Posted by: Alan | May 31, 2010

The Top 50 Films of 1990-1999

“We can’t stop here! This is bat country!”

40. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – (1998) – 90 points
(6 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Mike T)

I personally don’t think this movie should be on the list. It’s a total mess that should really only appeal to die hard hunter Thompson or Terry Gilliam fans. But nonetheless, it has developed a serious cult following since the release on the basis of Johnny depp’s performance and many of the striking visuals. The ‘narrative’ follows a gonzo journalist and his lawyer on a drug fueled odyssey through Las Vegas. That’s about it.


“You know I think this Christmas thing is not as tricky as it seems!”

39. The Nightmare Before Christmas – (1993) – 92 points
(8 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #6 – Alex L)

Tim Burton’s iconic film from 1993 earned a cult following that is still alive and well today. The story of Jack Skellington is beautifully told through bizarre claymation, backed by a stellar cast including Paul Reubens and Catherine O’Hara.


“It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man. Take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.”

38. Unforgiven – (1992) – 93 points
(7 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #12 – Hirsby, Greg W, Alex L)

The second greatest western ever made. (second only to the good the bad and the ugly) follows a retired outlaw going on one last job in an effort to save his family’s farm. A simplistic story beautifully told with strong performances from all involved.


“People always say to me, ‘when you get to the NBA, don’t forget about me.’ Well, I should’ve said back, ‘if I don’t make it to the NBA, don’t you forget about me.'”

37. Hoop Dreams – (1994) – 101 points
(6 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Dave S)

Hoop Dreams is a critically acclaimed 1994 documentary film directed by Steve James, with Kartemquin Films. It follows the story of two African-American high school students in Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball players.

Originally intended to be a 30-minute short produced for the Public Broadcasting Service, it eventually led to five years of filming and 250 hours of footage. It premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Despite its length (171 minutes) and unlikely commercial genre, it received high critical and popular acclaim. It was on more critics’ top ten lists than any other film that year, including Pulp FictionForrest GumpThe Shawshank RedemptionHeavenly Creatures and Quiz Show.


“It’s like you said. All I am is what I’m going after.”

36. Heat – (1995) – 112 points
(7 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Greg W)

Best. Movie. Ever. Made. Ever. Al Pacino and Robert deniro star in this riveting cops and robbers drama. Incredible acting and camera work highlight this film as well as some very iconic action set pieces. Some say this film is a little too long but ever character and scene has a purpose to fulfill in the overall scheme of things.


“There was no such thing as society and even if there was, I most certainly had nothing to do with it.”

35. Trainspotting – (1996) – 114 points
(9 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Kane)

A drug-fueled adventure through Edinburgh by director Danny Boyle, this dramatic portrayal of heroin addicts, dealers and junkies is a good way to stop yourself from wanting to do heroin, ever. The movie itself doesn’t have the best clear narrative, but the parts of the whole are worth it, with a great soundtrack to boot.


“I saw my whole life as if I already lived it.”

34. Titanic – (1997) – 116 points
(6 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Adam B, Emily W)

This beautiful and terrifying film tells the sappiest class-based love story of Jack and Rose, against the historical landscape of one of the world’s greatest catastrophes. In any other hands than DiCaprio and Winslet these roles could be flat and contrived, but with help from a stellar supporting cast (including favorites Kathy Bates and Billy Zane) they emotionally illuminate the tragedy and make this film into one of the biggest pop culture influences of all time. What I really appreciate about the film, from a technical standpoint, is that it was one of the last of its genre to use mechanical effects, with full or half scale models, tanks, and stunt actors to recreate most of the action. It was also revolutionary at the time in its use of layered green screen, and use of miniature models. For all the hype, I think Titanic comes out a well crafted, incredibly effective piece of film, and is my favorite of the 90’s.


“I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of a ruling class, especially since I rule.”

33. Clerks – (1994) – 119 points
(10 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #2 – fingerhands)

Kevin smith’s first movie and only great movie. Two longtime friends work at a convenience store and a video store and deal with customers and pull pranks on each other while spouting a continuous barrage of clever dialogue and pop references.


“You never forget kids like Emily, or Andy, but they forget you.”

32. Toy Story 2 – (1999) – 124 points
(11 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #4 – Emily W, Red Paratroopa)

The only thing rarer than a great sequel is a great animated sequel. Toy Story 2 doesn’t quite manage to outdo its remarkable predecessor, but continues the storyline without needing to rely on old gags. New and interesting characters are flawlessly integrated, while the recurring characters maintain their elasticity and seem to evolve with the series. The Toy Story franchise revolutionized the way we thought about animated films, and integrated a new depth that would be imitated in the decade that followed.


Rarely does a sequel live up to the quality of the original. But I think this movie surpasses Pixar’s debut masterpiece. With more ambitious visuals, more character development and since the first movie already set up the toy world and relationships this one is free to have a bigger scope and story and explore the friendship between woody and buzz.


“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

31. The Usual Suspects – (1995) – 130 points
(11 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Robby L)

What a twist! I think that’s the best way to describe the lasting impression this film leaves on a viewer. This taught thriller follows a group of criminals through several underworld jobs as recounted by the mysterious Verbal Kint portrayed by Kevin Sspacey. Even though this movie can be almost completely undone by the final twist, it’s still very much worth a viewing.



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