Want to feel old? Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of The Lion Kings theatrical premiere. In the years since, the Disney classic has been followed by two straight-to-video sequels, a multiple award-winning stage musical, and soon, a remake featuring ultra-realistic CGI animals (dont call it live-action!). But at the time, The Lion King was just one among an extraordinarily strong slate of feature film releases. Want to program your very own 1994-inspired film festival? Start with these. (Note: the only reason this list doesnt also include Four Weddings And A Funeral is that I just mentioned it on Monday.)
In director Kevin Smiths first feature film, disgruntled convenience store clerk Dante (Brian OHalloran) gets called in to work on his day off, and whines through it with his friend Randal (Jeff Anderson), who works in the video store next door. During his shift, Dante contemplates what ethical responsibility contractors had in working on the Death Star; whether he should be more appreciative of his girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti), or pursue his ex Caitlin (Lisa Spoonauer) despite her engagement to another guy; and why customers obsessively check eggs and milk.
Before he was winning Oscars for his work on Green Book, Peter Farrelly made his directing début with Dumb And Dumber, on a script he co-wrote, with his brother Bobby. Limousine driver Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) discovers that his fare, Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly), has left her briefcase in his car. Not knowing she did so purposely, since it contains the ransom for her kidnapped husband, Lloyd and his best friend Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) road-trip from Providence to Aspen to return it, getting in many idiotic scrapes on the way.
Tim Burton directed this black-and-white biopic. Edward Scissorhands star Johnny Depp re-teamed with Burton to play the titular Wood: war veteran; transvestite; and legendarily bad director of enduring cult films. The supporting cast includes Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Patricia Arquette; the late Martin Landau won a best supporting actor Oscar for playing Woods star, Bela Lugosi.
Tom Hanks won his second consecutive Best Actor Oscar for playing the eponymous Forrest in the adaptation of Winston Grooms novel. The film spans decades as it follows Forrest from his childhood as an intellectually disadvantaged boy in Alabama through his service in Vietnam, his ping-pong-playing trip to China, and—amid many other historical events at which he happens to find himself—his lifelong love for his friend Jenny (Robin Wright). Some story points are problematic now, but it is a best picture Oscar winner—and something your dad might enjoy watching with you on Fathers Day.
In 1958 New York City, Indiana business college grad Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) fails upwards at Hudsucker Industries, becoming president as part of a crooked stock scheme he knows nothing about. Smelling a story, journalist Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) embeds herself in the company as Norvilles assistant, where she is present for his invention of the shockingly successful hula hoop—and finds herself charmed by Norvilles gormless sweetness.
Quentin Tarantinos second feature film—a hilarious, violent, non-linear narrative about small-time criminals and mobsters in Los Angeles—revived Americas love affair with surf rock, introduced countless sheltered viewers to the concept of a “gimp,” and earned Oscar nominations for stars Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, and best picture, winning in the category of best original screenplay.
Herb Stempel (John Turturro) is a multi-episode winner on the primetime game show 21. But when he suddenly loses, he claims he was coerced by producers to throw the game in order to clear the path for Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), an instructor at Columbia and the scion of a family of famed writers. Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow) is the Congressional staffer tasked to investigate Herbs claims; Robert Redford directs from Paul Attanasios script, adapted from the real Goodwins book, and packs the cast with instantly recognizable character actors including Paul Guilfoyle, Christopher McDonald, Griffin Dunne, David Paymer, and Hank Azaria.