The 32 Most Underrated '90s Movies

Biopics were never the same after Tina Turner's 'What's Love Got to Do With It.'

underrated 90s movies What’s love got to do with it
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The 1990s were a big decade for movies—which inevitably meant that some great films flew under the radar (or fully bombed). If you're a fan of some of the more popular '90s movies, there's a lot here that will probably appeal to you. You'll recognize a number of directors, often who were just getting started or pursuing independent projects before "hitting it big" in other work. The same goes for actors: Several famous faces grace this list, and their performances show exactly how much talent they had before everyone recognized it.

From underrated movies about sports to twisty neo-noirs that didn't get the audience they deserved, from one of the best biopics ever made to a really, really great animated film, there's a lot to love on this list. Below, 32 of the most underrated movies from the 1990s.

'A Little Princess'

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Implausible? Sure. Aged badly? Definitely. A little girl's dream? Absolutely. In case you have no idea what this movie is about, a little girl's father is presumed dead in battle, and she goes from privileged to penniless at her boarding school (until he's revealed to be not dead after all). It's a modern Cinderella, in other words.

'The Secret Garden'

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Imagine being all alone in a huge house and finding a beautiful secret garden (hence the name) and friends to play with? This might be a little girl's dream, frankly, but despite the sappy source material, the movie's actually a fun watch and zippy in its pace. Plus: Dame Maggie Smith!

'Blast From the Past'

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I will admit that this is not a very good movie. But it's got two adorable stars giving it their all (Alicia Silverstone and Brendan Fraser) and a hilaaarious plot: A guy was raised in an underground shelter for decades because his parents thought the apocalypse happened, and then he emerges to discover...the '90s!

'The Rocketeer'

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Um, this movie is fairly silly, to be honest. But critics noted how it was a spoof of 20th century film serials—appreciating the callback even if audiences didn't—and the story of a guy who steals a rocket pack and has to run from Nazis is vintage fun. Plus: Jennifer Connelly!

'Flirting With Disaster'

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It might be hard to remember a time when Ben Stiller wasn't a comedy superstar, but this film was early evidence of his skills. This is a black comedy, with Mel (Stiller) trying to find his biological parents. It's a bit of a black comedy and a bit of a comedy of errors, but still better than expected.

'Good Burger'

underrated 90s movies good burger

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If you watched Nickelodeon's All That, you're familiar with the Good Burger skit, starring Kenan and Kel. This spinoff wasn't as successful as expected, but in the years since, die-hard fans have reclaimed it as a classic. (There was a sequel in 2023! It got mixed reviews. Maybe stick to the original?)

'Angels in the Outfield'

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If you want '90s sappiness aimed at kids, you're looking right at Angels in the Outfield. A little kid prays for the Angels to win the league pennant...and angels come to literally help the players win. This cast is surprisingly stacked, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Danny Glover, and Christopher Lloyd.

'The Hurricane'

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Based on a true story, Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter (Denzel Washington, who was by now a known entity) is wrongfully convicted for a triple murder and spends decades in jail before being freed. It's an important but also extremely well-made film, and Washington gives one of his most powerful performances.

'For Love of the Game'

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Kevin Costner starring in another baseball movie (following Field of Dreams and Bull Durham), this time as an aging player trying to pitch a perfect game, wasn't as well-received. The romance is sappy, sure, but this is now considered one of the more underrated hits of Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness).

'Bottle Rocket'

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It's now pretty well-acknowledged that Wes Anderson was working out some kinks in his trademark style when he made his first film Bottle Rocket. But, even though this wasn't a success, it helped launch him as a director (and is now appreciated in hindsight, including by Martin Scorsese).

'Lost Highway'

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One of the most popular genres in the '90s was the noir/neo-noir film. As such, a number of noirs are on this list (there were a few that got lost in the shuffle), including this surreal David Lynch film. I can't even begin to describe the plot to you, so just go in for the experience.


underrated 90s movies Clockers

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It's worth watching some of Spike Lee's films that flew under the radar (particularly this one, which was a box office flop but was reviewed positively). Local drug dealer Strike (Mekhi Phifer in his first film role ever) gets embroiled in a murder charge—and chaos ensues.

'Blood In Blood Out'

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Although it draws comparisons to Boyz n the Hood (also on this list), this underrated movie doesn't rely on happier endings to make a point. Three members of a Chicano family (including a breakout role from Benjamin Bratt) get involved in gang culture. No spoilers,'s intense, and meaningful.

'Miller's Crossing'

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If you're unfamiliar with this Coen brothers' film, it's a neo-noir that's now thought to be one of the best in the genre (despite its initial failure to perform at the box office). While it's probably most known for a devastating final scene—no spoilers!—it's got amazing performances all the way through.

'A Simple Plan'

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This Sam Raimi film was beloved by critics but didn't do very well at the box office (there were a lot of noirs back in the day). Three men happen upon a plane crash with a dead pilot and millions in cash. Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda are incredible in early roles.

'The Game'

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This is, unabashedly, a trippy movie (which makes sense, since it's a David Fincher film). Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) gets trapped in a scarier and scarier web of deceit and conspirancy...or does he? Just watch, because the twist is worth it, and ignore the plot holes.

'Boyz n the Hood'

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Granted, this film was a critical and commercial hit (and launched the careers of Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Angela Bassett, and Regina King)—but, because of its subject matter centered around more accurately representing teens growing up around gang culture, it still wasn't as popular as it should have been.

'Starship Troopers'

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This film was pretty universally panned, despite initially doing well at the box office (people didn't realize it was a satire, not a straightforward action flick). Critics re-evaluated it as a classic, and TikTok has pulled out some of the more hilarious bits—so you may know bits and pieces of this movie already.

'The Best Man'

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This film was popular enough to spawn a sequel and a limited TV series (which came out in 2022!), and features a highly talented ensemble cast firing on all cylinders—most especially Terrence Howard, who received rave reviews at the time. And yet! Lots of people haven't seen it, which they should remedy immediately.

'Hard Eight'

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Paul Thomas Anderson's feature debut wasn't as grand as, say, other noirs of the time, but it still has some of his trademark flair—particularly his interest in humanizing his characters and making them understandable. This was in the middle of a strong film run for Gwyneth Paltrow, who gives a strong performance.

'Lone Star'

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This neo-Western film has, retroactively, drawn comparisons to Chinatown as the noir of the '90s. It was an independent film that was highly acclaimed; It delves into complex topics including messy family dynamics and racism, and is intriguingly twisty from a plot perspective.

'The Addams Family'

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This and its sequel (Addams Family Values) helped take this well-known cartoon to film in a sillier and more comedic way—which doesn't always work but really worked in this case. The film was a success, but not everyone knows about it in the modern day, so familiarize (or re-familiarize) yourself with this highly meme-able family.


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Beyond the fact that this is movie that coined the phrase, "Bye, Felicia," this movie generally has a cult following. It's a buddy comedy, and Ice Cube and Chris Tucker have impeccable chemistry (this movie also helped introduce audiences to Tucker, who went on to superstardom).

'Event Horizon'

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A horror space?? How did we not think of this sooner?! The production on this film was troubled, and the result can be choppy and messy, but it's also genuinely quite eerie. It's a pretty standard premise (ship and crew go missing, another ship and crew go to find it), but it takes a wild turn about halfway through.

'Dark City'

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In this creepy, beautiful sci-fi noir film, a man (Rufus Sewell) wakes up with amnesia and tries to discover his own identity while being chased by "the Strangers." Critics loved it, but people didn't go to see it (it's a trippy experience). If you like The Matrix, you'll probably like this one.

'Devil in a Blue Dress'

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It's surprising this one didn't do better (especially given its banger of a title), even more so because it's got Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle. It was hard to compete with other noir films (and critics didn't always love the story), but even back then Cheadle was lauded for his performance.

'The Boxer'

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Daniel Day-Lewis always gives it 110 percent (fun fact: He trained as a boxer for this! For over a year! And he allegedly gave himself a tattoo on his hand!), and that includes in this sports drama. It performed underwhelmingly at the box office despite positive reviews, but it's since been given a re-look.

'Set It Off'

underrated 90s movies Set it off

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It's a crime heist film starring a young Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett, and Vivica A. Fox—sooo, if you like any of those actors (and why wouldn't you??) you should throw this on. This was a box office success at the time, but it's also underrated compared to other heist movies of its day.

'The Quick and the Dead'

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If you're unfamiliar, this revisionist Western about a gunslinger named "The Lady" (Sharon Stone) also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Gene Hackman, and Russell Crowe, no biggie. It performed very badly at the box office but has since been redeemed as an underrated classic for director Sam Raimi.

'A Goofy Movie'

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Even though it was overlooked at the time, kids of the '90s who watched this animated film often remember it with deep fondness. It's got some relatable themes—having a weird relationship with your dad, dying to have your crush notice you—and every teen can relate.


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With an absolutely stacked cast giving OTT performances (Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, and Bill Paxton, just to name some of them) and a kind of ridiculous but still deeply enjoyable plot, this movie also has a ton of quotable lines. "I'm your huckleberry," and so on.

'What’s Love Got to Do With It'

underrated 90s movies What’s love got to do with it

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And just like that, the biopic would basically never be the same. Angela Bassett imbues Tina Turner with so much life and sympathy—and Laurence Fishburne with so much evil as Ike—that it's no wonder both were nominated for Oscars. The film doesn't shy away from tough subjects, including domestic abuse.

Katherine J. Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.