What some would say the best decade for the blockbuster, the 80s gave us a smorgasboard of iconic classic movies.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
While this treasure cleaned up at Best Action Movie of All Time picks, I was saving it for this one. In my eyes, the ultimate action-adventure, explosive blockbuster, complete with punching Nazis and Nepalese shootouts, Raiders will also be one of my most rewatched and beloved movies. Harrison Ford’s grizzled portrayal wrote him into history, more so than Han Solo, as a defining figure of 80s cinema.
As you’ll see, this category was particularly difficult, so I’ve picked four recipiants (it’s my site dick’ed I’ll do what I want). My favourite action movie of all time (soz Matrix), this campy, gory, funny, biblically allegorical shootup fest is just pure awesomeness squeezed into a bottle,
Another worthy recipient of a different prize, KMA picked this as his Best Animated Movie of All Time and it ain’t hard to see why. It’s a visually stunning compendium of perfect movie moments, with an underlying message to it that strikes powerfully. The animation is purely wonderful, but it often one of the defining 80s movies for me so I had to put it here.
Although Mars Attacks is my favourite movie from the director, Beetlejuice *is* Tim Burton, it’s as simple as that. The black comedy is one of my most revisited movies every year (usually ’round Halloween time) thanks to it’s quirkly visuals and an absolute barnstormer, quote-overflowed performance from Michael Keaton.
Weird Science (1985) – I’d also like to give a lil shoutout to this slight icon for being one of the most 80s things in existence, and for making Bill Paxton a legitmate legend in my house.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
This was what 1977’s Star Wars was building up to, for me the peak of Star Wars and what epitomises everything that is great about what is possibly my favourite film series. Sure, the first film is a classic and is fantastic too, but I feel it all culminated in this film, which brought more thick and fast action, more worlds and more characters, as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker both came into their own – especially in that brilliant climax towards the end – and we were introduced to Yoda. It’s a huge slab of fun and it’s huge.
I feel like there’s three films here that all deserve the honour equally. Although I haven’t got quite the same emotional connection to Ghostbusters as I do with The Empire Strikes Back, from the very first time I saw it, it has remained re-watchable and every single time it is ridiculously entertaining. It’s one of the finest example of in-your-face comedy writing, which is punctuated by a groovin’ soundtrack and it’s so brilliantly 80s it hurts – but its unique in that its quite subdued and quirky in a way, with Bill Murray’s iconic performance at its heart.
Back to the Future (1985)
Another ridiculously entertaining film here and another absolute cinema classic, Back to the Future never gets tiresome, even if ITV 2’s constant coverage of it does try to make it. This film is just flat-out entertaining, with so much 80s swagger and a never-ending flow of quips and flashy moments as the measured swing of the mid-50s is blended with the techno madness of the 80s as Marty McFly breezes through the time swaps as one of the most charismatic and fun protagonists in film.
From this brilliant decade we’ve also got the absolute CLASSIC that is Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), but I thought I’d give that its due in another award (action movie category innit). Another film I’d like to give a mention is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), which just oozes fun.
Obviously, Brazil came out in this decade, and that’s my best movie of all time, so it wouldn’t make sense to not have it as the best movie of the 80s. So many good movies came out in these 10 years though, so I would like to mention another Gilliam film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), which I also love to pieces and would be the best film of the 80s if Brazil didn’t exist.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
The 80s was such an incredible time for cinema, that it feels unfair to single This is Spinal Tap out as the best, but is there a band more iconic than Spinal Tap in the entire history of rock n’ roll? 😉 Thank the 80s for introducing one of the greatest bands with the most epic props and unfortunate drummers.
When I first saw Gilliam’s steampunk used-future classic in the 80s, it seemed absurdist and surreal. However, with every passing decade it appears less far-fetched and more like a premonition. The ‘Bug’ in the system that instigates the wrecking of one man’s life has played out with increasing accuracy the closer we get to whatever is coming next.
Platoon (1986) – There was a spate of great ‘Nam movies in the 80’s; 20 years seems to be the window any major event needs for the youth who lived it to need it capturing in celluloid aspic. Platoon had the most likable boys sent off to war, the most horrific action ‘in the shit’ and the heaviest tragedy in its ending. It also had a wicked soundtrack album.
The Untouchables (1987) – “They pull a knife, you pull a gun, they send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue, THAT’s the Chicago Way.”
Sean Connery steals the movie from a great cast with several great script moments and Brian De Palma steals Gangster movies back to the early 20th Century.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984) – Eddie Murphy swearing his way through yuppie Beverly Hills is no less thrilling now that it was when I was a kid. A comedy that’s not afraid to do hard edged action, there were life lessons for an impressionable kid watching Eddie falling out of the back of trucks and banging through plate glass windows; I’ve never fallen for the banana in the tailpipe.
The Blues Brothers (1980) – A musical education dressed up as a road movie. Jake And Elwood Blues gave the Essex Man a perennial fancy dress costume while capturing Aretha, John Lee Hooker, Ray and Cab Calloway in glorious technicolour. We’re still punching Nazis and upsetting the KKK while we bop, so you know, it’s wholesome family entertainment — with bazookas and scary nuns.
Terms Of Endearment (1983)
Blade Runner (1982)
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!