Top 10 Most Nostalgic 90s Movies

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Top 10 Most Nostalgic 90s Movies

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
What a decade for film the 90s were! For this list, we'll be looking at movies from the 1990s that generate strong feelings of nostalgia through their costumes, production design, music, and stories. Our countdown includes “Reality Bites”, "Reservoir Dogs", “Clueless”, and more!
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Top 10 ‘90s Nostalgia Movies


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 ‘90s Nostalgia Movies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at movies from the 1990s that generate strong feelings of nostalgia through their costumes, production design, music, and stories.

Which of these movies makes you the most nostalgic? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: “Reality Bites” (1994)

Many people have strong memories of the ‘90s, but the decade was actually filled with quite a bit of sadness and aimlessness. Generation X was highly criticized at the time - particularly by the baby boomers who preceded them. They were cynical, lazy, and non-committal. They liked heavy music. They dressed funny. Of course, Gen X didn’t see themselves that way, and they made movies to express themselves. “Reality Bites” is Ben Stiller’s directorial debut, and he made a movie for and about Generation X. Yes, their problems and general attitudes still resonate today, but the movie’s angsty tone (not to mention fashion) is very much a product of the early ‘90s. And we are absolutely here for it.

#9: “Swingers” (1996)

Nowadays, Jon Favreau is writing widely beloved superhero movies and television shows. In the mid-'90s, he wrote “Swingers.” Both excellent, but with totally different vibes. Beginning in the late-‘80s, America suddenly took an interest in old-fashioned swing music. Don’t ask why, it just happened. The swing revival peaked in the mid-'90s, and “Swingers” was made to capitalize on its popularity. Nostalgia is often rooted in fads and crazes because those are the things we remember best about the period in question. “Swingers” reminds us of the mid-'90s because it’s centered around the big fad of the time. That, and seeing Vince Vaughn in his mid-20s.


#8: “Wayne's World” (1992)

This movie is pure ‘90s, both in terms of visuals and pop culture. There’s certainly a bit of bleed-over from the late ‘80s, including the very concept itself. “Wayne’s World” started as a sketch on “Saturday Night Live,” and it debuted during the show’s thirteenth season in 1989. That said, most people associate “Wayne’s World” with the early ‘90s. There’s the fashion (including the long hair and Garth’s plaid shirts), and the movie reminds us of the cultural power that Mike Myers once held. Nothing screams early-‘90s quite like “SNL,” Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, and Lara Flynn Boyle. The music is ‘70s, the fashion is late ‘80s, but the movie itself is very ‘90s.


#7: “Jerry Maguire” (1996)

This movie dominated the pop culture discussion throughout the mid and late ‘90s. Everyone was quoting it, and it became the butt of numerous parodies. Of course, there are the iconic quotes, including “Show me the money!” and “You had me at hello.” Say or remember any of those two and you’ll be instantly transported back to the mid ‘90s. The cast, though certainly wonderful, also reeks of the time. You’ve got Tom Cruise before he became a mega action star, Renée Zellweger, Jerry O'Connell, and perhaps the biggest symbol of the ‘90s, Cuba Gooding Jr. It also reminds us of a time when these kinds of smaller and more personal movies became mega blockbusters and major cultural forces. What beautiful nostalgia it inspires.


#6: “Reservoir Dogs” (1992)

In many ways, “Reservoir Dogs” has not dated. The fashion carries well into the 21st century (you know, aside from Eddie’s neon windbreaker), Quentin Tarantino is still dominating Hollywood, and the music was intentionally old-fashioned. “Reservoir Dogs” doesn’t inspire nostalgia through its images so much as its general style. Tarantino’s introduction was both very exciting and highly unpredictable, and his first movie is a masterpiece of independent cinema. In fact, Tarantino is often credited as one of the forerunners of the Independent Cinema movement, and this helped change the industry throughout the ‘90s. This is old school Tarantino, and it is glorious.

#5: “Speed” (1994)

This movie has a great premise, and it’s helped by a fantastic cast, a surprisingly smart script, and a terrific sense of nostalgia. Early ‘90s Los Angeles is depicted in all its nostalgic glory, and the old vehicles really takes one back. But it’s the cast that really gets the nostalgic juices flowing. You’ve got young versions of Keanu Reeves, Jeff Daniels, and Sandra Bullock - all of whom were icons of the ‘90s. There are also some major ‘80s stars who carried over into the early ‘90s, including villain actor Dennis Hopper and Alan Ruck of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” fame. It’s a classic of ‘90s action cinema, and it is every bit as enjoyable today as it was back then.


#4: “Falling Down” (1993)

All things considered, this is one of the smarter movies that Joel Schumacher has directed. As discussed previously, the ‘90s was a time of general malaise and disillusionment. And it wasn’t just Generation X feeling the sting. In this movie, middle-aged Michael Douglas plays a seriously ticked-off engineer named William. While sitting in traffic, Will snaps and embarks on a rampage through L.A., all while commenting on various issues that plagued late ‘80s and early ‘90s America. It’s another nostalgic example of the downcast tone that many ‘90s movies took against everyday life. Of course, there’s also William’s adventure through early ‘90s Los Angeles, and the visuals have more than enough power to generate strong feelings of nostalgia.


#3: “Clueless” (1995)

This movie takes Jane Austen’s “Emma” and moves it nearly 200 years into the future. It’s also one of the most ‘90s movies ever. There’s the cast, starring major stars of the time like Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, and Wallace Shawn. There’s the soundtrack with popular ‘90s artists like Counting Crows, Radiohead, and Beastie Boys. Of course, there’s also the movie’s iconic sense of fashion, some of which totally reek of the ‘90s (like Cher’s yellow plaid-on-plaid and the men’s baggy outfits). And finally, there’s the incessant use of ‘90s slang, including classics like “as if,” “buggin’,” and maybe worst of all, “phat.” With a ph. If one wishes to bathe in ‘90s high school culture, one only needs to watch “Clueless.”


#2: “Boyz n the Hood” (1991)

This movie is one of the shining achievements of the decade, serving as a poignant glimpse into South Central L.A. It’s also so gloriously ‘90s it’s not even funny. Nearly every aspect of it generates intense feelings of nostalgia. The cast, including Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube. The old school hip hop music. The hairstyles and outfits, including Gooding’s yellow and black button-up that is plastered on the poster. The cars. The gang culture of early ‘90s Los Angeles. It all represents a very specific time in American culture, and it represents it to perfection. The movie is in the Library of Congress for being “culturally [and] historically significant,” and it’s not hard to see why.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Office Space” (1999)
The Most Hilarious Representation of That Late ‘90s Malaise

“Clerks” (1994)
The Mid ‘90s in 90 Minutes

“Singles” (1992)
Packed with Early’90s Grunge Artists Like Eddie Vedder & Alice in Chains

“Spice World” (1997)
The Spice Girls. Need We Say More?

“Rushmore” (1998)
The First Quirky Taste of Wes Anderson


#1: “Scream” (1996)

When it comes to ‘90s nostalgia, no other movie beats “Scream.” It’s simply the quintessential movie of the decade. The cast is a who’s who of ‘90s stars, including Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, and Jamie Kennedy. There’s the alt-rock soundtrack containing artists like Birdbrain and Moby. There’s the outfits and hairstyles. But best of all, there’s the movie’s tone and style. “Scream” basically introduced, or at least perfected, the postmodern horror film, and countless copycats popped up throughout the late ‘90s and early 2000s. While the movie still works exceptionally well today, it’s very much a product of its time. Not that that’s a bad thing.
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