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The 50 Best Movies of the 1990s

’90s Week on FSR continues with a countdown of our team’s list of the best movies of the 1990s.
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By  · Published on August 17th, 2019

5. Ravenous (1999)


Every so often, a movie comes along that’s so original and mindblowing that it pulls the rug from under your feet and makes you float away into the clouds. I’d argue that the ‘90s boasted hundreds of brilliant films with this effect, but few are as memorable as Ravenous. Inspired by the stories of the Donner Party and Alfred Packer, as well as Native tall tales about Wendigos, Antonia Bird’s cannibal caper follows a cowardly soldier in 1840s California who encounters a flesh-eating foe who munches on his comrades. Afterward, the cannibal ends up taking over his military outpost by posing as an officer. Hijinx of the meaty variety subsequently ensues, as more blood is spilled and a battle of wits is contested between the pair (who aren’t all that different). While Ravenous is the best example of the horror-western hybrid, it’s more than just a blend of these genres. The movie is peppered with hilarious pitch-black comedy and quirky qualities that makes it quite difficult to categorize. But that’s what makes it such a special gem that begs to be rediscovered. (Kieran Fisher)

4. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction

In lesser hands, Pulp Fiction could have been disastrous. At the same time, it’s the kind of movie that could only come from the mind of someone like Quentin Tarantino — a madman whose ability to mess with structure while telling unique stories makes him an island unto himself. Pulp Fiction is essentially a series of interconnected segments that offer little in the way of proper resolution for the characters or the audience. Some scenes end on cliffhangers, never to be addressed again. The timeline is all over the place, with characters who died in earlier scenes hanging out eating breakfast in the closing moments. Yet, Pulp Fiction works — and it all makes sense in the context of the film. Part of the film’s enduring appeal is discovering new caveats upon rewatch, coupled with the fact it’s a great hang out movie that’s so easy to get lost in. Many films that followed tried to imitate Tarantino’s masterwork, but their inability to capture its magic proves that Pulp Fiction is a unique monster that will always stand out from the pack. (Kieran Fisher)

3. Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park

As far as game-changing blockbusters go, Jurassic Park lies at the top of the ‘90s food chain. From its swelling John Williams score to that iconic Jeff Goldblum pose, it consistently captures what’s so fun and thrilling about big-budget cinema. Throw in some innovative visual effects that are still stunning after more than 25 years, a cast full of charming actors all delivering career-best performances, and a heartfelt meditation about fatherhood in true Spielberg fashion, and you’ve got yourself a perfect movie. Did I mention that a bunch of raptors fight a T-Rex? (Christina Smith)

2. Se7en (1995)


There are some movies that just get under your skin, and David Fincher’s Se7en does so with the precision of a hypodermic needle. The premise — jaded detective slated for retirement and idealistic young newcomer team up to catch a killer — is hardly revolutionary; it’s the impeccable execution that makes Se7en so special. No one does serial killers quite like Fincher, and his first serial killer tale is truly one for the ages. Growing up, Se7en was the only film my dad (who always forgot to check MPAA ratings, bless him) ever tried to keep me from watching — which of course made me seek it out ASAP. Absently watching the credits roll by as my adolescent brain slowly digested what it was I had just seen, I definitely understood why the one and only film to give my dad pause would be this one. But damn if it isn’t a masterpiece. Even in moments where the story might have in other hands be at risk from leaning a little heavily on film noir and detective tropes, Morgan Freeman carries the film to safety on world-weary shoulders like Atlas himself in a tour de force performance as the kind-hearted cynic Detective Somerset. Fincher belongs to the school of cinematic thought that posits that genius is in the details, and Se7en is the sort of film so meticulously crafted that every viewing reveals new facets to appreciate. (Ciara Wardlow)

1.The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Silence Of The Lambs

Topping our list is a psychological horror with career-defining performances from Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. The Silence of the Lambs, adapted from the second novel in Thomas Harris’ series, brought to life one of the most chilling fictional serial killers of all time, but not as the primary antagonist. Unlike the plethora of media based on John E. Douglas, one of the founders of the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit, The Silence of the Lambs does not follow the trend of male investigators catching male killers. Instead, it focuses on Foster’s Agent Clarice Starling who, rather than being a seasoned investigator, is just a student of the Douglas-inspired Jack Crawford. She finds herself in the uncomfortable role of seeking help from the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter in an attempt to profile and locate a savage killer. Although he is insightful, courteous, and calculated, Hopkins is infinitely unsettling as the cannibalistic doctor. The Silence of the Lambs crushed all competition at the Academy Awards by winning in all the top five categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay). Not only does The Silence of the Lambs top our list of the best movies from the ‘90s, but it is also considered one of the greatest films of all time. (Samantha Olthof)

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