10 Best Movies From The 1980s

Sunday, February 27 by Alan Rankin

Opinions differ on the 10 best movies from the 1980's. While high-profile art films like “Amadeus” and “Gandhi” dominated the Oscars, the decade also saw resurgence in adventure, horror and even musical movies. Here’s a look at the cinematic landmarks of the years 1980-1989.

  1. “The Empire Strikes Back.” George Lucas opened the 80's with the second installment of his “Star Wars” epic. Many fans like it even more than the first movie, although this is a subject of long debate. Scenes like the battle on Hoth and the final light-saber duel have become iconic, and helped the series earn the term “epic.”
  2. “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Lucas followed “Empire” the very next year with the firs Indiana Jones adventure. With Steven Spielberg directing, the duo created an adventure story that was a loving tribute to moviemaking. Critics and fans alike often list the film among the greatest ever made.
  3. “The Big Chill.” “Empire” and “Raiders” scripter Lawrence Kasdan had the clout to direct his own movie by 1983, and that’s just what he did. Rather than an adventure story, though, he created a comedy-drama about the rise and fall of the Baby Boomer generation. William Hurt and Glenn Close lead an ensemble cast as six friends uncertain about their future and their past.
  4. “The Breakfast Club.” Comedy director John Hughes, inspired by “The Big Chill,” reinvented the teen comedy in 1985. Five kids spend a Saturday in detention verbally exploring each other’s lives. Molly Ringwald and several other members of the “Brat Pack” exchange some of the best lines from any 80's movie.
  5. “Back to the Future.” Producer Steven Spielberg and director Robert Zemeckis put the decade’s special effect technology to work on a wacky time-travel comedy. Michael J. Fox becomes a reluctant visitor to the past when he gets in Christopher Lloyd’s scienced-up sports car. The movie spawned two sequels, a series critic Leonard Maltin called “real movie magic.”
  6. “Platoon.” More than a decade after it ended, Americans were finally ready for a movie about the Vietnam War. Oliver Stone’s horrifying script was based on his own military experiences. Stone won an Oscar for directing, while actors Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger received nominations of their own.
  7. “Aliens.” Director James Cameron’s action-horror hybrid was a critical and commercial smash hit. Sigourney Weaver returns to the planet she barely survived in “Alien,” this time with the Marines backing her up. Innovative action sequences and strong female characters became Cameron trademarks and influenced numerous later action films.
  8. “Blue Velvet.” Director David Lynch explored the dark side of small-town America with his defining film. Beautiful Isabella Rossellini leads naïve Kyle MacLachlan into a confrontation with demonic Dennis Hopper. The movie made everybody’s “top ten” list, and paved the way for Lynch’s TV series “Twin Peaks.”
  9. “The Princess Bride.” William Goldman’s script of his novel was once considered Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplay. In 1987, it was finally filmed by director Rob Reiner, with a stellar cast including unknowns Cary Elwes, Robin Wright and Fred Savage. The swashbuckling comedy has become a cult classic and one of the greatest date movies ever.
  10. “Do the Right Thing.” Director Spike Lee, adored by critics and black audiences, was unknown to everyone else until this 1989 drama put him on the map. Racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood reach a volatile point during a summer heat wave. Lee won numerous awards and produced a series of critically acclaimed, controversial films over the following decade. 
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