For me, the 90s was the golden era of cinema. A perfect mix of big-budget blockbusters and quirky cult hits. CGI was endearingly crap and the internet was in its infancy so the stars of the time weren't biblically worshipped and simultaneously scrutinised. Going to the cinema was the only way to watch the latest movie as putlocker wasn't even a thing yet. Directors like David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino reinvented cinema and moulded it into their own clearly recognisable styles and gained international recognition for doing so. Landmark films like 'The Matrix', 'Toy Story' and 'Hoop Dreams' demonstrated ways in which technology could be explored in filmmaking.
I could've easily reeled off the top 10 movies of the 90s but given that the list would be outrageously predictable I thought I'd narrow the list down and pick just 5 which, for me, are timeless. They appreciate with age and despite leaving me with a crippling case of nostalgia will forever be enjoyed.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Jeff Bridges perfectly encapsulates 'The Dude' in the Coen Brothers' cult classic. The White Russian loving hippie whose real name is Lebowski happens to share the name of a local millionaire whose wife has just been kidnapped. He is then continually presented with stressful situations beyond his making. John Goodman and Julianne Moore shine and there is even a wonderful cameo from the late and great Phillip Seymour-Hoffman. The Big Lebowski is straight up hilarious and if you don't think so, well, that's just your opinion, man.
American Beauty (1999)
Lester Burnham, the hero of sorts of "American Beauty," is played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey as a man who is unloved by his daughter, ignored by his wife and surplus to requirements at work. With almost the first words of the movie he admits "I'll be dead in a year. In a way, I'm dead already." The movie is the story of his rebellion. He becomes infatuated by his daughter's classmate Angela (Mena Suvari) at a cheerleading performance. Angela is not his ticket to happiness but provides a catalyst for his freedom from his stale existence. It's about yearning for youth, respect and power and being freed from emotional paralysis. He quits his job, blackmails his boss for $60,000, buys a Pontiac Firebird and gets buff. His midlife crisis intertwines with the lives and emotions of his family, their friends and even their neighbours. If you haven't seen American Beauty, watch it. Then re-watch it. Then maybe wait a bit, then re-watch it.
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Dumb and Dumber, which features a young Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as nitwits Harry and Lloyd traveling cross-country in an infatuated pursuit of a rich temptress Mary Swanson. The film epitomises low-brow comedy and is blindingly stupid and absolutely hilarious in equal measure. The laxative bog scene gets a special shoutout. The ultimate movie for the saggiest of Sundays.
This disturbing David Fincher classic is a tale of nihilism and vengeance. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt play Detectives Mills and Somerset who are tasked with hunting down an imaginative serial killer (Kevin Spacey) whose murders symbolise the seven deadly sins. This intense fast paced noir thriller reaches its devastating climax with ultimate violent poetry. Not for the faint hearted but an unrelentingly thrilling movie and one to watch.
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Guy Ritchie's feature film debut proved to be a British masterclass. Set in a cockney speaking sausage fest of London's East End. Bacon, Tom and Soap scrape together enough money to put Eddy at the card table opposite porn king Hatchet Harry. Predictably, the whole plan goes tits up leaving them the task of clearing their debt within a week. After an attempted robbery of their neighbours ganja operation goes awry, they turn their attentions to a mysterious pair of stolen antique guns. The wild goose chase that ensues makes for an insanely quotable British classic. Interesting fact: of the 44 speaking roles, at least 17 were played by people who had never acted on film or TV before!