The 1990s were cinematically rich, without a doubt; it was the decade that brought us great filmmakers such as David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton, and Paul Thomas Anderson, and great masterpieces like “Fight Club,” “Pulp Fiction,” “12 Monkeys,” “Heat” and much more. While we can appreciate the great mainstream masterpieces that came out of this decade, there are also great masterpieces from all over the world that came out in the ‘90s as well.
It’s not just that these films are great; it’s also a great inspiration to many of our new favorite films. When you think of the inspirations for the action sequences in “John Wick” or the concept of dreams in “Inception,” you can’t ignore the following films, which were and still are great inspiration for filmmaking. Here’s a list of 10 cinematic forgotten masterpieces from the 1990s.
10. Richard III (1995, Richard Loncraine)
Richard Loncraine’s “Richard III” (1995) is a unique and remarkable adaptation of the play, and here we have the story in Britain in the 1930s where Richard is a fascist sympathizer planning to take over the throne. The film is adapted masterfully into a completely different era and atmosphere than its original setting, yet it doesn’t feel forced or manipulated.
The cast includes some of the finest actors such as Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr. and Ian McKellen as Richard who co-wrote the film with Loncraine. McKellen’s performance is filled with charm and pure theatrical presence. The film as well looks great, with its amazing cinematography, production design, and the complete look of the film that makes it unique and mesmerizing. “Richard III” is an overlooked masterpiece, filled with great acting moments and beautiful production. Loncraine and McKellen managed to elevate the play from its tight historical setting and deliver a great film with modern, bold ideas.
9. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992, James Foley)
“Glengarry Glen Ross” has been an instant classic since the day it premiered. The film is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by David Mamet that takes place within only two days, about four real estate salesmen and how desperate they become when they know that the top two of them will stay at their job and the rest will be fired. “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a rare slow-burning intense drama that masterfully exposes the human desperation of achieving success, and it depicts the stressful competitions in workplaces.
The film stars some of the greatest actors in Hollywood. Al Pacino delivers an energetic performance as one of the salesmen, with Jack Lemmon in one of his greatest roles away from romantic comedies; the film also has Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Jonathan Pryce, and Alec Baldwin. Despite its star-loaded cast, the film has been forgotten in the filmography of each of those actors since they have already delivered other great mainstream films, but “Glengarry Glen Ross” is an intensely beautiful exploration of workplace competitions and the nature of the human desperation into achievement and success.
8. Belle Epoque (1992, Fernando Trueba)
The 1994 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, “Belle Epoque” is a weird sex-comedy that doesn’t play by any rules; the film tells a story of a Spanish military deserter who finds himself on a lonely farm with a farmer and his four daughters, and he falls for all of them. It’s a lively and cheerful comedy, weird and comical; it’s scandalous yet inoffensive. “Belle Époque” delivers rare warmth and beauty that’s not easy to achieve; the story sounds like an erotic fantasy that’s too flirtatious to be real, yet its goofy comedic scenes and beautiful landscape makes you indulge yourself in this bizarre journey and enjoy its weirdness.
The film layers concepts of politics and morality, and is smartly written to cover its deep bold idea with a bold yet sarcastic storyline. “Belle Epoque” is a smart, funny sex comedy that’s still innocent in its approach. With its beautiful Spanish mood and satirical atmosphere, the film delivers a fun ride into a nonsensical yet enjoyable story.
7. Midaq Alley (1995, Jorge Fons)
This forgotten masterpiece is based on the Nobel Prize-winning novel written by Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz and starring Salma Hayek, Ernesto Gómez Cruz, and Bruno Bichir. Relocating the setting of the novel from middle-class Cairo to Mexico City, the film has multiple perspectives and multiple storylines that intertwine in one Mexican neighborhood, and each character is written to represent one of the deadly seven sins.
The film did a great job in combining the complicated rich stories in less than 150 minutes, and it is a technical and artistic achievement; the way it’s shot and edited is so smooth and engaging in creating a multiple-perspective narrative film. “Midaq Alley” tells a timeless story and boldly explores the dirt of mankind, with beautiful acting and heartbreaking brutal storylines, and a strong and powerful depiction of lust and power. The film raises so many questions about morality and love, and the realistic shocking truth of childhood dreams and the conflict of money, love, and lust.
6. Il Postino (1994, Michael Radford)
Nominated for five Academy Awards and the winner of Best Music, Original Dramatic Score. “Il Postino” is an Italian classic set in the 1950s where Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, is in self-exile in the Italian south. There he meets Mario, a simple postman who wants to express his love to the woman he loves; Neruda becomes friends with Mario, and teaches him poetry and how to express his love.
The film is set against the magical beauty of southern Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, and it beautifully and poetically explores the concepts of love, friendship, and poetry. Massimo Troisi, who plays Mario, delivers a sensational performance in his last role; as a matter of fact, he died during shooting and they had to change the script, which makes the film even more special and sentimental. “Il Postino” is a beautiful masterpiece set against mesmerizing scenery and filled with poetry, sentimentality, and romance. It’s a rare film that is beautifully acted and shot with a real unique theme that they don’t make anymore.