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Revisit 1994 Through These Iconic Movies That Are Turning 30

 Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction.
Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction.

One year after Sylvester Stallone and genetically modified dinosaurs ruled the Earth (and the box office), 1994 gave us some of not only the best movies of the ‘90s, but also some of the greatest films of all time. And, as hard as it is to believe, it has been 30 years since these amazing action movies, beloved Stephen King adaptations, and all-time great romantic comedies hit the big screen and found a permanent place in the hearts of generations of moviegoers.

If you want to go back and revisit 1994, one of the best movie years ever, you don’t need a time machine. Instead, you can go back in time by watching these iconic movies. Better yet, we’ve provided multiple ways you can enjoy these Best Picture winners, Disney classics, and game-changing indie flicks that launched the careers of some of today’s most well-known actors and filmmakers…

Tim Robbins arms raised in The Shawshank Redemption
Tim Robbins arms raised in The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption

Despite initially being a box office bomb, Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption has since earned a reputation for being one of the best movies of all time. This cherished adaptation of Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption tells the unforgettable story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) as he endures years of mental and physical abuse in a Maine penitentiary while patiently planning his escape.

A staple of midday HBO programming throughout the mid-to-late ‘90s (and various other channels ever since), this sprawling and incredibly moving story about the resilience of the human spirit is the stuff of wonders.

Rent/Buy The Shawshank Redemption on Amazon.

John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson pointing guns together in Pulp Fiction
John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson pointing guns together in Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

Several years after making a name for himself as a filmmaker you had to watch with Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino established himself as one of the best directors of the ‘90s with his 1994 megahit, Pulp Fiction. With its non-linear narrative structure that jumps between multiple intertwined storylines, this dark comedy starring Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and a revitalized John Travolta became an instant classic upon its release.

Though it has a certain timeless quality, Pulp Fiction is one of those movies most associated with 1994, maybe because it captured the attention and hearts of millions of moviegoers that year and ever since.

Stream Pulp Fiction on Max.
Rent/Buy Pulp Fiction on Amazon.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

Though there’s an argument to be made about Pulp Fiction or Shawshank Redemption being more deserving of the Best Picture trophy at the 67th Academy Awards, there’s no denying Forrest Gump’s place in cinematic history. This epic story of one man’s (Tom Hanks) journey that takes him from rural Alabama to Vietnam and back (and everywhere in between) is a powerful and inspirational film like no other.

It was impossible to escape Robert Zemeckis’ 1994 summer blockbuster, during its theatrical run, in the lead up to the Oscars, and pretty much ever since. It may be set between the 1950s and 1980s, but this is a 1994 film if we’ve ever seen one.

Stream Forrest Gump on Paramount+.
Stream Forrest Gump on Prime Video.
Rent/Buy Forrest Gump on Amazon.

Annie Porter and Jack Tarven moments after escaping the bus in Speed
Annie Porter and Jack Tarven moments after escaping the bus in Speed

Speed

Undoubtedly one of the best ‘90s action movies, Jan de Bont’s Speed further established Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock as two of the brightest stars in Hollywood and became an instant classic upon its release. With its two leads (who had electric chemistry), intense premise of a bus that can’t go below a certain speed or it will explode, and one of the most iconic shots of the ‘90s, there’s so much to love.

Watching Speed 30 years later is just as fun of an experience as it was in 1994, but now we get loads of nostalgia along with it.

Stream Speed on Starz.
Rent/Buy Speed on Amazon.

Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson in Clerks
Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson in Clerks

Clerks

Kevin Smith’s small-budget, black-and-white comedy, Clerks, introduced the world to one of the funniest, sharpest, and most unique voices of a generation back in 1994. Following Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) over a single day, Smith’s indie hit captured the essence of 20-somethings just trying to get through their day-to-day lives, and the wide range of conversations they have to pass the time.

It’s funny looking back on what’s become of Smith and his View Askewiverse in the 30 years since Clerks was released, and we’re all a little better off having both in our lives.

Stream Clerks on Paramount+.
Stream Clerks on Prime Video.
Rent/Buy Clerks on Amazon.

The main characters in The Lion King.
The main characters in The Lion King.

The Lion King

The Lion King doesn’t have an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, not because it wasn’t good (it’s great), but because the award didn’t exist when the Disney megahit was released in the summer of 1994. From the opening credits sequence to the closing shot of Simba looking over the Pride Lands, this movie is outstanding. The songs, the animation, the characters, everything about this animated film just works, and it works well.

Stream The Lion King on Disney+.
Buy The Lion King on Amazon.

Brandon Lee pointing finger in The Crow
Brandon Lee pointing finger in The Crow

The Crow

Though a lot of the conversations surrounding The Crow have to do with the tragic on-set accident that claimed the life of star Brandon Lee, Alex Proyas’ 1994 dark and gritty adaptation of The Crow is also remembered for being a slick, unique, and unforgettable action-drama about a rockstar coming back from the dead to avenge his fiancee.

From its visuals to its costuming to its remarkable soundtrack (The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots, and more), The Crow perfectly captures the spirit and essence of the mid-90s in every way imaginable.

Stream The Crow on Prime Video.
Rent/Buy The Crow on Amazon.

Arthur Agee in Hoop Dreams
Arthur Agee in Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams

Steve James’ Hoop Dreams wasn’t even nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars, but looking back, it was the best documentary film released in 1994. This nearly three-hour feature documents the lives of two Chicago teenagers – William Gates and Arthur Agee – as they attempt to make their basketball dreams come true despite being forced to overcome all kinds of obstacles.

Powerful, inspiring, and culturally significant, Hoop Dreams has since earned a reputation as being one of the best basketball movies of all time, and one of the better explorations of the triumph and tragedy of student athletes.

Stream Hoop Dreams on Max.
Rent/Buy Hoop Dreams on Amazon.

Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder in Reality Bites
Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder in Reality Bites

Reality Bites

Ben Stiller made his feature film directorial debut with the 1994 cult classic, Reality Bites. Centering on a group of college graduates living together in Houston, Texas, the movie perfectly captures the angst, fears, and desires of a generation branching out on their own for the first time and coming to terms with the fact that life is complicated, messy, and kind of bites.

Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Jeneane Garofalo, and Stiller are all incredible in their respective roles, and each actor can find a way to center on the likable and not-so-likable traits of their characters.

Stream Reality Bites on Peacock.
Rent/Buy Reality Bites on Amazon.

Tom Cruise's Lestat and Brad Pitt's Louis in Interview with the Vampire
Tom Cruise's Lestat and Brad Pitt's Louis in Interview with the Vampire

Interview With The Vampire

Neil Jordan’s 1994 adaptation of Anne Rice’s gothic horror novel, Interview with the Vampire, features what could be described as some of the best and moodiest performances of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt’s career. Centering on the years-long journey of Lestat de Lioncout (Tom Cruise) and Louis de Pointe du Lac (Pitt) as they go from city to city and century to century, the film is full of one iconic scene after another.

Rent/Buy Interview with the Vampire on Amazon.

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels make ridiculous faces in loud tuxedos in Dumb and Dumber.
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels make ridiculous faces in loud tuxedos in Dumb and Dumber.

Dumb And Dumber

Few actors have ever had a better year than Jim Carrey did in 1994. Following the box office and pop culture hits that were Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask, Carrey concluded his remarkable 12-month run with Dumb and Dumber, an outrageously hilarious movie about two dim-witted friends who travel across the country to return a briefcase. Causing all kinds of problems along the way, Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) find themselves in a series of absurd situations.

The first feature film directed by the Farrelly brothers, this all-time great comedy road trip movie is just as popular decades later and is never not funny.

Stream Dumb and Dumber on Netflix.
Rent/Buy Dumb and Dumber on Amazon.

the stars of four weddings and a funeral
the stars of four weddings and a funeral

Four Weddings And A Funeral

Written by Richard Curtis and directed by Mike Newell, Four Weddings and a Funeral is one of those movies that never gets old no matter how many times you watch it. With the perfect blend of comedy and drama, good times and bad, this charming romantic comedy about a young British bachelor (Hugh Grant) becoming awestruck with an American woman (Andie MacDowell) who’s set to get married, as well as his group of friends, is delightful in every way imaginable.

Rent/Buy Four Weddings and a Funeral on Amazon.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Scharzenegger in True Lies
Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Scharzenegger in True Lies

True Lies

James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up for a third time with the 1994 action-comedy, True Lies, a film that both poked fun at the genre while also introducing some of its best characters and explosive moments. The idea of Schwarzenegger living a double life and lying about his occupation to his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) shouldn’t have worked as well as it does, but somehow they were able to pull it off.

Watching True Lies 30 years later is just as fun as it was back in the day thanks to those expertly crafted action sequences, quick-witted humor, and all-time great performances from the lead actors.

Buy True Lies on Amazon.

The Little Women cast
The Little Women cast

Little Women

There have been several adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women over the years, but one that captures the heart and soul of the 19th-century novel better than most is the movie made by Gillian Armstrong in 1994. Starring Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, and Trini Alvarado as the four March sisters, this adaptation is a loving tribute to the work and legacy Alcott left behind more than a century earlier.

Stream Little Women on Pluto TV.
Rent/Buy Little Women on Amazon.

Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers
Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers

Featuring one of the darkest romance stories of all time, Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, which was based on a script written by Quentin Tarantino, follows lovers-turned-killers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) as they sweep each other off their feet and embark upon a blood-soaked crime spree around the United States.

An attack on American pop culture and the country’s obsession with materialism and the “if it bleeds, it leads” media mentality, Stone’s inventive and violent movie has earned quite a reputation over the years.

Rent/Buy Natural Born Killers on Amazon.

As hard as it is to believe, each of these movies turns 30 in 2024. However, after revisiting them, it’s easy to see why they remain so popular and impactful all these years later.