BFI's 90 great films of the 1990s

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One decade. 90 films. One film per director.

How do you even begin to choose just 90 films to represent an entire decade of cinema? That’s the question we’ve been asking ourselves ever since BFI Southbank announced its two-month retrospective, Nineties: Young Cinema Rebels.

With the season casting a very specific eye on the new voices that emerged between 1989 and 1999, we thought we’d cast our net a little wider, in a squabble-inducing attempt to shine a light on some of the very best films the decade produced.

There’s no scientific method applied to the selection process here, and this isn’t a Sight & Sound poll involving hundreds of critics or filmmakers. It’s more a chance for us to highlight some of our favourite films from around the world.

This list of 90s greats could very easily have been at least double the size (in early drafts it was), but with only 90 spots available, some favourites – both ours and yours – are bound to be missing, the hope being that any frustration at omissions will be juxtaposed with a few new discoveries.

To keep things as varied as possible, we’ve allowed for only one film per director – in itself leading to some impossible choices. Take the ranking with as little or large a pinch of salt as you see fit; every film on this list is terrific as far as we’re concerned, and these things are always going to be subjective, with any and all grievances or nods of approval welcome.

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