10) Toy Story (95)
This film, one of the first from the new Pixar animation studio, broke new ground with computer animation. Billy is a little boy who has an extensive toy collection. When humans are not around, the toys live their own life. The adventures depicted by the computer animation are funny for all ages, and the dimensions rendered almost make you forget you are actually watching animation. Also spawned an excellent sequel, 1999's Toy Story 2.
9) Se7en (95)
Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star as detectives who are trying to catch a serial killer. His twist is each of his victims have committed one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Then he kills them in a way that makes them suffer for it. One of the more suspenseful movies of the decade, with several surprises and heaping portions of anticipation.
8) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (91)
A sequel to 1984's Terminator, this film also broke new ground in the area of special effects. As directed by James Cameron (Titanic), Arnold Schwarzenegger is the good guy this time around. His robot's mission is to rescue Sarah Connor and her son from a villain who seems unbeatable.
7) Being John Malkovich (99)
Another original idea. John Cusack is an office worker (who works on the 7 1/2 floor, another stroke of originality) that inexplicably finds a hole in the wall that, when followed, drops him off in the head of John Malkovich! The plot goes all sorts of places with this, and Malkovich gives a brave performance playing a not-so-kosher version of himself.
6) Clerks (94)
The official debut from indie hero Kevin Smith, Clerks was made for less than $30,000, in b/w, with no major stars. Consisting of a day in the lives of convenience store clerk Dante and video rental clerk Randall, Smith showcased his writing talents as the characters engaged in conversation that was observant, critical, and very funny.
5) Silence of the Lambs (91)
A dark horse multiple major Academy Award winner. Jodie Foster is the FBI agent who interviews Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins in a career and franchise-making performance), who himself is a vicious killer, to assist in finding another killer, who has kidnapped a politician's daughter. With humor, suspense, drama, and even gore, this film exceeded most expectations and remain watchable today.
4) Forrest Gump (94)
Tom Hanks continues his remarkable career by playing the title character, a person that is, essentially, simple and slow. His mannerisms, catch-phrases, expressions, accent, and all-around acting combined to earn him an Academy Award (his second consecutive, btw). Following his life as a boy in the 1950s, a young adult in the tumultuous 1960s and beyond, the film also showcased new technology where characters could be inserted into historical scenes. And don't forget Gary Sinise's performance as Lt. Dan, Forrest's superior in Vietnam, who lost both legs in the war. Audiences thought Sinise had made the ultimate sacrifice, the technology was that good.
3) Schindler's List (93)
Oskar Schindler ran a factory in 1940s Germany. Then the Holocaust happened, and many of his Jewish workers were being taken away. In what turned out to be heroic, he convinced the Nazis to let his workers stay. He saved the life of over 1,100 German Jews. This project was close to the heart of director Spielberg. He went on to found the Shoah Foundation, which is attempting to record memories of every Holocaust survivor. This was also the greatest year of his career. Not only did he produce and direct this film, which won Best Picture, but he also directed the highest grossing movie of the year, which also was a technological breakthrough, Jurassic Park.
Loosely based on a Stephen King short story, this film follows Andy Dufrain (Tim Robbins), who is convicted of murdering his wife, and sentenced to life in Shawshank prison. Original insights into prison life are portrayed, and Andy, who is quite a non-orthodox inmate, attempts to change the system, for the betterment of both his fellow prisoners and himself.
Pulp Fiction (94)
This was both the breakthrough and defining film for Quentin Tarantino. With an all-star cast (including John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and more), an innovative (for the time) circular timeline sequence for the story, and his best showcase for his talent at writing dialogue, this movie not only shot Tarantino to the stars, it also helped the careers of the stars, and gave cred to distributor Miramax.
Year with most representation: 1994