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The 15 Best ’90s Movies On Netflix Right Now, Ranked

Universal Pictures

Last Updated: December 21st

Filmmaking changed as drastically in the 1990s as in any other decade. Technology advanced as the film world became increasingly digital, and every blockbuster strived to be bigger and cooler than the last. As CGI found its footing, the masses flocked to big-budget spectacles like Titanic and Jurassic Park. But another revolution was unfolding on a smaller scale. We also saw the first films from some of the best indie directors, from Wes Anderson to Quentin Tarantino. It was a dramatic and innovative time for moviemaking.

Below are 15 of the best ’90s movies on Netflix right now, ranked. They range from the ’90s-est ’90s movies that every millennial grew up watching to the influential award winners that are worth discovering or revisiting.

Related: The Best Christmas Movies On Netflix Right Now, Ranked

Buena Vista Pictures

15. Armageddon (1998)

No binge of overblown ’90s action movies would be complete without a sampling from Michael Bay, and Armageddon is one of his best thanks to its lovable ridiculousness and implausibility. As the other “we have to stop the world-ending meteor” movie of 1998 — it arrived a bit after Deep Impact — this is the one that is packed with some of the biggest names of the decade. Despite some of the actors saying that they only did the movie for the paycheck and Bay himself saying he wishes he could redo the error-filled third act, it has a bloated charm to its mess. This is largely due to Steve Buscemi’s appearance, which was contractually obligated in every movie of the ’90s.

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TriStar Pictures

14. Basic Instinct (1992)

Netflix’s Love had it right: they really don’t make that certain brand of erotic thrillers from the ’80s and ’90s anymore. But there isn’t a finer example of the sub-genre in its heyday than Basic Instinct. The film isn’t known for much more than its infamous wardrobe malfunction, but beyond that, we’re left with Paul Verhoeven crafting a glitzy pulp story of a brutal detective and the femme fatale who’s got him wrapped around her finger. From its over-the-top product placement to its sleazy, seductive tone, Basic Instinct is like a relic from another time, in the best possible sense.

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Walt Disney Pictures

13. The Santa Clause (1994)

A man (Tim Allen) accidentally kills Santa Claus and is then forced to take the position of international gift-giver/break and enter-er, all the while learning what Christmas and fatherhood is really about. It’s simplistic holiday favorite with lots of PG-rated shenanigans, despite being centered around a somewhat strange precedent. (For instance, what if a serial killer offed Santa? Would he really be the person we want sneaking into our homes and leaving presents for naive youths?) Tim Allen is what makes this movie works as this premiered in his Home Improvement/Toy Story hay day, even though he wasn’t even the first choice (Bill Murray) or even second choice (Chevy Chase) for the role. But it’s hard to picture anyone else as the lead in this Christmas tale.

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Buena Vista Pictures

12. Cool Runnings (1993)

A group made up of runners, a loud-mouthed pushcart driver, and a disgraced coach attempt the impossible: bring the first ever Olympic bobsled team to Jamaica. It’s become a touchstone movie for millennials because it delivers the usual Disney-fied underdog story while still supplying lots of hilarious, quotable lines. In one of his final performances, John Candy drives the comedy, but there isn’t a weak link in the bunch. Obviously, the historical accuracy of the real Jamaican bobsled team is not the film’s emphasis. But it’s got plenty of strengths that keep it from becoming a forgotten VHS on your childhood shelf.

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Trimark Pictures

11. Cube (1997)

The genius of Cube is in its simplicity. A group of strangers awakens to find themselves in a complex system of identical rooms, many of which contain hidden, lethal traps for anyone clueless enough to enter them. With no knowledge of where they are, how they got there, or why they’re there, they have to work together to escape and/or — usually and — die trying. As it all pretty much takes place in a single room, it’s a prime example that the only things needed are a solid idea, a little money, and the stomach to depict people getting their faces melted or their bodies diced by razor-sharp wire. The follow-up installments go a little further out there in ideas and the world outside the Cube, but the original can’t be topped thanks to its unnerving score and tense, claustrophobic nature.

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Buena Vista Pictures

10. Quiz Show (1995)

Millions of families were captivated by the boom of quiz shows during TV’s golden age in the 1950s, completely unaware that they were being duped for the sake of ratings. Contestants were often coached to win or lose, and even though it wasn’t illegal, that fix coming to light was enough to change the medium forever. Robert Redford’s Oscar-nominated drama focuses on how this scam unraveled. When ousted Twenty One winner Herbie Stempel (John Turturro) attempts to tell the world about being forced to take a dive, a lawyer investigates the show and its shiny new champion Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes). Wonderfully directed, Quiz Show highlights a scandalous time in television that anticipates our own creatively edited and outright fabricated reality programming.

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Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

9. The Sixth Sense (1999)

Hijinks-y teen movies and all, 1999 was an impressive year for movies. Magnolia, Fight Club, The Green Mile, Being John Malkovich, The Matrix… The list goes on and on. Among those entries is M. Night Shyamalan’s first big release, and one of his best (behind Unbreakable, of course). This was a simpler time, before seeing his name in trailers garnered skepticism. Centered on a boy who can’t separate the dead from the living and his child psychologist with issues of his own, The Sixth Sense remains one of four horror movies to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. It’s endlessly tense, driven by strong performances from the two leads over jump scares. It’s held up well, even if it’s established a tough hurdle for the director’s future efforts to clear.

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Paramount

8. Forrest Gump (1994)

Just a year after winning Best Actor for Philadelphia, Tom Hanks took home his second Oscar for the larger-than-life role of Forrest Gump, a kind man with more heart than smarts who just so happens to be present for or active in some of the biggest events of the 20th century. It’s a sweeping story of love, war, and ping-pong that’s inspired both affection and debate in the years since its release.

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Warner Bros.

7. The Iron Giant (1999)

It’s a tale as old as time: Boy meets giant robot. Boy befriends giant robot. Government tries to find and destroy iron giant. Who didn’t face problems like that in their youth? Set in a post-Sputnik 1957, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant centers on the sci-fi obsessed Hogarth Hughes as he protects his new pet/BFF/unstoppable killing machine (voiced by a then-relatively unknown Vin Diesel). The story captures the fear and paranoia of the space race and makes it palatable for kids who’ve never heard “duck and cover” before. It was a truly scary time in U.S. history, and just imagine how worse it would be if a huge metal man showed up out of nowhere. It’s a fun, touching story filled with funny moments and gorgeous animation.

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Paramount Pictures

6. Tommy Boy(1995)

Part buddy comedy, part road trip movie, generally all nonsense, Tommy Boy is an showcase for the greatness that was the Chris Farley/David Spade team. When lovable oaf Tommy’s (Farley) father dies, he has to hit the road with sarcastic Richard (Spade) to save the family brake pad business. The humor is as juvenile as one would come to expect from these two, but that doesn’t make it any less funny 20 years later. It’s the ’90s to a T, right down to the handsome, sleazy villain only Rob Lowe could pull off. It’s got a bit of heart deep, deep in there, and one of the best meltdown scenes of all time.

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Disney

5. Mulan (1998)

Mulan turned the tables on the archetype of the “Disney Princess,” with a heroine whose storyline doesn’t revolve around wooing or waiting to be wooed by a man. Unable to fit within the accepted roles of young women in China, and with a home that’s under threat, Mulan decides to disguise herself as a man and take her father’s place in the war against the Huns. She’s a strong, willful character who’s craftier than those in the male-driven world around her. Eddie Murphy’s Mushu is the perfect sidekick to bring much-needed levity to some downright bleak moments. It’s got just enough memorable songs to be a ’90s Disney movie while not breaking up the powerful story.

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Universal Pictures

4. Jackie Brown (1997)

After earning acclaim with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino made his subtlest feature with Jackie Brown, an Elmore Leonard adaptation that the director still makes very much his own. After middle-aged stewardess Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is picked up by the FBI, she’s pulled between her arms-dealing boss (Samuel L. Jackson), the feds that are after him, and saving her own skin. With an all-star ensemble that includes Robert De Niro and Robert Forster (who earned an Oscar nomination), Jackie Brown is a throwback to the blaxploitation genre that started in the ’70s, of which Grier was a big part of. It’s a tense, sexy, and desperate story, with a wonderful soundtrack to boot.

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Disney

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Jack Skellington, local hero and king of scare in Halloween Town, gets bored of scaring kids year after year and decided to steal a different holiday after stumbling into Christmas Town. And it goes about as well as you’d imagine a Christmas brought to you by a ghosts, ghouls, and a guy with an ax in his head. It’s a dark yet jovial tale in an intricately designed world, but it’s the memorable songs that bring the stop-motion animation to life. It’s a Halloween/Christmas favorite that could really only be done justice by Tim Burton.

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Universal Pictures

2. Schindler’s List (1993)

It took decades in the industry for Steven Spielberg to finally earn an Oscar for one of his movies, but his win for Schindler’s List is well deserved. The film focuses on wealthy businessman Oskar Schindler, who spends his fortune and risks his life to save the lives of 1,100 Jewish men and women after taking in the horrors of WWII and the concentration camps. Between the three hour running time, the cold, unrelenting cruelty of Ralph Fiennes’ portrayal of Amon Goeth, and its realistic style, it’s a bleak film. But there’s hope to be found in the grim black and white images. It’s an important story told movingly by a filmmaker at the height of his powers.

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MIRAMAX

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

It’s hard to say anything new about the movie that made Quentin Tarantino a household name in the ’90s, but that’s saying something about its timelessness. Pulp Fiction refines any rough edges to be found in his directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs by weaving together nonlinear stories and making criminals and murderers into relatable, colorful characters. More than half the film’s budget went toward its cast’s salaries, but it’s so worth it as each role is as fun and unforgettable as the next. Few directors seem to have as much fun with their films’ characters and dialogue, and that’s as evident as ever in Pulp Fiction.

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