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50 Best ’90s Movies to Stream Tonight

Is there anything more iconic than a '90s movie? From award winners to cult classics, here are the best of the best.

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Hip-hop, counterculture, generational angst and postmodernism. The 1990s were not only a pivotal moment in history but specifically in cinematic history, boasting many of the best movies of all time. Following the fun and camp of ’80s movies, the next decade was when film as an art form really matured and started to experiment, explaining why so many truly groundbreaking movies across all genres came out in the ’90s.

To start, the U.S. experienced an unprecedented economic boom in the ’90s, which meant movie studios with bigger budgets and moviegoers with disposable income. The advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and the internet stretched the possibilities of storytelling, especially for sci-fi movies—suddenly, anything was possible. With the birth of the ’90s hip-hop and Black excellence movements, the introduction of Hong Kong movies in the West and the rise of third-wave feminism, we began to see a lot more diversity in drama movies—racially, ethnically and in the perspectives represented. Independent movie studios and the popularity of direct-to-home movies on VHS meant more filmmakers had the opportunity to reach viewers outside mainstream theaters. With a new generation of audiences who had grown up in front of screens, postmodernist narratives began pushing the boundaries of reality, and action movies became sleeker and smarter.

And, of course, we have to talk about the innovative ’90s kids movies that won over the hearts of adults as well—with the Disney Renaissance, the golden age of Tim Burton and the popularity of snarky teen movies, it remains a mark of pride to have been a ’90s kid.

We could write a book on ’90s movies, but we’ve gone ahead and distilled the best of the best: critically acclaimed award-winners and cult classics that continue to inspire and delight. So put on your Dr. Martens and baggy jeans, then choose an iconic film to stream tonight!

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Goodfellas

Released: 1990

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “If you’re part of a crew, nobody ever tells you that they’re going to kill you, doesn’t happen that way. There weren’t any arguments or curses like in the movies. See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who’ve cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you’re at your weakest and most in need of their help.”

Considered one of the best gangster movies, if not one of the best movies, of all time, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas depicts the rise and fall of Henry Hill in New York’s Italian American mafia. This biographical crime drama is a snapshot in time, celebrated by film critics and real-life mafiosos alike for compelling performances from Robert de Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesce. With its stylish camerawork and witty dialogue, Goodfellas won the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice International Film Festival, and it was also nominated for six Academy Awards and won five BAFTA Awards. It also happens to have one of the best movie soundtracks ever!

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Edward Scissorhands

Released: 1990

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “A long time ago, an inventor lived in that mansion. He made many things, I suppose. He also created a man. He gave him insides, a heart, a brain, everything. Well, almost everything.”

In Tim Burton’s quirky, modern fairy-tale, an artificial man with scissors for hands sends a suburban cul-de-sac into an uproar. No one but ’90s celebrity crushes Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder could play the star-crossed lovers with such wide-eyed innocence. With its cast of eccentric characters and unique vision, Edward Scissorhands received a slew of nominations. In the mood for love? Check out these other romantic movies on Netflix.

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Home Alone

Released: 1990

Rated: PG

Memorable quote: “Ma’am, I’m eight years old. You think I would be here alone? I don’t think so.”

They don’t make kids movies like ’90s kids movies anymore! The premise of this classic Christmas movie (and subsequent sequels) is essentially that a young boy is accidentally left behind by his family when they go on vacation—and he must then outsmart a pair of robbers who target his house. And while the concept may have some parents itching to call Child Protective Services, Macaulay Culkin plays ingenious 8-year-old Kevin McCallister with such raucous fun that it’s hard not to fall in love with this movie. Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Culkin), Home Alone is one of those family movies that will still make kids today giggle with glee.

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Misery

Released: 1990

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “I’m your number one fan. There’s nothing to worry about. You’re going to be just fine. I will take good care of you. I’m your number one fan.”

Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, this psychological thriller stars James Caan as a romance writer and Kathy Bates as his obsessive fan who holds him captive. Books made into movies can be a hit or miss, but Kathy Bates gave such a genuinely terrifying performance (even winning the Academy Award for Best Actress) that King himself praised the film. If you love nail-biters, check out these other thriller movies.

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Paris Is Burning

Released: 1990

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “We have had everything taken away from us, and yet we have all learned how to survive. That is why, in the ballroom circuit, it is so obvious that if you have captured the great white way of living, or looking, or dressing, or speaking—you is a marvel.”

Voguing, reading and throwing shade, all with a dash of glitter. This documentary about the Harlem drag-ball scene of the 1980s came out just as the world seemed to have turned its back on the gay community, in the midst of the devastating AIDS epidemic. While the documentary is a vivid celebration of gay and transgender Black and Latinx communities in all their glory, it’s also an honest portrait of homophobia, transphobia, racism and poverty. Paris Is Burning won the Grand Jury Prize Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and is widely considered to be a revolutionary piece of LGBTQ history.

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Pretty Woman

Released: 1990

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “It must be difficult to let go of something so beautiful.”

This absolutely charming romantic comedy stars Julia Roberts as a prostitute with a heart of gold who is hired to be an escort for an aloof, wealthy businessman (Richard Gere). The chemistry between the two actors is undeniable, and the classic ’90s makeover scenes are worth the watch. With her million dollar smile, Julia Roberts won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture in a Musical or Comedy, and the film was also nominated for Best Motion Picture. Looking for similar date night ideas? Here are some more romantic comedies that will make you swoon.

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The Silence of the Lambs

Released: 1991

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

Adapted from Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel, Jonathan Demme’s psychological horror remains one of the most deeply disturbing and scariest movies of the ’90s. Jodie Foster plays an FBI agent who enlists the help of Hannibal Lecter, an imprisoned cannibalistic serial killer, in order to hunt down a serial killer named Buffalo Bill. The Silence of the Lambs is worth watching for Sir Anthony Hopkins’s unnerving performance as the highly intelligent, manipulative psychopath Lector. It’s no surprise the film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as continuing to influence (and be parodied by) cinema to this day.

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The Addams Family

Released: 1991

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “Wednesday’s great-aunt Calpurnia. She was burned as a witch in 1706. They said she danced naked in the town square and enslaved the minister. … But don’t worry. We’ve told Wednesday college first.”

The Addams Family movie features our favorite hilariously morbid, yet wholesome, aristocratic family of ghouls. Originally based on New Yorker cartoons, the franchise has been adapted several times in different forms, but none can top the magical combination of Angelica Huston as the literally bewitching matriarch Morticia, Raul Julia as her adoring husband Gomez, Christopher Lloyd as kooky Uncle Fester and of course young Christina Ricci as endearingly dark Wednesday Addams. This delightful comedy was one of the first of many ’90s movies that subverted white-picket-fence Americana and celebrated weirdness. If you’re looking for more laughs, check out these other funny movies.

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Boyz n the Hood

Released: 1991

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “They can buy the land at a lower price, then they move all the people out, raise the property value and sell it at a profit. Now, what we need to do is keep everything in our neighborhood, everything Black. Black owned with Black money. Just like the Jews, the Italians, the Mexicans and the Koreans do.”

The ’90s truly marked a shift in the importance of representation in both film and TV. There are so many incredible ’90s Black movies that were actually written and directed by Black filmmakers, but John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood is an exemplary one. Set in South L.A., the film stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne and is celebrated for its cutting social commentary on systemic racism and gang culture, without playing into negative stereotypes. Singleton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Here are more Black History Month movies worth watching year-round.

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Released: 1991

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “Can you learn stuff you haven’t been programmed with so you could be … you know, more human? And not such a dork all the time?”

Arguably better than the first Terminator movie, even with its famous movie lines, Judgment Day imagines how terrifying artificial intelligence can be if we teach it how to think—as well as how powerful A.I. can be if we teach it how to feel. The film stars Linda Hamilton as a ripped Sarah Connor (those biceps!), who is no longer the damsel in distress from the first movie, as well as Edward Furlong as her smart-aleck son and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the robot who has come from the future to save them all. Judgment Day stunned viewers with its cutting-edge special effects and won Best Makeup, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects at the Academy Awards.

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Aladdin

Released: 1992

Rated: G

Memorable quote: “Three wishes, to be exact. And ix-nay on the wishing for more wishes. That’s it. Three. Uno, dos, tres. No substitutions, exchanges or refunds.”

Set in the magical desert kingdom of Agrabah, the eponymous street urchin and his wish-granting Genie (played by the hilarious Robin Williams) work together to win the heart of Princess Jasmine. Aladdin was the highest-grossing film of 1992 and won two Academy Awards and a Grammy for its catchy music. It’s important to note that the film has since been criticized for its negative stereotypes of Arab culture, and that its 2019 live-action version seeks to rectify some of these past errors. That being said, Aladdin remains one of the most beloved ’90s Disney movies, as well as one of the best movie musicals.

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Released: 1992

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “Then, I give you life eternal. Everlasting love. The power of the storm. And the beasts of the earth. Walk with me to be my loving wife, forever.”

Perhaps one of the most memorable fashion trends in the ’90s was the resurgence of gothic fashion, heavily influenced by none other than Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Based on the novel of the same name, this gothic horror classic is one of the most iconic vampire movies of all time. Gary Oldman gives an unforgettable performance as the mesmerizing yet tortured titular vampire, while Winona Ryder is stunning as his love interest Mina Murray. Whether you’re into alluring bloodsuckers or not, Dracula is a must-watch for its lush visuals, which won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as well as breathtaking costumes, which won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

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Malcolm X

Released: 1992

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “Don’t be ashamed when l call you Black. Because that’s what you are. You’re Black! You’re Black and you’re beautiful. Because Black is beautiful.”

Starring Denzel Washington as the titular African American activist, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X is an emotionally powerful biographical drama everyone needs to see. Washington perfectly captures Malcolm X’s charisma as he converts to Islam, transforms from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X and becomes the revolutionary—and often misunderstood—leader who inspired millions of people. It’s no wonder Washington was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor!

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

Released: 1993

Rated: PG

Memorable quote: “You know, I think this Christmas thing is not as tricky as it seems! But why should they have all the fun? It should belong to anyone! Not anyone, in fact, but me! Why, I could make a Christmas tree! And there’s not a reason I can find, I couldn’t have a Christmastime!”

The film that sparked the great debate: Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? Tim Burton’s delightfully kooky stop-motion animation follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, as he discovers Christmastown and tries to bring Christmas cheer to Halloweentown. This dark fantasy musical about holidays clashing was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and it’s still a beloved cult favorite today for kids and adults alike.

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Hocus Pocus

Released: 1993

Rated: PG

Memorable quote: “We must find the book, brew the potion and suck the lives out of the children of Salem before sunrise. Otherwise it’s curtains. We evaporate! We cease to exist! Dost thou comprehend?”

This wickedly fun children’s horror comedy is about a pair of teenagers who must protect the town of Salem from a hilarious trio of witches. Perhaps the most lovable villains ever, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are the highlight of the film as silly witches from the 1600s who must navigate the challenges of the modern world. Although it received mixed reviews when it was released, Hocus Pocus grew in popularity thanks to TV replays and VHS sales, and it’s since been recognized as a Halloween cult classic.

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Jurassic Park

Released: 1993

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.”

Based on Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park remains one of the most influential science fiction action films. The book was written in response to the advent of genetic engineering and cloning and imagined a world where scientists could bring dinosaurs back to life and corporations could put them in a theme park. What ensues is a thrilling tale of survival against T-Rexes and velociraptors! With its all-star cast, Jurassic Park was also groundbreaking for its use of computer-generated imagery, winning an Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. It held the record for highest-grossing film ever (until Titanic came out in 1997) and inspired successful sequels.

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The Joy Luck Club

Released: 1993

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, and to eat my own bitterness. And even though I taught my daughter the opposite, still she came out the same way. Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl, and I was born to my mother and I was born a girl, all of us like stairs, one step after another, going up, going down, but always going the same way. No, this cannot be, this not knowing what you’re worth, this not begin with you.”

Before Crazy Rich Asians, there was The Joy Luck Club. Based on the bestselling novel by Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club was monumental for its time as one of the first Asian American movies ever to hit the big screen. The film follows the lives of four Chinese American immigrant women and their American-born daughters, and the challenges that inevitably arise from this cultural and generational gap. Nominated for a BAFTA Award for best screenplay, the film launched the career of Ming-Na Wen and has been selected for preservation in the Library of Congress for its cultural and historical significance. After you watch this historic film, check out these amazing Asian Americans you didn’t learn about in school.

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Schindler’s List

Released: 1993

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “This list … is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.”

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching film in this list, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is based on the real-life story of Oskar Schindler, who saved more than 1,000 Polish-Jewish people during the Holocaust by listing them as his factory employees. The film is mostly in black-and-white, and despite its brutal realism, it is absolutely stunning in every possible category. At the Academy Awards alone, Schindler’s List won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.

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Interview with the Vampire

Released: 1994

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “I watched the whole magnificence of the dawn for the last time as if it were the first. And then I said farewell to sunlight and set out to become what I became.”

Dark gothic horror? Check. Tortured characters? Check. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise? Check, check. Interview with the Vampire is a must-watch if you’re looking for that ’90s movies nostalgia, seducing viewers with its dangerously beautiful, bloodthirsty vampires. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Anne Rice, the queen of vampire literature herself, and while it may seem a bit similar to Dracula (1992), the real treat is then-10-year-old Kirsten Dunst’s brilliant performance as a child vampire whose body cannot age. The Oscar-nominated film is gorgeously self-indulgent, angsty and a fun ride from start to finish.

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The Lion King

Released: 1994

Rated: G

Memorable quote: “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.”

Who could have guessed that adapting Hamlet for kids but with lions would have become one of the greatest Disney movies of all time? In The Lion King, Simba is set to take over his role as king of the pride when his father Mufasa (James Earl Jones) suddenly gets overthrown by Simba’s uncle Scar. With its riveting drama, comedic relief and stellar voice acting, the movie became the highest-grossing film of 1994 and won Academy Awards for its score and a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture.

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Léon: The Professional

Released: 1994

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “You’re gonna love this. … A little 12-year-old girl comes to my office armed to the teeth, with the firm intention of sending me straight to the morgue. And do you know who came and got her in the middle of the afternoon right there in my building?”

Luc Besson’s stylish action drama features the unlikely friendship between a precocious 12-year-old and the hitman who takes her in and teaches her the tricks of the trade after her family is killed. Although the film’s title seemingly centers the hitman, played by Jean Reno, it’s Natalie Portman’s breakout role as Mathilda the child assassin that has turned this one into a cult classic and influenced countless other films.

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Pulp Fiction

Released: 1994

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.”

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards, and countless other awards, Pulp Fiction is Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. The story is broken up into nonlinear, episodic narratives featuring hitmen, petty criminals and drug dealers. And while the film is infamous for its graphic violence, it’s also celebrated for its dark comedic elements, witty dialogue and, of course, stellar acting from Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman.

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The Shawshank Redemption

Released: 1994

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice.”

Based on a 1982 Stephen King novella, The Shawshank Redemption is a prison drama that highlights the brutality of incarceration and corruption of the justice system. However, the film also stresses the importance of hope and freedom and the lengths that people will go to in order to secure that necessary right. With powerful performances from Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as two inmates who befriend each other in an unlikely setting, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and remains a favorite among many film critics.

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Forrest Gump

Released: 1994

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “I’m not a smart man … but I know what love is.”

In this beloved comedy drama, Tom Hanks gives an endearing performance as the eponymous Forrest Gump, a man who was born with a low I.Q. but a gentle and earnest nature. Throughout Forrest’s many adventures spanning decades, he charms everyone he meets—including famous historical figures. It’s no wonder this sweet tale won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing at the Academy Awards.

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Toy Story

Released: 1995

Rated: G

Memorable quote: “Look, over there in that house is a kid who thinks you are the greatest, and it’s not because you’re a Space Ranger, pal, it’s because you’re a toy. You are his toy!”

The first computer-animated feature film and first Pixar movie ever, Toy Story posits a world where toys are alive when humans aren’t looking. It features the toys of human boy Andy, specifically the rivalry between cowboy doll Woody and astronaut action figure Buzz Lightyear as Andy gets older and his interests change. This hilarious and heartwarming film boasts a rare 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and three Academy Award nominations.

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Se7en

Released: 1995

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “If we catch John Doe and he turns out to be the devil, I mean if he’s Satan himself, that might live up to our expectations, but he’s not the devil. He’s just a man.”

This slick, award-winning movie is admittedly not for the faint-hearted. David Fincher’s dark and disturbing psychological crime thriller is about a pair of detectives, played by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, who must catch a serial killer who murders based on the seven deadly sins. Nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the British Academy Film Awards, Se7en is cerebral, yet gruesome, and the brilliantly written but genuinely twisted ending may haunt you for days.

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Clueless

Released: 1995

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “Well, some teachers are trying to low-ball me, Daddy. And I know how you say, ‘Never accept a first offer,’ so I figure these grades are just a jumping off point to start negotiations.”

Imagine Jane Austen’s Emma in 1990s Beverly Hills, where the popular Cher Horowitz takes an awkward new student under her wing. Starring America’s sweetheart Alicia Silverstone, this satirical yet genuinely fun teen comedy is worth watching for both the fashion and witty one-liners. The American Film Institute nominated Clueless for its 100 funniest movies, and it’s become a cult classic with spinoffs, adaptations and Halloween costumes since. This is one of those classic ’90s movies that will absolutely make you feel nostalgic for the era.

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Jumanji

Released: 1995

Rated: PG

Memorable quote: “Adventurers beware: Do not begin unless you intend to finish. The exciting consequences of the game will vanish only when a player has reached Jumanji and called out its name.”

Starring beloved comedian Robin Williams, the original Jumanji film follows a supernatural jungle-themed board game that releases real wild animals with each turn. While it received mixed reviews at the time, Jumanji was a box office hit and remains an exciting family movie worth watching over and over again—although perhaps more suited to slightly older kids. It’s no wonder it’s been adapted into a TV series, several games and sequels (2017 and 2019)!

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La Haine

Released: 1995

Rated: Not Rated

Memorable quote: “If you stayed in school, you’d know that hate breeds hate, Vinz.”

French for “Hatred,” La Haine exposes police brutality and racial tensions in Paris. This gritty black-and-white film follows three friends—a Jewish man, Afro-French man and North African Muslim man—in the aftermath of their friend being hospitalized due to a police beating. Mathieu Kassovitz won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival, and the film won Best Film at the César Awards. This movie with an important social message is a must-watch for cinema buffs.

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Space Jam

Released: 1996

Rated: PG

Memorable quote: “The point guard, standing three foot three, four feet if you include the ears, Co-captain of the Toon Squad, the Doctor of Delight: Bugs Bun-ny! … And now, the player coach of the Toon Squad, at six foot six, from North Carolina, His Royal Airness: Michael Jordan!”

Oh to be a fly on the wall in the room where Warner Bros. pitched this Looney Tunes movie to Michael Jordan! His Airness plays a fictionalized version of himself in this hilarious half-live action, half-animated film, where he has to coach cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tasmanian Devil and more in a basketball game against aliens. This sports comedy was a box office hit, becoming the highest-grossing basketball film of all time.

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The Craft

Released: 1996

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “You know, in the old days, if a witch betrayed her coven, they would kill her.”

The Craft was a celebration of nonconformity and a hit with angsty, rebellious teenage girls everywhere. In this campy teen drama and supernatural horror movie, a group of outcasts form their own witch coven, only to realize the true price of magic. With a delightfully off-center performance from Fairuza Balk, grunge soundtrack and to-kill-for ’90s fashion, the film still holds its own as a beloved cult classic.

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Scream

Released: 1996

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “Never say ‘who’s there?’ Don’t you watch scary movies? It’s a death wish. You might as well come out to investigate a strange noise or something.”

Both a satire of and homage to the slasher genre, Wes Craven’s Scream was revolutionary for its time. Its teenage characters are very much aware of not only pop culture references, but also the horror movie clichés they’re experiencing—and only by using this knowledge can the strong female characters outwit the killer. This clever cult classic is an example of the postmodernist narrative popular in the ’90s, and even as it deconstructs the horror genre, it’s still effective in its scares.

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Fargo

Released: 1996

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “Oh, for Pete’s sake! For Pete’s sake, he’s fleeing the interview. He’s fleeing the interview!”

You know those movies where the scenes are so absurdly messed up, you can’t help but laugh? This hilarious black comedy by the Coen brothers sets us in the snowy Midwest, where a downtrodden car salesman (William H. Macy) plots a kidnapping that can only go wrong, and a pregnant police chief (Frances McDormand) must investigate the crimes as they get increasingly violent. Winner of the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards, Fargo remains one of the greatest films of all time.

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The Nutty Professor

Released: 1996

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “Life isn’t about being happy with how much you weigh, but just being happy with yourself.”

Eddie Murphy’s ’90s movies honestly deserve their own list, but The Nutty Professor takes a classic ’50s movie and modernizes it for a more diverse audience. A parody of Jekyll & Hyde, this comedy follows a kind-hearted but obese professor (Murphy in a fat suit) who creates a weight-loss formula and inadvertently creates a skinny womanizing alter-ego. For navigating both characters’ polar opposite personalities with ease and managing to make both funny, Murphy was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes. While some of the jokes may not have aged well, the film stresses self-love above all.

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Titanic

Released: 1997

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you … to make each day count.”

Nothing screams ’90s movies more than Titanic, which held the record for the highest-grossing film of all time for 13 years after it was released. James Cameron’s epic love story, based on the real sinking of the Titanic in 1912, swept award season, winning a whopping 11 Academy Awards. Starring ’90s heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as star-crossed lovers, and featuring Celine Dion’s hit “My Heart Will Go on,” Titanic is an emotional ride. If you love sad movies, have tissues ready.

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Princess Mononoke

Released: 1997

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “Once the forest has been cleared and the wolves wiped out, this desolate place will become the richest land in the world … and Princess Mononoke will become human.”

Although Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki is beloved for his wholesome animated films for children, Princess Mononoke is arguably his greatest masterpiece. This historical fantasy is set in feudal Japan, when forest gods still roamed the earth and humans began to clash with nature. An Ainu warrior finds himself drawn into this violent conflict where he meets a mysterious girl raised by wolves, and the drama that unfolds is both subtle and epic. With its gorgeous sweeping soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi, stunning animation and poignant storytelling, this film is worth watching and re-watching.

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Men in Black

Released: 1997

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “You don’t exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name. Silence your native tongue. You’re no longer part of the System. You’re above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We’re ‘them.’ We’re ‘they.’ We are the Men in Black.”

In this sci-fi action comedy, the hilarious Will Smith and stern Tommy Lee Jones pair up as secret government agents who must protect Earth from extraterrestrial beings. For its truly strange creature designs, Men in Black won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and was nominated for Best Art Direction. It also won Best Original Score and was nominated for Best Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globe Awards. The first of this franchise, this is also where we’re introduced to Frank, our favorite crass alien-pug. If you love Frank, check out these other dog movies as well.

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The Big Lebowski

Released: 1998

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not ‘Mr. Lebowski.’ You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”

You’ve probably heard at least one person quote this wild ride of a film. Famous for their black comedies, Joel and Ethan Coen were inspired by the detective fiction of Raymond Chandler when they wrote The Big Lebowski. The film is about a classic case of mistaken identity gone absurdly wrong, where Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (hilariously portrayed by Jeff Bridges) gets confused for a billionaire with the same name and is dragged into kidnapping plots, ransoms and shoot-outs. The film is a cult classic, with demand for replicas of the Dude’s iconic sweater and annual Lebowski Fests.

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Mulan

Released: 1998

Rated: G

Memorable quote: “I’ve heard a great deal about you, Fa Mulan. You stole your father’s armor, ran away from home, impersonated a soldier, deceived your commanding officer, dishonored the Chinese Army, destroyed my palace and … you have saved us all.”

Our first Asian Disney princess warrior ever, the original animated Mulan was revolutionary and inspired young audiences everywhere. This film features the voice acting of Ming-na Wen as the titular cross-dressing warrior, and not only did it capture the girl power espoused by British pop group Spice Girls, but it offered a different kind of role model in the mainstream media. With a hilarious performance from Eddie Murphy as Mulan’s sidekick dragon Mushu, this is a must-watch for kids and adults alike. And don’t forget these other excellent Asian-led movies!

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The Parent Trap

Released: 1998

Rated: PG

Memorable quote: “So if your mom is my mom and my dad is your dad … and we’re both born on October 11, then you and I are … like … sisters.”

There was an obsession with twins in the ’90s, with Mary Kate and Ashley and Tia and Tamera dominating the silver screen. A remake of the classic 1961 movie, The Parent Trap is about identical twins separated at birth who later reunite, swap places and plot to bring their divorced parents back together. Then-11-year-old Lindsay Lohan gives an adorable award-winning performance in this heartwarming kids movie and will make you and the kids chuckle.

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Rush Hour

Released: 1998

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “Hey, man, y’all see a little Asian dude about this height with a steering wheel on his arm?”

Martial arts icon Jackie Chan and comedian Chris Tucker team up in the award-winning hilarious action comedy Rush Hour, a creative twist on the buddy cop genre, where cultures collide in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. And while some of the jokes in ’90s comedy movies may come off as culturally insensitive today, Rush Hour is a beautiful depiction of Asian and Black solidarity and the friendships that can come when you realize we have much more in common than we realize. Fun fact: Review site Rotten Tomatoes was actually created by Senh Duong with the intention of spreading Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong movie reviews in the United States before Rush Hour was released!

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Saving Private Ryan

Released: 1998

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “Sometimes I wonder if I’ve changed so much my wife is even going to recognize me, whenever it is that I get back to her. And how I’ll ever be able to tell her about days like today. “

In Steven Spielberg’s emotional World War II drama, a group of American soldiers (led by Tom Hanks) are sent on a mission to rescue the eponymous Private Ryan (Matt Damon), the last surviving brother of four. Known for its brutal depictions of war, compelling acting and hauntingly beautiful scenery, this is generally agreed to be one of the greatest military movies of all time. Saving Private Ryan swept awards season, winning Best Picture and Director at the Golden Globes and winning Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the Academy Awards, just to name a few.

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The Truman Show

Released: 1998

Rated: PG

Memorable quote: “We’ve become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We are tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there’s nothing fake about Truman himself. No scripts, no cue cards. It isn’t always Shakespeare, but it’s genuine. It’s a life.”

What if we’re actually living in a reality TV show and everyone around us is a paid actor? Jim Carrey gives a riveting performance as a man who slowly starts to realize everything he’s ever known is scripted and has an existentialist crisis. And while this drama has its comedic moments, it also raises a lot of philosophical and ethical questions about simulated realities, surveillance and determinism. Jim Carrey won Best Actor in a Motion Picture, while Ed Harris, who plays the god-like director of the show, won Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes.

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Shakespeare in Love

Released: 1998

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “All the men at court are without poetry. If they see me, they see my father’s fortune, I – will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all.”

This witty period romance is absolutely swoonworthy, featuring the irresistible Joseph Fiennes as William Shakespeare and radiant Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola de Lesseps, a noblewoman who disguises herself as a man so that she can act in his plays. Although it’s worth noting that there are artistic liberties taken in the film and it is by no means historically accurate, there are countless allusions and Easter eggs for Shakespeare fans. At the Oscars that year, Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture, as well as six other awards (it was nominated for another six). It also won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Best Screenplay.

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The Sixth Sense

Released: 1999

Rated: PG-13

Memorable quote: “Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.”

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense still remains one of the most chilling ’90s horror movies, despite technically being a psychological thriller. Starring Haley Joel Osment as a terrified child who can communicate with the dead, Toni Collette as his weary mother and Bruce Willis as his child psychologist, the movie earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Watch it for the spooky scenes; stay for the wild plot twist that launched a thousand parodies.

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Sleepy Hollow

Released: 1999

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “We have murders in New York without benefit of ghouls and goblins.”

Based on Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Tim Burton’s late-18th-century gothic horror won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and was nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. It’s easy to see why! The gloomy yet beautiful atmosphere of witches, headless horsemen and gore makes this one of Burton’s most visually striking films. With its all-star cast (Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon and more), Sleepy Hollow is worth watching any time you’re in the mood for a dark fairy tale.

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The Virgin Suicides

Released: 1999

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “We knew the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love, and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.”

Based on Jeffrey Eugenides’s 1993 novel, Sofia Coppola’s dreamy and angsty The Virgin Suicides follows the lovely, yet enigmatic Lisbon sisters from the perspective of their neighbors. The film is set in the sunny 1970s and makes you nostalgic for bell bottoms and floral print, yet it’s also a haunting portrait of the loss of innocence and adolescent depression. This cult classic is what put Sofia Coppola on the map.

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The Iron Giant

Released: 1999

Rated: PG

Memorable quote: “It’s bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.”

Director Brad Bird’s award-winning animated film The Iron Giant is simply not talked about enough. Set in the 1950s during the height of the Cold War and a fascination with superheroes, the story follows a young boy who finds and befriends a giant robot that was originally built to be a weapon. The boy teaches the robot how to be human, and despite the many forces trying to take advantage of the robot for their own gain, it’s a tale about friendship and doing what’s right. This beautifully drawn and impeccably written film still holds its own against the more popular Disney movies, and it remains one of the best cartoon movies to watch with your kids.

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Fight Club

Released: 1999

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “Gentlemen, welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”

No other film better captures Generation X’s nihilism and the anti-establishment sentiment of the 1990s than David Fincher’s Fight Club. Adapted from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name, this whip-smart film about an underground fight club questions the white-collar, 9-to-5 social hierarchy and rampant consumerism. Fight Club stars Brad Pitt as a dangerously charismatic Tyler Durden, Ed Norton as his exact opposite and Helena Bonham Carter as a melodramatic scam artist. Although the film was controversial and polarized critics at the time, it holds a 96% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has since become a cult classic.

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The Matrix

Released: 1999

Rated: R

Memorable quote: “What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

As the decade started coming to a close and the Y2K glitch drew near, The Matrix captured the postmodern angst of ’90s movies, questioning whether our reality was actually a computer simulation. This iconic action movie starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss features not only quintessential ’90s fashion—think grungy grey sweaters, black leather coats and tiny sunglasses—but also innovative action sequences. Inspired by Japanese animation and martial arts films, directors (and siblings) Lana and Lilly Wachowski popularized slow-motion action scenes in the West. The Matrix won Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Sound Editing and ushered in a new decade of smart action films.

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Sarah Jinee Park
Sarah Jinee Park is a Korean American writer and editor from Queens, NY. By day, she works at a tech start up, and by night, she's the Executive Editor of Mochi Magazine. In a past life, she led creative writing and graphic noveling workshops for children. Her fiction and poetry have been published in Truancy Magazine, Peach Velvet Magazine, and Polychrome Magazine. Read more of her work at sarahjineepark.com.