The 25 best '90s movies

Get busy readin', then get busy watchin'

The '90s were a blast for movie fans of all persuasions. We got loads of new filmmakers (Tarantino, Anderson, Kelly, Shyamalan) delivering ground-breaking movies, films that pushed the limits of technology, a bunch of multi-award winning classics and, of course, the last act plot twist trend. In short, it was a decade that made an everlasting mark on cinema. Don't believe us? Just have a look at some of the movies that have missed out on our top 25 movies of the decade. Casualties include Titanic, Babe, American Beauty, Ringu, Princess Mononoke, Toy Story 2, Leon and Saving Private Ryan, to name but a few. What took their place? Read on to find out. 

25. Speed (1994)

The movie: Action fans were spoilt for choice in the '90s. A vintage time for the genre delivering the likes of The Rock, Point Break and Con Air but, for my money, the best of the lot was Speed. One of the strongest examples of high-concept done right, it's got the simplest plot and yet manages to be a relentless thrill-ride throughout. The stunts are excellent, but it wouldn't work half as well without Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock's winning central pairing and Dennis Hopper's entertaining-as-hell maniacal villain. Just don't mention the sequel.

Most '90s moment: A bus flying over a huge gap in a highway, and in slow-motion to boot, was the height of tension. 

24. LA Confidential (1999)

The movie: Slow-burning, throwback-inspired noir was a big thing in the '90s. Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, Twilight, Red Rock West... and the one that tops the lot: Curtis Hanson's tightly-plotted riff on James Ellroy's L.A.-based novel. Its razor sharp script slowly unravels to reveal the rotten core of 1950s Hollywood, that's made all the more enchanting by its killer cast: Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe all deliver stonking turns. 

Most '90s moment: While the film is set during the '50s, its last act twist is an utterly '90s invention. 

23. Scream (1996)

The movie: One of the definitive horrors of the modern era, Scream saw Wes Craven build on the meta elements of New Nightmare to redefine slasher films for a new audience. Scream's astonishing opening sequence would make a strong short movie on its own, but Craven has the audacity to keep up the high standard throughout. Kevin Williamson's script populates the movie with horror-knowledgeable characters and its genius comes from continually subverting their - and the audiences - expectations. Many have tried to replicate Scream, none have succeeded. 

Most '90s moment: When Billy's having a cell phone is reason enough to arouse suspicion from the cops. 

22. Groundhog Day (1993)

The movie: I bet that if awards voters could relive 1993 over again, they'd shower Groundhog Day with all the awards. Fittingly, its popularity has increased over the years as people rewatched it and realised that they were watching an all-time classic comedy. Building from its brilliant central premise, Groundhog Day is hilarious thanks to Bill Murray's performance as disgruntled weatherman Phil Conners, but also doesn't forget to muse thoughtfully on the consequences of living the same day over and over again.  

Most '90s moment: Conners' pissy attitude towards Ned Ryerson - that's some '90s angst, right there. 

21. The Sixth Sense (1999)

The movie: It's testament to the quality of The Sixth Sense that it even holds up when you know exactly what is coming. Just in case you haven't experienced its twist yet (and I can't imagine there are many who haven't), I won't do a cheap gag at its expense. Instead, I'll praise M. Night Shyamalan's masterful control of suspense and chills, and bemoan the fact that he's rarely managed to repeat it. Regarding its iconic ending, I will say that the moment the end credits roll, you'll dive straight back in to see just how you could have missed it. 

Most '90s moment: It really is the ending. Seriously, the '90s were all about twists. 

20. The Big Lebowski (1998)

The movie: One of the biggest cult movies of the 90s, what The Big Lebowski lacks in coherence, it more than makes up for with larger-than-life characters and endlessly quotable dialogue. Not to mention one of the finest ensembles of the decade. It's all led with consummate ease by Jeff Bridges whose The Dude remains cinema's most lovable slacker. The Big Lebowski will make you want to set up your own bowling team, just maybe don't try and get embroiled with mobsters when you do. And don't let them anywhere near your beloved rug. 

Most '90s moment: Within the first five minutes there's a huge misunderstanding over someone's identity. 

19. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The movie: Given the state of the majority of found footage films these days, it's easy to forget just how effective they can be. The Blair Witch Project remains the definitive use of the format, utilising its handheld nature to create a genuinely terrifying cinematic experience. Whether it's the sound of children playing in the middle of the night or the nerve-jangling ending in a derelict house's basement, The Blair Witch Project delivers unforgettable imagery that will possibly put you off hiking for life. As with Speed though, maybe just forget the sequel exists. 

Most '90s moment: Josh handles the serious B&W filming with a 16MM camera, as Heather embraces the cutting-edge tech of a bulky 8MM handicam. 

18. Boyz n the Hood (1991)

The movie: At the tender age of 24, most of us are still figuring out life. John Singleton? He was writing and directing Boyz n The Hood. If that's not lit a fire under your butt, it should inspire you to watch his brilliant debut. The movie follows three friends, Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), and brothers Doughboy (Ice Cube) and Ricky Baker (Morris Chestnut) during their childhood in South Central Los Angeles. It's compelling stuff, made even more impressive by the fact that Singleton was Oscar-nominated for his efforts. 

Most '90s moment: Ice Cube chugging down the St. Ides. 

17. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The movie: Quentin Tarantino's first - and, for some, still his best - feature introduced us to his world in brilliant fashion. From Mr. Pink's (Steve Buscemi) opinion on tipping and the cool-as-fuck opening titles to the unforgettable ear-slicing, it showed us exactly what to expect from a Tarantino effort. And those elements remain today in The Hateful Eight, even if his recent movies have lacked the narrative tightness of his debut. Perhaps the only surprising thing for some first-time viewings is how restrained the filmmaker is. Modern-day Tarantino may see Aldo Raine carve a swastika in someone's head but, back then, we didn't even see the ear sliced off. 

Most '90s moment: Sure, it was twenty years old at the time but Stealers Wheel's Stuck In The Middle Of You became a massive '90s hit. 

Gem Seddon

Gem Seddon is GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter, working to keep all of you updated on all of the latest and greatest movies and shows on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Outside of entertainment journalism, Gem can frequently be found writing about the alternative health and wellness industry, and obsessing over all things Aliens and Terminator on Twitter.