In honor of CNN’s “The Nineties,” we're counting down the 90 best movies of the '90s -- one of the best decades for cinema. Here we go.
20th Century Fox
90. "There’s Something About Mary"
Smutty, stupid and silly in the best way. A very '90s love story with a script so good it's been praised by our greatest living screenwriter, William Goldman. – Tim Molloy
Tom Hanks plays a gay, HIV-positive lawyer whose only help comes from a homophobic lawyer played by Denzel Washington, both giving stellar performances. Director Jonathan Demme finds intimate humanity, like he always did. R.I.P. – Brian Welk
88. "Europa, Europa"
Director Agnieszka Holland tells the true story of Solomon Perel, a Jewish teen who escapes the Nazis by disguising himself as one of them. Eventually, his disguise works so well that he is sent to a Hitler Youth Academy, where he witnesses the Nazis’ vicious propaganda firsthand. – Jeremy Fuster
87. "Twelve Monkeys"
One of the greatest and most bizarre time- travel movies. Terry Gilliam combines questions of fate vs. free will with an Orwellian vision of a the future. – Brian Welk
86. "Sleepless in Seattle"
You can thank the wonderful Nora Ephron for all the romantic meet-ups on the Empire State Building this film has inspired. – Brian Welk
85. "Pretty Woman"
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts star in this classic rom-com directed by Garry Marshall. It's been criticized for sending the wrong message about prostitutes and escorts, but has also been heralded as a feminist classic. Either way, it earned Julia Roberts her second Oscar nomination for Best Actress. – Ashley Boucher
84. "The Usual Suspects"
The film that taught us "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist" pulls some pretty slick tricks itself. – Tim Molloy
83. "American Beauty"
Suburbs are hard. Kevin Spacey has a crush on his daughter’s high-school best friend. Annette Bening is cheating on him. And a young Wes Bentley finds mystery and beauty in a floating plastic grocery bag. Elliott's Smith's cover of the Beatles' "Because" at the end is angelic. – Brian Welk.
82. "Point Break"
What more could you ask for? Patrick Swayze as Bodhi, the ringleader of a surf gang robbing SoCal banks in ex-Presidents masks. Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah, a former college football star turned FBI agent. And the great Gary Busey stealing scenes as Angelo Pappas, Utah's grizzled and wisecracking mentor. The fact this movie was remade in 2015 is a travesty -- it was already exactly what it should have been. – Sean Burch
Wes Craven revitalized the slasher horror movie by twisting the genre tropes with humor and movie trivia and making it deeply self-aware. Post-ironic irony is very nineties. – Brian Welk
80. "Eve’s Bayou"
Kasi Lemmons’s 1962-set drama explores how infidelity and lies corrupt families. – Brian Welk
20th Century Fox
79. "Fight Club"
You already know the first and second rules of “Fight Club,” but you probably didn't anticipate the twist. – Brian Welk
The title is Todd Solondz’s twisted little joke. This is a black comedy about the worst, most sickening people in all of suburbia. Yes, it's harder to watch than "Fight Club." – Brian Welk
Al Pacino v. Robert De Niro. That's enough, but "Heat" does so much more. – Brian Welk
76. "Reservoir Dogs"
The opening talk about "Like a Virgin" makes sense, because this is the Quentin Tarantino film that stole everyone's innocence. And made “Stuck in the Middle With You" a much darker song. – Brian Welk
75. "Remains of the Day"
The Merchant Ivory production of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel explores the stiff upper lip culture of pre- and post-war Britain. With brilliant performances by Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, James Fox, Hugh Grant, and the late Christopher Reeve, it follows the intertwining lives of a butler and housekeeper, and the callow British lord they serve who may have pro-Nazi sentiments. – Debbie Emery
74. "The War Room"
D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus made the pinnacle of political documentaries, showing us how James Carville and George Stephanopoulos helped Bill Clinton get elected. – Brian Welk
New Line Cinema
73. "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"
Admit it: You think of this movie every single time you parallel park or make a pun about decapitating someone. – Tim Molloy
72. "Apollo 13"
Ron Howard directs Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton as they come together to remind us why astronauts are better than the rest of us. – Ashley Boucher
71. "The Blair Witch Project"
The movie that made found footage and shaky cameras a thing. The use of guerilla-style marketing on the internet (which was revolutionary at the time) and tricks like the distribution of flyers at Sundance looking for the missing filmmakers sparked endless debate over what was fact and fiction. It made $248.6 million from an initial budget of $60,000, and also made it a lot easier to book camping spots. – Debbie Emery
70. "The Player"
Robert Altman adds layers of mystery, intrigue and fourth-wall breaking twists while Tim Robbins gives a brilliantly paranoid performance of a man at the peak of his power on the brink of falling. – Steve Pond
69. "The English Patient"
“The English Patient” is a searing weeper (though don’t ask Elaine Benes) caught between war, global politics and a man badly burned in a plane crash. – Brian Welk
68. "The Lion King"
How many kids learned about death by watching Mufasa get trampled by a stampede of wildebeests? It's just the circle of life. “The Lion King” is heavy drama for a kids movie, despite the fancy-free “Hakuna Matata” and countless other catchy tunes. – Brian Welk
67. "Antonia’s Line"
It’s hard to fathom that that Marleen Gorris’ drama — about a woman who returns to her small Dutch village and establishes a matriarchal society that rejects traditional notions of marriage and religion — actually won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film more than two decades ago. But this feminist fairy tale continues to captivate audiences with its idiosyncratic characters. – Thom Geier
66. "Last Days of Disco"
Whit Stillman is the most charming filmmaker around when it comes to portraying hyper-educated young people without all that many real problems. "Disco" feels like a goodbye letter to many decades, and its tasteful but seductive soundtrack may be the most underrated of the '90s. Finally, the "Lady and the Tramp" discussion marks the high point of the very 90s cinematic trend of twentysomething characters waaaaaaaay overanalyzing cartoons. – Tim Molloy
Columbia Pictures Corporation
65. "Boyz n the Hood"
Named for an Eazy-E song written by O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson, and featuring Cube as troubled drug dealer Doughboy, John Singleton's "Boys N the Hood" showed the vulnerability of people struggling for a way out of South-Central -- not just the stereotypical caricatures presented in hip-hop lyrics and, worse, the evening news. It broke an incredible number of great careers. – Tim Molloy
Patrick Swayze’s undead spirit learns how to manipulate the mortal world from beyond to protect his still-living fiancé, with help from Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg. Did it make you cry? Ditto. – Jeremy Fuster
Long before "Straight Outta Compton," F. Gary Gray and Ice Cube enlisted Chris Tucker to help them tell a comical story with an out-of-nowhere message about handling street problems without guns -- though you might still need your fists. – Tim Molloy
62. "Breaking the Waves"
Before Lars von Trier became widely known as an arthouse provoke-auteur, if you will), the Danish director simply wanted to shake up cinema. This 1996 drama did so with the story of a troubled and religious young woman (Emily Watson, in an astonishing performance) who takes lovers at the urging of her husband, who’s been crippled in an industrial accident. A disquieting mixture of the carnal and the spiritual (with, strangely enough, a killer ‘70s Brit-rock soundtrack), “Breaking the Waves” announced the arrival of a filmmaker who would keep on shaking us up with the likes of “Dancer in the Dark,” “Antichrist,” “Melancholia” and “Nymphomaniac.” – Steve Pond
New Line Cinema
Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia” is an epic, surreal character drama of love, family and the meaning of life that features Tom Cruise's best performance ever
. – Brian Welk
60. "Taste of Cherry"
Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami innovated formally with this understated, meditative and existential story about a man driving his truck in search of someone who will agree to bury him after he commits suicide. It patiently waits for its protagonist to make his heavy request. – Brian Welk
59. "Starship Troopers"
A satire that was ahead of its time, Paul Verhoeven’s “Starship Troopers” satirizes the fetishization of the military and the dehumanization of the enemy at war. What’s more, it does so without a single wink to the audience, something that caused its message to be lost on many viewers back in ’97. But thanks to what's happened since, Verhoeven’s message is very clear now. – Jeremy Fuster
58. "El Mariachi"
An indie film legend: Promoted as "the film made for $7,000," it's a masterclass in elegant efficiency and flat-out fun filmmaking. Director Robert Rodriguez put blood, sweat and tears into it -- seriously. He raised some of the money through taking part in medical tests. His boldness launched a career that has included "El Mariachi" sequels, the "Spy Kids" and "Machete" films, Tarantino collabs, and much more. It told a generation of '90s kids that they could make their own movies too, if they had the talent and the guts. – Tim Molloy
57. "A League of Their Own"
We’re still a long way from sexual equality in sports – or in Hollywood – which makes the story of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II even more important. Country gals Dottie and Kit (Geena Davis and Lori Petty) are pitched way out of their comfort zone with the help of a pair of mouthy New Yorker teammates (Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell), and a heavy-drinking manager (Tom Hanks). Even 25 years on, we’ll never forget that “there’s no crying in baseball.” – Debbie Emery
Danny Boyle’s film has a dirty, hilarious sense of humor and the energy of a chase movie, not to mention a great punk attitude. It does the opposite of glamorizing drug use. – Brian Welk
55. "Boys Don’t Cry"
Hillary Swank's Oscar-winning performance as a trans man was considered revolutionary at the time. Swank's casting -- when a trans actor could've been cast instead -- shows we've come a long way since 1999 in terms of trans representation. However, what it contributed to the conversation at the time, and how it elevated the murder of Brandon Teena into the public consciousness, can't be overstated. – Carli Velocci
Buena Vista Pictures
54. "The Sixth Sense"
“The Sixth Sense” is known for having one of the best twists ever. But the best thing we can say about M. Night Shyamalan’s horror movie is that it still works even if you know the twist. – Debbie Emery
Hey people in their early 40s: Remember when you went to see this on a date in college and couldn't eat anything on the menu after? – Tim Molloy
52. "The Talented Mr. Ripley"
This Patricia Highsmith adaptation gave viewers their first glimpse of golden boy Matt Damon in a sinister role as the cunning Tom Ripley. The rest of the cast is a murderer's row of talent: Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jack Davenport. – Debbie Emery
51. "Saving Private Ryan"
The opening D-Day scene might be the best, most affecting action sequence ever. – Brian Welk
50. "Jurassic Park"
How's this for range? Steven Spielberg directed this dinosaur popcorn movie just as capably as he did "Ryan." – Brian Welk
49. "The Heroic Trio"
Johnnie To’s kung-fu movie combined a mix of action fantasy with more traditional martial-arts to make a Hong Kong hit with crossover success in America. Yes, it's better than "Jurassic Park." – Brian Welk
48. "Forrest Gump"
When this movie was discussed in our office, half of us hated it, and the others were stunned that everyone didn’t agree it’s an undisputed classic. It’s easy to understand why. Robert Zemeckis seeks to chronicle the American experience in the 20th Century and does so without cynicism and an eye toward folksy charm and magic. Two things pretty much everyone agrees on: Tom Hanks melts into one of his more iconic roles, and there's no wrong way to make shrimp. – Brian Welk
Reese Witherspoon is at her irritating best in Alexander Payne’s “Election,” playing Tracy Flick, an overachieving high school student running for class President. Matthew Broderick is her pathetic nemesis. It's darkly comic brilliance. – Brian Welk
46. "Before Sunrise"
If Richard Linklater didn’t revisit Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s romance in two more films across 20 more years, ‘Before Sunrise” would still be a wonderful, ambiguous love story. Set in romantic Vienna. – Brian Welk
45. "Being John Malkovich"
Just watch it, we can't explain it. It's weird and great.– Brian Welk
What's in the box? David Fincher scaring the bejeezus out of you. – Tim Molloy
43. "Four Weddings and a Funeral"
Mike Newell’s British romantic comedy sealed Hugh Grant’s legacy as a floppy-haired leading man and marked the first of his hit collaborations with screenwriter Richard Curtis. “Four Weddings” had all the ingredients needed to make audiences swoon on both sides of the Atlantic: an endearingly awkward hero, a beautiful but unattainable woman, a beloved gay couple, a kooky best friend, and politically-incorrect humor that only the charming Brits can pull off. It also managed to bring W.H. Auden’s poem “Funeral Blues” back to popularity. – Debbie Emery
42. "The Big Lebowski"
We abide by the Coen Brothers for making one of their most quotable, iconic, hilarious and also surreal films in their catalog. – Brian Welk
41. "Three Colors: Red, White, Blue"
The "Blue," "White" and "Red" of Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski masterwork (well, along with "The Dekalog" series) don't refer to the colors of the American flag -- they reference France's three stripes, which represent the French ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. Besides helping introduce worldwide audiences to brilliant talents like Julie Delpy, the films are unsurprisingly packed with vivid, colorful imagery, as well as deep darkness. The storytelling transcends French and Polish, the language of the films. – Tim Molloy
Kevin Smith showed that you can make a movie on a shoestring budget and about nothing more than a few slackers talking about pop culture. Smith’s scrappy filmmaking style and editing along with his smarter-than-you dialogue reinvented what a stoner movie could look and sound like. If you judge it by what it sets out to be, it succeeds wildly. – Brian Welk
39. "Jackie Brown"
A sweet rumination on the powers of nostalgia and age, but with guns, because Quentin Tarantino. – Tim Molloy
The Weinstein Company
38. "Good Will Hunting"
One of the most quotable movies of the decade broke the careers of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, gave us Robin Williams at his greatest, earned Elliott Smith and Oscar, and reminded us yet again why Gus Van Sant is a master. Its heart is huge. – Tim Molloy
37. "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut"
“South Park” was already a sensation on television by the time “Bigger, Longer and Uncut” was released, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone showed their range with gleeful music numbers like the Oscar-nominated “Blame Canada.” And it was funny as hell. – Brian Welk
36. "Raise the Red Lantern"
Three wives scheme and plot to gain the affection of their one husband in 1920s China. Zhang Yimou's film is a lush drama of class, power, status and privilege. – Brian Welk
35. "Edward Scissorhands"
There's just no other movie anything like this one. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder at their best.
34. "Office Space"
Now that we've mentioned it, you'll spend the rest of your day thinking of things like "O face" and "pieces of flair" and laughing in your cubicle. – Tim Molloy
33. "One False Move"
Gene Siskel named Carl Franklin’s taut, tense low-budget thriller his favorite film of 1992, saving it from straight-to-video obscurity. The late Bill Paxton plays a rural police chief who jumps at the chance to do “real police work” when a trio of coked-up criminals commit six brutal murders in one night. The film also marked the first big break for star and co-writer Billy Bob Thornton. – Thom Geier
A bus is equipped with explosives and will explode if it dips below 50 mph. Strap in. Only in the ‘90s could a premise as ridiculous as “Speed’s” make for such a non-stop thrill ride, and only Keanu Reeves could make it work. – Brian Welk.
FREEDOM!!! – Brian Welk.
30. "Paris Is Burning"
Watch "RuPaul's Drag Race" for a couple minutes and you'll run across a reference to "Paris is Burning." The documentary about drag and queer culture in New York City has become quintessential viewing for those interested in LGBTQ+ history and is credited with bringing a number of cultural milestones to the forefront, including "reading," voguing, and the ball scene. It's entertaining for sure, but it's also raw, showing the struggles of people in that culture and the sometimes poor economic conditions they had to live in. – Carli Velocci
You can nitpick, but you're a jerk for doing so. It's a beautiful molding of storytelling and artistry that made you cry in public to a Celine Dion song, so own it. – Tim Molloy
28. "The Wedding Banquet"
Ang Lee blended Mandarin and English in his second film, a comedy and drama about a gay landlord and his female tenant who agree to get married to appease his nagging parents. – Brian Welk.
27. "L.A. Confidential"
Curtis Hanson’s hard-biting noir takes the seedy grime of Old Hollywood noir and enlivens it with modern violence and sex. Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, James Cromwell, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger and Danny DeVito are all excellent in channeling Brian Helgeland’s tightly wound screenplay of corruption and murder.
26. "All About My Mother"
Pedro Almodovar’s drama about an aspiring writer who wants to uncover the identity of his father, as hidden by his mother, won the Oscar for 1999’s Best Foreign Language film for Spain. Like every Almodovar movie, it's better seen and felt than explained. – Brian Welk
25. "Beauty and the Beast"
There’s a good argument for “Beauty and the Beast” as not just the best Disney movie of the '90s but of all time. Alan Menken’s music emanates love and excitement whether its “Be Our Guest,” the luscious title song or the rousing “Kill the Beast.” And the sheer scale and majesty of the colorful, explosive animation set a high bar for animation movies to come. – Brian Welk
Wes Anderson’s breakout “Rushmore” set the stage for a whole generation of indie movies and made us realize yet again the brilliance of Bill Murray. Jason Schwartzman is excellent as a prep school savant with an "old face." – Brian Welk
23. "Menace II Society"
This film starts with two Korean shop owners getting shot to death, and it just gets bleaker from there. The Hughes Bros.’ “Menace II Society” is one of the most unforgiving and brutally honest depictions of inner city life that has ever been put to film. Take “Boyz N The Hood” and subtract any semblance of hope. – Jeremy Fuster
22. "Jerry Maguire"
We are required under federal law to use the following caption: "This Cameron Crowe masterpiece had us at hello." – Tim Molloy
Clint Eastwood provided a grim, persuasive counterargument to his previous films that suggested violence solves more problems than it creates. –Tim Molloy
I'm keepin' it real: Amy Heckerling’s cult comedy, with Alicia Silverstone’s most flawless performance, is the best Jane Austen adaptation ever. – Brian Welk
19. "The Piano"
Jane Campion’s lush period drama and romance about a mute with a young daughter who loves the piano won three Oscars, including for Campion, star Holly Hunter and then breakout star Anna Paquin. – Brian Welk.
New Line Cinema
18. "Boogie Nights"
The size of Dirk Diggler's manhood is the least shocking thing about Paul Thomas Anderson's incredibly ambitious film, which does everything: a gorgeous Scorsese-style tracking shot, a joyous dance sequence, a cocaine-fueled descent into the '80s, family drama, comedy. Its soundtrack is incredible, it features Burt Reynolds best performance, and it blew up the careers of Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heather Graham, to name just a few.
17. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"
Yeah, the first “Terminator” is pretty cool. But with the sequel, James Cameron delivered a perfect action movie with a brain, a soul and dizzyingly great special effects. The film still feels futuristic. – Tim Molloy
Fine Line Features
16. "Hoop Dreams"
We get to know the two kids at the center of “Hoop Dreams,” both of them inner city Chicagoans with aspirations to play college basketball, throughout their entire high school life. Documentarian Steve James followed them for so many years that it would’ve been impossible for him to predict how their stories would end. “Hoop Dreams” is inspiring and heartbreaking at once and a true human epic in its nearly three-hour scope. – Brian Welk
15. "Thelma & Louise"
Best friends Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) embark on a road trip to break from their mundane lives. But when Louise shoots and kills a man who sexually assaults Thelma, their weekend getaway turns into a run from the law. They blaze a hell of a trail and build a landmark of female empowerment. – Ashley Eady
14. "Princess Mononoke"
It's okay if you've never seen this animated masterwork, but you should. Hayao Miyazaki broke out in America with the film, which combined thrilling anime action, style and lore with spiritual images of nature’s immense beauty and a war for survival.
13. "Dazed and Confused"
Future Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey became famous by saying this line, as a sleazy burnout: "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age." The whole movie feels that gawkily, dangerously real, laced with stoner logic that threatens to land the characters in a Texas jail. Richard Linklater will make you feel like you went to high school in the '70s even if you didn't. – Tim Molloy
12. "Daughters of the Dust"
Director Julie Dash’s lushly beautiful tone poem of a film follows multiple generations of an African-American family living off the South Carolina coast in 1902. The wisp of plot is secondary to the feelings Dash culls from the striking cinematography in a low-budget masterpiece that seems to have influenced both Terrence Malick and Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” – Thom Geier
11. "The Shawshank Redemption"
Ask IMDB, and they’ll tell you “Shawshank” is the best movie of all time. We’re not sure about that, but we can't think of a single complaint about it, either. – Brian Welk
10. "American Dream"
Director Barbara Kopple’s Oscar-winning documentary is a cinema verite account of a disastrously unsuccessful strike by Minnesota meat-packers that goes wrong in ways that defy easy black-and-white classification. The film offers searing portraits of the American working class — as well as activists like Jesse Jackson — while anticipating many of today’s economic anxieties. – Thom Geier
9. "The Matrix"
Who would’ve guessed the sci-fi parables of “The Matrix” would feel so relevant in today’s hyper-connected world? You could spend days unpacking the philosophical ramifications of an artificial reality, but it’s more fun to admire just how cool Keanu Reeves still looks in black leather as he dodges bullets in slow motion. Oh, and also it's possible that nothing is real. – Brian Welk
8. "Malcolm X"
This isn't the best Spike Lee film, or the best Denzel Washington film. But it is an astonishing collaboration between two masters near the top of their craft, at their most passionate and committed. It both rode and drove forward the Afrocentric renaissance of the early '90s -- if you were around, you remember all the X hats -- and its final sequence is one of the most inspiring in film history. – Tim Molloy
7. "Toy Story"
Pixar’s animated marvel is a richly imagined wellspring of humanity and emotion, and the inspiring tone set by Buzz and Woody soaring over the power lines to infinity and beyond remains breathtaking. – Brian Welk
Before the brilliant TV show, the Coen Brothers set a noir story in the most unlikely place imaginable, the frozen Great Plains, then set out to break more rules. The lead character is a pregnant cop istead of a grizzled gumshoe, everyone's Minnesota nice instead of gangster-mean, and nothing goes the way you expect. – Tim Molloy
5. "Schindler's List"
Don’t view “Schindler’s List” as just a depressing history lesson or some “masterpiece” that should feel like homework. Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust drama is a deeply moving, emotional and even entertaining story of a saint desperately trying to do good in the most horrific of circumstances. – Brian Welk
Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” basks you in the intoxicating thrill of power, violence, money and everything that comes with being a gangster. Watching it is like reading Bible verses -- you constantly find yourself saying," that's where that comes from?" – Brian Welk
3. "Groundhog Day"
A movie about reliving the same day again and again and again that you can watch again and again and again and still find new things to be grateful for. But especially Bill Murray's performance as a surly weatherman, trapped in a loop, looking for answers and love. – Tim Molloy
2. "Pulp Fiction"
Quentin Tarantino took the best elements of hard-boiled and pop-culture classics and revitalized them into something completely new -- and of course spawned countless unsuccessful imitations. It's the flat-out coolest movie ever made, filled with mystery, surprises and more flavor than a five-dollar shake. – Brian Welk
1. "The Silence of the Lambs"
The best movie ever made about empathy, and maybe the best movie ever made. – Tim Molloy