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Monday, May 18, 2020

100 Best Movies of the 1990's

Like with our list of the 100 Greatest Films of the 2010s, I am attempting to make this list as objective as possible. As a Millennial, this is a tougher task thanks to my nostalgia goggles. I also think this is a tougher task thanks to the wide variety of films that were released and popularized during the decade. Nowadays, studios only spend a million dollars or one hundred million dollars to make a film in order to limit their risk. Not so much in the 1990's. Thanks to the rise of Independent Cinema, combined with our eternal love of Big Blockbusters, this decade produced every type of film imaginable. Thanks to auteurs like Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, and Paul Thomas Anderson coming to prominence, we were introduced to stylish films that changed the way we viewed cinema. Thanks to funny people like The Farrelly Brothers, Adam Sandler, and other SNL alums, we were treated to low brow comedies that we still can't stop quoting. Thanks to James Cameron, Michael Bay, and Roland Emmerich we got summer tent-pole movies that we still love to watch when they appear on cable. The 1990's also gave us genius films from The Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, and Ron Howard. This decade popularized David Fincher, Frank Darabont, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Julia Roberts, and so many more.

As I previously mentioned, I wanted this list to be as objective as possible. I wanted to rank films solely on their quality and how well they have been indoctrinated into our pop culture. I included my own biases of course, but I looked at many outside factors as well. How well received and talked about is the film on Twitter? Are YouTube videos or podcasts made to discuss the film? How often is it a cable rewatch? What did critics think of the film? What did the Academy Awards think of it? The American Film Institute? My friends? My parents? All of this went into consideration in trying to determine the absolute best films of the decade. Although I know you think I'm wrong, we're going to give it a shot anyways.

This list is broken down rather peculiarly I'd imagine. It starts with a deep dive on the Top 25 films of the decade to explain a little bit further about the cream of the crop, but I didn't want to start off with #1 starring you straight in the face. Therefore, I ranked the films 25-1. After that, the films are listed chronologically from 26 through 100. Along the way, you're treated with a handful of mini-lists, such as: The Top 10 Action Films, Top 10 Animated Films, Top 10 Dumb Comedies, and Top 10 High Schools Films.

So without further ado, below is our list of the 100 Best Movies of the 1990's:

25) Dazed and Confused (1993)
Written & Directed By: Richard Linklater
Starring: Jason London, Ben Affleck & Matthew McConaughey
RT Score: 91%

Why It's Great:  In a decade defined by the rise of Independent Cinema and the auteurs it created, I was hard-pressed not to include Richard Linklater and his cult icon classic Dazed and Confused. Linklater would later become of the medium's classic enigmas by messing with the form in many ways from the Before trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy to A Scanner Darkly to Boyhood, while also showing the ability to tell a sweet, straight-forward story like School of Rock. While Linklater first burst on to the scene with Slacker, it's its spiritual sequel/prequel Dazed and Confused that has endured the test of time and help launch the director into the heart of film nerds everywhere.

24) Pretty Woman (1990)
Directed By: Garry Marshall
Written By: J.F. Lawton
Starring: Julia Roberts & Richard Gere
RT Score: 63%

Why It's Great: The 1990's were an incredible decade for Romantic Comedies (Rom-Coms for short) - films that were both legitimately romantic and legitimately funny.  An Instant Classic that not only introduced the world to The Queen Julia Roberts, but also helped build the groundwork for the decade to thrive in the genre. The "hooker with a heart of Gold" trope may seem cliche nowadays, but that's because the fans pushed this film to Icon Status. This film is now ingrained in our culture. It is our culture.

23) Unforgiven (1992)
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: David Webb Peoples
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman & Morgan Freeman
RT Score: 96%
AFI All Time Ranking: 68

Why It's Great: Post his Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby days, I am not quite sure what Clint Eastwood stands for as an artist and a director. Unless the film has some sort of Republican or right-wing tilt a la American Sniper or Richard Jewell, I'm not quite sure Clint Eastwood's heart is in this anymore. And if it is, it certainly is not reflected on the screen. That was not the case when Eastwood made his masterpiece Unforgiven. Eastwood the actor made his fame in Westerns - probably his most famous role is the titular character in Sergio Leone's Man With No Name trilogy. But as Eastwood grew up and started to direct more, Hollywood's and America's love of Westerns dwindled. But every now and again we get those "post-Westerns", films that play and subvert upon the traditional Western tropes, and one of the films that lead this pack is this 1992 Clint Eastwood classic. While still technically a Western, it's set long after the events of a normal Western where the world is becoming more civilized. One of the core tenets of Westerns was how violent and what a good shooter our protagonist was. The man (of course always a man) was the fastest gun in the West and nothing could come in his way of this protagonist meeting his goal. He could always use his quick shot and violence to assist him. Unforgiven takes that trope and turns it on its head. Violence in Unforgiven has consequences, and the choice to engage in it should not be taken lightly. Clint Eastwood uses David Webb Peoples' script as a reflection of his own life and career, which not only made for a great film, The Academy saw fit to honor him with a Best Director Oscar.

22) Groundhog Day (1993)
Co-Written & Directed By: Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray & Andie MacDowell
RT Score: 96%

Why It's Great: I would argue that Bill Murray is Hollywood's most charismatic actor, and his charisma is at a peak with Groundhog Day. On its surface, Murray carries this film that is still funny 25 years later. Murray needs to be believe as a pompous douche in the beginning of the film, a sleaze throughout, and a lovable winner by its end, and of course the SNL alum pulls it all off with flying colors. But as you dig underneath he surface, you'll find a film that is wildly inventive, smart, and insightful. It's a beautiful piece of art which allows you to project your beliefs onto it. Nearly all religious denominations see themselves in it, because ultimately, it's a film about the importance of being a good person. Furthermore, Groundhog Day's infinite time-loop premise as trickled throughout pop culture since its success. From films like Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, and 2020's Palm Springs to TV with Russian Doll, Groundhog Day will always remain a timeless visionary.

21) A Few Good Men (1992)
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Written By: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Tom Cruise, Demi Moore & Jack Nicholson
RT Score: 83%

Why It's Great: Courtrooms Dramas and Legal Thrillers dominated the 1990's, but no film did it better than Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men. The last film in Reiner's sneakily all-time great runs after Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, and Misery showcases stars being stars. Tom Cruise proves he's one of the best leading men of his generation, and Jack Nicholson chews scenery every time he speaks like it was tobacco. It's immensely re-watchable, and fun to do so every time. All the supporting players from Kevin Bacon as the prosecutor to Noah Wyle and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are perfectly cast. These actors spew Aaron Sorkin dialogue like their life depended on it, which it turns created one of the best films of the 1990s. And of course, this film is what introduced us to the famous Sorkin walk-and-talk.

20) Heat (1995)
Written & Directed By: Michael Mann
Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino & Val Kilmer
RT Score: 86%

Why It's Great: Heat is about Robert De Niro's McCauley, a man who will ditch everything in a split second when he feels The Heat right around the corner vs. Al Pacino's Lt. Hanna, the man leading the task force attempting to take down the infamous bank robbers. The film is dripping in Michel Mann's style from the grimy and street cinematography to lots of gun fights. Heat became the ultimate litmus test for masculinity. It's a Dude's Dood film. But ultimately, Heat was the first time we got to see two legends act together. Sure De Niro and Pacino were both in The Godfather Part II, but they never shared a scene together. It would take another 21 years to put these two in a room in order to size each other up before the big heist. And to this day, we still remember the film because of it.

19) Clueless (1995)
Written & Directed By: Amy Heckerling
Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy & Paul Rudd
RT Score: 80%

Why It's Great: In early 2020, Autumn de Wilde and Focus Features introduced a stylized version of the Jane Austen classic Emma. It's set in the Victorian Era like most of the Emma adaptations are, but meant to invoke a modern sensibility. Ultimately, the film fell a tad bit flat because we have already been treated to an actual modern day (now a term used loosely) version of Emma, and it's Amy Heckerling's classic Clueless. Despite Emma being a story we've seen portrayed and remade time and time again, we will never have a version that comes as close to being how good this Alicia Silverstone vehicle is. It's an all-time high school movie, an all-time L.A. movie, and of course the best adaption ever of Emma. It's also a film that has stood the test of the time. Iggy Azalea used the film as the inspiration of her 2014 video for "Fancy" and we'll never stop saying "As If".

18) The Sixth Sense (1999)
Written & Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment & Toni Collette
RT Score: 86%
AFI All Time Ranking: 89

Why It's Great: Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan may not have gone on to have the career we thought he was going to have after he released his debut sensation The Sixth Sense, but when you make a movie as good as this one is, it doesn't matter (per se) what your career looks like, because you always will get the brag how you made one of the best films of all-time (and made a butt load of money doing it). I would imagine the twist ending or break out star Haley Joel Osment's line "I see dead people." first come to mind when you think of The Sixth Sense, but if you actually sit down and re-watch the film, you're treated to a meticulously crafted, scary thriller that's well-acted and brilliantly directed. Not only is The Shining homage where you see red in every frame with a ghost wonderfully done, but Shyamalan is able to properly set the the mood for you while also being able to tell a compelling story. The fact that The Sixth Sense works so well as a film even after you know the twist ending speaks to how well-crafted the film is.

17) Titanic (1997)
Written & Directed By: James Cameron
Starring: Kate Winslet & Leonardo DiCaprio
RT Score: 89%
AFI All Time Ranking: 83

Why It's Great: Personally, I am not a huge fan of Titanic. It's a romantic love story that does not fall within my personal taste. But again, this list is not my favorite films of all time, it's meant to be an objective list of the greatest films ever, and you don't become the highest grossing film of all time (upon release), win 11 of your 14 Academy Award nominations, and earn a top on the AFI 100 greatest films of all-time rankings but being "just okay". You do so by being great. So while Titanic does not hold a place in my heart (in fact, I'll take almost every other James Cameron film he's ever made over Titanic), because the films holds a special place in many of your hearts, it earns a spot on this list.

16) The Lion King (1994)
Directed By: Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff
Written By: Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts & Linda Woolverton
Voices Of: James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons & Nathan Lane
RT Score: 93%

Why It's Great: Disney animated films had a Renaissance from 1989 (beginning with The Little Mermaid) through 1999's Tarzan. After being largely irrelevant during the previous decade thanks to films like The Fox and the HoundThe Black Cauldron, and The Great Mouse Detective, Disney starting shifting back to their bread-and-butter: Princesses. With the success of Mermaid and the failure of 1990's The Rescuers Down Under, Disney enjoyed a comeback by giving the people what the want. That's why (spoiler alert) Aladdin and The Beauty and the Beast will appear later on this list. Ironically though, it's the film that's the least Princess-y that earned a spot in the Top 25. We can thank Bill Shakespeare though for that - him and Elton John - as The Lion King easily has the best original songs out of any Disney movie (Circle of Life, I Just Can't Wait to be King, Be Prepared, Hakuna Matata, and Can You Feel The Love Tonight?). The very next year the world was introduced to Pixar through Toy Story (see below), and Disney animation was really never the same since, even during the end of its Renaissance. But the greatest films during one of Disney's greatest eras which help solidify 1994 as one of the greatest movie years of my life time and help The Lion King earn a spot on this list.

15) Fight Club (1999)
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Jim Uhls
Starring: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt & Helena Bonham Carter
RT Score: 79%

Why It's Great: Fight Club is a staple of Dorm Room Culture - a film every Freshman boy thinks is so mind-blowing that they have the iconic poster hanging loudly and proudly in their dorm room. Fight Club is explicitly about anti-Capitalism, and it speaks to young men as they come in to their own as they attempt to navigate their post-High School years. It's also a film that attempts to speak to a specific generation. "We're a generation of men raised by women" states Tyler Durden, played by a physically flawless Brad Pitt. Durden speaks to our Id - our macho desire to fight someone, fuck someone, and do both to The System. Ironically, its the wrong lessons young men take from Tyler Durden, not realizing the satire Fincher, and the book's author Chuck Palahniuk, were going for, but even still, you can't endure as long as Fight Club has in our society without claiming it doesn't deserve a place on this list. Personally, I think Se7en is the better 90's Fincher film, and I also think the twist ending of Fight Club makes the events of the re-watch pretty silly. But when everything is said and done, when the building are collapsing as The Pixie's "Where Is My Mind?" washes over your body, it is Fight Club that is left standing screaming how good it is.

14) Boogie Nights (1997)
Written & Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds & Julianne Moore
RT Score: 93%

Why It's Great: Paul Thomas Anderson is now currently one of the premiere directors and auteurs of his generation, and its his sophomore masterpiece Boogie Nights that helped launched his career. Anderson grew up in Hollywood and used to make films about Los Angeles. Boogie Nights was his stylish and ambitious ode to his love of filmmaking and to a city and industry that raised him. The film is centered during the apex of pornography in America in the 1970's. Mark Wahlberg (in one of his earliest acting performances) plays Eddie Adams, a high schooler with a large penis and not much else going for him. He is introduced to Jack Warner (in a comeback role for Burt Reynolds that rightfully earned him an Oscar nomination) the Porn King of L.A., that launches Eddie Adams, now going by his porn name Dirk Diggler, to heights (and eventual fall) that either man only imagined. Diggler is our audience avatar into world that lets us see into the journey of the many characters needed to create a piece of porn. The cadre of great character actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C Reilly, Julianne Moore, Don Chedle, and William H Macy help deepen this movie. We get glimpses of small moments throughout these characters' lives and how race and gender intersect with this world (and all aspects of life). Even though these glimpses may be brief, it is the perfect amount of time to breathe pathos into these characters and for the audience to be fully ensconced in this world from start to finish

13) Fargo (1996)
Written & Directed By: The Coen Brothers
Starring: Frances McDormand, William H Macy & Steve Buscemi
RT Score: 93%

Why It's Great: Fargo is film that could have only been as perfectly executed as it was thanks to the genius of the Coen Brothers. While the actual plot is pretty dark (a man hires two career criminals to kidnap his own wife so he can extort money from his father-in-law... and then things go sideways), the film itself as a certain lightness and humor to it. This duality also plays a pivotal role in the film. Jerry Lundergaard (played by Macy) and police chief Marge Gunderson (played by McDormand who rightfully won a Best Actress Oscar for this performance) have a classic Midwestern nice-ness to them, but are hiding something underneath. For Jerry, it's a dark evil that would cause him to set the kidnapping plan in motion, and for Marge, its being whip-smart. Marge may be pregnant, a nice subversion of the police chief trope, but she pretty easily goes from one clue to the next and navigates her way through this, for lack of a better phrase "Coen-Brothers-esque", crime. It's not a coincidence that all the men in this movie are deeply flawed in some way (even Mike Yanagita who lies to Marge during their lunch) and the only one with any head on her shoulders in Marge. I fucking love this movie, and really tried to find a way to keep it in the Top 10, but I think the decade is stacked (especially at the top) that I had to drop it so "low".

12) Jurassic Park (1993)
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Michael Crichton
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern & Jeff Goldblum
RT Score: 91%

Why It's Great: While Steven Spielberg can most certainly make a film both the Academy and your Dad will love (Bridge of Spies, War Horse, The Post), I would argue he is at his best when he's making action/adventure films, preferably starring children. Spielberg's mastery over tension and adventure is legendary. Making classics like JawsRaiders of the Lost, and E.T. helped culminate to the masterpiece that is Jurassic Park. The film is timeless not only for its sense of wonder, excitement, and amazement, but for Spielberg's insistence on the use of puppetry and animatronic dinosaurs over CGI. In doing so, the original 1993 films looks better and holds up better than anything starring Chris Pratt. When our main trio of visiting doctors visit the titular park, the audience is just as amazed as the characters. And when a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex or a pack of raptors is chasing our young leads, we're just as scared as they are. No one knows how to make entertainment prestige films like Spiely. 

11) Good Will Hunting (1997)
Directed By: Gus van Sant
Written By: Matt Damon & Ben Affleck
Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams & Minnie Driver
RT Score: 97%

Why It's Great: Part of the reason we as a society ragged on Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for writing Good Will Hunting is because the film was so God damn good, we almost didn't want to believe it came from the mind of two action movie stars. Now, almost 25 years later, all we want is for Damon and (especially) Affleck to come together again to create another masterpiece. Thankfully, the script was looked at by various smart people like William Goldman, Rob Reiner, and he-who-shall-not-be-named who was running Miramax at the time, because the beauty of the film and the script is in its subtlety. It's a gorgeous performance by Damon as the titular Will Hunting as we see how the scars of his childhood permeate through every facet of his relationships, from his childhood friends, his mentors, and his girlfriend. Robin Williams as Hunting's therapist Sean gives an Academy Award wining performance as he assists Will on the journey to a better life. Good Will Hunting is full of pathos and heart and also incredible captivating and rewatchable. Just a great movie.

10) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Ted Tally
Starring: Jodie Foster & Anthony Hopkins
RT Score: 96%
AFI All-Time Ranking: 74

Why It's Great: The Silence of the Lambs tells the story of a young FBI agent named Clarice Sterling (Foster) who seeks out the help of a convicted serial killer and cannibal named Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) in order to catch Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine)- a serial killer attacking plus-sized women. Outside of the incredible performances by Foster, Levine, and of course Hopkins who absolutely steals the film with his 11 or so minutes of screen time, I find that it's Demme's direction that really puts this film over the top. His use of extreme close-ups, grey drab scenery, and use of tension makes The Silence of the Lambs iconic. Demme creates scenes to give you goosebumps and makes your knuckles and face white with fear. Additionally, upon recent rewatch, I love how this is a story of a female chasing the truth of a true-crime murder - something that seems even more relevant today.

9) Toy Story (1995)
Directed By: John Lasseter
Written By: Joss Wheedon, Joel Coen, Andrew Stanton & Alec Sokolow
Voices Of: Tom Hanks & Tim Allen
RT Score: 100%
AFI All-Time Ranking: 99

Why It's Great: Toy Story is the seminal film that revolutionized animated movies. Sure, Disney enjoyed a lovely renaissance in this decade, but it eventually came to an end. Toy Story changed animated films to the point where its studio, Pixar, is the now the Golden Standard for Excellence. You either make an animated film like Pixar would have made or you don't make one at all. Pixar's brand of using inanimate objects or non-human creatures to tell its stories was originally born out of the fact that the technology to animate humans was pretty lousy at the time (see Sid and Andy in this film). Over time, Pixar's animation and technology improved, but it's ability to tell heart-warming stories that can be enjoyed by literally anyone of any age still beautifully remains the same.

8) The Matrix (1999)
Written & Directed By: The Wachowski Siblings
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss & Laurence Fishburne
RT Score: 87%

Why It's Great: Nowadays, if you want to make a Big Budget Blockbuster filled with revolutionary special effects and Big Ideas, you better either be Christopher Nolan or have a story based on a Marvel comic book. In 1999, then brothers Laurence and Andrew, who only had a small film under the belt, made science fiction action thriller so good, Redditors are still talking about the film to this day. Filed with motifs and symbolism from The Bible, Immanuel Kant, and Alice in Wonderland, The Matrix is not only the type of film you need to see multiple times to fully understand it, it is the perfect movie you want to consistently rewatch.

7) Forrest Gump (1994)
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Written By: Eric Roth
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sally Field & Robin Wright
RT Score: 70%
AFI All-Time Ranking: 76

Why It's Great: I understand the disdain that Forrest Gump can elicit. It swept the 67th Academy Awards defeating now juggernauts Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption (2 films not yet discussed....). It's tough watching the clearly Third Place Movie win. Yet, Forrest Gump is only in 3rd by technicality. It is a great film on its own right and based upon its own merit it would have deservedly cleaned up at the Oscars in many other years. Forrest Gump is a fantastic and heart-warming story and it's about time we start respecting it as such. My favorite aspect of Forrest Gump is just how captivating and engaging it is despite not having an antagonist... and not really having a conflict for that matter. But because Tom Hanks gives such an indelible performance as the titular character, Hanks imbues the role with such warmth and compassion, that you can't help but be sucked into Forrest Gump's journey. This journey follows Americana (albiet whitewashed) through the 1950's, 60's, and 70's as Forrest Gump is our guide through the mainstream culture and Jenny (Wright) is our guide through the counterculture.

6) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Co-Written & Directed By: James Cameron
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton & Edward Furlong
RT Score: 93%

Why It's Great: Despite some of the outdated special effects (which really aren't that terrible), T2 is easily the greatest action film of all time.Thanks to the genius of James Cameron and the simplicity of the story/action, Judgment Day still remains a classic action film. The movie is basically one long chase scene where the antagonist the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is chasing down the future leader of the resistance John Connor (Furlong) - who has the help of his mom, on the Mount Rushmore of bad-ass women Sarah Connor (Hamilton), and a form of the original Terminator (Schwarzenegger). The B-plot of the film takes place before the main action begins (Sarah Connor escaping from the mental institution) before the main A-plot begins (T-1000 v. the Connors). The film smartly takes its time to breathe in between action sequences, but it's the iconic action sequences and fight scenes that make Terminator 2: Judgment Day so special.

5) Schindler's List (1993)
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Steven Zaillian
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley & Ralph Fiennes
RT Score: 97%
AFI All-Time Ranking: 8

Why It's Great: Steven Spielberg already proved to us that he was a great director prior to 1993 thanks to films like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third KindRaiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. Spielberg even attempted to hone his chops on more meaty material like The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun.  But it wasn't until Spielberg was ready to make (and did create) Schindler's List that solidified his status as the G.O.A.T. Spielberg's epic Holocaust film was made with such artistic care, that it not only gives you characters and story, but is shot in such a brutally realistic way that at times it feels like a documentary being filmed in real time.

4) The Big Lebowski (1998)
Written & Directed By: The Coen Brothers
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman & Steve Buscemi
RT Score: 82%

Why It's Great: I am not personally a fan of The Big Lebowski, so it is difficult for me to wax on about its greatness, but even someone like myself can see the deep cultural impact the film has had on our society. Like Fight Club, The Coen Brothers masterpiece is also staple of the Dorm Room Culture, educating and opening the eyes of college Freshman every year. It's a film full of symbolism and irreverence as the iconic Dude, played to by perfection by Jeff Bridges, stumbles around Los Angeles getting deeper and deeper into a conspiracy he was forced into. The plot is not as important as the Coen-esque cast of characters that The Dude runs into played by some of the eras all-time greats like Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, and Julianna Moore - not to mention legendary performances as The Dude's friends played by Coen staples John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. It's a film that's not only insanely quotable (even *I* will often say, "This isn't 'Nam, there are rules!"), but has gone on to inspire endless memes to even its own weekend festival. The Big Lebowski's influential tentacles are so ingrained in American culture, that its forced its way into the Top 5 films of the 1990's.

3) The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Written & Directed By: Frank Darabont
Starring: Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman
RT Score: 90%
AFI All-Time Ranking: 72

Why It's Great: The Shawshank Redemption is epic drama and shows off a masterclass of writing. Frank Darabont expanded on Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and molded it into a character study of hope; about the idea of institutionalization vs. freedom. We enter the world the Shawshank prison through Andy Dufrense (Robbins) as he serves two life sentences for being convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. Soon after entering prison, Andy meets Red (played gorgeously by Morgan Freeman whose deep soulful voice also narrates the film - and earned Freeman an Oscar nomination). We see Andy and Red's friendship and love blossom during their time in Shawshank. Each men also uses their smarts and savvy to get by, to able to survive in this harsh yet mundane world. Red is the Guy who can get you things, and Andy uses his education and life before prison as a banker to help the warden of the prison. While not initially loved, or even watched when it was first released in 1994, thanks to a butt-load of Academy Awards nominations along with the strong quality of the film, The Shawshank Redemption became the most rented movie of 1995. It became beloved to everyone who watched it (including yours truly) that when first started polling its fans for the best film of all time, Shawshank rose its way to #1 - where it still stands today.

2) Goodfellas (1990)
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Nicholas Pileggi
Starring: Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro & Joe Pesci
RT Score: 96%
AFI All-Time Ranking: 92

Why It's Great: I made a similar argument when I ranked Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street in my Top 5 films of the 2010's, and because there are so many great filmmakers trying to make a Scorsese film and fail, we need to heap praise when we not only get an actual Scorsese film, but one as great and iconic as something like Good fellas is. Nicholas Pileggi's dialogue from the retelling of Henry Hill's "actual" story is made engaging and entertaining thanks to Martin Scorsese's film making - all of which have basically become iconography and lore for Movie Twitter geekdom. From the Copa Cobana tracking shot through Scorsese's use of Dad Rock and Thelma Schoonmaker's quick edits, Goodfellas is classically rewatchable and entertaining and a magnificent piece of film making from an auteur at his best.

1) Pulp Fiction (1994)
Written & Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Willis & Uma Thurman
RT Score: 92%
AFI All-Time Ranking: 94

Why It's Great: The 1990's in film is synonymous with Quentin Tarantino. 1990's brought with it the explosion of Independent Cinema with QT leading the charge. Thanks to his witty and unique dialogue, love of cinema, and ability to turn convention on its head, Quentin Tarantino revolutionized movie making and brought it to the mainstream. We had never seen anything like Pulp Fiction when it first came out and we spent every waking hour trying to harness its magic ever since. It wasn't just the nonlinear yet circular storytelling or the long bouts of mundane conversation punctuated by brief, graphic violence. It wasn't just watching John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson light up a screen or the brilliant use of needle drops. It wasn't just a random scene of Christopher Walken discussing how he carried a watch up his ass for many years. It was all of it together. It was the arrival of one of the best auteurs in the history of cinema making a masterpiece.

And now, the rest of the Top 100 films from 26 through 100. Along the way, please enjoy the mini Top 10 lists I've created. Reminder, here is a list from 1 -25:

1) Pulp Fiction (1994)
2) Goodfellas (1990)
3) The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
4) The Big Lebowski (1998)
5) Schindler's List (1993)
6) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
7) Forrest Gump (1994)
8) The Matrix (1999)
9) Toy Story (1995)
10) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
11) Good Will Hunting (1997)
12) Jurassic Park (1993)
13) Fargo (1996)
14) Boogie Nights (1997)
15) Fight Club (1999)
16) The Lion King (1994)
17) Titanic (1997)
18) The Sixth Sense (1999)
19) Clueless (1995)
20) Heat (1995)
21) A Few Good Men (1992)
22) Groundhog Day (1993)
23) Unforgiven (1992)
24) Pretty Woman (1990)
25) Dazed and Confused (1993)

26) Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Directed By: Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise
Voices Of: Paige O'Hara, Jerry Orbach & Angela Lansbury

27) Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ed Burns & Adam Goldberg

28) Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi & Michael Madsen

29) My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Directed By: Jonathan Lynn
Starring: Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio & Marisa Tomei

30) Hoop Dreams (1994)
Directed By: Steve James
Starring: Williams Gates & Arthur Agee

31) Se7en (1995)
Directed By: David Fincher
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt & Kevin Spacey

32a) Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
32b) You've Got Mail (1998)
Directed By: Nora Ephron
Starring: Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan

33) American Beauty (1999)
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning & Thora Birch

34) Clerks (1994)
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Starring: Brian O'Halloran & Jeff Anderson

35) Scream (1996)
Directed By: Wes Craven
Starring: Courtney Cox, David Arquette & Matthew Lillard

36) The Sandlot (1993)
Directed By: David Mickey Evans
Starring: Tom Guiry, James Earl Jones & Denis Leary

37) Aladdin (1992)
Directed By: Ron Clements & John Musker
Voices Of: Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin & Robin Williams


10) Shakespeare In Love (1998)
9) The English Patient (1996)
8) Dances With Wolves (1990)

38) Braveheart (1995)
Directed By: Mel Gibson
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau & Patrick McGoohan

6) American Beauty (1999)
5) Unforgiven (1992)
4) Titanic (1997)
3) Silence of the Lambs (1991)
2) Forrest Gump (1994)
1) Schindler's List (1993)

39) Jerry Maguire (1996)
Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Tom Cruise, Renee Zellwegger & Cuba Gooding Jr.

40) True Romance (1993)
Directed By: Tony Scott
Starring: Christian Slater & Patricia Arquette

41) The Fugitive (1993)
Directed By: Andrew Davis
Starring: Harrison Ford & Tommy Lee Jones

42) The Usual Suspects (1995)
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri & Bencio Del Toro

43) Gattaca (1997)
Directed By: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman & Jude Law

44) There's Something About Mary (1998)
Directed By: The Farrelly Brothers
Starring: Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz & Matt Dillon

45) Cube (1997)
Directed By: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Nicole de Boer, Maurice Dean Wint & David Hewlett

46) Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Starring: Robin Williams, Sally Field & Pierce Brosnan

47) Babe (1995)
Directed By: Chris Noonan
Starring: James Cromwell

48) Rounders (1998)
Directed By: John Dahl
Starring: Matt Damon, Edward Norton & John Malkovich

49) Trainspotting (1996)
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner & Jonny Lee Miller


10) A Bug's Life (1998)
9) Princess Moanoke (1997)
8) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
7) Space Jam (1996)
6) The Iron Giant (1999)

50) South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut (1999)
Directed By: Trey Parker
Voices Of: Trey Parker, Matt Stone & Isaac Hayes

4) Aladdin (1992)
3) Beauty and the Beast (1991)
2) The Lion King (1994)
1) Toy Story (1995)

51) Three Kings (1999)
Directed By: David O Russell
Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg & Ice Cube

52) Jackie Brown (1997)
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Pam Grier, Robert Forster & Samuel L Jackson

53) Office Space (1999)
Directed By: Mike Judge
Starring: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston & Gary Cole

54) Election (1999)
Directed By: Alexander Payne
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon & Chris Klien

55) The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Directed By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez
Starring: Heather Donahue, Michael C Williams & Joshua Leonard

56) The Truman Show (1998)
Directed By: Peter Weir
Starring: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney & Ed Harris

57) 12 Monkeys (1995)
Directed By: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe & Brad Pitt

58) The Insider (1999)
Directed By: Michael Mann
Starring: Russell Crowe, Al Pacino & Christopher Plummer

59) Being John Malkovich (1999)
Directed By: Spike Jonze
Starring: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz & Catherine Keener

60) Big Daddy (1999)
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams & Leslie Mann

61) American History X (1998)
Directed By: Tony Kaye
Starring: Edward Norton & Edward Furlong

62) Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman

63) Magnolia (1999)
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Tom Cruise, John C Reilly & Philip Baker Hall

64) The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Directed By: Anthony Minghella
Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow & Jude Law

65) Dogma (1999)
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Starring: Linda Fiorentino, Ben Affleck & Matt Damon

66) Tombstone (1993)
Directed By: George P Cosmatos
Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer & Sam Elliot

67) Defending Your Life (1991)
Directed By: Albert Brooks
Starring: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep & Rip Torn


I do not necessarily mean "dumb" as a pejorative. I love all of the movies on this list, but the 90's produced a special sort of blue and slapstick leaning type of film that entertained us and has created its own legacy, but does on the other hand seem silly to rank them on the same list as a Pulp Fiction or a Schindler's List. As you can see, this list is dominated by the likes of Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, and the Farrelly Brothers; movies Millenials watched when we were in Middle School geared for Middle Schoolers that we are now showing our Middle School aged children. These films don't necessarily have a ton to say on the human condition, but boy howdy are entertaining to watch when you need a laugh.

10) Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
9) Kingpin (1996)
8) Bowfinger (1999)
7) Liar Liar (1997)

72) Happy Gilmore (1996)
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Carl Weathers & Christopher McDonald

71) Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Directed By: The Farrelly Brothers
Starring: Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels

70) Tommy Boy (1995)
Directed By: Peter Segal
Starring: Chris Farley, David Spade & Brian Dennehy

69) American Pie (1999)
Directed By: Paul Weitz
Starring: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein & Seann William Scott

68) Billy Madison (1995)
Directed By: Tamra Davis
Starring: Adam Sandler, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras & Bradley Whitford

1) There's Something About Mary (1998)

73) Swingers (1996)
Directed By: Doug Liman
Starring: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn & Ron Livingston

74) As Good As It Gets (1997)
Directed By: James L Brooks
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt & Greg Kinnear

75) Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Directed By: Mike Newell
Starring: Hugh Grant & Andie McDowell

76) The Green Mile (1999)
Directed By: Frank Darabont
Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan & San Rockwell

77) Out of Sight (1998)
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez & Ving Rhames

78) Apollo 13 (1995)
Directed By: Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon & Ed Harris


15) Baseketball (1998)
14) Angels in the Outfield (1994)
13) The Waterboy (1998)
12) Cool Runnings (1993)
11) White Men Can't Jump (1992)
10) Rudy (1993)
9) D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)
8) Space Jam (1996)

81) Any Given Sunday (1999)
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Starring: Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx & Cameron Diaz

80) A League of Their Own (1992)
Directed By: Penny Marshall
Starring: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis & Rosie O'Donnell

79) Varsity Blues (1999)
Directed By: Brian Robbins
Starring: James Van Der Beek, Paul Walker & Jon Voight

4) Happy Gilmore (1996)
3) Rounders (1998)
2) The Sandlot (1993)
1) Hoop Dreams (1994)

82) L.A. Confidential (1997)
Directed By: Curtis Hanson
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe & Kim Basinger

83) Life is Beautiful (1997)
Directed By: Roberto Benigni
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi & Giorgio Cantarini


10) Never Been Kissed (1999)
9) She's All That (1999)

84) 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Directed By: Gil Junger
Starring: Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger & Joseph Gordon-Levitt

7) Varsity Blues (1999)
6) American Pie (1999)
5) Election (1999)
4) American Beauty (1999)
3) Scream (1996)
2) Dazed and Confused (1993)
1) Clueless (1995)

85) Sling Blade (1996)
Directed By: Billy Bob Thornton
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Joakim & J.T. Walsh

86) Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Directed By: Mike Figgis
Starring: Nicholas Cage & Elizabeth Shue

87a) Casino (1995)
87b) Cape Fear (1991)
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Casino Starring: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone & Joe Pesci
Cape Fear Starring: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte & Juliette Lewis

88) Galaxy Quest (1999)
Directed By: Dean Parisot
Starring: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver & Alan Rickman

89) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Directed By: Henry Selick
Voices Of: Danny Elfman, Catherine O'Hara & Chris Sarandon

90) The Iron Giant (1999)
Directed By: Brad Bird
Voices Of: Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Aniston & Vin Diesel

91) Space Jam (1996)
Directed By: Joe Pytka
Starring: Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight & Bill Murray


100) Independence Day (1996)
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum & Bill Pullman

99) Speed (1994)
Directed By:  Jan de Bont
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock & Dennis Hopper

98) Total Recall (1990)
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone & Michael Ironside

97) Air Force One (1997)
Directed By: Wolfgang Peterson
Starring: Harrison Ford, Glenn Close & Gary Oldman

96) GoldenEye (1995)
Directed By: Martin Campbell
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Famke Janssen & Sean Bean

95) True Lies (1994)
Directed By: James Cameron
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Arnold & Jamie Lee Curtis

94) Point Break (1991)
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze & Gary Busey

93) The Rock (1996)
Directed By: Michael Bay
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Sean Connery & Ed Harris

92) Con Air (1997)
Directed By: Simon West
Starring: Nicholas Cage, John Cusack & John Malkovich

3) The Fugitive (1993)
2) The Matrix (1999)
1) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)


DIRECTORS WITH THE MOST FILMS: 4 Directors Tied For Three Films Each

1) James Cameron (T2: Judgment Day, Titanic, True Lies)
2) Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Casino, Cape Fear)
3) Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan)
4) Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown)


t-3) Tom Cruise (4) [A Few Good Men, Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut]
t-3) Brad Pitt (4) [True Romance, Se7en, 12 Monkeys, Fight Club]
t-3) Kevin Spacey (4) [The Usual Suspects, Se7en, LA Confidential, American Beauty]

t-2) Steve Buscemi (5) [Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, Con Air, The Big Lebowski, Big Daddy]
t-2) Robert De Niro (5) [Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Casino, Heat, Jackie Brown]
t-2) Matt Damon (5) [Good Will Hunting, Rounders, Saving Private Ryan, Dogma, The Talented Mr. Ripley]

1) Tom Hanks (8) [A League of Their Own, Forrest Gump, Sleepless in Settle, Toy Story, Apollo 13, You've Got Mail, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile]

10) 1990 (3)
t-8) 1991 (6)
t-8) 1992 (6)
7) 1998 (8)
6) 1994 (9)
t-5) 1996 (10)
t-3) 1993 (11)
t-3) 1997 (11)
2) 1995 (14)
1) 1999 (24)


25. Leon: The Professional
24. The Iron Giant
23. Galaxy Quest
22. 10 Things I Hate About You
21. Any Given Sunday
20. Varsity Blues
19. The Green Mile
18. America Pie
17. Dogma
16. The Talented Mr. Ripley
15. Magnolia
14. Eyes Wide Shut
13. Big Daddy
12. Being John Malkovich
11. The Insider
10. The Blair Witch Project
9. Election
8. Office Space
7. Three Kings
6. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
5. There's Something
4. American Beauty
3. The Sixth Sense
2. Fight Club
1. The Matrix