The 1990s were a fruitful decade for film, marked by rule-bending and inventiveness. Independent filmmaking really took off throughout this decade, and even major companies weren’t scared to try new things. Many of that era’s films are still regarded as timeless classics. What about the less well-known one, though?
Redditors recently gathered to discuss which obscure, lesser-known films from the 1990s are the most worthwhile to watch on r/movies, the largest cinema subreddit. They made some intriguing selections, ranging from superhero comedies to science fiction noir.
‘The Hard Way’ (1991)
Popular Hollywood performer Nick Lang (Michael J. Fox) is well-known for his silly, comical roles. Nick becomes fixated on following a tough and seasoned New York City detective named John Moss (James Woods) in an effort to shed his on-screen character and take on a serious position. As they look into a string of high-profile killings carried out by a killer known as “The Party Crasher,” the two develop an odd friendship.
‘The River Wild’ (1994)
Gail Hartman, a former river guide, travels on a white-water rafting expedition with her husband Tom (David Strathairn), their little son Roarke (Joseph Mazzello), and Meryl Streep as her leading lady. However, when they run upon outlaws Wade (Kevin Bacon) and Terry (John C. Reilly), their lovely journey takes a perilous turn. To outwit the crooks and preserve her family, Gail must mobilize all of her abilities and wits.
User AffectionateForm9902 called the movie “a great thriller”. While a little rough around the edge, The River Wild has its charms, especially the cinematography which really captures the beauty of the locations. Not to mention, Streep also does a lot to elevate the movie – as usual.
Mel Gibson is a charming gambler with a penchant for getting into trouble in the Western comedy Maverick. Maverick runs into a number of odd personalities and gets into a series of humorous incidents while trying to raise enough cash to play in a high-stakes poker game.
Along the way, he forges an uncomfortable alliance with the seasoned U.S. Marshal Zane Cooper (James Garner) and the cunning con artist Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster).
Together, they navigate the treacherous Wild West, encountering bandits, outlaws, and double-crossing rivals, all while trying to outwit each other and stay alive. “Very lighthearted but super fun Western,” said Redditor AffectionateForm9902.
‘Reality Bites’ (1994)
A comedy-drama starring Winona Ryder as Lelaina, a recent college graduate working on a documentary about the lives of her friends, Reality Bites is directed by Ben Stiller. They struggle with problems including joblessness, unrequited love, and the pressure to live up to expectations set by society.
Critics panned the film on release, but it has since been praised as a study of Generation X and has become a cult classic. “Reality Bites is a real little gem. It’s highly influenced by MTV’s The Real World, which came out in 1992 and is credited with inventing reality TV in its current format,” said Redditor cerberaspeedtwelve.
Martin Bishop (Robert Redford), a former hacker and security expert, is the main character in Sneakers. He oversees a group of knowledgeable experts that assess the vulnerability of computer systems. The crew is caught in a labyrinth of espionage, double-crosses, and high-stakes deception when Bishop is forced by the government to obtain a strange decryption device that can decode any code.
“Sneakers is delightful. It’s a heist/hacker movie with a great cast and is funny, smart, and just all-around very fun. If you like movies where a wacky crew of experts works together to pull off some sort of zany plan, I highly recommend it,” said Redditor SmoreOfBabylon.
‘Mystery Men’ (1999)
A group of underdog wannabe superheroes known as the Mystery Men work to establish themselves in the superhero comedy Mystery Men, which is set in Champion City. The Mystery Men, led by Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), must act when the city’s adored superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), is captured by the evil Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush).
Bright, campy, and unapologetically slapstick, Mystery Men remains an intriguing curio from its decade. “It’s a really fun, goofy entertainer that’s ridiculous enough to have a great time!” said Redditor BuddhaKesh. “Criminally underrated,” said user Apart-Prize-7612 simply.
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‘Camp Nowhere’ (1994)
A group of outcast children decide to start their own summer camp so they may get away from their parents’ demands and expectations. They deceive their parents into believing they are attending different specialist camps under the charismatic Morris “Mud” Himmel’s (Jonathan Jackson) leadership. They convert an abandoned summer camp into their own paradise with the assistance of their eccentric and resourceful counselor (Christopher Lloyd).
Most critics excoriated Camp Nowhere on release, but fans of Christoper Lloyd will probably get a kick out of it. “One thing that always stuck with me about [Camp Nowhere] is the surprising amount of depth in archetypical characters like The Bully and The Popular Girl,” added user AndyKaufmanSentMe.
The director of The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman, is behind the frantic crime-comedy Go. The movie mixes together interwoven tales of characters involved in drugs and crime over the course of a turbulent 24-hour period. Ronna (Sarah Polley), a grocery store employee who becomes caught up in a risky drug deal after her companion defaults on his duties, is at the center of it all.
With its non-linear narrative, sharp humor, and numerous plot twists, Go offers a wild ride through the underbelly of Los Angeles. “It’s a lot of fun,” said user gloomduckie. “My favorite car chase scene ever,” added Redditor toxic_pantaloons.
‘Lone Star’ (1996)
The lives of the people who reside in a small Texas border town are examined in Lone Star. The main character, Sheriff Sam Deeds, played by Chris Cooper, is charged with solving a long-forgotten mystery surrounding the disappearance of a dishonest former sheriff named Charlie Wade (Kris Kristofferson).
As Sam investigates the case further, he unearths long-buried truths that not only upend the town’s foundation but also force him to face his own family’s past. Frances McDormand makes a brief cameo appearance, and Matthew McConaughey plays a supporting role.
‘Strange Days’ (1995)
This sci-fi thriller was directed by Kathryn Bigelow and is set in a time when people can access other people’s recorded memories using a gadget called a “SQUID.” Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), a troubled ex-cop turned hustler, finds a terrible tape that shows a brutal crime, putting him in the sights of strong powers that would do anything to get their hands on the proof.
Strange Days is conceptually ambitious, tackling topics like technology, voyeurism, and the meaning of truth. It is also technically challenging, requiring a complicated camera setup for several point-of-view images. Although it was a huge movie office failure, its reputation among critics has since improved, and some now describe it as prescient. In the thread, many Redditors gave it accolades.
Many Redditors praised it in the thread. “I never knew how this managed to not be huge but it’s one of the most mentioned underrated/lost gem type films that might actually deserve it,” said user tomttt.
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