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The 10 Best Films of the 1980s

The mid-1980s marked perhaps the nadir of American cinema, but the beginning and end of the decade were strong. Don't miss the previous weeks' choices for the 1960s and 1970s.

by
Kyle Smith

Bio

June 19, 2014 - 7:30 am
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10. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Possibly the greatest film about childhood ever made, Steven Spielberg’s fairy tale is a little too sweet and simple to withstand lots of viewings, but the feel for the pangs and yearnings of youth is deep and generous, and the scene in which Elliott kisses a girl in school is among the best Spielberg ever shot.

Top Rated Comments   
This guy has the worst taste in movies that I've ever seen, and he obviously knows nothing about film.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once again, not everything on this list is at all that impressive. The 1980s did have a lot of great and memorable movies, but I'm not seeing most of them here. Try some of these on for size:

Red Dawn
The Back to the Future movies
The Dirty Harry movies
Terminator
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Karate Kid movies
The Mad Max movies
Airplane!
The Blue Lagoon
The Gods Must Be Crazy
Blade Runner
TRON
The Day After
Cloak & Dagger
The Neverending Story
The Purple Rose of Cairo
An American Tail
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Flight of the Navigator
Labyrinth
The Princess Bride
Robocop
Willow
The Little Mermaid
Millennium
Parenthood

Once again, I'd also appreciate a "best movies you've never seen" choice too. My dark horse for the 1980s is Paul Bartel's hilarious black comedy Eating Raoul (1982). "Swing on this!"
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Empire Strikes Back
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Year of Living Dangerously
Chariots of Fire
Raging Bull
E.T.
Terms of Endearment
The Pope of Greenwich Village
The Killing Fields
A Passage To India
To Live and Die in L.A.
Trading Places
Back To the Future
Out of Africa
Radio Days
Platoon
Aliens
Wall Street
Die Hard
Broadcast News
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (65)
All Comments   (65)
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I liked the first 3 Star Wars movies, but they were sci-fi/fantasy fluff; not great movies, but great popcorn movies. So no - a big no - to Empire Strikes Back. Inconceivable!
Instead you should have included 'A Princess Bride'. And I mean it!
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
A crap list put together by someone obviously way into sappy dramas and Woody Allen. No "Stand By Me". No "Full Metal Jacket". No "Ghostbusters". Pft!! Oh, and how the hell can you put together a "Best Films of the 1980s" list and not include a single John Hughes film?! Um... "The Breakfast Club" anyone? My guess is that the creator of this list is about 900 years old.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where's "Raging Bull"? It was voted the 12th best film of all time on the 2012 Sight & Sound Director's poll (358 directors voted). It was the 53rd best film of all time on the critics poll (over 846 critics world-wide voted). These polls are only taken every ten years.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
7 out of 10 are movies I absolutely hate. That's pretty amazing.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dead Poets Society is the treacle-est piece of garbage I've ever seen. I'd put it on a list of the 10 worst.

Here are your worst oversights:
Blade Runner.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
These are not all films that interested me personally, but it is a well thought out list.

I always get a kick out of the 'this list is lame because it doesn't match my own' comments. Of course it doesn't -- nor unless you are the guy or gal who wrote it! But it does make for a good discussion. :)
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the best and most forgotten films from the 80s is Fresh Horses with Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy and Less Than Zero, with Robert Downey and also Andrew McCarthy is even better.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have always thought that the Shining was one of the funniest movies ever made. I never thought it was a horror film, certainly not frightening. I laughed throughout the whole thing.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Subjectivity strikes again.

I'd cite that list as evidence that the 80s sucked.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
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