The ubiquity of ’90s trends across fashion and social media alike is enough to make us miss Blockbuster. Gone are the analog days of making the weekend pilgrimage to your local VHS rental shop. One thing we don’t miss about the grunge decade? Video rental late fees. Replacing the convenience of at-home streaming, Netflix is serving up a slew of ’90s favorite cinema selects this month. We’ve curated our list of films to include a DVD or digital select in each genre.
From Wes Anderson’s early works to the proper fix for anyone lamenting the finale of HBO’s limited series The Night Of, we’re counting down the top movies from the decade that will have you planning a night in with the remote. Full of stellar performances and iconic celluloid moments, these onscreen favorites are not to be missed. Action, drama, comedy… Choose your poison. Then again, why choose? We’re making a strong case for a ’90s Netflix marathon binge.
Written and directed by the Farrelly brothers, Kingpin stars Bill Murray, Woody Harrelson, and Randy Quaid in an outlandish, comedic take on professional bowling. As Roy Munson, a pro bowler who loses his hand in a run-in with the wrong crowd, Harrelson plays a fallen hero who finds his redemption in the unlikeliest of sources—an Amish man named Ishmael (Randy Quaid). Ishmael is a diamond-in-the-rough talent Roy is convinced has the potential to be the best bowler in the world. The pair set out on the road only to come face to face with rival competitor and archnemesis Ernie McCracken, played by Bill Murray. Infinitely quotable, it’s easily the funniest bowling-centric flick ever made (unless you count the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski.)
Fans lamenting the final episodes of The Night Of will find solace in this razor-sharp drama about a young altar boy accused of murdering an eminent catholic priest. The 1996 courtroom drama adapted from the novel by William Diehl stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Edward Norton. Norton’s chilling performance is unreal.
Directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, the dramatic tale of a couple on the run to Hollywood with a stolen batch of drugs stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette. The original score by Hans Zimmer, whimsical and full of hope even in dire straights, is pure magic. Behati Prinsloo and Adam Levine even have matching tattoos in the model’s handwriting of her favorite line in the film: “You’re so cool.”
All right, all right, all right. If you haven’t seen Dazed and Confused, you’re missing out. If you have seen it, odds are you’re down for another party at the moon tower. Written and directed by Richard Linklater, the Texas high school comedy is set in 1976 and stars Jason London, Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, and Milla Jovovich. Nobody does coming of age like Linklater. Tee up Everybody Wants Some!! (the spiritual sequel to the cult classic) on iTunes for a double dose of nostalgia.
Starring Chris Farley and David Spade, Tommy Boy is a buddy road-trip comedy following the journey (and eventual unlikely friendship) of the dim-witted son (Farley) of auto parts factory boss Big Tom Callahan as he sets out to save the family business with the reluctant help of his father’s wildly sarcastic right-hand man (Spade). Farley’s physical comedy paired with Spade’s acerbic wit is legendary. Every kid in middle school in 1996 memorized this movie start to finish.
The Usual Suspects is a masterfully crafted suspense directed by Bryan Singer and starring Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin, and Kevin Pollak. Spacey’s incendiary performance as “Verbal” Kint earned the venerable actor an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The plot follows a group of conmen, all indebted in one way or another to a legendary (we’re talking urban-myth status) criminal mastermind by the name of Keyser Söze. When the payback job they plan together goes south, the question arises—who is the real Keyser Söze? The 1995 classic features one of the best plot twists in cinematic history, so be sure to ask your friends who’ve seen the film to cool it with the spoiler alerts.
David O. Russell’s Gulf War action-adventure film stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze as a band of American soldiers in Iraq who set out to steal a sizeable cache of gold allegedly hidden near their base. Part heist, part drama, the expertly woven, character-driven story is among Russell’s best. If war movies aren’t typically your thing, this one is still an easy sell.
Cape Fear stars Robert De Niro as the most terrifying stalker of all time. After being released from prison, Max Cady (De Niro) a violent, tatted-up, Bible-quoting criminal, seeks out the attorney whose courtroom error landed him behind bars for 14 years. The film remake doesn’t fall strictly into horror territory, although it is listed under the category in Netflix’s library. Also starring Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, and a young Juliette Lewis, the ride is of a kind only Martin Scorsese could conjure in a fit of Hitchcockian-homage glory.
Go all the way back in the Wes Anderson library to the film that launched the director’s celebrated and color-rich career. Bottle Rocket, written by Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson, stars both Luke and Owen Wilson. The story follows a nervous wreck, Anthony Adams (Luke), as he meets up with his equally (if not more so) mentally unhinged friend Dignan (Owen), who happens to be plotting a crime spree targeting his former employer. In typical Anderson fashion, the plot is rife with original characters, lovable misanthropes, delightful dialogue, and—of course—the auteur’s signature aesthetic.