Do you remember the hype when underdog Keanu Reeves bent backwards and dodged bullets in Matrix? Or the iconic “I’m back” dialogue said by Arnold Schwarzenegger who is a terminator sent back in time to protect John? Does it take you back to your childhood when DVDs were the new thing and Kinder joys were still egg-shaped?
Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs left us with sleepless nights. Hannibal Lector became an icon for the unbiased representation of an antagonist, but also made us flinch in horror.
I grew up watching these movies with my family, so the list is a host of memories – like borrowing CDs from the store for a day or waiting for months till the movies are released on it – a thrill only belonging to the 90s kids. Gen Z doesn’t have to wait for movies at all as they are only a play button away from viewing the latest release.
Here are 40 movies from the 90s that will take you back to that time.
The best of Keanu Reeves:
Matrix | Netflix
This is the movie that rewrote the genre of sci-fi for me personally. Entering the world of a different reality, Thomas Anderson is a computer programmer trying to figure out why he encounters glitches in the world. The movies take on the classic machine-taking-over-mankind perspective but with better logic, or maybe better sci-fi.
Keanu Reeves, who was a largely indie actor, cemented himself as a Hollywood A-lister after the success of the Matrix series.
The blockbuster that launched Reeves into mainstream media, ‘Speed’ really had me on the edge of my seat. Sandra Bullock’s claim to fame, the movie raked up both critical and commercial acclaim. Watch it if you’re up for a good action-thriller.
For the Arnold Schwarzenegger fans:
Terminator trilogy | Amazon Prime Video
I don’t think any details are needed about the Terminator trilogy. Skynet’s plans of dominion over earth are pretty common knowledge now. Arnold Schwarzenegger made me cry even as a robot in this series. A simple story of how machines become intelligent enough to take control of the earth, wage war against humans and how post-war survivors become part of a resistance headed by John Connor. Every couple of years, the robots in the future keep sending back in time terminators to kill John's younger self and his mother so that he never comes into existence. To combat this, John sends back terminators – which in all films is played by Schwarzenegger, to protect them.
Schwarzenegger who leads a double life as a boring computer programmer and a secret agent for the US government finds out that his wife is cheating on him. The plot is furthered through action sequences and a lot of comedy. The James Cameron-Arnold Schwarzenegger combo really paid off with these two movies.
Kindergarten Cop | Amazon Prime Video
Our boy here is a US police detective who has to disguise himself as a kindergarten teacher for a case. The stint, although tough at first, leads him to discover his passion which is teaching kids!
A tribute to Jim Carrey
Not everybody can stomach all kinds of comedy, Jim Carrey’s is one of such. But to those who like his work as the animal-loving detective Ace in 'Ace Ventura' or The Grinch in 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas', he brings unadulterated comedy.
The Ace Ventura two-part series garnered commercial acclaim but failed to impress critics, but that’s beside the point, since the movie was never intended to follow a serious plotline.
But Carrey’s 1998 ‘The Truman Show’ is a work of art. His performance as a common man who does not stand out in a crowd in the film is a stark contrast to the hyperactive comedic characters he usually plays.
His other hits include 'The Mask' available on Netflix.
These were supposed to be for children, but we keep watching it every now and then, to remind us of some of the values often forgotten in this fast-paced, digital world. Most movies here run with themes set in friendship or love.
Some of the movies on the list went on to become global box-office hits - like ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Home Alone’ and even classics like the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy or Harrison Ford’s ‘Indiana Jones’ trilogy.
In one of the opening scenes of HP’s first installment, professor McGonagall tells Dumbledore, “He’ll be famous — a legend — I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day in the future — there will be books written about Harry — every child in our world will know his name!” Which did happen, considering the final installment ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2” generated over 1 billion US dollars in the global box office. We don’t need to divulge further to drive home the point of its popularity.
- Chronicles of Narnia
- Jurassic Park
- Toy Story
- The mummy
- Men in Black
The following are cult films, obviously, these 90’s gems weren’t going to be ignored. The movies listed below might have been for adults, but we sat there with a sibling, or a parent and watched the whole thing, clenching on to our juice packs – at least I did. Movies like Pulp fiction or Silence of the Lambs received cult status among viewers, making the ideas behind these creations nearly impossible to recreate.
Here are five of my favorite films from the decade:
Silence of the Lambs
One of Anthony Hopkin’s hallmark movies, it changed the way antagonists were portrayed in movies; was Hannibal Lector purely evil or just a man with mental health issues? The inability to answer that is the point the movie drives home.
Fight Club | Amazon Prime Video
Let’s talk consumerism or toxic masculinity, two bitter evils that plague humankind. Edward Norton’s performance in the film gives me goosebumps every five minutes. Though the theme remains a common trope in movies, Fight Club is bloodier, and meatier than any of its predecessors and will, for me, remain a movie incomparable to anything in the future as well.
Forrest Gump | Netflix
Forrest taught us that life is unpredictable, and many more lessons that people have plastered on their walls as posters. A quote from the movie resonates with everything going on in the world in 2020. Mama (Forrest’s mother) tells him, “what does normal mean, anyway?” Society shouldn’t dictate what “normal” is.
Good Will Hunting
Matt Damon as the unfocused boy, Will Hunting, from a run-down neighbourhood tugs at the viewers’ hearts, begs them to understand him and his decisions. Robin Williams as Sean is Will’s therapist, and challenges this stubborn south Boston boy to reach beyond what society expects of him.
Good Will Hunting is a cult classic because it shows life is beyond a Harvard education and an NSA job, it’s a journey to find life’s meaning.
A biopic of Homer H Hickam, son of a miner who persevered against his father’s wishes and became a NASA engineer. Inspired by the launch of Sputnik in 1957, a young Jake Gyllenhaal plays Homer, as a teenager interested in sending rockets to space.
- The Big Lebowski
- Reservoir dogs
- The Blair Witch Project
- The Shawshank Redemption
- Star Wars
- Kill Bill
- Edward Scissorhands
- The Sixth Sense
- ‘Malcolm X’
- Dead poets society
- Air Force 1
- Schindler’s list
- Saving Private Ryan
- Pearl Harbour
Disclaimer: This might not be what you grew up watching, and that's alright. If these movies don't bring back memories from your childhood, you can just check out the films as they are and totally ignore the rest!