Our decade-by-decade review of great films of the past 75 years, with an EIFF screening to their name, has reached the 1990s, and here you'll find some early films by some of the biggest names currently working in cinema. We've got the Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, Danny Boyle, Wes Anderson, and more!

Check out ten of our favourites from the 1990s...


1990 // To Sleep With Anger

Two men sit on a bench. One is holding a live chicken.

Director: Charles Burnett

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1990

Charles Burnett's black-comedy, To Sleep With Anger, the director's first film in seven years, came to Edinburgh receiving rave reviews. Now considered an all-time great piece of African-American cinema, the film focuses on Danny Glover's puzzling drifter from the Deep South, who rolls up in Los Angeles to visit an old friend, and brings his unrelenting penchant for stirring up trouble with him. The film screened as part of a strand titled A Coming of Age of Black Cinema, bringing films such as this to a new audience and facilitating discussions on the history of American black cinema.

Buy: Apple TV


1991 // Barton Fink

An aerial view of a man laying back on a carpeted floor.

Director: Ethan Coen / Joel Coen

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1991

The Coen Brothers were masters of the cult film in the 90s, with the likes of Fargo and The Big Lebowski amongst their work. Earlier in the decade, they had huge success with Barton Fink, a film that arrived at Edinburgh off the back of a hugely successful Cannes, where it took awards for Best Film, Actor, and Director! It closed out EIFF in 1991, with audiences thoroughly enjoying John Turturro's performance as a young New York playwright who heads to Hollywood.

Rent: Apple TV


1992 // Reservoir Dogs

Two men point guns at each other. One is laying on the floor while the other stands over him.

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1992

1992 was a strong year for UK Premieres at EIFF, with the likes of Glengarry Glen Ross and Strictly Ballroom on show. Few might have expected then, that (at the time) a small-budget bloodfest of a crime film, directed by the then unknown Quentin Tarantino, would go on to be the biggest hit. Once described by Empire Magazine as "Greatest Independent Film of all Time", it just goes to show that those little films you take a chance on at Edinburgh might well go on to be considered amongst the best ever!

Stream: Amazon Prime


1993 // The Piano

A woman, a child, and a piano on a beach.

Director: Jane Campion

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1993

Now an Oscar-winning Best Director (for last year's The Power of the Dog), Jane Campion opened EIFF 1993 with The Piano, about a a mute Scottish woman who relocates to New Zealand with her young daughter, following an arranged marriage. With star turns from Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, and a 10-year-old Anna Paquin, the film garnered rave reviews and many awards following its release. We'd like to think we played a small part in the director's lasting success, as her short film Passionless Moments screened at EIFF nine years earlier, where it was discovered amongst hundreds of works submitted that year.

Stream: Netflix


1994 // Shallow Grave

Three people sit in a row on wooden chairs and look at the camera.

Director: Danny Boyle

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1994

Mostly filmed a stone's throw from most EIFF venues, Danny Boyle's debut film, and first collaboration with actor Ewan McGregor, sent both on their way to glittering cinematic careers (and multiple visits to EIFF!) McGregor, alongside Kerry Fox and future Dr. Who, Christopher Ecclestone, play three flatmates, who discover their newest roomie dead, but also loaded with cash. Shallow Grave went on to become the most commercially successful British film of the year, and the team of Boyle and McGregor followed it in 1996, with some Edinburgh-set film called Trainspotting. You may have heard of it...

Rent: Apple TV


1995 // The Usual Suspects

A man sits on a leather chair and looks thoughtful.

Director: Bryan Singer

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1995

Ask a hundred film buffs what they think is the greatest plot twist in cinema history. We reckon at least half will say it's The Usual Suspects. Five criminals are brought together by a mysterious agent to carry a job for an unseen mob boss, Keyser Söze. But is Keyser Söze really a ruthless crime lord; or is he just a boogeyman, a tale small-time criminals use to spook their kids? You'll have to watch to find out. Unfortunately, with any great twist, the big moment from The Usual Suspects has been parodied over and over, so for some, the secret is out of the bag before they even get to watch it. Fortunately for those in attendance of the film at EIFF in 1995, it was the UK Premiere, and we'd love to go back and see the look on their faces as the credits rolled!

Rent: Apple TV


1996 // Crash

A woman lays outside a crashed car on a hill, as a man looks under the upside down car.

Director: David Cronenberg

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1996

Never one to shy away from adding some shock value to his films, David Cronenberg's 1996 adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel certainly delivered that! The director even joined us at the festival that year to talk us through a scene-by-scene dissection of his controversial movie. Cronenberg's affinity for Edinburgh has resulted in three further trips to the festival since. The film, about a TV director who discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims, still has influence over filmmakers today, and this could be seen as recently as earlier this year, in Julia Ducournau's Palme d'Or winning Titane.

Rent: Amazon Prime


1997 // L.A. Confidential

A woman in a white dress stands in front of a staircase.

Director: Curtis Hanson

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1997

Probably one of the unluckiest films in Oscars history, this 1997 crime classic had the misfortune of coming up against the behemothic Titanic for all nine nominations it got, and it lost them all. That didn't stop audiences at EIFF that year loving it though! Boasting an all-star cast led by Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential draws on inspiration from film noir and Golden Age Hollywood to interweave a number of intricate plot lines into a thrilling story of police corruption and mysterious murders.

Stream: Netflix


1998  // Rushmore

A boy in a blazer and glasses sits in a classroom.

Director: Wes Anderson

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1998

In his sophomore film, we start to catch more than a glimmer of the stylistic filmmaking decisions that Wes Anderson is now so famous for - the symmetrical shots, the intricate set designs, the British Invasion-inspired soundtracks... Rushmore tells the story of underachieving über nerd, Max Fischer (played by now-regular Anderson collaborator, Jason Schwartzman), who falls for his teacher, and struggles to accept that his new friend, a middle-aged industrialist (played by Bill Murray) is having an affair with her. The film also marks the first collaboration between Anderson and Murray, and the actor has appeared in every single one of the director's films since! Rumour has it that Bill Murray has no agent, no manager, and if you want to hire him for a film, you have to leave a message on a toll-free voicemail. The only person who has his direct phone number is Wes Anderson. 

Stream: Disney+


1999  // Ratcatcher

A young boy looks through a window out towards a field.

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Screened at EIFF: EIFF 1999

This year at EIFF, we're celebrating the 20th anniversary of Lynne Ramsay's 2002 mesmerising Morvern Callar, but it was with her 1999 debut, Ratcatcher, which screened on our opening night in 1999, that the Glaswegian director rose to prominence. Set in the schemes of the filmmaker's hometown, we follow the life of a 12-year old boy, haunted by secrets, who creates a world of his own down by the local canal. Depicting the stark realities of poverty in the 1970s, few films can achieve such levels of beauty from something so gut-wrenching, but Ramsay pulls it off superbly. 


Missed our previous posts in this series? Here you go...