Get ready to feel ancient.
Two decades ago, back when we were blowing into cassette tapes to clean them out, and back when a stiff kick in your TV’s side would get it working, our square eyes were lapping up a phenomenal year of cinema that still, to this day, holds up against your multi-million pound modern blockbusters. Yep, 2016 sees some of our all-time favourite films blowing twenty candles out, and it hurts our brains to think that a couple of these are already that old.
Here’s a rundown of the movies that we first fell in love with back in 1996, when they were released in the UK and still have us biting our nails, splitting our sides, wiping away the tears and totally fixed to the screen…
Released: 31 May
What is it? A total loser car dealer, Jerry, needs to make a quick buck so decides to enlist the help of two henchmen to kidnap his wife in order for her wealthy father to cough up for the ransom. Things get royally bungled, everything turns bloody, and a heavily preggers policewoman must solve the murderous case.
Who’s in it? A truly excellent Frances McDormand, a petrifying Peter Stormare, and an always-brilliant Steve Buscemi.
Why watch it? Aside from being an essential 90’s cultural touchstone and spawning a hugely successful pair of recent TV series, the accents are well funny.
Best one-liner: “Just keep still back there, lady, or we’re going to have to, you know, shoot you.”
A Time to Kill
Released: 13 September
What is it? After two white supremacists rape and attempt to hang Carl Lee Hailey’s daughter, the distraught black father takes justice into his own hands. It’s the responsibility of a young lawyer to defend him in court in the shadow of a KKK rebirth.
Who’s in it? Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey.
Why watch it? Aside from absolutely masterful performances from all four of the big players, especially the then-very green McConaughey, it’s essentially an updated version of To Kill A Mockingbird and based on a John Grisham novel, but totally brilliant in its own right too.
Best one-liner: “If you win this case, justice will prevail, and if you lose, justice will prevail. Now this is a strange case.”
Released: 12 April
What is it? A stealth bomber pilot goes rogue and nicks a nuclear device, only for his co-pilot and sparring partner to chase him down and ruin his evil plan.
Who’s in it? A sucker punch one-two of John Travolta (bam!) and Christian Slater (bam bam!).
Why watch it? Not only did the opening boxing scene teach us to “look at the shoulder” because “that’s where the punch is coming from”, but we still have the scars on our fingers from practising putting cigarettes out with our fingers. Basically, it taught us more than school did in the nineties.
Best one-liner: “Would you mind not shooting at the thermonuclear weapons?”
From Dusk Till Dawn
Released: 31 May
What is it? Two bank robber brothers, on the run from a recent job that left several cops dead, seek refuge in a Mexican topless bar with their hostages in tow, only to find out they’re holed up in a flippin’ vampire den.
Who’s in it? George Clooney and his ballsy neck tattoo; a psychotic Quentin Tarantino; a classic Danny Trejo and “the mistress of the macabre” Salma Hayek. And Harvey Keitel. And Juliette Lewis.
Why watch it? Because we’re all doing Tarantino marathons before heading to the cinema to see The Hateful 8, aren’t we? No? OK, then for Salma Hayek’s snakey dance scene. Corr blimey, guv’nor.
Best one-liner: “Fight now, cry later.”
Released: 19 July
What is it? Perpetually enraged hockey reject Happy Gilmore takes his skills to the golf course in order to save his grandmother’s home, and to save her from the clutches of an evil retirement home employee.
Who’s in it? Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Richard ‘Jaws from James Bond’ Kiel.
Why watch it? It’s Sandler’s best ever role. Nothing else he’s done comes close.
Best one-liner: “You little son of a bitch ball! Why you don't you just go home? That's your home! Are you too good for your home? Answer me! Suck my white ass, ball!”
Released: 23 August
What is it? The Governator goes Full Arnie when a top-secret electromagnetic weapon is at risk of falling into the hands of a bunch of Russian wrong’uns.
Who’s in it? The Austian Oak himself, and The Godfather legend James Caan.
Why watch it? In a decade that saw him in action classics Total Recall, Terminator 2 and True Lies, this has always been a grossly overlooked and underrated slice of prime cut Schwarzenegger.
Best one-liner: “Don’t move, you’re dead.”
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Released: 29 November
What is it? An amnesia-stricken woman starts to piece her memory back together, only for her badass past to come back and try to shoot her a whole bunch of times.
Who’s in it? Geena Davis, Brian Cox, and that bad mother flipper Samuel L. Jackson again.
Why watch it? For some quintessential f-bombs delivered by the Right Honourable Lord of Mother Flipping.
Best one-liner: “’Cause I’m a bad motherfucker!”
Released: 12 July
What is it? A young pro bowler loses his bowling hand, leaving a promising sporting career in tatters. That is, until he sees an opportunity to con his way into a tournament in Nevada with the help of an Amish man.
Who’s in it? Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray. Think about that for a moment. Yeah.
Why watch it? See above.
Best one-liner: “It’s a small world when you’ve got unbelievable tits, Roy.”
Released: 9 August
What is it? Aliens drop by to blow up our planet. Will Smith punches one in the face.
Who’s in it? Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and god amongst men, Jeff Goldblum.
Why watch it? Because, like every other film we hold dear, Hollywood’s got its claws into it and is releasing a sequel in June. Even though it looks kinda excellent for a change, this is your last change to enjoy that unbeatably rousing Bill Pullman speech in its purest form.
Best one-liner: “Welcome to Earth.”
Released: 5 July
What is it? Agent Ethan Hunt goes rogue to expose a rat from within his own organization in order to clear his name.
Who’s in it? Everyone remembers teeny weeny Tom Cruise, but we totally forgot about Ving ‘Marsellus Wallace’ Rhames and Jean ‘Leon’ Reno’s awesome roles here, too.
Why watch it? Remember that little pang of boyish excitement when you got to hear the Star Wars and Jurassic Park themes at the cinema last year? Yeah, we get the same with this one, too.
Best one-liner: “Wake up, Claire! Jim’s dead! He’s dead. They’re all dead!”
Muppet Treasure Island
Released: 24 May
What is it? Treasure Island with Muppets. We didn’t really need to spell that one out, did we.
Who’s in it? The whole gang, plus Tim Rice, Billy Connolly and Jennifer Saunders.
Why watch it? Muppets, innit.
Best one-liner: “Hmm, we see you have boom-boom sticks…bye bye.”
Released: 27 September
What is it? In an attempt to juggle a hectic work life and an on-the-rocks family life, a man clones himself. Unfortunately, the more it happens, the stupider his duplicates become.
Who’s in it? Michael Keaton, Michael Keaton, Michael Keaton, and Andie MacDowell. And Michael Keaton.
Why watch it? Firstly, because we should be reminded every day how underappreciated Michael Keaton is. Secondly, because the dearly departed Harold Ramis directed it. Thirdly, because Keaton’s brain-dead final clone is unreal funny, and you’ll be quoting him all week.
Best one-liner: “I like pizza.”
Released: 1 November
What is it? With a northern English coalmine threatened with closure, the miners’ brass band must keep their spirits up, regardless of the troubles each of them face in their personal lives, to win a national competition.
Who’s in it? The late, great Pete Postlethwaite, Ewan McGregor, and Jim “Mr Carson outta Downton Abbey” Carter.
Why watch it? It’s a pretty historically accurate depiction of how grim it really was up North in the wake of the pit closures, albeit told through the medium of trumpets and flugelhorns.
Best one-liner: “The only reason I get up in the morning is to see if my luck’s changed. And it never bloody has.”
The Cable Guy
Released: 12 July
What is it? An unhinged and lonely cable guy desperately wanting a new friend pays a professional visit to a designer and takes a shine to him. A creepy, bonkers, full-blown Jim Carrey-scale weird shine.
Who’s in it? Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann and Jack Black.
Why watch it? Didn’t realise it was directed by Ben Stiller, did you? If that’s not much of an incentive, then flick it on for the scene at Medieval Times. Still amazing.
Best one-liner: “Hey Steve I'm on a pay phone, so if you're there pick up. Pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up. Well OK, call me back.”
Released: 21 June
What is it? An ex-convict and a “chemical super freak” scientist must break into Alcatraz to foil a renegade general’s plot to attack San Francisco with nerve gas.
Who’s in it? A top-of-his-game Nic Cage, Sean Connery and Ed Harris.
Why watch it? If only to remind yourself of how good Nic Cage was before Ghost Rider went and spoilt everything.
Best one-liner: “Look, I'm just a biochemist. Most of the time, I work in a little glass jar and lead a very uneventful life. I drive a Volvo, a beige one. But what I'm dealing with here is one of the most deadly substances the earth has ever known, so what say you cut me some friggin’ slack?”
Released: 23 February
What is it? A harrowing look at the Edinburgh drug scene, from which Renton is trying to escape only to be dragged back in by his unsavoury bunch of mates.
Who’s in it? Monster 90’s Brit actors Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle.
Why watch it? It’s the most important modern British film ever made. No biggie.
Best one-liner: “I mean, heroin’s got a great fucking personality.”
Released: 26 July
What is it? A couple put their lives on the line chasing tornadoes in order to create a hi-tech weather warning system. Houses get blown over. Cows take flight.
Who’s in it? Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton and Philip Seymour Hoffman who, let’s face it, was totally too good for that film.
Why watch it? Even though they look pretty shonky now, the special effects were award winning at the time. Also, the bit where the dad gets sucked out of the storm cellar? Still gets us.
Best one-liner: “I gotta go, Julia. We got cows.”
Released: 11 October
What is it? A rare aging disorder makes young boy Jack age four times faster than normal children, resulting in him resembling a 40-year-old man by the time he reaches fifth grade.
Why watch it? Even if you’re a 50-year-old child-hating Scrooge, it’ll make you want to build a tree house and invite all your mates over to fart in a box.
Who’s in it? Robin Williams (*pours one out*) and J-Lo.
Best one-liner: “Bet you could crack walnuts on her ass, too.”
Released: 8 November
What is it? A bunch of Catholic schoolgirls get all witchy, and conjure spells to get back at anyone who’s ever wronged them.
Who’s in it? A pre-Scream Skeet Ulrich (where is he now?) and Neve Campbell.
Why watch it? Because everyone tried that lift-a-person-up-with-just-your-fingers trick at school after seeing this.
Best one-liner: “We are the weirdos, mister.”
Released: 24 May
What is it? When a case in which a stuttering altar boy is accused of stabbing a priest 78 times hits the courtroom, it seems totally unwinnable for the defence. That is, until a hotshot lawyer digs a little deeper.
Who’s in it? Edward Norton as the accused, and Richard Gere as his only hope of not spending life in The Slammer.
Why watch it? Has Edward Norton ever made a bad film? No? This was the breakout role that started it all.
Best one-liner: “You want justice, go to a whorehouse. You wanna get fucked, go to court.”