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The best ’90s movies to stream right now

The 1990s was a great decade for movies, with actors like Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Kathy Bates, and Denzel Washington at the top of their games. And while many of the decade’s best films are not currently available for streaming, there are a ton of amazing ’90s flicks you can stream via Netflix, Amazon Prime, and some of the more popular streaming services on the market. Spanning comedies, dramas, sci-fi epics, and psychological thrillers, here are some great ones to consider adding to your watch list.

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The Matrix (1999)

Wrapping up the decade and spawning a franchise, the original film was a massive box office success and put Keanu Reeves on the map as a serious A-list actor. He stars as Thomas Anderson, known by his hacker alias Neo, who discovers he’s in a dystopian future where humanity is stuck in a simulated reality and machines use human bodies as energy sources to run it. It was a film ahead of its time and set the stage for many other dystopian-future, warped-reality, A.I.-focused films and series that followed.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss
Director: The Wachowskis
Rating: R
Runtime: 136 minutes

Watch on Netflix

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Fight Club (1999)

“The first rule of Fight Club is…” It’s a phrase that has become part of popular culture thanks to this mind-bending film based on the 1996 Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name. In order to add some excitement to his boring, monotonous life, the unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) creates a fight club with the help of a mysterious soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). The film sparked a lot of controversy and endless analysis about its meaning, but has become one of the defining films of the generation.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: David Fincher
Rating: R
Runtime: 139 minutes

Watch on Hulu

Watch on HBO Max

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The first of many film and television interpretations of Thomas Harris’ novel and character Dr. Hannibal Lecter, this one remains the best. Dr. Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is a brilliant psychiatrist who also happens to be a cannibalistic serial killer. And while FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) hopes the now captured killer can help her get into the mind of a copycat so she can track him down, Dr. Lecter relishes the chance to impart his knowledge in the most manipulative way.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars: Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: R
Runtime: 118 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Goodfellas (1990)

The A-list cast and their creative ability to ad-lib helped turn this film into one of the best ever made, both inside and out of the gangster genre. It centers around the real story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a member of the mob, and his rise up the ranks to his work as an FBI informant that eventually led to 50 convictions. Based on the 1985 nonfiction book Wiseguy, written by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Martin Scorsese. The film received six Academy Award nominations, winning one for Joe Pesci.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama
Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: R
Runtime: 145 minutes

Watch on Hulu

The Lion King (1994)

It was the animated film of the decade and was the highest-grossing animated film of all time (adjusted for inflation, it would still sit in the top three, an impressive feat for a 2D film.) Simba, a young lion cub, witnesses the terrifying death of his father Mufasa and thinks he is to blame. But with help from his friends Timon and Pumbaa, who he meets while in self-inflicted exile, he decides to try and take back what is rightfully his. The film has spawned many retellings, from Broadway shows to TV series, video games, and, most recently, a CGI remake.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones
Director: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Rating: G
Runtime: 88 minutes

Watch on Disney+

Toy Story (1995)

Another successful animated film from the decade, this was the first feature film from Pixar to be entirely computer animated. Aside from the technical marvel, the touching story became one that both kids and adults equally enjoyed. Since the original, the film has spawned three sequels, including Toy Story 4, released in 2019. While all four have been tremendously successful, the first film set the stage and earned three Academy Award nominations for both screenplay and music.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, John Morris, Erik von Detten
Director: John Lasseter
Rating: G
Runtime: 81 minutes

Watch on Disney+

The Green Mile (1999)

Tom Hanks is Paul Edgecomb, a death row corrections officer during the Great Depression who starts to see supernatural events following the admission of a mysterious new inmate named John Coffey (the late Michael Clarke Duncan in his breakout role). Coffey seems to have the ability to heal others, making the guards question if he really could be guilty of committing the heinous crimes for which he was charged and sentenced to death. It is one of many films during the decade starring Tom Hanks (and based on a Stephen King novel) that received widespread critical acclaim. Lauded for its emotionally powerful story, the film received four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Duncan.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Genre: Crime, Drama, Fantasy
Stars: Tom Hanks, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan
Director: Frank Darabont
Rating: R
Runtime: 189 minutes

Watch on Hulu

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Penned by then relatively unknown young men Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the film solidified the pair’s position in Hollywood after being nominated for nine Academy Awards and winning two, including Best Screenplay. The story is that of a young, aimless 20-year-old, Will Hunting (Damon), who is revealed to be a secret genius. While undergoing therapy after an altercation with a police officer, he begins opening up to Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) while studying advanced mathematics and figuring out his future. It’s a wonderful story about untapped potential and facing one’s inner demons in order to start the healing process.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Drama, Romance
Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgard, Minnie Driver
Director: Gun Van Sant
Rating: R
Runtime: 126 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

Titanic (1997)

Who hasn’t stood at the edge of a boat, arms outstretched, claiming “I’m the king of the world!”? That’s all from this movie, and there has yet to be another romantic film about forbidden love to rival the heartbreaking relationship between Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), the poor artist aboard the ship, and Rose, the upper-class woman with whom he falls in love. Based on the story of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it’s the kind of film you can watch again and again and get choked up every time. Tieing for the most Academy Award nominations ever at 14, it went on to win 11 of them (another record it tied), including Best Picture and Best Director. It was also the first film to surpass $1 billion at the box office.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama, Romance
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates
Director: James Cameron
Rating: PG
Runtime: 195 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

At just 24 years old, Gilbert (Johnny Depp) spends his days working at a grocery store and caring for his morbidly obese mother Bonnie (Darlene Cates) and his mentally impaired younger brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Earning DiCaprio his first-ever Academy Award nomination, the actor, then only a teenager, solidified his position in Hollywood through his convincing and touching performance.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama
Stars: Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, Darlene Cates, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mary Steenburgen, John C. Reilly
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Rating: PG
Runtime: 118 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

Misery (1990)

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, this psychological thriller takes viewers deep into the mind of a psychotic woman and nurse who takes a famous novelist captive and tortures him. Claiming to be his number-one fan, she forces him to re-write his latest manuscript with an ending she prefers. Kathy Bates’ terrifying portrayal of the murderous woman, including that gruesome “hobbling” scene, make Annie Wilkes one of the scariest TV characters ever to grace the big screen. Fun fact: Misery is the only film based on a King novel to win an Oscar.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Stars: James Caan, Kathy Bates
Director: Rob Reiner
Rating: R
Runtime: 107 minutes

Watch on HBO Max

As Good As It Gets (1997)

Earning both Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt Academy Award wins, this film proved that romantic comedies could be more than just predictable, cringeworthy stories worth watching on dates or alone with a pint of ice cream. Nicholson nails the role of an obsessive-compulsive novelist while Hunt sparks serious emotion as the single mother and waitress with a chronically ill son who seems to be the only person willing to put up with his quirks. The film is ranked among Empire magazine’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Shirley Knight
Director: James L. Brooks
Rating: PG
Runtime: 139 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Groundhog Day (1993)

Imagine being stuck in a time loop you can’t get out of, not only living the same day over and over again but living a day that you loathed. This is exactly what happens to grumpy weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray), who finds himself waking up every morning on the day he’s tasked with covering the annual Groundhog Day event in a small town. While there’s plenty of hilarity as Connors tries to change something different each day in hopes it will get him out of the loop, even attempting to kill himself multiple times in ridiculous ways, it’s a love story at its core.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Director: Harold Ramis
Rating: PG
Runtime: 101 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Malcolm X (1992)

The powerful activist who inspired this culturally defining film served as the inspiration for the plot that looks at key events throughout Malcolm X’s life, from his admirable work as an activist to his incarceration, marriage, and assassination. With cameo appearances by Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Nelson Mandela, the film was universally lauded, with film critic Roger Ebert ranking it as his top film for the year, and Denzel Washington receiving an Academy Award nomination for his role as the title character.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee
Director: Spike Lee
Rating: R
Runtime: 201 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Crying Game (1992)

Shedding the spotlight on issues like race, gender, and sexuality, this thriller has been named among the greatest British films of all time by the British Film Institute. Set in Northern Ireland, it tells the tale of an army man named Fergus (Stephen Rea) who falls for the former love of a murdered soldier (Forest Whitaker) he had befriended. Rife with guilt, he also finds himself confused about his sexuality once he discovers the truth about Dil. Jaye Davidson received an Academy Award nomination for his role.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance
Stars: Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, Forest Whitaker
Director: Neil Jordan
Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Editors' Recommendations

Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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