Best movies of the 1990s

There were a huge amount of classic films made in the 1990s. It was an era of big budget action adventures, of groundbreaking indie classics and out-of-this-world sci-fi on the silver screen.

It was a decade filled with huge creativity in the entertainment world, seeing the rise of brilliant art, world-beating bands and musical artists and new and exciting talent both in front of and behind the camera in the world of cinema. It’s no wonder that there are so many excellent films to choose from when trying to make a top ten list for the era.

Of course everyone can’t and won’t agree with the final list we’ve compiled – but hopefully they’ll at least understand just how hard it was to do.

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If however, you’re more of a reader than a watcher, we have taken the liberty of recreating the content for you in word form too.

So, if you are ready, let us begin this odyssey into the cinematic highlights of the 1990s…

The Top 10 Movies of the 1990s

10. Trainspotting

Danny Boyle’s 1996 British black comedy is based on Irvine Welsh’s novel and follows the fortunes of a group of heroin addicts in an economically depressed area of Edinburgh. A huge cultural phenomenon in Scotland, Britain and across the world, the film starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Johnny Lee Miller, Robert Carlisle and Kelly MacDonald is remembered for its hard hitting theme, incredible storytelling and brilliant soundtrack.

9. The Matrix

Written and directed by the Wachowskis, this 1999 film tells the story of a dystopian future where humanity is living in a virtual reality while the Matrix is using their energy to power itself. When hacker Neo finds out the truth, he joins the underground rebellion to bring the Matrix down. Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne star in this sci-fi classic.

8. Good Will Hunting

Written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and the film that made them big stars in the industry, this psychological drama starring the pair alongside Robin Williams sees Damon’s character go through a journey of discovery with his therapist and friends after he is forced to attend a deferred prosecution scheme after assaulting a police officer.

7. Fight Club

David Fincher’s 1999 film is without doubt one of the most memorable of the era, drawing exceptional performances from both Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in this deeply troubling and at times violent film that sees Norton’s unfulfilled character become embroiled in a world of chaos and anarchy.

6. Toy Story

One of the early Pixar hits, Toy Story set the bar for animated entertainment and the industry has never looked back. The beautifully crafted, cast and executed film about a group of Toys who come alive when no one is looking has stood the test of time and remains one of the best animated adventures ever told.

5. Goodfellas

Martin Scorsese’s 1990 seminal gangster movies is probably still considered the most accomplished of its genre. Starring a brilliant Robert De Niro opposite Ray Liotta and Jo Pesci, this dark and dangerous story of mafia crime gangs and family in New York is truly gripping.

4. Jurassic Park

In 1993 Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster stunned the world as dinosaurs came alive on screen before our eyes in a compelling, fun, action adventure telling the story of a dinosaur park which doesn’t quite work out for its owner. With iconic performances from Sam Neill, Laura Derm, Jeff “life will find a way” Goldblum and Richard Attenborough, this is fondly remembered by all as one of the best family films of all time.

3. Terminator 2: Judgement Day

A sequel to the 1984 original, Judgement Day is a rare thing indeed, a sequel that is as good -if not dare we say better- than the original. We see Arnold Schwarzenegger return (he said he’d be back) for more science fiction action in James Cameron’s 1991 masterpiece.

2. Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 crime story is in many ways a film that defines the 1990s and will be remembered fondly by anyone who lived through the decade when they first saw it. Starring a stellar cast including John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman this eminently quotable film is as popular today as it was then.

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Frank Darabont’s 1994 movie based on a short story by Stephen King didn’t have huge success at the box office when it first came out, but after a raft of award nominations and a re-release in cinemas followed by a stellar home entertainment release, it quickly became one of the most popular and well-loved films of all time. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman shine in this story of hope against the odds and light in darkness. A true masterwork of cinematic genius and one of the best prison films ever committed to film.

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Tim Glanfield

Tim Glanfield is a journalist, editor and broadcaster with more than 15 years experience writing about television, film and the entertainment business. He has been editor of, a writer for The Times (of London) and the Guardian as well as a freelance contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites across the world. He is author of the book Digital Economy or Bust: The Story of a New Media Startup and makes regular appearances on TV and radio in the UK.

Tim Glanfield has 41 posts and counting. See all posts by Tim Glanfield