The 90s rocked! And we’ll fight to the death any man that says otherwise. You want proof? How about the great expansion of the world wide web! Making whole intact sheep from petri dishes! Euro ’96! Radiohead at Glasto! Spaced! Oh what wonderful times they were. And as we look back at all that ruddy wonderful pre-Y2K music we take the opportunity to hold up a big sparkly ’10’ to the following films in a Moviewatch with Johnny Vaughan stylee.
9 Groundhog Day
Comedies have a tendency to stand up poorly to the test of time as what we perceive to be funny shifts throughout the years. The greatest strength of Groundhog Day, appropriately enough, is its timelessness. As close as you can get to Frank Capra in a post-modern cynical age, Bill Murray’s inclusion stopped everything going too saccharine in the final act. The only film in which Andie MacDowell is even tolerated.
Outstanding Moment: Punching Ned.
8 Jurassic Park
What Jurassic Park lacks in believable science theory it more than makes up for in rollercoaster entertainment. Like Alien 15 years before it, JP was all about what it hid from the audience, making every glimpse of Dino that much more enthralling. Groundbreaking effects, a soaring score, Spielberg’s non-stop theme park ride about theme park rides gone bad was an event anyone that’s now in their late 20’s upwards will remember forever.
Outstanding Moment: The kitchen stalk.
7 The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption currently sits at the top of IMDb’s best films of all time. Ever. Few would argue. The ONLY film that grown men get a pass at weeping uncontrollably at. It may spectacularly fail the Bechdel Test, but Shawshank isn’t about willies and vaginas. It’s about hope. And hope is a good thing.
Outstanding Moment: Andy plays some Wolfgang.
6 Pulp Fiction
If Reservoir Dogs announced Tarantino’s arrival at the party, Pulp Fiction was QT owning the room. Nobody defined 90s cinema like the creator of Pumpkin, Butch and Jules. On the back of just two features Quentin managed to become the toast of Cannes, top of every actor’s wishlist and get himself name-checked in a dictionary definition. Fitting considering his sophomore effort, like so many bad A-Level Exams, opened with one. Pulp Fiction (n) Cinematic Masterpiece.
Outstanding Moment: Vince asks Marvin’s opinion with the safety off. Guiltiest belly laugh in cinema history.
Few films balance the mix of comedy, drama, action and (awkward and weird) romance as well as Luc Besson’s beloved tale of the Hitman and Her. As revelatory as Portman was as Mathilda, Jean Reno has never been better, before or since, than when playing the little boy in the adult body. Next time you watch Leon try playing spot the Kubrick references. There’s more than a few. Or just enjoy a certified classic that mixes European and Hollywood sensibilities with professional precision.
Outstanding Moment: Training to Bjork.
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The inclusion of Seven jettisons two other movies that could easily have made the list. Limiting the list to a singular piece of work by a director meant losing Fincher’s Fight Club and due to the similar theme and content we’ve also skipped the equally worthy Silence Of The Lambs. That’s how much we adore Seven. From Somerset’s intro to Mills haunting farewell, every frame screams classic.
Outstanding Moment: The entire final 20 minutes. And the previous 107. Just bloody all of it.
3 The Usual Suspects
There were some obvious noirish tropes and the use of violence and language had reviewers screaming ‘Tarantino-esque’, but in truth The Usual Suspects was a damn sight cleverer than any film it alluded to. Managing to trick the audience without pissing them off may be the greatest trick of all.
Outstanding Moment: Verbal’s ‘Keyser Soze’ monologue.
2 L.A. Confidential
Any other year and Titanic‘s Oscar clean sweep may have been more tolerable. We’re not suggesting the King-of-the-world backlash wouldn’t have materialised amongst critics and film fans but the fact that each win came at the detriment of L.A. Confidential made it that much harder to take. Fingers crossed that Ruben Fleischer and all those involved in the forthcoming Gangster Squad took a moment to dissect Curtis Hanson’s crime epic for just how to juggle a complex case, dress a dame and doff one’s cap to the world of hard-boiled noir.
Outstanding Moment: Bud and Edmund play good cop/bad cop with the DA.
1 The Big Lebowski
If by the end of the decade you were championing The Big Lebowski as one of the films of the decade you were in the minority. It certainly garnered great reviews, especially from the British film mags, but thanks to the heavy shadow of Fargo, this Big Sleep-riffing comedy only evolved into a recognised classic over time.
Outstanding Moment: Far too many to call but Jeff’s delivery of “I’m sorry I wasn’t listening” to the fascist Malibu Chief Of Police certainly deserves some extra credit.
We’ve already mentioned the painful omission of Fight Club and Silence of The Lambs but what else deserves inclusion and what would you bump out to take its place. Schindlers List for Leon? The Matrix for Lebowski? Let the debate commence.