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There Are Only 3 Near-Perfect Movies From 1990, According To Metacritic

At the end of each year, there's always a discussion about which films of that year were the very best, with various outlets usually releasing their own list to add to the discourse. Most recently, Looper's list for the best films of 2020 included indie titles "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" and "Palm Springs," as well as notable Oscar-nominated films like "Nomadland" and "Promising Young Woman."

However, if you're curious about the best films of a not-so-recent year, a good resource to turn to is Metacritic, an aggregate site that averages a bunch of critics' scores into one Metascore. The higher score a film earns on a scale of zero to 100, the better it was perceived by critics. While there may only be eight perfect films on Metacritic — with an exact score of 100 — there are plenty that are considered near perfect, with a score of 90 or above.

Metacritic allows you to filter by year, which in turn allows for an extensive look into what any given year of cinema looked like in terms of how many films reached a near-perfect score. While 2020 has a whopping nine films with a 90-plus score, 1990 has just three. Here's a bit about each of those 1990 films, and why they're worth revisiting today.

My Left Foot

With a Metascore of 97, "My Left Foot," directed by Jim Sheridan and written by Sheridan and Shane Connaughton, is the highest-rated film of 1990. Based on the autobiography of the same name, it chronicles the life of Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), a man who, due to his cerebral palsy, has control of only his left foot. After taking up painting as a hobby — using, of course, just his foot — Christy eventually becomes a renowned painter and writer, defying the odds. 

The film was highly praised, as its Metascore would suggest, and nominated for multiple awards, including five coveted Oscar nominations. Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar for Best Actor, and Brenda Fricker, who plays Christy's mother Bridget, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Essentially, every element of "My Left Foot" received massive praise, from the acting to the direction to the writing and so on. The New York Times aptly called it "an intelligent, beautifully acted adaptation." 

If you're looking for an uplifting watch with two lauded performances, you'll definitely want to check out "My Left Foot."

Reversal of Fortune

The second "best" film of 1990, with a Metacritic score of 93, is Barbet Schroeder's "Reversal of Fortune," based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Alan Dershowitz and adapted for the screen by Nicholas Kazan. The film chronicles the events that occur after socialite Sunny von Bülow (Glenn Close) suddenly ends up in a coma. Due to suspicious circumstances surrounding Sunny's condition, there's a subsequent police investigation that results in the arrest of Sunny's husband, Claus (Jeremy Irons). After being found guilty of attempted murder, Claus gets a retrial and hires Dershowitz (the source material's author, played in the film by Ron Silver) to represent him.

Much like "My Left Foot," "Reversal of Fortune" earned a ton of major award nods after its release. At the 63rd Academy Awards, the film was up for three awards, and ultimately, Irons took home the award for Best Actor. Critics praised the movie widely; the Washington Post sang the film's praises, admiring the way it leans into its genres and writing, "This engrossing mystery-comedy peeks through the keyholes of the rich and infamous in a manner both droll and delicious." As a beautifully acted mystery beloved by critics, "Reversal of Fortune" is absolutely worth revisiting after all of these years — or discovering for the very first time.


The final near-perfect film of 1990, boasting a Metascore of 90, is Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas," which Scorsese co-wrote with Nicholas Pileggi. It seems moviegoers and critics of 1990 really loved seeing true stories depicted on screen — as is the case again here with "Goodfellas" — just like the other two films on this list. Based on the Pileggi's nonfiction book "Wiseguy," the film follows Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) as he rises in the mob ranks alongside his associates James "Jimmy" Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). Hill's rise is then followed by his fall, caused by a drug addiction and some seriously consequential mistakes.

"Goodfellas" received seven nominations at the 63rd Academy Awards, including Best Director for Scorsese and several nods in acting categories, with Pesci ultimately winning for Best Supporting Actor. In its review upon the film's release, the Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Complex, volatile, ironic and disquieting, Scorsese's 'Goodfellas' is a masterly achievement in intense observation." 

All in all, if you're looking for an early '90s film to watch that's guaranteed to be good, these three are the best place to start.