The best movies of the 90s (TOP 50)

The 90s brought forth many films that today enjoy cult status. Whether action, romance, or horror. Film stories like those about Agent Ethan Hunt, the lovers Rose and Jack, or the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter is known to almost everyone. Spot on to take a closer look at 50 of the decade’s most popular, successful, and best films.

01. Home Alone (1990)

Also in 1990, the comedy film “Kevin – Home Alone” by John Hughes was released in theaters. Even today, the story of eight-year-old Kevin, who is forgotten at home by his parents on the way to Christmas vacation, is one of the most popular films in the run-up to Christmas. Chaotic and witty, Kevin must protect his family’s home in a Chicago suburb from burglars on Christmas Eve.

Macaulay Culkin’s role as Kevin makes him a successful child star virtually overnight. He received the Young Artist Award that year. Culkin also plays the leading role in the second film, “Kevin – Alone in New York. The two films are considered his greatest successes.

02. Pretty Woman (1990)

Right at the beginning of the 90s, Julia Roberts as the prostitute Vivian Ward enchanted not only the successful businessman Edward Lewis (played by Richard Gere) but also numerous moviegoers. In German cinemas, it was the most-watched film of the year.

What begins as a business relationship ends in great love: Edward Lewis actually just wants to ask the way to his hotel in Beverly Hills and promptly has the prostitute Vivian sitting in his borrowed sports car. Without further ado, he books her as a companion for the entire week. A funny and romantic love story takes its course.

Originally there was to be no happy ending for the two of them. Whether the film would have been as successful is questionable. “Pretty Woman” was nominated several times for various awards and received the Golden Screen in 1990. Lead actress Julia Roberts won the Golden Globe Award and the group “Roxette” won the Grammy for Best Soundtrack.

03. Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Nothing for the faint of heart, but a must-see for every horror and thriller fan, “The Silence of the Lambs” flickered across cinema screens in 1991. Based on the book by Thomas Harris, Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins shine in the roles of young FBI applicant Clarice Starling and cannibalistic serial killer Doctor Hannibal Lecter. Of all things, the imprisoned psychiatrist is supposed to help convict the serial killer “Buffalo Bill.” The story develops as a psychological duel between the two main characters.

The film picked up a number of awards, including the so-called “Big Five” at the Academy Awards, which means that it received the coveted golden statue in the five most important categories. An honor that has only been bestowed on very few films to date.

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04. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The sequel to “Terminator,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his best-known roles, was the first film to exceed $100 million in production costs. However, a worldwide take of 520 million U.S. dollars is a worthwhile investment.

While the Terminator T-800 was supposed to kill little John Connor before he was born in the first part, the model was reprogrammed for the second part of the series so that he traveled back in time to protect Connor. This is to become the future leader in the fight against machines with artificial intelligence. The T-800 finds an evil adversary in its successor, the Terminator T-1000.

James Cameron’s science fiction spectacle received numerous nominations and, in the end, awards. The awards also include four Oscars.

05. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Director Quentin Tarantino’s first feature film is considered a classic of independent film and is sometimes even called the “greatest independent film of all time.” Tells the story of a robbery gone wrong. The special thing about the film: the scenes are not arranged chronologically, it is told in flashbacks, and scenes of the actual raid are not seen. Only the narration of one of the actors gives information about the course of the robbery. Simple locations kept production costs very low. In the end, “Reservoir Dogs” grossed a good 2.8 million U.S. dollars.

06. Jurassic Park (1993)

“Jurassic Park” was the start of the successful Jurassic film series. A multi-billionaire creates a state-of-the-art theme park near Costa Rica. What’s special: The park has living dinosaurs through cutting-edge genetic engineering. But when you mess with nature’s handiwork, there are often nasty consequences.

The animals get out of control, and so director Steven Spielberg created a masterpiece of the 90s with the help of groundbreaking computer-generated images. Countless awards followed, including three Oscars and the Saturn Award in four categories. “Jurassic Park” became the film with the highest box office takings. Later, Titanic replaced it in this regard.

07. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Not quite as popular as the previously mentioned big blockbusters, but also very successful is the film with Robin Williams as a disguised nanny. In order to be able to see his children regularly, even after losing a custody battle, voice impersonator Daniel Hillard slips into the role of the nanny he has invented, Mrs. Doubtfire. Ex-wife Miranda (Sally Field) falls for the spectacle, and so the prickly nanny soon becomes firmly part of the family – until, through some adverse circumstances, it all eventually unravels.

In addition to two Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robin Williams), the comedy also won an Oscar for Best Makeup. In German cinemas, “Mrs. Doubtfire” was extremely popular and ranked fourth among the year’s most successful films with 5.53 million viewers.

08. Schindler’s List (1993)

Thomas Keneally’s novel of the same name was the basis for Steven Spielberg’s award-winning film. Industrialist Oskar Schindler employs 1200 Jews from occupied countries in his armaments factories during World War II and saves them from death in Auschwitz. Much of the filming was done at the original locations. Seven Oscars and three Golden Globes are only two awards of many that the black-and-white film received. In addition, Spielberg was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and made an honorary knight in Rome in 2004.

09. Pulp Fiction (1994)

The title comes from the English colloquial language and means something like “trivial or trashy literature.” In the film, the viewer sees several interwoven stories that are not told chronologically. A black comedy that features characters from the world of crime and violence and stars John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and Quentin Tarantino. “Pulp Fiction” was awarded more than 20 times.

The Palme d’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival and the Golden Globe for best screenplay are just two of those awards. In addition, the famous dance scene to Chuck Berry’s “You never can tell me” can still be seen on many dance floors today.

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10. Forrest Gump (1994)

“Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.” This sentence is often the first thing that comes to mind when people talk about this movie. At least when it comes to awards, we know what “Forrest Gump” has won: six Oscars and three Golden Globes.

Tom Hanks embodies the role of the slow but lovable Forrest Gump, who runs across the country several times. On his journey, he teaches Elvis how to dance, serves in Vietnam, and meets Richard Nixon. In the film, Hanks was cut into original footage of historical events using modern computer graphic methods such as warping and morphing. These techniques caused quite a stir at the time.

With 329 million U.S. dollars, “Forrest Gump” earned the highest box office receipts in the USA in 1994. Today some film props can still be visited. Two of them even in Germany: The red and white sneakers and the red cap with the inscription “Bubba Gump” are on display at the Movie Park in Bottrop.

11. Showgirls (1995)

Violent imagery and sexual frankness brought Paul Verhoeven’s film much negative criticism and were probably partly responsible for the financial flop at the theatrical release. In the U.S., Showgirls recouped barely half its $45 million production cost. However, between 1996 and 2004, it grossed over 100 million U.S. dollars on the DVD market.

Today, the film about the provincial girl Nomi Malone (played by Elizabeth Berkley) is considered a cult movie, especially in the gay and queer scene. Moved out to Las Vegas to start a career as a dancer, the protagonist has to fight her way through the tough world of show business and soon questions whether this life is really worthwhile.

12. Clueless (1995)

The Teen comedy with Alicia Silverstone in the role of the main character Cher tells the modern variant of Jane Austen’s “Emma.” As a 16-year-old teenager, she lives in wealthy circumstances with her father. Together with their clique, they shop, matchmake and discover their first love.

“Clueless won two MTV Movie Awards and the National Society of Film Critics Award in the category for Best Screenplay. The huge success also gave rise to a television series of its own, which was produced from 1996 to 1999 under the title “Clueless – The Chaos Clique.” In the series, Rachel Blanchard played the role of Cher instead of Silverstone.

13. Mission Impossible (1996)

The T.V. series “On a Secret Mission” served as the basis for “Mission Impossible.” Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) falls under suspicion after a failed mission against a traitor from the ranks of the CIA and flees. The prelude to an action-packed film is to be followed by five more parts in 2018. It’s no wonder that the film made $45.5 million on its opening weekend, more than half of the $80 million it cost to produce.

3.3 million viewers saw the film in Germany, for which it won the Golden Screen Award. The catchy melody of the theme song has long since achieved cult status. The same applies to the legendary scene in which Tom Cruise, alias Ethan Hunt, operates the computer while suspended from a rope.

14. Space Jam (1996)

Aliens from an amusement park in outer space come to Earth and want to kidnap Looney Tunes and steal great basketball players’ skills. It sounds crazy, and it is. But it is precisely this craziness that brings the film great success. Basketball star Michael Jordan plays himself in the movie alongside Bugs Bunny and co. Together they try to regain the lost skills of the players through a match.

In the end, there is a great animated film in which especially the income from merchandise was extremely high. The film brought in 90 million dollars in the USA alone. His song “I Believe I Can Fly” won R. Kelly three Grammy Awards and became a world star.

15. Titanic (1997)

Take the world’s most famous shipwreck, pair it with a fictional love story, shop for realistic exterior shots of a 160.000 m² area on the Mexican Pacific coast, and stages the whole thing with many special effects. The result is a film masterpiece that has been awarded eleven Oscars and many other titles.

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The fictional story centers on Jack Dawson, a penniless artist, and 17-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater, a member of a wealthy society. She is on board the Titanic with her mother as well as her fiancé Cal. The engagement is arranged, and Rose is so unhappy that she wants to throw herself off the ship. Jack, who won his ticket for the ride in a poker game, saves her life.

The beginning of a love story without a happy ending. There was a happy ending at the box office for this one: Titanic was the first film to gross more than a billion U.S. dollars. The famous scene on the bow is still popularly reenacted by lovers on ships and is very popular as a photo motif.

16. The Fifth Element (1997)

With more than 260 million dollars at the box office, the Science Fiction Film Luc Besson is one of the most commercially successful European films. In the role of ex-elite soldier Korben Dallas, the future of humanity is suddenly in the hands of Bruce Willis. The athletic Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovich, crashes into his cab out of nowhere. She has been sent as the fifth element by aliens to defend the Earth from evil. In addition to the excellent earnings, the film was also able to shine with awards such as the Golden Screen and the Hugo Awards.

17. The Truman Show (1998)

Jim Carrey embodies the role of the insurance clerk Truman Burbank, who is unsuspectingly the leading actor in a T.V. series. This program aims to document the life of a human being from birth via live transmission. For this purpose, the series producer had Burbank adopted as a child and created an artificial city. When a spotlight that was acting like a star falls at Truman’s feet one day, he gets suspicious.

“The Truman Show” grossed about 264 million U.S. dollars and received the rating “especially valuable” from the German Film and Media Rating Board FBW in Wiesbaden.

18. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

This romantic film comedy starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, it’s a free remake of “Rendezvous After Closing Time.” In keeping with the times, the correspondence was turned into an e-mail exchange, and the plot was moved from Budapest in the 1930s to New York in the 1990s. Driven to ruin by opening a bookstore, Kathleen must close her small bookstore.

No wonder she is not well-disposed towards the owner’s son. In a lively mail exchange, she laments her misery to an internet acquaintance named NY 152. What she doesn’t know: behind this name is Joe Fox, whose father is the bookstore chain owner and helped open the store. The box-office takings were four times the production costs (a total of 251 million U.S. dollars), and the film enjoyed various nominations and awards.

19. Blair Witch Project (1999)

A film that achieved great fame even before its theatrical release. The reason for this was the debate over whether it was a feature film or an actual documentary. The movie studio had intentionally spread misleading information, fueling the discussion. Three students head into the Burkittsville woods to get to the bottom of the myth of the Witch of Blair. They disappear without a trace, and only the film footage is found a year later.

The film convinces and shocks alone with amateurish-looking shots and amateur actors in the forest. “Blair Witch Project” received several awards, most of the special awards in the field of horror films.

20. Matrix (1999)

Elaborate fight scenes, similar in style to kung-fu films, caused quite a stir. What’s special about these scenes is: They were innovatively presented through digital effects techniques. In this film, which won four Oscars and several other awards, Keanu Reeves plays a hacker who receives a mysterious message on his computer. It’s about artificial intelligence that takes on a life of its own. The film’s success attracted sequels and computer games.

21. The Shawshank Redemption (1995)

22. Goodfellas(1990)

23. Fight Club (1999)

24. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

25. Seven (1995)

26. The Green Mile

27. The Lion King (1994)

28. Good Will Hunting (1997)

29. Toy Story (1995)

30. Braveheart (1995)

31. American Beauty (1999)

32. The Sixth Sense (1999)

33. Edward Scissorhands (1991)

34. The Big Lebowski (1998)

35. Fargo (1996)

36. The Usual Suspects (1995)

37. Unforgiven (1992)

38. Toy Story 2 (1999)

39. Groundhog Day (1993)

40. L.A. Confidential (1997)

41. Heat (1995)

42. Apollo 13 (1995)

43. 12 Monkeys (1995)

44. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

45. Total Recall (1990)

46. Scent of a Woman (1992)

47. Independence Day (1996)

48. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

49. True Lies (1994)

50. The Crow (1994)

Based on this list, it is clear that the 90s have played a major role in shaping a large part of film history. It didn’t always take high production costs or elaborate special effects to create a great masterpiece.

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