Top 10 Movies of 1990

Script Written by Radina Papukchieva. The beginning of a new decade in cinema often means a change in audiences' tastes and that’s what the start of the '90s demonstrated. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 movies of 1990. For this list, we’ve looked at the lasting cult status of some of the biggest hits of the year in question, as well as the films that were loved by critics and audiences. Some hold up nicely over time, others maybe not so much. Either way, sit back and enjoy this blast from the past. Special thanks to our users mattwatchmojo, jwiking62, Andrew A. Dennison, TheDude and Raymond Leduc for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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The beginning of a new decade in cinema often means a change in audiences’ tastes and that’s what the start of the ‘90s demonstrated. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies of1990.

For this list, we’ve looked at the lasting cult status of some of the biggest hits of the year in question, as well as the films that were loved by critics and audiences. Some hold up nicely over time, others maybe not so much. Either way, sit back and enjoy this blast from the past.

#10: “Pretty Woman” (1990)

This modern-day Cinderella story put Julia Roberts on the map of romantic comedies and cemented her smile’s status as one of the best in Hollywood. Also starring Richard Gere as a rich businessman, “Pretty Woman” follows Edward Lewis as he accidentally ends up in L.A.’s red-light district where he asks prostitute Vivian Ward for directions. There’s a spark between them, and he ends up hiring her as an escort to social events. Although the film was criticized for its old-fashioned-ness and sexism, it has remained a classic Hollywood rom-com. Maybe it was Roberts’ smile or maybe it was her knee-high boots, who knows, but it’s still loved to this day.

#9: “Ghost” (1990)

Even if you haven’t seen our next entry, you know the pottery scene. Yes, that pottery scene. Starring Patrick Swayze as the ghost of a murdered banker who comes to back to visit his mourning partner, played by Demi Moore, the romantic fantasy is every bit as sensual as it is a tearjerker. It also won 2 Oscars – for Whoopi Goldberg’s psychic turn in the Best Supporting Actress category, and for Best Original Screenplay. But you know, the pottery scene is what it is most fondly remembered for today.

#8: “Awakenings” (1990)

Based on a true story, this drama tells the tale of a neurologist, brilliantly played by the late Robin Williams, who discovers the potent effects of the drug L-Dopa. When administered to patients who have been catatonic for decades, the medication awakens them and allows them to begin their lives anew – but things are, of course, not easy for them. Also starring Robert De Niro as one of the “awakened” patients, the film is awe-inspiring and unsurprisingly garnered 3 Academy Award nominations. It also highlighted Williams’ quality as a serious actor, a year after another dramatic success for him as seen in “Dead Poets Society.”

#7: “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1990)

This French comedy is an adaptation of a play by the same name about the life of celebrated French poet and soldier, Cyrano de Bergerac. Embarrassed by his larger-than-life nose, but pretending to be proud of it, he tries to win the heart of Roxane. Lacking confidence that she will return his sentiments, he writes love letters to Roxane through a much better looking soldier, who doesn’t have such a nice way with words. You can guess what happens next. It was nominated for 5 Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film, and won for Best Costume Design.

#6: “Misery” (1990)

The next entry on our list is the reason why everyone is a little terrified every time they see Kathy Bates in a movie. In this psychological thriller, she plays an obsessed fan who keeps her favourite writer, played by James Caan, hostage and tortures him through various methods when he doesn’t submit to her demands. Today, “Misery” is still considered one of the best screen adaptations of a Stephen King novel. Unsurprisingly, Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her excellent, albeit terrifying performance of Annie Wilkes.

#5: “Total Recall” (1990)

This next movie is proof that not much had changed in audiences’ tastes between 1985 and 1990 – i.e. they still wanted more Arnold movies. Set in 2048, “Total Recall” stars our favorite action hero as a construction worker who has unsettling dreams about the Planet Mars and a woman who lives there. Following a series of events, which have both Douglas Quaid and movie-goers questioning what is real and what isn’t, the protagonist is forced to go to Mars for real. Full of quotable one-liners, the Paul Verhoeven-directed flick was remade in 2012, but it is the original that remains a sci-fi classic.

#4: “Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

By 1990, Tim Burton had already begun establishing himself as the master of the bizarre. Preceded by

“Beetlejuice” and “Batman,” this romantic fantasy is considered by many as one of Burton’s finest. Starring his muse Johnny Depp, “Edward Scissorhands” tells the story of the titular young man who was created by an old inventor and whose untimely death results in Edward never having been given real hands. So instead, he has scissors. This of course greatly impedes his interactions with the outside world. The film has since become a cult classic and remains one of the best, if not the best, Burton-Depp collaboration to date.

#3: “Dances with Wolves” (1990)

Our next entry is the ultimate Kevin Costner movie. The actor directed, produced and starred in the film, which is an adaptation of the Michael Blake novel of the same name. Playing First Lieutenant John Dunbar, who lives in exile in a remote Civil War outpost, this life helps him befriend wolves and Indians, which makes him an outcast in the military community. It took Costner over 5 years to complete the film, but it was definitely worth it, as it won the Best Picture Oscar, and today is credited as having brought back the Western genre back to life.

#2: “Home Alone” (1990)

We watch this movie every Christmas, and there is no getting sick of it! Our next entry was produced by the incomparable John Hughes, and stars Macaulay Culkin in the role of his life. When little Kevin McCallister’s family leaves for their Christmas vacation, Kevin is left behind and has to protect himself and his huge house from two dim-witted burglars played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. Few people may remember this, but the film was actually scored by John Williams, and received an Oscar nomination for Best Music. But of course, we’ll never forget Culkin’s scream and his many clever tricks. “Home Alone” now remains a beloved classic, even this many Christmases after its release.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Dick Tracy” (1990)
- “Miller’s Crossing” (1990)
- “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1990)
- “Back to the Future Part III” (1990)

#1: “GoodFellas” (1990)

“As far back as we can remember,” this movie has always been hailed as one of the best films of all time. It is the ultimate New York gangster story and a defining moment in the careers of actors Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta. An adaptation of the novel “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi (pilejjjy), the crime flick’s screenplay was also co-written by him and Martin Scorsese. In retrospect, it may seem crazy that the film lost the Best Picture Oscar to “Dances with Wolves,” but regardless, “GoodFellas” remains in the hearts and minds of many as an unforgettable cult classic and a crime flick for the ages.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite movie from 1990? For more entertaining top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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