The ‘90s are back, baby, and we don’t just mean biker shorts, middle parts, and platform shoes! ‘90s movies are the perfect dose of nostalgia for a time when you were too young to notice the rampant injustices of the world around you. Sorry! You grew up!
Though some ‘90s movies have been robbed of their rose-colored sheen by modern revelations about their cast or creators, many still hit just right. They were made in a time when all movies were meant to be seen in a theater — when budgets were big and the explosions were even bigger. In no particular order, here are the best current ‘90s movies streaming on Prime Video for your next movie night.
1. October Sky
Based on a true story, October Sky is a touching drama about a West Virginian coal miners’ son (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is developing an interest in aerospace engineering. Alongside his friends and against the wishes of his father (Chris Cooper), he tests homemade rockets and teaches himself the necessary science to eventually become a NASA engineer. October Sky is a masterclass in inspirational, feel-good flicks. It’s both sincere and emotionally complex, refusing to simplify its characters into archetypes. You’ll be left with a warm, fuzzy feeling, contemplating both your relationship with your father and how to go about building your own backyard rocket. Don’t miss Laura Dern as a truly wonderful high school science teacher!
How to watch: October Sky is streaming on Prime Video.
There aren’t many films out there popular enough to inspire a very popular-in-its-own-right TV show, but Fargo — with its snowy North Dakota setting and offbeat black comedy style — has managed it with aplomb. One of the most memorable roles in Hollywood history, heavily pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) attempts to untangle a messy murder and its links to some hired kidnappers, with things quickly spiralling in the amusingly chaotic way only Coen brothers’ movies can. Complimentary characters include a spineless William H. Macy as desperate-for-money car dealer Jerry Lundegaard, a chillingly dead-eyed Peter Stormare as hired kidnapper Gaear Grimsrud, and Steve Buscemi as his slimy partner in crime. — * Entertainment Reporter, Sam Hayson
How to watch: Fargo is streaming on Prime Video.
In this installment, Bond is sent by M (Judi Dench) to St. Petersburg to investigate an electromagnetic weapon, but he soon discovers a spider web woven frighteningly close to home. Pierce Brosnan’s first turn as James Bond was his best and a necessary breath of fresh air for a franchise that had been stalling in its Timothy Dalton years. GoldenEye boasts all the Bond hallmarks: plot twists, explosions, sadistic villains, beautiful Bond girls (Izabella Scorupco), cool gadgets, sexy cars, and Bond’s own smooth, unflappable flair, which Brosnan exudes in spades.
How to watch: GoldenEye is streaming on Prime Video.
4. The Long Walk Home
Whoopi Goldberg is Odessa Cotter, a maid for Miriam Thompson (Sissy Spacek), in Montgomery, Alabama during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycotts. Unwilling to take a bus, Odessa must endure long walks to and from the Thompson home. Against the wishes of her husband and her neighbors, Miriam offers Odessa a ride a few days a week to ease her burden. If made today, the film would certainly have not opted for a white narrator to tell the story of these two well-developed women from different communities, but nonetheless, The Long Walk Home remains a complex and powerful exploration of injustice.
How to watch: The Long Walk Home is streaming on Prime Video.
Credit: Frank Masi/Touchstone/Kobal/Shutterstock
Very few movies can encapsulate the rampant American exceptionalism of the ‘90s like Armageddon. With a meteor barreling toward earth, the only people with the skills to save the human race are a group of blue-collar, American off-shore oil drillers led by a rugged and curmudgeonly Bruce Willis. With minimal training and the eyes of the world upon them, they’re blasted into space to drill a nuclear bomb into the meteor’s core. Of course, not everything goes to plan.
Ben Affleck is at his dreamiest as a young oil driller, hopelessly in love with Willis’ daughter, one of Liv Tyler’s most iconic roles. Packed with American flags, a star-studded cast, tons of explosions, and a bunch of wives sitting at home while their husbands become heroes, Armageddon is a classic Hollywood blockbuster. It’s a nostalgic, a fun piece of action-packed fluff, and somehow, it’s an Academy Award nominee! Don’t forget: Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want a Miss a Thing” was in the running for Best Original Song.
How to watch: Armageddon is streaming on Prime Video.
6. The Joy Luck Club
Credit: Buena Vista/Hollywood/Kobal/Shutterstock
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, The Joy Luck Club should be required viewing for anyone with a mother. In San Francisco, four women, all Chinese immigrants, form a mahjong group. Over the course of the film, each woman shares her story, from their lives in China to the modern struggles they are each having with their American-born daughters. The Joy Luck Club is a lovely, moving film about the generational divide, self-respect, and most crucially, mother-daughter relationships. It’s full of heart, the kind of movie that requires a box of tissues but leaves you feeling warm and renewed.
How to watch: The Joy Luck Club is streaming on Prime Video.
7. The Sixth Sense
Doesn’t matter if you’re old enough to have witnessed The Sixth Sense twist first-hand, or you were born into a world where M. Night Shyamalan had already lost his horror clout, you have definitely made a joke about “I see dead people.” The endurance of this movie’s cultural relevance is a testament to just how groundbreaking it was when it debuted in 1999.
Bruce Willis is a child psychologist whose newest patient (Haley Joel Osment) claims to speak to the dead. The Sixth Sense is a breathlessly tense psychological thriller — some of us have had nightmares about Mischa Barton puking in a tent for the last 20 years — that’s as emotionally affecting as it is surprising. If somehow you haven’t seen this smart, sophisticated, and just plain excellent film, it’s time to right that wrong.
How to watch: The Sixth Sense is streaming on Prime Video.
8. Forrest Gump
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth, Forrest Gump is a family-friendly comedy-drama about a big-hearted but slow-witted man who finds himself directly involved in some of the major historical events of the last half of the 20th century. Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his earnest portrayal of Forrest, and the film won five more Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. (Plus it launched a popular casual seafood chain!) The cast here is unmissable, with Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field each shining in their respective roles. Charming, nostalgic, and sweet, Forrest Gump overcomes its sentimentality with its abundant good-heartedness.
How to watch: Forrest Gump is streaming on Prime Video.
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock
Kate Winslet is Rose, a young, upper-class Brit aboard the RMS Titanic, who soon finds herself in a whirlwind romance with the handsome, charming, and penniless Jack — Leonardo DiCaprio’s star-making role. Their class difference isn’t the only obstacle their love faces, as Rose’s wealthy fiancé Cal (Billy Zane) is also on the ship. And the ship is about to run into an enormous iceberg and become the world’s most famous maritime catastrophe.
James Cameron’s Titanic is an epic in every sense of the word. The love story is melodramatic and all-encompassing, made even more urgent by the impending doom we know is waiting for the lovers. When the action hits, it is visceral, harrowing, and breathtaking: an incomprehensible disaster seen through the eyes of its human victims. There’s also a whole bit about Rose in the present as an old woman and the team trying to find the ships’ wreckage. But no one really remembers that part.
How to watch: Titanic is streaming on Prime Video.
10. Fever Pitch
This British rom-com has a disappointingly low American profile, likely because we went and remade it with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore as Red Sox fans. The original Fever Pitch, itself based on a Nick Hornby book, stars Colin Firth (!!!) as a schoolteacher whose love for his soccer team, Arsenal, gets in the way of his budding romance with Ruth Gemmell. Guys and their sports, huh? If the tagline doesn’t thrill you (“Life gets complicated when you love one woman and 11 men”), then the kick of watching Mr. Darcy become a likable slob definitely will! — * K.G.
How to watch: Fever Pitch is streaming on Prime Video.