The year 2018 marks an important milestone for many 90s classics as several iconic films from that era turn 25 this year. The year was 1993 and Robin Williams played one of his most famous roles, Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs to life and introduced us to an unsung hero of World War II, a time-based movie trope was born in the form of an iconic comedy and one of the most famous stop motion pictures of all time gave us a reason to fear the holidays. These films helped define my childhood, becoming classics as I grew up over the course of the decade. To honor the 25th anniversary of the films that made my love for movies a reality I put together a special list. These are the Top 10 Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Films of 2018.
For this list I looked at every movie released in 1993 and chose ten I felt were the most iconic and memorable and are worthy of celebrating 25 years later. These films were chosen due to their lasting impact and legacy and continued popularity today even if they failed to garner proper attention at the time of their release in 1993. Even if a film was successful in some way it might not make this list as it may have been forgotten with time. These are films that even today still continue to be just as relevant or may even be more relevant than they were in 1993. It’s pretty cut an dry, to make this list the movie has to be celebrating 25 years in 2018 and has to have made a lasting impression on the public to the point of being considered iconic or revolutionary. The only caveat is films had to be wide released in 1993 so “Philadelphia” won’t be found here as it went wide in 1994. Also films like “My Neighbor Tortoro” which were first released in America in 1993 but were released in their home countries years before also won’t be here because, after all, they are older than 25.
So let’s take a walk down Nostalgia Street to the corner of Memory Lane and celebrate a milestone for these iconic cinematic projects. Let me know what your favorite film from 1993 is below and enjoy the list!
10. “Robin Hood: Men In Tights”
It was one of Mel Brooks most iconic works, although in all honesty its popularity only grew after its theatrical run where it barely broke bank and received mixed reviews from critics. The legacy of this parody of Robin Hood and his merry men still stands strong today however as one of the most celebrated, quotable, and rewatched parody films this side of “Spaceballs”. As Brooks’ penultimate directorial work “Men in Tights” has become a cult classic and a must see for any fan of the parody genre for its smart jokes, great costumes and memorable musical number and to top it all off there’s always something new to catch with every viewing that you probably never noticed before. I grew up watching this film and the more I matured the more I noticed with each viewing. To this day I’m still catching jokes I never noticed before and that rewatchability and it’s legitimately effective humor may be why it became one of 1993’s biggest cult classics.
9. “Free Willy”
Although a pretty forgotten franchise today there was a time when “Free Willy” was the essential live-action children’s story and one that spawned numerous spinoffs, sequels, and more popularity for Seaworld. Some would say “Free Willy” is a bigger cult classic than “Men in Tights” and while it didn’t do as well as the box office as you might expect, it still completely overshot its $20 million production cost and made quite a profit. “Free Willy” made the orca, or killer whale, many children’s favorite animal and is celebrated today for its iconic “jumping Willy” scene and is considered among the most inspiring family movies of the 90s and beyond. It also helped spark the “buddy animal” craze of the 90s as well, a theme that usually teamed a young protagonist with a unique animal companion through a bonding experience. While the sequels watered down the movie’s legacy and the modern generation of film fans seem to have allowed this movie to slip into the darkness, for those who grew up in the 90s like myself it was a truly iconic cinematic adventure that captured our hearts and imaginations in a way few live-action films are able to do today.
8. “The Sandlot”
In the 90s sports were all the rage. NASCAR, American football, hockey, and, of course, baseball all seemed to experience a hay day during those years and for kids growing up to be a baseball star was a popular dream. Also at that time video games and computers had yet to dominate entertainment the way they do today. So a small, $7 million movie came around capturing a popular childhood pastime with the imagination of youth called “The Sandlot” and it became a sleeper hit more than tripling its budget at the box office before doubling its own box office total in home release sales and finding its way into living rooms across the country. Another cult classic, “The Sandlot” is probably the BIGGEST cult family film to come from 1993. It followed a group of young baseball lovers who spend their time playing the game at the sandlot and the misadventures they enjoyed during that time. Seemingly taking notes from a few Stephen King classics, like “Cujo” and “Stand By Me”, “The Sandlot” proved to be a fantastic coming of age tale that stands the test of time today as a celebrated film 90s kids just can’t get enough of.
7. “Cool Runnings”
Another iconic family film based on a sport, this biographical movie about the first ever Jamaican Olympic bobsled team still holds up today as a fantastic comedy and a longstanding piece of pop culture nostalgia. You may not have seen it, either ever or in several years, but chances are you’ve heard its named countless times through television shows and parodies referencing its unique style of historical storytelling with family friendly flair. The name itself has become synonymous with 90s culture and even though rewatches of this classic are probably few and far between, it’s the cultural legacy and the popularity of its history-based story that lands it a spot on this list. For many kids in the 90s this film was alongside the likes of the aforementioned “Sandlot”, “The Mighty Ducks” and “Space Jam” as one of the most iconic sports-themed movies of the decade. Critically beloved and a box office success, “Cool Runnings” is an iconic and notable entry in the goofy sports film subgenre that dominated the 90s. Not to mention it was John Candy’s last film before his death which made it a bit bittersweet, even though there were two films featuring him released after his passing in 1994.
6. “Groundhog Day”
It would be a bit of a stretch to call this time loop film a cult classic because it’s actually much more popular than that, but it is a fact that respect and appreciation for the movie had to build over time. The film stars Bill Murray as a news reporter who, while covering the annual Punxsutawney Groundhog Day celebration, finds himself trapped in a time loop, experiencing the same day over and over again until he gets it right and changes his perspective. While it only grossed $70 million on a $14 million budget in 1993 the film has since become one of the most celebrated comedies ever with many critics even calling it one of the genre’s all-time best. Critically beloved and a fan favorite that has stood the test of time, “Groundhog Day” received new life as a classic when it was compared to 2017’s “Happy Death Day”, a film that utilized a similar plot devise with a slasher element and was called “‘Groundhog Day’ meets ‘Scream'”. Today the term “the Groundhog Day Effect” refers to any character who experiences a time loop in film or any situation where nothing gets done OR the same thing has to be done over and over again in the real world. To that end “Groundhog Day” was not only a defining film in cinema, but a defining pop culture classic as well.
5. The Fugitive
“The Fugitive” was one of the best reviewed and highest grossing films of 1993 and today is still an iconic and highly watchable action offering. Starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, the film was heavily based on the 1960s television show of the same name and followed a husband who escapes prison after being convicted of his wife’s murder and goes on a search for the true killer with a sheriff on his tail. Jones won an Oscar for his role in the film which itself was also nominated for six other Academy Awards that year, including Best Picture. Almost every aspect of this film, from the acting to the production, was praised by anyone who saw it and word of mouth made it a massive hit that even today people still turn to as one of the finest action films of the 90s. If nothing else, who could forget that oh so quotable “Peter Pan Dive” line? Classic!
4. “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
In terms of staying power few films from 1993 have it on “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Today a holiday classic for both Halloween and Christmas this stop motion animated movie dominated the scene in 1993 with no competition from Disney (a company that would eventually own the property years later). Directed by Henry Selick but known more for its producer Tim Burton this dark fantasy tale told of Jack Skellington, a horror icon in the land of Halloween who discovers Christmastown and becomes obsessed with the much lighter holiday. Today Skellington and his friends are pop culture icons and the symbols of a subculture that relates more with the lead character’s restless personality and disposition towards the norm of his world. Even 25 years later this film seems to resonate flawlessly with viewers both young and old and, surprisingly, its animation still holds up quite well too despite years of special effects updates producing much smoother animated features today. This is a film with a legacy that seems to ignore the test of time and I’m sure many will celebrate its 25th anniversary in style when the holidays come around again in 2018.
3. “Mrs. Doubtfire”
Oh Robin Williams, how we miss you so. It’s roles like this that made you a true national treasure. “Mrs. Doubtfire” was without a doubt one of the strangest premises in 1993, but it turned into the second highest grossing film of the year and one that today is probably in many fans’ top five for favorite Robin Williams movies. Featuring Williams as a father who dresses as a British nanny in order to be closer to his kids at his estranged ex-wife’s home, this film is often considered among the best family comedies ever and is a staple of not only 1993, but the family comedy genre in general. During its initial release this film actually received pretty mixed reviews, but in the years that have past since it has become one of the most cherished comedies of all time making many “best of” lists for the genre and even earning a Golden Globe as the Best Picture (Musical/Comedy) and a Best Actor (Musical/Comedy) win for Williams before claiming an Oscar for Best Makeup. With classic moments of both dialogue and comedic shenanigans, you’d be hard pressed to find any minor film fan from the 90s, or anyone who grew up in that century in fact, who hasn’t seen this film over a dozen times or more and thanks to reruns and its legacy among 90s children “Mrs. Doubtfire” still stands as a popular family film to this day.
2. “Jurassic Park”
The entire basis for this list was that one of my favorite movies of all time was celebrating its 25th anniversary and here it is just missing out on the top spot. Steven Spielberg had a great year in 1993 and this revolutionary science fiction adventure about a group of people who find themselves in danger in a theme park of genetically designed dinosaurs was a big part of that success. From its special effect to its score, script and even its emblem “Jurassic Park” has become one of the most iconic science fiction films ever created and launched a franchise still going strong today thanks to the success of “Jurassic World”. This movie spawned a new love for prehistoric beings in the 90s (which was also assisted by the popular “Power Rangers” franchise that debuted that same year believe it or not) and today is among the most reference, parodied, and respected films in its genre with almost everyone familiar with 90s cinema being familiar with the song’s music, characters, and story. With “Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom” set to premier in 2018 the series looks to continue its relevance even 25 years later, but let’s face it, with or without sequels this revolutionary film is a 90s staple. Oh, and let’s not forget it also became the highest grossing of 1993 so there’s that!
1. “Schindler’s List”
There’s no denying the most iconic movie to come from 1993 was the amazing “Schindler’s List”, a historical drama by Steven Spielberg, who again had a huge year 25 years ago, that chronicled the horrid realities of the Holocaust and specifically focused on real life businessman Oskar Schindler who saved over a thousand Jews when he put them to work in his factory. The film spend almost a year in theaters (debuting in November of 1993, releasing in December, and lasting in theaters until September of 1994 in some parts of the world) and won numerous awards at the Oscars including Best Picture before being considered one of the greatest films ever made. The American Film Institute had even ranked it in its own top ten American films ever made in 2007 and it was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2004. Today “Schindler’s List” is pretty much required viewing, being shown to nearly every student in schools across the country and even beyond America. It was a film that tore down the boundaries between art loving film buffs and entertainment seeking cinema goers who all turned out to experience something great and, to this day, they continue to embrace the experience this film had to offer.