Posted by: Alan | May 31, 2010

The Top 50 Films of 1990-1999

“It’s more comfortable for you to label me as insane.”

10. Seven – (1995) – 213 points
(20 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Jen)

Memento being number one, this is credited as my second favorite movie of all-time. Here comes the story of a serial killer, “John Doe,” who murders his victims according to the Seven Deadly Sins. Tracked skillfully by the veteran detective Sommerset and the hot rookie – we are taken on a dark, masterful ride of thrilling cinema. The film would be nothing without David Fincher’s unmistakable direction, creating scenes so tense you’ll end up at the edge of your seat. Cinematographer Darius Khondji surrounds the audience in a world so sinister that it’s easy to compare it to Film Noir classics. And again, the movie is also fantastic on account of its strong performances by Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, and Kevin Spacey. Oh, and it also consists of one of the best endings in film. Ever.


“This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this. I could have gotten one more person … and I didn’t!”

9. Schindler’s List – (1993) – 222 points
(15 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Derek S)’s_List

Schindler’s List is an epic 1993 American film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Polish Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, and based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as Schutzstaffel (SS) officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern.

The film was a box office success and recipient of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Score, as well as numerous other awards (7 BAFTA, 3 Golden Globes). In 2007, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked the film 8th on its list of the 100 best American films of all time (up one position from its 9th place listing on the 1998 list).


“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

8. Goodfellas – (1990) – 226 points
(18 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #2 – Jim)

Goodfellas is a 1990 American semi-fictional crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is based on the non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Scorsese. The film follows the rise and fall of three gangsters, spanning three decades.

Scorsese originally intended to direct Goodfellas before The Last Temptation of Christ, but when funds materialized to make Last Temptation, he postponed what was then known as Wise Guy. The title of Pileggi’s book had already been used for a TV series and for Brian De Palma’s 1986 comedy Wise Guys, so Pileggi and Scorsese changed the name of their film to Goodfellas. To prepare for their roles in the film, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta talked often with Pileggi, who shared with the actors research material that had been left over from writing the book. According to Pesci, improvisation and ad-libbing came out of rehearsals where Scorsese gave the actors freedom to do whatever they wanted. The director made transcripts of these sessions, took the lines that the actors came up with that he liked best, and put them into a revised script the cast worked from during principal photography.

Goodfellas performed well at the box office, grossing $46.8 million domestically, well above its $25 million budget; it received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. The film was nominated for sixAcademy Awards but only won one for Pesci in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category. Scorsese’s film won five awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and was named best film of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the National Society of Film Critics. Goodfellas is often considered one of the greatest films ever, both in the genre of crime and in general and was deemed “culturally significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.


“How dare you open a Space man’s helmet on an uncharted planet? My eyeballs could have been sucked from of their sockets!”

7. Toy Story – (1995) – 230 points
(19 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #3 – Emily W)

Pixar’s first theatrical release, and the first full-length CG film is a landmark film for many reasons (two of which I just stated!). In telling the story of a group of toys living in a boys room who secretly come to life when no one is around, it changed the way people look at kids movies, in that they don’t have to be ‘just for kids.’ It charmed adults and kids alike, and went on to spawn two sequels.


“Oh, for pete’s sake. He’s fleein’ the interview. He’s fleein’ the interview!”

6. Fargo – (1996) – 279 points
(19 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – James W, Alan J)

The Coen Brothers masterpiece, and one of my favorite films of all time. Marge Gunderson is one of the greatest protagonists in the history of film and the rest of the cast are perfect: notably Willam H. Macy and Steve Buscemi. On the surface, it’s a quirky little comedy about a kidnapping gone wrong, and the police investigation that follows. But look deeper and you’ll find a moving and thrilling film that becomes all the more evident in the final shots.


“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

5. Jurassic Park – (1993) – 294 points
(20 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Camille, Drew)

The 1993 journey of a theme park housing hundreds of living dinosaurs. When creator John Hammond sets his grandchildren off on a tour of the park with three knowledgeable doctors/scientists, you just know bad shit is about to happen. Fences stop working, dinosaurs get loose, horror ensues. This movie scared the shit out of me in the third grade and even now at 23, I find myself cringing moments before Nedry’s demise. I have lost count on the times I have watched this movie but I gather it’s somewhere in the hundreds. Over the years it has become more and more enjoyable to watch. The special effects don’t look dated, the performances are as exciting as ever, and the quotable dialogue never loses its appeal. Steven Spielberg, you genius.


I’ve seen this movie probably a hundred times and I still love it. A far-fetched premise of cloning dinosaurs from the blood taken from Mosquito’s stuck in amber. What makes it work is the expert filmmaking from Spielberg, the special effects that still hold up to this day, some iconic performances and an epic and awe inspiring score from John Williams almost brings the dinosaurs to life. AKA Billy and the Clonasaurus.


“On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”

4. Fight Club – (1999) – 372 points
(23 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Kaleb)

If you were to ask 100 University “Brah’s” what their favorite film was, hands down the majority would answer Fight Club. This past New Years my boyfriend and I were subjected to a rousing review of the movie and how it was the greatest piece of film ever created in the history of mankind by a lovely inebriated fellow we now call “Fight Club Jay.” While I don’t agree it’s the greatest movie ever made – it is still one of the best that has come along in some time. As David Fincher’s second film to appear in the Top Ten, it’s obvious that he’s doing something right. Once again using the talents of Brad Pitt, with the help of a stupendous Edward Norton, we witness the rise and fall of an organization created to help men release their aggression. It’s morose, it’s edgy, and showcases superb actors on the top of their game. I normally don’t enjoy watching people beat the shit out of one another – but this is one film I can’t help but love. “Best fucking movie ever, man.” – Fight Club Jay


Arguably David Fincher’s best film, and incredibly he has two films in the top ten on this list. A group of white collar workers gather together in the basement of a local bar and beat the living shit out of each other. The club eventually spreads into an all out anarchist movement. The film is made with intensity and unrelenting style and Fincher gets great performances from his cast, and I want to make special mention of Helena Bonham Carter. This is probably her best role.


“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, uh, your opinion, man.”

3. The Big Lebowski – (1998) – 378 points
(23 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Jim, Illinois Smith)

Yet another Coen film that made the top ten, and while this one is more of a straight up comedy/mystery, it gave us the unforgettable characters of The Dude, Walter and Donnie. A hodge-podge of talent and characters and plot points make this a tough one to follow at first, but luckily you don’t really need to. The Dude knows about as much as we do, and you’re along for the ride as he tries to figure things out while trying to maintain his slacker lifestyle.


“I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

2. The Shawshank Redemption – (1994) – 428 points
(23 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Ife, Neil J, Fuzzy Dunlop, Alex L)

I cry like a baby every time I watch this film. I can’t say enough good things about it. I don’t even care that the film takes place over 20 years and the main characters barely age. It doesn’t matter. This is an inspiring movie about the power of hope and friendship. If you haven’t seen this one, all I can say is: What the hell man?


“If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.”

1. Pulp Fiction – (1994) – 478 points
(27 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Hirsby, Kathryn)

Ah the Fiction. What can I say? When this film came out the landscape of Hollywood was dire. It seemed like the industry was tapped for ideas. Then this movie comes along and literally changes EVERYTHING. Say what you will about Tarantino and his films, but this one is an undeniable classic of contemporary cinema. I first watched it when I was about fourteen and I can say I wish I waited a few years so I could truly understand and appreciate the brilliant story. The script is so dense and works on so many different levels, it simply demands to be watched at least three times.


Thanks to all who participated! Keep an eye out for our next collaborative list, hopefully coming soon!


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