This week sees the release of “Ghost In The Shell,” but you could be forgiven for mistaking it for something that came out twenty years ago. It comes from a British commercials director, has a William Gibson cyberpunk aesthetic, features among its cast Takeshi Kitano and the break-out star of “Three Colors Blue,” Juliette Binoche, and has little-to-no sensitivity towards the debate over cultural appropriation. For god’s sake, it has both Michael Wincott and Tricky in its cast: if we didn’t know better, we’d assume that it had been sitting in a vault for two decades after it was originally scheduled to open opposite “Johnny Mnemonic.”

READ MORE: The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 1990s

Of course, the film does have an excuse for being more 90s than “Empire Records” — it’s a remake of a beloved 1995 anime film of the same name. As such, it’s even more 90s-tastic than other recent pics like “Beauty and The Beast” and “Power Rangers,” and the perfect movie to take us into the second week of our marathon appreciation of the best films of each year of the decade. Indeed, we pick up in 1995, the year that the original “Ghost In The Shell” opened.

In terms of blockbusters, the year saw Pixar rise to prominence with Woody & Buzz, threequels from “Die Hard” and “Batman” franchises bring in huge crowds, and 007 return with “GoldenEye,” but you won’t find any of those movies on our list below. Take a look at our ten faves, and argue for your own favorites in the comments section.

Upset? Outraged? Can’t wait for more? You can catch up on 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 from last week, and can always visit our 2000s series while you wait for more: 20002001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 20072008 and 2009.

welcome-to-the-dollhouse10. “Welcome To The Dollhouse”
It’s perhaps talked about less today than a “Reservoir Dogs” or a “True Romance,” but “Welcome To The Dollhouse” was undoubtedly one of the most influential films of this period. Not just a movie like “Ghost World” or even “Mean Girls,” which drew more direct inspiration, but by birthing “Freaks & Geeks” (greenlit on the promise that it would be a TV version of ‘Dollhouse’), and in turn creating the careers of Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini et al. ‘Dollhouse’ and its creator Todd Solondz are obviously a very different proposition: an acerbically, sharply funny piece of teen-movie outsider art, like if John Hughes and Ralph Bakshi had a baby together and then neglected it in favor of its siblings. Dawn (played by Heather Matarazzo) is a genuinely iconic heroine, one who gets to experience a side of pre-teen life closer, let’s face to it, to ours than most high-school movies, and the film’s unsparing wit and honesty means it hasn’t aged a day. Indeed, it might still be Solondz’s finest hour.

12-monkeys9. “12 Monkeys”
Remakes, as we all know, are Bad Things, and the idea of Chris Marker’s wonderful experimental sci-fi short “La Jetee” being turned into a Bruce Willis vehicle for a major studio sounds like a Double Bad Thing. But “12 Monkeys,” that remake in question, is very firmly a Good Thing, taking the heady ideas of Marker’s film, bringing them into a mainstream(ish) thriller and yet holding onto a sense of weirdness and experimentation. Of course, it wasn’t all that surprising: with an in-his-prime Terry Gilliam directing and a script by David Peoples (“Blade Runner”) and his wife Janet, it had some serious sci-fi bona fides to it. Willis, in an atypical and rather wonderful turn, plays a convict in the year 2035 sent back in time in order to try and stop a virus that devastated humanity being unleashed, only to end up in an insane asylum with a doctor (Madeleine Stowe) and a disturbed, fanatical patient (Brad Pitt, who picked up his first Oscar nod for the turn here). It’s a real oddity in many respects, but a wonderful one: Gilliam truly successfully playing within the studio system, a sci-fi thriller without the action sequences that would be forced on it now, a genuinely tragic love story, a plot that, if you didn’t know “La Jetee,” might blow your mind a little bit by the end. Wish that we had more mainstream movies like it today.

READ MORE: R.I.P. Chris Marker (1921-2012): Watch ‘La Jetee’ & ‘Sans Soleil’

la-ceremonie8. “La Ceremonie”
Some of the French New Wavers burnt bright and burnt fast, like Truffaut, who died at just 52. But Claude Chabrol, true to his work as the master of slow-burning suspense, turned out terrific work well into the 21st century, and maybe the director’s finest late-period film is this adaptation of Ruth Rendell’s novel “A Judgment Of Stone,” a book that has one of the most famous opening lines in crime fiction: “Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.” Here, the central figure is Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire), an illiterate young woman who takes the job as the maid to a bourgeois family in Brittany (Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Virginie Ledoyen, Valentine Merlet), befriending a similarly antisocial neighbor and rival to the family (Chabrol’s late muse Isabelle Huppert, who shared Best Actress at Venice with Bonnaire) with ultimately murderous consequences. The craft and quizzical distance that exemplifies the best of Chabrol’s work is present and correct here, a fascinating picture of female friendship and class in contemporary France that at once surprises you with its bloody conclusion, and feels like it could never have ended any other way.

READ MORE: The Essentials: The Films Of Claude Chabrol

usual-suspects-kevin-spacey-gabriel-byrne-benicio-del-toro7. “The Usual Suspects”
Like “Planet Of The Apes” and “Citizen Kane” before it, “The Usual Suspects” has become crystallized in pop culture — almost immediately was, in fact — by its shock ending, the twist revelation of who Keyser Soze turned out to be, a moment that made Kevin Spacey a movie star (and won him an Oscar), and gave director Bryan Singer a career in blockbusters going forward. And yes, that twist is brilliant (we named it as the best ever earlier this year), but it’s only the cherry on top of the film’s many, many other pleasures. Derived from a funnier-than-you-remember original screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, it follows the aftermath of a massacre on a boat in the San Pedro Bay, and the testimony given by the survivor, cerebral palsy sufferer Verbal Kint (Spacey) to customs agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), who’s determined to pin the crime, and the identity of legendary boogeyman Keyser Soze, on his old nemesis Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne). The film was lumped in with Tarantino’s output, but it feels quite different in tone, not quite classic noir, but close to a 70s great like “The Friends Of Eddie Coyle” in some respects, though cleverer and tricksier. Directed with muscularity and flair by Singer, and with the cast doing stellar work to a man, it’s a crime classic beyond that doozy of an ending.

white-balloon6. “The White Balloon”
It’s somewhat heartbreaking to think about the two filmmakers behind “The White Balloon” today — co-writer Abbas Kiarostami passed away last year, while director Jafar Panahi remains under house arrest and with a 20-year-ban from making movies by the Iranian government (not that it’s stopped him, with three films coming since, including the Golden Bear-winning “Taxi”). It’s odd to think that such a charming, beautiful, subtle film could have come from such a supposed firebrand, but the quality of the work undoubtedly stands as a monument despite the attempted repression of the man behind it. Nodding to neo-realist film (and specifically its near-namesake “The Red Balloon”), it tells the story of young Razieh (Aida Mohammadkhani), who heads out on her first journey through Tehran on her own, in order to buy a goldfish with a 500 toman note that they can’t quite keep hold of. The winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes that year, it’s an adventure in the truest sense of the word, one with a visceral take on a deeply absorbing world that makes you feel like you’ve been there with Razieh for every step of her journey. The freedom it encapsulates just feels doubly heartbreaking now knowing that Panahi’s has been limited for so long.

  • Thor2013

    1. The White Balloon (dir. Jafar Panahi)
    2. Toy Story (dir. John Lasseter)
    3. Before Sunrise (dir. Richard Linklater)
    4. Habit (dir. Larry Fessenden)
    5. La Cérémonie (dir. Claude Chabrol)
    6. Memories (dir. Koji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Otomo)
    7. The Bridges of Madison County (dir. Clint Eastwood)
    8. The Addiction (dir. Abel Ferrara)
    9. Kicking and Screaming (dir. Noah Baumbach)
    10. Rendezvous in Paris (dir. Eric Rohmer)

  • Wes Anderson

    1. Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai)
    2. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch)
    3. Toy Story (John Lasseter)
    4. Seven (David Fincher)
    5. Leaving Las Vegas (Mike Figgis)
    6. Ghost in a Shell (Oshii Mamoru)
    7. 12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam)
    8. Maborosi (Hirokazu Koreeda)
    9. Babe (Chris Noonan)
    10. Clueless (Amy Heckerling)

  • lostjack

    Another great year for movies.

    DEAD MAN
    TOY STORY
    DEAD MAN WALKING
    CASINO
    LEAVING LAS VEGAS
    SEVEN
    CRIMSON TIDE
    12 MONKEYS
    BABE
    CLUELESS
    BEFORE SUNRISE
    APOLLO 13
    THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT
    BRAVEHEART
    THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY
    CLOCKERS
    DESPERADO
    FORGET PARIS
    GET SHORTY
    HEAT
    NIXON
    MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS
    LIVING IN OBLIVION
    KIDS
    OUTBREAK
    ROB ROY
    SMOKE
    TO DIE FOR
    TOMMY BOY
    12 MONKEYS
    THE USUAL SUSPECTS
    WATERWORLD

  • Kevin Kbo Borden

    Before the Rain was released in 95, may have premiered in 94. Either way, I feel like that film at the very least deserves a mention.

  • Pedro Canhenha

    I think Oliver Stone’s “Nixon”, Pedro Almodovar’s “The Flower of My Secret”, Christopher Hampton’s “Carrington”, Steven Soderbergh’s “The Underneath” and Tran Anh Hung’s “Cyclo” also deserve a good spot.

  • Silga

    Amazing year:

    Can’t do just 10, this year calls for 20:

    1. Heat
    2. The Usual Suspects
    3. La Haine
    4. To Die For
    5. Before Sunrise
    6. Seven
    7. Friday
    8. Desperado
    9. Get Shorty
    10. Forget Paris
    11. Mighty Aphrodite
    12. Apollo 13
    13. Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead
    14. The American President
    15. Twelve Monkeys
    16. Casino
    17. The Bridges of Madison County
    18. Crimson Tide
    19. Georgia
    20. Devil in a Blue Dress

  • Sergei

    Good god, if you’re gonna mention Get Shorty and Crimson Tide, I get to mention Dead Presidents. If that film had been released in today’s climate, it would be getting way more canonized than it was then. Why were Black films bolder then than now?

  • Lau Lehrmann

    Hmm, “Smoke”, “Living in Oblivion” or “Babe”?

  • jmbrr

    Wow,another great year in movies, And as usual,this list sucks. Top ’95:

    Seven
    Braveheart
    Die Hard with a Vengeance
    Ghost in the Shell
    Heat
    Rumble in the Bronx
    The Usual Suspects
    12 Monkeys
    Otomo Katsuhiro’s Memories
    Apollo 13

  • karlito

    I think Clockers is the other 90s masterpiece of Spike Lee (beside Malcolm X, of course), with a great Richard Price story/script, Malik Hassan Sayeed’s mesmerizing cinematography and some truly fine acting.

  • jh

    Wow, what a good year for movies.

  • Mountain Trails

    10 more worth a look:

    Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud [Sautet]
    Maborosi [Koreeda]
    From the Journals of Jean Seberg [Rappaport]
    Showgirls [Verhoven]
    Georgia [Grosbard]
    Antonia’s Line [Gorris]
    The Addiction [Ferrara]
    Cyclo [Anh Hùng] (For the Radiohead song alone)
    Land and Freedom [Loach]
    Deseret [Benning]

  • ReallyReallyBigMan

    Braveheart.