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Cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy after midnight. Low 47F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.
Updated: May 6, 2021 @ 3:17 pm
Stacker ranked the best '90s movies based on a Stacker score that represents a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores.
The 1990s represent a magical decade in pop culture history. The O.J. Simpson trial, gangster rap, Must See TV, grunge music, and “Friends” dominated water cooler conversations, while the internet was just beginning to grab the attention of the world and hit college computer labs. While all of this was happening, incredible movies from big-budget blockbusters to quiet love stories were being released nearly every weekend at movie theaters around the world. Advances in computer-generated imagery gave audiences both the scariest dinosaurs they’d ever seen (“Jurassic Park”) and a heartwarming story of a cowboy and astronaut discovering life outside of the toy box (“Toy Story”).
To celebrate the incredible cinematic achievements of the decade, Stacker compiled data on all 1990s movies to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to have a premiere date between 1990 and 1999, have a Metascore, and have at least 1,000 votes. Ties were broken by Metascore and further ties were broken by votes.
Keep reading to discover which film featured one of the most disturbing scenes in cinema and which big movie star made the list multiple times.
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- Director: Éric Rohmer
- Stacker score: 85.2
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 112 minutes
In this subtle French film, a lonely widowed winery owner has both her best friend and her son’s girlfriend trying to find a match for her. Writing for The Austin Chronicle, Marjorie Baumgarten called the film, “a quietly interesting but unusually perceptive story about love and relationships.” “Autumn Tale'' won the Best Foreign Language Film award from the National Society of Film Critics.
- Director: Tom DiCillo
- Runtime: 90 minutes
This low-budget film, shot in 16 days, follows events as they unfold over the course of one day. His role as Tito marked Peter Dinklage’s first credited film role. The film also starred Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, and Dermot Mulroney.
- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
- Stacker score: 85.8
- Metascore: 77
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 188 minutes
P.T. Anderson followed up his “Boogie Nights” success with this sprawling tale about the meaning of family amongst interconnected characters in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jason Robards starred in what would be the last film of Robards’ career. The film scored three Oscar nominations, including one for Cruise and another for Anderson’s screenplay.
- Director: Abbas Kiarostami
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 95 minutes
This quiet meditation on life and death won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1997. Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami presents the story of Mr. Badii, a man who drives through the hilly landscape outside of Tehran in search of someone to bury him after he commits suicide. In 2009, Time magazine ranked it as one of the top 10 Cannes Festival films.
- Director: Boaz Yakin
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 114 minutes
“Fresh” marked filmmaker Boaz Yakin’s directorial debut. In this film, starring Samuel L. Jackson, a 12-year-old drug courier sets a plan in motion to pit his employers against each other. Stewart Copeland, a founding member of The Police, created the score for the film.
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- Director: Sam Raimi
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 121 minutes
Three ordinary people stumble upon millions of dollars and come up with a simple plan to keep the money. Of course, things go horribly wrong in this film starring Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, and Billy Bob Thornton. Writing for The New York Times, Janet Maslin called the film a “quietly devastating thriller.”
- Director: Mike Figgis
- Runtime: 111 minutes
An alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter, played by Nicolas Cage, arrives in Las Vegas after losing everything. He meets a prostitute once there, but tells her if they spend time together she can’t try to interfere with his plan to drink himself to death. Based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, author John O’Brien died by suicide shortly after the film went into production.
- Director: Todd Solondz
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 88 minutes
The Independent film “Welcome to the Dollhouse” doesn't shy away from the awkwardness of adolescence, choosing instead to shine a glaring light on it. Heather Matarazzo offers a convincing portrayal of Dawn Wiener, a seventh-grade girl who is the ignored and utterly dejected middle child in her family in a New Jersey suburb. The film marked the film debut of Heather Matarazzo, Eric Mabius, and Brendan Sexton III, and the moment when Matarazzo realized that her attraction to girls had a name.
- Director: Alfonso Arau
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Runtime: 105 minutes
Based on the best-selling Mexican novel by Laura Esquivel, the film explores the connection between food and love. Tradition prevents a young woman, Tita, from marrying her true love, and he instead marries her sister. Tita’s powerful emotions surface in fascinating and miraculous ways through her cooking.
- Director: Michael Mann
- Stacker score: 86.3
- Metascore: 76
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 170 minutes
Legendary actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino go head-to-head in “Heat,” a cat-and-mouse story about professional bank robbers who accidentally leave behind a clue at their latest heist and find the cops on their tails. Jon Voight and Val Kilmer also star in the almost three-hour film that began as an unproduced television pilot by Michael Mann.
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- Director: Wong Kar-Wai
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 102 minutes
Two cops fall in love with two different women in Hong Kong. Shot in 23 days, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino felt passionate about the film and worked to get it in front of American audiences.
- Director: Richard Linklater
- Runtime: 101 minutes
Richard Linklater first hit this list at #86 with 1993’s “Dazed and Confused.” Two years later, he directed a romantic drama starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy about two young people who meet on a train to Vienna and spend one hopeful night together. While the plot isn’t very extensive, a sequel was made in 2004 that picked up the story nine years later (“Before Sunset”), and a third film (“Before Midnight”) had the couple reuniting again 18 years after they first met.
- Director: Robert De Niro
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
Robert De Niro serves as both the star and director of this 1960s mafia crime story about a father who tries to protect his teenage son when a local gangster (Chazz Palminteri) befriends the young man. Palminteri himself wrote the play the film was based on, and also adapted it for the screen.
- Directors: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi
- Runtime: 108 minutes
While exiled to a small island, famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda befriends a postman, Mario. Mario learns to love poetry and enlists Neruda’s help when he falls in love with a local woman, Beatrice. Massimo Troisi, who co-directed the film and played the postman Mario, postponed heart surgery to finish the film, and just 12 hours after filming ended he had a fatal heart attack.
- Runtime: 134 minutes
The indie film world embraced “Happiness” despite its less-than-wholesome content. The movie details the lives of three sisters all experiencing different degrees of trouble at home, from loneliness and self-pity to a pedophile husband. Suffice to say, nobody finds happiness. Todd Solondz was nominated for Best Director at the Independent Spirit Awards for his directing.
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- Director: Tsai Ming-liang
- Runtime: 106 minutes
This Taiwanese film marks the directorial debut of Tsai Ming-liang and received a 100% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The plot is a portrait of disaffected youth and involves a man who drops out of school to make two thieves pay for vandalizing his father’s car.
- Director: Carl Franklin
- Metascore: 87
Police Chief Dale “Hurricane” Dixon, played by 1990s film actor fixture Bill Paxton, prepares for a band of killers to come through Star City, Arkansas, after committing a crime in L.A. Billy Bob Thornton co-wrote the film with Tom Epperson.
- Director: John Madden
- Runtime: 123 minutes
A young William Shakespeare, played by Joseph Fiennes, is running low on cash and ideas when he meets and falls in love with a beautiful woman who inspires him. The woman acts in theater but disguises herself as a man to do so. The film won seven Oscars, including one for Gwyneth Paltrow.
- Director: James Foley
- Stacker score: 86.9
- Runtime: 100 minutes
David Mamet’s play found its way to the big screen after winning the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award in 1984. Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, and Jack Lemmon star in the story of Chicago real estate agents desperate to make a sale. Pacino was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his performance as Ricky Roma, the best closer in the office.
- Director: Terence Davies
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 85 minutes
This coming-of-age story follows a young British boy called Bud (Leigh McCormack) who adores cinema so much that classic films are fused into his narrative. Bud eventually comes to realize his homosexuality in a way echoing filmmaker Terence Davies' experience. With “The Long Day Closes,” Davies gives us an autobiographical look at his own 1950s Catholic childhood.
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- Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
In his feature film debut, Nuri Bilge Ceylan brings audiences a tale based on events from his childhood. The Turkish black-and-white film tells the story of a rural family from the perspective of two young children. The director used members of his own family in the film.
- Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
- Stacker score: 87.4
- Metascore: 73
- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Runtime: 136 minutes
In “The Matrix,” Keanu Reeves stars as a young hacker drawn into a dramatically different world, discovering that his own reality is a false construction. He joins the rebel underground to fight the people imposing that reality, which leads to amazing fight sequences that earned the film four Academy Awards.
- Director: James Cameron
- Metascore: 75
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Runtime: 137 minutes
Almost 10 years have passed for Sarah Connor and now her son John is targeted by a terminator, who is even more deadly than the first. A protector is sent to save John and Sarah. Writing for Empire, Bob McCabe called the second installment in the “Terminator” franchise, “A movie that defied expectations, raised the ante for both effects movies and action sequences and gave the world the immortal ‘Hasta la vista baby.’"
- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
This Japanese animated fantasy film was distributed by Toho Studios and features many famous voices including Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, and Billy Bob Thornton. While trying to find a cure after being stricken with a fatal curse while trying to protect his village, Ashitaka gets caught in the middle of a battle between two groups and tries to see both sides but in doing so he angers everyone.
- Director: Majid Majidi
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 89 minutes
Shot on location in Tehran, Iran’s capital city, the story tells of Ali and Zahra, a poor brother and sister. After Ali loses Zahra’s shoes, they share Ali’s shoes while doing their best to avoid telling their parents. “Children of Heaven” was the first Iranian film to receive an Oscar nomination.
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- Director: Walter Salles
- Runtime: 110 minutes
The award-winning "Central Station" was shot in sequence, uncommon for most films. The storyline follows a young boy mourning the loss of his mother who goes on a journey to find his father with the help of a woman who works at a station in Rio de Janeiro and helps illiterate people write letters.
- Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
In "The Promise," a teenager comes of age in Belgium as he tries to be a different man than his criminal father, who traffics illegal immigrants. The important film is also a part of the Criterion Collection.
- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Runtime: 97 minutes
Before ascending in the directing world for his work on the “Harry Potter” films, Alfonso Cuarón directed this pseudo-fairytale. "A Little Princess" follows the story of a wealthy girl banished to servitude at a New York boarding school when her father is presumed dead in World War I.
- Runtime: 94 minutes
This animated Japanese film tells the story of Porco Rosso, once a World War I pilot who works as a bounty hunter. A mystery curse leaves him with the head of a pig. The film was originally conceived as an in-flight short for Japanese airlines.
- Director: Ang Lee
- Metascore: 84
Ang Lee followed up his “Wedding Banquet” success with a completely different type of movie: a period adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” Written by Emma Thompson (who also stars and earned an Academy Award for her script), the film earned a Best Picture nomination—likely in part to its all-star cast, which features Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Tom Wilkinson.
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- Director: Steven Soderbergh
- Runtime: 103 minutes
Based on a memoir by A.E. Hotchner of the same name, “King of the Hill” tells the story of a boy who must survive in a seedy hotel after his mother is placed in a sanatorium and his father takes work as a traveling salesman in the 1930s. Writing for The Dissolve, Noel Murray notes, “King of the Hill balances an incident-packed script with muted tones, painting a rich, absorbing picture of one boy's struggle to live by his wits.”
- Director: Robert Benton
An adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo’s novel, “Nobody’s Fool” features Paul Newman as a self-indulgent man who needs to step up when his son, whose marriage failed, returns with his grandson. The film also stars Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
- Director: Gillian Armstrong
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 115 minutes
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, which was loosely based on the author's life, "Little Women" stars Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Christian Bale, and Susan Sarandon. The film chronicles the lives of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy as they live and love during and following the American Civil War. Another film adaptation of the same name was released in 2019.
- Director: Wayne Wang
- Stacker score: 88.0
- Runtime: 139 minutes
Adapted from the Amy Tan novel of the same name, “The Joy Luck Club” tells the story of four aging Chinese women and mothers who meet regularly to share family stories while playing Mahjong. At the heart of the film lies the relationships between mothers and daughters and the immigrant experience.
- Runtime: 118 minutes
A group of broadcast journalists posing as engineers shows up in a rural village to observe mourning rituals, as they await the death of a very old woman. While they are there, one of them comes to some stunning realizations about life. Calum Marsh, writing for The Village Voice, calls the film, “a deeply, patiently observational film” noting that “the details Kiarostami emphasizes—a dung beetle struggling to haul away its bounty, an apple rolling haphazardly across an uneven floor, a bone floating down a stream—seem somehow profound in their banality, a mystery of ineffable beauty.”
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- Director: Robert Altman
- Runtime: 124 minutes
A scathing satire on the film industry, “The Player” is based on a novel of the same name. Tim Robbins plays a studio executive who is receiving death threats from a writer whose work he rejected, though he isn’t sure which writer it is. The film opens with an unforgettable eight-minute-long tracking shot.
- Director: Kimberly Peirce
Based on the true story of transgender young man Brandon Teena, this film was Hilary Swank’s breakthrough film role and one for which she won an Oscar. In the film, Teena relocates to a small Nebraska town and falls in love. When people discover that Brandon is biologically female, things go horribly wrong.
- Director: Anthony Minghella
- Runtime: 162 minutes
A romantic war drama with a stellar cast, “The English Patient” was based on the 1992 novel of the same name. A badly burned patient is tended to by a nurse at the end of WWII, and through a series of flashbacks to his past, we learn about a love affair.
- Director: Peter Jackson
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 99 minutes
In this crime drama, two young girls grow close. When their parents separate them because they are worried about their bond, the girls take revenge. The film, based on the 1954 Parker–Hulme murder case, marked Kate Winslet’s film debut.
- Director: Nicholas Hytner
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
Queen Charlotte and the Prime Minister of England try to keep others from usurping the throne when King George III displays symptoms of madness in this comical biography. The film is based on the play "The Madness of George III" by Alan Bennett.
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- Director: Olivier Assayas
- Metascore: 90
This French drama tells the story of a rebellious teenage girl and boy in love who try to escape their current lives. A period piece that takes place in the 1970s, Geoffrey O’Brien, writing for The New York Review, said of the film, “‘Cold Water’ can finally be recognized as a singular masterpiece on the most familiar of themes, the sufferings and misfortunes of youthful passion.”
- Director: Bryan Singer
- Stacker score: 88.5
The first major motion picture of Bryan Singer (“X-Men”) was “The Usual Suspects.” This enthralling whodunit follows a mysterious gangster who brings a motley crew of criminals into his orbit, and an ensuing police investigation of a ship full of murders. The gangster earned a spot as one of AFI’s top movie villains; Oscars went to Kevin Spacey and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie.
- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Metascore: 79
Writer and director Quentin Tarantino wasn’t even 30 years old when he made “Reservoir Dogs,” an indie crime film about a squad of suit-clad criminals who deal with a crime gone wrong. The film’s success helped move American filmmaking away from the iron grip of movie studios and more towards independent productions.
"The Color of Paradise" tells a story about the struggles of a father who does not know how to accept his blind son, Mohammad. The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film by The Boston Society of Film Critics. Actor Mohsen Ramezani, who plays Mohammad, is blind in real life.
- Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Unpleasant family secrets come to light at a 60th birthday from the family patriarch. “The Celebration” became the first movie of the Dogme 95 movement, though filmmaker Vinterberg confessed to breaking the rules.
- Director: Henry Selick
- Runtime: 76 minutes
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” eschewed traditional two-dimensional animation in favor of stop-motion, bringing the dark tale of Jack Skellington to life. A citizen of “Halloween Town,” Skellington accidentally discovers “Christmas Town” and decides to celebrate the holiday in his own spooky way. Tim Burton came up with the original story as a poem back in 1982 as an animator for Disney.
- Director: Mike Leigh
- Runtime: 132 minutes
Director Mike Leigh effectively employs a semi-improvisational style in the film. “Naked” follows a man as he moves from Manchester to London while trying to outrun a sexual act that did not end well. The film won Best Actor and Best Director awards at the Cannes Film Festival.
- Runtime: 157 minutes
Based on a “60 Minutes” story, “The Insider” delves into the life of whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand and the lengths to which Big Tobacco would go to silence him. The film was a major critical success, earning seven different Oscar nominations—including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor for Russell Crowe’s performance in the leading role opposite Al Pacino.
- Director: James Ivory
- Runtime: 142 minutes
Based upon the 1910 novel by E.M. Forster, “Howards End” is the story of three families at the beginning of the 20th century, from different classes, who get caught up in a complicated situation. A Merchant Ivory period piece, the film won three Oscars including one for Emma Thompson for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
- Director: Neil Jordan
In this film that featured a shocking twist, a member of the IRA (Irish Republican Army), Fergus, bonds with a kidnapped British soldier named Jody. When things go wrong, Fergus flees to London and looks up Jody’s girlfriend. The thriller stars Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, and Forest Whitaker.
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- Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Winona Ryder, “The Age of Innocence” is a period drama set in 19th-century New York. The plot focuses on a man who is meant to marry one woman but falls in love with her cousin, an outcast among New York’s high society. The film is based on Edith Wharton’s novel of the same name for which she was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature.
- Director: Wes Anderson
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Runtime: 93 minutes
American auteur Wes Anderson followed up his indie hit “Bottle Rocket” with this idiosyncratic story of a high school playwriting wunderkind (Jason Schwartzman) who befriends a downtrodden businessman (Bill Murray) as they both fall for the same woman. The film transformed Murray from big-budget comedy star into indie film darling, and earned Anderson an Independent Spirit Award for Best Director.
“Life Is Sweet” is the story of a family and their lives in a working-class suburb of London. Alison Steadman, who played suburban wife and mother Wendy in the film, was married to director Mike Leigh. They divorced in 2001, after almost 30 years of marriage.
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Runtime: 130 minutes
Best friends Thelma and Louise (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) go on a road trip and end up criminals being pursued by police. The film features Brad Pitt in one of his first film roles. Sarandon and Davis received Oscar nods for Best Actress but were beaten by Jodie Foster for her role as Clarice Starling in “Silence of the Lambs.”
- Director: Steven Zaillian
- Runtime: 109 minutes
When a young boy’s parents realize he is gifted at chess, they hire a coach, taking the fun out of the game and making the boy wonder if winning is worth it. The film is based on the story of chess whiz kid, Josh Waitzkin.
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- Runtime: 160 minutes
“Topsy-Turvy” is a British musical set in the 1880s. It tells the story of the legendary duo Gilbert and Sullivan and focuses on a time when their partnership almost ended. The film won an Oscar for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup.
- Director: Danny Boyle
- Stacker score: 89.6
Based on Scottish writer Irvine Welsh’s first novel, “Trainspotting” is the story of heroin addict Mark Renton and his friends. The film delivered one of the most disturbing scenes in cinema. There was a sequel released in 2017 that shows where Renton and his pals ended up.
- Director: Billy Bob Thornton
- Runtime: 135 minutes
Billy Bob Thornton received serious praise for his role in “Sling Blade,” playing a man with developmental disabilities just released from prison for a murder he committed as a child. He earned even more accolades for the film’s script, which won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. Country music star Dwight Yoakam made his first major acting appearance in the film as an abusive boyfriend.
- Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
This is the first film in director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy. A woman is the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her husband and daughter. The woman, played by Juliette Binoche, sells everything and attempts to start over in Paris.
- Runtime: 155 minutes
Mark Wahlberg officially left his Marky Mark days behind him when he starred in this epic story—the tale of a burgeoning porn star finding his way in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore were nominated for Oscars, as was P.T. Anderson for his script.
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- Runtime: 98 minutes
The story of two identical women living in two different places unfolds in “The Double Life of Véronique.” While one woman lives in Poland and the other is in France, their lives are connected. The film won several awards at the Cannes Film Festival.
"The Remains of the Day" had Oscar written all over it, with huge British stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson performing in an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s award-winning novel. The film tells the story in the flashbacks of a butler (Hopkins) who realizes he served a dishonorable man. Hopkins and Thompson earned Academy Award nominations for their roles, while the film itself and director James Ivory also received nods.
- Director: Scott Hicks
Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar for his breakthrough film role at the age of 43 in “Shine.” The Australian biopic centered on the life of piano prodigy David Helfgott (portrayed in the film by Geoffrey Rush, Noah Taylor, and Alex Rafalowicz) and his battle with mental illness. The film received criticism for its depiction of mental illness.
- Runtime: 92 minutes
Filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski won for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival for “Three Colors: White.” Starring Julie Delpy and Zbigniew Zamachowski, the film focuses on the revenge a man seeks after his wife divorces him. The second film in a trilogy that focuses on color, white is seen often throughout the film.
- Director: Jim Sheridan
- Stacker score: 90.2
- Runtime: 133 minutes
“In the Name of the Father” focuses on the real-life drama of an Irishman (Daniel Day-Lewis) falsely accused of murdering four British soldiers on behalf of the IRA. The film captivated audiences and earned a huge cache of award nominations, including seven at the Academy Awards and four at the Golden Globes. The story was taken from Gerry Conlon’s autobiography, “Proved Innocent: The Story of Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four.”
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- Director: Brad Bird
- Runtime: 86 minutes
The animated film “The Iron Giant” is the heartwarming tale of a boy in the late 1950s who makes friends with a large robot from space and tries to hide him from government agents. Directed by Brad Bird (who would go on to be one of Pixar’s most prolific directors), the movie features the voice talents of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., and Vin Diesel. The film won or was nominated for just about every award at the Annies, the animation world’s version of the Oscars.
- Director: Pedro Almodóvar
In the Spanish film, “All About My Mother,” a mother goes to look for the father of her son; one that he never knew existed. The relationships that result on her journey are a major focus of the film. Director Pedro Almodóvar dedicated the film to Bette Davis, Gena Rowlands, and Romy Schneider.
- Director: Andrew Davis
This hugely successful drama based on a true story was a remake of the 1960s TV series, which centered on a doctor accused of murder who escapes from a prison transport and goes on the run to prove his innocence. Tommy Lee Jones won the Academy Award for his role as the U.S. Marshal determined to catch Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford). The third-most-successful film of 1993, “The Fugitive” inspired a remake (“U.S. Marshals”) in 1998, in which Jones reprised his part.
- Director: Jane Campion
Known for its graphic sexual content, “The Piano” featured Holly Hunter as Ada, a woman in an arranged marriage living in New Zealand. When Ada’s husband sells her piano, a male neighbor asks her to give him piano lessons, but there are strings attached. Jane Campion was the second woman in the history of the Oscars to be nominated for Best Director.
- Director: Claire Denis
- Metascore: 91
"Beau Travail," based loosely on Herman Melville’s "Billy Budd," follows a group of French Foreign Legion soldiers and the suffering Sergeant Galoup whose jealousy and obsession have brought him near ruin. The dance scene at the end of the film was shot in just two takes.
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- Director: Barbet Schroeder
- Metascore: 93
“Reversal of Fortune” is based on the true story of socialite and British lawyer Claus von Bülow, the attempted murder of his wife, the ultra-wealthy Sunny von Bülow, and his hiring of attorney Alan Dershowitz to help him overthrow his attempted murder conviction. Martha Sunny von Bülow remained in a vegetative state for the last 28 years of her life and died on Dec. 6, 2008, at age 76.
- Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
- Stacker score: 90.7
Another Coen Brothers hit, “Fargo” had audiences everywhere speaking in a Minnesota accent. This oddball crime story had a pregnant sheriff (played by Frances McDormand) investigating the kidnapping of a woman whose husband hired two hitmen to carry out the job. The Coens won the Oscar for Best Screenplay, and Frances McDormand won for her role as Sheriff Marge Gunderson. In 2014, FX released a TV adaptation of the film, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, set in the same universe as the movie.
- Director: David Lynch
“The Straight Story” is an unlikely road trip movie that stars Richard Farnsworth as a man who drives across Iowa and Wisconsin in a tractor. David Lynch veered away from his traditional offbeat subject matter to direct this true story of a man trying to reconnect with his sick brother. Farnsworth’s performance was nominated for an Oscar, making him the oldest Best Actor contender at 79 years old.
- Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
On the heels of the success of “Beauty and the Beast”, Disney created this animated adaptation of one of the oldest stories in Arabic storytelling. Robin Williams voiced the hilarious genie, and the film won two Oscars for its popular soundtrack.
- Director: Isao Takahata
“Only Yesterday,” an animated Japanese film, focuses on a 27-year-old woman as she reminisces about her childhood. The film was based on a series of comics about the woman in the film as a young girl. Writing for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw noted, “The frankness with which Takahata evokes Taeko’s puberty, her loneliness, her yearnings, and how these mesh with her adult practicality and cheerful resourcefulness, is wonderfully managed. There is real artistry here: it is a must.”
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- Director: Atom Egoyan
A bus accident kills many of the children in a small town and tears its residents apart in this heart-wrenching drama. The film won three awards at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, including the Jury Prize.
- Director: Sam Mendes
- Stacker score: 91.3
- Runtime: 122 minutes
“American Beauty” racked up five Oscar wins at the 72nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Kevin Spacey. He plays Lester Burnham, a sexually repressed suburbanite who falls in love with one of his daughter’s underage friends, while his wife cheats on him and his daughter explores her own nascent sexuality. It was director Sam Mendes’ feature film debut after first finding fans as a theater director.
- Director: Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood directed himself in this Western about a gunslinger who takes one last job long after retiring to become a farmer. Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris co-star with Eastwood, who won Oscars for Best Picture as well as his directing—plus as a nomination for his acting in the film. Hackman won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
- Directors: John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, Lee Unkrich
The sequel to Pixar’s smash hit “Toy Story” finds Woody stolen by a toy collector, sending Buzz and friends on a rescue mission to get their cowboy friend back. "Toy Story 2" grossed more than $487 million worldwide at the box office, beating the original by a significant margin, but pales in comparison to the third edition of the franchise which cleared $1 billion worldwide.
- Director: Spike Jonze
- Runtime: 113 minutes
“Being John Malkovich” is about an unemployed puppeteer (John Cusack) who finds a portal into the brain of John Malkovich, played by himself. The oddball comedic drama earned former music video director Spike Jonze an Academy Award nomination for his directing; another nomination went to Charlie Kaufman for the script.
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Before starting a new job, a young man takes a summer holiday and winds up juggling three different love interests in this French film. "A Summer’s Tale" didn’t get its official U.S. release until 2014. The film is part of Éric Rohmer’s “Tale of the Four Seasons,” and according to the filmmaker was the most personal because it was based on events from his own life.
- Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
- Runtime: 119 minutes
In this surreal fantasy film, after people die they stop at a holding area where they choose their own heaven--one pleasant memory from their life that they will live out for eternity. While many of the interviews with the deceased people in the film were scripted, others were done with real people talking in an impromptu manner about their life memories.
- Metascore: 92
“Maborosi” filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda’s debut film is about death, a theme that will be found often in his films. The film finds a young widow married to a widower after her first husband dies by suicide. It won the Golden Osella for Best Cinematography at the Venice Film Festival.
- Director: Robert Redford
Based on parts of Richard N. Goodwin's 1988 memoir, “Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties,” “Quiz Show” revolves around the investigation into a game show that may have been fixed and the ensuing scandal. The game show was actually NBC’s “Twenty-One,” which aired on the network from 1956-1958.
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Stacker score: 92.9
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
Best Picture winner "Forrest Gump" follows the life of a simple man (Tom Hanks) who finds himself at the center of some of the 20th century’s biggest moments. The film was based on a book by Winston Groom and earned Tom Hanks an Oscar for his starring role.
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- Director: Jonathan Demme
- Stacker score: 93.4
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
"The Silence of the Lambs" dominated the Oscars with awards in most of the major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor and Actress. Jodie Foster stars as an FBI agent-in-training assigned to interrogate a cannibal serial killer (Anthony Hopkins), who claims to have information about a murderer still at large. This is the second cinematic appearance of Hopkins’ character Dr. Hannibal Lecter; he originally appeared in the Thomas Harris book “Red Dragon,” which was turned into a 1986 film “Manhunter” with Brian Cox playing the murderous doctor.
- Director: Peter Weir
What if you were the star of your own reality show, but didn’t know it? That’s the story behind “The Truman Show,” where Jim Carrey proved his dramatic acting chops as the leading man who has no idea his life has been filmed since birth. While Carrey didn’t win any awards for the part, Ed Harris earned an Oscar nomination for his role of Christof, the creator of Truman’s world (and TV show). Director Peter Weir and screenwriter Andrew Niccol earned Academy Award nominations for their inventive work on the movie.
Filmmaker Mike Leigh is known for his unique approach to the filmmaking process. While the film’s screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, much of the script was improvised. “Secrets & Lies” finds a woman establishing a relationship with her biological mother after her adoptive parents die.
- Director: Curtis Hanson
- Stacker score: 94.0
- Runtime: 138 minutes
James Ellroy’s 1990 novel turned into this 1950s Hollywood crime noir story that picked up nine Oscar nominations, including a victory for Kim Basinger as Best Supporting Actress for her role as a prostitute made to look like Veronica Lake. The story follows three policemen investigating a series of murders, with corruption at every turn.
- Metascore: 96
“Days of Being Wild” marks director Wong Kar-Wai’s sophomore film effort. This period film, set in the 1960s, focuses on a young man, Yuddy, who finds out that the woman who raised him is not his mother. Yuddy, a womanizer, falls for two women and cannot choose.
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- Director: Frank Darabont
- Stacker score: 94.5
- IMDb user rating: 9.3
In 1982, Stephen King wrote a novella entitled “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.” Twelve years later, it became a massive hit movie, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman as an unlikely set of best friends enduring life in a Maine prison. The film garnered seven Oscar nominations, but its popularity only increased after its initial release. In 2013 alone, the film played on cable TV for more than 150 hours.
- Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
“The Lion King” was so beloved that it became a long-running hit Broadway musical and was turned into a live-action movie starring Beyoncé. The story follows Simba, a lion cub set to inherit the throne as King of the Jungle—until he runs away after being made to believe he caused his father’s death. Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane, Jeremy Irons, and James Earl Jones all provided voices for an all-star cast.
- Director: Edward Yang
- Stacker score: 95.1
- Runtime: 237 minutes
This Taiwanese coming-of-age film, set in the 1960s, is about a group of disaffected teenage boys, American rock and roll music, and murder. Ultimately, “A Brighter Summer Day” is a true-crime film. Writing for The New York Times, A.O. Scott says of the film, “In every aspect of technique—from the smoky colors and the bustling, off-center compositions to the architecture of the story and the emotional precision of the performances—this film is a work of absolute mastery.”
- Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
- Stacker score: 95.6
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 84 minutes
The first early-90s animated Disney movie to earn legions of fans, "Beauty and the Beast" tells the story of a bookish local girl imprisoned by a cursed French prince who can only regain his human form by earning true love. Alan Menken won two Oscars for his musical contributions to the film, including the title track. Disney released a live-action adaptation of the animated classic in 2017, which was itself an adaptation of a well-known French fairytale and a 1946 French film.
- Stacker score: 96.7
- Runtime: 146 minutes
“Goodfellas” is the first collaboration between Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote the novel on which the movie was based. The movie follows the life of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) who got mixed up with the mob in 1955 while he was still attending high school in New York City. Lorraine Bracco, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro also star in the film.
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- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Runtime: 169 minutes
This epic war movie earned Spielberg his second Academy Award as Best Director. It depicts the story of an Army crew tasked with tracking down the last remaining brother in a family of soldiers who lost their lives in World War II. Tom Hanks stars alongside a mostly younger cast, including Matt Damon as Private Ryan.
- Director: John Lasseter
- Stacker score: 97.3
- Runtime: 81 minutes
Now one of Pixar’s most beloved franchises, the original “Toy Story” was a box office smash in 1995 as the highest-grossing film of the year. The CGI-animated movie captivated audiences with a story of two toys, a cowboy voiced by Tom Hanks and a space hero voiced by Tim Allen, who vie for the attention of the boy who owns them.
- Stacker score: 98.9
- Metascore: 100
The third and final film of the arthouse trilogy features a model who runs over a judge’s dog and then finds herself in a unique relationship with the judge. The three films of the trilogy are color-themed based on the French flag. They also revolve around the themes of the French republic, which are liberty, equality, and brotherhood.
- Stacker score: 100.0
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Runtime: 195 minutes
AFI named it the eighth-best movie in history and Oscar voters agreed, bestowing a Best Picture award to “Schindler’s List” along with six additional statues. The sad but heroic story follows German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who does his best to help save the lives of his Jewish workforce in the Holocaust.
- Runtime: 154 minutes
Quentin Tarantino hit mainstream popularity with this scattered melange of Los Angeles crime stories starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis. The film earned Tarantino an Oscar for Best Screenplay and tallied six more nominations. The paltry $8 million dollar budget yielded massive dividends as the movie soared to more than $200 million worldwide in box office receipts.
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