still revealing the range of challenges that face non-straight couples. - BU

The Sixth Sense
80. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Director
M. Night Shyamalan
Stars
Bruce Willis
Haley Joel Osment
Toni Collette


This movie is both a blessing and a curse. M Night made such a remarkable movie, but it unfortunately labeled him as the master of plot twists. Rather than appreciating his terrific work, the reception of his subsequent movies (and their corresponding "twists") were based upon this brilliant movie. - JB

Singles
79. Singles (1992)
Director
Cameron Crowe
Stars
Bridget Fonda
Campbell Scott
Kyra Sedgwick


Singles is a classic film if only for the culture that it encapsulates. The grunge era of Seattle is such a huge part of musical history that it's amazing to watch the characters of Singles navigate their lost lives in this setting, bouncing around clubs, seeing Alice in Chains concerts (there's literally a scene at an Alice in Chains show, what more can you want?), and finding themselves like so many of the best films portray. It's a simple coming of age story, but it's told in a compelling and real setting, so closely tied to history and some of my personal favorite music that it's hard not to love. JP

A Night at the Roxbury
78. A Night At the Roxbury (1998)
Director
John Fortenbury
Stars
Chris Kattan
Will Ferrell
Raquel Gardner


I'd be lying if I said this one wasn't included for entirely personal reasons. It's just a film that we clung onto, devouring it at every sleepover for years. It was the !Three Amigos! of the '90s. I remember Brian and I went to Lake Lanier water park one time and there was this slide that we did over and over, where you lay facedown on blue mats and race one another in parallel slides. We would recite lines from A Night at the Roxbury to each other over the small wall between us, coming out into the pool of water cracking up at imagining our favorite ridiculous scenes. It's not the Godfather or anything, but it doesn't try to be, and sometimes you have to love that. JP

Scream
77. Scream (1996)
Director
Wes Craven
Stars
Neve Campbell
Courtney Cox
David Arquette


For better or worse, the master of scary of movies resurrected the genre with the smart, self-aware and iconic Scream trilogy. - JB

You watch enough Wes Craven and you get to thinking that his creative process involves him waiting to see which of the new generation of hot young actors and actresses he wants to ceremoniously massacre. - BU

Magnolia
76. Magnolia (1999)
Director
Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars
Tom Cruise
Jason Robards
Julianne Moore


PT Anderson returns with most of his cast from Boogie Nights to the San Fernando Valley with the added bonus of…you guessed it—Little Tommy Cruise. How does Cruise perform in a PT Anderson film? With a ponytail, that’s how. - BU

Out of Sight
75. Out of Sight (1998)
Director
Steven Soderbergh
Stars
George Clooney
Jennifer Lopez
Ving Rhames


This is a fun ensemble crime drama featuring the ever likeable Clooney, and the surprisingly likable J-Lo. It feels like the preamble to Ocean's Eleven, but that would be doing a disservice to this well written story. - JB

He Got Game
74. He Got Game (1998)
Director
Spike Lee
Stars
Denzel Washington
Milla Jovovich
Ray Allen


Ray Allen is as good an actor as he is a jump shooter. Denzel Washington’s character is also named "Jesus Shuttleworth." And people say that Spike Lee is overrated… - BU

Batman Returns
73. Batman Returns (1992)
Director
Tim Burton
Stars
Michael Keaton
Danny DeVito
Michelle Pfeiffer
Christopher Walken


Watch this movie just for Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. A better Catwoman will never be seen. Also, Danny DeVito as The Penguin is super creepy and great. - AO

Clueless
72. Clueless (1995)
Director
Amy Heckerling
Stars
Alicia Silverstone
Stacey Dash
Brittany Murphy


I watched the shit out of this thing when I was a kid. I think largely because it was one of my sister Micki's favorite films. It really does hold up, though, and I think it always will. - JP

Bad Boys
71. Bad Boys (1995)
Director
Michael Bay
Stars
Will Smith
Martin Lawrence
Lisa Boyle


This is perhaps Will Smith’s best movie, and it’s definitely Michael Bay’s best. - JB

The Muppet Christmas Carol
70. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1995)
Director
Brian Henson
Stars
Michael Caine
Dave Goelz
Steve Whitmire


I love the characters of the Muppets. I love the stories Charles Dickens. Ergo, I love this Charles Dickens story starring the Muppets. - BU

Star Trek: First Contact
69. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Director
Jonathan Frakes
Stars
Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes
Brent Spiner


I know everyone is now on board a starship with James Tiberius Kirk as their captain, but Jean-Luc Piccard is the man for me. He’s the philosopher-captain, a paragon of leadership and, occasionally, so funny that Data smiles. - BU

Princess Mononoke
68. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Director
Hayao Miyazaki
Stars
Yôji Matsuda
Yuriko Ishida
Yûko Tanaka


Got to have some Miyazaki. This dude is a goddamn wizard of animation. He has single-handedly reversed my perceptions of what anime is and how it can affect me on an emotional level. His films are so visually beautiful that it almost doesn't matter what's going on in them; they're just a wonder to behold. It just helps that the story within Princess Mononoke is a grand, beautiful one of man's relationship with nature and the unseen (or in the film's case, seen) gods that govern the natural world. - JP

A River Runs Through It
67. A River Runs Through It (1992)
Director
Robert Redford
Stars
Craig Sheffer
Brad Pitt
Tom Skerritt


The movie clarifies the connection between writing and fly-fishing: patience and hope. - BU

True Romance
66. True Romance (1993)
Director
Tony Scott
Stars
Christian Slater
Patricia Arquette
Dennis Hopper


There is just no way this movie could have been bad. Written by Tarantino, directed by the true king of hard-boiled, Tony Scott. Hans Zimmer score. A cast that goes on and on. It's a movie that doesn't need to be greater than the sum of its parts. The parts add up to enough by themselves. - CC

La Haine
65. La Haine (1995)
Director
Mathieu Kassovitz
Stars
Vincent Cassel
Hubert Koundé
Saïd Taghmaoui


All I can really say about La Haine is just that it is so raw. You are thrown into the worlds of Parisian youth who are just trying to find themselves in a world that stifles them constantly, having to resort to violence and mayhem to be heard. Amazing use of Chekhov's gun, where the plot of the film is driven along by the presence of a stolen police officer's gun. You're on the edge of your seat waiting for it to go off, knowing all along that it's a world in which it can only do so, to horrible results. - JP

Half Baked
64. Half Baked (1998)
Director
Tamra Davis
Stars
Dave Chappelle
Guillermo Díaz
Jim Breuer


Probably shouldn't be this high, no pun intended, but none the less it is a very funny movie which is endlessly quotable and stars the funniest man alive. - CC

Kingpin
63. Kingpin (1996)
Director
The Farrelly Brothers
Stars
Woody Harrelson
Randy Quaid
Bill Murray, Vanessa Angel


A movie about bowling and comb-overs. Bill Murray’s "Not you. Hi" scene in the diner is improvisational genius. - BU

Apollo 13
62. Apollo 13 (1995)
Director
Ron Howard
Stars
Tom Hanks
Bill Paxton
Kevin Bacon


This is one of those movies that gets better with age. I don't think I took it seriously when I saw it as a kid. Of course at the time it was one of the grandest spectacles I'd ever seen - I mean, come on! Space! -but revisiting Apollo 13 as an adult is an entirely different ballgame. It tells the story of friendship and teamwork while bringing in poignant emotional material that draws on its characters' families back home on Earth, showing just how high the stakes were. JP

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
61. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Director
Terry Gilliam
Stars
Johnny Depp
Benicio Del Toro
Tobey Maguire


If you love Johnny Depp for his off-beat style of comedy then see him channel Hunter S. Thompson (his real-life friend and author of the book that inspired this movie). If you want a hallucinogenic that you know will end in one hundred and eighteen minutes, well you can do that at the same time. - BU

Romeo + Juliet
60. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Director
Baz Luhrmann
Stars
Leonardo DiCaprio
Claire Danes
John Leguizamo


My favorite Shakespeare adaptation because of its ingenuity: Baz Luhrmann sets the story in modern day Miami; makes the Capulets and Montagues mafia families rather than political factions; replaces swords with guns; even uses roughly 40% of the original script. His trick? He doesn’t touch the language that he does use. And young Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes have no trouble keeping up with verse. The effect is a living and breathing and bleeding Shakespeare production—as fit for the screen as it was for the stage. - BU

A Few Good Men
59. A Few Good Men (1992)
Director
Rob Reiner
Stars
Tom Cruise
Jack Nicholson
Demi Moore


Our man Tommy Cruise shines amongst this star studded cast and Nicholson delivers one of the best lines in cinema. This is a classic, very good 90’s movie that is supremely satisfying. - JB

The Nightmare Before Christmas
58. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Director
Henry Selick
Stars
Danny Elfman
Chris Sarandon
Catherine O'Hara


"What’s this?" It’s at once a Christmas and a Halloween movie. Watch it during Christmas if you’re feeling sinister or Halloween if you’re feeling more nice than naughty. Best of all is that Jack Skellington is voiced by the maestro from the band Oingo Boingo, Danny Elfman. - BU

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
57. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Director
Jay Roach
Stars
Mike Myers
Elizabeth Hurley
Michael York


I’ve probably quoted no movie except Dumb and Dumber more over the course of my life. An absolutely perfect satire of the Bond series. - AO

Independence Day
56. Independence Day (1996)
Director
Roland Emmerich
Stars
Will Smith
Bill Pullman
Jeff Goldblum


What’s not to like here? Will Smith, Randy Quaid, and Jeff Goldblum fighting aliens in an epic summer blockbuster. Bill Pullman is the best movie president ever and delivers one of the best movie speeches ever. - JB

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
55. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Director
Chris Columbus
Stars
Macaulay Culkin
Joe Pesci
Daniel Stern


It wasn't as good as the first, but then again what movies are? A John Williams score, written by John Hughes who had enough sense to understand what worked in the first movie and kept those components. I'm a sucker for the booby-trap ending genre. But this movie is always going to be a Christmas classic for the late eighties babies such as myself. - CC

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
54. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
Director
Jim Jarmusch
Stars
Forest Whitaker
Henry Silva
John Tormey


I got a lot of film recommendations from Todd, this guy I worked with at Borders. Brian knows him; he's a strange cat, to say the least, and not one of those recommendations panned out for me over my five years of working together. Until Ghost Dog. There's just something intangible about this film that makes it so compelling. Forrest Whitaker gives such a personal, vulnerable performance of a lonely, tortured man who is just trying to perfect his craft and live a simple life when he gets pulled into a dangerous and irreversible fate. It's a beautiful character exploration and Whitaker creates one of the most empathy-inducing characters I've ever seen. There is a fantastic score by the RZA to go along with it, further complicating the message of the film with style and coolness. JP

The Silence of the Lambs
53. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Director
Jonathan Demme
Stars
Jodie Foster
Anthony Hopkins
Lawrence A. Bonney


I hate providing you with factoids that you could simply look up yourself, but Silence of the Lambs swept the top five major categories at the Oscars that year. More impressive than that is the individual performance of Anthony Hopkins, who took home the leadacting award with the shortest screen time ever. You feel his presence looming over the entirety of the movie even though his character stays in an 8x10 foot cell. Enjoy this movie with some fava beans. - BU

Rounders
52. Rounders (1998)
Director
John Dahl
Stars
Matt Damon
Edward Norton
Gretchen Mol


I’m surprised this movie didn’t make the cut for any of you guys. The script is great. The acting is great. It examines a very interesting subculture with a special nuance. If I stumble across this movie on cable, I’m roped in for the rest of the ride. - JB

Last Action Hero
51. Last Action Hero (1993)
Director
John McTiernan
Stars
Arnold Schwarzenegger
F. Murray Abraham
Art Carney


If you don't know why I selected this film, go back and watch it. Arnold lampoons himself while keeping all the great action set pieces that made him famous. Director John McTiernan's most underappreciated film. - CC

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