Best Movies from the 1990s on Netflix

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Miramax Films, Miramax Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Releasing
January 8th, 2014

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Popular movie and television streaming service Netflix has approximately thirty million subscribers, and its business model is revolutionizing the way people watch their favorite content. Trips to the video store are dwindling and catching up on favorite TV shows can be done in a weekend. Netflix offers this service at a great low price, allowing viewers hassle-free access to excellent films and programming.

For anyone who plans to spend a quiet weekend at home, there are a number of great movies from the 1990s that Netflix currently offers for immediate streaming to computers, tablets, or other Internet-connected devices.



An iconic movie about college graduates trying to figure out their lives, "Reality Bites" was released in 1994. Directed by Ben Stiller, it tells the story of valedictorian Lelaina Pierce and the struggles she and her friends have adapting to adult life. Winona Ryder plays Lelaina, and she's joined by Hollywood favorites Ethan Hawke, Renee Zellweger, and Steve Zahn. Rounding out the cast are Janeane Garofalo, Swoosie Kurtz, and Joe Don Baker. For movie watchers wanting to relive the '90s, "Reality Bites" features the clothing, hairstyles, and soundtrack to instantly transport viewers into the middle of Generation X. 


Another movie that features incredibly popular actors in early roles is 1993's "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." Johnny Depp stars as Gilbert Grape, who is forced to take care of his morbidly obese mother and mentally challenged brother Arnie. Leonardo DiCaprio is excellent as Arnie, and Depp deftly captures the angst of Gilbert while showing a tender side. Gilbert has difficulty taking care of his responsibilities to his family while trying to please love interests played by Mary Steenburgen and Juliette Lewis. "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" is an ideal movie for a rainy day or for anyone who wants to see DiCaprio and Depp in powerful roles. 




Kevin Smith's first movie, "Clerks," was released in 1994. Centered on a day in the life of convenience store clerk Dante, it was made with a budget of just over $230,000. It went on to win the highest award at the Sundance film festival and grossed over $3.1 million. Dante's friend Randal barely works next door at a video store, and the interplay between the two main characters is hilarious. Smith's signature style is evident in this film, and it's a great choice for anyone who enjoys well-written, dialogue-driven movies. 


Starring in a modern take on Jane Austen's classic "Emma," Alicia Silverstone plays a spoiled rich girl named Cher in 1995's "Clueless." With the help of her father's money, Cher is able to spend her time making over her friends from school, playing Cupid for some of her teachers and irritating her stepbrother. Silverstone is impressive in her role, and she evokes compassion from the audience. The late Brittany Murphy plays Tai, a girl that Cher tries to help fit  in at their Beverly Hills high school. Paul Rudd, Breckin Meyer, and Jeremy Sisto also have notable roles in this entertaining look at the lives of privileged youth. Made in 1996 for a modest $2.5 million.


"Trainspotting" focuses on the life of Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) and his acquaintances as he attempts to free himself from the clutches of heroin addiction. With the help of friends and family, Renton moves to London and gets clean. Unfortunately, his old friends don't have as much luck ridding themselves of the drug, and they insinuate themselves back into his life. This gritty movie went on to gross over $16.5 million, and it made a star of McGregor. While it isn't a traditional feel-good movie, "Trainspotting" is a vivid and wild portrayal of heroin addiction in modern-day London. Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle also star in this adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel. 


Successful actors and brothers Luke and Owen Wilson are well known today, but they got their starts in "Bottle Rocket," a quirky film directed by Wes Anderson and co-written by Owen Wilson. This film follows a trio of friends as they plan and execute a small robbery. This film was also a debut for Anderson, and it's a great precursor to his later work. James Caan is fun to watch as Mr. Henry, and it's easy to see what made the Wilson brothers so successful in this early example of their acting skills. "Bottle Rocket" was released in 1996, but it's still entertaining today. 

With video stores fading into obscurity, Netflix is the perfect solution for anyone who wants to watch a movie from a large collection. All genres and eras are well represented on the site, but watching iconic movies from the '90s is an unbeatable way to pass the time.