If the acid wash mom jeans and babydoll dresses are any indication, the 90s are back in fashion in a big way. So why not take a break from assembling your collection of Doc Martens and relax with a 90s movie? The thing is, the 90s were so full of fantastic movies, how do you choose?
Well, I did the painstaking and heartbreaking work of narrowing down five of the 90s best movies, both in terms of quality and amount of overall 90s-ness. It was not an easy task – actually fantastic movies (Good Will Hunting) and actually terrible but fantastically 90s movies (Encino Man) just couldn’t make the cut, and I might have shed a tear over the dozens that got the axe. But it was worth the pain, because now I can present you with the definitive list of the top 5 90s movies!
Reality Bites (1994)
What is not amazing about this movie? Not only does it star my favorite 90s heartthrob, Ethan Hawke, it also features Winona Ryder at her most waifish! The story itself is both extremely 90s and extremely now, as it features the struggles of recent college graduates to make a living and figure out what they want to do with themselves without selling out. The only difference between Winona Ryder’s character, Lelaina, in 1994 and today’s college grads is that Lelaina could still watch music videos on MTV.
Spice World (1997)
The fact that this movie even exists is something of a miracle. It’s not good, really, but it is kind of amazing. What better representatives of the 90s than girl power’s greatest ambassadors, the Spice Girls? And they don’t even try to take this movie seriously – it consists of intentionally bad jokes, random cameos, and a semi-nonsensical plot involving an alien encounter. And yet, somehow you can’t tear your eyes away.
It just doesn’t feel right to have a list of 90s movies without one from Kevin Smith. Of course any of Smith’s movies from the decade would be at home on this list, but I’m choosing Mallrats due to the fact that the entire plot revolves around a shopping mall. Today, malls are dying slow deaths all over the world, but in 1995? They were the place to be! You may or may not appreciate Smith’s brand of humor, but you can’t deny the wonderful 90s-ness of this movie. And I think we can all agree that magic eye posters are impossible.
Office Space (1998)
Let’s be honest, this movie is extremely relatable to anybody who has ever worked in a cube farm, dealt with passive aggressive middle management, or sat in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. Once you see this movie it is nearly impossible not to reference it on a weekly basis. Office Space may have been the first movie to document the nuanced annoyances of the modern work environment, but it also functions as a continued reminder of how little things have really changed.
Obviously no list of exceptional 90s movies is complete without Clueless. Though Clueless is based on the decidedly non-90s Jane Austen book Emma, the movie itself is like an idealized time capsule of the 90s. It captures all sorts of 90s trends and cranks them up to 11, from fashion to slang to Alicia Silverstone. And when it wasn’t highlighting trends, it was making them. Hands up if you were totally inspired to dress like Cher after seeing this movie? Not only that, Clueless is actually a very smart, observant, and funny movie that still holds up today. Plus, it has Paul Rudd – what more do you need?
Now I know you all want to yell things like, “But what about Empire Records?!” and “How could you forget Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion?!” So let us know in the comments – which 90s movies would make your Top 5?