The 1990s were an exciting time for movies of all genres. There were independent, action, historic and futuristic films, and even smart films that were "Clueless." It was a time of heroes and antiheroes, of violent retribution as well as happy endings. Some 90s movies on Netflix right now are excellent examples of the variety of moviegoing experiences available to viewers during the 1990s.
Many filmmakers in this era had been working for decades while others who were just starting out are still prominent today. The rare auteur, like Steven Spielberg, has made quality movies for almost half a century. Robert Zemeckis began his close working relationship with Tom Hanks in this era, which continued with them making films together until this day.
This was also the decade that cemented the rise of Tom Hanks' career, especially in his star turn as Forrest Gump in the enormously famous and still quoted movie. A well-known actor, two female writer/directors and an alternative independent filmmaker also saw great success as directors of hit films that are now available as 90s movies on Netflix. Here are the ones we reviewed.
90s Movies On Netflix
This addition to the 90s movies on Netflix was the groundbreaking special effects movie of the 1990s that gave us some idea of what special effects could accomplish. In the movie, multiple special effects techniques were utilized in harmony for the first time on screen. This film not only piqued our collective imagination with its wondrous tale of bringing dinosaurs to life, but it also made us believe the dinosaurs, which were both CGI and animatronic creations, were real.
The effects were further heightened by Spielberg's use of DTS sound technology when Surround Sound was still on the cutting edge. Nowhere is this more evident than in the well-known scene where the two children are stalked by a velociraptor, and each sound you hear furthers the dramatic tension.
This movie was a labor of love for Steven Spielberg, who wanted to follow up the massive success he had with Jaws with an even scarier ‘creature feature.’ He continued editing and doing other post-production work on Jurassic Park even as he began filming his next movie, Schindler’s List, in Poland. Jurassic Park was the highest grossing movie of 1993 and was also the highest grossing movie ever until Titanic.
This is one of the 90s movies on Netflix that will need to be viewed with a box of tissues. Considered by many to be Spielberg’s masterpiece, the horror of the Holocaust is shown alongside individual humane behavior, and the result is revelatory. Dramatically shot in black and white, the only scene of color involves the red coat of a young Jewish girl who we see in just two scenes that will haunt you long after the film ends.
The continuing evolution of the main character, Oskar Schindler, is what lends this film its tragic quality. This is shown in the final scene where Schindler breaks down while speaking to the Jewish workers he has helped to avoid the concentration camps. Ben Kingsley, a cherished actor for many decades, provides the delicate branch between the machinations of Schindler and the people whom he comes to protect from an inevitable death in the camps.
Mel Gibson's second venture into directing and his most successful film so far is one of the 90s movies on Netflix. This was most definitely his true 'passion project,' as he did not take a salary and even used extras to play troops on both sides of the warring forces in the military scenes he shot. He was not taken seriously as an award contender until he received the Best Director Award at the Golden Globes. As the Academy Awards selections have often reflected many of the same sensibilities as the Golden Globes, the Academy awarded him an impressive five Oscars at the ceremony that year. Although some of the film's historical accuracy has been disputed, the 'cheeky' battle scene remains one of the most smile-inducing moments of film history to this day.
Although Michael Bay is currently popular due to the success of the Transformer movies, this movie stood out as an example of his over the top commercial style twenty years ago. One of the less highbrow 90s movies on Netflix, this movie is saved mainly by the strength of an ensemble including Billy Bob Thornton and the dynamic Steve Buscemi as part of a group of ragtag drillers sent to keep a meteor from crashing into earth.
The cliches abound like asteroids in the movie, and the ending is predictable. However, you are caught up in the urgency of these drillers saving the earth and the epic greatness of their acts despite the run-of-the-mill quality of their previous lives. Michael Bay has stated that he was rushed while making the film and that there are things that he would change about it. We know he wouldn't change the fact that it was the top grossing movie of 1998.
By turns poignant and funny, this milestone in filmmaking is the only one of the 90s movies on Netflix that was added to the Library of Congress in 2011 for its cultural significance. The movie was so popular it even spawned a line of restaurants, the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory. The restaurants are based on a comedic character from the movie who meets a tragic end before he can realize his dreams.
Tom Hanks cemented his star status in this role that spanned decades in the life of one man. The movie layered the events of Gump's life into well-known historical events, a fiction that seems far-fetched but worked wonderfully on the big screen. The lesson that life is what you make of it resonates long after you have finished this choice among the 90s movies on Netflix.
Sleepless In Seattle
This 1990s movie was part of the ongoing relationship between the late Nora Ephron and her on-screen counterpart, Meg Ryan. The relationship between the two women helped define the romantic comedy with its acknowledgment of women as fully realized human beings. There is a perspective to this movie that reflects the screwball comedies of the 1930s. The plot follows the tradition of many literary and film works predicated upon mistaken identity, miscommunications, and misunderstandings. This 90s movie helped establish Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as America's sweethearts for nearly a decade.
This is one of two movies in the 90s movies on Netflix catalog that was both written and directed by a woman. This spot on take about being a teenage girl is welcomed on all best film lists, just as the kindhearted Cher would be welcomed at any party. Cher, played by Alicia Silverstone, is a seemingly superficial but also deeply caring friend.
This is one of the 90s movies on Netflix that really captures the spirit of the decade. Following the technicolor fashion trends that dominated the 1980s, Cher is fashion-forward, the bright outfits she wears reflecting her eternally sunny disposition. Based on Jane Austen's Emma, Cher's consistently clueless matchmaking is hilarious when contrasted with the love she seeks that is right in front of her.
Good Will Hunting
Friends Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had tried to make their name in movies before writing their Academy Award-winning original screenplay. Both had acted in other people's projects, but it wasn't until they wrote something for themselves that their careers really took off. Their selection of a director outside of the Hollywood machine in Gus Van Sant was surprising.
Another great decision they made was to cast Robin Williams in the juicy dramatic role that finally got him the Academy Award he so richly deserved. As Will struggles with the choices he faces, the film addresses our perceptions of intelligence and following your dreams versus staying close to those who know and love you.
This is one of the 90s movies on Netflix that was unlike anything else at the time of its release. The director, David Fincher, had perfected his craft in music videos, creating the iconic video for the song 'Freedom' featuring singer George Michael and five supermodels. The photographic influence of music videos is clear in Fincher's visual sensibility, as in Se7en he even used a process called bleach bypass in order to deepen the 35-millimeter film's shadows. The whole film is set in an unnamed and dirty city to set the tone for a plot that focuses on a serial killer who kills his victims according to the Seven Deadly Sins.
At the time, Titanic was the most expensive film ever made, with a production budget of 200 million dollars. Now it is one of the most treasured 90s movies on Netflix. Written and directed by James Cameron, this labor of love illustrates an almost anthropological style of filmmaking that is used to maintain accuracy in as many aspects of the story as possible.
Though this film is typically defined as a romantic drama, many of us recall the breathtaking visuals of the ship cracking and people scurrying to survive the devastation of the wreckage. Cameron was a physics major in college before turning to filmmaking, something that has strongly influenced the 'universes' he creates for many of his films, Titanic included.
Theaters were drawing huge crowds in the 1990s with the new advances in technology and storytelling. Many directors who had been around for years chose to take their filmmaking in a different direction. Some new filmmakers established their names and reputations for the first time in this decade. Women were finally allowed to play the hero even if it was just the hero of their own lives.
The current ability to view 90s movies on Netflix on a variety of platforms allows you to enjoy the white-knuckle excitement of Jurassic Park or Titanic on your 52" smart television while also allowing for the intimate experience of a film like Sleepless in Seattle or Good Will Hunting on another device. The many options for viewing that exist now weren't even available when these movies first appeared in theaters. It is good to tailor the viewing experience to your surroundings, whether it be a 25th anniversary Jurassic Park viewing at the party of your dinosaur obsessed child, or just a cozy evening with that special person you call to 'Netflix and chill' with you.
Which of the 90s movies on Netflix is your favorite? The Netflix membership provides you with access to an assortment of 1990s films, so if your favorite 1990s movie has not been mentioned here, head to check it out on Netflix and see if it is currently streaming.