The 80s was an incredible year for cinema. This list was really hard to create because of all the many films I had to choose from. So with that said, there’s probably lots of films from the 80s that don’t even make the honorable mention but hey, it’s my list!
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future kicks off my list of 80s films and it is the quintessential 80s film, yet still timeless. Does the time travel make sense? No! But it’s endlessly rewatchable and fun. Even the sequels, although not as good are still enjoyable films and they make up one the best trilogy ever.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Another really great trilogy (there isn’t a fourth one) but the first Indiana Jones film will always remain the best to me. From Harrison Ford, to the incredible score, George Lucas’s story and Spielberg’s directing Riders of the Lost Ark is a perfect film from start to finish.
The Terminator (1984)
Personally I’m more of a fan of Terminator 2 but the first one is still amazing. This is the perfect role for Arnold (involves little acting) and the smaller, horror feel the film has, is what I wish they would go back to. This list is full of master directors, James Cameron is one of the greats and his Terminator films still remain the only good ones.
Stand by Me (1986)
One of my favorite genres is Coming of Age and Stand by Me is the second best in my opinion (hint for another one coming later). The cast of young actors all put in excellent performances and even though I didn’t watch this as a kid, this film makes me feel nostalgic about going on adventures with my friends, although mine were nowhere near as exciting. The final scene is one of the most powerful endings to a film ever and affects me every time.
I’m not a big fan of War films (I have some unpopular opinions about Saving Private Ryan) but Platoon is the one exception that I love. Another great cast, Willem Dafoe giving his best performance and a pre-crazy Charlie Sheen also is good. My only complaint is that Seinfeld ruined the wonderful score and now every time I hear it, I see Frank Costanza screaming at soldiers.
Die Hard (1988)
Film is subjective and all but if you don’t have Die Hard on your list then you’re wrong! This is one of the most iconic films ever, with memorable characters, unforgettable scenes and started the most up and down series but will always have me interested. John McClane is one of the most likable heroes, Hans Gruber is in the top 3 film villains and Alan Rickman gave his best performance ever in his feature film debut… ho,ho,ho.
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Gangster epics create some of the greatest cinema and Once Upon a Time in America is just that. De Niro is my all time favorite actor and this is one of many spectacular performances, with a supporting cast of A list performers. Ennio Morricone’s score is beautiful and adds so much emotion to an already powerful film. This is a really long one, yet I’ve still seen it several times and it never gets old.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
It wouldn’t be an 80s list without John Hughes and The Breakfast Club for me is his best work. I mentioned Coming of Age films earlier and this is my favorite of the genre. Another cast of young, excellent actors giving any teenager a character to follow through the story. It’s smart, funny and to this day remains a 80s classic.
The Shining (1980)
So I watched this film at way too young of an age. It terrified me then and I watched it a few months ago and it’s still one of the most unsettling films ever. You can interpret this film in so many and everyone who watches it takes different things from it. Jack Nicholson is as scary as any other performance in film history and Shelley Duvall’s fear emphasised that even more. There’s been two Stephen King adaptations in this list and The Shining is by far the best film version of his work, despite anything King says.
The King of Comedy (1982)
So I’ve mentioned this film before on a Top Ten list and again I’ll bring it up because it’s one of my all time favorite films. Whenever Scorsese or De Niro is brought up, no one ever mention The King of Comedy and that’s a shame because it’s a masterpiece. The idea of fandom and fanboys is at an all time high right now and The King of Comedy delves into the mentality of fanboys, way before the term was invented. It’s an older film but never been more relevant than it is today. De Niro is hilarious in this film and it’s underrated as one of the funniest dark comedies and along with De Niro, Jerry Lewis kills it as the unexpected straight man. I could ramble about this film forever and probably will in a Vault review in the future.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
A Christmas Story
Next Week – Top Ten Pixar Films