90s movies may forever be my favorite movies. For whatever reason, whether comedy, drama, or horror, I feel this overwhelming sense of peace when one of my favorite 90s films is on. Is it just nostalgia or do they actually hold up? I suppose that’s always debatable. But there is a thin line between what is considered one of the “best” movies, and those movies that become so iconic, they define a decade. Some fans praise films for the technical and creative masterpieces that they are, while others love the movies they love because they have impacted them in some personal way. This article teeters on that line, and has our top 30 picks for the best 90s movies of all time based on a variety of things. 

Best 90s Movies of All Time

35. Office Space (1999)

Famous 90s Movies  •  "Did you get the memo?"

Way before the TV show, The Office, the British or American version, Office Space, written and directed by Mike Judge, poked fun at corporate culture in a refreshingly accurate and hilarious way.  The film centers around Peter Gibbons, a man whose soul is being taken by his boring job, when things finally change. Most late 20s and 30-year-olds likely have a favorite quote or two from this office comedy.

Funniest 90s Movies

Conclusion

A great satire on cubicle culture with enough laughs to forget about a few flat details later on. 

Classic 90s Movies

34. Clerks (1994)

Any 90s movies list has got to include Clerks

Where would indie comedy be without Jay and Silent Bob? Thank god for Clerks, the kind of pointless, oddly relatable, and so New Jersey (love New Jersey, am from New Jersey) convenience store comedy that started their careers. The budget for this movie was partially why the film was shot in black and white and in the very store Kevin Smith worked in. 

Great 90s Movies

Conclusion

With a budget of 230k, this film ended up doing 3.2 mil at the box office. A shot in the dark that launched Jay and Silent Bob’s careers. 

Best 90s Movies

33. Girl, Interrupted (1999)

One of the 90s films we'll never forget

Girl, Interrupted is based on the best-selling memoirs of Susanna Kaysen, who is played by Winona Ryder. Set in the 1960s, a young woman living in a mental hospital must choose between what’s in between the walls of the institution---the people and her old ways, or face the reality of the outside world. 

Best Nineties Movies

Conclusion

While some parts feel a little melodramatic, ultimately this movie rounded out the decade with strong performances by Angelina Jolie, Ryder, and Brittany Murphy. 

Best 90s Movies of All Time

32. Empire Records (1995)

Music had a huge role in great 90s movies

This film makes the list for a few reasons, but plot isn’t really one of them. Sorry to disappoint. But to be fair, the best part about the 90s was the music, so when you find a 90s movie that dedicates itself to it, it’s hard to pass up. It also comes with great early performances from Rene Zellweger and Liv Tyler, grappling with their blown out of proportion problems mixed in with a few larger ones. 

Cult Classic 90s Movies

Conclusion

A very quotable film from the 90s. “I do not regret the things I’ve done, but those I did not do.” My sentiments about Empire Records making it on this short list of best 90s movies. 

Top 90s Movies

31. My Girl (1991)

90s films that have us in tears to this day

Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) lives with her father (Dan Aykroyd) who operates a funeral home. Her mother passed away giving birth to her, and it’s no wonder she doesn’t feel like the most normal girl. She and her best friend Thomas, played by Macaulay Culkin, make an amusing pair, until the end. The performances are especially appreciated. 

Good Movies from the Nineties

Conclusion

Talking to kids about death and dying isn’t a simple task. The movie manages to do it in a way that keeps the charm of the movie and pushes it along without ever feeling especially sorrowful. 

Best Action Movies of the 90s

30. Independence Day (1996)

Best 90s Movies  •  Independence Day

Independence Day is an action packed, sci-fi blockbuster co-written and directed by Roland Emmerich. It features an ensemble cast including Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Randy Quaid, just to name a few. The movie shows these disparate groups of people who come together in the Nevada desert after an extraterrestrial race attacks the human race. This group and the rest of the world launch a global counter-attack on July 4th.

While the film was originally released on July 3rd, for a limited few, they began screening it on July 2nd, the day the film’s story actually starts. Like any absurd blockbuster, it received mixed reviews, but ultimately grossed $817.4 million, effectively becoming the highest grossing film of that year, and the second highest of all time, right behind Jurassic Park. Its sequel was released in 2016, the first installment of a planned film series. 


Awesome 90s Movies

Conclusion

Underdeveloped characters and plot that still leave the audience with action, action satisfaction. Everything a Hollywood blockbuster should be. A fun spectacle that’s meant to entertain, and it seemingly holds up through each generation.  

90s Horror

29. Scream (1996)

Top 90s Movies  •  What’s your favorite scary movie?

The reinvention of the slasher horror.  Wes Craven gave us a spin on a modern classic that’s somehow terrifying and a little hilarious. 

Scream combines dark comedy and “whodunit” mystery with the gore and violence of the slasher film, satirizes all of the cliches from Halloween and even his very own A Nightmare on Elm Street, making it one of the best horror movies for its unusual spin. 

Not to mention, the not-so-scary ghost-face mask, the one-liners... Matthew Lillard. Need I say more?

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

A ghost face mask turned pop culture icon, becomes the ultimate 90s horror flick, giving rise to Neve Campbell’s career. 

Iconic 90s Movies

28. The Matrix (1999)

Blue pill or the red pill?

Movies that were released this late in the 90s probably qualify more for “best of the early 2000s,"  but I’m not writing that article so we’re running on a technicality here. Visually innovative and invigorating, The Matrix depicts a dystopian world where the future of humanity is unknowingly stuck inside a simulation. The machines controlling it are using up human energy. Boasted a slew of great reviews and more than a few Academy Awards. But my favorite win from this was the “bullet-time” capture that only seemed to work in the first Matrix.

Great 90s Movies

Conclusion

Not sure the sequels are worth it, but we’ll stick to this Sci-fi action cult classic from yes, the 90s. 

Best 90s Movies

27. A Few Good Men (1992)

 Great 90s Movies  •  You can’t handle the truth

Written partially on a bar napkin, this Sorkin film made him famous as well as a few notable one-liners. Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, especially Nicholson, and Demi Moore give stellar performances. 

AWESOME 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

Based on its creator, it’s no surprise that this film wins us over entirely with dialogue.

BEST 90S MOVIES OF ALL TIME

26. L.A. Confidential (1997)

Scene from LA Confidential

Three police officers try to tackle the corruption surrounding an unsolved murder in LA in the 1950s. This neo-noir comes from the mind of James Ellroy, and has aged fairly well as a crime noir. 

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

L.A. Confidential stars Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, and Kevin Spacey. The leading characters all seem to be fighting corruption where no real antagonist appears until the film’s close. 

Great 90s Movies

25. Boogie Nights (1997)

Pool scene

Paul Thomas Anderson brings us a cult classic. Set in the 70s in the San Fernando Valley, Eddie Adams, played by Mark Wahlberg, gets recruited by porn director Jack Horner, (Burt Reynolds). An interesting group of characters who live during a critical turning point of the adult film industry.

Top 90s Movies

Conclusion

Marky Mark uses this breakout role to his advantage.  Burt Reynolds is also in one of his best roles.  

Early 90s Movies

24. Pretty Woman (1990)

Top 90s Movies  •  Pretty Woman

The modern fable with strong chemistry from Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, that launched Roberts career. A love story filled with overcoming obstacles to bridge the gap between their two separate worlds. 

Top 90s Movies

Conclusion

One of the highest grossing romantic comedies of all time. 

Best 90s Dramas

23.  What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

1990s Movies Everyone Should See  •  What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

When you’re in the mood for a tear-jerker and possibly one of the best performances of Leonardo DiCaprio’s career, might I say, before he even had a career, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is the one to watch.  And while sometimes hard to watch, the performances and rawness makes it well worth it. Gilbert Grape played by Johnny Depp is a small town guy with a ton of responsibilities---taking care of his mother who is too overweight to leave their house, while trying to manage his younger brother who has autism, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who regularly gets into trouble.

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

The performances by all cast are stellar, and it launched DiCaprio and Johnny Depp’s careers. 

Top 90s Movies

22. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Top 90s Movies  •  Reservoir Dogs

After a jewelry heist goes sour, the remaining criminals begin to suspect that there is an undercover cop amongst them. It’s this script and film that properly introduced the world to Quentin Tarantino, and we’re all thankful for it. The pseudonyms each character goes by in the film, i.e. Mr. White, Mr. Pink, Mr. Orange, etc.,  also made for some very cliche screen names back in the day. 

Best 90s Films

Conclusion

Oh, but aside from this movie becoming a pop culture phenomenon, inspiring even Halloween costumes for two decades, Tarantino’s dialogue and plot make this a true “best” movie of the 90s. 

BEST 90S MOVIES OF ALL TIME

21. Kids (1995)

Larry Clark and  Harmony Korine on the making of Kids

Kids did some damage on this decade. It was one of those films that you never have to see again, but was so raw and in your face, you appreciate its existence. Set during the course of a single day, it follows a group of teenagers in New York City as they drink, smoke, have a ton of  sex, skateboard, and... head stomp strangers. Initially, it received an NC-17 rating and generated a ton of controversy at its release. Threats of childhood obscenity and even accusations of pornography, caused some disrupted some ticket sales but that opening year was wildly successful, grossing in about 7 mil. 

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

It became one the most controversial films of the decade and was one of the greatest gatherings of amateurs ever thrown together. It was Larry Clark’s first movie at 52 years old, and everyone else’s “first” of really anything.

Best 90s Movies

20. The Truman Show (1998)

“Do something” scene

Jim Carrey always makes his way into the most interesting films of decades. When I think of the 2000s, I think of Eternal Sunshine, when I think of the 90s, I think of The Truman Show. Carrey plays Truman Burbank. He doesn’t know it yet but his entire life is a part of a huge TV set. “The Truman Show” is a live broadcast of Truman Burbank’s every move. 

Great Movies in the 90s

Conclusion

Can be pieced together fairly easily but is still enjoyably refreshing and provocative. We accept almost everything in our lives without ever truly examining it. 

Best Animated Movies of the 90s

19. The Lion King (1994)

 Great 90s Movies  •  The Lion King

A story that is adored by critics and fans alike. With a 93% Rotten Tomatoes score and audience score, it’s no doubt a classic. Disney’s animated features of the adventures of Simba, his family, and his friends who become family, doesn’t stop making us cry even all of these years later.

AWESOME 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

Without a doubt, one of Disney’s most prized possessions. And one that seems to get better with age. 

BEST 90S MOVIES OF ALL TIME

18. Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story trailer

If toys could talk, the first feature from Pixar and one of the most beloved kids movies of all time, Toy Story had to make the list. For me, I remember being in the theatre seeing it, and while I missed the most recent one, the series as a whole is equally loved.

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

The first feature created completely on a computer, the actual story matches its technical achievements.

90s Animated Classics

17. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

“This is Halloween”

Halloween and Christmas! A diabolic pleasantry where Santa gets kidnapped so Jack Skellington can better himself and change Halloweentown for the better. Only Tim Burton could’ve pulled this one off. It’s become a fan favorite for many, even adults. 

Best 90s Movies of All Time

Conclusion

A dark and dazzling work of stop motion animation. Original and forever nostalgic. 

Best 90s Movies

16. Clueless (1995)

Top 90s Movies  •  10 Best Clueless Moments

Long before I moved to Los Angeles, Clueless taught me a thing or two about the city of angels. I learned that 1) “everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes,”  2) the freeways here can kill you, 3) what a grassy knoll is, and 4) the valley is really, really far away. Rich and popular, Cher played by Alicia Silverstone is at the top of the pecking order at her Beverly Hills high school. When a new girl shows up, she jumps on the opportunity to give the poor girl, Tai, a makeover, (Brittany Murphy). When Tai suddenly becomes more popular than her, she questions everything. 

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

Entertaining the whole way through. There is a quotable line in nearly every scene. Originally, and loosely adapted from Jane Austen’s, Emma. A decent contemporary interpretation, but of course, can stand alone. 

Classics of the 90s

15. Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Official trailer of Shawshank Redemption

Andy Dufresne, (Tim Robbins), framed for his wife’s murder, begins a new life at Shawshank prison. A fairly simple but hopeful plot, the film explores human institutionalization through inmates’ relationships and the harsh realities inside the prison system.  It may be overrated to some, but the movie still remains a classic for its good heartedness.

Great 90s Movies

Conclusion

“This is a movie that stands the test of time and still resonates with viewers. Call this the Stand by Me of prison stories.” -Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media

BEST 90S MOVIES OF ALL TIME

14. Titanic (1997)

Titanic trailer

An epic love story against the backdrop of tragedy. James Cameron succeeds in his obsession to reproduce history near perfectly. It’s beautifully shot from start to finish, with unforgettable performances from Kate and Leo.

Most Popular 90s Movies

Conclusion

While the event was over 100 years ago, and this doesn’t exactly feel like a 90s movie, this historical drama earns its place in one of the most cinematic feats of the decade. 

Cult Comedies of the 90s

13. Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day...again

A cynical man (obviously played by Bill Murray), finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. As a weatherman, he goes to report on a town’s annual Groundhog Day, and is initially mystified as to what is happening. He’s able to find a new outlook on the situation, and uses this odd situation to thrive. 

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

The movie is refreshingly unique and equally hilarious over ...and over again, and stands the test of time nearly two decades later.

Best Action Adventures of the 90s

12. Jurassic Park (1993)

Top 90s Movies  •  Jurassic Park

Directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen, comes the first installment based on the novel by Michael Crichton. The screenplay was written by Crichton along with David Koepp, and is a great example of an adapted screenplay. After breaking down the Jurassic Park script, it’s clear it stands apart from the following films in the franchise. 

The movie is set on a fictional island, Isla Nublar, somewhere near Costa Rica. A wealthy businessman and his team of scientists create a wildlife park filled with “de-extinct” dinosaurs. But after a catastrophic power and security shutdown, a group of visitors struggle to survive amongst the dangers.

Most Popular 90s Movies

Conclusion

Another sci-fi adventure film makes the list, perhaps the most produced genre of the decade, and for good reason. The payoff is huge. This iconic film, grossed over $912 mill worldwide, and surpassed $1 billion in ticket sales. Jurassic Park won over 20 awards and three Oscars for technical achievements in sound design and visual effects. 

Stanley Kubrick in the 90s

11. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Top 90s Movies  •  The party of all parties

Again, another film to round out the 90s, but one that I think still belongs on this list. Upon learning his wife admits to having sexual fantasies about other men, Dr. Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise), becomes obsessed with having some kind of sexual encounter. When he discovers an underground sex society and goes to one of their meetings, he never could’ve imagined it would be like this. 

Not everything about this film is “the best,” and the enjoyment factor sort of waned for me towards the end, but Kubrick’s use of color brings such visual appeal and eeriness, my uncomfortability one, reminds it’s Kubrick, and two, makes me like it even more. 

Best Movies of the 90s

Conclusion

“Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth.” A surreal cinematic examination that highlights the debauchery of the elite.

BEST 90S MOVIES OF ALL TIME

10. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Big Kahuna Burger

What would 90s cinema be without Tarantino? Pulp Fiction is likely considered one of his best, though at this point, a few of them probably are. But this one boasts more than just incredible performances from Thurman and Travolta---brilliant screenwriting, directing, and cinematography, while being wildly original. 

Best 90s Movies

Conclusion

A crime noir with linked vignettes and delectable dialogue made it a fan favorite from the gate. Any time I referred to a movie earlier in this list about it being “quotable,” forget it comparatively.

Best Action Sci-fi of the 90s

9. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

 Great 90s Movies  •  Terminator 2

Produced, directed, and co-written by James Cameron comes the sequel set 11 years after the first installment. The sequel stars Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, and Edward Furlong. The story follows a young John Connor who is the target of a  T-1000 Terminator. Another Terminator T-800, played by Schwarzenegger, sets out to save the boy. They form an unlikely connection.

It became an immediate success upon release, grossing $520 million globally. Most fans and critics consider it better than the first. 

Iconic 90s Movies

Conclusion

This movie defied visual effects expectations and raised the bar for all future action sequences and films. And of course, gracing us with “Hasta la vista, baby.”

Crime Comedies of the 90s

8. The Big Lebowski (1998)

Top 90s Movies  •  Lebowski meets Lebowski

A Coen Brothers classic. This critically acclaimed crime comedy is a story of mistaken identity muddled with corruption, sex, and lots of weed. Jeff Bridges dominates as “The Dude,” a lazy Angeleno who stumbles into some trouble. If this list was just for comedies, it would sit in the top 3. 

Roger Deakins shoots the film, and is written and directed by the brothers.

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

“In a perfect world all movies would be made by the Coen brothers.”  Ian Nathan, Empire

Best 90s Documentaries

6. Paris is Burning (1990)

Best Movies of the 1990s  •  Prepping for The Ball

A glimpse into New York City’s Harlem drag-ball scene and “house” culture in the 1980s. Made over the course of seven years, this landmark documentary offers an on the ground view and intimate perspective of the elaborate balls and competing house culture, trans women and men, and lgbt performers would participate in. House mothers would offer support and mentoring for many of these socially ousted individuals. A community of love and empowerment to fight back against a transphobic, homophopic, and racist world. 

We also see how mainstream fashion and culture get their cues from the drag-ball scene and not the other way around. The impact of “vogue” is but one example. 

90s Films We Love

Conclusion

Intimate snapshot of New York City’s biggest and most influential underground movement through the eyes of the Black and Latinx communities of Harlem.

BEST 90S MOVIES OF ALL TIME

5. Forrest Gump (1994)

Best Movies of the 1990s  •  Production Designer breaks down Lt. Dan’s first scene

Forrest Gump’s mental disability does little to stop him from achieving whatever he wants in life. Whether fighting in Nam or captaining a shrimp boat, he lives a full life. When he meets the love of his life, Jenny, (played by Robin Wright), things aren’t so easy. 

90S FILMS WE LOVE

Conclusion

A sweet story that works in every decade, but we’re happy it came out when it did. Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump imprinted a memory almost as deep as Jenny’s. 

Coen Classics of the 90s

4. Fargo (1996)

Best Movies of the 1990s  •  Fargo

As a Coen Bros film would, Fargo is accompanied by a fascinating cast of characters, with a fairly unpredictable plot even if it’s based on a true story (mostly based on a true story). A movie that floats around from genre to genre, comedy hides in weird places met with drama and suspense. 

Famous 90s Movies

Conclusion

Performances are stellar. And so is the script, taking the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. 

Popular Movies of the 90s

3. Fight Club (1999)

 Great 90s Movies  •  Tyler gives a speech

Original story by Chuck Palahniuk with strong themes against consumer-driven society. Fincher’s version gives us strong performances from Ed Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter. 

90S FILMS WE LOVE

Conclusion

The ending likely defined this movie for a long time, but when rewatching it later, the entire movie is still a fun ride. 

BEST 90S MOVIES OF ALL TIME

2. Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Best Movies of the 1990s  •  Clarice and Lecter

Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, is a top student at the FBI’s training academy. She believes Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a murderous psychopath and cannibal behind bars, can give her insight into her latest case. Their strange relationship takes us through this witty and jolting thriller that became an instant classic. 

CLASSIC 90S MOVIES

Conclusion

How often do horror movies win Best Picture? Or even win in all of the top 5 categories? Foster and Hopkins give career defining performances.

Best Movies of the 90s

1. Goodfellas (1990)

Best 90s Movies of All Time  •  Goodfellas

Scorsese’s adaptation of “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi, breathes brilliance into the normally glamorized mafia movies. Based on gangster, Henry Hill, Goodfellas remains the top gangster film with its realistic and brutal depiction of mob culture, while giving the audience everything else we want and need in a movie. That's what this hoodlum classic tops our list of the best 90s movies of all time. 


Classic 90s Movies

Conclusion

The highpoint of Martin Scorsese’s career. In a sea of gangster movies, this one floats to the top.  

UP NEXT

Best movies of the 1980s

The were some absolute classic 90s movies on this list but the 1980s boast some classics as well. Everything from The Shining to The Empire Strikes Back to Ghostbusters — the Reagan years were chock-full of inspiring and legendary work. Join us for this tour of another outstanding decade for film.

Up Next: Best 80s Movies →
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