Every era means something different to a person based on their age.

To some, the 80s will always be the greatest years of their life. To others, the 60s were a time of revolutionary conscious change, when the greatest generation ever to live took a stand.

What the 90s mean to you depends entirely upon your perspective and life experiences. But what is indisputable is this: the 90s amassed one of the greatest collections of films in cinematic history.

Films like Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, and Silence of the Lambs are just a few of the storytelling masterpieces we were introduced to in the decade just before the turn of the century.

But the 90s also had a lot incredibly impactful and life-changing films, the kind of films that change you as a person or help you see the world in an entirely new way.

Here are ten life-changing movies from the 90s.

1. American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty tells the story of a telesales operative as he becomes disillusioned with his suburban life.

The film is a bit twisted. However, it has a way of shocking you to your senses– particularly if you’ve fallen into a habit of mindlessly rolling through life– that can create positive change in the most unlikely of ways.

2. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Life is Beautiful tells the story of a Jewish father and his son as they’re taken to an internment camp during WWII and details the father’s efforts to help he and his son survive.

The film will teach you that the human spirit can survive through even the most severe cruelty one could ever imagine and will inspire you to push through your own adversity.

3. Forrest Gump (1994)

You can’t have a list of life-changing 90s movies without mentioning Forrest Gump, a film which follows a man with an IQ of seventy-five as he lives one crazy life through the presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal.

Forrest Gump is the kind of movie that can teach you all kinds of things about the world while simultaneously give you layers of epiphanies with regards to your own life. Forrest’s journey is so epic and sprawling that it’s hard to pinpoint just one moment in the movie; there are so many different scenes, each with a lesson to share.

4. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting is one of several movies in the 90s that showed Robin Williams could act. In the film he plays psychologist Sean Maguire who’s hired to treat a janitor, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), at MIT who secretly has a genius-level IQ after he’s arrested for attacking a police officer.

If you’re looking for a film that will make you reflect on your own life in a deep way, this is one of the best.

5. The Truman Show (1998)

One of the trippiest films of the 90s, The Truman Show stars Jim Carrey as an insurance adjuster who discovers that his entire life is a hoax. In fact, it’s one great big T.V. show.

It’s hilarious but also thoughtful and will make you think about your life and the world around you in a new way.

6. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies that defines 90s cinema.

The film stars Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as Red, two prisoners who bond in prison, and details their quest to find peace and realize redemption over an incredible nineteen years.

7. Braveheart (1995)

Yes, that movie where Mel Gibson wears the blue face paint. Braveheart tells the story of William Wallace (Gibson), a 13th Century Scottish warrior who led the Scottish army to independence against the King Edward I and the English.

The film has one of the most inspiring movie speeches ever presented on film in addition to being an altogether inspiring story of strength and incredible courage.

8. Titanic (1997)

When Titanic first arrived in theatres, it was as if a literal mega-ton ship had been dropped on the world. Everyone was talking about it as it took the country (and, to some degree, the rest of the world) by storm.

The love story of DiCaprio’s Jack and Winslet’s Rose as it unfolds on the R.M.S. Titanic as it glides to its fateful and inevitable end is as unforgettable now as it ever was, spanning across both class lines within the film and space and time without. It can make you rethink your own relationships and remind you of the impermanence– and unpredictability– of life.

9. Schindler’s List (1993)

Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is as dark and riveting as any movie which details the atrocities of WWII has ever been, but it’s also poetic and powerful.

Within the film lies a clear silver lining: the unexpected transformation of a shadowy businessman into a hero– Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson)– who will be remembered for all time for his boundless courage and selfless action and a story which serves as an incredible memorial to all those who were lost.

10. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Another Spielberg classic, Saving Private Ryan follows Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his platoon through the beaches of Normandy during WWII to find and bring home Private James Ryan.

Private Ryan immerses you in the realities of war in a way that few films have ever been able to do, reminding you to be grateful for your life.


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