1991 Movies

Through our expansive Plex database, you'll have the convenience of accessing an extensive collection of movies released in the year 1991. This comprehensive resource offers a seamless and user-friendly experience, allowing you to explore the cinematic world of that specific year.
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The Best Movies of 1991

Here, we spotlight an array of films that stand the test of time and continue to engage audiences.


Let's kick things off with 'JFK.' This historical legal-conspiracy thriller is about district attorney Jim Garrison, who becomes convinced that there was a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. Kevin Costner stars as Garrison, while Gary Oldman plays Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin. The movie's depth and the wonderful acting, combined with the fascinatingly shot scenes, are certain to make you want more, regardless of director Oliver Stone's accuracy in his claims.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Next up is 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day', the sequel to the 1984 hit 'The Terminator.' The movie features a lethal Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, sent back in time to 1995 to murder the future leader of the human resistance, John Connor (Edward Furlong). This sequel is undoubtedly one of the best ever created. Its lasting legacy stems from the brilliant execution of a few central concepts that subvert audience expectations.

Beauty and the Beast

An animated musical romantic fantasy, 'Beauty and the Beast,' introduces us to the relationship between the Beast, a prince magically transformed into a monster, and Belle, a young woman who he imprisons in his castle in exchange for her father. The movie, one of Disney's finest, expertly conveys nuanced messages that grow with each viewing, establishing that animated films aren't just for kids.

The Silence of the Lambs

Moving on, 'The Silence of the Lambs,' based on Thomas Harris' 1988 novel, showcases the journey of a young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), hunting down a serial killer named Buffalo Bill. The exceptional storytelling and psychological suspense, combined with excellent performances from Foster and Anthony Hopkins as the imprisoned psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter, make it one of the most engrossing thrillers to this day.

Barton Fink

In 'Barton Fink,' the titular character, played by John Turturro, is drawn to Hollywood by the opportunity to develop movies for eccentric Jack Lipnick's Capitol Pictures. The Coen Brothers expertly balance creative integrity and artistic pomposity in this intriguing film, which provokes ongoing debates about its genre.

Boyz N the Hood

Next is 'Boyz N the Hood,' a compelling drama that portrays the lives of three young men navigating the gang and drug culture in South Central Los Angeles. John Singleton's powerful depiction of Black America and nuanced portrayal of the characters' struggles establish the film as a significant contribution to cinema.

My Own Private Idaho

'My Own Private Idaho' tells the story of Mike Waters (River Phoenix), a street-living youngster who embarks on a journey to find his estranged mother. The beautiful performance by Phoenix, combined with Gus Van Sant's masterful portrayal of aimless youth, makes this film a classic depiction of '90s restlessness.

Thelma & Louise

'Thelma & Louise,' a dramatic and daring portrayal of women's friendship, follows best friends Thelma and Louise as they embark on an adventure turned police chase. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis deliver memorable performances in this now-classic film, which continues to grow as a cult classic.

Cape Fear

In 'Cape Fear,' we witness a violent rapist (Robert De Niro) seeking revenge on a former public defender (Nick Nolte) whom he blames for his 14-year sentence. Martin Scorsese adds his signature touch to the film, taking it beyond a simple remake of the 1962 version.

Naked Lunch

Finally, 'Naked Lunch,' adapted from William S. Burroughs' 1959 novel, follows an exterminator (Peter Weller) who accidentally kills his wife and becomes entangled in a secret government operation. Director David Cronenberg creates a dreamlike and distorted world, making the movie a unique cinematic experience.

1991 Movies & Industry Highlights

This period brought forth some noteworthy occurrences and released films that continue to hold immense influence today. In this context, let's retrospectively look at the leading films and significant events that unfolded during this era, ultimately paving the way for the cinematic journey of 1991.

High-Grossing Films

Many movies made their debut in 1991, with a few rising to become commercial successes. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" rose to the top, generating a staggering gross revenue of about $521 million. The movie, distributed by Sony and Carolco, became the highest-grossing film of the year.

Next up, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" from Warner Bros. ranked second with approximately $390 million in revenue. Then came "Beauty and the Beast," the enchanting tale from Buena Vista, which grossed about $346 million. Following these, "Hook" from Sony and "The Silence of the Lambs" from Orion were also among the high grosses, earning approximately $301 million and $273 million, respectively.

Industry Landmarks

Besides the memorable films, 1991 was also the backdrop to several significant events that reshaped the industry's structure. On February 14, "The Silence of the Lambs" was released. Notably, it became one of the rare films to win the top five categories at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Jodie Foster), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally). It was also the first and only film in the horror genre to win Best Picture to that date.

Later, in March, Frank Mancuso left his position as the head of Paramount Pictures. His departure led to Brandon Tartikoff stepping into the role of chairman on July 1. Then, on July 3, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" was unveiled. It was hailed as a landmark for science fiction action films, thanks to the groundbreaking visual effects from Industrial Light & Magic.

Further along, on August 7, Sony Pictures Entertainment was formed. The newly formed entity acquired Columbia Pictures Industries. This acquisition led to Tri-Star Pictures changing its name to TriStar Pictures and the rebranding of RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video to Columbia-TriStar Home Video.

In another major shuffle, Mark Canton replaced Frank Price as the chairman of Columbia Pictures in October. Then, on November 22, Walt Disney Pictures released "Beauty and the Beast." This animation was based on the original fairy tale and Jean Cocteau's 1946 film. The movie, one of the most prestigious animated and romantic films in cinema history, also became the first animated film ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

1991's Impact on the Future

Retrospectively, 1991 was undoubtedly a pivotal year in the film industry. The high-grossing films and transformative industry events of this period undeniably played a role in shaping the future of cinema. The significant happenings of this year laid a sturdy foundation for the cinematic journey that unfolded in the subsequent years.