Though the Golden Age of Hollywood refers to the period of cinema marked by the end of silent films in the 1920s, in our mind's eye, it's the 1990s. Perhaps it's because the thought-provoking indie films, action flicks, and computer-animated cartoons of the time helped shape us. Or maybe it's because they remind us of that thrill we used to get when perusing Blockbuster's "New Releases" section on a Friday night. And while it's nice to reminisce, the real fun starts once we sit down for a movie marathon of the best '90s movies.
Whether you're in the mood to cuddle up or you're simply looking for something to do, our roundup of the 50 best '90s movies lists the best flicks to watch for every occasion, nostalgic whim, and genre preference. The only difference is that you won't have to get off your sofa to rent a VHS this time. Plus, we included the best one-liners from each to remind you why you loved it—or to convince you to get it on your watch list pronto. Ready to get the show on the road?
Here are our picks for the best '90's movies to rewatch today.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
And thus, our eternal crush on Matthew McConaughey was born (not on his character, though—he was sort of a creep). This fun and funny coming-of-age movie takes place in Austin, Texas, and follows the kids as they celebrate their last day of school, when hazing ensues.
Standout line: "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older; they stay the same age."
Directed by Wes Anderson, this dramedy is set at a prep school and focuses on the relationship between two men who both try to woo a first-grade teacher. Aside from the hilarious, quirky humor, Rushmore is stylistically and aesthetically delightful.
Standout line: "I saved Latin. What did you ever do?"
No '90s movie list would be complete without this witty fashion favorite. This comedy revolves around the lives of (charmingly) shallow, sheltered, popular teens from Beverly Hills. There's a decade's worth of outfit inspiration from the first half of this movie alone.
Standout line: "As if!"
Boogie Nights (1997)
Serving as Mark Wahlberg's segue from underwear model to respected actor, Boogie Nights follows Wahlberg's character, Dirk Diggler, as he navigates the ups and downs of becoming an adult film star in the late 1970s San Fernando Valley.
Standout line: "I got a feeling, beneath those jeans there's something wonderful just waiting to get out."
The Big Lebowski (1998)
What's aging slacker Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) to do when his rug is urinated on as a result of mistaken identity? Track down the person for whom the pee was really intended—and demand restitution. Lebowski does just that, which kicks off a wild chain of events involving a kidnapped trophy wife and a ransom exchange gone wrong.
Standout line: "This aggression will not stand, man."
Wayne's World (1992)
This "Saturday Night Live" skit-turned-feature film stars Mike Myers as Wayne Campbell and Dana Carvey as Garth Algar, two teenage heavy metal fans and co-hosts of "Wayne's World," their public access television show. Upon catching the eye of a big-time TV producer, their show is taken from Wayne's parents' basement to prime-time TV, but Wayne and Garth soon discover that not all that glitters is gold.
Standout line: "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!"
American Pie (1999)
Roaringly funny and unapologetically raunchy, this 1999 flick follows four high school seniors in their pact-driven quest to lose their virginity before prom night. It's almost a guarantee that you'll never think of apple pie the same way after watching one very memorable scene.
Standout line: "One time, at band camp..."
After a magic remote control teleports them into the wholesome world of "Pleasantville," a black-and-white sitcom set in the 1950s, '90s siblings David and Jennifer Wagner (played Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon) must find their way home—while navigating the societal expectations of mid-century American life.
Standout line: "David, nobody is happy in a poodle skirt and a sweater set."
Fight Club (1999)
Starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, this cult favorite explores the different representations and expectations around American masculinity, and it's also just a really fun film to watch. Like others made in 1999, Fight Club reveals the dark side of a monotonous, conventional life and how it can become a tinder box.
Standout line: "The things you own end up owning you."
American Beauty (1999)
It explores similar themes to many films released in 1999, like the male gaze and sexualization of teenage femininity as well as the simultaneity of dystopia and beauty in a banal suburban existence, featuring captivating cinematography and reflecting the tensions of the new millennium.
Standout line: "This bag was just dancing with me. That's the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever."
Forrest Gump (1994)
Though it presents a sentimentalist portrayal of historical events like Watergate and the Vietnam War, among others, it's a '90s classic that many love.
Standout line: "My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Written by and starring then-Hollywood newcomers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, this Academy Award-winning movie tells the story of Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a self-taught genius (and janitor at MIT) whose intellect goes unnoticed until he anonymously solves a difficult mathematics problem posed by one of the esteemed university's professors.
Standout line: “You wasted $150,000 on an education you could have got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”
Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Written and directed by the late John Singleton, this hard-hitting film explores the themes of race, relationships, and responsibility as three high-school aged boys deal with the limitations and challenges that accompany a South-Central LA upbringing.
Standout line: "Either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood."
This cult classic chronicles a workday in the lives of two customer clerks who'd much rather be philosophizing, playing hockey, or pursuing romantic conquests—and that's exactly what they spend the majority of their shifts doing. Shot in black-and-white due to budget constraints, the film launched the writing and directing career of Kevin Smith (of Jay and Silent Bob fame).
Standout line: "I'm not even supposed to be here today!"
Schindler's List (1993)
Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on a true story, this World War II period drama tells the story of Oskar Schindler, an opportunistic businessman who becomes an unlikely hero when he saves the lives of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Standout line: “Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t.”
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
If you like your thrillers thoroughly terrifying and rooted in the real world, look no further. This movie about an FBI agent's relationship with two serial killers is not for the faint of heart.
Standout line: "I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner."
What keeps me up at night? This clever but absolutely sickening story about a serial killer who targets victims that represent the seven deadly sins.
Standout line: "I tried to be pleasant and accommodating, but my head hurt from his banality. I almost didn't notice it had happened, but I suddenly threw up all over him. He was not pleased, and I couldn't stop laughing."
The Sixth Sense (1999)
If you haven't seen this Bruce Willis classic about a child psychologist treating a creepy kid who sees dead people, stop everything you're doing and watch it now (or if you're like me, wait until you can tune in during the day with all the lights on).
Standout line: "I see dead people."
The highest-grossing movie of 1990, this romantic drama stars Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze as a young couple whose life together is tragically cut short when Swayze's character is murdered. His spirit remains earth-bound, and when he discovers that his death was the result of shady business dealings—and that his girlfriend is the next target—he enlists the help of a psychic (played by Whoopi Goldberg) to warn her.
Standout line: “Why don't you go haunt a house? Rattle some chains or something.”
The Usual Suspects (1995)
After a cargo boat explodes, leaving behind 27 bodies and $91 million, police interrogators have to try to squeeze the truth out Roger "Verbal" Kint, a small-time con man with a rap sheet. He proceeds to tell the story of the weeks leading up the event, beginning with a police line-up and ending with the question "Who is Keyser Soze?"
Standout line: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist."
In Misery, Kathy Bates stars as Annie Wilkes, a wolf in sheep's clothing who rescues Paul Sheldon (James Caan), her favorite author, from a snowy car accident. As Wilkes's behavior slowly devolves from hospitable to downright psychotic, Sheldon has to rely on his writing skills to save his life.
Standout line: "I thought you were good Paul, but you're not good. You're just another lying ol' dirty birdy."
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
After setting out to film a documentary about the Blair Witch, a local legend, three students seemingly vanish from the backwoods of Maryland. One year later, their footage is discovered and edited into a feature-length horror film that hits theaters in 1999.
Standout line: "I'm afraid to close my eyes, I'm afraid to open them."
Natural Born Killers (1994)
In this trippy 1994 flick, Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis star as Mickey and Mallory Knox, a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde who embark on a killing spree along Route 666, leaving a bloody trail of death and destruction in their wake. In a satirical jab at the link between the mass media and violence, the sensationalized media coverage of the couple's exploits catapults them to celebrity status.
Standout line: "Mickey and Mallory are the best thing to happen to mass murder since Manson."
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Ah, the Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp years. This movie is a fantasy (and insightful think piece) in terms of genre and otherwise. Not only will you feel gloriously entertained, but you'll also want to screenshot every gothic moment and pastel-soaked scene that graces the screen and replicate every sartorial moment.
Standout line: "It is so easy to commit embarrassing blunders, but etiquette tells us just what is expected of us and guards us from all humiliation and discomfort. Mm, yes. Boring."
The Matrix (1999)
Fantasy and sci-fi fanatics need to see The Matrix at least once. Personhood and humanity are thrown into chaos in a dystopic future populated with human-robot hybrids as the protagonist (Keanu Reeves) grapples with the some Allergy of the Cave–like situations.
Standout line: "What is real? How do you define 'real'? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain."
Available on: Hulu
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
This Steven Speilberg classic stars Tom Hanks and unfolds as we watch troopers cross enemy lines to save an American soldier after the Normandy attacks of World War II. It's tough to watch at times, revealing the brutality of war.
Standout line: "I just know that every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel."
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
In this iconic '90s comedy, two dummy BFFs—Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels)—embark on a cross-country road trip to Aspen in the hopes of returning a briefcase to a beautiful stranger (played by Lauren Holly). The dim-witted duo is oblivious to the briefcase's contents ($5 million) and the the fact that they're being trailed by seedy criminals.
Standout line: "Just when I think you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this ... and totally redeem yourself!"
Available on: YouTube Movies
Total Recall (1990)
The year is 2084, and construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) attempts to embark on a virtual vacation to Mars after a recurring dream set on the now-inhabited planet begins to haunt his waking hours. His trip doesn't go quite as planned, though, because half-way through his memory-implant procedure, Quaid's suppressed memories are allowed to surface, revealing that's he's really a secret agent with assassins in hot pursuit.
Standout line: "You are what you do. A man is defined by his actions, not his memory."
The Fifth Element (1997)
When an immaculate being named Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) serendipitously crosses paths with elite commander-turned-23rd-century taxi driver Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), the two join forces to recover four elemental stones needed to rescue Earth from impending destruction. Things get complicated when Dallas falls in love with Leeloo and realizes that she's the fifth element—and the key to saving humanity.
Standout line: "Leeloo Dallas Multipass."
Available on: Hulu
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Told in the non-linear fashion signature to Quentin Tarantino, this gory cult classic follows six criminals (and perfect strangers) who are contracted to rob a jewelry store. The heist should be a cakewalk for these veteran no-gooders, but when the cops crash the party before it begins, it becomes clear that there's a mole in their midst—but who?
Standout line: "Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?"
Before Sunrise (1995)
In perhaps the most romantic of all romance films, the audience gets whisked away into the story of two people traveling in Europe as they unexpectedly fall in love. It's the first in a trilogy, so you make sure you watch all of them to witness how their relationship develops.
Standout line: "After that breakup, I just wanna be a ghost, completely anonymous."
To borrow a line from Clueless, as if we weren't already hopelessly in love with Leonardo DiCaprio before he graced the screen in Titanic… This period piece makes us sob every time, yet we could watch it on repeat for the rest of our lives.
Standout line: "I don't know about you, but I intend to write a strongly worded letter to the White Star Line about all of this."
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Patrick (Heath Ledger) and Kat (Julia Styles) are teen icons. Kat taught us that you should never change who you are to fulfill societal expectations. As long as you stay true to yourself, the right person will come along and accept you as you are.
Standout line: "You don't always have to be who they want you to be."
Sliding Doors (1998)
This 1998 film starring Gwyneth Paltrow explores that idea that something seemingly inconsequential can change your life's entire trajectory. In this instance, Paltrow's character, Helen Quilley, misses her London Underground train home, at which point the movie splits into two separate "what-if" storylines: one in which she catches the train and arrives home in time to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman; the other in which she arrives home after the woman has left.
Standout line: "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."
There's Something About Mary (1998)
Due to a humiliating accident involving a zippered fly, 16-year-old high school student Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) misses his chance to take his dream girl, Mary Jensen (Cameron Diaz), to prom. Fast-forward 13 years, and Stroehmann is still hung up on the girl that got away. He hires a private investigator (Pat Healy, played by Matt Dillon) to track Mary down, but things get muddied when Healy falls in love with Mary, too.
This raunchy-fun film was a major box office success, and it has since landed a spot on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest movies of the 20th century.
Standout line: "Is that hair gel?"
Cruel Intentions (1999)
In this 1999 teen drama, wealthy Manhattanite step-siblings Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillipe) and Kathryn Mertuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) make a rather diabolic wager involving the de-flowering of Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon). At stake? If Kathryn wins: Sebastian's vintage Jaguar roadster; if Sebastian wins: a rendezvous between the sheets with Kathryn, whom he considers his last remaining conquest—until he finds himself in love with Annette.
Standout line: "How can someone so charming be so manipulative?"
Available on: Amazon
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
This feel-good romantic film stars Meg Ryan as Annie Reed, a Baltimore reporter and destiny naysayer. Her skeptic stance begins to change when she tunes into a radio talk-show just in time to hear Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) open up about his love for his wife, who has recently passed away from cancer. Behind it all is Jonah, Sam's 8-year-old son who eventually orchestrates a fate-sealing meeting between Annie and his dad atop the Empire State Building.
Standout line: "You make a million decisions that mean nothing, and then one day, you order take-out, and it changes your life."
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Behold: the movie that solidified Leonardo DiCaprio as a bona fide '90s heartthrob. This modern take on the Shakespearean play presents the Montagues and the Capulets as rival gangs in fictional Verona Beach. Stuck in the middle of the feud are our star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, played by baby-faced icons Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.
Standout line: "The world is not thy friend."
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
Sofia Coppola's directorial debut is a true icon, both in form, aesthetic, theme, and casting. It traces the mysterious lives and deaths of five teenage sisters from the external perspective of their neighborhood admirers.
Standout line: Doctor: "What are you doing here, honey? You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets." Cecilia: "Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl."
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Arguably the cult classic of all cult classics, Pulp Fiction fuses crime, action, philosophy, and drama. Aside from being thoroughly entertaining, it also stars the ultra-talented and hip Uma Thurman, whose character has inspired countless Halloween costumes.
Standout line: "The streets are filled with regret."
This is not your average coming-of-age film. In fact, it pushes every censorship boundary you can think of. Kids is a raw (and controversial) film that follows a day in the life of young teens from New York City as they navigate a variety of traumas and "firsts." It also happened to be Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson's first movie.
Standout line: "If you want to be happy, don't think. If you stutter, don't talk."
Empire Records (1995)
This coming-of-age cult classic captures the attention of its target audience with its ensemble cast of high school misfits (and Liv Tyler's cool-girl crop top). Taking place over the course of a day, the story follows the teenage record store employees as they try to halt the sale of their beloved Empire Records to a corporate mega chain.
Standout line: "Well Sinead O'Rebellion. Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior."
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
In this laugh-out-loud comedy that spawned two sequels, Mike Myers stars as Austin Powers, a British spy who, after being cryogenically frozen in 1967, is awoken 30 years later to help stop Dr. Evil from unleashing global nuclear attacks. Hilarity ensues, particularly as Powers discovers that almost everything about his persona, from his wardrobe to his womanizing, is hopelessly out of date.
Standout line: "Yeah, baby!"
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Directed by Spike Jonze, this dark comedy follows an out-there premise: Behind a filing cabinet, struggling puppeteer-slash-office temp worker Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) finds a secret doorway that leads to the mind of actor John Malkovich. Things go awry when Schwartz, his coworker Maxine, and his wife, Lotte, attempt to cash in on the discovery and unlikely love triangles develop.
Standout line: "It's my head, Schwartz! It's my head!"
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Directed by Gus Van Sant, this indie drama follows two young street hustlers, played by the impossibly attractive duo of Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix, as they travel around the U.S. and Europe in search of an estranged family member. Due to the movie's treatment of the then-taboo topic of homosexuality, it's widely regarded as a landmark film among LGBTQ audiences.
Standout line: "This road has no end. It probably goes all the way round the world."
This movie stars Bruce Willis as a deep-core driller who's contracted by NASA to stop a Texas-sized asteroid from obliterating planet Earth. To do so, Willis and his ragtag team, which includes his daughter's (Liv Tyler) boyfriend, AJ (Ben Affleck), have to drill into the asteroid from space so that it can be blown up with a nuclear bomb.
Critics gave this drama a resounding thumbs-down, but audiences loved it: Armageddon was 1998's highest-grossing film worldwide.
Standout line: “Well, our object collision budget’s one million dollars. That allows us to track about 3% of the sky, and beg your pardon sir, but it’s a big-ass sky.”
Jurassic Park (1993)
In this Steven Speilberg-directed sci-fi adventure flick, dinosaurs are resurrected, then corralled at an island theme park for the public's thrill and enjoyment. What could possibly go wrong with that plan? Pretty much everything! The movie's nail-biting premise—along with its amazing special effects (which were ahead of its time)—helped it amass more than $1 billion at the box office.
Standout line: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
With its compelling combo of witty banter and edge-of-your-seat thrills, this 1996 slasher film (directed by Wes Craven) earned a spot as one of the highest-grossing slasher films of all time. Who can forget the terrifying opening scene featuring Drew Barrymore? Shudder.
Standout line: "Now Sid, don't you blame the movies. Movies don't create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!"
Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Lorraine Bracco, this iconic gangster film was well received among critics and audiences alike. In fact, it was inducted into the National Film Registry (NFR) in the year 2000. It's a must-watch for anyone who enjoys the mob genre and excellent acting.
Standout line: "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."
Available on: Amazon
Pretty Woman (1990)
Never before was a prostitute so widely embraced by the American public. America's then-sweetheart Julia Roberts is utterly charming and delightful in this rom-com about a prostitute (played by Roberts) who, despite herself, falls in love with one of her, ahem, clients (played by Richard Gere). Roberts nabbed a Golden Globe for her performance.
Standout line: “You and I are such similar creatures, Vivian. We both screw people for money.”