Halternecks, pop music and endless summers: isn’t that what the 90s was all about? Yet while the decade might be remembered for sunshine and cheesy tunes, a sometimes overlooked side to the era is its cinematic output; you might have heard that the 80s reigns supreme for movies, but you might be surprised at just how many gems actually came out in the 90s.

Somehow, the 90s packed several eras into a mere ten years, from the fallout of the post-Reagan economy leading to deft satire, to grunge, to millennium fearmongering, you could argue that the 90s’ film output was more varied than the gung-ho adventuring of the previous decade. Plus, the 90s had something else to shout about: technology.

While the 80s set the wheels of CGI in motion, particularly with The Abyss in 1989, it was the 90s that capitalised on the exponential rise in computing technology to bring forth more visually stunning films than had ever been seen before. (Well, that was the plan: some CGI of the era has aged better than others.) That said, the uptick in processing power and fears about Y2K led to some exemplar blockbuster – particularly science fiction – filmmaking.

Plus, with the democratisation of the internet, the promotion and sharing of films were revolutionised in the 90s. No longer was film criticism confined to glossy magazines: audiences gained a voice, for better or worse, that was more detailed than dollar signs ringing in the eyes of studio executives.

Which movie is your favourite to come out of the 1990s? Is it a high school dramedy? A spectacular action flick? A sci-fi masterpiece? It’s up to you – simply vote up or down on the movies below, and don’t hesitate to add any films you think we missed.

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Edward Scissorhands

After breaking through with Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, then directing 1989 blockbuster Batman, director Tim Burton took on his most personal project yet in 1990's Gothic fantasy Edward Scissorhands. This proved to be a major career turning point not only for Burton, but also for his lead actors Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. The story takes place in an idyllic all-American suburb, which - bizarrely - sits in the shadow of a creepy old castle on a hill. When enterprising Avon saleswoman Peg (Dianne Wiest) visits the castle, she is startled to meet Edward (Depp), an artificial man built by an old, eccentric inventor (horror legend Vincent Price, in what would be his last role). Sadly, the inventor died before he was able to finish his creation - leaving Edward with lethally sharp scissors where his hands should be. Recognising Edward's humanity, Peg brings him home to live with her family, which includes teenage daughter Kim (Ryder), with whom Edward soon falls in love - but, although the clean-cut community are initially fascinated by him, it soon becomes clear they will not accept this strange outsider. Edward Scissorhands began life as a sketch Burton drew as a teenager, expressing his own sense of alienation from the world around him: hence the character, with his pale skin and unruly black hair, somewhat resembles the director himself. Burton took the idea to writer Caroline Thompson, with whom he developed a full story centred on the tragic figure. Winona Ryder, who got her breakthrough in Burton's earlier film Beetlejuice, was on board right away as love interest Kim, but casting Edward himself proved trickier. Studio 20th Century Fox wanted Tom Cruise, whilst other contenders included Tom Hanks, Gary Oldman, Jim Carrey, Robert Downey Jr. and even Michael Jackson. However, Burton's first choice was always Johnny Depp, then still best known for TV's 21 Jump Street and eager to shake off his teen idol image. While it wasn't a Batman-sized hit ($86 million worldwide), Edward Scissorhands was warmly received and went a long way to establish Burton as one of the most distinctive mainstream filmmakers around. It was also the start of a long working relationship between the director and leading man Johnny Depp; the two would reunite on a further seven films to date, including 1994's Ed Wood, 1999's Sleepy Hollow and 2010's Alice in Wonderland.

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Fight Club

A brutal satire of modern masculinity, Fight Club is a 1999 adaptation of the novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. While it was a box office disappointment on release, the film has since become a cult classic and has been considered a harbinger of increasing corporatism and contemporary terrorism. Edward Norton stars as the nameless Narrator, who struggles to find purpose in a world motivated by consumption and acquiring nice furniture. In an attempt to cure his insomnia, he attends a support group for sufferers of testicular cancer despite having never contracted the disease. However, when the Narrator meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a philosophically-minded soap salesman, their fistfights in the parking lot of a bar begin a national revolution. One of the film's main themes is all-pervasive advertising, which - either ironically or consequently - led to the film's relative downfall at the box office. The studio balked at director David Fincher's cut and intervened in the film's marketing: it was pushed back to an autumn release, and then advertised alongside wrestling despite Fincher's protestations. Ultimately, the film returned $100.9 million on a budget of $63 million. However, the film performed much better on home media, in no small part due to Fincher's obsession with the packaging and release of the DVD version of the film, which came in simulated brown paper wrapping which gave it "incredible shelf-presence," according to 20th Century Fox's vice president of marketing Deborah Mitchell. Fight Club remains popular, and the rules of the titular Fight Club - namely, to never talk about it - have entered the pop-culture canon. So, too, has the film's ultimate twist.

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Forrest Gump

"Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." This line from Forrest Gump surely ranks among cinema's best-known quotations and is immediately conjured in star Tom Hanks' southern drawl. However, the film was far more successful than even its pop-culture longevity suggests. The film follows the eponymous Forrest Gump, a plain-spoken and unerringly kind man whose life improbably intersects with American history at every turn. For example, he inspires Elvis Presley, is awarded a Medal of Honor by Lyndon B Johnson for service in Vietnam and exposes the Watergate Scandal. Adapted from a 1986 novel by Winston Groom and directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film reaped $678.2 million at the box office from a budget of $55 million, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 1994 behind The Lion King. Furthermore, the film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Tom Hanks and Best Visual Effects. These effects, which inserted Hanks' Gump into newsreel footage, were achieved through extensive blue screen and alteration of footage to accurately lip-sync new dialogue performed by voice actors. The process was helmed by Industrial Light & Magic. A screenplay for a sequel was written in 2001, based on Groom's sequel novel Gump & Co, which would have seen the 'real' Forrest Gump battle with the media attention afforded by a film based on his life. Eventually, he meets Tom Hanks and attends the Academy Awards. However, plans for a sequel were shelved after the September 11th attacks, with Zemeckis, Hanks and screenwriter Eric Roth agreeing that the story was no longer relevant.

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Goodfellas

After such acclaimed hits as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese was widely regarded one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation, but in the eyes of many he didn't really reach his pinnacle until 1990's Goodfellas. Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) grew up in 1950s Brooklyn - and, as the film's first line tells us, "I always wanted to be a gangster." Working his way up through the ranks, Henry becomes a trusted employee of local mafia boss Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino), working alongside Jimmy 'the Gent' Conway (Robert De Niro), and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). The film follows Henry through the highs and lows of his gangster life, spanning the 60s, 70s and 80s - by which time, Henry's ever-mounting personal problems, and tensions between him and his friends lead him to turn informant for the FBI. Adapted from Nicholas Pileggi's nonfiction book Wiseguy, Goodfellas is a stylised yet grounded look at the reality of mafia life in America. Scorsese first read about the book while shooting 1986's The Color of Money, and on reading it was immediately struck by how honest and down to earth it was. The director co-wrote the screenplay with Pileggi, and settled on an unusual, episodic structure jumping back and forth in time, concentrating on capturing the feel of the gangster life rather than telling a conventional, linear story. Scorsese is justly famed for working with the best actors and getting their best performances, and Goodfellas is definitely true to form there. Rehearsing at length with the actors beforehand, the director encouraged improvisation from the cast, and some of these scenes worked out by the actors made it into the final movie. The most famous example of this comes when Joe Pesci's Tommy tells a story that makes Liotta's Henry laugh, prompting him to tell Tommy he's "funny." This became the most celebrated scene in Goodfellas, and helped Pesci win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. While Pesci’s Oscar was the only one awarded to Goodfellas, the film was widely hailed as a masterpiece. Roger Ebert sensationally declared, "No finer film has ever been made about organized crime – not even The Godfather.”

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Groundhog Day

Often seen as the archetypal time loop film, Groundhog Day is a 1993 fantasy comedy that stars Bill Murray as a curmudgeonly weatherman and Andie MacDowell as the object of his affections. Penned by Murray's Ghostbusters co-star Harold Ramis and screenwriter Danny Rubin, Groundhog Day sees Phil Connors (Murray) trapped in a time loop after covering the titular festival in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. With no obvious way out of his predicament, Connors confronts an existential crisis before using his time productively - to woo Rita (MacDowell), his producer. The film was a modest box office success, accumulating $70.9 million from a domestic theatrical run compared to a $14.6 million budget. However, critical acclaim and an enduring use of the titular phrase in common parlance has given the film a lasting appeal: time loops, or moments that feel like them, are often referred to as 'groundhog days' in reference to this film. Although the film is quite dark for a comedy to begin with - including, as it does, a suicide attempt by Connors - the original screenplay was darker still. At the end of the film, the screenplay suggests Rita is trapped in her own time loop, suggesting Connors' situation is in some way infectious. A stage musical version of the film premiered in 2016, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and directed by Matthew Warchus - recognisable as the team behind the successful musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda. It earned the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical and transferred to Broadway in 2017.

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Home Alone

Released in 1990, Home Alone was the first 90s project of legendary 80s director John Hughes, joined by ascendant child actor Macaulay Culkin and the soon-to-be Academy Award-winning Joe Pesci. Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy in a large family who feels put upon by his older brother and his preoccupied parents. When he's accidentally left behind when the family decamps for a Christmas vacation in Florida, Kevin's dream of living home alone comes true. Meanwhile, however, notorious criminal duo the 'Wet Bandits' seek to burgle the McCallister house, at first not realising that it's still occupied. Grossing $476.7 million from a budget of $18 million, Home Alone held the title of highest-grossing live-action comedy for more than two decades, dethroned by The Hangover: Part II in 2011. Despite a mixed critical reception on its release, the film's John Williams-composed score received two Academy Award nominations and Culkin was nominated for a Golden Globe. Since then, regular home media airings have established Home Alone as a Christmas classic, featuring as it does the wholesome fun of a young boy outwitting criminals with household objects. It was followed by a sequel - Home Alone 2: Lost in New York - which starred Culkin, Tim Curry and Donald Trump. Two further films were made without Culkin's involvement. In 2019, plans were announced for a reboot, with shooting beginning in early 2020.

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Independence Day

After Jurassic Park destroyed all box office records, no one thought another special effects-based blockbuster could ever hold a candle to its success. However, 1996's Independence Day made a good stab at it, and while director Roland Emmerich's alien invasion epic didn't ultimately dethrone Spielberg's dinosaur spectacular at the box office, it was a pretty close call. On the 2nd of July, the world is stunned by the sudden arrival of a gargantuan spacecraft in Earth's orbit, from which 36 smaller but still massive saucer-shaped ships emerge, taking position all over the world. Soon enough these ships open fire, leaving much of the Earth a flaming ruin. In the days that follow, the survivors - among them Air Force Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith), scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), and the US President himself (Bill Pullman) - band together to stage a final fight for the planet. Writer-director Roland Emmerich and co-writer-producer Dean Devlin came up with Independence Day whilst promoting their previous film, 1994's Stargate; a question from a reporter prompted Emmerich to ask how it would feel to see giant spaceships hovering above every major city on Earth. From this initial image, Emmerich and Devlin rapidly knocked out a script taking inspiration from classic 50s B-movies about flying saucers. Studio 20th Century Fox put pressure on the filmmakers to work fast, as they were keen to get their film in cinemas before another similar project: Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!, which ultimately hit cinemas in December 1996 and made a far smaller impact at the box office. While the reviews were mixed, audience response was enormous: no one had seen such massive destructive spectacles in a movie before, making Independence Day a huge box office draw. It became the biggest hit of 1996, and at the time the second biggest hit ever - behind Jurassic Park. Roland Emmerich would go on to direct more giant blockbusters based around mass destruction - Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 - but the real superstar launched by Independence Day was Will Smith, whose acting career progressed by leaps and bounds afterwards. However, Smith chose not to return for belated 2016 sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, a far less successful film which Emmerich has since admitted he regrets making.

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Jurassic Park

Director Steven Spielberg had twice held the record for the highest-grossing box office hit of all time: first with his 1975 breakthrough Jaws, then with 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. However, in 1993 Spielberg did it again, breaking his own E.T. record with the staggering $914 million earned on the initial release of Jurassic Park. The film's appeal was simple: Spielberg does dinosaurs, via the most advanced special effects work anyone had ever seen at the time. Jurassic Park is set on the (fictitious) South American island of Isla Nublar, on which eccentric billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has built the most unique tourist attraction in the world: a safari park populated by genetically engineered dinosaurs. Hammond brings in paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to visit the as-yet unopened park and hopefully give their endorsement; but of course, they couldn't revive the deadliest predators the world has ever seen without consequences. As Malcolm unforgettably puts it, life finds a way. Jurassic Park is an adaptation of Michael Crichton's 1990 novel of the same name. Before Spielberg secured the rights, plenty of other big-name directors were interested including James Cameron, Tim Burton, Joe Dante and Richard Donner. Spielberg wound up making the film back-to-back with his career-changing Oscar winner Schindler's List, making 1993 arguably the most significant year of the iconic director's career. After initially considering bringing the dinosaurs to life via old-fashioned puppets and stop-motion animation, Spielberg ultimately hired monster maker Stan Winston to build animatronic dinosaurs for close-ups, whilst for more challenging longer shots the team at Industrial Light & Magic used cutting edge computer-generated imagery, technology that was still relatively under-utilised in Hollywood at the time. The result was the most remarkable visual spectacle ever put to film, and decades later it’s still every bit as impressive. Spielberg directed a sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, in 1997. Joe Johnston took over for 2001’s Jurassic Park III, then the series went on hiatus until 2015, when Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World became a monster hit. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom followed in 2018, and series closer Jurassic World: Dominion is scheduled for June 2021.

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Leon: The Professional

French director Luc Besson made a stir in his home country and beyond with his early films Subway, The Big Blue and La Femme Nikita; but it was with his first English language movie, 1994's Leon (originally released in the US as The Professional), that the filmmaker really made his mark worldwide. Leon (Jean Reno) is a simple-minded Italian living in a rundown New York apartment building. At a glance he seems a harmless loner, but in truth he's the deadliest hitman - or, as he calls it, 'cleaner' - in the business, employed by kindly local mob boss Tony (Danny Aiello). As a professional killer, Leon's only rule is no women, no kids - but that rule is broken by the corrupt and deranged DEA Agent Stansfield (Gary Oldman), who murders the family in the apartment next door to Leon over a drug deal gone wrong. The only survivor is troubled twelve-year-old Mathilda (Natalie Portman), who Leon reluctantly takes in. On discovering Leon's profession, the precocious orphan begs him to teach her how to 'clean' herself, to get revenge against Stansfield. Against his better judgement, he begins to train her; and in the process, a close bond develops between the two. In its blend of French character-driven drama and quirky humour, plus large-scale Hollywood action set-pieces, Leon wasn't quite like anything audiences had seen before. Whilst Reno makes for a charismatic if unconventional hero, the show is largely stolen by Gary Oldman, whose gloriously unhinged turn as Stansfield elevated the British actor to the upper echelons of the great bad guy actors: Oldman would take further villainous roles in Air Force One and Besson's next film, The Fifth Element. Natalie Portman also made a significant impression in her breakthrough turn as Mathilda - although the film was, and remains controversial for its portrayal of this pre-teen character, and the implication of a romantic attraction between her and Reno's Leon. Certain scenes which emphasised this troubling aspect of the film were removed from the international release. Outside of 1997's The Fifth Element, Besson never really enjoyed the same success as a director, and has worked more extensively as writer and producer since, notably on the Transporter and Taken franchises. A Leon sequel following an adult Mathilda was on the cards, but due to legal issues Besson reworked the script into 2011 thriller Colombiana, starring Zoe Saldana.

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Mrs. Doubtfire

Starring Robin Williams as an estranged father incognito as a Scottish nanny, Mrs Doubtfire is a comedy-drama that ran rampant at the box office in spite of an unremarkable critical reception. Daniel Hillard (Williams) is a voice actor whose relationship with his wife Miranda (Sally Field) breaks down after he quits his job and wrecks the house. After she files for divorce and obtains full custody of the children due to Daniel's joblessness, he's forced to devise a more ingenious method of seeing his children. Donning the disguise of Mrs Doubtfire, Daniel faces the challenge of running a family home and contending with Miranda's new boyfriend, Stuart (Pierce Brosnan). Aided by an effervescent performance from Williams, who in the 90s was nearing the peak of his fame, the film took $441.3 million at the box office on a budget of $25 million; criticism mostly focussed on the film's sentimentality, though praise was offered for its depiction of a divorced family (notably, Daniel and Miranda remain divorced at the end of the film). This focus on how a family can continue to function in spite of divorce is a central theme of the novel on which the film was based: Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine, released in 1987. Much of the budget was spent on Williams' makeup, which took four hours to apply. The efforts of the team were rewarded, however, with an Oscar for Best Makeup. A sequel was in development for several years, though Williams was never happy with scripts presented to him. Finally, in 2014, a sequel starring the actor was announced. However, tragically, Williams committed suicide a few months later, and plans for the film were permanently shelved.

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Pretty Woman

First hitting screens in March 1990, this film from director Garry Marshall became the first romantic comedy hit of the decade, sparked a career resurgence for leading man Richard Gere, and - perhaps most significantly - catapulted Julia Roberts to instant superstardom. Strange, then, that Pretty Woman began life as a very different film which might have been a whole lot less upbeat and optimistic. Roberts is Vivian Ward, a low-rent Hollywood prostitute who crosses paths with Gere's wealthy businessman Edward Lewis. Recently dumped by his girlfriend and requiring female company for an upcoming business trip, Edward offers Vivian $3,000 plus a makeover and new wardrobe to be his date for the following week. She agrees, and enthusiastically embraces Edward's lavish lifestyle - but as the two get to know one another, it becomes clear their relationship is far from strictly business. Pretty Woman has long been a controversial film in some quarters, over claims that it normalises or worse yet glamorises prostitution. It might not be too surprising, then, that in its original form the film was not the happily-ever-after Cinderella story audiences know and love today; writer J. F. Lawton's original script was a drama entitled $3,000, a far darker, more realistic take on sex work and corporate greed. However, substantial rewrites saw it turned into a softer, crowd-pleasing romance. Julia Roberts was still a virtual unknown when cast as Vivian Ward; the many actresses to have turned the role down included Meg Ryan, Daryl Hannah, Michelle Pfeiffer and Molly Ringwald. The role proved to be a true life-changer for Roberts, making her one of the most talked about actresses around and landing her the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy award at the Golden Globes, as well as an Oscar nomination. Earning a massive $463.4 million off the back of a $15 million budget, Pretty Woman was a huge hit, and wound up the third highest-earning movie of 1990. It also helped rock group Roxette score a hit single with their theme song It Must Have Been Love. Nine years later, Roberts, Gere and director Garry Marshall would reunite on another rom-com, the less successful Runaway Bride.

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Pulp Fiction

After causing a sensation with his 1992 breakthrough Reservoir Dogs, radical young writer-director Quentin Tarantino went truly stratospheric with his 1994 follow-up film Pulp Fiction. Where his first film announced him as a force to be reckoned with, his second firmly established him as the most acclaimed and influential new filmmaker of the decade. Set for over the course of a couple of days in Los Angeles, Pulp Fiction tells three loosely interrelated stories out of sequence; first, we meet contract killers Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) on a hit that goes off-course; next, we follow Vincent as he takes Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) out to dinner, under orders of her crime boss husband Marsellus (Ving Rhames); then we meet washed-up boxer Butch (Bruce Willis) as he goes on the run after refusing to throw a fight. The non-linear structure of Pulp Fiction is strikingly unconventional, not to mention its stark cinematography and use of long takes, often punctuated by lengthy silences. However, what really stands about Pulp Fiction is its dark sense of humour, and heightened sense of cool. Reservoir Dogs established Tarantino as the master of the pop culture reference, and Pulp Fiction delves ever deeper in this direction. The dialogue might not always serve to advance the plot, but it provides a great sense of character and atmosphere, and it's always fun to listen to. On the subject of listening: almost as impactful as the film itself was the Pulp Fiction soundtrack album, a selection of mostly cool retro tracks compiled by the director himself; in what became a signature for Tarantino soundtrack albums, it also includes snippets of dialogue from the film. (The Reservoir Dogs soundtrack had also done this beforehand.) Thrilling audiences and critics alike, Pulp Fiction premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Palme d'Or, then went on to gross almost $214 million at the box office. It also received seven Oscar nominations, but its only win was for its screenplay, which Tarantino shared with co-writer Roger Avary. Samuel L. Jackson’s clear annoyance at losing in the Best Supporting Actor category has become an all-time classic Oscars moment.

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Reservoir Dogs

While the 80s had been a tremendous time for high-octane blockbuster movies, there was a pointed decline in the more individual, personal, director-driven cinema that had largely defined the 70s. However, when Quentin Tarantino showed up with 1992's Reservoir Dogs, it signalled a clear change in the wind for American independent film in the new decade. As the film begins we're introduced to a group of men, all clad in black suits and white shirts, in an innocuous conversation which goes from the meaning of Madonna's song Like a Virgin, to the merits of tipping waitresses. Next thing we know we've jumped ahead to some point thereafter, as the man we know only as Mr White (Harvey Keitel) frantically drives to a warehouse rendezvous point carrying a badly wounded Mr Orange (Tim Roth). These men, none of whom know one another's real names, are professional thieves - but the job they just went on went badly wrong, and Mr Pink (Steve Buscemi) thinks there has to be a rat in the team. With its simple but stylish visuals, retro pop soundtrack, nonlinear story structure and machine-gun dialogue littered with vulgarity and pop culture references, Reservoir Dogs immediately carved out an identity with which writer-director Tarantino is still associated today - one which countless admirers did their best to emulate in the years that followed. Reservoir Dogs also proved a major calling card for its cast. It marked a significant comeback for Harvey Keitel, who hadn't had a major leading role for some time (starring in the notorious Bad Lieutenant the same year also helped), as well as propelling Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen into the limelight. The jury was out on Tarantino himself, who took the role of Mr Brown, delivering the opening Madonna monologue; his acting didn't inspire such enthusiastic notices as his writing and directing. Reservoir Dogs also inspired huge controversy over its harsh and realistically-presented scenes of violence, in particular a notorious torture scene involving Madsen's Mr Blonde. The film was briefly banned in Britain due to its bloodshed, and questions about his use of violence have plagued Tarantino his entire career.

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Seven

In the wake of The Silence of the Lambs, the 90s saw no shortage of dark thrillers centred on cops hunting down grisly serial killers - but none of them proved anywhere near as powerful as 1995's Seven. Director David Fincher's breakthrough film presented one of the bleakest, most chilling visions of the modern world to come out of Hollywood in years. David Mills (Brad Pitt) is an ambitious young detective who finds himself partnered with the elder William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), a grizzled, cynical detective on the cusp of retirement. This uneasy partnership is put to the test immediately, as they're assigned a bizarre and disturbing case: a series of murders based around the Bible's seven deadly sins. As they struggle to find the elusive killer, and his crimes grow ever more horrific, Mills finds his idealism sorely challenged, until the detectives find themselves - and Mills' wife Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow) - becoming part of the grand plan of a maniac known only as John Doe (Kevin Spacey). Seven was the second film directed by David Fincher. His debut, 1992's troubled Alien³, proved such a bad experience that Fincher considered walking away from film altogether, but he was drawn to Andrew Kevin Walker's script, recognising it as a "meditation on evil" rather than a standard cop thriller. Before Morgan Freeman signed on to play Somerset, many respected elder actors were in line for the role including Al Pacino, Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall. Denzel Washington came close to playing Mills before Brad Pitt, and later expressed regret about turning the part down. Gwyneth Paltrow's casting brought a lot of attention as she and Pitt were a couple at the time; though her role in the film is fairly small, she has a vital part to play in the film's shocking conclusion, a scene which studio New Line Cinema were very anxious about. Fincher and Pitt pushed back against pressure for a less bleak conclusion; ultimately one alternate ending was shot, but it wasn't much sunnier than the one we ended up with. Making $327.3 million worldwide, Seven was a huge box office hit, which established Fincher as a major director and helped cement its central cast members as serious Hollywood players. It also kickstarted a long working relationship between Fincher and Pitt, who reunited on 1999's Fight Club and 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

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Speed

1988's Die Hard changed the game for the action genre, leaving every studio in Hollywood scrambling to produce similarly intense thrillers set primarily on a single day in a single location. Many of these movies never managed to be anything more than pale imitations of Die Hard -  but one which stood apart and became a classic in its own right was 1994's Speed. Keanu Reeves is Jack Traven, an LAPD SWAT officer who, alongside his partner Harry (Jeff Daniels), foils the plot of deranged would-be elevator bomber Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper). Believing Payne to have been killed in the failed plot, Jack is later shaken when he receives a call from the very much alive Payne, warning him there's a bomb on a bus that will detonate if the vehicle drops below 50 miles per hour. Written by Graham Yost, Speed was initially offered to Die Hard director John McTiernan, who passed as he felt it was too similar to his earlier project - and instead recommended Jan de Bont, Die Hard's cinematographer, who would make his directorial debut on the film. De Bont developed the script with Yost, hiring an uncredited Joss Whedon (soon to find fame with TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer) for extensive rewrites. Speed was Keanu Reeves' second action role following 1991's Point Break, although he was only cast when first choice actor Stephen Baldwin turned it down. It was on this film that Reeves got more hands-on with action, doing a number of his own stunts, most notably the jump from the Jaguar to the bus. This helped develop Reeves' reputation as a serious action man, which would be cemented by 1999's The Matrix and, later, the John Wick movies. The role of Annie went through a number of reworkings, originally offered to Halle Berry and Ellen DeGeneres before Sandra Bullock was cast. This role went a long way to establishing Bullock as a major female star, and soon she'd rival Julia Roberts for the crown of top leading lady of the 90s. With box office taking of over $350 million and great reviews, Speed was a huge hit. Alas, the same can't be said for 1997 sequel Speed 2: Cruise Control, a notorious misfire which Reeves was wise enough to pass on.

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Try to remember, if you can, a time when James Cameron wasn't yet 'the king of the world,' but simply a filmmaker with a few sci-fi movies to his name, which were well-regarded but not exactly blockbusters. Things changed in a big way for the Canadian filmmaker when he made the first sequel to his 1984 breakthrough movie, The Terminator. 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day picks up a decade after the events of the original film. Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor is no longer than defenceless young woman she once was, having spent a decade learning survival skills and military tactics to defend and prepare her son, future resistance leader John (Edward Furlong). However, the machines have now sent back another Terminator, this one programmed to kill John himself as a child. This advanced T-1000 model (Robert Patrick) uses liquid metal technology to shape-shift, making it even harder to spot, let alone destroy. Thankfully, Sarah and John have help in the form of a reprogrammed T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), sent back by the future resistance to protect John at all costs. It's easy to forget that when T2 came around, Cameron was in dire need of a hit; his previous film, 1989's The Abyss, was an expensive flop. T2 was also hugely expensive: at an estimated $100 million, it was the highest-budgeted movie ever at the time. Happily, this time it paid off, as with a final haul of $520 million, T2 became the biggest blockbuster of 1991, as well as being Schwarzenegger's biggest hit ever, and the highest-earning R-rated film up to that point. A big part of T2's success was its use of state-of-the-art CGI effects which hadn't been seen before. Drawing on FX techniques developed in The Abyss, the shape-shifting T-1000 made 'morphing' the hottest effect around in the early 90s, utilised to often-breathtaking effect, particularly when balanced with the astonishing practical stunt work. Cameron and Schwarzenegger reunited for 1994 action hit True Lies, but the filmmaker’s fortunes really changed in 1997, when he once again broke the record for the most expensive film ever, spending $200 million to make Titanic – which promptly became the first movie to earn over $1 billion at the box office.

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The Big Lebowski

Following the success of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1996 Oscar-winner Fargo (which landed them the Best Original Screenplay award, plus Best Actress for Frances McDormand), critics and audiences were initially bewildered when the writer-director brothers followed it up with a bizarre comedy about an old hippy who gets unwittingly caught up in a kidnapping case. However, despite the many other acclaimed films they made before and since, 1998's The Big Lebowski is today the film the Coen brothers are best known for. Jeff Bridges is Jeffrey Lebowski - or, as his friends know him, The Dude. Living a simple, low-cost lifestyle in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, The Dude's life generally consists of lazing around, drinking White Russians, and going bowling with his buddies Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi). However, after some debt-collecting thugs mistake him for another Jeffrey Lebowski - a millionaire businessman (David Huddleston) - The Dude gets caught up in a strange, nefarious plot involving the disappearance of the 'Big' Lebowski's young trophy wife Bunny (Tara Reid). Regardless of the many twists and turns brought about in the plot, what really makes The Big Lebowski work is the remarkable collection of colourful characters. The supporting cast is filled up with some of Hollywood's best actors giving unforgettable performances, despite many of them having only a few scenes to do so: take Julianne Moore as the Big Lebowski's artist daughter Maude, Philip Seymour Hoffman as his henpecked assistant Brandt, and - perhaps the biggest scene-stealer of them all - John Tuturro as The Dude's bowling arch-nemesis, Jesus Quintana. However, the real focal point of the film are Jeff Bridges as The Dude, and John Goodman as Walter. They're the quintessential odd couple - one a layabout ex-hippy, the other an uptight Vietnam veteran - yet, thanks to the actors' chemistry and the Coen brothers' impeccable dialogue, they make one of the most compelling double acts ever. So great is The Big Lebowski’s cult following, it has even inspired a religion – Dudeism – which venerates the film and its philosophical underpinnings. Recently, it also spawned an unofficial semi-sequel, The Jesus Rolls, in which John Turturro reprised the role of Jesus Quintana; this hasn’t attracted much acclaim, and went direct to VOD.

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The Lion King

One of the most high profile adaptations of Shakespeare in the modern age, The Lion King is a Disney retelling of Hamlet set among lions in Africa. Critically and commercially successful, the film on release became the highest-grossing release of 1994, the highest-grossing animated film and the second-highest-grossing film of all time. It has since been surpassed as the highest-grossing animated film by its photorealistic remake in 2019. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones and Jeremy Irons, the film follows a young lion, Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), as he abruptly confronts his destiny as king of the Pride Lands - but not before the throne is usurped by his uncle, Scar (Irons). Simba (later voiced by Broderick) grows up as an outcast before ultimately retaking the Pride Lands in a fiery finale. Created on a budget of $45 million, The Lion King grossed an astounding $968.5 million at the box office, and won two Academy Awards for its music, composed by Elton John. The Lion King is the subject of a long-standing rumour that the word 'SEX' appears in a night sky scene. However, an animator on the film has definitively refuted this, stating instead that the intended Easter egg was to spell SFX in a nod to the film's technical achievements. The 2019 remake, which prioritised black voices among its main cast and included Beyoncé as the voice of Nala, was produced on a budget of $250-260 million but made $1.657 billion at the box office. However, it was criticised for its muddy relationship with the songs of the original and its photorealism, which some thought left the lions expressionless.

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The Matrix

One of the last science fiction films of the 20th century, and one of its most influential, The Matrix has become one of the most parodied and most referenced films of all time. Starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, the film plays with a simple premise: that the world, as we know it, is nothing more than a simulation. Neo, along with Trinity and Morpheus (Carrie-Ann Moss and Laurence Fishburne, respectively), must wake up and defeat the machines who are attempting to harvest humanity's natural electrical energy to power their robotic civilisation. The signature achievement of the Wachowski siblings, The Matrix has become notorious as an example of so-called 'wire-fu', a filmmaking practice in which actors or stunt doubles are suspended on wires to perform exaggerated fight choreography. The film's depiction of 'bullet time' has also become a pop-culture staple, with Neo possessing such dominance over the eponymous Matrix that he is able to bend its fabric to his will. Produced on a budget of $63 million, The Matrix took $463.5 million at the worldwide box office. Furthermore, it won four Academy Awards, comprising Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. The film was followed by two sequels. While commercially successful, the films received mixed reviews. What had been considered a groundbreaking focus on philosophy and a high-concept plot in the first film was considered convoluted in further films. Nonetheless, The Matrix 4 is scheduled for release on May 21, 2021, with the lead actors set to reprise their roles.

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The Mummy (1999)

Starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, 1999's The Mummy is an action horror that serves as a swashbuckling remake of the classic 1932 monster film of the same name. Rick O'Connell (Fraser), an adventurer, seeks the lost city of Hamunaptra; he is aided by Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan (Weisz), whose actions unwittingly lead to the resurrection of the high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), who aims to sacrifice Evelyn to resurrect his former lover. Made on a budget of $80 million, the film drew $415.9 million at the global box office and spawned a franchise of commercially successful films. Even after the third film, 2008's The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, there were still plans to continue the franchise after another haul of more than $400 million. Instead, however, Universal decided to reboot their property with a 2017 remake that stars Tom Cruise in the lead role. The pioneering visual effects of the film, which some estimate as costing $15 million, were handled by Star Wars veterans Industrial Light & Magic, who were keen to avoid the toilet paper-esque look of the classic undead monster. "They had to put these little red tracking lights all over my face so they could map in the special effects," said Vosloo. "A lot of the time I was walking around the set looking like a Christmas tree." While the film built on a storied history of Egypt and its mythology in Western cinema, it could be argued that The Mummy reignited the exoticisation of the ancient civilisation for a new generation growing up in the late 90s and early 00s.

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The Shawshank Redemption

Director Frank Darabont made his directorial debut with this 1994 adaptation of Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Though largely overlooked on release, the film's reputation grew with time, and it wasn't long before many were declaring it one of the greatest films ever made. In 1947, Maine banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is found guilty of murdering his wife and her lover, and is sentenced to life imprisonment at Shawshank State Penitentiary. Here. he befriends fellow lifer Red (Morgan Freeman), and struggles to adapt to his new home - all the while quietly plotting his escape. Released in September 1994, The Shawshank Redemption wound up flying largely under the radar, overshadowed by the critical and commercial success of Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction. With initial box office takings of $16 million, the film was declared a flop; but after garnering a number of Oscar nominations (although no wins), it was re-released to greater success. However, it was on home video and TV that The Shawshank Redemption really found its audience. Along with 1986's Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most acclaimed Stephen King adaptations, and both films helped the wider audience and critical community recognise that King was a lot more than just a pulp horror novelist. Whilst Tim Robbins drew much acclaim for his performance, most would agree that the film really belongs to Morgan Freeman, thanks both to his performance and the evocative narration he provides. Although Freeman gets second billing, his performance landed him a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and helped propel him on to a successful leading man career in the years ahead: such hits as Seven, Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider followed. Despite the massive praise his first film garnered, Frank Darabont hasn’t had the most prolific directing career. Of the three further films he’s directed, two of those – 1999’s The Green Mile, and 2007’s The Mist – were also Stephen King adaptations. Darabont went on to enjoy greater success on television, as the initial showrunner on smash hit horror series The Walking Dead.

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The Silence Of The Lambs

The 80s had seen no shortage of hit horror movies sporting iconic madmen like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees - but it wasn't until 1991 that deranged serial killers really went mainstream thanks to The Silence of the Lambs. However, the film's critical and commercial success saw some question if it really was a horror movie at all. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is a young trainee at the FBI Academy who is unexpectedly sent to interview Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a former psychiatrist doing life behind bars for a series of cannibalistic murders. Although Starling is kept in the dark as to the reasons behind this meeting, she quickly realises the FBI are seeking Lecter's help in hunting down a new serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine); and as Starling develops an understanding with Lecter, she finds herself closely drawn into the investigation. Directed by Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs was adapted by Ted Tally from the Thomas Harris novel of the same name. The book itself is a sequel to Harris's earlier novel Red Dragon, which was made into the movie Manhunter by Michael Mann in 1986, featuring Brian Cox as 'Hannibal Lecktor'; however, Demme's film cannot be classed as a Manhunter sequel, as there are no narrative or casting links between the two. Jodie Foster had not long since won her first Best Actress Oscar for 1988’s The Accused when she took on the role of Clarice Starling. The Silence of the Lambs would see her win the award a second time, as well as picking up the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins. This was only the third time that a film has won in all the major categories at the Oscars; Hopkins’ win caused a particular sensation, as the actor only has 16 minutes of screentime. The Silence of the Lambs made $272 million at the box office, kick-starting a ‘psychological thriller’ boom, and launching a big screen franchise: sequel Hannibal came in 2001, followed by prequels Red Dragon (2002) and Hannibal Rising (2007), before the property was rebooted as the TV series Hannibal in 2013.

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Titanic

Released in 1997, Titanic became the most expensive movie ever to be produced, and also the highest-grossing of all time. Its story of a doomed romance amid a real-life disaster enthralled cinemagoers and its soundtrack has endured to this day. Kate Winslet stars as Rose, a young woman forced into an arranged marriage to save her debt-saddled family. However, when she meets Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), an itinerant artist, aboard the Titanic, she decides to pursue love as an escape from her restrictive lifestyle. Then the ship sinks. Produced on a budget of $200 million, the film made $2.187 billion, only relinquishing the title of highest-grossing movie when surpassed by James Cameron's Avatar in 2010. Directed, written, co-produced and co-edited by James Cameron, the film was born of the filmmaker's obsession with shipwrecks. In fact, Cameron descended to the shipwreck himself to capture footage of the real Titanic. The studio, however, was initially reluctant to greenlight the film and - according to Cameron - would have preferred a film more in the vein of The Terminator or Aliens. Cameron himself sketched the nude portrait of Rose that underpins the film; that nude scene was in fact one of the first shot, as the Titanic replica set was still unfinished. When Cameron cut his footage into a three-hour film - making for just over $1 million per minute of screen-time - studio executives were eager to slim the runtime. To that, Cameron replied: "You want to cut my movie? You're going to have to fire me! You want to fire me? You're going to have to kill me!" Several lines from the film have gone on to become pop-culture stalwarts, including Jacks' boast that he's "king of the world" and Rose's instruction to "paint me like one of your French girls."

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Total Recall

1987's RoboCop proved that Dutch director Paul Verhoeven had the chops to take on Hollywood spectacle, and when he teamed up with action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger for 1990's Total Recall, the result was the filmmaker's first true blockbuster. In the late 21st century, Doug Quaid (Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker in a happy marriage with doting wife Lori (Sharon Stone), but dissatisfied with his lot in life, and haunted by recurring dreams of Mars, which has now been colonised. Quaid visits Rekall, a company who sell artificial memories, and orders the memory of a vacation on Mars; but something goes wrong, as it turns out Quaid already has a false memory implant - which encompasses his entire identity. Dumbfounded, Quaid discovers he’s really Hauser, a Martian spy who defected to the planet's underground resistance. Suddenly under attack from mercenaries lead by the villainous Richter (Michael Ironside), Quaid follows the advice of a video of his former self, which tells him, "Get your a** to Mars!" Loosely adapted from We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, a short story by Blade Runner creator Philip K. Dick, Total Recall had been in development for many years before it finally reached screens. Other directors attached early on included David Cronenberg, whilst Patrick Swayze and William Hurt were considered for the lead, before the project was retooled into something more befitting action superstar Schwarzenegger. Total Recall was one of the most expensive films ever made at the time, with a budget in the region of $60 million. It also boasted a ground-breaking CGI sequence showing human skeletons through a digital X-ray scanner; this scene would help the film land the Best Visual Effects Oscar. Total Recall was also notable for introducing director Paul Verhoeven to actress Sharon Stone; the two would reunite on 1992's Basic Instinct, which made Stone one of the most sought-after actresses of the 90s. Grossing a mighty $261 million, Total Recall became Schwarzengger's biggest hit to date (although Terminator 2 would eclipse that record the following year). A sequel script was written based on another Philip K. Dick story, The Minority Report; this would eventually be reworked into Steven Spielberg's 2002 film with Tom Cruise. There was also a short-lived TV spin-off, and a Total Recall remake starring Colin Farrell in 2012.

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Toy Story

The first fully computer-animated feature film, Toy Story was not only a technical marvel on its release but also a significant critical and box office success. Starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as the voices of toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the film is based on a simple premise: what if, when you aren't looking, your toys have lives of their own? Toy Story transplants the typical tropes of the buddy comedy into the world of a plaything. Produced on a budget of $30 million, Toy Story reaped $373.6 million at the box office and was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song for Randy Newman's You've Got a Friend in Me. While it lost in all three categories, it nonetheless received a Special Achievement Award in recognition of its landmark filmmaking, and helped to usher in the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002. Toy Story has thus far been followed by three direct sequels; while Toy Story 2 followed in 1999, it would be another 11 years before Toy Story 3, and a further nine before Toy Story 4, each sequel  receiving commercial and critical acclaim (and the latter two each winning Best Animated Feature at the Oscars). The series' catchphrase - "to infinity and beyond," uttered by Buzz Lightyear - has entered the pop-culture canon, and the character's spacefaring image has led to some remarkable events. For example, in 2008 a Lightyear action figure was taken into space to perform experiments in zero-G.

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Trainspotting

Often ranked as the best Scottish film of all time, Trainspotting is the landmark adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel of the same name. Released in 1996 and directed by Danny Boyle, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner and Jonny Lee Miller among a larger ensemble cast of Scottish actors, including Welsh himself. The film sees Mark Renton (McGregor) and his friends struggle with heroin addiction in the suburbs of Edinburgh. Forced by addiction into criminal lifestyles of all shades, Renton begins to look for a way out, and for a better life. Produced on a budget of £1.5 million, Trainspotting returned £48 million at the box office, a remarkable success for a film that deliberately tried to entice both arthouse and mainstream audiences. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and won a BAFTA in that category. That said, Trainspotting was not without its critics. In America in particular, the film was criticised for its supposed romanticisation of drug use. Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole accused Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction of "glamorizing" drugs, though he later admitted that he had not seen either film. Andrew Macdonald, a producer on the film, retorted that "[the filmmakers] were determined to show why people took drugs ... you had to show that it was fun and that it was awful." A sequel to the film, T2 Trainspotting, was released in 2017. That film was produced on a budget of £18 million and sees Renton take a nostalgic trip back to Edinburgh to find his friends in just as much trouble as they had been two decades prior. It made £42.1 million at the box office and was also a critical success.

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