Readers' Poll: The 25 Best Movies of the 1990s - Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The 25 Best Movies of the 1990s

‘The Big Lebowski,’ ‘Goodfellas’ and your other picks

Gramercy Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Is it really possible to pick a single best movie of the 1990s? This is the decade that gave us Goodfellas in 1990, Fight Club in 1999 and countless masterpieces in between. It was a decade when Quentin Tarantino went from video store clerk to the hottest director in town, and the Coen Brothers followed up Fargo with a movie about a former Metallica roadie that wastes his days away bowling and suffering the occasional acid flashback. Thankfully, our readers were up to the challenge and we received tons of votes for the single best movie of the 1990s. Click through to see the results. 

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6. ‘Forrest Gump’

Like American Beauty, Forrest Gump is one of those movies that was so beloved and successful when it came out that a backlash was inevitable. What was once seen as a feel-good classic is now seen (at least by some) as an oddly conservative tale about the endless dangers of drugs, sex and the anti-war movement. Jenny experiments with free love and drugs, only to become a pathetic junkie that eventually dies of AIDS. Forrest Gump meets up with Black Panthers, only to discover they are hypocrites that beat up women. It's almost like Sean Hannity wrote this thing. 

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5. ‘Fight Club’

20th Century Fox didn't think that Fight Club was going to be a hit. Even with a huge star like Brad Pitt, they decided to use a pink bar of soap as the dominant marketing image and they advertised during WWF events, thinking the movie would appeal to rowdy teenagers. These decisions drove director David Fincher insane because he knew he had a great, challenging film on his hands that could be a hit. Even though it made about $100 million worldwide during its original run, the studio saw it as a failure. The movie finally found a big audience when it came out on DVD and remains one of the biggest cult classics of the decade. 

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4. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’

Stephen King's 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption came to the big screen in 1994 as The Shawshank Redemption. With hindsight, they probably should have changed that title even more. It surely played a role in the film's commercial disappointment, though it did find a huge audience on cable and today it's ranked Number One on the IMDB's list of the greatest movies of all time. That's probably a little high, but this is indeed a fantastic movie. 

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3. ‘Goodfellas’

Is there any movie in the history of the world that's more re-watchable than Goodfellas? OK, maybe Die Hard and possibly Die Hard: With a Vengeance and Rocky IV, but that is it. Besides those, Goodfellas wins hands down. Even if it's on USA and they've edited stuff out and you just watched it on Blu Ray and it's 3/4th over and you have plans you can't break, it's impossible to stop watching Goodfellas until it ends. Martin Scorsese has made many great movies since this, but he's never topped it. It's a near-perfect movie.

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2. ‘The Big Lebowski’

The week that The Big Lebowski first hit theaters it was crushed by the Fugitive quasi-sequel U.S. Marshals. It also made less than the fourth week of the Wedding Singer, the 12th week of Titanic and the opening of Twilight. That's not the vampire movie, but a widely forgotten thriller starring Paul Newman and Gene Hackman. It did manage to make about $100,000 more than Hush. For those that don't remember, Hush is a horrible Gwyneth Paltrow movie that's almost been erased from history. Nobody throws Hush conventions where fans come dressed like Jessica Lange. Even Tommy Lee Jones probably forgets about the existence of U.S. Marshals and the less said about Twilight the better. What's happened to The Big Lebowski since that disastrous opening weekend is proof that greatness sometimes triumphs over mediocrity. It just takes a little time. 

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1. ‘Pulp Fiction’

If Hollywood in the 1990s had to be defined by a single image it could very well be John Travolta dancing with Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. It may have gotten creamed at the Oscars by Forrest Gump, but good luck finding someone today who thinks that was a good call. Pulp Fiction is the movie of the decade, not just that incredible year of 1994. It kickstarted an incredible indie revolution that continues to this day and forever proved that America can embrace non-traditional, subversive movies. It also brought John Travolta back from the the sad depths of Look Who's Talking Now. That alone is a pretty remarkable thing. 

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