We’re back with Part 2 of this series, the movies that will let you pass as an ordinary film watcher even if you are (in fact) from another planet and just waiting for the opportunity to infect humanity with your alien bacteria – or whatever your plan is.  The Zeke community, site contributors and discussion group members alike, nominated their must-see movies of the last 30 years, and we’ve come up with a darn good list.  Cult classics, blockbusters, little Indies that could…these are the movies that are sticking with us.

To read about movies 1-24 (1985-1990), go to Part 1.

silence of the lambs25.  Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Holy jeepers this movie was frightening.  A psychological thriller that descended into such dark places that it can just as easily be considered a horror film, this gave us the quintessential serial killer in Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lecter.  It’s Hannibal’s character that has most lingered at the forefront of our collective memory, but Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) was nerve rattling enough on his own terms. For good or ill, we have this movie to thank for scads of imitators in which graphic murders are dealt with in horrifying, clinical detail. – Sharon Autenrieth

T226.  Terminator 2:  Judgment Day (1991) – James Cameron has spent the majority of his career chasing the spectre of the Perfect Action Flick™, and in 1991, he finally found it. Improving upon every element of the 1984 original, while providing the blueprint of every summer blockbuster to follow, T2 dominated the pop culture landscape in ’91, capturing the moment that CGI took off and Guns N’ Roses enjoyed their last gasp of relevance. – Michael Allen

thelma and louise127.  Thelma and Louise (1991) – There have been plenty of guys-on-the-run movies, and even a fair number of couples on the run.  But two women on the lam?  That wasn’t just unusual, it was downright revolutionary. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon play best friends whose road trip turns violent, and whether all of that violence was justified…well, that question kept the cultural commentators busy during the summer of ’91. – Sharon Autenrieth

a few good men28.  A Few Good Men (1992) – One of the greatest courtroom drama films (though it’s much more than that) because the most dangerous people in the world are the ones doing wrong in the name of patriotism. Amazing Aaron Sorkin dialogue. – Paul Hibbard

army of darkness29.  Army of Darkness (1992)Army of Darkness is one of the most fun movies you can watch as a kid. While everyone else my age was watching Star Wars, I was watching horror infused comedies like this and Big Trouble in Little China. Even though this is the third in the Evil Dead trilogy, and arguable not as good as the first two, it’s also the first of the three you should watch. It has the most fun and funniest scenes, and is a complete blast. – Paul Hibbard

cool runnings30.  Cool Runnings (1993) – This Disney movie was based very (very, very) loosely on the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team.  It’s a pretty hammy movie, really, but mid-90s kids loved it and made it their own, much like The Sandlot – which came out the same year.  It’s most enduring gift is a performance from the late, great John Candy.  Peace be the journey, John. – Sharon Autenrieth

dazed and confused31.  Dazed and Confused (1993) – On the first night of summer in 1976 Austin, TX, a group high school students cruise around town and party with friends. The film doesn’t offer any significant lessons, but it features a great cast, including actors on the brink of stardom like Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey, and is a perfectly observed slice of life comedy. Endlessly rewatchable. If you like this, take a look at its inspiration American Graffiti and the more recent The Myth of the American Sleepover. – Randy Yelverton

groundhog day32.  Groundhog Day (1993) – Phil Connors, a narcissistic and ambitious big city weather man, enters his own personal hell when he is trapped in the small town of Punxsutawney, PA, and forced to live Groundhog Day over and over. An excellent script and awards-worthy performance by Murray make for a delightful comedy about coming face-to-face with your own shortcomings. – Randy Yelverton

JURASSIC PARK, 1993. ©Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

33.  Jurassic Park (1993) – One of the greatest blockbusters ever made, Jurassic Park shows what would happen if dinosaurs were resurrected from extinction. An essential film that is easy to marginalize because of how good it is at delivering thrills and how appealing it was to a massive audience. – Randy Yelverton

sandlot34.  The Sandlot (1993) –  This film about childhood, friendship and baseball is my “Most Quoted Movie Ever”! Every time I talk about how hot it is outside or S’mores or if I’m acting like an “L 7 Weenie” (a loser) a Sandlot line is recited without even trying. It’s funny, great for the whole family and is sure to make you smile. I highly recommend watching The Sandlot on a summer’s night in the backyard with buddies while grillin’ hotdogs and burgers! “You’re killing me Smalls!” – Krystal Lyon

schindler's list35.  Schindler’s List (1993) –  This tells the story of how Oskar Schindler, a German and a former member of the Nazi Party, saved up to 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. – Laura Adair

tombstone236.  Tombstone (1993) – Cool, cool, cool. Kurt Russell is the face of manliness. Val Kilmer is slimy but admirable. Their versions of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday makes Tombstone the coolest buddy-western film since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Did I mention it was cool? – Paul Hibbard

FORREST GUMP, Robin Wright, Tom Hanks, 1994

37.  Forrest Gump (1994) – Tom Hanks is in top form, even if the message of the movie is sticky sweet. Hanks travels through the Boomer era as a Candide-like simple soul, having brushes with greatness, changing lives and doling out his unique form of wisdom.  If anyone could convince us that life is like a box of chocolates, it was our generation’s likable every man, Tom  Hanks – Sharon Autenrieth

the lion king38.  The Lion King (1994) – The Disney animation revival began in ’89, with The Little Mermaid, but The Lion King had it all:  songs by Elton John, a young male protagonist to keep boy viewers interested, and the coolest Disney villain since Sheer Khan – Jeremy Irons as Uncle Scar, the wannabe king of the beasts. – Sharon Autenrieth

pulp fiction39.  Pulp Fiction (1994) – Pulp Fiction is as much about the movies as it is the characters it portrays. Director Quentin Tarantino tells the story of several small time criminals living and dying in LA. It’s a violent and invigorating tribute to the movies. – Randy Yelverton

shawshank redemption40.  Shawshank Redemption (1994) – A prison drama based on a Stephen King story and directed by Frank Darabont, this is a movie about the persistence of hope when despair seems inevitable.  Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman play unlikely friends who lives as lifers are transformed by Robbin’s unshakable vision of life beyond prison walls. – Sharon Autenrieth

braveheart241.  Braveheart (1995) -A ruthless king ruled the British Isles. One man (played by Mel Gibson) unites the clans of Scotland and inspires them to fight for their FREEDOM. – Laura Adair

clueless42.  Clueless (1995) – Before Buffy or Elle Woods or Mean Girls, there was Cher – a slang dropping, fashion forward, high school golden girl who is a bit of a busybody.  Amy Heckerling struck gold with this adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma”.  It fueled a renaissance of teen comedies, including a subgenre of other updated classics.  It also gave us an early glimpse of rom-com darling, Paul Rudd. – Sharon Autenrieth

tommy boy243.  Tommy Boy (1995) – Chris Farley’s comic genius, so well utilized on “Saturday Night Live”, didn’t translate well to movies – except here, in Tommy Boy.  In an odd couple pairing with another SNL vet, David Spade, Farley plays a dim but sweet man-child trying to save his family business.  There’s loads of slapstick silliness, but it’s also surprisingly tenderhearted.  Seeing Tommy lose his dad (Brian Dennehey) hurts every time – “Not so much here, but riiiiight here.” – Sharon Autenrieth

Toystory-344.  Toy Story (1995) – The Toy Story trilogy, one long story about the behavior of toys when no one else is around, is actually a story about loyalty, friendship and surviving the trials of life. – Laura Adair

usual suspects45.  The Usual Suspects (1995) – Bryan Singer’s tough-as-nails neo-noir (its title comes from a line in Casablanca, actually: “Round up the usual suspects!”) concerns five hardcore criminal professionals who are brought together for “the ultimate heist” by the mysterious and unseen Turkish crimelord, Keyser Soze. Told in flashback by the sole survivor of the film’s serpentine plotting, the film is justly-lauded for its jaw-dropping “twist”, which I defy a first-time viewer to guess before it’s revealed! – Justin Mory

fargo246.  Fargo (1996) – A dark comedy crime film, written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, spins the tale of planned kidnapping gone terribly terribly wrong. Done only as the Coen brothers can do with strong characters, beautiful scenery and colorful dialogue. – Brittany  Horth

jerry maguire247.  Jerry Maguire (1996) – Director Cameron Crowe hits his first blockbuster out of the park telling the tale of a sports agent (Tom Cruise) who pens a “Mission Statement” after his conscience gets the better of him, that lands him without a job, a fiancé, or any prospects. Only a single employee (Renee Zellwegger) and one client, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) believe in him. Not until Jerry starts following his own mission statement and the advice of his original mentor does he have a chance for redemption, both professionally, and more importantly, personally. Jerry Macguire launched several catch phrases such as “Show me the Money”, “Help me help you!”, and “You had me at hello”. It provided Tom Cruise perhaps his most personal role yet, gave Cuba Gooding Jr. an Oscar, and introduced the world to Renee Zellweger who would go on to win an Oscar herself. With a killer soundtrack, Crowe’s film was firing on all cylinders, not to be topped until Almost Famous. – Erik Yates

1996, SCREAM48.  Scream (1996) – The film that defined 90s horror and changed the direction of horror. It may not be the first post-modern horror movie, but it was the landmark, and also possibly the smartest. And if you’re not into all that meta-pretentious stuff, it’s also terrifying. – Paul Hibbard

swingers349.  Swingers (1996) – Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau were born in this loose and funny indie that plays, on its surface, like a hipster’s travelogue of Hollywood hotspots – a siren song to film school nerds everywhere – but is, underneath the big-banded soundtrack, a reflection on the bromide that “wherever you go, there you are.” Favreau is the breakup-scarred grouser to Vaughn’s chattering id, best friends with big dreams but little luck, who bounce with their hip pals from venue to venue, the irony tangled up in their haircuts but their hearts perched way down their sleeves. Vaughn’s unceasing energy and neo-Rat Pack patter make the movie feel timeless while Favreau’s love-sick run-on confessionals make it perpetually universal. Funny from beginning to end. – Robert Hornak

More thoughts on this list….the must-sees of the early/mid-90s tended toward smaller stories, including a fair number of indies.  This is in contrast to the garish looks and large scale of many of the late-80s movies.  Even Hollywood seemed a bit worn out from the excesses of the 80s.  What came next?  Check it out in Part 3 and Part 4.