Every time I'm reminded that the '90s were 20 years ago, a feeling of shock overcomes me. It's relatively alarming that — while I understand how math works — I can't seem to conceptualize all the time that's transpired between then and now. With 2016 right around the corner, I'm prompted to recall everything I loved about the past decades — particularly 1996. Because 1996 was a year when I began to watch movies incessantly, popping them in and out of my VHS player over and over again until the strips of their film broke and became tangled into an unrepairable mess.
If any of the movies I adored in 1996 were humans, they would be legal adults. Possibly in their second year of college. And while that's a slightly terrifying truth to sit there and think about, it's also one that gives me hope for the future of cinema. Hope, I suppose, that in 20 years from now, I'll still appreciate the films that I enjoy today — for reasons that might have changed, but are nonetheless important.
As we look forward to the films that will leave lasting impressions on us in 2016, let's look back into the past to the ones that already have. Here are 14 movies that you won't be able to believe are turning 20 in 2016.
1. Happy Gilmore
Happy Gilmore (played by Adam Sandler) just wants to be a hockey player — until he finds out that he's way better at golf. When he enters a golf tournament to win some money in an effort to help his Grandmother out, typical (high-pitched) Sandler antics ensue.
Heralded as one of the best natural disaster films of the '90s (OK, in my opinion), Twister featured a promising young cast (Helen Hunt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Paxton) and a lot of running. Plus the image of that floating cow still haunts me.
3. 101 Dalmations
The live action version of the 1961 animated classic featured an unforgettable performance by legendary actress Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil. (Also, can we just agree that nothing tops 103 minutes of puppies? Get real.)
4. Fly Away Home
A 13-year-old girl (Anna Paquin, everybody!) leads a flight of pet geese from Canada to the Southern states. Sweet, sad, a bit like Free Willy — but for birds — this one hits you right in the feels. (It helps that visually speaking, it's gorgeous to watch as well.)
5. Space Jam
The movie (and soundtrack) that perhaps defined 1996 for me. What made it so engrossing to me, I'll never know. Was the combination of animated and live-action features? Was it Michael Jordan? Was it all of the above? Probably.
6. Harriet The Spy
Harriet was the heroine we all wanted and never knew we needed. The quirky and adorable Harriet just wants to "see the whole world" and "write down everything” — so, that's exactly what she does. If you watch it back now, you'll notice the film — and it's arguably feminist undertones — have stood the test of time.
Shaquille O'Neal as a genie?! Do I need to say anything else?
8. Independence Day
“It's the end of the world as we know it.” Or so Independence Day, aka the movie that solidified your fear of aliens/love for Will Smith, claimed.
Matilda was the girl everyone wanted to be. Smart, sweet, and imbued with psychokinetic abilities. (Side bar: I still cannot stomach chocolate cake thanks to this film.)
10. Romeo + Juliet
The Baz Luhrmann film that put Leonardo DiCaprio on the map. (And made me cry for seven days straight.)
11. James And The Giant Peach
In the moment, I never realized how incredibly odd this story was. A young man, finding an abnormally large peach, decides to enter said peach, and then proceeds to explore worlds within it. Wait, what?
12. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
This Disney flick had depth, an underlying message, and much like it's predecessor Beauty and The Beast, taught us how to treat everyone kindly (regardless of their appearance).
13. That Thing You Do
Tom Hanks' directorial debuted delivered on all of its promises — that is catchiness, nostalgia, and a heavy dose of charm.
Here's to another 20 years in cinema.
Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (13)