Top 10 Films of the Decade: The 90's - Mania.com



93 Comments | Add

 

Rate & Share:

 

Related Links:

 

Info:

  • Series:

Top 10 Films of the Decade: The 90's

Mania's Picks for the Best Movies of the 1990's

By Joe Oesterle     December 31, 2009
Source: www.joeartistwriter.com


Top 10 Films of the Decade: The 90's
© Mania/Bob Trate

 

This list proves that if the ‘90s gave us anything in the way of moviemaking, it gave us a dozens of different bleak possible futures for The City of Angels. Obviously in any best of a decade list, there are movies that might feel absent. Pulp Fiction, The Blair Witch Project, Silence of the Lambs and Braveheart are all films worthy of discussion for various reasons, but we’re fairly certain we have nailed the definitive Top 10 list for the greatest ‘90s movies of all time. So sit back, enjoy, and without going to your thesaurus, think about how many different ways you can say the word “dystopian.”
 

 

10. Strange Days

James Cameron, Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, and Vincent D'Onofrio come together to bring us a movie with a Hollywood budget, but the feel of an independent flick (That is until the sell-out ending).

Futuristic dystopian Los Angeles had been done before in Blade Runner, but this future, while gritty, wasn’t all about off-world colonies and replicants. Strange Days hits a more personal and emotional note and the SQUID recordings (virtual reality discs) make it a much more realistic vision of the future just at the dawn of the age of the internet.
 
 
Why is it on the list? It’s a cult favorite that still needs to be discovered. Great ‘90s stars, excellent score, an intelligent plot that pulls from the headlines of the day (Rodney King beatings, for example) and Fiennes character is fallible to the point of being weak, but we still pull for him. Lenny isn’t Bruce Willis or Sly or Arnold of the ‘80s. He’d rather give up his Rolex than punch a guy in the throat, and that deviance from muscle-headed, do-good heroes makes this movie a top 10 pick for the 1990s.
 
 

9. Galaxy Quest

Weird Science proved that a geek wearing a bra on his head doesn’t translate to automatic comedy. Ice Pirates tried but it ultimately left us cold, and Spaceballs actually sucked space balls. We were left to wonder if there would ever be a legitimately funny sci-fi flick. Men in Black was more of an amusing buddy picture than an out and out comedy. Galaxy Quest boldlyconquered that final frontier.
 
Tim Allen out-Shatners Shatner, Alan Rickman pays sparkling homage to both Jonathan Harris’ Dr. Smith, and Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock at the same time. Even Sigourney Weaver shines as the anti-Ripley, Gwen DeMarco.
 
 
 
Why is it on the list? Because this movie did what the brilliant Mel Brooks could not. It made a hilarious big-screen sci-fi parody work for an hour and a half, and you didn’t have to be a Trekkie or a Trekker to be in on the jokes.
 
 
 

8. The Sixth Sense

If M. Night Shyamalan never again comes anywhere close to the brilliance of The Sixth Sense we’re still more than willing to forgive him. This movie is a tight, frightening psychological thriller with ghosts and Bruce Willis AND an ending that we never saw coming. Add in to the mix the greatest child acting performance since Tatum O’Neal took the mound for Walter Matthau’s Bad News Bears and you’ve got one of the greatest films ever committed to celluloid.
 
This movie is not just a horror film or a stunning sort of who-dunnit, it also deals with the raw emotions of the loss of loved ones and faith, and that’s what makes the reveal at the end so spectacular.
 
 
Why is it on the list? The better question is why isn’t it on every list of great movies of all-time. It’s not often that a movie compels you to watch it twice, but this one does, and after the second viewing you come away with even more respect for this flawless work of art.
 
 
 

7. 12 Monkeys

Again we have Bruce Willis, and again Bruce is not the typical smirky self-assured Bruce Willis hero of the ‘80s. We are also treated to a pre-Angelina spastic scene stealing Brad Pitt, the final big screen performance of TV’s original Riddler, Frank Gorshin, and of course Terry Gilliam’s bleakly antiseptic visuals of both the present and the future.
 
12 Monkeys is a sci-fi version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with a healthy dose of intentional misdirection. This is not a popcorn movie you can watch casually, but an at times Hitchcockesque film that demands your absolute attention for the entire duration of the film.
Jumping from the future to the past has long been a staple of Sci-Fi stories, but it’s interesting to watch a movie about time travel that actually deals with the physical, emotional and mental toll such an experience might take on a human being. (Also see LOST’s Daniel Faraday.)
 
  
 
Why is it on the list? It’s the thinking man’s Back to the Future.
 
 

6. Dark City

As the title implies, Dark City is a moody and twisted surrealistic film, and helped usher in the entire Tech-noir genre. Many fans of this often overlooked masterpiece are quick to point out that Dark City not only came out before the Warchowski brothers introduced The Matrix, they are even quicker to boast Dark City is the superior work.
 
False memories, unrealized powers and the feared “strangers” make this movie a cold and puzzling mind f*ck. The strong performances by Rufus Sewell, William Hurt only make Keifer Sutherland’s Dr. Daniel P. Schreber that much more incredible in comparison, and then there’s the young curvy Jennifer Connnelly. Oh yeah!
 
 
 
Why is it on the list? It’s what Sci-Fi is supposed to be; thought provoking, visually challenging, and a potential harbinger of dangerous times to come. Plus a young curvy Jennifer Connelly in a skintight sequined gown. Oh yeah again!
 
 
 

5. The Crow

Hey guess what the ‘90s gave us plenty of? Gloomy, violent, dark movies about one man trying to save humanity. Well The Crow may be a comic book character who witnessed a love one murdered before his eyes, but he’s too busy wreaking vengeance on the perpetrators of that crime to bother saving the city from deadly Joker toxins in city’s water supply.
 
Actually this anti-hero for the ‘90s borrows elements from the darkest of Batman, and the lightest of the Joker, and blends them nicely into one iconic character, and a singularly unforgettable performance.
 
At the heart of it all, this piece of atmospheric goth is a love story. Our protagonist is not obsessed with fighting crime, but rather settling a score. This is all about hurting those who hurt him, or more importantly, those who hurt his beloved Shelly.
   
 
Why is it on the list? Well, you can’t overlook the fact that Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon is the star, or that he actually died in an accidental shooting on the set of The Crow. Ironic tragedies aside, this movie is a religion to some, is a smartly performed tale of revenge/romance.
 
 
 

4. Jurassic Park

Simply put, this was the movie that set the table for every movie, big or small that came after - for better or worse. If Superman made audiences believe a man could fly, Jurassic Park made the world believe that dinosaurs could breathe, and cast realistic shadows, and had the appropriate mass when they moved. Oh yeah, and they ate people up.
 
After proving a believable Brachiosaurus could eat leaves from a tree, almost every modern moviemaker now has to decide if and when to use C.G. effects in their film. That’s a lot of influence.
 
The movie itself is pure Spielberg magic, and if it’s too predictable that none of the good guys get offed, and all of the bad guys get what’s coming to them, well too damn bad. This movie is picture perfect cinema escapism.
 
 
 
Why is it on the list? One hyphenated word; T-Rex. Of course the velociraptor scene isn’t too shabby either. Nice acting all around, even by the children. Spielberg even manages to slip in some subtle messages about humans toying with nature but it never once gets in the way of a truly breathtaking blockbuster experience.
 
 
 

3. Toy Story

The wizards at Pixar Studios managed to once again make the Disney name the brand for top-notch family entertainment. Ideal casting, an enjoyable musical score and a sweet and completely humorous story are matched by state of the art computer animation that carries the entire film.
 
Toy Story touches that part in each of us who shared adventures with our action figures, confided in our Barbie dolls or sought comfort in our stuffed animal pals.
 
 
 
Why is it on the list? Because Toy Story can’t help but bring back memories of a simpler time in our lives, and because, as cynical and cool as you want to think you are, Disney most likely had a positive impact on you as a child, and it’s nice to see them back in the driver’s seat.
 
 
 
 

2. Terminator 2

Boy, oh boy, Hollywood loves to set grim glimpses of possible futures in Los Angeles don’t they? We love T2 because, as Wikipedia so eloquently puts it, “It had an impact on popular culture, and is considered by many to be hugely influential in the genres of action and science fiction… The film's visual effects include many breakthroughs in computer-generated effects, marking the first use of natural human motion for a CG character and the first partially computer-generated main character.”
 
What the good people at Wiki failed to mention is Ah-nuld kicks some serious cyborg ass. And let’s be serious, Schwarzenegger in his prime, cutting edge C.G.I., huge explosions, actual stuntmen, a memorable chase scene, and some excellent fighting sequences automatically make T2 a ‘90s classic. But when you throw in a fantastic story and a fancy piece of directing by James Cameron, you’ve got a movie for the ages.
 
 
Why is it on the list? We hope you didn’t really just ask that question. Because if you did, we have three Spanish words, and one English word to say to you just before we throw you into a vat of molten steel; “Hasta la vista, baby.”
 
 
 

1. The Matrix

It’s Jesus Christ, action hero, in the computer. That’s what it is. The Matrix is philosophical and hip, artsy and commercial, visually stunning and incredibly thought provoking. It’s a religion we can all celebrate and most impressive of all; you can’t really crap on Keanu Reeves’ acting. Man, that is some airtight moviemaking.
 
If you so desired, you could watch The Matrix as if it were some mindlessly fun, weird Bruce Lee movie, but you’d be gypping yourself. This movie is much more than dazzling “bullet time” special effects and perfectly choreographed fight scenes, but dammit dude, those things right there are reason enough to watch.
 
What makes this motion picture so endurable is, unlike most movies, this film deserves and demands to be watched numerous times; and it’s worth mentioning that Agent Smith is one of the baddest movie villains of all-time.
 
 
Why is it on the list? Because it is the one.
 
###
 
Also Read:

Top 10 Movies of the 1980's

Top 10 Movies of the 1970's

Top 10 Movies of the 1960's

 


Become a Fan of Mania on Facebook HERE
Follow Mania on Twitter
 
 
 
About our Author: Joe Oesterle is an award-winning writer and illustrator, but what he often fails to mention is that many of those awards were won on a New Jersey boardwalk. Please check out Joe’s latest Christmas cartoon. It’s short, it’s funny, and he’d do it for you.
 
 

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 93
1 2 3 4 >  >>  
midwest216 12/31/2009 3:36:06 AM

I would include spike lee's Do the Right Thang,  Boyz N da Hood.

midwest216 12/31/2009 3:43:08 AM

I would include spike lee's Do the Right Thang,  Boyz N da Hood.

hanso 12/31/2009 4:04:37 AM

Yes The Matrix rules supreme!  Excellent list Joe, glad to see Dark City in there, I think that film is underrated.

However I would've gone with Scream instead of Strange Days cause Scream is nice and it revived the horror genre in the 90s.

 

FilchX 12/31/2009 4:31:47 AM

Nice to see Dark City get a nod on this list. And Hanso I agree Scream should be on this list over starnge days....But what about Blade? Its the reason why the comic book movie is so big now. And what about Golden Eye? I love goldfinger as much as the next bond fan, but IMO Golden Eye is the best of them all(though Goldfinger and Casino Royale are close) And no Star Trek 6, by far the best Trek Film of the 90's. And the Sixth sense? really? The endding was so obviouse and is not worth another watch. Instead of that it should be the Usual Suspects...theres an endding you dont see comming.

TheMovieGuy28 12/31/2009 4:32:30 AM

Great List. I agree Hanso; Scream was a great genre film....and many will slap me, but dangit I think ID4 deserves some mention.

On another note, your article on Avatar was simply brilliant my friend. Truly well-written and very thought-provoking. Too many people doubted Cameron's ability to deliver. All of his films have been across the board saturday afternoon movie type stuff. But you know what? So was stuff like star wars and Indy freaking ana Jones.

The movie gods surprised me with a ticket for opening night @ the Ontario IMAX3D in Cali, and I went with about 20 people, most of whom I told they must see this film in 3D. They were hesistant, even so-so, expecting the movie to be decent or good at best.

When it was all over, and we were outside talking, every single person who went said that they are absolutely going to see this movie again, and half of us were going to go again had we had the money and time. All of the people who went are not hardcore movie fans like myself (Been following this since it's whispers back in '97 after Titanic was done), but they were in utter awe of the film, and the filmmaking. One of my more religiously inclined friends said this

"If there was ever a time when I thought the world would come close to creating anything that looked like heaven on Earth, it was this movie."

We all are going back in a week or two, and that's what the movie industry doesn't realize yet. People are still waiting to see this movie and people are planning on going back to this movie. I easily see it having decent legs well into the end of January, maybe even the first week of Feb before the Wolfman comes out (which looks freakin sweet). The only question is what does the final tally end up being?

450?

475?

500?

600?

1.25(worldwide)?

1.5?

 

 

Article owned son!

kwsupes 12/31/2009 4:44:46 AM

Good solid list Joe, I think there should be some honorable mentions included such as Independence Day, MIB, ans Star Trek 6 and of course Star Trek First Contact. Scream is an important film because it did help turn horror around even if in the process it spawned a thousand awful clones and led us down the road to films like Saw which I think is a sign that horror is bottoming out again because those films are vile. However the original Scream was great, had a good mystery to it, and was actually really funny as well. As great as a list of the top films of the 90s is I would like to see a worst list as well because wher the 80s succeeded in bringing genre films to centerstage there were a lot of failed and somewhat humorous attempts to cash in on this in the 90s and I think that deserves its own article because sure Keanu made the Matrix, but does anyone remember another film he made called Johnny Mnemonic? Yeah it was umm pretty bad.

kwsupes 12/31/2009 4:47:09 AM

Movie guy I agree man Avatar was awesome and for me it seems like the more I think about it the better it gets. I too want to see it again.

jppintar326 12/31/2009 5:02:07 AM

 I was anticipating the most overrated movie of the 90s would be number in The Matrix.  I never cared much for it..  Keanu Reeves is miscast as Neo.  He has no charisma and doesn't have the demure of someone who will save the human race.  To me, his acting ability peaked as Ted in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure."  Since I couldn't take him seriously in the role, the movie didn'twork for me.  I also didn't find the world outside the Matrix very interesting.  It's just another bombed out post apocalyptic world.  We're supposed to leave the Matrix for that.  You gotta agree with the traitor that the world of the Matrix is better even if it isn't real.  So what are humans fighting for?  Nothing.  Finally, I found the whole movie have an overblown sense of self.  I rolled my eyes at the all bs philosophy in this movie that I found to be nonsense.  I actually the sequels more because I found them unintentionally humorous at times.  By the time I went to a showing of "Revolutions," I was laughing pretty hard.  You see someone avoid a bullet once, maybe it was cool.  The tenth time, ho-hum.

 

Why was Total Recall left off the list?  It was Arnold's best after the Terminator movies.  No True Lies either?  Goldeneye?  I'll stand up for ID4, Stargate, and Phantom Menance too.

hanso 12/31/2009 5:51:16 AM

Is Groundhog Day considered genre?  It deals with a time concept.  I thought that movie was great.

 

EagleManiac 12/31/2009 5:56:46 AM

Dark City being on this list validates it, but The Matrix ruins it, especially at #1! Personally, I thought The Matrix sucked Big Green Donkey D*cks!

What's funny is, the 90's show how movies got weaker in story and started concentrating on FX more.

Even though it was panned, I think The Phantom Menace should have been on the list, at least at #10. It changed, for better or worse, the proliferation of CGI in movies forever.

As some have said, NO Total Recall? Independence Day? True Lies? WTF?

As far as best Trek film of the 90's.....hands down, First Contact!! Hell, First Contact is the best of Trek except for Wrath of Khan, and it's CLOSE there, IMHO!

 

So far, I think the 80's was the decade we all seemed to want MORE movies on the list than the others that were done. The 80's was a fantastic decade of movie making, and I think the medium peaked then, and it's gotten steadily worse as time has moved on. Don't get me wrong, we have had great movies since the 80's, but not on the scale of the 80's! I think movies were growing and getting better since this listing started with the 60's, but the 80's movies were so much fun and had so many more "original" movies, as well as those that weren't so original, but pushed the stories better. I miss that decade. I went to movies in the theaters almost every weekend then. Now, maybe once in a few months, or for those special movies like Avatar that come out. The explosion of the Internet, iPods, DVD's, big screen TV's, and cable TV have changed movies and how we watch them compared to the 80's, especially, when computers were really just getting going, and Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet(that's sarcasm, folks!). Oh well, we can still enjoy those by-gone days and movies thanks to DVD's! I know I do! Over 200 DVD's and counting!

 

1 2 3 4 >  >>  

ADD A COMMENT

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.

POPULAR TOPICS