Greatest Films of the 1990s
Greatest Films of the 1990s


Greatest Films of the 1990s
1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999

1994

Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (1994, Australia/UK), 104 minutes, D: Stephan Elliott

Blue Sky (1994), 101 minutes, D: Tony Richardson

Bullets Over Broadway (1994), 98 minutes, D: Woody Allen

Burnt By the Sun (1994, Russia/Fr.) (aka Utomlyonnye solntsem, or Утомлённые солнцем), 135 minutes, D: Nikita Mikhalkov

Chungking Express (1994, HK) (aka Chung Hing sam lam), 98/102 minutes, D: Kar Wai Wong

Clerks. (1994), 90 minutes, D: Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith's, amateurishly-acted, slapped together low-budget (about $30,000) comedy went into general release after its successes at film festivals, and became one of the most popular and successful comedy independent films of all time. The grainy, B/W film was a foul-mouthed, gloomy, Gen-X comedy with some outrageous laughs about two ambition-less, minimum-wage clerks in two Asbury Park, NJ stores next to each other: disgruntled convenience store clerk Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and his grungy, anti-social video-store clerk friend Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson). It included hilarious dialogue about Dante's girlfriends (especially with his present one Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti) about her active sex life), and Randal's memorable interactions with indecisive, confused, and irate customers (including his oblivious phone order of X-rated video titles while a Mom and young child stood close by waiting for the title "Happy Scrappy Hero Pup"). Both workers engaged in constant, profanity-laced idle chatter and diverse discussions (especially memorable were their rambling debates on the Star Wars movies and the "personal politics" of contractors working on the second Death Star following Return of the Jedi).

Crumb (1994), 119 minutes, D: Terry Zwigoff
Terry Zwigoff's intriguing R-rated biopic-documentary provided a bizarre yet fascinating portrait of the counter-cultural, sex-obsessed, underground comic book artist/writer Robert Crumb. It sympathetically portrayed the skinny, bespectacled, geeky cartoonist, a misanthrope (and ex-acidhead) best known for creating 1960s-era underground comic books. He rose to fame with the characters of Mr. Natural and nerdy Flakey Foont (often having sex with Amazonian women), the phrase: "Keep on Truckin'," Fritz the Cat drawings, and the cover art for rock queen Janis Joplin's best-selling LP record Cheap Thrills. Interviews with Crumb and dysfunctional members of his Catholic family, and other acquaintances and critics brought out diverse opinions about Crumb - was he just another pornographic fetishist, misogynist, and racist releasing his own repressed inner demons through art, or was he a brilliant and incisive critic who used satire to show contempt for pop culture, or both?

Dumb & Dumber (1994), 107/113 minutes, D: Peter Farrelly

Ed Wood (1994), 124 minutes, D: Tim Burton

Exotica (1994), 103 minutes, D: Atom Egoyan

Forrest Gump (1994), 142 minutes, D: Robert Zemeckis
The winner of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and three more major Oscars. A sentimental tale of a slow-witted, low-IQ title character (Oscar-winning Tom Hanks) from the South who lived a full live surveyed from the 1950's through the 1980's. Remarkably, Gump witnessed the civil rights movement, the two 1960s assassinations of JFK and RFK, the moon landing, the Vietnam War, the hippie flower-children and anti-war protest, the Watergate scandal, the thawing of US/China relations, the beginning of the AIDs era, and more. In many cases, he was inserted into the historical footage - establishing a famous shrimping business (Bubba Gump's), meeting Presidents, playing ping-pong with Chinese team competitors, inventing the smiley logo, fighting in the war, and creating the jogging craze, etc. without realizing their significance. He fathered a son with childhood sweetheart Jenny (Robin Wright) and married her, but soon after, she died of a virus (HIV?).

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994, UK), 117 minutes, D: Mike Newell

Heavenly Creatures (1994, UK/Germ./NZ), 99 minutes, D: Peter Jackson

Hoop Dreams (1994), 171 minutes, D: Steve James
Steve James' exceptional high-school sports film was the most critically-acclaimed documentary of the 1990s, and also the all-time top-grossing documentary film (until Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine (2002)). Conflict arose when it was not Oscar-nominated by AMPAS for Best Documentary Feature - causing changes to be made to the nominating procedure in future years. The inspirational, videotaped three-hour film detailed the six-year dramatic, uphill story of two hopeful teenaged, inner-city African-American basketball players (William Gates and Arthur Agee) in a suburb of Chicago, who had partial athletic scholarships at St. Joseph's HS - a predominantly white, Catholic school. They faced a constant struggle in their aspirations to be professional superstars in the NBA.

The Last Seduction (1994), 110 minutes, D. Robert Dahl

The Lion King (1994), 87 minutes, D: Disney Studio

Little Women (1994, US/Can.), 115 minutes, D: Gillian Armstrong

The Madness of King George (1994, UK), 107 minutes, D: Nicholas Hytner

Natural Born Killers (1994), 120 minutes, D: Oliver Stone

Il Postino: The Postman (1994, It./Fr./Belg.), 108 minutes, D: Michael Radford

The Professional (1994, Fr.) (aka Leon), 109 minutes, D: Luc Besson

Pulp Fiction (1994), 153 minutes, D: Quentin Tarantino
A stylish, immensely-popular, violent, off-beat, modern B-movie cult classic from writer/director Tarantino - his second feature, about corruption and temptation. An interwoven series of three vignettes about low-life criminals, thugs, drug-dealers, hitmen, a washed-up crooked boxer, and restaurant-robbing lovers in the sleazy underworld of Los Angeles. Small-time hold-up artists - "Pumpkin" (Roth) and "Honey Bunny" (Plummer) - plotted a robbery in a restaurant. Meanwhile, philosophically-talkative hit men Jules Winfield (Jackson) and Vincent Vega (Travolta) carried out a hit for their vengeful, underworld boss Marsellus Wallace (Rhames) against double-crossing college-aged kids. Vincent entertained Marsellus' irresponsible wife Mia (Thurman) one evening - and then she overdosed on heroin. By not taking a dive, boxer Butch (Willis) scammed Marcellus during his last bout and planned to skip town. The two hitmen called on gangland cleanup specialist The Wolf (Keitel) when their jobs got messy.

Quiz Show (1994), 130 minutes, D: Robert Redford

The Shawshank Redemption (1994), 142 minutes, D: Frank Darabont
An uplifting, engrossing, life-affirming drama/prison tale about the relationship between two jailed prisoners, adapted from a Stephen King novella titled "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption." Wrongly imprisoned for life in the Shawshank State Prison in the mid 1940s for murdering his adulterous wife and her lover, innocent banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) met another dignified lifer Red (Morgan Freeman) known for procuring contraband. The evil, Bible-pounding Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) used Andy's financial background to cover his nefarious activities, and Red obtained a geological rock hammer and pinup of Rita Hayworth at Andy's request. The passage of time over two decades was conveyed by the pin-ups on Andy's cell wall, which changed from Hayworth to Marilyn Monroe, and then to Raquel Welch. Serving as an inspiration to the other convicts, Andy yearned for freedom and patiently planned for it.

Speed (1994), 115 minutes, D: Jan De Bont

Trois Couleurs: Blanc (1994, Fr./Pol./Switz.) (aka Three Colors: White), 91 minutes, D: Krzysztof Kieslowski

Trois Couleurs: Red (1994, Fr/Pol./Switz.) (aka Three Colors: Red), 99 minutes, D: Krzysztof Kieslowski

True Lies (1994), 141 minutes, D: James Cameron


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