#10: princess mononoke (1997)
Hayao Miyazaki’s personal favorite film, the legendary director had developed the story slowly for decades before it was finally put into production. The sheer level of detail in the artwork is brilliant. Miyazaki inspects every frame of the film himself and reportedly edited 80,000 frames himself by hand. The result is a truly amazing piece of art.
#9: toy story (1995)
It’s hard to overstate the impact this film had on cinema at the time. The first ever computer-animated feature film, Toy Story was not only a financial and critical smash hit, but secured Pixar as a new force in Hollywood. Just like Snow White before it, this film earned an honorary Oscar for technical achievement.
#8: schindler’s list (1993)
Based on the true story of man’s harrowing plan to save thousands of Jews from the concentration camps by employing them in his factories. A great screenplay, an amazing cast (Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley), beautiful art direction, all headed by a legendary director (Spielberg) make a WWII drama you will not soon forget.
#7: rushmore (1998)
Rushmore simultaneously launched the careers of writer/director Wes Anderson and the film’s star, Jason Schwartzman, and resurrected the career of Bill Murray as a “serious” actor. All the hallmarks of an Anderson film rise to the surface in this quirky, dark-comedy: great soundtrack, a amazing screenplay, brilliant performances and a directing choices that can only be called Wes Anderson-y.
#6: fear and loathing in las vegas (1998)
A psychedelic, black comedy based on the drug-fueled writing of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny Depp gives the performance of a lifetime as Thompson and director Terry Gilliam crafts a film that floats somewhere between a dreamlike quality and drugged out nightmare. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Fear and Loathing is an experience that should not be missed.
#5: the lion king (1994)
The “Disney Renaissance” reached its apex with The Lion King, both financially and critically. Animation-wise, the film was a huge undertaking, with new computer programs being developed to finish certain scenes (stampede). Add an unforgettable soundtrack and an excellent cast and you’ve got a modern masterpiece.
#4: the big lebowski (1998)
This timeless cult classic, like most, was largely underappreciated upon its release. Following the success of Fargo, the Coen Brothers sunk their paws into the California-noir genre. The result is a wild ride of a film, brimming with fantastic characters, great dialogue, and enough allegories to keep film connoisseurs discussing it for decades.
#3: pulp fiction (1994)
Pulp Fiction tells the interweaving stories of several deranged and desperate characters in the LA crime scene. The quintessential postmodern film. The story unfolds in non-chronological order, the style seamlessly shifts into pastiche of multiple film genres and cultural elements of the past, and the self-referential screenplay that keeps the audience aware they are watching a film. An absolutely brilliant one at that.
#2: goodfellas (1990)
Goodfellas follows Harry Hill’s journey into, rise within, and dramatic fall from the graces of the Italian mafia. Outstanding performances, criminally underappreciated cinematography, a rock solid script, and a master class in directing from Martin Scorsese all combine to make what may be considered the greatest mobster movie of all time.
#1: fargo (1996)
A desperate used car salesman has his wife kidnapped by two deranged low-lives in order to extort a ransom from her wealthy father. The heart of this film lies not in this con-gone-wrong, but the pregnant, folksy police officer played by Frances McDormand (who earned an Oscar for the role). There’s too many things done exceedingly well in this film to list here. To put it simply: the Coen brothers prove with Fargo why they’re the best in the business.