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15 Best '90s Movies On Hulu [October 2021]

Every decade has at least a few great movies, but the '90s is a particularly unique 10 years in film. 

The era of Blockbuster Video contains more than its share of massive special effects extravaganzas and franchise-expanding sequels and reboots. But in those days, Hollywood also saw a since-diminished value in mid-budget dramas for adults, full of folks using cuss words, committing violence, and doing sex with each other. Heck yeah. 

For the first time since the 1960s, the youth and its associated culture had a name and a defined sense of identity — so naturally, the influence of "Generation X" flows through the metaphorical veins of its epoch's most memorable films. In some respects, that means characters wearing flannel shirts and discussing a general sense of aimlessness. But even when the obvious signifiers of post-"Nevermind" America aren't on display, its less explicit callsigns — irony, irreverence, and deep-seated fixation on popular culture — remain.   

And when it comes to films from the final decade of the previous millennium, what does Hulu offer? Well, let's have us a look...

Updated on September 30, 2021: Hulu is constantly updating its catalogue of awesome '90s movies. So be sure to come back here each month to check out the latest '90s gems streaming on the site, from sci-fi blockbusters to gritty indie flicks.

Bound

While hardly the genre-redefining phenomenon of that other Wachowskis movie from the '90s, "Bound" stands as a solid debut and harbinger of things to come from the sibling filmmaker team. Ex-convict handywoman Corky falls for Violent, and the pair conspire to separate Violet from her wise guy boyfriend, a Ralph Cifaretto prototype named Caesar, along with a few million mobster dollars. "Bound" is one-part erotica, two-parts neo-noir crime thriller, and takes itself precisely as seriously as it needs to.

  • Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano
  • Director: Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
  • Year: 1996
  • Runtime: 109 minutes 
  • Rating: R

Edward Scissorhands

If "Tim Burton" was an adjective, this would be the most Tim Burton thing in existence. "Edward Scissorhands" blends elements of the macabre and the absurd into a fundamentally wholesome modern fairytale, in which the eponymous latter-day Frankenstein struggles to adapt to life in mundane, homogenous American suburbia. It appears mainstream society hesitates to accept a young fellow when his hands are literally razor-sharp blades — even if he wields the charm of Johnny Depp circa 1990. In addition to those listed below, Anthony Michael Hall costars as a vicious high school jock who would've bullied the living daylights out of his character from "The Breakfast Club."     

  • Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest 
  • Director: Tim Burton
  • Year: 1990
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Election

A considerable teen movie renaissance unfolded throughout the second half of the '90s — from the slasher revival brought on by the "Scream" to campier fare like "She's All That" and "Can't Hardly Wait." Meanwhile, the quirky dark comedy "Election" has aged a little more gracefully than some of its contemporaries. Matthew Broderick inverts the good-intentioned everyman archetype as the semi-tragic high school social studies teacher Jim McAllister, and Reese Witherspoon predicts "Lean In"-style feminism as relentless overachiever Tracy Flick. But who we decide to sympathize with feels less important than understanding there's no clean-cut villain in "Election." Just like in real life, everybody's the hero in their own mind. 

  • Starring: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein
  • Director: Alexander Payne
  • Year: 1999
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: R

Free Willy

By building an uncomplicated, family-friendly story around a killer whale imprisoned in an amusement park, "Free Willy" prompted an important discussion about the dubious morals of many sea parks and zoos. Before this film, plenty of us just took it for granted that all those dolphins and seals at SeaWorld and similar organizations were as happy as they appeared to be while doing tricks for our amusement. Now we know they aren't necessarily having all that swell of a time. Let us also note that Michael Madsen — who slices a police offer's ear off in an iconic scene from a film released the previous year — appears in this movie about a troubled child who befriends a large aquatic mammal.   

  • Starring: Jason James Richter, Lori Petty, Jayne Atkinson
  • Director: Simon Wincer
  • Year: 1993
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Flatliners

This movie tricked Hollywood into thinking Joel Schumacher could direct Batman movies and tricked Hollywood into thinking a 2017 "Flatliners" remake would be a good idea. In other words, it's pretty great — despite what its Rotten Tomatoes score might say. A gathering of turn-of-the-decade A-listers play medical students who deliberately kill each other and, after a brief period of clinical death, pull each other back to the mortal coil. In theory, this leads to our heroes to uncovering the secrets of the afterlife. In practice it brings about a whole heaping mess of problems. Maybe we can summarize "Flatliners" as a ghost story that doesn't believe in ghosts?   

  • Director: Joel Schumacher
  • Year: 1990
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: R

Gattaca

Advancements in genetic science made plenty of folks very anxious during the late '90s. However, this improved understanding of life's building blocks hasn't led to anything like the dystopian eugenicist society of "Gattaca." Then again, oodles of sci-fi remains relevant well after its prophesized events fail to unfold. If we still discuss "Blade Runner" despite the unfortunate lack of replicants in our world, why not "Gattaca?" 

Ethan Hawke plays Vincent Freeman — a naturally conceived young man in a civilization domineered by folks whose parents all artificially curated their genetic traits in the womb. Freeman aspires to visit outer space, but society says his genes aren't up to the task. What's a Hawke to do?       

  • Director: Andrew Niccol
  • Year: 1997
  • Runtime: 107 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

GoldenEye

"GoldenEye 007" for Nintendo 64 is one of the most influential video games of its generation, and it clearly belongs in any discussion regarding the best first-person shooters of all time. The movie it's based upon doesn't approach the groundbreaking cultural bona fides of its pixelated counterpart, but it's still the best Bond film of the '90s and the best Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan occupying the role of 007. Those familiar with the more recent iteration of MI6's deadliest imaginary agent played by Daniel Craig might find themselves thrown off by Brosnan's zanier take. Maybe we should spare them the confusion, and explain that "GoldenEye" is basically an Austin Powers movie, except the jokes are funny. 

  • Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco
  • Director: Martin Campbell
  • Year: 1995
  • Runtime: 130 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Kingpin

We don't talk about them much these days, but two raunchy pictures from the filmmaking duo of Bobby and Peter Farrelly played key roles in defining American comedy for the '90s. These movies are "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something about Marry." The Farrellys also cranked out the much-less influential "Kingpin" — a bowling-centric romp that belongs on this list due to its many '90s-specific qualities. These include the presence of Vanessa Angel — best recognized from the USA Network's "Weird Science" TV series — and an unusually villainous supporting performance from Bill Murray during that peculiar, underrated phase between his stints as a 1980s megastar and 2000s prestige actor.

  • Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
  • Year: 1996
  • Runtime: 114 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

The Mask of Zorro

It's hard to believe these days, but Hollywood action-adventure films weren't always filmed entirely in front of green screens. If you doubt us, simply observe "The Mask of Zorro" — a high-octane retelling of the early 20th-century pulp hero who, literally and figuratively, inspired Batman. Antonio Banderas swashes pretty much all the buckles as Alejandro Murrieta — the grinning, vengeance-seeking swordsman — while the extremely Welsh Anthony Hopkins portrays the very Spanish original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega. And we have "The Mask of Zorro" to thank for letting mainstream moviegoing audiences know that Catherine Zeta-Jones exists.      

  • Director: Martin Campbell
  • Year: 1998
  • Runtime: 136 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Office Space

A remarkable number of characters from '90s movies really hate their jobs. Now that history's brought us closer to full-blown late capitalist dystopia, dependable full-time employment behind a cash register or inside a cubicle might inspire more envy than pity from a typical moviegoer. But as middle-class ennui comedies go, "Office Space" isn't oblivious to the absurdity of full-grown adults treating having to work on Saturday like an existential crisis. It's got a few bona fide television stars at the top of the cast list, but really, character actors Gary Cole and Stephen Root utterly run away with the show. Cole inhabits casually caffeinated authoritarian manager Bill Lumbergh, while Root portrays Milton, a desk-filler who descends into madness.

  • Starring: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman
  • Director: Mike Judge
  • Year: 1999
  • Runtime: 89 minutes
  • Rating: R

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

For whatever reason, the Hollywood of the '90s felt compelled to produce a batch of comedies redeeming conventionally attractive women with limited worldviews, greater-than-average interest in fashion, and yellowish hair. These efforts culminated with "Legally Blonde," but before Elle Woods went to Harvard Law School, Romy and Michele briefly convinced a handful of their former classmates that they invented Post-it notes. They didn't really do that, of course — they're merely lying to sound impressive to fellow attendees of their high school reunion. Lying isn't usually funny in real life, but lying provides one of the many solid guffaws available via "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion."     

  • Starring: Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo
  • Director: David Mirkin
  • Year: 1997
  • Runtime: 91 minutes
  • Rating: R

Rushmore

An aggressively quirky academic comedy whose historic importance keeps snowballing with time, "Rushmore" throws down with coming-of-age tales for hyper-ambitious prep school kid Max Fisher and depressed middle-aged suburbanite Herman Blume, as both pine for the affections of widowed teacher Rosemary Cross. Upon its release, "Rushmore" introduced mainstream America to Wes Anderson's idiosyncratic visual style and set the stage for "The Royal Tenenbaums," "Moonrise Kingdom," and the rest of his still-growing oeuvre. It's also one of the best movies co-screenwriter Owen Wilson ever worked on. Ironically, the movie star and present-day "Loki" cast member doesn't physically appear in a single frame.     

  • Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams 
  • Director: Wes Anderson
  • Year: 1998
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: R

To Die For

Ask some folks what Gus Van Sant's best movie is, and they're likely to say something like "Good Will Hunting" or "Drugstore Cowboy." Now, maybe those folks are well-intentioned and ignorant, or maybe they're liars — but Van Sant's actual grandest masterpiece is "To Die For." What "Dr. Strangelove" is to the Cold War, "To Die For" — a disturbing, comedic vision of celebrity and scandal-obsessed America — is to the 24-hour cable news cycle. Here, Suzanne Stone envisions herself as a national media personality, but her mundane, middle-class husband unwittingly stands in the way of her dreams. Sex crimes and murder ensue.         

  • Director: Gus Van Sant
  • Year: 1995
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: R

Sleepless in Seattle

Meg Ryan just so happens to star to two of the all-time most influential romcoms. "Sleepless in Seattle" probably isn't quite as funny or clever as "When Harry met Sally...," but few things are. Plus, "Sleepless" includes 100% more Tom Hanks; and surely, that counts for something? 

Ryan plays Annie Reed, a reporter who becomes enamored with endearing widower Sam Baldwin (Hanks) after only hearing his voice on the radio. Her romantic pursuit is hindered by significant geographic distance, awkwardness, timing, and the existence of her oblivious fiancé.        

  • Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Bill Pullman
  • Director: Nora Ephron
  • Year: 1993
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Star Trek: First Contact

According to Rotten Tomatoes, "First Contact" is the best "Star Trek" film featuring crew from "The Next Generation" — arguably the definitive "Trek" series that originally aired from 1987 to 1994. Not coincidentally, "First Contact" also features the Borg — one of the most effective "Doctor Who" rip-offs in all of sci-fi. It's as if a very bright person asked themselves, "What if Cybermen were genuinely frightening, instead of very goofy looking?" 

"First Contact" also involves a time-travel adventure, in which a scientist played by James Cromwell invents warp drive. So if the viewer wants to imagine Cromwell as Farmer Hoggett and tell themselves "Star Trek" occurs in a shared universe with Babe the talking pig, the viewer can certainly do so. And if not, then they can definitely enjoy the greatest cinematic outing of Picard, Data, and the rest of the "TNG" crew.

  • Director: Jonathan Frakes
  • Year: 1996
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13