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The Actual Best Movies of the 90's

Still from the movie The Lion King

The 90's was a crazy and transitional decade, a time before doomscrolling became the norm, and we actually went outside and did things. It also produced some of the most beloved films of all times, and because being right is more important than friendship, this list will help you settle once and for all the eternal argument of which are the actual best movies of the 90's.

With 700 million monthly visits across the top movie-rating websites, the Internet has spoken; let's begin.

#20 Se7en (1995)

New Line Cinema

GoatScore: 83.5%
IMDB: 86% Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Filmaffinity: 83% Metacritic: 77%

A rookie and a veteran detective track a serial killer who uses society’s ignorance toward the seven deadly sins to justify his crimes. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, two icons of the 90's, star in this crime thriller. Not to mention the cultural influence it’s had on crime and mystery movies due to its aesthetic and distinct style, as well as countless imitations of the film.

#19 Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Walt Disney Pictures

GoatScore: 83.6%
IMDB: 80% Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Filmaffinity: 73% Metacritic: 89%

Beauty and the Beast is, without a doubt, one of the most well-known fairy tales. The film transformed the genre by blending hand-drawn and computer animation, including the famous ballroom dance scene. The movie was such a success that Disney added the character, Belle, to the Disney Princess group.

#18 Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Lightstorm Entertainment

GoatScore: 84.3%
IMDB: 86% Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Filmaffinity: 75% Metacritic: 82%

It’s been 10 years since a cyborg, The Terminator, attempted to kill Sarah and John Connor. Now, Sarah has to protect her 10-year-old son from an even more powerful robot. Terminator 2: Judgement Day became a money-making machine when it was released in 1991. It altered an entire generation with its unbelievable CGI and stunts that hold up decades later.

#17 Fargo (1996)

Still from the movie Fargo

Working Title Films

GoatScore: 84.5%
IMDB: 81% Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Filmaffinity: 78% Metacritic: 86%

Based on a true story, Fargo is set in Minnesota in 1987, where desperate Jerry Lundegaard attempts to scramble his way out of debt by hiring two thugs to kidnap his wife so he can collect the ransom money. It seems like a decent idea, but all bets are off when the thugs shoot a state trooper.

#16 Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Still from the movie Reservoir Dogs

Live Entertainment

GoatScore: 84.6%
IMDB: 83% Rotten Tomatoes: 92% Filmaffinity: 81% Metacritic: 83%

Six criminals, strangers to one another, are hired for a jewelry heist which turns into an absolute disaster. The surviving criminals realize they were set up and suspect a mole among the group.  Reservoir Dogs is claimed to be one of the best 90's films because Quentin Tarantino shot the perfect heist movie without ever showing the heist. The film launched the director's career, and he went on to create other exceptional films, including #2 on this list, Pulp Fiction.

#15 Trainspotting (1996)

Still from the movie Trainspotting

Channel Four Films

GoatScore: 84.6%
IMDB: 81% Rotten Tomatoes: 92% Filmaffinity: 81% Metacritic: 85%

Renton wants to stop using drugs, but his friends and the appeal of fun times make it challenging. Like Euphoria, Trainspotting depicts an addict’s rationale while evoking sympathy from the agonizing lows of withdrawal and the consequences of addiction.

#14 The Usual Suspects (1995)

Still from the movie The Usual Suspects

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

GoatScore: 84.8%
IMDB: 85% Rotten Tomatoes: 92% Filmaffinity: 80% Metacritic: 82%

Five criminals are questioned after a truck hijack in New York, but none seem to be guilty of the crime. They plan their revenge against the police, but everything changes when the mastermind Keyser Söze comes into play. The Usual Suspects is named one of the best detective thriller films of the 90's; with its compelling story, impressive cast, and nail-biting ending; you won’t even see its tricks until the very end.

#13 American Beauty (1999)

Still from the movie American Beauty

Dreamworks Pictures

GoatScore: 84.8%
IMDB: 84% Rotten Tomatoes: 90% Filmaffinity: 79% Metacritic: 86%

An advertising executive yearns for some excitement during his midlife crisis. As a result, the entire family undergoes changes that disrupt their previous way of life. Put plainly, it isn’t as radical a movie in today’s culture, but in the 90's, it stood out as a harsh account of current life and society, likely a by-product of the angst many felt during this decade.

#12 Princess Mononoke (1997)

Still from the movie Princess Mononoke

Studio Ghibli

GoatScore: 84.9%
IMDB: 84% Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Filmaffinity: 80% Metacritic: 82%

Harmony among Gods, humans, and animals begins to crumble in the 14th century when the village's protector, Ashitaka, is struck with a deadly curse. He seeks health from Shishigami, a deer-like god, but on his journey witnesses the tremendous conflict between nature and industrialization.

Princess Mononoke is one of the best 90's animated films because of its compelling themes and beautiful animation. Its release has not only continued to inspire films, but also helped popularize anime in the West ever since.

#11 Unforgiven (1992)

Still from the movie Unforgiven

Warner Bros.

GoatScore: 85.5%
IMDB: 82% Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Filmaffinity: 82% Metacritic: 84%

After turning to a life of farming, William Munny, outlaw and killer, takes one more job. Clint Eastwood starred, directed, and produced Unforgiven, and since he began as a gunslinger on TV, many suspect the movie mirrors where he was in life at the time. The 90's loved the movie because it reflected how the Western as a genre was fading away.

#10 Hoop Dreams (1994)

Still from the movie Hoop Dreams

Kartemquin Films

GoatScore: 85.8%
IMDB: 83% Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Filmaffinity: 76% Metacritic: 89%

Across 6 years, the film follows gifted basketball players, William and Arthur, through eighth grade to freshman year of college in Chicago’s inner city. Hoop Dreams makes us think about the world around us, and in the 90's, it was rapidly changing. It had us questioning our social structures regarding class, race, and mass media. Not only that, but the film made the audience feel like they were growing with the characters and sometimes walking in their own shoes, making it an unforgettable experience. 

#9 L.A. Confidential (1997)

Still from the movie L.A. Confindential

Warner Bros.

GoatScore: 86%
IMDB: 82% Rotten Tomatoes: 97% Filmaffinity: 77% Metacritic: 89%

L.A. Confidential refers to the 1950s scandal magazine Confidential for the combination of law enforcement corruption and Hollywood celebrity. Three cops are on the hunt for the dirty truth in the sinister world of L.A. crime. Years later, CBS is developing a television show of the original novel, and had the film been released in a different year, it likely wouldn’t have lost the Academy Award for Best Picture to Titanic.

#8 The Lion King (1994)

Still from the movie The Lion King

Walt Disney Pictures

GoatScore: 86.3%
IMDB: 85% Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Filmaffinity: 79% Metacritic: 88%

In case you've been living under a rock for the past three decades: Young lion Simba is the heir to the animal kingdom, but his traitorous Uncle Scar attempts to eliminate Mufasa, his father. In case you haven't noticed yet, yes, this is also the plot of Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

The Lion King is arguably the best animated Disney movie of all time and its cultural impact is undeniable through the countless adaptations, attractions and broadway shows that endure to this day. 

#7 Toy Story (1995)

Still from the movie Toy Story

Pixar Animation Studios

GoatScore: 86.9%

IMDB: 83% Rotten Tomatoes: 96% Filmaffinity: 77% Metacritic: 92%

Toy Story was the first-ever full-feature 3D-movie, an absolute revolution at the time. The movie brings us into the secret life of toys when no one’s watching. It made most 90's and 2000's babies check on their toys, hoping we would catch them flying around like Buzz or on their way to a mission like the green soldiers.

Also read: Creativity Inc., the story of how Pixar fought the world and even Steve Jobs to produce the first-ever 3D-movie.

#6 Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Still from the movie Saving Private Ryan

Dreamworks Pictures

GoatScore: 87%
IMDB: 86% Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Filmaffinity: 78% Metacritic: 90%

One of the best war films of all time, Saving Private Ryan became an instant classic. Its themes of anti-war sentiment and the injustice perpetuated upon inexperienced civilians to fight in a conflict they did not start illustrate the life-threatening terror that festers on battlefields. 

#5 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Still from the movie The Silence of the Lambs

Orion Pictures

GoatScore: 87.4%
IMDB: 86% Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Filmaffinity: 82% Metacritic: 87%

“Buffalo Bill” is kidnapping, murdering, and eating young women across the Midwest. Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee, interviews a violent psychopath, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, to provide psychological clues and insight into the killer’s mind and actions.

The 90's were a period of transition when horror became less conventional and more realistic. Unlike Freddy Krueger or Dracula, the 90's honed in on realistic horror stories; one of the most popular being The Silence of the Lambs.

#4 Goodfellas (1990)

Still from the movie Goodfellas

Warner Bros.

GoatScore: 89.1%
IMDB: 87% Rotten Tomatoes: 97% Filmaffinity: 84% Metacritic: 89%

Henry Hill grew up in the mob and climbed the ranks, oblivious to the atrocities he committed while enjoying his luxurious life. On his way to the top, he gets tangled in drug addiction, questionable relationships and troubles with the law. Goodfellas is a 90's gangster film at its finest, and it couldn’t have been done without the brilliant direction of Martin Scorsese.

#3 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Still from the movie The Shawshank Redemption

Castle Rock Entertainment

GoatScore: 89.8%
IMDB: 93% Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Filmaffinity: 86% Metacritic: 86%

Based on a novel by Stephen King; Andy Dufresne claims he is innocent after being sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murders of his wife and secret lover. After accepting his fate, Andy forms a friendship and seeks redemption through compassion. 

The Shawshank Redemption touches on complex subjects like murder and sexual assault, but the main focus lies in friendship, hope, justice, and humanity in a dark, unforgiving system.

#2 Pulp Fiction (1994)

Still from the movie Pulp Fiction


GoatScore: 90.3%
IMDB: 89% Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Filmaffinity: 86% Metacritic: 92%

Pulp Fiction features four interwoven tales of redemption and violence of two mob hitmen, a pair of diner thieves, a boxer, and a gangster and his wife. Altogether, the non-linear and cohesive plot, action-packed stories, creative direction, adoration from critics and fans, and the ranging themes and motifs set this film apart from every other 90's movie. When you have Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and Bruce Willis in one film, it’s bound to be entertaining.

#1 Schindler’s List (1993)

Still from the movie Schindler’s List

Universal Pictures

GoatScore: 91.1%
IMDB: 90% Rotten Tomatoes: 98% Filmaffinity: 86% Metacritic: 91%

Now for the grand finale: Schindler’s List. The true story of Oskar Schindler, a greedy businessman who, during WWII, attempted to make a fortune by exploiting cheap Jewish labor. He didn’t make his fortune; instead, he risked his life to protect and save over 1000 Polish Jews from the Holocaust. 

Critically-acclaimed director, Steven Speilberg, depicts the wickedness of the Holocaust and how Schindler saved some potential victims. Most notably, the film's end features an overwhelming emotional shot of those Schindler saved.

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