The 20 Most Controversial Movies of The 1990s

7. JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991)


An instance of Oliver Stone’s controversial filmmaking career, JFK is his over-polished revision of one of the main conspiracy theories of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

An undeniable cultural phenomenon, JFK left both the audiences and critics perplexed. Some said Stone was irresponsibly deleting the boundaries between history and fiction; others thought that he overreached even for Hollywood standards.


6. Crash (David Cronenberg, 1996)


Crash is a movie about fetishism. It follows an underground sub-culture of people who find car accidents sexually stimulating.

Arguably a deliberately controversial movie, Crash adjoins sequences of car crashes with extremely graphical sex scenes; something that led some to suggest it was seeking to make people experiment with sex in high-speed vehicles.

Released in two versions, the film suffered discreet distribution due to extremity of its violence. Although nominated to the Golden Palm at 1996 Cannes Film Festival and winner of the Special Jury prize, its feature in the festival had nauseating people walk out enraged.


5. Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)


A legendary cult gem only 90’s Britain could have produced, Trainspotting is Danny Boyle’s independent adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s postmodern novel about a group of Scottish heroin junkies.

As with Welsh’ book, the movie met overall acclaim immediately after its release and became one of the most commented films of the decade. It nevertheless raised controversy for what was regarded as its hedonist view of self-destruction and its open invitation to use drugs in the height of AIDS during the 90s.


4. Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven, 1992) Sharon Stone Basic Instinct 1992

Basic Instinct is an uncomfortable thriller about a police detective who involves more than necessary with a woman who seems to be more than a fortuitous element in a brutal sexual murder.

While the critics generally doubted about how necessary Basic Instinct’s exploitative elements were, the film outraged lots of people who found in each of those elements an intolerable offense against good tastes, women, and lesbianism.

Though Basic Instinct tends to be regarded an unnecessarily violent soft-porn thriller nowadays, its ambiguous ending and its interrogatory sequence are obligated references of 90’s cinema.


3. Kids (Larry Clark, 1995)

Kids (1995)

Masterfully featured in the height of the AIDS epidemic in the mid 90’s, Lary Clark’s Kids covers a day in the life of a group of teenagers as they seek in sex, drugs and the means to overcome their personal alienation. Originally supported by its producers, Kids soon raised major debates concerning its artistic merit and whether it was pedophilic or not.

Although polarized, critics generally praised the film’s commitment with fragmentation and its uncomfortable but realistic depiction of the state of youth in a urban, postmodern, world.


2. Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)


Quentin Tarantino’s astonishing debut centers in the immediate aftermath of a simple jewelry heist that went terribly wrong. Though featured in a decade that was ready to receive its director’s peculiar and revolutionary vision of cinema, Reservoir Dogs still appeared to be too raw to many audiences.

Today regarded as a highly influential movie, Reservoir Dogs set a major debate concerning the increasing levels violence cinema had reached and whether there should be limits about it or not.


1. Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994)

natural born killers

The result of the teamwork of Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino, Natural Born Killers follows the murderous spree of two psychopathic lovers as they become glorified by the media.

Although the movie focuses a lot on depicting its main characters’ broken minds, sensationalism is its main target and source of inspiration. In that way, Natural Born Killers has been enthusiastically regarded as a subversive statement about grotesque roots of popular culture.

As a result of its ultraviolent content, Natural Born Killers suffered several cuts and editions; something that somehow impoverished the strength of its message. Nevertheless, a restored version of it is now available. Several people claimed the movie transcended the boundaries of artistic representations and thus accused Stone of having inspired real-life murders of diverse proportions.

Author Bio: Emiliano is a 23-year-old Ethics and Logic professor in a mexican high school, his favorite directors are Gaspar Noé, Lars von Trier, Stanley Kubrick and Wim Wenders.