Top 20 movies of the last 20 years (1990-2010)

As part of IMDb's 20th Anniversary Celebrations, here are my favourite movies released during the first 20 years of IMDb's 'life'. It was tough whittling it down to 20! I had to leave out the likes of Black Hawk Down, Unfaithful, Braveheart, Gladiator, Eyes Wide Shut, The Man Who Wasn't There, You Can Count On Me, District 9, Sweet and Lowdown, Downfall, Secretary, Leon, Goodfellas, Donnie Darko, Memento, and a whole host of others.
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1.
The New World (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas. (135 mins.)
Director: Terrence Malick
“ Not only the greatest film achievement of the last 20 years but one of the greatest of all time (IMO), and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as other visually arresting classics (like 2001: A Space Odyssey/Days of Heaven/Barry Lyndon/Lawrence of Arabia etc). Intensely moving story; awe-inspiring cinematography (with some of the most beautiful images ever captured on film), and pitch-perfect performances all round. Every time I watch this I'm totally transported into a completely different time and place. This movie transcends genre - it is, quite simply, a breathtaking work of art. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
2.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring. (201 mins.)
Director: Peter Jackson
“ This vote is for trilogy as a whole, which is surely one of the most stunning achievements in the history of film. Despite being 3+ hours long (4+ if you include the extended editions), I can still watch these movies over and over again. A perfect synergy of story, character and effects, but the effects would mean nothing without the emotional human story, brought to life by memorable, well-drawn characters. A timeless classic that will never age. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
3.
Groundhog Day (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. (101 mins.)
Director: Harold Ramis
“ Bill Murray's finest hour, and (for me) one of the funniest, laugh out loud movies of all time. Endlessly quotable ("Is it snowing in space?"), and I find myself regularly laughing to myself when I remember the dialogue. If I ever get pulled over by the Cops, I'm going to use the same lines as Phil Connors when he gets pulled over in the movie :-) ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
4.
State of Grace (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Terry Noonan returns home to New York's Hells Kitchen after a ten year absence. He soon hooks up with... (134 mins.)
“ Overshadowed by Goodfellas on its original release, which robbed it of the acclaim and attention it deserved. A trio of superb performances, led by the amazing Gary Oldman playing Jackie Flannery in arguably the most unhinged performance of his career. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
5.
Sideways (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle. (126 mins.)
Director: Alexander Payne
“ I've loved every movie Alexander Payne has made so far but this is the best of them all. Consistently witty, with three dimensional characters and great dialogue. Effortlessly strikes that delicate balance between comedy and drama. Breakout role for Thomas Haden Church - such an entertaining, endearing performance :-) ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
6.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her young son, John Connor, from a more advanced cyborg, made out of liquid metal. (137 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
“ I still get excited when I watch T2. This is Arnold Schwarzenegger at the height of his powers, and being a major fan of his movies, this is heaven for me. Along with 'Aliens', this is another Cameron sequel that is on a par with the original, and arguably surpasses it. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
7.
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play. (124 mins.)
Director: Charlie Kaufman
“ This completely took me by surprise. Deeply affecting, existential meditation on mortality and loss, with a very important, arguably uplifting message. Repeat viewings are necessary to truly appreciate it. A masterpiece. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
8.
In the Bedroom (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A New England couple's college-aged son dates an older woman who has two small children and an unwelcome ex-husband. (130 mins.)
Director: Todd Field
“ Pure brilliance. Haunting, quiet and beautifully shot. Everything is below the surface, and the movie is rife with interesting subtext. Some may find it slow, but for me, it works perfectly. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
9.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader. (160 mins.)
Director: Andrew Dominik
“ Alongside 'The New World', this is one of the most beautifully shot movies of the last 20 years. Features a gallery of excellent ensemble performances - including a career-best from Brad Pitt - and a memorable score by Nick Cave. The fact that movies like this and 'The New World' were ignored by mainstream awards just underlines how the Oscars/Globes etc have no credibility at all. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
10.
Yes (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In this film, told almost entirely in iambic pentameter, She is a scientist in a loveless marriage to Anthony... (100 mins.)
Director: Sally Potter
“ What an amazing movie! I guarantee you've never seen anything like it. The whole script is written in iambic pentameter, and far from being stilted or pretentious, it works fantastically well. Very moving, great cinematography, and wonderful performances from the two leads. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
11.
Casino (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends, a mafia underboss and a casino owner, for a trophy wife over a gambling empire. (178 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
“ Slightly superior to Goodfellas IMO, and one of Scorsese's most consistently entertaining movies. Joe Pesci owns this movie - he's hilarious! Also contains one of the last great Robert DeNiro performances (before he sold-out for the money and started diluting his legacy with stuff like Analyse That, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Meet the Fockers etc). ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
12.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims. (118 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
“ Do thrillers get any better than this? I don't think so. Every part of this movie is perfect, and I don't think it could be improved upon. Well-deserved Oscars for Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
13.
Primer (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there's something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they've built, wrestle over their new invention. (77 mins.)
Director: Shane Carruth
“ I've seen this countless times and I still don't understand it 100% (!). That's part of the appeal, and it's something that keeps me coming back. Sci-fi at its best, and the miniscule budget just goes to prove the old adage that 'story is everything'. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
14.
Lone Star (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
When the skeleton of his murdered predecessor is found, Sheriff Sam Deeds unearths many other long-buried secrets in his Texas border town. (135 mins.)
Director: John Sayles
“ John Sayles' finest hour: Sprawling, epic, multi-faceted story populated by memorable characters and the Director's trademark realistic dialogue. Scandalously underappreciated. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
15.
The Green Mile (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift. (189 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
“ On a par with 'The Shawshank Redemption', and I slightly prefer this. Another great story that gets better with every viewing. I love the atypical non-Hollywood ending too. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
16.
Solaris (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet. (99 mins.)
“ Wonderful! This might be heresy but Solaris is one remake that I personally feel surpasses the original. Serious sci-fi, with a heartfelt and moving romance at its core. Superb visuals, and an amazing score by Cliff Martinez. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
17.
We Were Soldiers (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it. (138 mins.)
Director: Randall Wallace
“ The best Vietnam war film ever in my view. I'm in awe of anyone who steps foot on a battlefield and survives the unimaginable pressures depicted in movies like this. I've also read the book, and the movie is very faithful. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
18.
Lantana (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The relationships of four couples unravel after the discovery of a young woman's body in Lantana bush in suburban Sydney. (121 mins.)
Director: Ray Lawrence
“ Fantastic! Gripping, emotionally honest film with excellent performances all round. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
19.
The Hours (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The story of how the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" affects three generations of women, all of whom, in one way or another, have had to deal with suicide in their lives. (114 mins.)
Director: Stephen Daldry
“ Three of modern cinema's great actresses at the top of their game; superb multi-layered story, with dramatic intensity heightened by Philip Glass's amazing score. Top quality drama doesn't get any better than this. ” - Jaimie Kanwar
 
20.
American Beauty (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend. (122 mins.)
Director: Sam Mendes
“ Liberal fantasy it may be, but American Beauty is endlessly rewatchable and genuinely affecting. Great performances all round, and some hilarious dialogue along the way. ” - Jaimie Kanwar