My Top Ten Movies of the 90’s
10. Terminator 2 (1991)
I juggled back and forth for this last spot in the top ten between this one and Wayne’s World (the preeminent comedy of the decade), but I decided to go with T2. This film has reached to pantheon of the greatest sequels of all time. It is action movie-making at its best and was also a landmark film in visual effects. That said, it takes a great story and adds even more layers to it, dealing with the destructive nature of human beings and the ultimate question of whether or not we are in control of our own destiny (a message which was completely destroyed by the next two movies, but we won’t go there). Cameron is a master of setting tone and atmosphere in his films, and Terminator 2 has a unique feel to it which keeps me coming back for more.
9. Princess Mononoke (1997)
I want to start off by saying that I’m not an anime fan. I have never been a big geek of Akira, or Ramna or any of the rest. But I absolutely love Princess Mononoke. Hayao Miyazaki is an animation master. His distinct style and complete submission to his own animation make his films unique. Add to that the very colourful characters and naturalistic and spiritual message at its core, and you have one of the finest animated films ever made.
8. The Sixth Sense (1999)
One of the greatest thrillers of the past couple of decades, The Sixth Sense is at first captivating in its cautious pacing, careful cinematography, and uneasy tension. Then it drives things home with the now infamous ending. Many people think of The Sixth Sense and can’t really see past the twist at the end. And although the ending was phenomenal and blew my mind when I first saw it in the theaters ten years ago, the movie is so much more than that. It is a modern masterpiece of thriller cinema.
7. Braveheart (1995)
Braveheart is a true epic; it tells a grand story on a grand scale. The hero is larger than life, the cinematography is astounding, the vistas are sweeping, the drama is played just right at all the right moments. Braveheart is an emotional thrill for me every time I watch it, right from the opening credits. The battle scenes are hard to beat and the heart-rending finale always chokes me up.
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Spielberg created one of the all-time greatest war films at the end of the nineties with this gritty and hard-hitting tale of a mission to save one man in the chaos of war. After dealing with WW2 in many of his films as a tangent to the actual fighting itself, here he delves right into the action, showing the most spectacular depiction of D-Day ever filmed. From there, he gives us a very strong film with some great characters and a heart-pounding struggle at the end to keep the Germans at bay.
5. The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix is just great. Its exciting and thought-provoking, fresh and beautiful. The Matrix has really entered popular culture in a way that few modern day films are able to. There are numerous memorable scenes, from the kung fu scene, to the blue-red pill scene, to the lobby shoot-out and the mind-blowing escape from the pod. That turning point of the movie, where we actually see just what the Matrix is, stunned me. That’s when I knew I was watching something special. Technically, this film is brilliant, with every frame thought out meticulously. And cinematically, we are able to enter a new world and enter a new movie mythology.
4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Shawshank is a widely respected and beloved movie, and for good reason. It takes its time to tell its story, pulling us deep into the friendship of the two leads and allowing us to feel all of the rich emotions they pass through. This movie can be both depressing and uplifting; and the uplifting moments eventually win through, which is why we keep coming back to it time and again. They say that this movie has one of the most satisfying endings in film history: I would have to agree.
3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Silence of the Lambs has given film history one of its all-time greatest villains in the cannibalistic Hannibal Lector. However, opposite Hopkin’s mesmerizing and chilling performance, Jodie Foster gives an equally strong outing as Clarice Starling, a headstrong yet insecure FBI agent with something to prove. This is a wonderfully constructed thriller and one of the best of its genre ever made.
2. Schindler’s List (1993)
Spielberg’s masterpiece. The most notable filmmaker in Hollywood has here created one of the most stunning, moving and powerful movies ever. His depiction of the holocaust is haunting, yet still hopeful. Its gritty, yet beautifully photographed. The performances are seamless, the emotions are genuine, and everything is pitch-perfect.
1. Jurassic Park (1993)
This may seem like an odd choice as my favourite of the entire decade, but guess what, it is. I simply cannot disconnect my personal attachment to this movie. It is one of the two reasons I fell in love with movies (Star Wars is the other, in case you were wondering). Its not the first movie I saw in theaters, but its the first theater experiences I remember clearly and completely. This was the perfect movie for me at the time, and I just can’t tear myself away from how much I love it. It is pure adventure, pure discovery, pure thrill. It is chest-thumping excitement from the moment that great brachiosaurus comes on screen, and who could ever forget the spectacular T-Rex debut? I love Jurassic Park and I always will.