There's no denying that the '90s were a pretty great time when it came to pop culture. Boy bands, Tamagotchis, slap bracelets, Wonder Balls... the list goes on and on, especially in regards to the world of film. The decade produced many amazing movies with stories that are timeless no matter how dated the hairstyles are, but if you're a woman whose '90s movie knowledge is limited to Clueless and Titanic — not that I blame you — you've probably missed out on some of the era's highest-quality films. The truth is, the list of '90s movies that every woman must watch is pretty long.
You have your romantic comedies with big hair and big emotions, your thrillers with special effects that seemed utterly mindblowing at the time, your teen films featuring protagonists in scrunchies chatting on giant corded phones, and so much more. It's hard to even try to watch all the great '90s films within a single genre, nonetheless attempt to cover all the defining films of the entire decade. That being said, you can pick and choose among the categories and the years to get a well-rounded appreciation for the movies of everyone's favorite decade. Here are some of the best '90s movies that should be watched by ladies young and old.
1. What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
Johnny Depp stars in this heartbreaking coming-of-age film that explores the importance of looking at the things that hurt in our lives in order to move past them and find happiness. Leondardo DiCaprio received a nomanation for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Arnie, Gilbert's mentally challenged brother.
This black-and-white comedy takes a hilarious yet insightful look at the stagnant lives of two 20-something guys who reluctantly work in customer service positions.
3. The Cider House Rules
In the early 1940s, Michael Caine is a doctor at an orphanage who also performs abortions, and Tobey Maguire is his dedicated apprentice. It's an important film both for its subject matter and for the evocative journey of self-discovery experienced by Maguire's character.
4. American Beauty
This Sam Mendes drama is just one of those movies that I could rewatch a million times, and it really captures '90s culture.
5. Beauty And The Beast
Although there were other '90s Disney princesses who were also totally badass, Belle unequivocally takes the cake for her combination of intelligence, moral fortitude, and ability to see past the superficial.
6. Forrest Gump
This movie has some pretty famous lines, which your friends have all probably quoted in obnoxious voices at one point or another. But one quote which I feel really sums up the iconic character (and Tom Hanks' affecting performance) is this one: "I may not be a smart man, but I do know what love is."
7. Schindler's List
Now, Schindler's List isn't a movie that you're ever really "in the mood" to watch, but it is an important film about a period in history that must never be forgotten.
8. Fight Club
This adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel has one of the best twists ever, and features amazing performances by Brad Pitt, Ed Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter.
9. The English Patient
A wartime story of romance and loss, this movie is super sad and super long, but also super worth it.
10. Good Will Hunting
Matt Damon's character Will is wicked smart but also totally emotionally unavailable, a fact that he has to confront when he's presented with both unexpected professional and personal opportunities. Minnie Driver is absolutely amazing as Will's love interest Skylar.
11. The Red Violin
This multi-pronged story follows a single object through centuries of love, tragedy, betrayal, bravery, and general human messiness. So, so good.
12. The Green Mile
Tom Hanks plays a Death Row prison guard who faces a moral conundrum when he meets a very special prisoner. Based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, it's heartbreaking but also a little magical.
So there it is, your starter list of movies so you can say you're a well-informed woman when it comes to '90s cinema. Bonus points if you can make it through this list with minimal crying, although some is likely inevitable. But that's OK; there's a lot of inevitable laughter, too. Enjoy!
Images: Paramount, Giphy (7)