by Lash

The 90s was a good decade for movies. While the 80s brought out sensitive coming of age tales (Stand by Me in 1986), youthful adventures (The Goonies in 1985) and started the whole Alien genre (E.T. in 1982), the 90s is more exploratory. Filmmakers in this decade pushed boundaries not just in creativity, but technology as well.

Here’s a list of six movies of the 90s that defined the decade.

Ghost (1990)

The turn of the decade brings us the greatest love story after Gone with the Wind (1939) and Casablanca (1942) but pre- Titanic (1997). Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) and Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) are two average Americans madly in love. He’s a banker and she’s an artist, it cannot get more normal than this. Then, things turn awry when Sam’s business partner Carl (Tony Goldwyn) murders him, leaving Molly devastated. This is where it gets interesting. Sam was left on earth, roaming aimlessly as a powerless spirit, but with a strong desire to protect Molly from the evil clutches of Carl, he seeks help from a psychic, Oda Mae (Whoopi Goldberg), to set things right.


Most Memorable Scene:
Who can forget that sexy pottery scene? On the jukebox, Unchained Melody is playing. Sam, shirtless and all buffed, sits behind Molly. His hands interlace with hers and they become in sync, starting on a new creation but never finishes and instead, both collapsing into a heat of passion. After the movie came out, there was a surge of students signing up for pottery class, and the Righteous Brothers were brought back onto radio radar again.

Forrest Gump (1994)

“Life is like a box of Chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”, “My Mama said "Stupid is what Stupid does”, “Run, Forrest, Run!”, “My Name is Forrest Gump, people call me Forrest Gump”. These are some of the memorable quotes from director Robert Zemeckis’ ground-breaking movie that combines sensitive story-telling, immense creativity, and innovative technology. While the story of Gump seems a simple one, the subtle political symbolism has not gone unnoticed. Zemeckis artfully portrays important historical events through the adventures of a young lad out of Alabama with an IQ of 75, along with a marvellously put-together soundtrack.

Gump created an award-winning actor out of Tom Hanks, who played the endearing Gump to innocent perfection. Forrest Gump won Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the 67th Academy Awards. That and it spawned a chain of restaurants called Bubba Gump.

Forrest Gump

Most Memorable Scene:
Too many. Forrest shakes hands with President Kennedy and declares, “I gotta pee!”, a young Forrest influences the dance moves of a young aspiring singer who would eventually become the legendary Elvis Presley, or how Forrest sits on the bench, waiting for the bus, and delivers the line “Life is like a box of Chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” Back then, we just simply cannot eat a piece of chocolate without breaking out the line, yes, including that southern twang. There’s one more that stands out and gets us every time, the scene when Forrest learns he has a son, and haltingly asked if he was smart:

Mission: Impossible (1996)

It’s been 19 years since the first Mission: Impossible movie, and the franchise is still going strong, thanks to the ageless Tom Cruise who’s still kicking butt in increasingly death-defying stunts. Before it became a movie series, Mission: Impossible was a somewhat popular TV series that ran for seven years. It’s best known for its agents’ ability to imitate anyone with their convincing disguises using facial prosthetics, and that catchy theme song. With its transition to the first movie, the IMF’s missions became more dangerous and the intense action a visual spectacle, thanks to action director Brian De Palma. In this first movie that would set off five sequels, with the sixth in the works, Ethan Hunt, along with his team, must unearth the mole who framed him in order to clear his name.

Mission: Impossible

Most Memorable Scene:
The movie is filled with one outrageous scene after another that keeps your palms constantly in cold sweat. But there’s only one that’s been parodied to death, and you know which one it is- the scene where Cruise had to balance himself inches off the floor that is motion-sensitive while being dangled from a rope hanging from the ceiling.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

While most war movies concentrate on the action between enemies and the blood and gore that are spilled, Steven Spielberg’s war movie did that and more. It asks the question on everyone’s mind, “War, what is it good for?” While the movie was praised for its realistic portrayal of World War II combat, especially with that epic battle sequence of the Omaha Beach Landings, Spielberg’s point isn’t to glorify war, but the exact opposite. He uses a mother grieving for her three sons, all perished in combat and with one last remaining in the field, to spread the message about the devastations of war, and he couldn’t have done it more poignantly and beautifully. Spielberg earned the Best Director Award at the 71st Academy Awards, and Saving Private Ryan becomes everyone’s favourite war movie.

Saving Private Ryan

Most Memorable Scene:
The realism of the battle scenes between the Germans and the Americans is what’s so chilling about the movie, and this clip sums up what makes this movie so epic- the panic on the soldiers’ faces, the slow but painful deaths, and the unsureness of what their next steps.

The Truman Show (1998)

Perhaps this Jim Carrey movie is what sparked off the reality movie trend that’s all the rage these days. Before the Kardashians, Survivor or The Bachelors and Bachelorettes, there was Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), an average Joe who grew up in front of millions on television, except that he has no clue that his entire world was literally built around him. Director Peter Weir and writer Andrew Niccol give us a prophetic science fiction film that, fast-forward 19 years later, isn’t so far-fetched anymore. The Truman Show showcased the power of the influence of media. With product placements dotted all over his show, and his do-gooder character rubbing off on his audience, the movie explores the effects the media and celebrity culture has on its audience.

The Truman Show

Most Memorable Scene:
The ending, of course. Will Truman leave the only world he’s known behind? Will Ed Harris, who plays Christof, part father figure, all businessman, let the star of the show leave without a fight? The last five minutes of the movie is a roller-coaster ride of the emotions.

American Beauty (1999)

Sam Mendes’ award-winning movie about a dysfunctional suburban family was described by New York Times for its ‘eloquent flights of fancy.’ American Beauty is the Briton’ directorial debut, and he delivers an intricately layered piece of subversive movie history with the right amount of whimsical and comedy. Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, a sexually frustrated, disgruntled middle-aged man having a serious case of ennui. Then he gets infatuated with his daughter’s best friend and makes some drastic changes to his life. With several subplots running alongside a seemingly straight-forward main storyline, the biggest secret of the movie is only unveiled at the end, with few people able to guess it, thanks to Mendes’ misdirection skills, making American Beauty such a beauty to watch. The movie swept the 2000 Academy Awards, taking home the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Spacey), Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

American Beauty

Most Memorable Scene:

“It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world”. This line, accompanied by the floating plastic bag, made something so ordinary and mundane so strangely mesmerising. This scene also caused a mini obsession with filming flying plastic bags.