This article was originally published in Reader’s Digest Magazine.
50 Best ’90s Movies to Stream Tonight, Nov. 04, 2022
Hip-hop, counterculture, generational angst and postmodernism. The 1990s were not only a pivotal moment in history but specifically in cinematic history, boasting many of the best movies of all time. Following the fun and camp of ’80s movies, the next decade was when film as an art form really matured and started to experiment, explaining why so many truly groundbreaking movies across all genres came out in the ’90s.
To start, the U.S. experienced an unprecedented economic boom in the ’90s, which meant movie studios with bigger budgets and moviegoers with disposable income. The advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and the internet stretched the possibilities of storytelling, especially for sci-fi movies—suddenly, anything was possible. With the birth of the ’90s hip-hop and Black excellence movements, the introduction of Hong Kong movies in the West and the rise of third-wave feminism, we began to see a lot more diversity in drama movies—racially, ethnically and in the perspectives represented. Independent movie studios and the popularity of direct-to-home movies on VHS meant more filmmakers had the opportunity to reach viewers outside mainstream theaters. With a new generation of audiences who had grown up in front of screens, postmodernist narratives began pushing the boundaries of reality, and action movies became sleeker and smarter.
And, of course, we have to talk about the innovative ’90s kids movies that won over the hearts of adults as well—with the Disney Renaissance, the golden age of Tim Burton and the popularity of snarky teen movies, it remains a mark of pride to have been a ’90s kid.
We could write a book on ’90s movies, but we’ve gone ahead and distilled the best of the best: critically acclaimed award-winners and cult classics that continue to inspire and delight. So put on your Dr. Martens and baggy jeans, then choose an iconic film to stream tonight!
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