10 Most Culturally Influential Movies Of The 1990s
In a time where filmmakers were exploring new depths in their movies, here are 10 that have been influential even all these years later.
Every decade has its own lasting impact on the world of filmmaking. The 1990s feel like an especially influential year with a number of films being released that would change the business forever and inspired filmmaking movements that still exist to this day
The 90s saw many established filmmaking trends being tossed aside as new ones were introduced. From this era, a number of amazing cinematic achievements from a variety of genres emerged that helped to shape pop culture and became widely discussed for years to come. Have a look at some of the most culturally influential movies from the 1990s.
RELATED: 5 Movies of the ’90s That Are Timeless (& 5 That Aged Poorly)
Independent filmmaking really became part of the mainstream in the 90s and the Coen Brothers quirky crime tale Fargo became the symbol of what these kinds of films could achieve. The Coens had already established themselves as interesting and exciting filmmakers by this point, but the success of Fargo critically and financially was something they hadn’t experienced.
The film is set in North Dakota where a series of violent and bizarre crimes involving odd characters disrupt the quaint way of life. The film never shied away from being unusual which proved the mainstream has room for unconventional stories.
It goes without saying that the biggest movie of the decade would also be one of the most culturally significant movies of the decade. The epic romance set aboard the doomed ocean liner broke all the box office records and held its title as the highest-grossing movie of all time for more than a decade.
Part of what made Titanic such a huge part of the cultural conversation was all the talk of the film leading up to its release. The massive and time-consuming production received a lot of press at the time and many were dubbing it a bomb in the making. All this only helped James Cameron get the last laugh.
8 Fight Club
Fight Club had significantly less financial success than most of the films on this list and was considered a disappointment at the time. However, the strong and passionate fanbase of the film helped to make it one of the decades most important films of the decade.
The film about a group of men who form a secret society based on beating each other up and fighting against the establishment sparked a counterculture following. Far from a cult film, Fight Club became a symbol of rebellion in the 90s, like the decade’s version of punk music.
7 Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg’s legacy as Hollywood’s top director continued in the 90s with some of his most significant work. But even for a master like him, Saving Private Ryan was an ambitious undertaking. The World War II film followed a group of soldiers searching for a private whose brothers were killed in action.
The movie proved it would be a war movie, unlike anything that came before with its opening scene. The epic and horrific invasion of Omaha Beach remains one of the most powerful depictions of war ever put on film and the genre has attempted to recreate that feeling ever since.
6 Toy Story
While Disney was in the midst of their successful animation renaissance in the 90s, a small animation studio called Pixar was getting ready to change the game. Toy Story was the touching and funny story of a toy cowboy who finds himself replaced by a new favorite toy.
While the story was clever, it was the animation style that changed everything. Pixar made hand-drawn animation was the thing of the past and started a long and successful string of touching and brilliant animated film.
5 Blair Witch Project
Comparing budget to total gross, The Blair Witch Project is one of the most successful films to come out of the 90s. This was another game-changing film for the horror genre although the found-footage trend would no kickoff for another few years.
The movie captured everyone’s curiosity with brilliant marketing which suggested this footage and the story behind it could be real. The movie resulted in endless parodies and was talked about by everyone. It proved that no matter the size of the film, it could have a huge impact.
4 Jurassic Park
Spielberg delivered some of his most serious and difficult films in the 90s, but he also delivered some of his biggest thrills as well. Jurassic Park was his return to big-budget adventure filmmaking about a theme park that has successfully brought dinosaurs back to life and the chaos that inevitably ensues.
The movie was pure entertainment as only Spielberg can provide. The movie delivered breathtaking moments thanks to groundbreaking visual effects and brilliant animatronics. The scares were effective and fun while the dinosaur action remains iconic to this day.
By the 90s, the horror movie genre, and especially slasher movies, were fading away and largely derided by audiences. But all it took was one clever movie to restart the genre in a new and fresh way. Scream seemed like the typical premise for these kinds of movies as it followed a group of teens being stalked by a masked killer. However, the movie brilliantly used horror movie tropes to tell its story.
The self-aware take on the genre felt so refreshing with characters actually being aware of the clichés used in these films. The result was a funny, scary and smart slasher film that showed everyone there is still fun to have with these films.
2 The Matrix
The Matrix presented a film, unlike anything that had been seen before. The Wachowskis created an engrossing and mind-bending story about a man who discovers that the reality he is living in is actually a simulation being run by machines who have enslaved mankind.
The big ideas of the film were matching with the incredible visuals the filmmakers created to tell this amazing story. The film introduced the idea of “bullet time” in filmmaking, brought Hong Kong action influence to the mainstream, and built science-fiction mythology that still holds up to this day.
1 Pulp Fiction
No filmmaker received as much attention in the 90s as Quentin Tarantino. His films were never nearly the hits that Spielberg and Cameron saw in the decade, but he changed the landscape of films in the decade and inspired countless other filmmakers who followed.
Though his first film Reservoir Dogs was an indie success, Pulp Fiction changed everything. The wild, violent, cross-cutting and dialogue-heavy crime film was a shot of adrenaline in cinemas. It heralded a new voice in the business which has been copied and mimicked for years after.