Top 30 Iconic Films Of The 1990s

The 1990s were a particularly legendary decade for movies. Films from this time period have endured throughout the years and are still cherished by viewers.

· 17 min read
Top 30 Iconic Films Of The 1990s

For a variety of reasons, the 1990s were a particularly legendary decade for movies. First of all, the film business saw a huge upheaval throughout this period.

A new generation of filmmakers was given a platform by the growth of independent film and the expansion of film festivals, which sparked an upsurge in innovation and experimentation.

This led to the creation of numerous critically acclaimed movies that defied accepted Hollywood norms.

Second, several outstanding actors and actresses rose to prominence in the 1990s, including Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Brad Pitt, who went on to become some of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

These performers gave their roles a special energy and charisma that contributed to the films they starred in becoming memorable and famous.

Thirdly, a lot of movies from the 1990s represented the cultural changes that were taking place at the time.

They addressed significant societal themes like race, gender, and sexual orientation and contributed to shaping the cultural dialogue surrounding these topics. As a result, many 1990s movies were both enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Last but not least, the 1990s saw a lot of technological development, especially in the field of special effects. This made it possible for filmmakers to generate aesthetically gorgeous movies that were previously unimaginable.

Because of this, many of the movies from this time period have endured throughout the years and are still cherished by viewers.

Best Films Of The 1990s

1. Titanic

a couple sharing a romantic moment on the ship

James Cameron's 1997 epic romance and disaster movie Titanic is an American production.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play two young individuals who fall in love on the RMS Titanic's inaugural voyage in 1912 in the film.

The narrative centres on Jack (DiCaprio), a struggling artist who wins a ticket to the Titanic in a game of cards. He meets wealthy socialite Rose (Winslet), who is engaged to wealthy businessman Cal (Zane), on board.

In spite of their disparate upbringings, Jack and Rose develop a romantic relationship as they deal with the sad events that occur on the ship.

2. Forrest Grump

A man with his belongings sitting on the bench

A 1994 Robert Zemeckis-helmed comedy-drama movie with Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, and Gary Sinise. The movie is based on Winston Groom's 1986 novel of the same name.

In the film, Forrest Gump (Hanks), a man with a low IQ who unintentionally plays a part in some of the most significant events in American history in the middle of the 20th century, relates his narrative.

Forrest has a great life despite his mental impairments, including playing college football, serving in Vietnam, and subsequently starting a prawn fishing company. He meets and falls in love with his childhood friend Jenny.

3. The Mask

a man in a green mask making a weird face
Stanley Ipkiss

Jim Carrey plays the principal character in Chuck Russell's 1994 American superhero comedy The Mask. The movie is based on the Dark Horse Comics comic book series of the same name.

In the movie, Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss, a polite bank teller who discovers a mysterious mask that turns him into the villainous and superhuman figure known as "The Mask."

With his newly acquired skills, he sets out to get revenge on his adversaries and win Tina Carlyle's (Cameron Diaz) heart.

4. Schindler's List

an emotional man holding his ring
Schindler with the gold ring

Schindler's List is a 1993 American historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Ralph Fiennes.

The movie is based on the novel "Schindler's Ark" by Thomas Keneally, which tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved the lives of over a thousand Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.

In the movie, Nazi atrocities during World War II are shown, along with Schindler's change from a profit-seeking businessman to a humanitarian who puts his own life in danger to save his Jewish employees.  

With the exception of one moving scene, the film is shot in black and white and has an eerie John Williams score.

5. Pulp Fiction

a cartoonized poster of the film

Quentin Tarantino's 1994 American crime drama Pulp Fiction, starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel, and Bruce Willis, was released in theatres.

The movie is renowned for its nonlinear plot, sharp dialogue, and distinctive aesthetic, as well as its portrayal of violence and drug addiction.

In the Los Angeles criminal underworld, the story of hitmen Vincent Vega (Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Jackson), their boss Marsellus Wallace (Keitel), and boxer Butch Coolidge intersect. (Willis).

The events in the movie are seen from several viewpoints and in various timelines, and the plot is not presented in chronological sequence.

6. A Few Good Men

Officers in a jury meeting, one officer is questioning the other officer
Jury Scene From A Few Good Men

Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore starred in Rob Reiner's 1992 American legal drama film A Few Good Men. The film is based on Aaron Sorkin's play of the same name.

Wolfgang Bodison and James Marshall play Lance Corporal Harold Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey, two American Marines who are accused of killing a fellow Marine at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

Their narrative is told in the movie. Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Cruise) and Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway (Moore), who head the defense team, believe the Marines were carrying out directives from Colonel Nathan R. Jessup (Nicholson), who has declined to testify in court.

7. The English Patient

A lady helping a burned man in the war
Fiennes Who Suffered Severe Burns

Based on Michael Ondaatje's book of the same name, The English Patient is a 1996 American-British romantic war drama film directed by Anthony Minghella.

Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Colin Firth are among the cast members of the film.

In an abandoned Italian monastery during World War II, a nurse (Binoche) is tending to a man (Fiennes) who has suffered severe burns.

Through a series of flashbacks, the man, who is simply referred to as "the English patient," gradually exposes his identity and his tale.

He is revealed to be a Hungarian count who trained as a geographer and explorer and who, in the 1930s, while on a desert expedition, fell in love with a married woman (Scott Thomas).

8. Men In Black

2 men with gun protecting someone

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith feature in the 1997 American science fiction action comedy Men in Black, which was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.

The film is based on Lowell Cunningham's comic book series of the same name.

In the movie, a clandestine group known as the "Men in Black" is described as keeping an eye on and controlling extraterrestrial activity on Earth.

Agent K (Jones), a seasoned employee of the company, teams up with Agent J (Smith), a shrewd NYPD cop.

They work together to look into a number of alien-related episodes that happened in New York City, including the introduction of the threatening interplanetary terrorist known as "Bug."

9. Kiki's Delivery Service

A little child witch on her broom with her friend cat

Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli created the Japanese animated feature "Kiki's Delivery Service" in 1989.

A young witch named Kiki comes to a new town with her cat Jiji to finish her training and launch her own delivery service in the film, which is based on the same-titled book by Eiko Kadono.

Kiki meets many intriguing people and gains valuable life lessons as she tries to fit in with her new neighborhood and discover her place in the world.

She makes friends, surmounts challenges, and unearths her own special talents along the road.

In addition to its themes of self-discovery, individuality, and camaraderie, the movie is renowned for its endearing and whimsical animation.

It is regarded as one of Miyazaki's most recognizable productions and has grown to be a beloved classic among aficionados of animation.

10. Apollo 13

Three astronauts having a conversation

The 1995 space drama Apollo 13 was helmed by Ron Howard and starred Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton.

The real-life events of the Apollo 13 mission, which was launched by NASA in 1970, are the basis for the movie.

The Apollo 13 mission, which was meant to be the third manned mission to land on the Moon, is the subject of the film.

However, an oxygen tank explosion badly damaged the spacecraft, forcing the crew to abandon their preparations for a lunar landing and concentrate instead on getting back to Earth safely.

11. Romeo + Juliet

A lady holding his lover's hand

Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the main characters in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 American love drama Romeo + Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet, a play by William Shakespeare that chronicles the tale of two young lovers from rival families who fall in love and ultimately meet a terrible end, is the basis for the movie.

The characters in the movie speak current English, and the backdrop is contemporary, evoking the fashion and culture of America in the 1990s.

The film keeps true to the themes of love, sorrow, and the effects of family strife despite this contemporary twist.

12. Braveheart

Men ready to fight in a war

British warrior William Wallace plays the title character in Mel Gibson's 1995 American epic historical battle film Braveheart.

In the late 13th century, King Edward I of England was the target of the First War of Scottish Independence, which is shown in the movie.

The movie is renowned for both its depiction of the Scottish people's struggle for independence and its dramatic war sequences, which were filmed on location in Scotland.

The independence and national identity themes of the movie resonated with viewers all around the world, and William Wallace's persona became a cultural hero.

13. Fight Club

A injured man after a fight with a cigarette along with some of his peers
Edward Norton

Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter feature in David Fincher's 1999 American psychological thriller Fight Club.

The movie, which is based on Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel of the same name, follows the tale of an insomniac office worker (Edward Norton) who teams up with a charismatic soap salesman (Brad Pitt) to start a "fight club," which turns into a deadly underground movement.

Due to its grungy look, intricate issues, and shocking surprise ending, "Fight Club" became a cult classic after receiving positive reviews from critics and audiences alike.

The movie has now received appreciation for its examination of contemporary masculinity and its critique of capitalist culture, despite the fact that it caused controversy when it was first released.

14. The Lion King

a lion family and a monkey holding the baby cub

Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff were the directors of the 1994 American animated musical picture The Lion King, which was released by Walt Disney Feature Animation.

In the movie, Simba, a young lion prince who will one day rule the Pride Lands, is forced to leave his home after his father Mufasa is killed by his uncle Scar.

The movie has an impressive voice cast, featuring Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella as the film's comic duo Timon and Pumbaa, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Jeremy Irons as Scar, and Matthew Broderick as Simba.

15. Sleepless In Seattle

A child holding a toy while two lovers stare at each other

The romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, is about a widower who, on a whim, goes into a radio show to talk about his loss and attracts the attention of a woman across the nation.

Although Annie (Bill Pullman) is married to Walter, a pleasant but uninteresting man, she becomes fixated on the thought of meeting Sam.

Jonah reads the letter she sends him, intercepts it, and arranges for his father and Annie to meet on Valentine's Day at the top of the Empire State Building, precisely like in the romantic comedy "An Affair to Remember."

16. Sense and Sensibility

A mother and her two daughters smiling at someone

The 1995 historical drama film Sense and Sensibility, directed by Ang Lee, is based on the same-titled book by Jane Austen.

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are forced to manage love and cultural expectations in 19th-century England in the movie, which also stars Emma Thompson (who also authored the screenplay), Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant.

The movie looks at issues including family, love, society's expectations, and the difference between sensibility and sense.

It is regarded as one of the best Austen adaptations and was a commercial and critical success, earning numerous Oscar nominations.

The film is renowned for its magnificent photography, lovely score, and the excellent work of its performers.

17. Thelma & Louise

Two ladies waiting someone in a car
Thelma And Louise Off To Mexico

Thelma & Louise is a 1991 American road movie that Ridley Scott and Callie Khouri both wrote and directed.

Starring Susan Sarandon as Louise and Geena Davis as Thelma, the two friends set out on a road vacation in a 1966 Thunderbird convertible.

They face numerous obstacles and disappointments along the way, and the journey takes a gloomy turn when they end up on the run from the law after Louise shoots and kills a guy who was trying to rape Thelma.

18. Boy's Don't Cry

image 1

The 1999 American biographical film Boys Don't Cry, featuring Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, a trans man who was raped and killed in Nebraska in 1993, was directed by Kimberly Peirce.

Teena's battles with gender identification, his sexual connections, and his eventual betrayal and murder by acquaintances who learned of his transgender status are all depicted in the movie, which depicts the tale of Teena's life before his terrible death.

The movie received a lot of praise for its potent performances, especially Hilary Swank's portrayal of Teena for which she earned the Academy Award for Best Actress.

The film's portrayal of the violence and prejudice experienced by transgender people was acclaimed as ground-breaking and eye-opening, and it continues to be a significant contribution to the fight for transgender rights.

19. Die Hard In Vengeance

A man injured giving a serious look

The third entry in the Die Hard series, Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), features Bruce Willis as John McClane, a New York City police officer who must work with Samuel L.

Jackson's character to stop a terrorist who is threatening to blow up the city with a series of explosions.

Both the violent action scenes and the chemistry between Willis and Jackson are highlights of the movie.

Fast-paced action scenes, nail-biting automobile chases, and clever dialogue between McClane and Zeus are all hallmarks of the movie.

It was a box office hit, earning more than $366 million globally, and many fans believe it to be among the best entries in the "Die Hard" series.

20. Speed

A lady driving the bus along with a a guy cop

Speed is a 1994 American action thriller movie with Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, and Dennis Hopper in the lead roles. It was directed by Jan de Bont.

The movie centres on LAPD officer Jack Traven (played by Reeves), who is charged with putting an end to terrorist Howard Payne (played by Hopper), who has set up a Los Angeles city bus to blow up if it travels less than 50 miles per hour.

Together, Traven and a bus passenger named Annie Porter (played by Bullock) struggle to keep the bus moving and its occupants safe while also trying to figure out how to defuse the bomb before it's too late.

The movie is renowned for its violent and tense action scenes, notably the well-known bus jump scene, and its top-notch lead acting.

21. Terminator 2

a man staring at the readers

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the T-800 in the 1991 sequel to The Terminator, which first debuted in 1984.

The T-800 is sent back in time this time to shield John Connor, the future resistance commander, from a more powerful and deadly Terminator.

In the movie, the T-1000, a brand-new Terminator (played by Robert Patrick), is sent back in time to kill young John Connor (played by Furlong), who would eventually lead the human resistance against the machines.

Schwarzenegger's Terminator from the first film is similarly transported back in time, but this time he is programmed to guard John.

In order to stop the inevitable future battle between humans and machines, John and the Terminator must work together to outwit and defeat the sophisticated T-1000.

The movie is renowned for its ground-breaking special effects, its exciting action scenes, and its charismatic lead performances.

22. Notting Hill

A lady in a cap and sunglasses holding a book
Julia Robers in Notting Hill

Notting Hill (1999) stars Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant as a famous actress who meets a naive bookstore owner by happenstance in London's Notting Hill district and falls in love with him.

The relationship's ups and downs are examined in the movie as they deal with the difficulties that come with dating a celebrity.

Along the way, they run with each other's relatives and friends, as well as William's odd flat mate and Anna's tough Hollywood business partners.

With a worldwide total of almost $364 million and favorable reviews for its endearing plot, clever humor, and accomplished lead performances, "Notting Hill" was a commercial and critical success.

It has remained a popular movie over the years and is regarded as a classic in the romantic comedy genre.

23. Pretty Woman

a happy couple enjoying their time
Julia Roberts and Richard Gere 

Pretty Woman (1990) Julia Roberts plays a prostitute who falls in love with a wealthy businessman played by Richard Gere after he hires her as his escort for a week in this timeless romantic comedy.

As Edward and Vivian spend more time together, feelings for one another start to grow, and they must deal with the difficulties posed by their radically different upbringings and way of life.

The movie looks at issues including love, social distinctions, and self-discovery.

With a worldwide box office of over $464 million and raving reviews for its endearing plot, clever humor, and accomplished lead performances, "Pretty Woman" was a commercial and critical success.

It has remained a popular movie over the years and is regarded as a classic in the romantic comedy genre.

24. The Matrix

image 2

The Wachowskis' 1999 American science fiction action picture The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Carrie-Anne Moss, was released in theatres.

The movie is set in a dystopian future where intelligent computers have taken over the earth and locked humanity inside the Matrix, a simulation of reality.

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), a computer programmer who goes by the hacker moniker "Neo," is the main character of the plot.

Neo discovers the truth about the Matrix and his involvement in the battle against the machines after being approached by a group of rebels led by the mysterious Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).

25. Who Am I

3 men dressed in tribal clothing along with a child

The 1998 Hong Kong martial arts comedy film "Who Am I" was directed by Benny Chan and Jackie Chan.

Jackie Chan plays a secret agent in the movie who works for the CIA's special operations division and is sent on a mission to South Africa to apprehend a prominent drug kingpin.

Chan's character experiences amnesia due to a chopper mishap during the mission and is left abandoned in Africa.

He sets out to learn the truth about himself and his past while being pursued by both the CIA and the drug lord's soldiers, having lost all recall of his identity or his objective.

The movie is renowned for its exhilarating action scenes, humor, and amazing stunt work, all of which are characteristics of Jackie Chan's style.

The film is regarded as one of Jackie Chan's best ones and was a financial success in Asia.

26. Malcolm X

A civil rights activist having a press conference
Malcolm X

Malcolm X, a 1992 film, Spike Lee directed this biopic of the prominent civil rights activist Malcolm X. This movie stars Denzel Washington in the title character, follows his life from his early years as a criminal through his conversion to Islam and his advocacy for the Nation of Islam and the Civil Rights Movement.

From his tumultuous early years until his time in prison, where he converts to Islam and joins the Nation of Islam, the movie traces Malcolm's life.

He advances in the organization's ranks, becoming a well-known orator and supporter of black rights.

Malcolm's beliefs change, though, after he makes a visit to Mecca, and he departs from the Nation of Islam to found his own group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

The movie is renowned for its strong performances, particularly Denzel Washington's portrayal of Malcolm X, and for how accurately it captures the tumultuous racial and political atmosphere of the 1960s.

Two Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Denzel Washington, were nominated for it.

27. Amadeus

a couple having a good time

Amadeus (1992) is a fictionalized portrayal of the life of the 18th-century musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as seen through the eyes of his competitor, Antonio Salieri.

It was directed by Milos Forman.

Respected court composer Salieri develops resentment at Mozart's talent and fame. He hatches a scheme to bring about Mozart's destruction and final demise.

The movie looks at themes including ambition, jealousy, and the cost of talent.

Following its debut, "Amadeus" earned positive reviews and went on to win eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.

Murray Abraham's depiction of Salieri. The film is recognized for its extravagant production design, magnificent musical score, and forceful performances.

It is widely recognized as a cinematic masterpiece and one of the best movies about classical music ever produced.

28. Mrs. Doubtfire

two ladies and a guy posing for a photograph

In the comedy-drama Mrs. Doubtfire from 1993, Robin Williams plays a divorced father who poses as an elderly British nanny to spend time with his kids.

The movie explores family issues, divorce, and the extent parents will go to for their children.

Daniel is able to spend time with his kids and support them through their issues while also learning how to be a better father under the pretense of Mrs. Doubtfire.

He must, however, deal with the difficulties of keeping his cover while also interacting with Miranda's new love interest, Stu (Pierce Brosnan).

The movie is renowned for its uplifting narrative, as well as its humorous scenes and Robin Williams' portrayal of Mrs. Doubtfire. It is regarded as one of the best family comedies of all time and a beloved classic.

29. Matilda

few kids and a teacher looking at the camera
Matilda Along With Her Class Teacher And Friends

A little girl with amazing abilities must use her brains and resourcefulness to stand up to her abusive parents and the oppressive headmistress of her school in Matilda (1996), a movie based on the well-known children's book by Roald Dahl.

The movie has gained cult status and is adored by viewers of all ages.

Matilda's parents are uncaring and do not value her intelligence, and Miss Trunchbull, her violent and authoritarian principal, runs her school (Pam Ferris).

Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz), Matilda's instructor, offers her comfort since she sees her potential and encourages her to hone her skills.

Throughout the movie, Matilda makes use of her special abilities to support her friends and confront Miss Trunchbull.

She ultimately succeeds in doing so and finds a new home with Miss Honey.

Because of its endearing message about the value of uniqueness, intelligence, and kindness, the movie has become a beloved classic.

30. The Sandlot

kids strategizing their next move
Sandlot team

The Sandlot (1993) is a coming-of-age movie about a group of guys who become close during a summer in the 1960s because of their shared love of baseball.

The movie looks at friendship, cooperation, and the naivety of youth.

In the movie, Benny Rodriguez (Mike Vitar), the team's best player, befriends Scotty Smalls, a newcomer to the neighborhood who is portrayed by Tom Guiry as Scotty Smalls.

Together, they take on "The Beast," a vicious canine who resides behind the sandlot gate and is their arch-enemy.

For many people who grew up in the 1990s, "The Sandlot" has become a treasured classic and a cultural touchstone.

It has been a hit with audiences of all ages due to its nostalgic portrayal of childhood summers and the importance of friendship.