What are the best films under 90 minutes? (Ish)

It’s not necessarily that films under 90 minutes are inherently “good”, but rather that a tight runtime can help maintain a brisk pace and keep the audience engaged. Additionally, a shorter film may allow for a more focused and concise story, avoiding filler and unnecessary elements. However, it’s worth noting that a film’s success is ultimately determined by a multitude of factors, including writing, direction, and acting, and not just its runtime.

A 90-minute film is not necessary and is not a universal requirement for success. The ideal runtime for a film depends on the story being told and can vary greatly. Some films may benefit from a shorter runtime, while others may require a longer one to fully develop their themes and characters. Ultimately, what’s important is that the film’s length serves the story and keeps the audience engaged, regardless of whether it’s under or over 90 minutes.

With that being said, I am a lover of 90-minute films and see their merits, especially on an evening after being at work when you don’t want to stay up too late.

12 Angry Men (1957)

Runtime: 96 minutes

12 Angry Men is a classic American drama film directed by Sidney Lumet. The film follows a jury of twelve men as they deliberate the fate of a young boy accused of murder. The film is set in a New York City courtroom as the twelve men debate the evidence and their own prejudices to decide the fate of the young boy. The men come from different backgrounds and have different views on the case, and their passionate and heated debates make the film a gripping drama. It’s a powerful exploration of justice, morality, and the power of the individual.

The film stars Henry Fonda as Juror #8, the leader of the jurors in their deliberation. Other notable stars include Lee J. Cobb as Juror #3, Ed Begley as Juror #10, Jack Klugman as Juror #5, E.G. Marshall as Juror #4, and Jack Warden as Juror #7.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Runtime: 100 Minutes

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a whimsical comedy-drama from director Wes Anderson. Set in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka in the 1930s, the film follows the adventures of concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) and lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori). The two become embroiled in a caper involving a stolen painting and a murderous conspiracy and must use their wits to outwit the authorities. Filled with vibrant colours and Anderson’s trademark style, The Grand Budapest Hotel is an offbeat comedy that is both funny and touching in equal measure.

The Grand Budapest Hotel stars Ralph Fiennes as Gustave H., Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa, Saoirse Ronan as Agatha, Willem Dafoe as J.G. Jopling, and Edward Norton as Inspector Henckels.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Runtime: 97 Minutes

The Breakfast Club is a classic coming-of-age comedy-drama directed by John Hughes. It follows five high school students from different social circles who are forced to spend a Saturday detention together. As the day unfolds, the students begin to reveal their true selves and form unlikely friendships. The Breakfast Club is a poignant look at teenage life, filled with laughter and heart as the students come to understand each other and themselves.

The Breakfast Club stars Emilio Estevez as Andrew Clark, Molly Ringwald as Claire Standish, Judd Nelson as John Bender, Anthony Michael Hall as Brian Johnson, and Ally Sheedy as Allison Reynolds.

This film features in our best films of the 80s article too!

Groundhog Day (1993)

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Groundhog Day is a comedy-drama directed by Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray as news reporter Phil Connors, who is sent to cover the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. When he wakes up the next day, he finds himself repeating the same day over and over again, and he must find a way to break the cycle and move on with his life. Groundhog Day is a funny and heartfelt story about accepting your life and learning to appreciate the small moments.

Groundhog Day stars Bill Murray as Phil Connors, Andie MacDowell as Rita, Chris Elliott as Larry, Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned, and Brian Doyle-Murray as Buster.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Runtime: 91 Minutes

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1975 British comedy film directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. The film follows the quest of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table as they search for the Holy Grail. Along the way, they encounter a variety of surreal obstacles, including a Black Knight, a three-headed giant, and the Knights who say Ni. With its absurdist humour, the film has become a cult classic and is often cited as one of the greatest comedies of all time.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail stars Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.

Whiplash (2014)

Runtime: 106 minutes

Whiplash is a 2014 drama film that explores the relationship between a talented young jazz drummer, Andrew Neiman, and his demanding and abusive music teacher, Terence Fletcher. The film follows Andrew as he enrols in a prestigious music conservatory with the goal of becoming one of the great drummers of his generation. However, his path to greatness is complicated by the arrival of Fletcher, who pushes him to the brink of his physical and emotional limits in the pursuit of musical excellence.

The film is directed by Damien Chazelle and stars Miles Teller as Andrew and J.K. Simmons as Fletcher. Whiplash was widely praised for its intense performances, powerful story, and technical merits, and it won three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Simmons. 

Whiplash is a gripping and intense exploration of the sacrifices and costs of greatness, as well as the complex and often abusive relationships that can arise in the pursuit of art. Through its characters and plot, the film raises important questions about the nature of ambition, the limits of creativity, and the meaning of success.

The Truman Show (1998)

Runtime: 103 minutes

The Truman Show is a 1998 comedy-drama film that stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, an unwitting participant in a 24-hour global TV show that has documented his entire life since birth. Truman is unaware that his seemingly normal life is actually a carefully staged production, and that every aspect of his existence is controlled and monitored by a hidden network of cameras and technicians. 

As Truman begins to suspect that something is not quite right with his world, he embarks on a journey of discovery to uncover the truth about his life and the show he doesn’t know has been created around him.

The film is directed by Peter Weir and was highly praised for its creative concept, compelling performances, and thought-provoking commentary on modern society and the media. The Truman Show is a clever and insightful film that explores the nature of reality, the limits of voyeurism, and the meaning of truth and freedom. 

Through its characters and plot, the film raises important questions about the role of the media in shaping our perceptions and experiences, as well as the consequences of living in a world where every aspect of our lives is on display. The film has since become a classic of modern cinema and a touchstone of popular culture.

Psycho (1960)

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Psycho is a 1960 psychological horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film stars Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the owner of the Bates Motel, and Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, a young woman who becomes Bates’ next victim. Marion is on the run after stealing money from her employer, and she checks into the Bates Motel to escape the law. However, Bates is a disturbed individual who is haunted by the memory of his mother and her strict upbringing, and Marion becomes his latest victim.

Psycho is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made and it is considered a classic of the genre. The film was a huge commercial and critical success and it marked a turning point in the horror genre, paving the way for a new style of horror that was more psychological and suspenseful. Psycho was praised for its intricate storyline, its haunting and atmospheric score, and its memorable performances, particularly by Perkins as Bates. The film remains a classic of the horror genre and a film that continues to captivate audiences with its suspenseful narrative, its psychological twists, and its memorable characters.

The Princess Bride (1987)

Runtime: 98 Minutes

The Princess Bride is a fairy tale adventure film directed by Rob Reiner. The film is a classic tale of true love, adventure, and heroism, set against the backdrop of a mythical kingdom. The film follows the story of Westley, a young man who must rescue his true love, Princess Buttercup, from the evil Prince Humperdinck. Along the way, he encounters a series of obstacles and challenges, including a mysterious masked man, a giant, a scheming Spanish swordsman, and a horde of rodents of unusual size.

The Princess Bride is a beloved classic that has captured the hearts of audiences for generations. The film is known for its charming and whimsical storyline, its witty and humorous dialogue, and its memorable characters. 

The film was a critical and commercial success, and it has become a cultural touchstone, inspiring countless adaptations, parodies, and homages. The Princess Bride is a timeless tale of love, adventure, and heroism that continues to captivate audiences of all ages with its timeless appeal and its enduring spirit.

The Lion King (1994)

Runtime: 87 Minutes

The Lion King is a classic animated film produced by Disney and released in 1994. The film follows the journey of Simba, a young lion who is destined to become the king of the Pride Lands. When Simba’s uncle Scar kills his father, Mufasa, and convinces him to run away, Simba grows up thinking he was responsible for Mufasa’s death. With the help of new friends Timon and Pumba, Simba learns to enjoy life without responsibilities, until he meets Rafiki, who shows him that his father’s spirit lives on and encourages him to return to the Pride Lands and reclaim his rightful place as king.

The Lion King is a timeless film that appeals to audiences of all ages. Its themes of family, loyalty and the circle of life resonate with viewers, and its memorable characters, unforgettable music, and stunning animation bring the story to life in a truly magical way. Whether you’re watching it for the first time or the hundredth, The Lion King is a film that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who sees it.

The Hangover (2009)

Runtime: 100 Minutes

The Hangover is a wild, hilarious and unforgettable film that takes you on a wild ride through Las Vegas with a group of friends! The film follows four friends who travel to Vegas for a bachelor party and wake up the next morning with no memory of the wild night before and a missing groom. The gang must retrace their steps and figure out what happened while piecing together a series of wild and outrageous events that lead to the disappearance of the groom.

This film is non-stop laughter from start to finish, with an incredible cast delivering side-splitting performances that will have you in stitches. The movie’s unique blend of humour, absurdity and sheer craziness creates a film that is both unpredictable and unforgettable. Whether you’re a fan of slapstick humour or witty one-liners, The Hangover has something for everyone and is a must-see for fans of comedy films. So buckle up and get ready for an outrageously fun time.

The Hangover features an ensemble cast led by Bradley Cooper as Phil Wenneck, Ed Helms as Stu Price, and Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner who play the trio of friends at the centre of the film’s wild misadventures. Justin Bartha stars as the missing groom, Doug Billings, while Heather Graham plays Jade, a stripper who becomes entangled in the group’s wild escapades. Ken Jeong delivers a standout performance as the unpredictable criminal Leslie Chow, while Jeffrey Tambor and Sasha Barrese round out the cast as Stu’s father-in-law and Tracy Billings, Doug’s wife, respectively. Mike Tyson also appears as himself in the film. The talented cast brings a unique blend of humour and energy to the film.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Reservoir Dogs, released in 1992, is a highly acclaimed crime thriller directed and written by Quentin Tarantino. The movie revolves around a group of criminals brought together for a diamond heist, but as the job goes awry, they must figure out who among them is a snitch while fighting to survive. With its non-linear narrative and focus on character development through dialogue, the film offers a fresh and engaging perspective on the crime genre.

The all-star cast, including Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, and Chris Penn, elevates the film with their standout performances. The film’s raw and intense energy, combined with its clever dialogue and edge-of-your-seat action scenes, has solidified its place as a classic in the genre and a cult favourite. Reservoir Dogs marked the beginning of Quentin Tarantino’s successful career, showcasing his unique style and cementing his status as a visionary filmmaker.

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Fargo (1996)

Runtime: 95 Minutes

Fargo is a 1996 dark comedy-crime film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film is set in Minnesota and follows the story of a car salesman who hires two criminals to kidnap his wife, hoping to use the ransom money to pay off his debts. However, the kidnapping goes wrong, leading to a series of brutal and absurd events that put the lives of several people in danger.

The film’s cast includes Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, and Peter Stormare, who deliver understated but effective performances that bring a sense of realism to the film’s darkly comedic tone. Fargo is known for its quirky, offbeat sense of humour and brutal violence, as well as its memorable dialogue and memorable characters. The film’s bleak, wintry setting and its mixture of dark humour and intense drama have made it a critical and commercial success, and it is widely regarded as one of the best films of the 1990s.

Toy Story (1995)

Running Time: 81 Minutes

Toy Story is a groundbreaking animated classic that took the world by storm when it was released in 1995. This thrilling adventure follows the story of a group of toys who come to life when people aren’t around and embark on wild and exciting escapades. Toy Story was the first ever feature-length computer-animated film and set the standard for the entire genre, paving the way for the creation of countless other beloved animated films and put Pixar on the map.

The film boasts an all-star voice cast, including Tom Hanks as Woody, the loyal and lovable cowboy toy, and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, the space ranger who becomes Woody’s unlikely friend. The talented voice cast also includes Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, and more. The film’s masterful animation, heartfelt storytelling, and memorable characters have made it a timeless classic that appeals to audiences of all ages.

Toy Story was a massive critical and commercial success, receiving widespread acclaim from audiences and critics alike. The film won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay. The film has since become a beloved franchise, spawning several sequels and merchandise, and its impact on the animation industry cannot be overstated. Toy Story remains a testament to the power of imagination, friendship, and the magic of childhood, and it is a must-see film for anyone who loves animation and adventure.

Legally Blonde (2001)

Runtime: 96 Minutes

Legally Blonde is a 2001 comedy film about a sorority girl named Elle Woods who enrols in Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend. Despite facing discrimination, she proves herself to be a talented and determined student and helps defend a workout queen in a murder trial. She learns the importance of being true to herself and her own abilities.

Along the way, Elle makes new friends, including a teaching assistant named Emmett and a hairdresser named Paulette. She also transforms from a stereotypical “dumb blonde” into a confident and capable young woman, breaking down stereotypes and proving that intelligence and beauty are not mutually exclusive. 

The film is a mix of comedy, romance, and empowerment, with a message about embracing one’s individuality and pursuing one’s passions. With its relatable characters, catchy soundtrack, and memorable one-liners, Legally Blonde has become a beloved, fetch, classic.

In conclusion, it is evident that films under 90 minutes are a great format to watch a movie. They provide enough time for the story to unfold and keep audiences engaged, while also not taking up too much of their time. The 90-minute format requires filmmakers to be creative in how they tell their stories, often resulting in some truly fantastic movies. Whether you’re looking for something funny, dramatic, or adventurous, there are plenty of short films out there that will leave you wanting more.