From Pretty Woman and Thelma and Louise to Casino and Romeo + Juliet, the 1990s provided us with a whole host of ultimate classics. Take this opportunity to uncover the Vogue Paris list of the best films from the 1990s.
Pretty Woman (1990)
In 1990, when Julia Roberts agreed to play the role of Vivian Ward in the classic film Pretty Woman (a role turned down by Meg Ryan), it was the beginning of her superstar acting career, as well as that of a long-lasting friendship with her on-screen love interest, Richard Gere. On the heels of their newfound success, the two actors played alongside each other again in 1999 in Runaway Bride.
A New York banker named Sam is suddenly murdered in street, right in front of his wife Molly, a sculptor played by Demi Moore. Sam becomes a ghost, and learns he can communicate with a clairvoyant named Oda Mae, played by the fabulous Whoopi Goldberg. Sam eventually tracks down the man who killed him, and with the help of Oda Mae attempts to contact his wife. For his role as the vengeful ghost, Patrick Swayze earned himself a nomination at the 1991 Golden Globes for best actor. The film received great reviews, while Whoopi Goldberg received an Oscar, a BAFTA award, and a Golden Globe for her role as a supporting actress in the film. Additionally, Maurice Jarre received an Oscar nomination for his original soundtrack.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Abandoned and forgotten, Edward Scissorhands meets Peg Boggs, a cosmetic saleswoman, who sees in him a potential hairstyling client. After being taken under the Boggs family’s wing, the young man falls in love with their eldest daughter, Kim Boggs. Despite their mutual feelings towards each other, Edward is the laughing stock of the entire city. This gem of a fantasy movie by Tim Burton was the first of many films in which the director cast Johnny Depp as his lead.
Home Alone (1990)
A Christmas time classic, Home Alone features a young Macaulay Culkin, who became a child star in the 1990s thanks to his playful roles. The film tells the comical story of a little boy who gets forgotten by his family as they leave for Christmas vacation. Young Kevin must fend for himself against a duo of home burglars, while he waits for his parents to return home.
Dead Poets Society (1990)
John Keating is the English professor at the austere Academy of Welton in Vermont. His signature teaching method? Bringing his student’s personalities to life. His methods push his students to form a group of poets, free spirits of sorts, of which John was a part of during his youth. However, in 1959, these unconventional methods of teaching go against the rigid rules of American society. For the role of the teacher any student would have loved, Robin Williams was nominated for an Oscar for his role in 1990.
Dances with Wolves (1990)
In an outpost of the American southwest, a young lieutenant named John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) finds himself befriending the Sioux people. Dunbar realizes that he recognizes himself in the tribe, and in the values they uphold. This noteworthy film was awarded a grand total of 7 Oscars, including that of Best Film in 1991.
Wild At Heart (1990)
Sailor and Lula are in the midst of a passionate romance. The only problem is Lula’s mother, Marietta, doesn’t approve of Sailor. Marietta hires a hitman to kill Sailor, however Sailor prevails and kills the man in self-defence. He’s put in prison for two years, and upon release flees the state with his lover, Lula. This cult film by David Lynch will forever be remembered for Nicolas Cage‘s snakeskin jacket.
Nikita is a young drug addicted former detainee, but her life takes a turn when the French secret service hire her as a special agent. Anne Parillaud won the César Award for Best Actress in 1991 for her role as the badass heroine in this action-packed film.
Ever since childhood, Henry Hill had one aspiration: to become a gangster, and a part of the mafia. As a teenager, he begins working for Paul Cicero, while admiring other gangsters like Jimmy Conway, who specializes securing stolen goods. As he gets deeper and deeper into the mafia underworld, Henry encounters more than a few problems along the way.
Thelma and Louise (1991)
Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, a car and a gun are the essential ingredients for a classic. Thelma and Louise tells the story of two women escaping a life of patriarchal monotony, who between laughter and tears, pave the way for one of the best final scenes in American cinema.
Point Break (1991)
In a equally potent shot of adrenaline and salt water, Point Break brought together Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze on the big screen under high pressure. Keanu embodies an FBI agent, infiltrating a group of surfers suspected of robbing a string of banks in the guise of Presidents of the United States. Bodhi is the leader of the surfers, played by Swayze, his halo of golden hair reminiscent of the old-age Californian dream. Inevitably, Agent Johnny Utah gets a taste for the waves, falling in love and putting his undercover mission at peril. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Point Break is undoubtedly one of the best surf movies ever made.
The evil Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) never did forgive Peter Pan for making him lose his hand, and kidnaps the now-adult’s children, making them prisoners of his boat. Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) returns to the real world to help Peter (Robin Williams) travel into the imaginary world, but Peter has lost all memories of his former identity when he was a Lost Boy. He soon recovers his memories though, and makes it his mission to save his kids from his mortal enemy. Hook, which received five Oscar nominations, was a true gem of our childhood, and still wakes the inner child in us all to this day.
The Addams Family (1991)
Creepy, and yet still so irresistible. The Addams Family first graced our screens back in 1991. Anjelica Huston plays the divine Morticia Addams, consistently draped in the finest pieces an all-black wardrobe could offer. How could one forget the sadistic Wednesday Addams, played by Christina Ricci, showing off her acting talents at just 11 years old.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Those chilling words from Hannibal Lecter still resonate in our minds. In 1991, Anthony Hopkins terrified the world by playing an older psychiatrist who turns out to be a sadistic cannibal. A cat and mouse game ensues between the doctor and FBI agent Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster. The skilled agent can’t help but become captivated by the psychopath’s intelligence.
To the tune of the beautiful ballad “I Will Always Love You”, star of the music industry, Whitney Houston, falls in love with her bodyguard. Through the directorial vision of Mick Jackson, Whitney Houston conveys an incredible sincerity in her major motion picture debut. The Bodyguard stands alone as a memorial to the diva’s glory days.
Basic Instinct (1992)
Almost everyone remembers the scene from Basic Instinct, where Sharon Stone, playing the role of a coy and shady writer, crosses her legs in a seductive fashion in the midst of a police interrogation. The scene garnered headlines worldwide and went down as one of the most sexually charged scenes in film history.
Batman Returns (1992)
In Batman Returns, released in 1992, one of Batman’s arch enemies reappears. Michelle Pfeiffer adorns the black latex suit for her role as Catwoman. Manifesting the seductive feline spirit, the American actress handles the whip (a staple Catwoman weapon) and commands attention in her supervillain role. Halle Berry played Catwoman as well in 2004, however many argued that her performance did not compare to the former. The Catwoman created in the Tim Burton directed film remains as one of the most emblematic of supervillains in cinema history.
City of Joy (1992)
After a failed medical procedure that leads him into a bout of depression, a young American surgeon named Max decides to leave everything behind and travel to India. Once in Calcutta, Max is confronted with the poverty and famine that plagues the country. Initially hostile, after being beaten up by locals, he accepts the help of a young farmer and his family. He then discovers the City of Joy, a slum area where despite famine and misery, the people remain resilient and happy. The trip totally transforms Max, and he begins to see life in a new light.
Jurassic Park (1993)
“Life will not be contained.” In 1993, the world was introduced to Jurassic Park, a secluded island where dinosaurs have been reborn thanks to cloning practices undertaken by a millionaire scientist, John Hammond, and his team of scientists. A dozen or so species are successfully cloned, including a T-Rex and a velociraptor, who escape from their enclosures during a power outage. Steven Spielberg successfully directed this instant classic, and delighted the curious minds of children worldwide.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
After a bitter divorce, Daniel loses custody of his three children. Faced with this heartbreaking news, he devises a ploy so that he can still see his children every day: disguising himself as a housekeeper. Thanks to his acting talents and his makeup artist brother, Daniel transforms in to Mrs. Doubtfire, an old Scottish woman with a sharp wit. Daniel, disguised as Mrs. Doubtfire, persuades his ex-wife Miranda, to hire him. With that, Daniel is able to see his kids every day just as he hoped, but this doesn’t last long…The film features Robin Williams in one of his best roles, and perhaps the most touching. Williams snagged the Golden Globe for Best Actor in 1994 thanks to his hilarious performance.
A Bronx Tale (1993)
The Sicilian mafia sets up shop in a Bronx neighborhood, forcing the residents to live under their thumb. Bus driver Lorenzo Anello has a hard time accepting the new gangster-driven twist to his childhood streets. However, his 9-year-old son Calogero, witnesses a murder committed by mafia boss Sonny, and decides to keep his mouth shut when the police question him. Thanks to his choice of not snitching on the mafia boss, the don takes young Calogero under his wing.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino‘s second film is undoubtedly one of his best. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, Pulp Fiction tells the hyper-violent story of gangsters, drug-addicts, and a professional fighter, who find their lives intertwining in Hollywood. Among the characters, we meet Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), a young woman with a pension for drugs, who ends up doing the twist in a 1950s style restaurant with her husband’s henchman, Vincent Vega (John Travolta). The result is an emblematic scene, engraved in the minds of all those who’ve seen the impressive film.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
In this dramatic comedy, which happens to be one of the most successful films in British cinema history, we find the single and handsome Charles (Hugh Grant). Love just doesn’t seem to interest him until he meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell) during a wedding where he is acting as the witness. Kristin Scott Thomas plays the long-time friend of Charles, Fiona, who admits to having been in love with him for quite some time. In the supporting role, Scott Thomas delivers a brilliant performance, showcasing her duality as an actress.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Run Forrest, Run! The refrain has become iconic in and of itself. Tom Hanks plays Forrest Gump, a young man, who despite a low generic IQ, possesses more charm, life experience and kindness than most people on earth. Through his eyes we witness a snapshot of the recent history of the U.S., in which Forrest plays an important part. The film won 6 Oscars, including Best Film, Best Director for Robert Zemeckis and Best Actor for Tom Hanks.
The young and determined 12-year-old, Mathilda Landon, wants to avenge her parent’s death. In order to fulfill her desire, she teams up with Léon, a hitman played by Jean Reno. Natalie Portman secures her first major film role in Luc Besson’s film. You’ll never guess how it ends…
Sandra Bullock finds herself at the wheel of a city-bus bound for destruction, while Keanu Reeves attempts to outsmart a witty yet sadistic villain. With it’s thrilling energy, and obvious on-screen chemistry between the two lead actors, Speed is one of the best action films from the 1990s.
Interview with a Vampire (1994)
Journey back in time to San Francisco during the 1990s. A journalist named Malloy finds himself interviewing a charming man, with an unusually pale complexion. This charming man turns out to be a vampire, brought to life by another vampire named Lestat, an arrogant and sadistic creature with an appetite for suffering. This elegant and classic film cast Kirsten Dunst in her first major role, an 11-year-old vampire.
In 1969, Alan Parrish finds a mysterious board game which he decides to play with his crush, Sarah Whittle. When he rolls the dice, a sinister message appears… in the jungle, you must wait, until the dice read 5 or 8. He suddenly disappears, leaving Sarah terrified and being chased by bats out of the house. Twenty-six years later, Judith (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter are orphans who move with their Aunt Nora into Alan’s old house, which has been left abandoned since he disappeared. One day, the children hear noises and find the game, which they decide to play. After chimpanzees wreak havoc and a lion appears, Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) comes back into the real world, and helps the children – along with the now-adult Sarah Whittle – end the game once and for all.
In Martin Scorsese‘s Casino, Robert De Niro plays the role of a humble gangster who rules the Las Vegas landscape in the 1970s. He’s married to a volatile and shallow woman, played by Sharon Stone, fresh off the success from her role in Basic Instinct. Sharon Stone is electrifying, and walked away with the Golden Globe for Best Actress that same year.
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is the most popular girl in school, and she has a favorite after-school activity: matchmaking. This modern interpretation of Emma by Jane Austen follows the lives of the rich and popular in Beverly Hills. Clueless remains as one of the most classic and cherished teen-movies from the 1990s, which undoubtedly inspired Mean Girls years later.
In this thriller, Morgan Freeman plays an old disillusioned cop, who finds himself investigating a series of murders based around the 7 deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride). This edge-of-your-seat thriller brings David Fincher and Brad Pitt together for the first time, leading them to collaborate later on some of our favorite films (Fight Club in 1999, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2009)
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
A masked serial killer is stalking the small town of Woodsboro. This film is the first in the four-film saga, and it remains as the best out of all. Honestly, who hasn’t been a little scared to pick up the telephone when home alone?
The Fifth Element (1997)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Good Will Hunting, which was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, tells the story of the rebellious mathematics genius, Will, who lives in South Boston. Often getting into trouble despite the bright future that his intellect could give him, Will risks being sent to prison constantly, but always uses his smarts to evade jail time. One time, though, in order to escape prison, Professor Lambeau at MIT spots his genius and requests to the judge that the troubled teen has counselling with Sean (Robin Williams). The role earned Robin Williams the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Far from his usual roles as a teen heart-throb, Johnny Depp throws his all into this role as an atypical drifter. In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the actor plays a failed journalist with a cocaine addiction. Accompanied by Benicio del Toro, the two embark on desert road trip, heading for Las Vegas. The film portrays a 1970s era American dream, quickly giving away to disillusionment and hallucinations, leaving you to wonder what you’re actually watching.
Fight Club (1999)
Welcome to Fight Club! Jack (Edward Norton) is an insurance agent who is also an insomniac. He has a less than satisfactory personal and professional life, until he meets Marla Singer, an eccentric character. This hallucinatory film by David Fincher is one to watch.