When it comes to the best movies of the 90s, 1994 definitely takes the cake with no less than three entries featuring in IMDb’s top 15 movies of all time. Not to mention one film which takes the glory as the highest-rated film on IMDb — so it’s safe to say it was a big year.
If you want to understand the zeitgeist of this era, you only have to look at the top 10 movies of 1994 below, including entries from heavyweights such as Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino to tell you all you need to know
The Shawshank Redemption
There’s no big special effects, no rousing soundtrack – nothing special to see here. Only a masterclass in powerful performances, brilliant characters and a message of hope.
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is an innocent man, serving two life sentences for his wife’s murder. He forms a bond with inmate Ellis (Morgan Freeman), and their friendship evolves through the years.
A ’lowly’ $28.34m in box offices sales didn’t qualify Shawshank as the number 1 box office movie in 1994, but it achieved a much greater accolade – one of the greatest cinematic movies of all time. A title so deserving that it remains the highest-rated film ever on IMDB.
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins, Bob Gunton and more
How to stream The Shawshank Redemption
Forrest Gump is not just one of the top ten movies of 1994, or indeed of all time, but it also features as the 12th best movie on the revered IMDB movie list.
Bringing its unique blend of drama, action and romance, Tom Hanks is beautifully cast as Forrest; a simple man, who has battled physical and mental setbacks, helped along with the love of his mother and close friend Jenny by his side.
We follow him through life’s challenges and triumphs in this touching tear-jerker, that reminds you to never give up.
Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise and more
How to stream Forrest Gump
Iconic, influential, darkly funny. These are just some of the words that come to mind when you think of Pulp Fiction.
Remaining in the top 10 of all time according to IMDB, Tarantino’s masterpiece follows the lives of two hitmen with an unexpected penchant for deep debates.
From its out-of-sequence storytelling to a perfectly curated score, and masterful dialogue, all underpinned by incredible performances from John Travlota (Vince), Samuel L Jackson (Jules) and Uma Thurman (Mia), this ultra-violent production is one of the top 10 movies 1994 gave us.
How to stream Pulp Fiction
The Lion King
Of all the Disney films released in 1994, The Lion King has stood the test of time, with several new versions released since.
The young lion cub Simba is born into the throne, but when a plot to kill him from his jealous uncle Scar unfolds, Simba escapes, returning later as an adult.
A story of love and friendship, it unites audiences of all ages, and was the number 1 box office movie 1994 pulling in $422.78 million. Hakuna Matata indeed!
Cast: Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane and more
How to stream The Lion King
Leon: The Professional
A young Natalie Portman takes on the provocative role of Mathilda; a twelve year orphan who forms an enduring bond with Leon – a professional hitman (Jean Reno). Teaching her the ropes, Mathilda grows in competence and confidence, in this unexpected crime drama.
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and more
How to stream Leon: The Professional
Dumb and Dumber
Sometimes you just want college humour and hangover TV, and Dumb and Dumber serves this up in ample doses!
Leave your coolness at the door and freefall into this ridiculously silly comedy, with Jim Carey (Lloyd) and Jeff Daniels (Harry) as the hopeless duo, who set out to reunite a woman with her luggage in Aspen.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly and more
How to stream Dumb and Dumber
Natural Born Killers
Oliver Stone has always been ahead of his time, but way back in 1994 he created one of his most controversial movies to date.
Natural Born Killers is not just about two psychopath serial killers, Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis), but a look at the glorification of celebrity and pop culture in the media, even when violence is on the menu.
Cast: Juliette Lewis, Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr. and more
How to stream Natural Born Killers
In the nineties, if you were going to be hijacked in a speeding bus, you’d sure want Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock to be involved.
Bringing all your fantasies and fears to life, Jack (Reeves) is the police officer assigned to a speeding target – a bus that will blow up if it drops below 50mph. With Annie (Bullock) on board, they form an alliance as they try to save the day. A riveting watch from one of the best films in 1994.
How to stream Speed
Clear and Present Danger
History might have forgotten this movie, but Clear and Present Danger was a big hit at the time.
Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is just promoted to Deputy Director in the CIA, when he takes on a new investigation into a drug gang. What he discovers, is corruption and cover-ups within the organisation, that goes all the way to the top.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Willem Dafoe and more
How to stream Clear And Present Danger
In her film debut, Cameron Diaz (Tina) sizzles on screen, as the love interest of Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carey) in our top pick for best comedy movie for 1994.
Stanley is an ordinary guy, with an ordinary life… until he finds a magical mask that transforms him into a crazy unfiltered character. Hiding behind the mask, Ipkiss finds the courage to confront Tina, as well as take on a bank robbery. Fusing animation with movie footage, it’s a visual-fest to enjoy.