I love films from the 90s. In my opinion we had some of the best films when I was growing up, and to this day, I have yet to find any films that even come close. I know, I’m a bit biased when it comes to this topic. There is just something so classic about films from the 90s, and they all had their own special significance in my life.
Over the past several weeks, it seems the cable networks have just been having a time warp. There has been a film on TV from my 90s childhood basically every single day. It got me thinking about all the films from the 90s that will always have a special place in my heart. Naturally I had to put together a list.
Here are my top 10 films from the 90s you need to watch:
Release date: December 14, 1990
Why it’s a favorite: A film about a single mother raising her two daughters in 1963 Massachusetts, this one will always be a classic. I watch it every time it comes on. It stars Cher, Winona Ryder, and Christina Ricci. Charlotte (Ryder), the eldest daughter, is such a relatable character because she’s trying to figure out her place in the world, like so many of us have done when we were teens. She’s got an unconventional mom (Cher) who is a free spirit and doesn’t play by any rules. Charlotte is trying to be a good daughter and big sister, while she deals with her own problems. On top of that, she experiences falling in love for the first time. Adolescence is often a very confusing time, and I think Mermaids captures that in a real way.
Mermaids is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Release date: December 17,1993
Why it’s a favorite: One of the most heartwarming and gut-wrenching films I have ever watched. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is about Gilbert (Johnny Depp), a young man living in the small town of Endora. He’s taken on the reins of being the man of the house ever since his father’s suicide. He’s taking care of the entire family, because his mother became severely depressed and hasn’t left the house in years. Gilbert has two sisters and a mentally delayed brother Arnie, (Leonardo DiCaprio) who he looks after. Gilbert is dealing with the pressures of holding his family together while wanting to break free from the monotony of their small town. The acting from the cast is outstanding, but Leonardo’s performance as Arnie is phenomenal. Arnie will warm your heart and break it. I don’t care how many times I have seen this film; I cry every single time.
Release date: July 19, 1995
Why it’s a favorite: “As if!” if you know this line then you are most certainly a fan of Clueless. I can recite every single line of this movie word for word, and I am not ashamed to admit that. Clueless is just such a fun film. It tells the story of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a young high school girl who has only ever been looked at as a superficial dumb blonde girl, who doesn’t care about anything but shopping.
There is more to Cher than people realize though, and that’s what makes this film so great. You watch her start to really mature and start to re-think her priorities in life. Not only is this film a classic for the one liner, it’s filled with an amazing wardrobe that people still want to duplicate today. There have even been a few nods to the plaid styles sold at Target with their Wild Fable line.
Clueless is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Release date: May 3, 1996
Why it’s a favorite: “We are the weirdos mister” One of the best witchy films of my generation, so much so that a reboot is in the works. The Craft is a freaking classic to top all classics. I will love this movie till the day I die. The Craft centers around a group of teenage girls: Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Rochelle (Rachel True), and Sarah (Robin Tunney), who happen to be witches.
Although this film is about witches, it is still relatable, because it deals with a lot of things that teens go through. That sense of wanting to belong somewhere, peer pressure, racism, and so much more. The witchcraft is a big part of the film, but it’s also used in a way that symbolizes the power struggle between women. Meaning, it shows the ways in which we can turn on each other. These young girls are witches, but at the end of the day, they are high school girls just like everyone else.
The Craft is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Release date: December 20, 1996
Why it’s a favorite: One of the first slasher films I watched growing up. To this day, it still freaks me out, especially the opening sequence with Drew Barrymore. Scream was and still is such an Iconic horror film. Directed by Wes Craven, it stars Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, a teenage girl who becomes the target of a masked serial killer. There have been several installments in the Scream franchise however, none of them will ever top the original.
Release date: September 26, 1997
Why it’s a favorite: Growing up, there were very few films that captured the black experience. Soul Food managed to do it perfectly. With a beautiful black cast at the helm, this is by far the best film about the black family dynamic. The film centers around the familiy Matriarch: Mama Joe. For 40 years Mama Joe has kept the family together with her famous Sunday dinners. She falls ill, and her entire family begins to fall apart. This was a relatable film for me, because having a black family, Sunday dinners have always been a tradition. Like the characters in this film, my family has also gone through several ups and downs, not to the extent some of these characters have, but I know what it’s like to have your family fall apart when a member who held everyone together is no longer able to.
Soul Food is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
She’s All That
Release date: January 29, 1999
Why it’s a favorite: A modern day adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, starring Rachel Leigh Cook, Freddie Prinze Jr., and the late Paul Walker. She’s All That tells the story of high school student AKA Mr. popular Zack Siler. After being dumped by his popular girlfriend (Jodi Lynn O’keefe), he makes a bet with his friend (Paul Walker) that he can turn average girl, Laney Boggs (Leigh Cook) into a popular one. Full of teen drama and one of the most epic prom dance scenes (yes, I know it), She’s All That will remain a favorite for all time.
She’s all that is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Release date: March 5, 1999
Why it’s a favorite: Based on the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Cruel Intentions is a story of rich teens doing very bad things to one another to get what they want. Directed by Roger Kumble (The man currently directing After We Collided), and starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe, and Selma Blair, Cruel Intentions will always be my favorite movie. I love the entire cast, but obviously the main draw for me was Ryan Phillippe because well, he was (and still is) a major hottie in my teen years. Cruel Intentions has been coming on basically every day the last several weeks, and even though I have the DVD, I have been watching it every single time (not sorry).
10 Things I Hate About You
Release date: March 31, 1999
Why it’s a favorite: A modern retelling of the Shakespearean play The Taming of the Shrew, starring Julia Stiles, and the late Heath Ledger, that tells the story of two sisters whose father has a strict no dating rule. Only his rule is a little bit different. He will allow his youngest Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) to date once her sister Kat (Stiles) does. It sounds easy right? Except for one thing, Kat is a strong opinionated young woman who wants no parts of the cliché high school experience. 10 Things is so special, because it’s one of those movies even today’s generation can relate to.
10 Things I Hate About You is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Anywhere But Here
Release date: September 17, 1999
Why it’s a favorite: Anywhere But Here is the story of a single mother Adele (Susan Sarandon), and her daughter Ann (Natalie Portman) August. Adele, tired of what she views as a boring life in Bay-City, leaves her second husband and takes her daughter to Beverly Hills to start a new life. The move is not a simple one. They are faced with multiple financial challenges, and Ann is dealing with her mother’s constant impulsive decisions. Ann feels as though she is the parent, when she just wants to focus on her life as a high school student.
I have always loved this film because it reminds me of my relationship with my mom. Now, my mother was not impulsive like Ann’s mom, but I could relate to growing up with my mom being a single parent and struggling financially to be able to provide. Like Ann, I realized that my mom made a lot of sacrifices for me when I was a kid. Each time I watch this movie, I cry. I’m telling you, no matter how many times I have watched it, I can’t watch it without crying.
Anywhere But Here is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Well, there you have it. These are just a few of the top movies from the 90s you need to watch. Have you seen any of these films? Which do you consider a classic? Tell us in the comments below!