10 Most Heartwarming 1990s Movies

A split image showing Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire, the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast, and the thumbs-up from Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The 1990s are something of a golden age for modern filmmaking. They represent one of the most diverse, creative, and high-quality decades of movies. Many beloved franchises got their start in the 90s. On top of that, hundreds of standalone films remain moviegoer favorites well into the present day.

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In particular, 1990s cinema can warm the heart like few other decades. The spirit of optimism felt throughout society can be seen in the movies people made at the time. The 1990s have tragedies, dramas, and less affecting films like any other decade. However, they also have some of the most touching movies ever made.



10 Mrs. Doubtfire

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Robin Willams is a beloved actor whom many still hold in their hearts. He’s responsible for some of the most entertaining and feel-good films of several decades. Fans and critics alike consider Mrs. Doubtfire one of his career’s crowning achievements. Robin Williams stars as Daniel Hillard, a divorced father who does whatever he can to see his kids.

There are some moral pitfalls in Mrs. Doubtfire, but they don’t detract from the movie’s positive and affecting message. Mrs. Doubtfire is about a father’s unstoppable love for his children and their mother’s attempts to do what’s right, even if it isn’t easy. Its message of love in a blended family is even more relevant today.

9 Beauty And The Beast

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Belle and the Beast dancing in Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney’s best-loved films for a reason. Besides its incredible artwork and cinematography, the film is just a delight from first to last. It recreates a classic fairy tale most beautifully. Its story details the curative powers of love and how it can go so much deeper than physical appearance.

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Some consider Beauty and the Beast‘s narrative problematic, particularly with the Beast’s imprisoning of Belle. However, there are enough moments of trust, freedom, and comfort early on to give the romance a clear and wholesome basis. Aside from Beauty and the Beast‘s touching narrative, sequences like the ballroom dance can warm fans’ hearts in their own right.

8 Groundhog Day

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Phil makes his report in Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is one of the most high-concept comedies ever. Bill Murray plays Phill Connors, a cynical and bitter weatherman trapped in a time loop. Connors has to live the same day repeatedly, trapped in a small town he hates. Phil tries everything possible to escape this endless loop. However, he eventually begins striving to improve himself.

Groundhog Day ends when Phil decides to use his potential to the fullest and has one perfect day. It isn’t just a happy ending because he gets the girl and escapes his impossible situation. Groundhog Day is heartwarming because it shows that anyone can make something of themselves if they try.

7 Awakenings

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Robert De Niro talking with Robin Williams Awakenings movie

Even tragic movies can warm the heart. Awakenings is inspired by the real-world story of catatonic patients roused from their state with L-Dopa medication. It follows these patients and their fiction doctor, Malcolm Sayer, as they react to their unexpected awakening after years of being nearly comatose.

Awakenings is a bittersweet story. Eventually, the patients’ symptoms return, and they become catatonic once more. However, it isn’t about the tragedy of their fate. Instead, it’s about the beauty of their second lease on life. Awakenings urges audiences to make the most of their time and to treat everybody with the utmost respect.

6 Terminator 2: Judgment Day

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>John Connor hugging the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is widely-held as one of the best action and science-fiction films ever made. However, it’s much deeper than mindless violence and quippy one-liners. Terminator 2: Judgment Day flips The Terminator‘s focus on inhumanity and the terrifying potential of machines. Instead, it’s a very human story.

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day isn’t just about the fight between the T-800 and the T-1000. It’s about family, humanity, and the value of life. Sarah Connor pulls herself back from the brink of awful acts. The T-800 becomes its own person and learns to love in its own way. Despite its sequels, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an incredibly optimistic film when taken on its own.

5 Forrest Grump

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Tom Hanks as Forrest sitting on a bench in Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is one of the 90s most famous films. It’s an American epic that charts the life of a man with a low IQ who ends up witnessing and changing American history. The titular Forrest Gump meets significant historical figures like Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon.

Some accuse Forrest Gump of being unbelievable or artificially saccharine. However, most audiences view it as a touching, emotional film that does incredible character work. Forrest is a figure of fun throughout the film, but the audience is encouraged to laugh with him, not at him. Forrest Gump details how much potential everybody has and how much one person can affect the world.

4 Edward Scissorhands

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kim and Edward hugging by the christmas tree

Edward Scissorhands is another film known for its bittersweet beauty. It’s an undeniably tragic piece, particularly in its third act. However, there’s also plenty that’s uplifting about it. Edward Scissorhands ends with Edward ostracized, and the townspeople prepare to kill him. However, the film only happens because somebody goes out of their way to be kind.

Edward Scissorhands begins with Peg Boggs inviting Edward to live with her just because he’s all alone. The townspeople are at first welcoming and willing towards Edward. They only turn against him when a small minority go out of their way to slander him. Edward Scissorhands shows how trusting and accepting some people can be, and that even a small kindness can change somebody’s life.

3 Toy Story

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Buzz Lightyear and Woody falling with style in Toy Story movie

Toy Story is the film that truly put Pixar on the map, and not just for its technical achievements. It’s one of the most beloved animated films ever for its entertainment factor, charm, and heart. Aside from anything else, its story is one of acceptance and trust. Woody and Buzz Lightyear must overcome their jealousy and rivalry to help themselves and Andy.

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However, Toy Story‘s entire premise is a charming one. The film feels nostalgic for childhood and the fun of playing with toys. Woody, Buzz, and the other toys represent what almost any child wants from their playthings. The film’s idea of toys going out of their way to make children happy is flat-out enjoyable.

2 The Shawshank Redemption

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption looking at Tim Robbins

The Shawshank Redemption is an iconic prison drama with all the grit and unpleasantness it implies. Despite this, it’s frequently listed as an inspiring and uplifting film by both audiences and critics. Much of The Shawshank Redemption is given over to the cruelty and corruption of prison life. However, more of it is about friendship and hope.

Andy Dufresne and Red spend The Shawshank Situation in various terrible situations. However, they never give in to despair. The only way they make prison – and life after – tolerable for one another is by staying close. The Shawshank Redemption tells a story of overcoming adversity through one’s better nature and is beloved by many for it.

1 Independence Day

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>President Whitmore giving his famous speech in Independence Day movie

Independence Day is best known for its scenes of cinematic destruction of various landmarks. However, its story is an uplifting tale of unity when there’s nothing else. Humanity finds itself outgunned and facing extinction in Independence Day‘s first two acts. Working together is the only thing that can make a difference.

This shows itself on a smaller scale when Independence Day‘s disparate and unconventional protagonists work together and puzzle out the aliens’ weaknesses. However, it also applies globally. As President Whitmore’s speech makes clear, the divisions between people seem insignificant in the much grander picture.

NEXT: 10 ’90s Cult Classics That Are Ready For A Remake


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