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Best 1990's Films: The Highest Grossing Films of the 1990's

By Edited Dec 11, 2013 1 8

The Best Movies of the 1990's Decade

The highest grossing films of the 1990's brought us it's own eclectic brand of aliens, dinosaurs, sinking cruise liners and the slap stick comedy of a kid left home alone by forgetful parents.

Welcome to my review of the best films of the 1990's.

Every decade seems to came swaggering in on a wave of optimism and then it seems this is always followed ten years later with the collective questioning of how so much went wrong. The nineties was no exception.

It started in the most momentous fashion with the release, in February 1990, of  Nelson Mandela from Robben Island after nearly thirty years in captivity. He would later be elected South Africa's first black president and symbolises to this day, not only the end of apartheid, but also what can de done through the power of forgiveness.


Continuing on the political front, July 1994 saw the death, after 46 years as leader, of North Korean premier Kim Il-sung. His son, Kim Jong-il, immediately succeeded him. Maybe he should have thought twice about his new position of power. If only he realised how truly lonely it would make him. (Kim Jong-Il sings, "I'm so Ronery")

On the technology front, Pac man was aging badly as the rapid advance of computing technology saw the invention of the Intel Pentium processor and the iMac by Apple.

For some unknown reason we all briefly fell in love with the electronic pets Tamagotchi's and Furbies. Maybe we felt that actual pets had become stale and decided that this was the future of animal companionship? Alas no, we all came to our senses and had thrown the Christmas best sellers in the trash long before the Easter bunny had arrived. 

A megastar was born on 30 June 1997 as the first Harry Potter book was published. The wizarding teenager would go on to not only dominate popular literature, but also at the box office with eight blockbuster film in a very successful franchise culminating in the final film in the series in 2011. 

Anyway back to the ninties: The Back Street Boys were telling us all that 'backstreet' was indeed 'back'. I had no idea that it had been away. Many of us got slightly confused and though we were being told to 'put Backstreet back', which many of us did after lifting their C.D. for a look.

As the nineties wore on, many woman peered in the mirror and couldn't tell why they didn't all look as beautiful as Jennifer Aniston. Funny that, but it was because they didn't consider  they maybe needed more than simply copying the 'Rachel' haircut from hit t.v. show 'Friends'.

And so ladies and gentlemen, I move to the box office. A great decade for movie goers in my opinion. So without any more of my ramblings, I give you the top 10 grossing films of the 1990's. 

Be sure to check out my other infobarrel top ten countdowns from previous decades:

The Highest Grossing Films of the 1960's

The Highest Grossing Films of the 1980's

10. Toy Story 2 (1999) $246 million

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack

Toy Story 2 saw the return of Woody the Cowboy, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the cast from the 1995 computer-animated hit Toy Story.

This time Andy, the young boy that owns all these toys, is off to Summer Camp. While he is away Andy's mum anciently puts Woody up for sale while clearing out old junk. Woody, who has in the last few years become quite the collectible, and is snapped up by a delighted toy collector.

So it's now up to Buzz Lightyear and cast to rescue Woody in time for Andy's return. 


Favourite Line

Buzz Lightyear Store Toy: Buzz Lightyear to Star Command. I have an AWOL Space Ranger. 
Buzz Lightyear: Tell me I wasn't this deluded... 
Buzz Lightyear Store Toy: No back talk! I have a laser, and I will really use it. 
Buzz Lightyear: You mean a laser that's a lightbulb? 
Buzz Lightyear Store Toy: Has your mind been melted? You could have killed me, Space Ranger! Or should I say, "traitor?" 
Buzz Lightyear: I don't have time for this... 

Toy Story 2 Trailer

9. Men in Black (1997) $250 million

Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino

Will Smith stars as James Darrel Edwards, an athletic, cocky New York City cop with a blatant, anti-authoritarian attitude. (It's a bit like his character in Independence day, and somewhat similar to the fresh prince but only as a cop, really like his character in bad boys, and Hitch and ....well you get the picture.)

Unknown to Edwards one night, when on duty, he chases down an alien perpetrator and notices that 'the perps' eyes blink vertically, rather than the more traditional,  horizontal way. Being a shrew operator Edwards realises that something is up and is eventually recruited by agent 'K'. Agent 'K' is a veteran of a secret government agency that polices the immigration and monitoring of alien activity on earth. The organisation is named the 'men in black'.

Edwards, now renamed agent 'J', first mission as a new recruit is to recover a stolen bauble from an intergalactic terrorist. Just a little bauble you ask? Well, it's not just a bauble when inside it contains an entire alien galaxy.


Men in Black Poster

Favourite Quote

Agent J: Z, don't you guys ever get any sleep around here? 
Agent Z: The twins keep us on Centaurian time, standard thirty-seven hour day. Give it a few months. You'll get used to it... or you'll have a psychotic episode

Men in Black Trailer

8. Home Alone (1990) $286 million

Macaulay Culkin, Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci

'Home Alone' is a family comedy about a young boy named Kevin. Kevin is the youngest brother in an expansive brood that is the McCallister family. Due to a rush to get to the airport on time Kevin is accidentally left behind when his family takes off for a vacation in France.

Kevin, thinking that magical powers have granted his wish from the previous night, is delighted to finally have some time alone.

As his family are desperately trying to return home Kevin has to support himself. This task becomes increasingly more difficult as he discovers two bumbling burglars are planning to rob every house in Kevin's neighbourhood.

Cue extreme violence masquerading as slapstick comedy as Kevin manages to fend off the burglars and, in the process, realise that he does actually miss his family and has taken them for granted. A character arc that will warm anyones heart at Christmas time.

Home Alone Poster

Favourite Quote

Kate McCallister: How could we do this? We forgot him. 
Peter McCallister: We didn't forget him, we just miscounted. 
Kate McCallister: What kind of a mother am I? 
Peter McCallister: If it makes you feel any better, I forgot my reading glasses

Home Alone Trailer

7. The Sixth Sense (1999) $294 million

Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment

I know this is an old film, but just incase you haven't seen 'The Sixth Sense' my commentary will spoil the plot you.

+++++SPOILER ALERT++++++

 Around the time of this films release I had the extreme displeasure of hearing a phone-in radio talk show. One caller, after getting a rather simple question incorrect, was asked if he would like to say hello to anyone while he was on the air. After a brief  'shout out' to a couple of friends he turned his attentions to, as he put it,

"anyone goin' t' that 'Six Cents' film this weekend......Bruce Willis is a ghost."

And with that the film was ruined for me. To this day I still haven't seen it.

Apparently Bruce Willis is a child psychologist whose new patient is a kid who 'sees dead people'. Turns out Willis is a ghost as well. 

Favourite Quote

I've not actually seen the film but apparently the kid at one point says,

Cole Sear: I see dead people.

The Sixth Sense Trailer

6. Independence Day (1996) $306 million

Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman

It doesn't take too long to explain the plot in this one. Aliens invade earth and the human race have to stop them obliterating the planet. See I told you that would be quick.

With the plot having been borrowed from a thousand 'B' movies, something had to save this film if it wasn't going to crash and burn, burn like so many city building post alien invasion. That something was the special effects. The visuals were rightly acclaimed and won the 1996 Academy award for their troubles.

Favourite Line

President Whitmore addressing the troops before the attack on the aliens:

President Whitmore: Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day! 

Independence Day Trailer

5. The Lion King (1994) $328 million

Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg

Disney struck animation gold with this 1995 tale from the African savannah.

We join Simba, an energetic and inquisitive lion cub and future King of the animal kingdom. Simba is taught by his father, and current King Mufasa, the duties of ruling over their home: Pride Rock.

It is explained to Simba that when he ascends the throne it will be his responsibility to continue the delicate balance of nature, to support the 'circle of life'.

This balance is soon disrupted however, when Scar, Simbas uncle, takes the throne after Mufasa's tragic death. Simba, believing Scar's lies that he was responsible for his own father's death, runs away and is too ashamed to return. 

While in exile Simba learns, with the help of some new found friends, that he must return to Pride Rock, take his rightful place on the thrown and regain the delicate balance of nature.

Favourite Line

(Timon and Zazu are cornered and are about to be eaten by hyenas)
Timon: Please don't eat me. 
Pumbaa: Drop 'em! 
Banzai: Hey! Who's the pig? 
Pumbaa: Are you talkin' to me? 
Timon: Uh-oh, they called him a pig. 
Pumbaa: Are you talking to ME
Timon: Ya shouldn't have done that. 
Timon: Now they're in for it. 

The Lion King Trailer

4. Forrest Gump (1994) $330 million

Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise and Sally Field

'Life is like a box of chocolates." and with this film, Robert Zemeckis certainly avoided being the coffee cream that is left to last.

'Forrest Gump' is the life story of a challenged young man in the American deep south. Although mentally slow Forrest seems to bumble through life taking part in many of the major events, as well as meeting the major notables, of the late 20th century.

Through all of this he maintains his love for his childhood sweetheart but can they overcome all the odds and live happily ever after?

Favourite Line

Drill Sergeant: Gump! What's your sole purpose in this army? 
Forrest: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant! 
Drill Sergeant: God damn it, Gump! You're a god damn genius! This is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160. You are goddamn gifted, Private Gump. Listen up, people... 
Forrest: [narrates] Now for some reason I fit in the army like one of them round pegs. It's not really hard. You just make your bed real neat and remember to stand up straight and always answer every question with "Yes, drill sergeant." 
Drill Sergeant: ...Is that clear? 
Forrest: Yes, drill sergeant! 

Forrest Gump Trailer

3. Jurassic Park (1993) $357 million

Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum

Steven Spielberg's uses ultra modern special effects to adapt Michael Crichton's novel onto the silver screen.

In the film two dinosaur experts are invited to a new amusement park on a private island off the coast of Costa Rica. Here they are told that scientists have brought dinosaurs back to life using the process of DNA reengineering harvested from blood taken from prehistoric insects.The idea is to keep them in cages and let the paying public come to see them.

What on earth could go wrong?

Favourite Line

 John Hammond: All major theme parks have had delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked! 
Dr. Ian Malcolm: But, John. If the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists.


Jurassic Park Poster

Jurassic Park Trailer

2. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431 million

Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman

Twenty odd years after the original Star Wars film graced the silver screen George Lucas aimed to complete a new trilogy that would tell the Star Wars origins and set the events that led up to the original film.

Unfortunately this film was a complete disaster.

From the wooden Anakin Skywalker, to the woeful Caribbean style  Jar Jar Binks, to the overly camped up C3PO it was, as I say, a nightmare.

Favourite Line

When the end credits appeared.

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menance

1.Titanic (1997) $600 million

Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Billy Zane

This three-hour epic tells the tragic story of the White Star Line's  R.M.S Titanic maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in April 1912.

Like previous entries in this countdown (Jurassic Park and Independence Day)  director James Cameron used the incredible advancement in digital special effects to illustrate his vision. 

 The film follows the story between Jack Dawson, a penniless artist in steerage class, and the well to do socialite Rose DeWitt Bukater.

When Jack and Rose have a chance meeting they begin falling in love, much to the chagrin of Rose's fiancée Cal.

As the fateful journey continues and the iceberg is struck, Rose and Jack try to survive the sinking ship and the wrath of a vengeful Cal in an attempt to begin a new life together.

A phenomenally successful film 'Titanic' won an incredible record-equaling eleven Oscars including best film, director and....well, pretty much all the other Oscars that night too.


Titanic Poster

Titanic Trailer



Apr 2, 2012 7:11pm
really informative!
Apr 12, 2012 3:15am
Great list of films. Many of them will 'live forever' as classics.
May 9, 2012 6:09pm
Wonderful movies! Great article.
May 10, 2012 9:56pm
The 90’s were when? OMG that's just crazy, how fast the time goes by.
Great list of these films that have become classics.

May 16, 2012 10:46pm
Can't believe I missed this when it came out. Great job on best movies of the 1990s. Loved it!
May 22, 2012 3:47pm
Many thanks for the comments guys!
Jun 6, 2012 8:57am
Wow, you did a lot of work on the above article and as a person who has worked in the buisiness, I truly appreciate your comments. This is the first time I've been here but I will sure be returning to read more of your articles. Thanks
Jun 6, 2012 9:43am
Glad you enjoyed it Marlando.
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