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.

Interview with the Vampire
50. Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
Director
Neil Jordan
Stars
Brad Pitt
Tom Cruise
Antonio Banderas


A story of three vampires played by a blonde Tom Cruise, an always-pretty Brad Pitt, and an adolescent Kirsten Dunst, who devours adults on multiple occasions. - Brian Urrutia

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
49. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Director
Eric Radomski & Bruce W. Timm
Stars
Kevin Conroy
Dana Delany
Hart Bochner


The Batman animated movies are extremely underrated. They fall somewhere between the Christopher Nolan trilogy and Batman and Robin (widely regarded as the strongest of the series). Phantasm is one of the best of the animated Batmen and makes you forget you’re watching a cartoon. - Anders Oster

My Cousin Vinny
48. My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Director
Jonathan Lyn
Stars
Joe Pesci
Marisa Tomei
Ralph Macchio


I think I always liked My Cousin Vinny growing up (I mean, it had Harry from Home Alone and the Karate Kid in it, so that was all I really needed), but it wasn't until my adult years that I began to truly appreciate what a great film it actually is. Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei give dynamic, hilarious performances and it's an awesome moment when Tomei just schools the entire courtroom on the tire treads of the model of car in question. - Jeff Pearson

Men in Black
47. Men in Black (1997)
Director
Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars
Tommy Lee Jones
Will Smith
Linda Fiorentino


Men In Black has it all by '90s standards: Will Smith in a lead role, a song by Will Smith, a music video by Will Smith, CGI aliens, and Tommy Lee Jones. But what I love most about it now is the hilarious voice of the husband-snatching bug-alien when he asks for sugar in his water. - BU

MORE. SUGAR. - JP

The Boondock Saints
46. The Boondock Saints (1999)
Director
Troy Duffy
Stars
Willem Dafoe
Sean Patrick Flanery
Norman Reedus


This was a '90s movie?! Yet another example that all you need to make a good movie is Willem Dafoe. He's like the white Samuel L. Jackson. - Clark Carmichael

Casino
45. Casino (1995)
Director
Martin Scorsese
Stars
Robert De Niro
Sharon Stone
Joe Pesci


If not for Goodfellas, this would be the cable TV gangster flick for our generation. Instead of DeNiro or Pesci, it’s Sharon Stone that steals the show with her terrifying portrayal of a mobster wife. - Jarryd Baxter

Get Shorty
44. Get Shorty (1995)
Director
Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars
Gene Hackman
Rene Russo
Danny DeVito


After thinking for so long that I just can’t get into gangster films, I’m realizing that this might be my favorite gangster movie. - AO

Captain Ron
43. Captain Ron (1992)
Director
Thom Eberhardt
Stars
Kurt Russell
Martin Short
Mary Kay Place


Easier-going version of Snake Plissken teaches Martin Short's family how to sail around the Bahamas. Everything that Kurt Russell does is both under-rated and hilarious. The guy just gets comedy. - CC

Tombstone
42. Tombstone (1993)
Director
George P. Cosmatos
Stars
Kurt Russell
Val Kilmer
Sam Elliott


Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer are the Odd Couple at the OK Corral. I've read up on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. This movie is by and large historically accurate which makes it even better for me. - CC

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
41. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992)
Director
James Cameron
Stars
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Linda Hamilton
Edward Furlong


One of the scariest villains I’ve ever seen in a movie. Arnold and I give this movie one flaming thumbs up. - AO

Seven
40. Seven (1995)
Director
David Fincher
Stars
Morgan Freeman
Brad Pitt
Kevin Spacey


Fincher is great at creating dark, insular environments that are mysteriously inviting. Just like Brad Pitt’s character, you become way too absorbed in this one, making the final blow even more powerful. - JB

Saving Private Ryan
39. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Director
Steven Spielberg
Stars
Tom Hanks
Matt Damon
Tom Sizemore


This was everything in '98. Spielberg imagined World War II in a scale that was capable of portraying the horror and scope of being in the European theater through a plot that is actually quite confined and singular. I think that's Saving Private Ryan's greatest strength, really; it takes a simple premise of getting a dude the hell out of there to not leave his mother with no sons and blows it up on a global scale by showing what is necessary in that situation. It's a humanization of the global phenomenon of war, which is what every war film should aim to achieve. - JP

The Iron Giant
38. The Iron Giant (1999)
Director
Brad Bird
Stars
Eli Marienthal
Harry Connick Jr.
Jennifer Aniston


Brad Bird knows compelling storytelling. A film I've come to appreciate in recent years. Love the animation. It just sucks that everything has to be Pixar or look like Pixar for people to give it a chance. - CC

Braveheart
37. Braveheart (1995)
Director
Mel Gibson
Stars
Mel Gibson
Sophie Marceau
Patrick McGoohan


To paraphrase South Park: Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the dude knows how to tell a story. - CC

L.A. Confidential
36. L.A. Confidential (1997)
Director
Curtis Hanson
Stars
Kevin Spacey
Russell Crowe
Guy Pearce


In my mind, the quintessential noir film. I think it even trumps the stuff that was truly made in the era of noir in that it seems to just do everything right. The film exudes a vibe of mystery and intrigue from the very beginning, and you never know what to expect. It swelters with the heat of a Hollywood summer where crime is running high and it seems that no one is safe. Fantastic performances all around, too. - JP

Aladdin
35. Aladdin (1992)
Director
Ron Clements & John Musker
Stars
Scott Weinger
Robin Williams
Linda Larkin


This is in my top three Disney movies with the Lion King and Peter Pan. - AO

Miller's Crossing
34. Miller's Crossing (1990)
Director
The Coen Brothers
Stars
Gabriel Byrne
Albert Finney
John Turturro


Easily one of the most underrated Coen brothers flicks. The '90s will always be remembered for the Big Lebowski and Fargo for them, and rightfully so, but Miller's Crossing is easily as good as their best work of the decade. The Prohibition-era thriller brings their sharp dialogue and gritty vision to a violent and bloody world, but it's the Coen brothers so there is obviously a twisted and dark sense of humor always lurking around the corner. - JP

Good Will Hunting
33. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Director
Gus Van Sant
Stars
Robin Williams
Matt Damon
Ben Affleck


I don’t know what to say about this other than that it is a very well written drama with three great performances from Damon, Affleck, and Robin Williams. I can’t imagine someone really not liking this movie. - AO

Home Alone
32. Home Alone (1990)
Director
Chris Columbus
Stars
Macaulay Culkin
Joe Pesci
Daniel Stern


Maybe it isn't the greatest movie of all time, but it is my favorite. The casting was top notch. The score. Maculay Culkin. The only problem I have with it is the depiction of Miami as being a terrible place to spend Christmas. Christmas in Miami is awesome. But the film is Empowering, exciting, funny and has a Booby-trap ending. That's a recipe for success. - CC

Army of Darkness
31. Army of Darkness (1992)
Director
Sam Raimi
Stars
Bruce Campbell
Embeth Davidtz
Marcus Gilbert


Army of Darkness is the kind of movie that you can't look away from. It's obvious that everyone involved had lost their minds. In another world Sam Raimi goes on to fill Michael Bay's role as the go to director for over the top action movies. I wanna live in that world. - CC

Forrest Gump
30. Forrest Gump (1994)
Director
Robert Zemeckis
Stars
Tom Hanks
Robin Wright
Gary Sinise


This movie is just fun and creative all the way through. Definitely in the mold of what movies are all about. Great soundtrack and great performances all around, especially from Tom Hanks. - AO

Before Sunrise
29. Before Sunrise (1995)
Director
Richard Linklater
Stars
Ethan Hawke
Julie Delpy


The writing on this film is just incomparable. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy take Richard Linklater's script and bring it to life with natural, fluid performances that make the characters as believable as possible in the situation that they are in. They start off somewhat timid, feeling each other out, and by the end of the night, when the sense of desperation looms larger over their inevitable parting of ways, they don't hold anything back. Just a beautiful, simple film that shows what a great screenwriter can do. - JP

The Thin Red Line
28. The Thin Red Line (1998)
Director
Terence Malick
Stars
Jim Caviezel
Sean Penn
Nick Nolte


Terrence Malick’s form perfectly suits the traumatic war experiences of the Crimean War. Nick Nolte is a favorite of mine but this is the movie that put Jim Caviezel on the map. - BU

Jerry Maguire
27. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Director
Cameron Crowe
Stars
Tom Cruise
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Renee Zellweger


There is nothing more '90s than this movie. Nothing. - CC

heat
26. Heat (1995)
Director
Michael Mann
Stars
Al Pacino
Robert De Niro
Val Kilmer


Not only is this film just beautifully shot (the shots of the characters against the Los Angeles skyline in the background become the film's overall aesthetic), but it kind of serves as a cultural moment in film. This is the first time that Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, two of the world's greatest actors of all time, share the screen together, and watching Heat takes on a whole different level of grandiosity with that in mind. The oppositional characters are both obsessed with their craft, replicating what we have come to know from Pacino and De Niro as actors, and the way that they dance around each other with a sense of mutual respect almost feels metatheatrical in the moment, that they are commenting and respecting each other as characters as well as actors. The scene where they finally sit down to have a cup of coffee together is iconic if only for the image of two of our greatest to ever take a role sitting across the table from one another. - JP

election
25. Election (1999)
Director
Alexander Payne
Stars
Matthew Broderick
Reese Witherspoon
Chris Klein


A perfect representation of the soul-destroying vacuity of high school political campaigns. Director Alexander Payne makes you feel so smart for grinning through those assemblies in the gymnasium that you were certain were so stupid. Students, teachers, parents, coaches—no one escapes Payne’s black comedy. - BU

Gattaca
24. Gattaca (1997)
Director
Andrew Niccol
Stars
Ethan Hawke
Uma Thurman
Jude Law


One of the greatest movies ever made. Gattaca should leave everyone who watches it feeling empowered to achieve beyond their lot in life. - CC

Goodfellas
23. Goodfellas (1990)
Director
Martin Scorsese
Stars
Robert De Niro
Ray Liotta
Joe Pesci


Ever since I saw this movie, I’ve wanted to be a gangster. The well curated soundtrack sets the race car pace for Scorcese’s iconic masterpiece. The tracking shot of the restaurant is one of the finest in the history of cinema and makes you want to be part of the club. - JB

Mission: Impossible
22. Mission: Impossible (1996)
Director
Brian De Palma
Stars
Tom Cruise
Jon Voight
Emmanuelle Béart


One of the best action scenes of all time is the train scene at the end of the movie. I still get chills every time I watch Little Tommy leap onto the helicopter as the Mission: Impossible theme starts playing. Unbelievable. - AO

Fargo
21. Fargo (1996)
Director
The Coen Brothers
Stars
William H. Macy
Frances McDormand
Steve Buscemi


No writers are better at using tragedy to create humor. Frances McDormand shines. - JB

Dumb & Dumber
20. Dumb & Dumber (1994)
Director
The Farrelly Brothers
Stars
Jim Carrey
Jeff Daniels
Lauren Holly


I’m surprised at how much I still laugh with this movie. Jim Carrey might be the king of physical comedy. Every line deserves a chuckle. - JB

Dazed and Confused
19. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Director
Richard Linklater
Stars
Jason London
Wiley Wiggins
Matthew McConaughey


An out-an-out classic. Richard Linklater so perfectly captures the aimlessness of high school life in a way that doesn't glorify or vilify the lifestyle. It's just what it is. Dazed and Confused is a film that, no matter what type of kid you were in high school, no matter what decade you grew up in, is completely relatable on every level. There's a character in there somewhere that hits home to everyone; I believe that fully. The film is amazing for that, classic for that, and cherished for that, but let's be honest. It could completely suck and it still gave the world its first taste of Matthew McConaughey. Killer soundtrack, too. - JP

Unforgiven
18. Unforgiven (1992)
Director
Clint Eastwood
Stars
Clint Eastwood
Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman


The best movie Clint Eastwood ever directed. It's a film that puts all other westerns in perspective. It de-mystifies the "men of violence" that are so often glorified in films. It won Best Picture, which hopefully backs up the idea that it is one of the best of all time, but especially of the '90s. - CC

Rushmore
17. Rushmore (1998)
Director
Wes Anderson
Stars
Jason Schwartzman
Bill Murray
Olivia Williams


Max Fischer will never stop cracking me up. The plays that he puts on in Rushmore are so fucking insane and awesome, and the lengths that he goes to just to get back at Bill Murray's character for "stealing his woman," pumping bees into his hotel room being the most amazing by far, are so sinister on the surface that it's remarkable that Jason Schwartzman manages to pull some sort of humanity out of that character is a testament to his performance as such a young man. I instantly became a huge fan of his from the second I saw this, and it also ushered in Wes Anderson as a director that I will forever love. - JP

The Truman Show
16. The Truman Show (1998)
Director
Peter Weir
Stars
Jim Carrey
Ed Harris
Laura Linney


My favorite Jim Carrey movie besides Dumb and Dumber. The score to this movie is one of my favorites. To steal the words from Clark, this is an incredibly empowering movie. One of the most interesting and funny ideas I’ve seen on screen in my opinion. - AO

The Lion King
15. The Lion King (1994)
Director
Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Stars
Matthew Broderick
Jeremy Irons
James Earl Jones


The music, the betrayal, watching Simba grow up, Timon & Pumbaa, James Earl Jones' voice, Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg, Hans Zimmer, Elton John, Hakuna Matata, Hamlet on the Savannah starring lions. It all adds up to absolute perfection. - CC

Fight Club
14. Fight Club (1999)
Director
David Fincher
Stars
Brad Pitt
Edward Norton
Helena Bonham Carter


Brad Pitt in his prime and Edward Norton before his (or so Brian and his Octogenarians hope). This movie blew my mind the first time I saw it, and it continues to be a very enjoyable rewatch. - AO

The Usual Suspects
13. The Usual Suspects (1995)
Director
Bryan Singer
Stars
Kevin Spacey
Gabriel Byrne
Chazz Palminteri


I'm not proud to say that the first time I saw this was in [REDACTED]'s basement. It was the morning after one of these parties he had in middle school, where everyone would take advantage of his negligent parents and fondle each other on his weightlifting equipment while he played Uncle Kracker on repeat, and it was only myself and Nate left over. We threw on the Usual Suspects. I'm not proud of this, people. I am proud, however, of the fact that Nate hated it and it instantly became my favorite movie. You know what, now that I think about it, the fact that [REDACTED] hated it might have actually been a huge motivating factor in why I love it. Keyser Soze is one of the best film villains of all time, and you spend 99% of the film trying to figure out just who the hell he is. "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist," just like the greatest trick I ever pulled was to convince the [REDACTED]s I wasn't getting tugjobs in their basement. - JP

Boogie Nights
12. Boogie Nights (1997)
Director
Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars
Mark Wahlberg
Julianne Moore
Burt Reynolds


P.T. Anderson took a story of porn and made poetry of it. Such a cliché, I know. - BU

Leon: The Professional
11. Léon: The Professional (1994)
Director
Luc Besson
Stars
Jean Reno
Gary Oldman
Natalie Portman


Natalie Portman’s first movie and she absolutely crushes it. Not to mention, Gary Oldman plays an unbelievable villain, and Jean Reno plays a fantastic hitman with a heart of gold. The scene between Reno and Portman toward the end of the movie is gut wrenching and amazing. - AO

The Sandlot
10. The Sandlot (1993)
Director
David M. Evans
Stars
Tom Guiry
Mike Vitar
Patrick Renna


I could speak about this movie for hours. My number one favorite movie and one I can never turn off after starting. A childhood favorite that I think still holds up today. From the opening music and voiceover, to the final emphatic thumbs up, this movie is classic scene after classic scene. This formed the mold for me for what movies are all about. The Fourth of July scene under the fireworks is movie magic at its finest. I can’t wait for the podcast we do on this coming May 15, 2036! - AO

Groundhog Day
9. Groundhog Day (1993)
Director
Harold Ramis
Stars
Bill Murray
Andie MacDowell
Chris Elliott


Not just a great comedy, but one of the most original and brilliant movies I’ve ever seen. Andie MacDowell’s charm is undeniable. - JB

American Beauty
8. American Beauty (1999)
Director
Sam Mendes
Stars
Kevin Spacey
Annette Bening
Thora Birch


I saw this movie in 8th grade and thought, "Meh." I saw this movie again on a list with Joe Namath (Brian Urrutia) in college and was unbelievably impressed. Very funny and a very well told suspenseful story. Kevin Spacey is awesome. - AO

Reservoir Dogs
7. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Director
Quentin Tarantino
Stars
Harvey Keitel
Tim Roth
Michael Madsen


To me, this is Tarantino's best film. Pulp Fiction was probably more innovative, especially when it comes to narrative technique, but Reservoir Dogs is doing much of the same things in such a confined world that it becomes so exhilarating and intense in the closeness of the space. Just one of those amazing examples of a film that understands its mission so wholly, not needing anything more than some amazing actors and a warehouse to draw out the brilliant screenplay. It's a claustrophobic, maddening film that you can't take your eyes off for one second. Plus, it made "Stuck in the Middle With You" iconic for all the wrong reasons. - JP

Jurassic Park
6. Jurassic Park (1993)
Director
Steven Spielberg
Stars
Sam Neill
Laura Dern
Jeff Goldblum


This is a classic Spielberg movie that gives you a sense of wonder and discovery, but there aren’t enough platitudes to describe the emotions at its disposal. You will laugh with joy and shriek with terror. The effects are revolutionary and the score is brilliant. This is what movies are about. - JB

Toy Story
5. Toy Story (1995)
Director
John Lasseter
Stars
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Don Rickles


Revolutionary. This movie ushered in the era of Pixar brilliance. With its superior story telling and technological feats, Pixar began sharing its love and joy with the mainstream. - JB

The Big Lebowski
4. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Director
The Coen Brothers
Stars
Jeff Bridges
John Goodman
Julianne Moore


"This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!" The Big Lebowski set a new precedent for what makes a film a stone-cold classic in that a television-censored version of a line is as well-known as the original. It's up there with "Right on my sandwich! After you kiss it!" From Dumb and Dumber. This is one of those films that continually shows more of itself to me the more I watch it. I love nothing more than to show The Big Lebowski to first time viewers and just watch them react to my favorite moments. The way that the Coens took the world of crime noir and flipped it on its head and drew the humor out of the craziness of that world is absolutely perfect. The Dude is Phillip Marlowe who just gave up and decided to buy a bong. - JP

The Shawshank Redemption
3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Director
Frank Darabont
Stars
Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton


There are a lot of special things about Shawshank but my favorite is how Andy and Red’s friendship subsists on small, unspoken pleasures. Tim Robbins plays Andy with such subtlety and seeming resignation that the ending of the movie is a genuine surprise to the audience as well as Red. The story’s point seems to be about how superficial appearances, not just of posters but also of men, protect ambitions that run deep inside. - BU

Pulp Fiction
2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Director
Quentin Tarantino
Stars
John Travolta
Uma Thurman
Samuel L. Jackson


My first Tarantino movie and the one that got me hooked. Incredible storytelling, soundtrack, performances, and dialogue. Mia Wallace getting driven to John Travolta’s drug dealer’s house to deal with her heroine overdose is one of the funniest and most intense movie scenes I can ever remember seeing. - AO

The Matrix
1. The Matrix (1999)
Director
The Wachowskis
Stars
Keanu Reeves
Laurence Fishburne
Carrie-Anne Moss


The Wachowskis achieved the impossible with their expertly crafted saga of philosophy, action, and empowerment. Using innovative film making, they created a sci-fi concept that asked prescient philosophical questions while remaining accessible to the mainstream. We saw this movie at a very impressionable time in our lives, but I believe it will stand the test of time. - JB

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