They were the decade of the multiplex.
A time when sex and violence sold, a good song-filled soundtrack was vital, comedies could still rule the box office and a few independent film-makers really did make a splash. Star-power swayed audiences and northern hemisphere summer blockbusters came thick and fast each year.
But while many of the greatest hits of the 1990s are relatively easy to locate on a streaming service near you, other beloved flicks can be hard to find. Which is where Sky Movies comes in. Over the next seven days, they’ll be playing 35 movies from the decade on Channel 35 as part of a special ‘90s Week.
Starting at 1pm each day until next Thursday, the line-up includes films as diverse as historical drama Rob Roy, horror I Know What You Did Last Summer, Keanu Reeves-starring action flick Speed and the surreal craziness of Being John Malkovich.
However, after looking through the schedules, Stuff to Watch has coming up with a list of nine titles (unavailable to watch on any other subscription service) that we believe capture the essence of the cinema of the last 10 years of the 20th century.
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The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994)
Part of the mid-90s wave of feel-good films from across the Tasman (that also included Strictly Ballroom and Muriel’s Wedding), this tale of a two drag queens and a transgender woman who embark on a journey from Sydney to Alice Springs became a global hit.
Its success was thanks largely to the central trio – Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce – the slick, smart script and a magnificent soundtrack that included hits by Village People, CeCe Peniston, ABBA, Alicia Bridges and Gloria Gaynor.
As Good As It Gets (1998)
There was a time when Helen Hunt was the actress du jour and Jack Nicholson could do no wrong. This unlikely rom-com represented the high-water mark of both of those phenomenons.
James L Brooks’ tale about a waitress, a misanthropic author and a gay artist is chock full of memorable moments, images and dialogue. Best of all, it made a generation of male moviegoers ”want to be a better man”.
Just shades the magnificent Jerry Maguire as the best romantic tale of the decade.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1994)
The crime-comedy that started a seemingly endless wave of imitators and the movie that gave the world Guy Ritchie, Jason Statham and briefly turned football hard-man Vinnie Jones into a would-be silver screen star.
Filled with memorable banter, hilarious set-pieces and a real threat of violence, it’s the story of a self-confident gambler who persuades his mates to help him rob a gang in order to pay off a debt he owes to a powerful crime lord.
One of the first Hollywood movies to acknowledge the HIV/AIDS epidemic, this powerful legal drama benefit from two terrific performances from Tom Hanks (who won the Oscar for Best Actor) and Denzel Washington.
Also featuring a fabulous soundtrack that includes tear-inducing tracks by Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, it focuses on Hanks’ Andrew Beckett’s fight to have his dismissal from his law firm declared discriminatory.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
A former video store clerk burst onto the scene with this crime drama about a group of diamond thieves whose planned heist of a jewelry store goes terribly wrong.
While greatly assisting the careers of actors like Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, writer-director Quentin Tarantino was the one who made a real mark, with his potent combination of pithy, witty dialogue and toe-tapping soundtrack which brought groups like Stealers Wheel and Blue Swede back into the limelight.
Sure the plot of John Frankenheimer’s action-thriller isn’t really anything to write home about. Tales of special operative teams hired to steal a mysterious MacGuffin, while navigating a maze of shifting loyalties, are really a dime-a-dozen.
But with an ensemble that brought together Robert DeNiro, Stellan Skarsgard, Sean Bean, Natascha McElhone and Jonathan Pryce and a breathtaking, crowd pleasing car chase through the streets of Paris that’s pretty unmatched since, this is well worth your time.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
From the opening salvo on Omaha Beach that will leave you reeling to the heartbreaking final scenes, Steven Spielberg’s World War II intimate epic is one of the legendary film-maker’s finest works.
There’s an authenticity and grittiness that pervades the entire story and, while it is an ensemble piece, Tom Hanks is head-and-shoulders above the rest of his band of brothers as the empathetic Captain John H. Miller.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
One of the rare cases of a remake that matches – and maybe even surpasses – the original, this update of the 1968 Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway heist movie was one of Pierce Brosnan’s finest non-Bond efforts.
He’s magnificently matched here by Rene Russo, as a seductive detective trying to reel in his art-stealing playboy. This is the movie Netflix’s Red Notice so desperately really wanted to be.
Total Recall (1990)
Forget the pallid, pathetic 2012 remake, it just simply isn’t in the same galaxy as Paul Verhoeven’s potent cocktail of tremendous stunts, terrible puns and teenage-boy-baiting titillation.
Based on a Philip K. Dick short story, it has Arnold Schwarzenegger at his finest, playing a dual role, as construction worker Doug Quaid discovers he’s not really who he thinks he is.
If you love lurid action movies, don’t delay, get your ass to Mars now.
‘90s Week screens from 1pm each day on Sky Channel 35 from December 3 to 9. All the above titles (except Ronin) are also currently available to stream via SkyGo.