8 Nostalgic '90s Movies On Netflix Right Now Because Remakes & Sequels Just Aren't The Same
Though the mid-twentieth century is often formally recognized as the "golden age" of cinema, anyone born between the years of 1980 and 1995 knows that really, it was the '90s that gave us the movies that we watch on Netflix and defined on childhoods. From Clueless to Matilda, these films just got what it meant to grow up before the year 2000. More recently, new movies have capitalized on our collective cultural nostalgia for the '90s, like the recent Jurassic World, picking up where 1993's Jurassic Park left off, or this month's Dope, a contemporary coming-of-age film in the vein of the great high school classics. There's also an impending remake of The Craft by director Leigh Janiak, not to mention last year's musical adaptation of Heathers.
Yet while all these remakes and sequels are certainly entertaining, nothing can really replace the original films. Whether the appeal of those movies lies in their distinctly '90s camp tone or their associations with our childhoods is unknown; maybe it was just that delicious feeling of watching a movie that you knew was just a little too adult for us that made us love the decade's films that much more. Whatever the case, we've got you covered with the best nostalgic '90s films now available to stream on Netflix:
1. Heathers (1988)
No, it's not quite the '90s, but it still deserves a spot on the list. Heathers, starring baby-faced Christian Slater and Winona Ryder, made later black comedies about highschoolers like Clueless and Mean Girls possible. (Both of those films are on Netflix, too.) It spawned so many brilliant catch-phrases, such as, "My teen angst bulls--t now has a body count," or "Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs, darling." Whether you're seeing it for the first time or revisiting it for the millionth, you'll be quoting Heathers for days.
2. Ghost (1990)
Money-laundering, poltergeists, a con-artist who discovers she has real psychic powers — Ghost's premise is madness, but as its critical and commercial success plus its numerous Oscar nominations show, it's pretty genius in execution. Starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost has a heartbreaking finale that should probably come with its own box of tissues.
3. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
A rom-com for the ages, Sleepless in Seattle teams up Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, and writer/director Nora Ephron (the trio responsible for You've Got Mail ). Hanks, reeling from the recent loss of his wife, tells his story on a radio show, drawing in Ryan's character with his tale from across the country. You can probably guess where it goes from there, but it's still a hugely enjoyable movie to watch.
4. Clueless (1995)
Clueless stars Alicia Silverstone as Cher, a Beverly Hills high-schooler navigating the turbulence of popularity, romance, and school. When newcomer Tai (Brittany Murphy) moves into town, Cher undertakes her makeover and introduction into the social sphere of school. It wouldn't have been possible without the previous decade's Heathers, but Clueless still stands on its own.
5. The Birdcage (1996)
In The Birdcage, Nathan Lane and Robin Williams slay as a middle-aged gay couple whose son has recently gotten engaged. The son and his fiancée unite each of their parents, and Williams and Lane attempt to disguise their relationship and flamboyant lifestyle in order to appear to their new in-laws. Each actor is perfectly cast, but perhaps the film's greatest asset is Hank Azaria as the Guatemalan manservant of the Williams-Lane household. As the A.V. Club noted, he's a character "whose absurd vivacity cannot be contained."
6. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Even if you're not familiar with the premise of the film, chances are you know Jeff Bridges's iconic character The Dude, and know that he drinks White Russians. The character sets out on a mission for compensation for a ruined rug, a rug that (as many characters repeat throughout), "really tied the room together." This Coen Brothers classic also stars Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, and John Goodman. The Dude abides.
7. Mulan (1998)
The only animated feature in our lineup, Mulan is still deserving of a place among these greats. Its classic soundtrack, girl-power message, and lovable crew of personalities have earned it a place among the best Disney princess movies released to date.
8. She's All That (1999)
She's All That stars Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook. Prinze, Jr. plays Zack, the hot jock vying for prom king, who finds his bid undermined when he's suddenly dumped by his ultra-popular girlfriend Taylor (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). He bets that he can create a newer, hotter date in time for prom and enlists Cook's geeky character Laney as his test case. The twist: he turns out a bit more successful, and a bit more attracted to her, than anticipated. It's a sort of updated Pretty in Pink, but still quintessentially '90s.
The recent and upcoming remakes and relaunches still deserve a chance; the new version of The Craft, for instance, is directed by Leigh Janiak, a filmmaker who has potential to add a feminist perspective to the '90s classic. But the original roundup of '90s nostalgia films will forever capture a particular imagining of the decade and social life growing up back then, and they'll always hold a special place in our hearts.
Images: 21st Century Fox (2); Paramount (3); Sony Pictures Entertainment; MGM; Universal Studios; Walt Disney Studios; Miramax