25 Movies From 1990 You Need To Watch

Photo: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures.
If there's one thing that can be said for 1990, it's that a lot of great movies came out that year. Indie darlings like Whit Stillman and Hal Hartley were just getting started. Icons like Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers, David Lynch, and Spike Lee were putting out fresh and exciting work. A then relative unknown by the name of Julia Roberts was teetering on the edge of superstardom. The late, great Patrick Swayze was in his prime. Also, great films weren't just limited to say, drama and your standard Oscar-bait. Every genre, from comedy to horror to kids' movies, boasted at least one or two instant classics. Even the sequels were pretty good! 

Despite the fact that it's been 25 years, it does seem like movies like Home Alone, Pretty Woman, and Ghost came out yesterday. Sure, at this point, some of the hairstyles and outfits may seem dated, but these movies possess a certain timelessness that has compelled us to watch them over and over again. 

So, let's take a look back at a solid year for cinema and revisit the films that have stayed with us throughout the years, as well as the ones we forgot we loved as kids. 
1 of 26
Goodfellas
Because aside from The Godfather trilogy, this film, which was based on the story of real-life Mafia-snitch Henry Hill, still sets the gold standard for gangster films.

Watch out for: Martin Scorsese's mother Catherine's cameo as Tommy's (Joe Pesci) mom.
Advertisement
2 of 26
Dances with Wolves
Because you forgot that Kevin Costner was an Academy Award-winning actor and director, and not just your mom's celebrity crush.

Best line: "Nothing I have been told about these people is correct. They are not thieves or beggars. They are not the bogeymen they are made out to be. On the contrary, they are polite guests, and I enjoy their humor."
3 of 26
King of New York
Because Abel Ferrara's gritty crime-drama interpretation of Robin Hood became a cult classic, thanks in large part to Christopher Walken's charismatic portrayal of crime boss Frank White. Of course, Laurence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes aren't exactly sleeping on the job either.

Watch out for: All the great early '90s fashion, including Jimmy Jump's (Fishburne) Kangols and gold knuckle rings.
4 of 26
La Femme Nikita
Because you may have a passing acquaintance with the Bridget Fonda remake — or enjoy the several TV series this movie has inspired — but nothing holds a candle to the Luc Besson's original film chronicling a French criminal turned trained assassin.

Best line: "There are two things that are infinite: femininity and means to take advantage of it."
5 of 26
Problem Child
Because you definitely wished you could get away with everything Junior did when you were a kid.

Best line: "Maybe if I shrug my shoulders and move around my hands like this, maybe people will think I know what I'm talking about."
6 of 26
Pump Up The Volume
Because Christian Slater was always the hottest when he was playing a rebel.

Listen for: Given that it's a movie about a pirate radio station, of course it had a great soundtrack. Keep an ear out for Sonic Youth, Pixies, and early Soundgarden.
Advertisement
7 of 26
Metropolitan
Because you forgot how charming Whit Stillman's understated debut film is.

Watch out for: Every relentlessly witty line delivered by Nick Smith (Chris Eigeman).
8 of 26
Trust
Because every now and then, you need to be reminded of how truly dark, yet charmingly unconventional a romantic comedy can be, as only Hal Hartley can make it.

Watch out for: A pre-fame Edie Falco in one of her very first film roles.
9 of 26
Ghost
Because 25 years later, you still can't think about sitting at a potter's wheel without getting a little turned on.

Best line: "Molly, you in danger, girl."
10 of 26
Pretty Woman
Because who would have thought that playing a Hollywood streetwalker would have launched Julia Roberts into the role of America's Sweetheart? Funny how things turn out.

Best scene: Julia Roberts's spirited rendition of Prince’s "Kiss" while in the bubble bath.
11 of 26
Home Alone
Because this bona fide holiday season classic is still fun to watch any time of the year.

Best line: "Keep the change, you filthy animal."
Advertisement
12 of 26
Edward Scissorhands
Because you forgot how much you loved seeing former real-life couple Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder share the screen together.

Watch out for: Horror icon Vincent Price's final onscreen appearance.
13 of 26
Wild at Heart
Because every now and then, it's great to revisit the time when Nic Cage was known for being more eccentric on-screen than off.

Watch out for: Since this is a David Lynch film, definitely keep an eye out for actors from his other work, including Eraserhead's Jack Nance and Twin Peaks’ Sherilyn Fenn.
14 of 26
Back to the Future III
Because we've already hit a bunch of important Back to the Future-related milestones, so it's time to prepare yourself for the eagle-eyed analysis of the final film in the time-traveling trilogy during this landmark anniversary.

Best line: "So you're my great-grandfather. The first McFly born in America. And, you peed on me."
15 of 26
Joe Versus the Volcano
Because you love Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks together in Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail, but this is easily their quirkiest and funniest turn as an onscreen couple.

Watch out for: Meg Ryan playing not one, but three female leads.
16 of 26
The Exorcist III
Because it's often overshadowed by the groundbreaking original film, this criminally underrated sequel takes the series in a fresh and unexpected direction.

Watch out for: Most horror aficionados agree the scene at the nurses’ station is one of the scariest ever committed to celluloid. Also, there's a pretty cool cameo by a pre-fame Fabio in the dream sequence.
Advertisement
17 of 26
House Party
Because rappers Kid 'n Play kicked off a successful series of films with this enduring cult classic starring the likes of Martin Lawrence and his future onscreen wife Tisha Campbell.

Watch out for: A cameo by George Clinton.
18 of 26
Kindergarten Cop
Before the Governator became a politician, he had to keep order in a classroom of unruly 5-year-olds.

Best line: "It's not a tumor!"
19 of 26
Miller's Crossing
Because all the glory gets heaped onto Fargo, The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men, but Miller's Crossing is an understated Coen brothers masterpiece.

Watch our for: Tom Reagan's (Gabriel Byrne) hat: It's rife with symbolism.
20 of 26
Mo' Better Blues
Because you've seen Denzel Washington and Spike Lee work together in several great movies, and this is where that partnership began.

Best line: "I may have been born yesterday, but I stayed up all night."
21 of 26
Misery
Because years after the fact, Stephen King admitted that this story of an author held hostage by an obsessed fan (Kathy Bates) was actually symbolic of his own battle with substance abuse. It's interesting to revisit this classic with that new bit of information in mind.

Watch out for: Kathy Bates's performance, which earned her the first Academy Award ever given to the lead actress in a horror film.
Advertisement
22 of 26
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Because 2014's reboot looked like a blast, but it didn't quite capture the magic of the original heroes in a halfshell.

Watch out for: A very young Sam Rockwell as a greasy-haired street tough in The Foot Clan.
23 of 26
Total Recall
Because 1990 was an exceptionally busy year for Ahnold, between staking out a kindergarten and blasting off to Mars.

Watch out for: If there's one thing that everyone seems to remember from this movie, it's the three-breasted woman.
24 of 26
The Grifters
Because 10 years before Stephen Frears directed John Cusack in High Fidelity, the pair collaborated on this sexy thriller where Cusack plays a grifter negotiating his relationships with his mother (Anjelica Huston) and his girlfriend (Annette Bening), who both happen to be professional con artists.

Best line: "I gave you your life twice. I'm asking you to give me mine once."
25 of 26
Postcards from the Edge
Because Meryl Streep shines as she delivers a darkly comic performance based on author and screenwriter Carrie Fisher's struggle with substance abuse.

Best line: "Instant gratification takes too long."
26 of 26
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of entertainment news, celebrity updates, and cat videos on the Refinery29 Entertainment Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!
Advertisement