The 90-Minute Wonder is something that is sorely lacking in the movie industry today.
Sure, you'll find the odd one here and there, but truth be told, 90-minute movies went out of fashion around the same time as mid-budget movies. There's all sorts of reasons as to explain, either it being studios favouring event-scale movies like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or simply writers and directors failing to rein themselves in.
90-minute movies are, by their very nature, a study in economy. You're told exactly the right amount to understand the setting and the story, introduce all the necessary characters, and wrap itself up under an hour and a half in a nice bow.
For this list, we've pulled together a rundown of 10 of the best 90-minute movies out there on streaming platforms at the moment. We've done our best to include one from each genre and mix it with both and new 90-minute wonders.
Here we go.
10. 'Dredd' (Netflix)
No, not the one with Sylvester Stallone - the other, far better one. Karl Urban plays Judge Dredd in this faithful - and tightly-plotted - adaptation of the 2000AD Comics character. Taking notes from John Carpenter's 'Assault On Precinct 13', this is a tidy little sci-fi actioner that's gory as hell and features one hell of a committed performance from Karl Urban. How it never got a sequel is madness.
9. 'Airplane!' (YouTube)
In less than an hour and a half, 'Airplane!' manages to be funnier, wittier, and sharper than any parody movie that's come before or after it. The volume of jokes fired at the screen is that of a gatling gun, and four decades after its release, it is still one of the funniest movies ever made. It's never lost a single shred of its humour in the intervening years.
8. 'mid90s' (Netflix)
If you're looking for a good hangout movie, the kind that Richard Linklater excels in, this effort by debutante director Jonah Hill is perfect. Think Greta Gerwig's 'Lady Bird' but except about skateboarders in the mid-nineties and you're on the right track. In fact, it clocks in at exactly 85 minutes with a fantastic, period-specific soundtrack too.
7. 'Toy Story' (Disney+)
Some 25 years on, the fact that 'Toy Story' still holds up to scrutiny, and is still held up as a triumph of animated storytelling, is impressive enough on its own. The fact that it manages to be all those things, piece together a high concept like sentient toys, and provide metric tons of laughs, while keeping it all at 81 minutes, is nothing short of incredible. The precision in 'Toy Story', that there isn't one single scene or moment that's wasted, is something missing from Pixar's later works.
6. 'Blue Ruin' (Netflix)
At 90 minutes exactly, 'Blue Ruin' is one of those movies that you'll come out the other side feeling rougher and worse for wear. It's not that it feels longer than 90 minutes, but rather that it's that gripping and compelling you'll feel trapped it in for far longer. Blending revenge thriller spills with an indie sensibility, 'Blue Ruin' is the very definition of an overlooked gem.
5. 'The Princess Bride' (Prime Video)
'The Princess Bride' is a perfect example of Rob Reiner's ability to neatly compact all sorts of wonderful moments and themes into a 90-minute package. He did it so expertly in the likes of 'When Harry Met Sally', 'Stand By Me', but it's in 'The Princess Bride' that you find such a broad range of genres. There's a heartfelt romance, swashbuckling adventure, a little dash of horror, and then outright comedy from a game cast of characters.
4. 'Evil Dead' (Prime Video)
Interestingly enough, both versions of 'Evil Dead' - the original from 1981 and the one from 2013 - both clock in under 90 minutes. For horror movies nowadays, that's quite the feat. So many horror movies seem convinced that long, lingering shots of nothing happening are the way to built atmosphere. Yet 'Paranormal Activity' did all this with 90 minutes, too. 'Evil Dead' managed to fit in ancient Sumerian texts, wide slices of comedy, compelling characters, and just the overall chaos of Sam Raimi's vision - again, with less than 90 minutes on the clock.
3. 'Cabin In The Woods' (Netflix)
'Cabin In The Woods' may borrow from the previous entry, but to be honest, it's far more than just a parody. 'Cabin In The Woods' manages to cleanly and accurately parody the entire horror genre - from wolfmen and J-horror to unicorns and demon-worshippers - with a carefree attitude. The acting is just right amount of cheesy, featuring a pre-fame Chris Hemsworth, but the real strength comes in how it dares to actually put an end to the movie and neatly ties itself off at the end.
2. 'Blackfish' (Netflix)
Documentaries do generally tend to clock themselves at 90 minutes or less, but there's a trend lately where documentary series are now becoming more popular than a 90-minute movie. While it's true, some subjects benefit from further analysis and a deeper dive, some topics can be just as accurately examined with an hour and a half. 'Blackfish' is one of the best documentaries ever made, and examines the nature of aquarium captivity told through the story of Tilikum, told with passion and aggression, and fully pulls out the dark secrets of the marine mammal theme park industry.
1. 'You Were Never Really Here' (YouTube)
Comparing 'You Were Never Really Here' with 'Taxi Driver', or worse, 'Joker', is a discredit to all concerned. It is its own, unique thing. What's more, neither of those comparisons have the same level of economy or directness about them. 'You Were Never Really Here' rushes in and beats you over the head, not unlike its protagonist. Lynne Ramsey's command of detail, story, and editing means this never loses an inch and never compromises a moment. It's one of the best neo-noir movies ever made too.