10) The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – with one of the most memorable villains in cinematic history, the delectably terrifying Dr. Hannibal Lecter played exquisitely by Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs is a horrific journey through the deplorable depths humanity can reach. Demme proves to be a master of the directing craft by his use of suspense, psychological unease, and mesmerizing drama that fills the bleak screen with a hauntingly unforgettable cinematic experience.
9) Toy Story (1995) – revolutionized the way we experience animation along with a delightful and uniquely imaginative outlook on the world of toys after we have left the room. Dealing with complex adult issues, such as identity, purpose, and the meaning of friendship, John Lasseter’s Toy Story will stand the test of time as a remarkably original story and serve as a reminder of technical and imaginative achievements that can be made through animation.
8 Fight Club (1998) – this psychological thriller, known for its mind warping climax, serves not only as a non-traditional film, but also as a technical and original story telling device for the modern film movement. David Fincher’s Fight Club, with its ingenious editing techniques and bizarre character study, has influenced more modern filmmakers in the technical aspects of cinema than almost any other 90s film has.
7) Forrest Gump (1994) – the genuine and sincere tale of a man named Forrest filled with naïve innocence which acts as a catalyst of change and a point of significance to those around him much like Peter Sellers Chance in Hal Ashby’s Being There. However, Robert Zemeckis’ finely tuned directing allows for a delicate and unusual journey through late 20th century American history alongside the experiences of the feeble yet remarkably wise Forrest Gump.
6) Saving Private Ryan (1998) – a poignantly dark yet realistic depiction of WWII focusing on a group of men pitting their own lives to save one man located deep in German occupied France. Changed the way we depict war films mainly due to its emotional and unforgettably moving portrayal of D-Day. Along with a cast that is phenomenal and spot on in portraying the doubts, fears, and unrelenting bravery that symbolizes our American forces, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan will be a movie that stays with you even if you only see it once.
5) Unforgiven (1992) – one of the best westerns of all time due to its dark and cynical view of the west and the complex issues it takes on relating to death, loyalty, and human nature. Blurring the lines between hero and villain, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven paints an unforgiving portrait of the west that balances reverence and brutal reality, symbolized eloquently with the concept of man vs. legend.
4) Good Fellas (1990) – as mob films go this elegantly stylized depiction of the gangster world was one of the first to distinguish between the idealizations of mob life and the harsh downward spiral the lifestyle became in reality. Martin Scorsese proves his talent for honest storytelling and his remarkable abilities as a director in the ever engaging Good Fellas.
3) Fargo (1996) – this bitterly humorous real life adaptation of a ransom scheme gone horribly wrong is one of the most diverse pieces of cinema to date using styles from 1940s noir, to satirical comedy, and even suspense thriller. Following the usual upbeat morality tales that encompass the Coen Brother’s work, Fargo takes the conventions of the aforementioned styles and places a distinctively artistic technique to the offbeat and original story premise that is both amusing and frightening to the viewer.
2) Pulp Fiction (1994) – probably one of the most widely referenced films of all time due to its unconventional screenplay, using non-linear plotlines and displaced character fates, and its reverential filming style which places Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction as one of the most memorable and quintessential films of the 90s. The film’s influential impact alone places it at the forefront as one of the best movies ever made let alone for its stylistic achievements that more often than not can be looked to as defining the 90s generation of cinema.
1) Schindler’s List (1993) – the most passionately realistic portrayal of the horrors that occurred during the holocaust, focusing on the work of Oscar Schindler who saved up to 1,200 Jewish lives. The inhumane brutality and the compassionate bravery that are so powerfully depicted in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is part of what makes this film, in essence a deep and beautiful tale of human sacrifice and determination, the most artistically viable creation of the 90s. Also has been placed on the American Film Institute’s top 100 movies list at the #9 position.
Honorable Mentions (no particular order): Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Shawshank Redemption, L.A. Confidential, The Usual Suspects, Beauty and the Beast, Clerks, Jurassic Park, Reservoir Dogs, The Matrix, and The Iron Giant.
Just my opinion, I like to believe educated opinion, but if you have any criticisms, disagreements, etc. I welcome discussion and would be happy to address any disagreements.