There are many iconic films from the last few decades, and most of them rely on a sense of nostalgia for happy and innocent times when we were young. When we look back on certain eras of cinema, it’s easy to elevate films of a certain quality to a higher degree – a pedestal raised above the rest.
This is true for most years except for 1994: the definitive best year for cinema ever.
Now I’ll admit I was a mere toddler when films started shooting on to the big screen in 1994. These films survived throughout my childhood and solidified a place in my heart as ‘classics’. I knew I was validated by the fact that most of these films also stood the test of time outside my own bubble. Let’s dive into some of the best films from 1994 – all in alphabetical order.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
This is one of three (yes, three) Jim Carrey blockbusters that entered the world that year. The success of this film, and others, made him a worldwide star and spawned a sequel the following year.
This Kevin Smith film has survived the test of time and is considered a classic in the cult comedy sphere. The Indy film was a pop-culture smash hit and spawned a sequel 12 years later, although it failed to reach the same critical acclaim.
Dumb and Dumber
This iconic duo came alive on the big screen with the help of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. The two stupid but lovable friends travel across America to deliver a suitcase belonging to their new love. Their famous orange and blue suits are now a fan favorite Halloween costume.
This live-action adaptation of everyone’s favorite Bedrock family was not considered so successful upon its initial release but managed to find a loyal fan base over time. Its sequel, with an entirely new cast, was released in 2000.
Considered one of Tom Hanks’ best performances, Forrest Gump is an American classic movie by Robert Zemeckis. Based on the 1984 novel of the same name, the film earned Best Picture at the Oscars, with Hanks taking home the award for Best Leading Actor.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
This Richard Curtis rom-com helped put Hugh Grant on the map as the British king of romance. At the time, it was the highest-grossing British film ever and is often placed on lists that highlight British talent.
Interview with the Vampire
This star-studded hit stars Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, and Christian Slater and was somewhat successful at the box office. Despite the modest reception, it is responsible for launching some of the biggest careers that are still booming today.
The Lion King
Can you feel the love tonight? There’s plenty of love with this film – the Disney animated feature quickly became one of the most popular Disney films ever. It secured a place in the Library of Congress, who called it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. Its CGI remake will be released in 2019.
The Little Rascals
This comedy, while not a critical success at the time, has garnered a firm fan base and has remained a classic to this day. Audiences have given it a 70% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and received a thumbs up from Roger Ebert.
The third Jim Carrey film to hit our screens that year showed us the wild side of the Canadian superstar. The dark comic book adaptation wowed audiences with its new take and was the second-highest grossing superhero movie at the time, losing out to Batman (a franchise that Carrey would star in the following year).
Miracle on 34th Street
This John Hughes-led remake of the classic Christmas tale struck a chord with audiences and has remained in the mainstream seasonal viewing ever since. Richard Attenborough plays a real-life Santa Claus who wows the city of New York as he works in a department store leading up to Christmas.
Quentin Tarantino’s sophomore film put him on the map as one of the most unique storytellers out there. The Indy crime hit has plenty of iconic moments, such as the dance scene and Samuel L. Jackson’s religious speech in the diner. Tarantino has since made eight more films that match the style, much to the delight of audiences around the world.
Another comic book adaptation, albeit without superheroes. Macaulay Culkin continues his streak as everyone’s favorite 90s child star. Like Jim Carrey, it was Culkin’s third film that year, leading to his ‘retirement’ at age 15 to attend school.
The Santa Clause
This Tim Allen Christmas film produced a perhaps too-clever title which caused millions of children to misspell Santa’s name for generations. The film, in which Tim Allen reluctantly becomes Santa due to a contractual obligation, proved to be a family hit. Unfortunately, its sequels were not met with the same critical or commercial acclaim.
The Shawshank Redemption
This film is constantly named as one of the best films ever made. Based on the Stephen King novella, the prison story shows some of the most compelling drama in recent memory. Morgan Freeman’s famous voice over is mimicked to this day.
The original action film sees Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on a bus that can’t slow down due to a bomb strapped to its bottom. The ridiculous premise is exactly what makes it such an exciting and escapist film. It went on to win two Oscars and spawned a less-successful sequel.
James Cameron reunited with Arnold Schwarzenegger to give audiences a laugh in this action comedy. In true Cameron style, the film went over budget and was the first film to spend more than $100 million in production costs.
Did we miss anyone off the list? Let us know!
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