Our Love Affair with '90s Movies
When I die choking on popcorn, I'm certain that 85.5 percent of the movies that flash before my eyes will be from the '90s. Just a small child myself when these movies came out, they too were movie babies being born into a new cinematic landscape. This landscape was more self aware, genre-bending, and experimental, with the added edge of enhanced technology.
Jennifer Lopez claims that at 30 we become adults, and we think she may just be right. These '90s movies reaching the big 3-0 in 2021, have aged like fine wine. All at two and a half hours long (except for Fargo), these '90s classics were pitted against each other at the Oscars.
Now you get to decide for yourself who wins.
Dear movie fanatics and AMC blog readers: I have a confession. Before last night, I had only watched the Neo-Noir classic Pulp Fiction in small, jigsaw pieces, not quite ready to fully digest all of its wonder in a single viewing. Witnessing the entire puzzle come together was epic. It's fun to actually rewatch the film in chronological order, so dive in if you’re a movie geek, bored, or happen to be in a pandemic like me. It’s worth it.
Tarantino’s birth as an auteur, with its 265 F-words, indeed had a slow burn to success. It took four months from the day of its release to reach peak viewings at theaters—which is actually a trend in all of these '90s movies. When recommending this movie to a millennial who had never heard of it, I told them to prepare themselves for four interweaving tales of violence and redemption.
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption is both the king and queen of the IMDB 250 list, and definitely what I watch when I need to release repressed emotions. I imagine us all running out of lockdown with the same look of freedom that Morgan Freeman serves us in this movie.
The Shawshank Redemption was also a slow burner, starting modestly at the box office, to then being cleared from the shelves at Blockbuster by people thirsty for some rental redemption. However, even with its Oscar nominations and critical acclaim, it's still considered a financial disaster. It got beaten by Forrest Gump in many ways. First, with Tom Hanks turning down the role of Andy Dufresne as he was already set to play Forrest, and then later by out-winning in both dollars and nominations.
But ask me who would win in a fight between The Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump... and I'd have to say Shawshank. Why? Well, with its beautifully constructed narrative of an all-too familiar tale of wrongful conviction, you could pull it out of a time capsule at any moment in the future and it would still steal the hearts of anyone fighting against injustice.
I remember being at the Waverly Diner, fanboying over Fargo to my date—a midwesterner who had just moved to NYC. He ran out of our date, leaving me with the check, and half of a grilled cheese. According to him, Fargo was ‘highly offensive in its portrayal of midwesterners.’ But for me, if I could stalk a movie, it would be Fargo. I’m obsessed.
I imagine Francis McDormand singing Beyonce’s 'Bow Down' after wrapping the film and sitting delighted by her performance at the premieres. She killed it and Fargo killed it at the Box Office and at the Oscars.
I see now why William H. Macy threatened to kill the Coen brothers' dogs if he didn’t get the part. Hell, he could have shot mine, I love him so much as Jerry. For me, Fargo was the big bang for ‘quirky’ movies. It's a genius tale of a man failing at getting his wife kidnapped, yet it still manages to boast a humility and doesn't take itself too seriously.
Cuba Gooding Jr.’s excellence in the above scene (and the entirety of the movie), makes it a little less awful that he beat William H. Macy at the Oscars. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Tom Cruise as a sports agent having an existential crisis? Maybe his soul searching in this role was the catalyst that turned him towards Scientology, or maybe it was all of his other existential crisis movies?
This is another movie that was originally made with Tom Hanks in mind. And Jerry Maguire, like Fargo, also has crazy casting stories—let's just say one of them involves Cuba Gooding Jr. getting naked with Tom Cruise during their auditions. This movie is like a shaken up can of soda. It's full of bubbling toxic masculinity that sustains, entertains, and remains. It's a romance, a comedy and a drama all mixed together with the help of Cuba and Tom's brilliant biceps.
When I think of Forrest Gump, I think of my queen of the '90s, Sally Field... and how it seems like Tom Hanks didn’t take a single day off for the entire decade. Every time I see Forrest and Jenny becoming friends for the first time, I get goose pimples and my heart breaks even more than when I listen to an Adele album.
Sometimes I think fortune cookie writers and Eric Roth co-wrote Forrest Gump’s metaphor-packed screenplay in some basement with endless amounts of coffee and charm. Case in point: “there’s only so much fortune a man really needs, and the rest is just for showing off,” “miracles happen every day,” and “some people don’t think so, but they do.”Forrest Gump is a heartwarming, heart-breaking, heart-swelling, heart-beating history lesson on some of the most iconic events of the second half of the 20th century. And it's all punctuated by the beautifully unique character of Forrest Gump. Tell your kids, your friend's kids, your grandkids, hell tell random kids on the street to watch it!
I bet you $1000 if you asked a dinner party of full movie geeks for their favorite movies, one of these big five would get a mention. Still, there are so many favorite '90s movies that I haven’t mentioned, and I feel genuine guilt for that. So briefly, I'll include shout outs to Mrs. Doubtfire, Jurassic Park, Muriel’s Wedding, Fight Club, and Philadelphia amongst many others.
Weigh in and tweet us your favorite films from the '90s that you'll remember forever!