We all watch movies, and which is the “best” is a matter of opinion really. Here are the top 10 historical epics from 1990-2000. Don’t forget to check out other lists throughout Thought for Your Penny.
10. The 13th Warrior (1999) 33% at Rotten Tomatoes
In the year 922, Arab courtier Ahmad Ibn Fadlan accompanies Vikings on a diplomatic mission to the far north. It’s a retelling of the Beowulf tale, the oldest in English literature. Soon he finds out as disgusting as the Vikings are, there’s an even greater evil devouring them who must be defeated.
Director: John McTiernan, Michael Crichton
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Dennis Storhoi
9. Titanic (1998) 88% at Rotten Tomatoes
On April 10, 1912, Jack and Rose board the Titanic for it’s maiden (and only) voyage in very different ways. She’s riding first class, while he’s in third class, far below deck and unable to mingle with the wealthier class, which also includes her husband-to-be. Love finds a way, but it’s short lived, as the ship sinks on April 15, and Rose throws Jack to the bottom of the ocean never to be found. Eighty four years later, she ruins the dreams of a third man by throwing the jewel he’s looking for into the ocean.
Director: James Cameron
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
8. Amistad (1997) 75% at Rotten Tomatoes
A Spanish slave ship in 1839 is taken over by the Mende tribesmen who leave two navigators alive to sail them to Africa. Instead, they’re taken to the U.S. northeast, where the Navy takes them prisoner as runaway slaves. The ensuing court case gets the attention of the President and Supreme Court and is a step toward the American Civil War.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman
7. Ed Wood (1996) 92% at Rotten Tomatoes
From 1947 through 1974, Ed Wood made a slew of low-budge B movies, including Plan 9 from Outer Space in 1956. It’s known as the worst movie of all time, and this movie follows his years leading up to it. Depp gives a brilliant performance, and it’s one of the only black-and-white films worth watching in the modern era.
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker, Martin Landau
6. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) 48% at Rotten Tomatoes
In the late 12th century, Robin of Locksley returns to Rottingham after fighting in the Holy Crusades. He finds it being ruled with an iron fist by King Richard’s evil brother Prince John and the Sheriff of Rottingham. So he gathers Little John, Blinkin, Ahchoo, Will Scarlet O’Hara, and a band of merry men to fight back and win the heart of Maid Marian in the process.
Director: Mel Brooks
Starring: Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Dave Chappelle
5. The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999) 30% at Rotten Tomatoes
In 1423, Joan finds a sword and has a vision from God about driving the British from France. She convinces Charles VII to give her an army to defeat them, but he soon fears her challenge to his own throne and turns her over to the enemy. On May 30, 1431, she was found guilty of witchcraft and burned at the stake in public.
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Rab Affleck
4. Braveheart (1995) 78% at Rotten Tomatoes
In the late 13th century, William Wallace just wants to live a normal life, but his secret bride is murdered by a British soldier. This leads him to begin a Scottish uprising that lasts through his public execution. After his death, his head, arms, legs, and torso are put on public display, motivating the Scots to continue their fight for freedom.
Director: Mel Gibson
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Angus Macfadyen
3. Schindler’s List (1993) 96% at Rotten Tomatoes
Oskar Schindler is a wealthy member of the Nazi party who ends up harboring over a thousand Jews during World War II. His story reminds us that even during the darkest times of great evil, there are still good people willing to risk everything to save the lives of others.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley
2. Tombstone (1993) 73% at Rotten Tomatoes
Wyatt Earp plans to retire quietly in Tombstone, AZ in 1879 with his brothers Virgil and Morgan, along with friend Doc Holliday. Those dreams are shattered by the Cochise County Cowboys, who run amok through the town and inevitably lead to the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. If you’ve never seen it, just visit the town – it’s playing in every bar and souvenir shop.
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Starring: Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 91% at Rotten Tomatoes
Andy Dufresne is wrongfully convicted of killing his wife in 1947 and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in Shawshank State Penitentiary. Life on the inside is hard, as he routinely fights off rape by a gang called the Sisters and helps a corrupt warden cheat on his taxes. But Dufresne has a plan to escape and meet his inmate friend Red on the outside.
Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, William Sadler