47 Best Films of the ’80s

Movie Mezzannine‘s Sam Fragoso has polled several critics and posted several lists pondering the ten best films of the 1980s. What wankery. You can’t pick ten effing films to represent the cream of the crop of an entire decade. It has to be least 30 or 40. Here’s Hollywood Elsewhere’s picks, a blend of the best, the most significant, the most enjoyable and and the most influential. I’ve settled on 47.

Warning: It is the respectful opinion of this columnist that anyone who picks Brian DePalma‘s Blow Out as one of the great ’80s films either (a) has a serious aesthetic perception problem or (b) is being intentionally perverse. I tried watching the Criterion Bluray and I couldn’t get past the first 45 minutes or so.

Top Ten: 1. Crimes and Misdemeanors, 2. Prince of City, 3. The Shining, 4. The Empire Strikes Back, 5. Blade Runner, 6. The King of Comedy, 7. Hannah and Her Sisters, 8. Wings of Desire, 9. Lost in America, 10. Aliens.

Top Ten Runners-Up: 11. Reds, 12. Thief, 13. Raging Bull, 14. Do the Right Thing, 15. Betrayal, 16. Purple Rose of Cairo, 17. E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, 18. Blood Simple, 19. Midnight Run, 20. The Road Warrior.

Rest of the Best: 21. Amadeus, 22. Down By Law, 23. Stardust Memories, 24. Blue Velvet, 25. The Elephant Man, 26. Die Hard, 27. Atlantic City, 28. The Year of Living Dangerously, 29. Scarface, 30. My Beautiful Laundrette, 31. To Live and Die in LA, 32. Something Wild, 33. Melvin and Howard, 34. Local Hero, 35. Breaker Morant, 36. Barry Levinson tie: Diner, Tin Men, 37. Back to the Future, 38. Hoosiers, 39. Runaway Train, 40. Planes Trains Automobiles, 41. Risky Business, 42. The Terminator, 43. The Hit, 44. Tender Mercies, 45. Broadcast News, 46. Born on the Fourth of July, 47. Moonstruck.

  • Mark

    I’m sorry. But there’s Raising Arizona, and then there’s every other movie made in the 80′s.

  • Matt Swenson

    Hey you guys — No Goonies! what a snub.

  • Ray Quick

    Raging Bull, The Shining, Blade Runner, Once Upon a Time in America, At Close Range, Wall Street, Scarface, Black Rain, Escape from New York, Body Heat, Blood Simple, Doctor Detroit, Halloween III, Halloween II, Halloween 5, Top Gun, Risky Business, Body Double, Thief, Manhunter, To Live and Die in LA, Screwballs…

    • Edward

      Halloween II, III and V! What are you drinking? Top Gun too!

  • GuyLodge

    “You can’t pick ten effing films to represent the cream of the crop of an entire decade.”

    Well, it seems you can, since you’ve led off your list with a Top Ten.

    Also, a “respectful” opinion doesn’t dismiss the perspective, or question the sincerity, of anyone who holds a different one.

    On a more positive note, Hannah and Her Sisters is one of my all-time Top Ten films (yep, there’s that pesky number again), so I’m pleased to see you’ve listed it at #7 AND #12. It’s that good.

    • Edward

      It is that good. One of Allen’s best.

  • http://jessecrall.wordpress.com/ Jesse Crall

    I can’t boil it down to a top 10 but the 16 that left the biggest impact on me:

    Hannah & Her Sisters, Atlantic City, The Shining, Raging Bull, Crimes & Misdemeanors, Diner, Thief, Housekeeping, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Platoon, Rumble Fish, Sophie’s Choice, Do the Right Thing, Risky Business, Field of Dreams, & Blade Runner. And in the spirit of Wells’ shitty proofreading, I’ll throw in Hannah again. I’ve seen it about 18 times.

    And if I’d seen the 4-hour Once Upon a Time In America on the big screen, it would be in there. Watching it on a 27-inch t.v. in two parts kinda blew the experience.

    • Edward

      Rumble Fish is an under-appreciated masterpiece.

  • Phil Contrino

    No Wall Street?

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      Naaah. Didn’t make the cut.

  • EricGilde

    Surprising Omissions: Tootsie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Brazil, Ran, Full Metal Jacket…..

    • CBJ

      Come now, no way in hell Wells is gonna list “Raiders of the Lost Ark”….

      • Mr. F.

        But he has children’s movie E.T. in his Top 20…

        • EricGilde

          EXACTLY.

    • kwisatzhaderach

      Yeah, even taking Jeff’s irrational hatred of Spielberg onboard i’m still amazed that Raiders of the Lost Ark isn’t on there. If there is one film from the 80s that will be watched 100 years from now then that’s got to be it.

  • nagboy92

    1.Risky Business-Cruise, De Mornay, Tangerine Dream, perfect movie.

    2.Something Wild-The ultimate road trip movie.

    3.Melvin and Howard-I just love mythic Americana type movies.

    4.The Fog-Carpenter at his most atmospheric.

    5.Fandango-Costner drunk in a tuxedo shirt: best thing ever.

    6.The Entity-Ghost rape.

    7.Breathless-Gere is a revelation in this.

    8.The Fly- John Getz FTW

    9.Blow Out-If you don’t get a bit misty eyed during the fireworks scene then I pity you.

    10.Once Upon a Time in America-Woods, De Niro, Opium dens, YOU WANNA GO BACK TO ROLLING DRUNKS FOR A LIVING?

    Honorable Mention: Heathers, Diva , Raging Bull, The Beast, The Thing.

    • Alan Burnett

      Getz is a GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD in that film. Whether he is showering in his ex’s apartment, stalking her or generally acting like an ass, Getz is hilarious in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Few jerkass ex-boyfriends are so wonderfully entertaining as in Getz’s pathetic, leering, self-pitying Stathis Borans (AWESOME NAME). I’ll say it: GETZ POWER

      • nagboy92

        Getz also rules in the underseen Bruckheimer joint Thief of Hearts as a pussier version of the same kind of character.

        • Alan Burnett

          *Googles ‘Thief of Hearts’. Sees IMDb profile and featuring Bauer and YOUNG CARUSO. Puts pants on and drives to videostore.*

          • Ray Quick

            Also it has an AWESOME Harold Faltermeyer score…

            Wonder whatever happened to Douglas Day Stewart, he was a huge deal in the Simpson/Bruckheimer/Paramount stable back then.

      • MarkVH

        DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD POWER

  • Tony Dayoub

    Where’s THIEF, CUTTER’S WAY and yes, BLOW OUT? Idiosyncrasy is the hallmark of any great list. And your list strikes me as conventional to an extreme.

    • http://jessecrall.wordpress.com/ Jesse Crall

      Nah, at this point it’s probably more idiosyncratic to list the consensus classics (agree with you on Thief and Cutter’s Way, though).

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      I inserted “Thief.”

  • TPK

    Mommie Dearest?!

  • Ray Quick

    Yeah, isn’t Wells CAPTAIN FULL METAL JACKET?

  • http://modage.tumblr.com/ modage

    Kinda shocked to see your list populated with so many geek genre classics (The Shining, The Empire Strike Back, Blade Runner, Aliens, E.T., The Road Warrior, Die Hard, Back To The Future, The Terminator, etc.) since they were the beginnings of the Comic-Con culture you despise. Don’t disagree with any of those picks, just surprised to see them.

  • Rod Durham

    I’m 49 and turned 16 in 1980 and was in my mid-20′s by the end of the decade, so I am going to go by the films I saw DURING the decade rather than some reflective highfalutin retrospect (no offense…no one has really done that yet). So, in order of my 16-25 self (please keep the sniggering to a minimum)

    RAGING BULL, DANGEROUS LIAISONS, ET THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, ORDINARY PEOPLE, ALIENS, CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS, GLORY, BROADCAST NEWS, DO THE RIGHT THING, & BLOW OUT (for your ass).

  • http://www.moviemezzanine.com/ Sam Fragoso

    Always a pleasure Wells.

    • jesse

      BTW, GREAT call on Say Anything. It’s one of my favorite movies and it still didn’t come immediately to mind when I thought about best movies of the eighties, I guess because I think of it as timeless, or because I saw it in 1999, or it never makes these types of lists. But it’s a great choice and would make my top ten for sure.

      It would hard for me not to include Airplane! and Back to the Future and either E.T. or Raiders, too, and oh man, Mendelson with Roger Rabbit, that would be huge for me, too… although that would make for a pretty popcorny list, and very heavy on Spielberg and Zemeckis.

      Then again, movies like The Neverending Story and Ferris Bueller and Die Hard and the fucking Goonies all turn up on some of the affiliated lists so maybe I shouldn’t feel so guilty…

  • nagboy92

    Good to see some Prince of the City and Local Hero love.

  • zantetsupowaa

    Man, Spielberg’s star has really fallen in recent years, huh? Because E.T. would *not* be a “runner-up” if the poll were conducted 20 years ago.

  • Mark Bendiksen

    Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but even after 20+ viewings, the BLOW OUT rooftop finale and closing shot of John Travolta covering his ears give me pure, full-body chills every single time.

    • Jason T.

      It’s a helluva perf. BLOW OUT was like a found treasure when I discovered it on shitty VHS and it’s fucking GORGEOUS on BR.

  • Mike

    Two Mickey Rourke classics should be on the list: Barfly and especially Angel Heart. There was no other actor who could touch Mickey in the ’80′s!

    • Sumo-Pop

      I agree with that.

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      I love “Angel Heart” — maybe I should take something out and put it in.

      • Alan Burnett

        You could always just, you know, add the film into the list considering lists are inherently bullshit and there is NO DIFFERENCE between a film list of 47 films and one of 48.

  • Bobby Cooper

    CUTTER’S WAY

    • sodf

      Agreed on Cutter’s Way.

      Speaking of great but popular movies with an adult sensibility, what about Bull Durham?

      Is this list supposed to be limited to American movies? I hear that a few good foreign language movies were released in the Eighties. Looking at just one director, how about Kagemusha and Ran?

      • GuyLodge

        Wings of Desire is in the top 10, which makes the absence of any other non-English-language titles all the more glaring. An oversight, Jeff, or do you think that one film stood head and shoulders above all other world cinema from that decade?

        • Edward

          Wings of Desire is timeless. Hard to place it in the top of the top, because there are so many films to choose.

  • moviewatcher

    I was really expecting you to go for Stardust Memories because of that post the other day.

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      Didn’t think of it. Thinking of it now. This is a process.

  • JR

    On the whole, and I lived through the 80s so I was there, that decade sort of sucked for the quantity of truly great movies, with exceptions of course. But any list of more than 10 and certainly more than 20 films from that decade really goes downhill fast compared to say any prior decade since the birth of film and either of the 2 complete decades since.

    And how do you leave Tootsie and Raising Arizona off this list, both Top 10 for me along with Raging Bull, Bladerunner, Hannah and her Sisters, Terminator, Sophie’s Choice, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and a couple others I need to ponder a while.

  • nomegusta

    Somehow Wells hating BLOW OUT is worse than his racism, narcissism, and misogyny.

  • Walter Hollmann

    Hannah and Her Sisters: the film so nice, we ranked it twice.

    Wish I had more exposure to the 80s. My knowledge is limited, but ranking my Ten Favorites:

    1) Xanadu, 1980
    2) Another Woman, 1988
    3) Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986
    4) A Room with a View, 1986
    5) Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, 1985
    6) The Big Chill, 1983
    7) The Goonies, 1985
    8) Cocoon, 1985
    9) Amadeus, 1984
    10) Out of Africa, 1985

  • John

    fuck yeah MOMMIE DEAREST. What?!

  • Steven Gaydos

    There’s a fascinating story about how Hollywood’s Second Golden Age ended in tears as Reaganism crept into the bloodstream of music and film and led to the fanboy culture that we now have to drive around every day.

  • DerekereD

    1. A Idade da Terra (1980) Glauber Rocha

    2. Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    3. Elle a passé tant d’heures sous les sunlights… (1985) Philippe Garrel

    4. La femme publique (1984) Andrzej Zulawski

    5. Passion (1982) Jean-Luc Godard

    6. Topio stin omichli (1988) Theodoros Angelopoulos

    7. The Thing (1982) John Carpenter

    8. Heaven’s Gate (1980) Michael Cimino

    9. Eureka (1983) Nicolas Roeg

    10. Sudden Impact (1983) Clint Eastwood

    • Glenn Kenny

      Wells on Rocha: “Charlie Nobody.”

  • hatchetface

    You knock the taste of anyone listing BLOW OUT and then put fucking RUNAWAY TRAIN on your best-of list?

  • Heiron

    “The Princess Bride” gets no love under “most enjoyable?”
    Inconceivable!

  • patches23

    Broadway Danny Rose is right up there with the rest of Woody’s that are mentioned here.

    I would also include The Last Temptation of Christ.

  • Sumo-Pop

    A lot of very reasonable people think Blow Out is great. Just because you don’t shouldn’t mean that anyone who does should have their overall opinion questioned. Save that for the clown now running RogerEbert.com who just gave 3 1/2 stars to BOTH After Earth AND The Lone Ranger. Matt Zoller Seitz. I wouldn’t trust that guy to recommend a decent hand soap.

  • roland1824

    Blue Velvet always figures high on these 80′s lists. I wonder if these people are just remembering it from back in the day or have recently watched it on bluray. I used to love it but I cannot sit through it today. Not because it’s uncomfortable or scarey, but because of how a lot it feels alternately dumb and dull. Maybe its particular flavor of irony doesn’t work any longer, on me at least.

    • Ray Quick

      Funny, I was going to post something vaguely similar but figured it was just me…. I think Lynch has long since out-done BV– I’m much likelier to watch Lost Highway or Mulholland Dr. I still LOVE Hopper and ESPECIALLY the BEN segment with Stockwell, but then there’s all this wood-paneled stuff with Laura Dern, and as great as the widescreen shots are, I much prefer the visuals and SOUND DESIGN of later Lynch.

      It’s still a fine movie, but that “dark undercurrent of small-town Americana” shtick seemed like a revelation in the middle of the Reagan ’80s… and now it’s been done to death in much more mundane movies that have diluted Velvet. And just on an auteur level, I like 90s Lynch better because he went FULL-ON internal and metaphysical and fetishistic (though Wild at Heart remains at least partly obnoxious and hateful.)

      • Bastard in a Basket

        Lex,

        Your twitter feed is becoming seriously addicting. Love the McNulty from The Wire riff and the Scorcese film tweets.

      • Raising_Kaned

        Yeah, that seems fair. WaH is probably the film Lynch had to make in order to pump out his surreal tour-de-force masterpieces, but — my God — it can be a real ordeal to sit through (same goes for FWwM, albeit to a lesser degree).

  • pjm

    “The Right Stuff,” “Videodrome,” and “L’Argent”

  • JB Moore

    REPO MAN, THE RIGHT STUFF

  • Adam Lapish

    Jeff,

    Woody Allen well represented but no Purple Rose of Cairo? Not a fan? It’s my favourite Allen I think.

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      It should be in there. You’ve convinced me.

  • nagboy92

    I think it’s interesting to look back at Siskel and Ebert’s top ten list throughout the 80′s and see what films they liked then and what people generally adore from the 80′s now. Like I love some stuff they have ranked high like House of Games, Platoon, etc. But when was the last time you sat down to watch Round Midnight or The Accidental Tourist or Choose Me or whatever highly acclaimed movie thats disappeared from the face of the earth? Makes you wonder how stuff like The Impossible or The Sessions will hold up in 20-30 years.

    • Walter Hollmann

      The Accidental Tourist would’ve made it to my Top 15; but again, I’m not an 80s guy. I think you’re spot-on with The Impossible and The Sessions; hell, even The Iron Lady, which I liked, isn’t likely to be remembered as anything but Meryl’s third Oscar.

      • nagboy92

        Charlize Theron should have walked away with it that year and she wasn’t even nominated.

  • Bobby Cooper

    BAD TIMING, AT CLOSE RANGE as rest of the best?

    • Bobby Cooper

      Also, better make way for THE VERDICT

      • GSmith

        Love The Verdict, always think it is overlooked in discussions such as this.

  • Hollis Mulwray

    Agree with the hate directed at BLOW OUT. Jeff’s friend Noah Baumbach participates with the extras on the BluRay and is quite a fan. The trailer for DePalma’s next, PASSIONS, looks god-awful. Film has already opened in every non-English speaking country. Think the US release coincides with VOD – Trailer makes it look like some ’70′s Tinto Brass production. What’s next for DePalma – Emanuelle?

  • lazarus

    One has to love how Jeff accuses people of having a “serious aesthetic perception problem” and then only lists one foreign language film.

    And the commenters below follow suit for the most part, though at least there’s the bright beacon of DerekereD’s list.

    For what it’s worth:

    Reds
    Once Upon A Time In America
    Nostalghia (Tarkovsky)
    Stardust Memories
    City Of Pirates (Ruiz)
    Three Crowns Of The Sailor (Ruiz)
    Betty Blue (Beineix)
    Trouble In Mind (Rudolph)
    Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Miyazaki)
    Raging Bull
    Crimes And Misdemeanors
    Lola (Fassbinder)
    The Right Stuff
    Love On The Ground (Rivette)
    The Last Temptation Of Christ
    Fitzcarraldo (Herzog)
    Grave Of The Fireflies (Takahata)

  • Nunya Business

    I like Santa Sangre. That movie is crazy. Mexican circuses. Incest. Ladies with no arms. Dead elephants. It’s got everything.

  • algarciashead

    1. The Thing
    2. Escape from New York
    3. Big Trouble in Little China
    4.-10. Some other unimportant things

    • Ray Quick

      They Live should be in there, too. Or CHRISTINE. “Why doesn’t it have your name on it? Why doesn’t it say Arnie Cuntingham?” “FUCK NO, I’m talking about CHRISTIIIIINE, man!”

    • Patrick_Z

      Prince of Darkness!

  • Ray Quick

    Revenge of the Ninja.

  • cyanic

    List making is time wasted. And in the end what everyone really wants to do is judge your taste. The movies that have easy replay value are never the repeatedly cited classics of a genre or decade but the trash from the studio system to make a quick buck. That’s what you rewatch and fall in love with. Quoting it like it matters–you learn movie dialogue but can’t answer fourth grade American History questions. That’s the reality.

  • Gary Burleigh

    3 that still haunt me to this day: Once Upon a Time in America, Prince of the City, and Hannah and Her Sisters

  • Marcus

    The summer of 1982 should dominate this list. The Thing, Star Trek 2 WoK, Blade Runner, Road Warrior, Poltergeist, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

  • brenkilco

    Pretty thin compared to the seventies. Once upon a Time in America the most glaring oversight. Can someone explain Reds to me. The same sophomoric political debate, the same pointless domestic argument over and over again for nearly four hours. And since most of it takes place in cramped Greenwich Village apartments and even more cramped Moscow tenements there isn’t even much to look at. The most overrated film of the eighties.

    • George Prager

      You forgot the arguments in the Hamptons. meanwhile, once the kids in Once Upon a Time grow up the movie turns to shit.

  • Brian Bouton

    Flash Gordon (1980) deserves a place just because I happen to love it dearly.

  • bill weber

    Hou, Kieslowski, Kiarostami, the last of Fassbinder and Kurosawa… all might as well be Big Star to the King of the Eloi.

    • Michael Gebert

      Right. Berlin Alexanderplatz and Veronika Voss. Pialat’s Under Satan’s Sun. Ran. Fanny & Alexander. The original BBC Edge of Darkness. The Decalogue. Come and See. My Neighbor Totoro. Das Boot. Mephisto. Tampopo.

  • George Prager

    Raging Bull, Blue Velvet, Withnail & I, Repo Man, Dance With a Stranger, Wetherby, A Room With a View, Ran, Blade Runner, The Shining, Platoon, Broadway Danny Rose, Brazil, Something Wild, The Night of the Shooting Stars, Raising Arizona, Wall Street, The Pope of Greenwich Village, To Live and Die in LA, Sixteen Candles, Gregory’s Girl, Fanny and Alexander, Reds, The Thing, Lost in America, Do the Right Thing, Another Country, Diner, The Verdict, Local Hero, The Elephant Man, Plenty, My Life as a Dog, The Evil Dead 2, Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, Dead Ringers, Re-Animator, Cutter’s Way, The Right Stuff, Ordinary People, Stardust Memories, Heathers, Cop, Best Seller.

    • brenkilco

      Some good movies, some decent entertainments, some interesting misfires, not much that qualifies as enduringly great. Raging Bull, Blade Runner, maybe Fanny and Alexander, maybe The Shining. Then what? Not much to show for ten years.

  • George Prager

    Never understood the HANNAH AND HER SISTERS love. Sure it was fine when it came out, but unwatchable now. Max Von Sydow’s scenes seem tacked on and pointless, Woody ending up with Dianne Wiest is completely unbelievable, and Michael Caine, with his fucking sweater and child molester glass frames is a complete fucking douche.

  • http://timemowingdown.blogspot.com/ Amateur Seasalt Gatherer

    I was there, man, and it went like this:

    The Right Stuff
    The Elephant Man
    Local Hero
    Drugstore Cowboy (how has no one mentioned this movie?!?)
    Hannah and Her Sisters
    Bull Durham
    Dangerous Liaisons
    The Shining
    Blade Runner
    Atlantic City
    The Year of Living Dangerously

    And just for the record, Blow Out was great, best film De Palma ever made.

    • George Prager

      forgot Drugstore Cowboy. Added it.

  • Pete Miesel

    Second the votes for Ran and Repo Man. No love for Spinal Tap?

    • GSmith

      Spinal Tap should be at #11, no?

  • Pete Miesel

    Oh, probably a spot ought to go to Gilliam’s Time Bandits/Brazil/Munchausen trilogy

  • Awardsdaily

    Your top ten is not as good as your next two tiers. Raging Bull, Stardust Memories, Blue Velvet, Elephant Man, Year of Living Dangerously ALL TOO LOW.

  • Awardsdaily

    And yeah, what Ray Quick said: Body Heat.

  • Steven Gaydos

    One word: “Iguana.”
    Back in 91 Tarantino said to me, “You wrote Iguana, right? That movie should have made Monte Hellman a household name!”
    I’m not sure what households he was referring to but any list of the films of the 80s that includes The Elephant Man MUST include its polar opposite.
    Just for fun.

  • Clockwork Taxi

    It’s all about Robocop.

    • Deaf Ears

      Still the best super-hero movie ever made, and one of the all-time great action films.

  • JLC

    Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Robocop. The Little Mermaid. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension.

  • Leeroy

    The Verdict
    Bull Durham
    Manhunter
    Local Hero
    E.T.
    Moonstruck
    A Room With a View
    The Right Stuff

    The Fabulous Baker Boys
    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Unlike the 70s or 90s, the movies that hold up well from this decade are, for the most part, not heavy family dramas or crime pictures. It’s the off beat comedies and big studio adventures: Tootsie, Back To the Future, Spinal Tap, Ghostbusters, Something Wild, Broadcast News, Planes Trains & Automobiles, After Hours, Married to the Mob, When Harry Met Sally, Zelig, Airplane.

  • Leeroy

    When you think of 80′s comedy filmmakers, the first names that come to mind are James L. Brooks, Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, Zuckers, John Landis.

    But did anyone have a better 80′s run than Rob Reiner?

    Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally. Throw in a solid non-comedy “Stand By Me” and you’ve got a pretty great filmography.

  • Peter Buchanan

    You do realize that even in the 80s there were films from OUTSIDE of Hollywood, don’t you?

  • Terry McCarty

    Throwing out a few underseen-but-watchable titles from the decade: SHY PEOPLE, A HANDFUL OF DUST, THE MANHATTAN PROJECT, SAMMY AND ROSIE GET LAID, HONKYTONK MAN, FIRST BORN, STREET SMART (mainly for Morgan Freeman and Kathy Baker), BARFLY, HALF MOON STREET, THE MOSQUITO COAST, POSSESSION, MAKING MR. RIGHT, LOVESICK (mainly for Ron Silver’s parody of Al Pacino), THE COCA-COLA KID, A PRIVATE FUNCTION, A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON, A SUMMER STORY.

    • nagboy92

      First Born rules, Peter Weller all playing a coked up rage-a-holic putting the moves on Teri Garr.

  • Eric

    The goonies, Top gun, Back to the future, Indiana jones…

    Those were the days… :-)

    http://internetgeheimenoplichting.nl

  • Steven Gaydos

    This discussion makes one thing clear: go outside the hits that began to dominate/subjugate/strangle Hollywood in the Reagan 80s and you find great movies.

  • Markus Ponto

    This list could change any minute…

    - Tootsie

    - The Hunt for the Red October

    - Raiders of the Lost Ark

    - The Empire strikes Back

    - Stardust Memories

    - Hannah and Her Sisters

    - Back to the Future

    - Blade Runner

    - Fanny and Alexander

    oh and of course

    - Blow Out

    • JoshM1976

      Red October was early ’90, but I appreciate its inclusion nonetheless. Whenever I list it as one of my favorite movies, I get strange looks.

      • cyanic

        Because it’s boring.

  • Perfect Tommy

    I must admit that’s a pretty sweet top ten list, especially C & M as #1. I might switch out “Purple Rose” for “Hannah” and find room somewhere in the top ten for “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

  • Paul Marzagalli

    That is a pretty solid list, Jeff.

  • MarkVH

    I’ll throw in a plug for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

  • insider77

    Nice list, but it’s not a “Best Films of the 80s” list but a “Best American Films of the 80s” list. It’s amazing the number of american critics who made that mistake writing this kind of list year after year.

  • Raising_Kaned

    No time to assemble my own list right now, but yours is fine (if a little top-heavy with the Allen picks, and totally lacking in foreign selections).

    Haven’t read any of the comments yet, either, but what’s the hell’s wrong with Blow Out?? This is probably going to seem blasphemous to most, but to me it’s the only true DePalma masterpiece because it doesn’t have these long, dull stretches (you just know you’re fast-forwarding Scarface past that slow middle hour), meandering self-indulgent detours (does anyone really care about Carrie’s home life?), or…Michael Caine in drag.

    Anyway — Blow Out seems like an actual film whereas Scarface, Carrie, Femme Fatale, Snake Eyes, Mission: Impossible, Dressed to Kill — as much as I dig them all (to varying degrees) — just seem like they’re more or less treading water until their one or two trademark kickass setpieces or climax.

    • brenkilco

      I need to stick up for The Fury. Yeah, the plot is scattershot and ridiculous but it’s got De Palma’s best set pieces, a great look, the last good lead Douglas played and Cassavetes’ uniquely smarmy brand of evil. Have to admit it. It’s my favorite De Palma.

      • Raising_Kaned

        Well, I think almost everyone has a “hidden favorite” when it comes to DePalma — that’s what makes him so cool (yet also so inFURYating!). It’s a slightly different fetish every time out with him, so it’s pretty hit-and-miss.

        While I said Blow Out is his true masterpiece, and I stand by that (I do think it’s the hardest to pick the plot apart, and maintains the most consistent tone), I’m not sure that I would say it’s my “favorite.”

        I’m sort of a Sisters guy myself, but if you call it a ’70s Hitchcock clone — it’s sorta tough to argue that it’s not (whereas in BO I’d argue that DePalma undoubtedly uses Antonioni as a jumping-off, but ends up with something wholly unique).

        • brenkilco

          One problem with the most personal of Depalma’s films, the ones he scripted is that hes not the best writer. Some of his dialogue is borderline painful. I particularly dislike the dumb, obnoxious detective he puts in so many films, the one who never believes a word the hero says, who always seems to be played by Dennis Franz even when he’s not.

          • Raising_Kaned

            Yeah, exactly. People always rag on Bonfire on these boards for being the epitome of DePalma excess, but I never really felt like that was completely true (don’t get me wrong — it IS excessive, but more in a Wolfe way than BDP way).

            I kinda dig it, but if you don’t like DePalma’s aesthetic, something like Body Double is arguably the worst offender. Let me just put it this way: he likely didn’t win over too many “new” fans with that one.

  • jjbrainstorm

    There are some great additions to the list in these comments that I won’t repeat, but I would like to add the often overlooked anime classic AKIRA.

  • JoshM1976

    Over 100 comments, and not one mention of Stakeout. But I am happy to see Midnight Run getting love from our humble host.
    If you’re making a list like this, you should have to list your age. I turned four in 1980, so my list would probably be populated with what I watched over-and-over-and-over in my pre-teen/early teen years and have blind nostalgia for. Crimes and Misdemeanors, as great as it is, wouldn’t be making the cut. National Lampoon’s Vacation might.

    • nagboy92

      I’m 21 so I never saw any of these during their original theatrical run, but since I’m a autodidactic movie geek, The films I’ve come to enjoy the most are often the films most of their time. I could care less about “timelessness” or whatever. I want to experience cinema as it was at the time regardless of decade. My list is mostly a mix of genre films, Demme’s 2 films on Americana, and stuff like Risky Business which is my favorite movie of all time.

  • Max Stephens

    The weakest decade of the sound era by far. My top five: Fanny and Alexander, Local Hero, Blue Velvet, Bull Durham, Prince of the City. Not much else of note.

    • Ray Quick

      Yeah, Raging Bull is not much of note.

      • Max Stephens

        Love Marty, but RB is nothing but lowlifes shouting at each other.

    • Raising_Kaned

      Oh, c’mon — that’s dismissive enough to be a parody of a film snob trolling.

      And your D.Z.-inspired, TV Guide Channel summary of Raging Bull is arguably worse.

    • George Prager

      the “sound era”?

  • radogado

    “Blow Out” is great.

  • Joe User

    It’s the respectful opinion of this reader that anyone who doesn’t understand why Blow Out is among the best films of the ’80s has no business writing about film.

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/KizoneKaprow Kizone Kaprow

    Where’s the list of the best “Best Of” lists?

  • Steve Roberts

    I stumbled across this exercise in hubris from a link on a Brian De Palma website (complete with a disclaimer, which I unfortunately ignored)…

    Any list that doesn’t put Blue Velvet and Blow Out at the top of the list (and I’d add Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) is not compiled by a person with genuine film sense. Your entire blog is an amateur stunt from start to finish–your professional journalism days endowed you with glossy publishing skills, but it’s like an issue of The New Yorker with all ads and no substance. The little dash of arrogance sprinkled on top makes the whole dish really stick in your throat.

    I wish to god I could unsee this blog,