1990 Movies

Our Plex resource, a meticulously compiled database, presents an array of motion pictures from 1990. As you explore our collection, you'll find films that captivated audiences, all readily accessible. With this tool at your fingertips, enjoy an unhindered journey through cinematic history.
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The Best Movies of 1990

1990 introduced a diverse array of films that set the tone for the following decade. With the backdrop of the shifting societal landscape, the movie industry produced a multitude of gems that have since become classics.

La Femme Nikita

Revolutionizing the action genre, 'La Femme Nikita' marked an important turn in 90s cinema. This French film tells the story of a criminal teenager, recruited by the government as an assassin. The leading lady's endeavor to harmonize her personal life with her dangerous profession gives the action a human touch. Its success earned it a prominent place among enduring masterpieces that significantly influenced the representation of action heroines in cinema.


'Ghost' is a film that beautifully captures the spirit of its time, yet continues to age gracefully. The plot revolves around a murdered banker's spirit trying to reach out to his lover to caution her about his unscrupulous business partner's schemes. A unique mix of romance, horror, fantasy, mystery, and comedy, 'Ghost' captures the audience with its coherent screenplay, performances, and an unforgettable pottery scene.

The Hunt for Red October

Adapted from Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels, 'The Hunt for Red October' set the bar high for political action thrillers. The plot unveils an intense situation as a rogue Soviet navy captain, intent on defecting to the U.S., maneuvers an advanced submarine toward America. The film's power resides in its tight-knit suspense, high stakes, and a brilliant performance by Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery.

Edward Scissorhands

A modern gothic fairytale, 'Edward Scissorhands' showcased Tim Burton's distinctive style. An artificial man with scissors for hands, Edward, portrayed by Johnny Depp, is taken in by a family after his creator's demise. His ensuing love for their teenage daughter forms the crux of the story. The offbeat nature of this cult classic marked the first of many successful collaborations between Burton and Depp.

Dances with Wolves

'Dances with Wolves,' a powerful Western epic, became a definitive film of the year, winning seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The narrative follows a Civil War soldier who embraces the Lakota People's lifestyle, joining them as the Union army threat looms. The film's grandiosity and majestic landscapes provide a compelling reflection on the frontier's demise.

Jacob's Ladder

'Jacob's Ladder' is a mind-bending psychological horror film that's known to unsettle audiences with its intricate narrative. The plot navigates through the life of a Vietnam War veteran, whose reality is blurred by hallucinations and flashbacks. Actor Tim Robbins flawlessly captures the protagonist's disconcerting mental journey, leaving audiences in awe.


'Misery' stands out as one of the most commendable adaptations of Stephen King's horror novels. The story revolves around a successful author who, after surviving a severe car accident, is taken captive by an obsessive fan. The chilling performance by James Caan and Kathy Bates, coupled with the film's disturbing psychological twists, has ensured 'Misery's' enduring appeal.

Days of Being Wild

'Days of Being Wild' marked an early triumph for Wong Kar-Wai, a Hong Kong filmmaker known for his atmospheric and visually striking films. The narrative is centered around a carefree playboy searching for his biological mother after learning he's not his foster mother's biological son. The film's exploration of unrequited love through its beautiful visuals is a treat for cinema enthusiasts.

Total Recall

'Total Recall' proved Arnold Schwarzenegger's ability to excel beyond conventional action roles. The film juxtaposes action and sci-fi, weaving an engaging tale of a construction worker who, after a visit to a memory implanting company, discovers a forgotten past and finds himself hunted. With its thematic depth and visual grandeur, 'Total Recall' still resonates with contemporary audiences.


Despite not being the biggest Oscar winner of the year, 'Goodfellas' has endured the test of time as a benchmark in crime cinema. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film chronicles the rise of Henry Hill and his friends in the New York mob. The nuanced portrayal of the allure and dread of organized crime, bolstered by standout performances, makes 'Goodfellas' an unforgettable cinematic masterpiece.

1990 Movies & Industry Highlights

The cinematic landscape underwent remarkable changes in 1990, marking several milestones in the industry's history. Here, we explore some of these significant developments, along with a snapshot of the top-grossing films of the year.

Cinematic Landmarks

1990 was noteworthy for numerous reasons, not least of which was Universal Pictures celebrating its 75th anniversary. This milestone was marked three years later than its actual 75th anniversary, which fell in 1987. This delay illustrates the fluid nature of significant celebrations in the movie industry, where timing often responds to the needs of the broader business environment.

Top-Grossing Films

In terms of revenue, ten movies stood out above the rest in 1990. Among them were "Ghost," "Home Alone," and "Pretty Woman," which respectively grossed $505.7M, $476.6M, and $463.4M worldwide. These movies, along with others like "Dances with Wolves," "Total Recall," "Back to the Future Part III," and "Die Hard 2", collectively pulled in billions of dollars at the box office.

Significant Film Releases and Events

Several films released in 1990 had a lasting impact on both the industry and the broader cultural landscape. The film "The Hunt for Red October," released on March 2, was the first in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan franchise. This film was met with critical acclaim and commercial success, setting the bar for future installments.

"Pretty Woman," released on March 23, not only achieved impressive box office results but also propelled Julia Roberts to stardom. Similarly, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," released on March 30, made its mark as the highest-grossing independent film at the time.

Innovation was also a hallmark of 1990. "Total Recall" saw the use of motion capture for CGI characters on June 1, a technique that would become increasingly central to the industry. "Die Hard 2", released on July 4, broke new ground by using the first digitally-manipulated matte painting.

"Ghost," released on July 13, starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, and was one of the highest-grossing films at the time. Kevin Costner made his directorial debut with "Dances with Wolves," released on November 9. This film later won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.