Last Updated: June 22nd
As CGI found its footing in the ’90s, the masses flocked to big-budget spectacles like Titanic and Jurassic Park. But another revolution was unfolding on a smaller scale. We also saw the first films from some of the best indie directors, from Wes Anderson to Quentin Tarantino. Below are 10 of the best ’90s movies on Netflix right now, ranked. They range from the ’90s-est ’90s movies that every millennial grew up watching to the influential award winners that are worth discovering or revisiting.
1. The Matrix (1999)
Run Time: 136 min | IMDb: 8.7/10
The Wachowski sisters created one of the greatest sci-fi films in cinematic history with their mind-bending Matrix trilogy, but the original is hard to top. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a young man unplugged from the matrix — a kind of alternate reality that keeps humans docile, so machines can harvest their life energy. He teams up with a band of rebels fighting the machines (Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity) and faces off against a henchman named Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). The real draw of this trilogy, besides its inventive storyline, is the CGI effects. The movie also sports some of the most imaginative fight sequences you’ll ever see on the big screen.
2. Groundhog Day (1993)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 8/10
Bill Murray has some great comedies living on his resumé, but none are as iconic, or at least, well-loved as Groundhog Day. That’s because watching Murray play a surly weather-man forced to relive the same day over and over again is basically a comedy goldmine of a plot. At first, Phil (Murray) enjoys the time loop, binge-drinking, filming some half-hearted news segments in a hick town in Pennsylvania, having one-night stands, etc, but eventually, he realizes that in order to escape his never-ending bed-and-breakfast hell, he’s got to better himself, not an easy task.
3. The Silence of The Lambs (1991)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 8.6/10
Hannibal Lecter is one of horror’s most iconic characters, but it’s a testament to the creepiness of Anthony Hopkins in a leather muzzle that, no matter how many times the film gets quoted, hearing him tell Clarice Starling he’s having an old friend for dinner still sends chills up our spines. Jodie Foster plays the FBI agent tasked with catching another serial killer with Lecter’s same M.O. and she does it by striking up unnerving conversations with the guy, but Hopkins is the real star here, playing Lecter with a restrained insanity that makes his small talk of enjoying human liver with fava beans so much more nightmarish.
4. Chasing Amy (1997)
Run Time: 113 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Ben Affleck stars in this quintessential ’90s rom-com from Kevin Smith about a comic book nerd who falls for a girl who will never be interested in him. She’ll never be interested in him not because of his terrible fashion choices, his chosen profession, or his frat-bro lifestyle but because she’s a lesbian. Of course, that doesn’t deter Affleck’s character, who makes some hilarious missteps in his quest for true love.
5. Bad Boys (1995)
Run Time: 119 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in this foul-mouthed buddy comedy film as two detectives tasked with protecting a witness while investigating a case of stolen heroin from their own precinct’s evidence storage facility. Marcus (Lawrence) and Mike (Smith) have been friends since childhood and are now working the beat together in Miami. When $100 million of heroin goes missing from their unit’s storage facility, they’re sent to track down who might have taken it before Internal Affairs intercedes. Smith and Lawrence have an easy, lived-in chemistry that really sells this thing, and the action’s not too bad either.
6. Tremors (1990)
Run Time: 96 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Kevin Bacon stars in this 90s horror-comedy that’s full of camp and runs on monster fuel. Bacon plays Val, a handyman living in a small Nevada town, who stumbles upon a group of underground snake-like creatures called “graboids” who have begun killing residents. Along with his best friend and a scientist, Val takes on the creatures and most of the fun here is in watching Bacon find increasingly inventive ways to kill these overgrown worms.
7. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Run Time: 139 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Is Jerry Maguire more than just a catchphrase machine disguised as a sports drama? You be the judge of that. There’s no denying this film has spawned plenty of GIFs and memes over the years, but Cameron Crowe was also able to craft a deeply philosophical look as what is a very superficial trade: being a sports agent. Tom Cruise plays the titular anti-hero, who wises up to the meaningless of his life after working with Cuba Gooding Jr. and falling for Renee Zellweger. There’s something there for those in search of meaning but even if you’re not, you’ve got to enjoy that “Show Me The Money” scene.
8. Clueless (1995)
Run Time: 97 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Few teen comedies have found a permanent place in the cultural lexicon like this 90s flick from director Amy Heckerling. Inspired by a Jane Austen plot and modernized with a Beverly Hills setting, the story follows a shallow, rich Queen-bee named Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) who begins matchmaking fellow students and teachers at her school only to be confronted with her own shortcomings in the romance department. The fashion, the catchphrases, and Silverstone’s magnetic performance — they’re all standouts here.
9. Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
Anyone who grew up in the 90s already knows this movie’s deal. The teen comedy follows a group of high school grads all with different plans for their final night together. Some want to get laid, others want to get wasted at a fellow student’s blowout, but they’re all forced to reckon with growing up and moving on — one way or another.
10. Deep Impact (1998)
Run Time: 120 mins | IMDb: 6.2/10
Hollywood’s obsession with the end of the world goes back a long way, enough to reach this late 90s disaster flick starring Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, and Morgan Freeman. The plot, like pretty much every apocalyptic movie that follows it, imagines a comet on a collision course with Earth and a group of people determined to stop it – or at the very least, survive it.
Recent Changes Through June 2020:
Removed: My Girl, First Wives Club
Added: Clueless, The Silence of the Lambs