140 Essential 90s Movies

#35

Pretty Woman (1990)
65%

#35
Adjusted Score: 69943%
Critics Consensus: Pretty Woman may be a yuppie fantasy, but the film's slick comedy, soundtrack, and casting can overcome misgivings.
Synopsis: In this modern update on Cinderella, a prostitute and a wealthy businessman fall hard for one another, forming an unlikely... [More]
Directed By: Garry Marshall

#34

Office Space (1999)
80%

#34
Adjusted Score: 84114%
Critics Consensus: Mike Judge lampoons the office grind with its inspired mix of sharp dialogue and witty one-liners.
Synopsis: Corporate drone Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) hates his soul-killing job at software company Initech. While undergoing hypnotherapy, Peter is left... [More]
Directed By: Mike Judge

#33

Clerks (1994)
90%

#33
Adjusted Score: 92352%
Critics Consensus: With its quirky characters and clever, quotable dialogue, Clerks is the ultimate clarion call for slackers everywhere to unite and, uh, do something we guess?
Synopsis: Dante (Brian O'Halloran) is called in to cover a shift at his New Jersey convenience store on his day off.... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Smith

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 106398%
Critics Consensus: Director Jonathan Demme's smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.
Synopsis: Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 100991%
Critics Consensus: It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey -- and is loaded with enough powerful performances -- that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama.
Synopsis: Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#30

Toy Story (1995)
100%

#30
Adjusted Score: 106313%
Critics Consensus: Entertaining as it is innovative, Toy Story reinvigorated animation while heralding the arrival of Pixar as a family-friendly force to be reckoned with.
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks), a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy (John Morris), sees his position... [More]
Directed By: John Lasseter

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 98903%
Critics Consensus: With its epic story and breathtaking visuals, Princess Mononoke is a landmark in the world of animation.
Synopsis: A prince becomes involved in the struggle between a forest princess and the encroachment of mechanization.... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki

#28

Groundhog Day (1993)
97%

#28
Adjusted Score: 103177%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Murray's dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.
Synopsis: Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#27

Fargo (1996)
94%

#27
Adjusted Score: 100364%
Critics Consensus: Violent, quirky, and darkly funny, Fargo delivers an original crime story and a wonderful performance by McDormand.
Synopsis: "Fargo" is a reality-based crime drama set in Minnesota in 1987. Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is a car salesman... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

#26

Gattaca (1997)
83%

#26
Adjusted Score: 85446%
Critics Consensus: Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.
Synopsis: Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Niccol

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 90443%
Critics Consensus: Though it suffers from excessive length and ambition, director Minghella's adaptation of the Michael Ondaatje novel is complex, powerful, and moving.
Synopsis: The sweeping expanses of the Sahara are the setting for a passionate love affair in this adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#24

Boyz N the Hood (1991)
96%

#24
Adjusted Score: 99903%
Critics Consensus: Well-acted and thematically rich, Boyz N the Hood observes Black America with far more depth and compassion than many of the like-minded films its success inspired.
Synopsis: Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is sent to live with his father, Furious Styles (Larry Fishburne), in tough South Central Los... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton

#23

Unforgiven (1992)
96%

#23
Adjusted Score: 105514%
Critics Consensus: As both director and star, Clint Eastwood strips away decades of Hollywood varnish applied to the Wild West, and emerges with a series of harshly eloquent statements about the nature of violence.
Synopsis: When prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald (Anna Thomson) is disfigured by a pair of cowboys in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, her fellow brothel... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#22

Rushmore (1998)
89%

#22
Adjusted Score: 94331%
Critics Consensus: This cult favorite is a quirky coming of age story, with fine, off-kilter performances from Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray.
Synopsis: When a beautiful first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams) arrives at a prep school, she soon attracts the attention of an ambitious... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#21

Hoop Dreams (1994)
98%

#21
Adjusted Score: 101577%
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

#20

The Iron Giant (1999)
96%

#20
Adjusted Score: 101170%
Critics Consensus: The endearing Iron Giant tackles ambitious topics and complex human relationships with a steady hand and beautifully animated direction from Brad Bird.
Synopsis: In this animated adaptation of Ted Hughes' Cold War fable, a giant alien robot (Vin Diesel) crash-lands near the small... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#19

Scream (1996)
79%

#19
Adjusted Score: 83742%
Critics Consensus: Horror icon Wes Craven's subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it's a little too cheeky for some.
Synopsis: The sleepy little town of Woodsboro just woke up screaming. There's a killer in their midst who's seen a few... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 100765%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by another winning performance from Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg's unflinchingly realistic war film virtually redefines the genre.
Synopsis: Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 109360%
Critics Consensus: Taut pacing, brilliantly dense writing and Oscar-worthy acting combine to produce a smart, popcorn-friendly thrill ride.
Synopsis: Three policemen, each with his own motives and obsessions, tackle the corruption surrounding an unsolved murder at a downtown Los... [More]
Directed By: Curtis Hanson

#16

Goodfellas (1990)
96%

#16
Adjusted Score: 103576%
Critics Consensus: Hard-hitting and stylish, GoodFellas is a gangster classic -- and arguably the high point of Martin Scorsese's career.
Synopsis: A young man grows up in the mob and works very hard to advance himself through the ranks. He enjoys... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#15
Adjusted Score: 98100%
Critics Consensus: T2 features thrilling action sequences and eye-popping visual effects, but what takes this sci-fi/ action landmark to the next level is the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters.
Synopsis: In this sequel set eleven years after "The Terminator," young John Connor (Edward Furlong), the key to civilization's victory over... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#14

Clueless (1995)
81%

#14
Adjusted Score: 89086%
Critics Consensus: A funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati.
Synopsis: Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school's pecking scale.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#13

Friday (1995)
76%

#13
Adjusted Score: 76233%
Critics Consensus: What Friday might lack in taut construction or directorial flair, it more than makes up with its vibrant (albeit consistently crass) humor and the charming, energetic performances of its leads.
Synopsis: It's Friday and Craig Jones (Ice Cube) has just gotten fired for stealing cardboard boxes. To make matters worse, rent... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#12

Fight Club (1999)
79%

#12
Adjusted Score: 87076%
Critics Consensus: Solid acting, amazing direction, and elaborate production design make Fight Club a wild ride.
Synopsis: A depressed man (Edward Norton) suffering from insomnia meets a strange soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and soon... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#11

Schindler's List (1993)
98%

#11
Adjusted Score: 108266%
Critics Consensus: Schindler's List blends the abject horror of the Holocaust with Steven Spielberg's signature tender humanism to create the director's dramatic masterpiece.
Synopsis: Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#10

The Matrix (1999)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94973%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the Wachowskis' imaginative vision, The Matrix is a smartly crafted combination of spectacular action and groundbreaking special effects.
Synopsis: Neo (Keanu Reeves) believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an elusive figure considered to be the most dangerous man alive, can... [More]

#9

Thelma & Louise (1991)
85%

#9
Adjusted Score: 90330%
Critics Consensus: Simultaneously funny, heartbreaking, and peppered with action, Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise is a potent, well-acted road movie that transcends the feminist message at its core.
Synopsis: Meek housewife Thelma (Geena Davis) joins her friend Louise (Susan Sarandon), an independent waitress, on a short fishing trip. However,... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#8

Toy Story 2 (1999)
100%

#8
Adjusted Score: 107524%
Critics Consensus: The rare sequel that arguably improves on its predecessor, Toy Story 2 uses inventive storytelling, gorgeous animation, and a talented cast to deliver another rich moviegoing experience for all ages.
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight), leaving Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen)... [More]

#7

Jurassic Park (1993)
92%

#7
Adjusted Score: 102551%
Critics Consensus: Jurassic Park is a spectacle of special effects and life-like animatronics, with some of Spielberg's best sequences of sustained awe and sheer terror since Jaws.
Synopsis: In Steven Spielberg's massive blockbuster, paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#6

Before Sunrise (1995)
100%

#6
Adjusted Score: 102541%
Critics Consensus: Thought-provoking and beautifully filmed, Before Sunrise is an intelligent, unabashedly romantic look at modern love, led by marvelously natural performances from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
Synopsis: On his way to Vienna, American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Julie Delpy), a student returning to Paris. After long... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#5

The Big Lebowski (1998)
83%

#5
Adjusted Score: 88635%
Critics Consensus: Typically stunning visuals and sharp dialogue from the Coen Brothers, brought to life with strong performances from Goodman and Bridges.
Synopsis: Jeff Bridges plays Jeff Lebowski who insists on being called "the Dude," a laid-back, easygoing burnout who happens to have... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

#4

Titanic (1997)
87%

#4
Adjusted Score: 102582%
Critics Consensus: A mostly unqualified triumph for James Cameron, who offers a dizzying blend of spectacular visuals and old-fashioned melodrama.
Synopsis: James Cameron's "Titanic" is an epic, action-packed romance set against the ill-fated maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic; the pride... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#3

The Lion King (1994)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 101204%
Critics Consensus: Emotionally stirring, richly drawn, and beautifully animated, The Lion King is a pride within Disney's pantheon of classic family films.
Synopsis: This Disney animated feature follows the adventures of the young lion Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), the heir of his father,... [More]
Directed By: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 96152%
Critics Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is an uplifting, deeply satisfying prison drama with sensitive direction and fine performances.
Synopsis: Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and... [More]
Directed By: Frank Darabont

#1

Pulp Fiction (1994)
92%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98178%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential films of the 1990s, Pulp Fiction is a delirious post-modern mix of neo-noir thrills, pitch-black humor, and pop-culture touchstones.
Synopsis: Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) are hitmen with a penchant for philosophical discussions. In this... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

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