Time waits for no human in particular, which is why it’s (largely) on us to determine exactly how we spend it. I know for a fact that the making and consuming of movies has definitely been a worthwhile way to spend time. Movies aren’t just the way that we escape from our everyday problems, they’re the human mind imprinted onto celluloid, our thoughts simultaneously at their most describable and indescribable.
And in 1995, the human condition was changing. The World Wide Web, which would later become known as The Internet, grabbed hold of the public consciousness and constantly morphed the way we communicated. Hip-hop continued to shake the mainstream to its core, especially since Illmatic had dropped the year before, and it would be another year before All Eyez On Me would sweep the charts. Independence Day was only a year away from reconstructing the foundations of blockbuster Hollywood forever, which had only been re-written twenty years prior with Jaws.
Whether you were a fan of animated adventures, big budget action-packed effects spectacles, crime thrillers, or meditations on disenfranchised youth, 1995 was an exciting and varied year for movies. In 2015, we’re 20 years out from that time, so here’s a chance to look back on movies we fell in love with 20 years ago. Here’s 20 flicks that are all turning 20 this year.
Director John Singleton had already earned a name for bringing the stories of Black youth to the screen with the classics Boyz N The Hood and Poetic Justice, but he decided to take that experience one step further with the romantic college drama Higher Learning. Following three college kids as they attempt to adjust, Learning was a new, or at least refreshing, voice in the college movie game.
The Usual Suspects
Bryan Singer’s first decent sized hit before directing the first X-Men movie in 2000, this crime thriller introduced Kevin Spacey to the world at large and to this day has one of the best plot twists in movie history.
New Jersey Drive
We just dedicated an entire post to the cast of this Newark, NJ-set cult classic, and our feelings on it haven’t changed (read: it’s very good).
The Basketball Diaries
Released at a time when Leonardo DiCaprio was still towing the line between baby-faced dreamboat and fiercely talented actor, Basketball Diaries blew everyone’s expectations out of the water with its dark tone and subject matter.
Toy Story is the movie that launched the Pixar brand and popularized fully computer animated films in mainstream animation. And this is before we get to the heart-wrenchingly poignant yet still good-hearted story of sentient toys jockeying for position in the eyes of an 8-year-old boy.
They just don’t make ’em like this anymore. Back when he was a legitimate movie star and not a crazy bigot, Mel Gibson had all the charisma in the world, enough to lead this movie about The War for Scottish Independence.
David Fincher, a director known for his cerebral plots, cut his teeth with this crime thriller about a detective attempting to track down one sadistic serial killer.
Movies about New York City young ones don’t come much more raw than this. Director Larry Clark and writer Harmony Korine dig deep into the lives of friends in the city during the summer and the complicated web of sex, drugs, and AIDS that connects them all.
Pierce Brosnon as James Bond? Awesome. The fact that this movie spawned what’s possibly one of the best first-person shooters of all time? Even more awesome.
Martin Scorsese and The Mob are an unnaturally good fit, and that fit was as tight as ever when he dropped this story based on the novel by Nicholas Pileggi.
Die Hard with a Vengeance
John McClane’s third adventure, this time set in New York, brought more action, more wise-cracks, some of the best car chases/stunts ever put to film, and Samuel L. Jackson in an all-time great sidekick role.
A comedy so packed with quotables that most people forget that “Hi, Ms. Parker” started here, Friday has gone down as essential viewing for comedy lovers and stoners alike. Friday turns 20 today (April 26), but even so, the resurgence of “Bye, Felicia” is both a testament to the movie’s timelessness and really really weird, especially considering that many people can’t tell Smokey from Deebo.
There are few things in this life scarier than a board game that affects the real world while you play it, and Jumamji took that concept to its logical extreme, backed by an all-time great performance from the late Robin Williams.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie
This is the first Power Rangers movie that American audiences were ever shown, and even given its level of melodramatic cheesiness, it only helped to solidify the Rangers’ popularity. Ivan Ooze is also simultaneously one of the funniest and creepiest super villains in the history of film.
The titular video game was all the rage with young boys and short-tempered parents back in the 90s, and Hollywood capitalized on this with a decent live-acton offering in 1995 that led to an abysmal sequel that we will never talk about again.
As hard as it may be to remember, there was a time when Adam Sandler’s juvenile form of comedy was relevant and hilarious. Sandler was arguably at the top of his game here as a full-grown doofus who has to complete grades 1-12 in order to inherit his family’s business, but considering how his antics are now turning Native Americans away from his movies, the humor here can’t help but feel a little antiquated.
Michael Bay is hardly what one would call an artful filmmaker, but he sure knows how to make juan looks deplorable and explosions look good, and this is his magnum opus in trash. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are narcotics officers buddy cops for the ages that stole everyone’s hearts back in the day, so much so that a third installment is still rumored to be in the works.
This con-man story is one of the most complicated movies to ever become a big hit, but Get Shorty did wonders for the careers of John Travolta, Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, and Danny DeVito.
You’re always in for a good time whenever Robert Rodriguez is behind the camera, and Desperado was no exception. This was the second movie in his Mexico Trilogy (preceded by El Mariachi and followed by Once Upon A Time in Mexico), and its action, style, and energy signify it as a blowout entry in the series.
Quite possibly one of the most abstract yet simultaneously badass movies about time travel you’ll ever watch, 12 Monkeys introduced British director and Monty Python regular Terry Gilliam’s surreal antics to an American audience. Having Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt in starring roles and a zany yet grounded atmosphere didn’t hurt, either.