The 10 Best Romance Movies of the 90s, According to Letterboxd
All avid moviegoers know that to find the best things, you have to look to the past. By far, one of the best decades for cinema was the 90s. As directors perfected cinematic cinematography and experimented with digital, some of the most prolific works of all time were created.
Far from being the cheap and cheesy genre that the popular imagination pretends to be, romance films have the potential to access some of the deepest and darkest truths about what is perhaps emotion. deepest and most universal human being: love. When it comes to romance in movies, the 90s gave the world some of its best.
ten True Romance (1993) – 3.88/5
Available for rent on Amazon Prime
This ’90s crime thriller follows the undying love of Alabama (Patricia Arquette) and Clarence (Christian Slater), who become entangled in a web of gangs, drugs and murder following a series of well-intentioned accidents.
Popular in its time, the film has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years following its reference in the famous show Euphoria when Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) dresses up as Alabama for Halloween. The central relationship of true romance is perfect, the only problem is the rest of the world. If it’s more crime than romance, it’s definitely one of the most romantic crime films of all time.
9 Edward Scissorhands (1990) – 3.88/5
Stream on Disney+
Johnny Depp plays the soft-spoken, artificially animated product of a scientist opposite Winona Ryder, the teenage daughter of a kind suburban woman who takes him in after the untimely death of his creator.
Depp’s look in the film, seemingly loosely inspired by The Cure, likely helped accelerate the emo-influenced cultural revolution that would propel grunge bands like Nirvana. to mainstream fame later in the ’90s. The on-screen chemistry between Ryder and Depp was also strong off-screen, and the two actors actually met while making the film.
8 Buffalo ’66 (1998) – 3.89/5
Stream on Hoopla and Tubi
In this twisted version of a cute encounter, recently freed felon Billy (Vincent Gallo) kidnaps a tap dancer (Christina Ricci) to pretend to be his wife in order to impress his emotionally distant parents. Gallo is also the writer-director of the film, which makes his performance particularly personal.
The main character of this film is quite unsympathetic and the central relationship is simply painful. Moments of extreme discomfort give way to incredibly touching vulnerability and intimacy from someone terrified of connection. Buffalo ’66 is certainly not a feel-good romance, but it does touch on some of the most unsettling and complex emotional truths about love.
7 But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) – 3.97/5
Stream on Hoopla and Tubi
Orange is the new black star Natasha Lyonne appears in her breakout role as Megan, an all-American girl who, though she denies having homosexual urges, is sent to a conversion camp against her will.
Led by a solid cast and thematically ahead of its time, But I’m a cheerleader is a feel-good film for the LGBTQ+ community from a time when few films centered on unconventional, heterosexual love stories. The quirky, deadpan humor and campy, colorful set design make it a must-have cult classic.
6 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – 3.98/5
Stream on Disney+
By far one of the best teen romance movies of the decade, 10 things i hate about you stars Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles as reluctant romantic interests. The film is a cleverly disguised Shakespearean adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew.
Anyone who didn’t get a chance to see this movie when it first came out probably caught it in a very cool teacher’s English class during a Shakespeare unit. This modern repackaging of the age-old tale is an ingenious way to get teens to engage with a story written in antiquated and sometimes alienating language.
5 Breaking the Waves (1996) – 4.01/5
Stream on HBO Max
In Lars Von Trier’s twisted love story, a girl from a remote village believes she can speak directly with God and prays that he will send her lover home. God obliges her by causing a horrible accident that leaves her husband paralyzed and bedridden for life.
Break the waves is a perverse moral tale that harshly warns the viewer to be careful what they wish for. Like many of von Trier’s other films, it garnered equal amounts of controversy and praise from critics in the decades since its release. When a wife’s guilt and desire to please her husband are at odds with her husband’s sexual demands, conflict ensues.
4 Forrest Gump (1994) – 4.12/5
Stream to Amazon Prime Video and Paramount+
The story of the underdog for the ages is a romance at its core between titular protagonist Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) and his pure love Jenny (Robin Wright) who suffers a terrible fate.
The dynamic between these two lovers and the tragic end they meet is made all the more overwhelming by Forrest’s simple-mindedness. You could say that Jenny was too smart to be a good match for him, but she ended up loving him like the rest of the world did for his unwavering tenacity and optimism.
3 Three Colors: Red (1994) -4.24/5
Stream on HBO Max
The third film in an amazing drama trilogy by acclaimed Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski, Three colors: Red centers on an unlikely budding relationship between a part-time model and a retired judge.
Through a series of unsuspecting events that hold an almost slapstick irony, Kieślowski concludes his opus trilogy in this astonishing cinematic masterclass. Between quirky characters and lighthearted mystery, this decidedly European romance is perfect for those who want to see the tones and themes of ’60s French new wave in a distinctly ’90s texture.
2 Chung King Express (1994) – 4.26/5
Stream on Criterion Channel
Taiwanese director Wong Kar-wai collaborates with national pop idol Faye Wong for a dreamy, mysterious set of intertwined romantic tales loosely centered around the expiration date of a can of pineapple.
The film features an elusive plot and an even more elusive cast of leading ladies. There’s also a stunning cover of The Cranberries “Dreams” with vocals of Wong herself. For those drawn to the early influences of the Y2k aesthetic and not scared off by subtitles, this internationally acclaimed film is a must-watch.
1 Before Sunrise (1995) – 4.32/5
Stream on Hoopla
The first in a trilogy that will span decades about a one-night European date between complete strangers, Richard Linklater’s romantic opus features stellar performances from acclaimed actors Ethan Hawke as the American Jesse and Julie Delpy in the role of a romantic Parisian.
This timeless masterpiece explores the dangerous balance between fantasy and reality that must be maintained to keep the magic of a romantic encounter alive. It’s an undeniably charming, utterly heartbreaking and expertly crafted film that has captivated international audiences for over a quarter of a century and will likely continue to do so for years to come.
NEXT: The 10 Best Thriller Movies Of The ’90s, According To Letterboxd
Steven Spielberg’s 10 Best Movies, According to Reddit