'My 100 Best Movies of the 80's'
When completing my 100 best movies of the 70's list I noticed that I was not putting any foreign movies on my list. I feel either lacking in culture or like I am an ignorant American. It is just because I grew up on American films and didn't see many foreign movies until the late 80's. Now I have not seen as many movies of the 70's as I have of the 80's. In the 80's I was able to go to the movies more and the dawn of cable gave me more opportunities. I remember the summer of 1981 when we first got cable and I was in heaven. Two movie channels in HBO and Cinemax and plenty of movies to check out. The first three days I tried to stay up all night and I vowed to watch movies 24 hours non stop in those three days. I was going to stay up all night every night till I saw every movie there was. That lasted till about 2 a.m. on the first night when I fell asleep. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and the third "Omen" movie was on. I woke up to a man getting his head shot off and I got scared and ran upstairs. I tried to resume my all night schedule the next few nights and I failed.
I saw a lot of movies and I mean more than most people could handle. Then when I started to work in a video store I had opportunities to watch even more. The 80's was the decade that my parents got divorced, I grew up through junior high, high school and finally college. It was the decade that I grew up in and became an adult. Compiling my 80's list I noticed the movies were much different than the movies released in the 70's. The slasher genre was pumping out a movie a month and the blockbuster era was growing at an exponential rate. Every year from 1980 I wrote down every movie released and gave star ratings to the movies I saw. As each year passed the number of movies being released grew and grew to almost 5 movies released a week. My 80's list I am making here has 110 movies that I loved and that is not all. I also have about 40 that didn't make my list but that I have a deep fondness for. Add to that the plethora of movies I liked, hated or just forgot about because of their mediocrity. That is about 200 movies a year that I saw in theatres, on cable and on video having worked in a video store. The only difference between Quentin Tarantino and me is that Tarantino is successful and rich. This list was a very hard list to come up with and the rankings of each movie can always change. So I hope some of my favorites are yours. There are also movies that are on my list you never heard of or that you will think I am nuts to like at all.
I am starting out with movies that I love that didn't make my list but were close. Then I will give you my 10 movies that could jump into my list as time passes but just missed it.
Movies that barely made the cut:
1.) Used Cars (80) Director: Robert Zemeckis Kurt Russell
A hilarious and very raunchy comedy that I saw on Cinemax when I was 13 and you can guess that I loved it as a 13 year old.
2.) Melvin and Howard (80) Director: Jonathan Demme Jason Robards, Paul LeMat
Demme's first major film and it is a touching and funny slice of Americana.
3.) Popeye (80) Director: Robert Altman Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall
I saw this in the theatres about 5 times. I am a big Popeye fan and this was an under rated and flawless recreation of the cartoon.
4.) 9 to 5 (80) Director: Colin Higgins Jane Fonda, Lilly Tomlin, Dolly Parton
Saw this many times in the theatre and I loved it as a kid. It has a great debut performance by Dolly Parton and a great performance by Tomlin
5.) Neighbors (81) Director: John Alvidsen John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd
Sadly Belushi's last movie is a dark, twisted and under rated comedy that I have seen countless times and I laugh every time.
6.) Time Bandits (81) Director: Terry Gilliam Sean Connery
I loved this as a kid and found it to be a movie that inspired my creativity, this is Gilliam's first major directing job.
7.) Arthur (81) Director: Steve Gordon Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli
A great comic performance by Moore makes this a comedy classic. Now being remade with Russell Brand so that should be interesting.
8.) Night Shift (82) Director: Ron Howard Micheal Keaton, Henry Winkler
Ron Howard graduated to adult, R rated comedies and the movie introduced me to Michael Keaton who is now one of my favorite actors. His debut is one of the most impactful debuts by an actor in screen history.
9.) Deathtrap (82) Director: Sidney Lumet Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve
A movie I saw about 5 times at the movies and 10 more on video. This introduced me to how wonderful actors are and I can quote the whole movie verbatim.
10.) Lookin' to Get Out Director: Hal Ashby Jon Voight, Burt Young, Ann Margret
A troubled production turns into my favorite movie ever set in Las Vegas. This is a very awkward and strange movie that has a performance by Voight that I loved but others hated.
11.) Doctor Detroit (83) Director: Michael Pressman Dan Aykroyd
A guilty pleasure of mine that has a great Devo theme song, Aykroyd performance and an awesome James Brown number. Also Chicago looks beautiful in this movie.
12.) Valley Girl (83) Director: Martha Coolidge Nicolas Cage
A movie I thought I would hate turned out to be a sweet love story with one of the best soundtracks of the 80's. This is Cage's first lead role and you can see here that he would become a movie star.
13.) National Lampoon's Vacation (83) Director: Harold Ramis Chevy Chase
My family loved this comedy because it is so true to life. It was one of the most quoted movies between me and my college buddies.
14.) The King of Comedy (83) Director: Martin Scorsese Jerry Lewis, Robert Deniro
This black comedy has an intense performance by Deniro and an Oscar caliber performance by Jerry Lewis. I would probably guess that the French didn't like this dark and twisted satire.
15.) The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (84) Director: W.D. Richter John Lithgow
A cult classic that is a wild trip, is bizarrely funny and has a great cast.
16.) Micki and Maude (84) Director: Blake Edwards Dudley Moore, Amy Irving
This neglected Blake Edwards comedy is extremely funny and touching. It is my favorite Dudley Moore movie and one of Edward's best.
17.) Blood Simple (84) Directors: The Coen Brothers Dan Hedaya, Frances McDormand
The Coen brothers debut movie is a film student exercise that is brilliant and showed they were a force to be reckoned with.
18.) The Karate Kid (84) Director: John Alvidsen Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita
The director of "Rocky" scored again with this sleeper and extreme crowd pleaser.
19.) Sixteen Candles (84) Director: John Hughes Molly Ringwald
A movie where I had one of my first crushes in Molly Ringwald. A major film that came out right when I was in high school and 16. All John Hughes movies were a major influence in my high school years and wanting to become a director.
20.) Real Genius (85) Director: Martha Coolidge Val Kilmer
Like "Night Shift" this movie had one of the best screen debuts by an actor in Val Kilmer. Another neglected comedy that was smart, very funny and Kilmer is outstanding.
21.) Lost in America (85) Director: Albert Brooks Julie Haggerty, Albert Brooks
A side splitting comedy that is Albert Brook's best movie and perfectly captures the consumer culture of the 80's.
22.) Ferris Buehler's Day Off (86) Director John Hughes Matthew Broderick
This is a no brainer for the movie was hugely popular with my classmates in high school. This made Broderick a star and the movie is beautifully made in Chicago.
23.) Near Dark (87) Director: Kathryn Bigelow John Paxton
You could tell by this movie that Kathryn Bigelow was going to be a major player. One of my favorite vampire movies with great directing, scares and an early performance by Bill Paxton.
24.) House of Games (87) Director: David Mamet Joe Mantegna, Lindsay Crouse
Probably David Mamet's best movie is an outstanding con man movie as good as "The Sting". This is a very clever movie with a lot of great twists.
25.) Radio Talk (88) Director: Oliver Stone Eric Bogosian
A very intense actor's showcase with an energetic and intense performance by Bogosian.
26.) Married to the Mob (88) Director: Jonathan Demme Michelle Pfeiffer
This is another one of a kind classic, early Demme comedy with color, quirkiness and some dark violence thrown in. Everyone knows I have been in love with Michelle Pfeiffer forever so that might be a reason I love this movie so much.
27.) Parenthood (89) Director: Ron Howard Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen
A wonderful ensemble comedy that is touching, funny and a very realistic look at parenting. This is one of Ron Howard's most accessible movies in a long line of likable movies.
28.) To Live and Die in L.A. (85) Director: William Friedkin William Petersen
William Friedkin's only success after "The Exorcist" contains one of the best car chases in screen history. It is a beautifully shot chase scene down the wrong way of a L.A. freeway. This is one of my favorite cop movies of the 80's.
29.) La Bamba (87) Director: Luis Valdez Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales
An exciting and entertaining look at Ritchie Valens whose career was cut short by a tragic airplane crash. Lou Diamond Phillips gives a very special breakout performance with charm and grace. The remake of the title song by Los Lobos is brilliant and the movie has some great musical performances that are very well recreated. I also think Esai Morales is incredible here and should have been nominated for an Oscar. Paco, a co worker friend of mine, and I can recite almost every line from this movie.
30.) The Four Seasons (81) Director: Alan Alda Carol Burnett, Alan Alda
This serious but very funny comedy about marriage, divorce and affairs is also one of my mom's favorite movies. Alda's best directing effort is very well written, funny and truthful.
31.) Pink Floyd The Wall (82) Director: Alan Parker
I am a huge Pink Floyd fan and I was extremely pleased at how Alan Parker made one of the most hypnotic movies from one of their best records. This is a classic midnight movie that is beautiful to soak in even if you are high or not.
32.) Prizzi's Honor (85) Director: John Huston Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, Anjelica Huston, William Hickey
This colorful and wickedly funny mob movie is a lot of fun with great chemistry from the two leads. There is also great supporting turns by Anjelica Huston and William Hickey.
33.) Foxes (80) Director: Adrian Lyne Jodie Foster, Cherie Curie, Scott Baio
I found this dark, L.A. set movie very haunting as a 13 year old. I couldn't believe teenagers were going through all this dark stuff growing up. I was used to growing up in plain, old boring Ivanhoe, Illinois. The acting might be rough here but this is where I fell in love with Jodie Foster and Cherie Curie. The scenes between Sally Kellerman and Foster are powerful and you could see here that Foster was going to win many awards in the future.
34.) Funny Farm (88) Director: George Roy Hill Chevy Chase, Madolyn Smith
This is Chevy Chase's best movie of the 80's and a neglected comedy classic. My mother and I love this movie and I consider it to be on my list of Christmas classics. George Roy Hill has taken a Chevy Chase comedy and filmed it like it was an epic, one of the best directed comedies of the 80's. This would make a great double feature with the very funny "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation".
35.) Romancing the Stone (84) Director: Robert Zemeckis Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito
This was one of the most fun times I had at a movie as a kid. This is also one of my Mom's favorite movies. It has romance, beautiful location work, great action, adventure and a sexy Kathleen Turner. Actually Turner is so great here turning from a mousy, weak woman into a strong, adventurous heroine that she should have been nominated for an Oscar.
These are my top 100 movies of the 80's with ten extra movies that I would have loved to put on the list but couldn't find room for.
110.) (Tie) John Carpenter's The Thing (82) Director: John Carpenter Kurt Russell
This under rated horror masterpiece is Carpenter's best movie next to "Halloween". This movie is super gory and at the time critics complained it was all style and no substance. I disagree for I find it scary, extremely suspenseful and I find the ending haunting. I also reccomend "John Carpenter's Christine" which is very under rated, wonderfully directed and deeper than any horror movie should be.
110.) (Tie) The Re-Animator (85) Director: Jeffrey Combs
Like "The Thing" remake this is a very gory but extremely funny and entertaining movie. To have a movie where you laugh your ass off while you are about to puke has to be a horror classic. This would make a great triple bill feature with "The Thing" and another funny and gory movie "Basket Case" from 1982. You can also laugh your ass off and be freaked out by the very bizzare "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn".
109.) Continental Divide (81) Director: Michael Apted John Belushi, Blair Brown
Another favorite of both me and my mom is this romantic comedy. Beautifully shot in Chicago and then in the mountains of Washington. This is a change of pace role for Belushi, the romantic lead who gets the girl.
108.) Stop Making Sense (84) Director: Jonathan Demme The Talking Heads
Next to "The Last Waltz" this is my favorite concert movie of all time. No crowd reaction shots, no interviews with the band members, just straight on music from one of my favorite bands.
107.) The Terminator (84) Director: James Cameron Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton
The movie that put Cameron on the map was a low budget, intense and action packed classic. Look for a very early look at actor Bill Paxton who is one of my favorites.
106.) Songwriter (84) Director: Alan Rudolph Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson
This little seen classic is one of my favorite movies about musicians. This has great music, a great cast and great performances by two under rated actors, Nelson and Kristofferson.
105.) Caddyshack (80) Director: Harold Ramis Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield
The snobs vs. the slobs genre continued in the tradition of "Animal House". This isn't in that movie's league but there is a reason this is considered a classic.
104.) Lethal Weapon 2 (89) Director: Richard Donner Mel Gibson, Danny Glover
One of the best sequels ever is almost equal to the original even if the freshness of the first one isn't there. You can see the beautiful chemistry of Glover and Gibson growing strong here and Joe Pesci is a riot.
103.) Planes, Trains and Automobiles (87) Director: John Hughes John Candy, Steve Martin
This holiday classic has John Candy's best performance and great chemistry between Martin and Candy. It has huge laughs and is also touching without being cloying.
102.) Batman (89) Director: Tim Burton Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson
Though not as great as "The Dark Knight" this nutty and beautiful looking super hero movie is very entertaining. Keaton is an under rated Batman and Nicholson is a hilarious Joker. This is more a product of the 80's so it is much lighter and campier than the 2007 update.
101.) Good Morning Vietnam (87) Director: Barry Levinson Robin Williams
Robin Williams is the whole show here with an outstanding, masterful comic performance. What surprises me is how intense, compelling and powerful the movie is also.
Now here is my 100 Favorite Movies of the 1980's:
100.) 5 Corners (88) Director: Tony Bill Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins
I can't seem to shake off this little seen 60's set movie that is hypnotic and powerful. This kicked of Foster's outstanding career and it also has an early Tim Robbins performance that is great.
99.) The Naked Gun (88) Directors: Jerry and David Zucker, Jim Abrahams
A television series becomes one of the funniest movies of the 80's. Leslie Nielsen is hilarious and the jokes fly fast and furious and hit way more than they miss. The last half hour during a L.A. Dodgers baseball game is a pure classic comedy scene that keeps you laughing the whole time.
98.) Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (85) Director: George Miller
Mel Gibson, Tina Turner
This under rated third installment in the Mad Max series is full of great imagination and impeccable set design. This transports us to another world and I do defend the last half hour of this movie. This is probably the best movie trilogy in screen history.
97.) The Breakfast Club (85) Director: John Hughes Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson
Arguably John Hughes's best movie meant a big deal to me for I saw this when I was a junior in high school. Anyone who experienced high school can identify with one of these characters. It is a thoughtful, funny and very well written high school movie.
96.) Stripes (81) Director: Ivan Reitman Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy
1980-1984 were the prime, early years for Bill Murray and here he just takes over and entertains us. A great cast, some classic comedy bits and a great Warren Oates performance make this a classic.
95.) Trading Places (83) Director: John Landis Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis
There was no one more explosive or popular than Eddie Murphy in the early 80's. This comedy shows off his comic skills and proved also that Aykroyd was one of the best straight men in the business. This is also the movie that made the stock market interesting and sprung Curtis out from her scream queen trap.
94.) Return of the Jedi (83) Director: Richard Marquand Harrison Ford
The rip roaring and exciting wrap up to the first trilogy of "Star Wars" movies. Take away the Ewoks and this movie moves up in my list. A great way to wrap up the first three movies. This movie is the weakest one but ten times stronger than any of the follow up movies.
93.) Crimes and Misdemeanors (89) Director: Woody Allen Martin Landau
This is Woody Allen at the top of his powers with this funny and compelling look at murder. Jerry Orbach and Alan Alda give two of the best performances of their careers.
92.) The Little Mermaid (89) Directors: Ron Clements and John Musker
This brought back the Disney animated movie division to prominence with this delightful and fun movie. The songs are wonderful and Disney went back to making animated movies that weren't phoned in.
91.) A Room With A View (86) Director: James Ivory Daniel Day Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter
I am not a big costume drama fan but this was a very fun and infectious romantic comedy. This has great performances including an early peek at Day Lewis's acting prowess. The movie sweeps you up in it's romance and beautiful set design.
90.) The Flamingo Kid (84) Director: Gary Marshall Matt Dillon, Hector Elizondo
Marshall's best movie is a touching and charming coming of age drama. Matt Dillon is outstanding here and I think everyone forgets how great he was as an actor and how huge a star he was at the time. This also does a great job at recreating a specific time and place.
89.)War Games (83) Director: John Badham Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy
It was either this or "Blue Thunder" for the best Badham movie of the 80's. This movie at the time cashed in on the computer game craze of the 80's. Broderick is a very likable teenager here in a movie that is clever and kind of intense also.
88.) At Close Range (86) Director: James Foley Sean Penn, Christopher Walken
A powerful true life crime movie with two of the most powerful and intense performances I have ever seen. Christopher Walken is frightening and seductive here and Penn is equally great. This is not a fun movie and people have complained that is looks like a slick television commercial. I love it for the acting and the final confrontation between Penn and Walken is powerful and emotionally draining.
87.) Hannah and Her Sisters (86) Director: Woody Allen Michael Caine, Barbara Hershey, Woody Allen, Diane Wiest, Mia Farrow
One of Woody Allen's five best movies is a very well acted and enthralling family drama. Woody Allen is hilarious, Caine is a delight and the screenplay is clearly one of Woody's strongest of his career.
86.) Robocop (87) Director: Paul Verhoeven Peter Weller, Kurtwood Smith
This bloody, extremely violent and hilarious movie was a huge surprise at the time it was released. This has a sharp, satiric screenplay, wonderful gore and nasty violence. This huge sleeper hit is not for the faint of heart.
85.) The Fly (86) Director: David Cronenberg Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis
Continuing on the subject of gore, here is a very unsettling and gory movie that is also one of my favorite love stories. This is Cronenberg's best movie to date and Goldblum and Davis are great in very difficult roles. This is the first movie I checked out when I went to college.
84.) An Officer and a Gentleman (82) Director: Taylor Hackford Richard Gere, Debra Winger, Louis Gossett Jr.
This is an old fashioned, Hollywood romance whose ending made everyone cry and cheer at the time. It is considered by some to be shamelessly corny but I found it to be extremely entertaining and effective. Sadly as I am writing this actress Linda Blount, who is very good here, passed away.
83.) Blow Out (81) Director: Brian DePalma John Travolta, Nancy Allen
This is the most under rated of Travolta's earliest films. Taking a break from huge star blockbusters Travolta gives a magnetic performance here. This is a crafty and intense thriller. DePalma gets picked on for shamelessly borrowing from Hitchcock early in his career. That is somewhat true but this is a movie that has none of that copycat style. This also has a very scary early performance by John Lithgow and the first time we saw Dennis Franz.
82.) 48 Hours (82) Director: Walter Hill Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte
Talking about major film debuts, Eddie Murphy burst on to the movie scene in a enormous way! This was a wise choice for Murphy's first movie mixing comedy with great action. This is one of the best cop movies and proved that director Walter Hill was an under rated action director. Nick Nolte made a major comeback here and he has great, offbeat chemistry with Murphy. There is no better scene than when Murphy goes into a redneck bar and takes it over.
81.) The Outsiders (83) Director: Francis Coppola Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Tom Cruise, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe
No movie in the 80's brought out so many future stars as this one did. This haunting, beautiful and poetic drama is a great adaptation of S.E. Hinton's young teen classic. I love this movie and feel it is somewhat neglected but I think Coppola has made a masterpiece here. The movie made a huge impact on me in my teen years and was a great influence on me wanting to be a director.
80.) Aliens (86) Director: James Cameron Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton
This all action sequel to the first Alien is very different from the first but equally effective. This is one of the best sequels ever made and arguably better than the first one. That is like apples and oranges really for this is an intense and unrelenting classic. This is more action based then the first which was scarier.
79.) Lethal Weapon (87) Director: Richard Donner Mel Gibson, Danny Glover
This action movie changed the face of the cop, buddy movie forever and spawned a new wave of copycats. No one had ever before seen such a crazy and suicidal cop in a movie as they did here. Mel Gibson became a huge star after this and his performance is a little over the top but still intense and one of a kind. This was such a treat to watch on a huge screen with the sound pumped up.
78.) The Road Warrior (81) Director: George Miller Mel Gibson
This sequel to "Mad Max" is even better than the original and easily the best "Mad Max" movie out of the three. This is wall to wall action and it doesn't let you catch your breath. It has some of the best action scenes and car chases ever put on screen. It tranports you to another, strange world like the other movies, a world that I love.
77.) Field of Dreams (89) Director: Phil Alden Robinson Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta
This is a touching and beautiful baseball movie that is really not solely about baseball. It is about fathers and sons, determination and obviously about dreams. I think this is one of the best baseball movies primarily because it shows it loves baseball and cares about the sanctity of the game.
76.) Thief (81) Director: Michael Mann James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Jim Belushi
This moody, intense and compelling heist, crime thriller is one of the best of it's kind. It also displays James Caan's best performance of his career. Chicago looks seamy, dark and beautiful at the same time here. This is Michael Mann's first major motion picture and it is a great first film. It also has a wonderful score by Tangerne Dream and a great supporting cast.
75.) Coal Miner's Daughter (80) Director: Michael Apted Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm
This touching and beautiful music biography of Loretta Lynn is beautifully shot and acted. Sissy Spacek gives one of the best and most iconic performances by an actress in the 80's here. She is perfect and Tommy Lee Jones is also great in an early role. This is one of the best biographical pictures of the 80's.
74.) Nighthawks (81) Director: Bruce Malmuth Sylvester Stallone, Billy Dee Williams, Rutger Hauer
This suspenseful, tight and thrilling cop thriller is next to "Rocky" Stallone's best movie. It has one of Stallone's best and most unrecognizable performances of his career. It also has one of the meanest and one of my favorite villains ever in Rutger Hauer as Wulfgar. I love the surprise ending that I think Hitchcock would have been proud of.
73.) Airplane (80) Directors: David and Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams
Robert Hayes, Julie Hagerty, Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack
I saw this movie so many times as a kid and I laughed my ass off each time. A very influential comedy which started the rapid fire joke genre. I loved seeing such serious old time actors playing against type and doing it flawlessly.
72.) The Idolmaker (80) Director: Taylor Hackford Ray Sharkey, Peter Gallagher
This little seen, low budget movie is one of my favorites and it has a Ray Sharkey performance that is amazing. This is one of the best performances that not many people have seen. A fun and energetic music picture that had to inspire Tom Hanks when he made "That Thing You Do". This is our first look at Peter Gallagher and the movie has great, original music. This is one of the movies on my list that I wish more people would have seen. You will especially love it if you are fascinated with the shaping and molding of idols like Elvis Presley.
71.) Rain Man (88) Director: Barry Levinson Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman
This has gone down on my list as time has passed probably because I feel it might have been a little over rated for a Best Picture Oscar winner. It is still a funny and heartbreaking drama and like "An Officer and a Gentleman" an old fashioned tearjerker. Dustin Hoffman deservedly should get the praise for his awesome performance but I actually think Cruise is stronger. He has the more difficult role for he is the character that has to change the most.
70.) Moonstruck (87) Director: Norman Jewison Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello
This is a very romantic, funny and charming movie that proved that Cher was a great actress. She was always praised for her acting but here she is totally captivating and wonderful. This is an offbeat and quirky love story with a great supporting cast and characters.
69.) Ghostbusters (84) Director: Ivan Reitman Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd
This comedy classic is a seamless blend of high comedy mixed with awesome and hilarious special effects. Bill Murray steals the movie here and is most of the show but Aykroyd proves again he is a great straight man. Also the special effects are cheesy, goofy and in the final scene priceless.
68.) The Big Chill (83) Director: Lawrence Kasdan William Hurt, Jeff Goldblum, Glenn Close, JoBeth Williams, Mary Kay Place, Kevin Kline
Not only did we get a first look at the great talent of Kevin Kline but we also got an iconic soundtrack of Motown classics. This ensemble dramedy had a wonderful cast, a very funny Jeff Goldblum and a lot of entertaining moments. This is one of my mom's favorites and for men and women of her generation it was a lot of fun.
67.) Star 80 (83) Director: Bob Fosse Mariel Hemingway, Eric Roberts
This sad, heartbreaking and powerful biography of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratton is a forgotten but no less powerful experience. Mariel Hemingway is very good here but the movie belongs to Eric Roberts. Robert's performance is another major screen debut and his performance is scary and Oscar worthy. This is a very unsettling movie with a very horific and violent ending.
66.) Raising Arizona (87) Director: Joel Coen Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter
This is one of my favorite Coen brothers movies and one of the under rated and neglected ones. I couldn't stop laughing during this entire movie and it is pure, dumb fun. I love the sight gags and Cage's and Hunter's very funny performances. I compare this to a Road Runner/Wil E. Coyote cartoon.
65.) The Princess Bride (87) Director: Rob Reiner Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Robin Wright Penn, Andre the Giant, Cary Elwes
This hilarious and charming fable is an ingenious and funny movie with wonderful characters. The movie is loads of fun and it casts a magic spell. The movie is more for adults but I think it is a new kind of children's classic.
64.) After Hours (85) Director: Martin Scorsese Griffin Dunne, Teri Garr
This fever dream and surreal black comedy is a Scorsese classic that I think has somehow been neglected. This movie is flawless in it's pacing, it is fast, hilarious, twisted and very well acted. It never lets up and I think achieves a controlled lunacy that is inspiring.
63.) A Fish Called Wanda (88) Director: Charles Crichton Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, Michale Palin
This hilarious and twisted comedy is politically incorrect, nasty and a lot of fun. Kevin Kline is amazing here, the plot is crazy and well constructed and Jamie Lee Curtis continued her amazing career change.
62.) My Favorite Year (82) Director: Richard Benjamin Peter O'Toole
This loving tribute to the old Sid Ceasar type of television show has an amazing performance by Peter O'Toole as an Errol Flynn type actor. The movie is extremely well crafted and it makes us feel that we are really on the set of this type of show. A great supporting cast of characters, a sweet love story and a charming and sweet tribute to old Hollywood.
61.) Die Hard (88) Director: John McTiernan Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman
I laughed when I saw the poster for this movie because at the time Willis was a television actor and it sounded like a Steven Seagal movie. Well it turned out to become one of my all time favorite action movies. To see this on a huge movie screen is a real treat. Willis became a new kind of popular action star and Alan Rickman made one of the best villains in screen history.
60.) Victor/Victoria (82) Director: Blake Edwards Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston
This is one of my favorite comedies of the 80's and one of my favorite musicals of all time. I love Julie Andrews in this movie not only for her beautiful singing but for playing a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman so well. This movie has great music, wonderful set and costune designs and some hilarious slapstick. The performances by James Garner, Robert Preston and Lesley Ann Warren are outstanding and special.
59.) Bronco Billy (80) Director: Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood, Sandra Locke
This is the movie that Frank Capra would have made in his prime. This is my favorite Eastwood movie of the 80's and it is a fun, sweet and charming comedy with a big heart. Eastwood pokes fun at his iconic, Western image and creates some wonderful charcters. They are all well played by Eastwood's 80's stock company of actors which included Geoffrey Lewis, Juliette's dad.
58.) Peggy Sue Got Married (86) Director: Francis Coppola Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Helen Hunt, Jim Carrey
Coppola doesn't care for this movie but I absolutely love it. This feels like a movie that was really made in the 50's. The cinematography is stunning, the sets and music are impeccable and Turner is amazing. This is a sweeping romantic movie with funny moments and it has one of my favorite musical scores ever. Critics said they were annoyed by Cage and felt his voice was annoying, I think it is a great performance.
57.) Drugstore Cowboy (89) Director: Gus Van Sant Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch
This is a compelling, harrowing and fascinating drama with a very solid and under rated performance by Dillon. We become fascinated by the subject matter and the way these characters live. I found this portrayl of a drug addict and his family moving and intriguing.
56.) Moscow on the Hudson (84) Director: Paul Mazursky Robin Williams
This is an American classic that proved that Robin Williams could be a great dramatic actor. This is a highly entertaining slice of life and at the time very topical. This could have been a disaster but this was instead a very uplifting, warm and funny movie.
55.) The Cotton Club (84) Director: Francis Coppola Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Gregory Hines, Fred Gwynne, Bob Hoskins
This under rated mobster movie is in some scenes as great as Coppola's "Godfather" movie. The movie is great to look at, the cinematography is beautiful and the sets and costumes are wonderful. The relationship between Gwynne and Hoskins is outstanding and touching. Gregory Hines and James Remar give great supporting performances and I love the feel of the movie. Gere and Lane aren't the best things in the movie but I love Diane Lane so it didn't matter much. The movie is very stylized but very well directed and seductive.
54.) The Falcon and the Snowman (85) Director: John Schlessinger
Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton
This fascinating and powerful real life spy drama has another one of Penn's early and iconic performances. Not many movie goers recognized it was Penn in the movie until it was over. The movie is in the same league as movies like "All the President's Men". It keeps you mesmerized throughout with it's spellbinding story. This is the best spy drama of the 80's and an American classic that not many have seen.
53.) War of the Roses (89) Director: Danny DeVito Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner
This nasty and wickedly funny movie might be the reason I am not married or ever want to be. This is more than a simple comedy for it is sometimes brutal and a lot of times surprisingly powerful. Douglas and Turner are wonderful together and the movie starts out as charming but turns ugly fast. This is my kind of comedy, mean, nasty and painfully funny.
52.) Excalibur (81) Director: John Boorman Nigel Terry, Nicol Williamson, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Helen Mirren
One of my favorite subjects is the legend of King Arthur and here is a masterpiece that is by far the best movie ever about King Arthur. The movie has a cold, steely look with beautiful cinematography and amazing and brutally violent battle scenes. The sound effects are probably the best of it's kind and I love that it doesn't glamorize Arthur. I hope people do remember it wasn't a light and cheery time like that insipid Richard Gere, Sean Connery, King Arthur movie told you it was.
51.) Broadway Danny Rose (84) Director: Woody Allen Mia Farrow, Woody Allen, Nick Apollo Forte
This Woody Allen movie has a hold on my heart and I think it is my favorite Allen film of all time. This loving tribute to vaudeville is beautifully shot in black and white. The performance by Mia Farrow might be the best of her career for you don't recognize her at all. I also love the songs and performance by Nick Apollo Forte (where the hell are you now, Nick?). This is a very funny and finally touching comedy with a clasic scene involving giant, helium, parade balloons in a warehouse.
50.) Roxanne (87) Director: Fred Schepisi Steve Martin, Daryl Hannah
Another romantic comedy that I absolutely love with one of my favorite Steve Martin performances. This captivating, charming and funny movie is a pure delight and very entertaining. The movie is beautifully shot in widescreen and it is very smart and well written.
49.) Cutter's Way (81) Director: Ivan Passer Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichorn
This little seen masterpiece is dark, haunting and a strangely beautiful mystery. It also has one of my all time favorite performances by an actress I have ever seen. It is a crime that a lot of people have not seen the powerful performance here by Lisa Eichorn. This is my favorite type of movie, dark, seedy and with an ending that has no closure. It also has another outstanding performance by the great Jeff Bridges and also John Heard's best performance.
48.) Inside Moves (80) Director: Richard Donner David Morse, John Savage, Diana Scarwid
This is also a little seen movie that has a hold on my heart and is an old fashioned tearjerker in a good way. The greatest unsung actor in movies David Morse and John Savage give great, heartbreaking performances. David Morse is now one of our best character actors in motion pictures. This is also the movie that made me fall in love with Diana Scarwid who is outstanding here.
47.) The Natural (84) Director: Barry Levinson Robert Redford, Kim Bassinger
This might not be a baseball movie that deals with logic or knows any kind of baseball strategy but it is surely one of the best baseball movies. Who can deny that musical score, the beautiful cinematography and the feel of this classic. The movie surely loves baseball and I love the look back at the game of baseball before (ahem) steroids.
46.) Lucas (86) Director: David Seltzer Corey Haim, Charlie Sheen, Kerri Green
I don't just love this movie because my mother dated the director back in high school. I also find it to be one of the most inspiring, beautiful and heartbreaking love stories I have seen. Corey Haim is amazing as Lucas, a pint size kid in love with a cheerleader and trying to make the high school football team. This is more inspiring than "The Karate Kid" and "Rudy" and it deals with high school kids in a smart, truthful and thoughtful way. Look for Winona Ryder here in her film debut.
45.) Superman II (81) Director: Richard Lester, Richard Donner
Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Terrence Stamp, Margot Kidder
One of the best sequels ever made, one of my favorite super hero movies of all time and one of the best action films period. Christopher Reeve is more comfortable in the role and the movie is funnier and more awe inspiring than the first one. The battle at the end between Superman and the three baddies and Gene Hackman's comic relief are priceless. For an update, a new DVD came out with a director's cut of "Superman II" that was directed by Richard Donner who directed the first. I guess the studio took away the movie and reshot with more slapstick scenes with director Richard Lester. The director's cut is even greater and is as effective as "The Empire Strikes Back". I knew there was a reason why the sequel is much better.
44.) Prince of the City (81) Director: Sidney Lumet Treat Williams, Jerry Orbach
One of our greatest American directors has topped himself with this sprawling cop, crime epic that is better than "Serpico". Treat Williams is another of our unsung, great actors and he holds the movie down with a great supporting cast. This is an intricate crime film where the bad guys are more fascinating than the good guys. Oh wait, there really are no good guys in this powerful drama.
43.) This Is Spinal Tap (84) Director: Rob Reiner Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner
Another comedy classic that is often quoted by all including all my friends back in college. This is a brilliant and hilarious mockumentary that is not only funny but fascinating to watch. The faux songs in this movie are gems and better than most real songs by real rock bands. This is a movie you can watch over and over again and this screams sequel all the way. I am thinking a Spinal Tap reunion maybe in order. Guest, Shearer and McKean are brilliant here and very realistic.
42.) Purple Rain (84) Director: Albert Magnoli Prince, Appollonia, Morris Day
This belongs in the category of "A Hard Day's Night" and "Saturday Night Fever" as the most exhilirating and iconic rock movies ever. There is one of the best soundtracks ever and great comic relief by Morris Day and Jerome Benton. There is a powerful and Oscar caliber performance by Clarence Williams III and a energy that is exhilirating. The acting here might not be the best but that is the strength of the movie actually. The movie is made like we are eavesdropping on real people in a very real looking Minnesota.
41.) Back to the Future (85) Director: Robert Zemeckis Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson
In 1985 this classic came out of nowhere and captivated movie audiences everywhere. What emerged was a star in the making in Michael J.Fox and a fast paced, brilliant and very entertaining movie. This was a way smarter movie than it should have been and Bob Gale and Zemeckis's screenplay was funny and sweet at the same time. This movie made my summer in 1985 and I had to go see it again with family and friends. It is great surprises like this that make the world of movies a wonderful place.
40.) Tootsie (82) Director: Sydney Pollack Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Geena Davis, Bill Murray
This is the Dustin Hoffman performance, not "Rain Man", that is his best performance of the 80's. This hilarious and delightful comedy is also a great love story and satire on television all wrapped in one. Hoffman also has a wonderful cast to support him and an intelligent and very funny screenplay by the iconic Larry Gelbart. A movie with huge laughs, great performances and an scene near the end that is priceless.
39.) The Verdict (82) Director: Sidney Lumet Paul Newman, Jack Warden, Lindsay Crouse, Charlotte Rampling
My favorite courtroom movie of all time with David Mamet's best screenplay and Paul Newman's best performance of his career. This is an edge of your seat drama and a great character study. The court case is powerful, heartbreaking and thrilling. Watching Paul Newman is a pure joy and I watch this all the time just to see every perfect nuance and acting choice he makes. This movie should be shown in film class and acting classes.
38.) Diner (82) Director: Barry Levinson Steve Guttenberg, Mickey Rourke, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Tim Daly, Paul Reiser
This is a movie that made me wish I was born and grew up in the 50's and 60's. This movie and "The Wanderers" capture the 60's better than any movie of their kind. This has a killer soundtrack and characters we love and care about. This is one of the movies that introduced us to many future stars. Barry Levinson gives us a loving, impeccably crafted and beautiful look at Baltimore that can be seen over and over again. This is Levinson's first and still his best movie of his career.
37.) Blade Runner (82) Director: Ridley Scott Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger hauer, Daryl Hannah
I saw this new science fiction classic when I was 14 and I didn't get it or care for it. Now after multiple viewings I have found a masterpiece that ranks right up there with "2001". This is the best directed, shot and most wonderful science fiction movie I have seen. The cinematography is some of the best ever put on screen and the production design is breathtaking. I also find the story to be haunting, poetic and wonderfully complicated. It is best to see this movie without the terrible voice over narration on a big screen.
36.) Say Anything (89) Director: Cameron Crowe John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor
Cameron Crowe has written one of the sweetest, most decent and wonderful teenage characters of all time. This is a deeper than usual and totally charming movie with a great John Cusack performance. I love the depiction of real high school kids and the relationship between Diane and her father which is honest and truthful. You just can't help yourself from cheering for Lloyd Dobler to get the girl and make things alright again.
35.) Born on the Fourth of July (89) Director: Oliver Stone Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe, Raymond J. Barry, Kyra Sedgewick, Caroline Kava
This painful and powerful story of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic has the best performance by Tom Cruise that I have seen. Oliver Stone has made a powerful anti war epic that is in some ways equal to his "Platoon". I love the musical score, the look and feel of the movie and the supporting performances as well. I also love the powerful confrontation between Kovics and his mother that equals the raw power of "Rebel Without a Cause" This is a movie that perfectly captures the shattering of innocence and is a movie that had to be told.
34.) About Last Night... (86) Director: Edward Zwick Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Perkins, Jim Belushi
One of my favorite romantic comedies of all time was a lot deeper than I expected. This is one of the funniest, most truthful and sobering looks at a relationship and how it affects their friends. Rob Lowe and Demi Moore gave the best performances of their careers on film. It also has a very funny performance by Jim Belushi and great Chicago locations. I watch this movie a lot and each time I am amazed at how it nails the feeling of being in love with great honesty and realism.
33.) Ordinary People (80) Director: Robert Redford Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch, Elizabeth McGovern
This powerful family drama is beautifully filmed in Lake Forrest and has one of the coldest and meanest mothers ever depicted on screen. Timothy Hutton gave a star making performance as Conrad and his story is powerful and heartbreaking. This is a painful but honest depiction of teen suicide and family strife. Donald Sutherland rounds out the cast and he is also very effective. This is tearjerker with a surprisingly upbeat ending. This is a great directing debut by Redford who knows how to get great performances from his actors.
32.) The Fabulous Baker Boys (89) Director: Steve Kloves Jeff Bridges, Michelle Pfeiffer, Beau Bridges, Jennifer Tilly
This is my favorite movie about low level musicians on the fringe and I find it very enjoyable and intriguing. I also think it has the sexiest and most wonderful performance by an actress in the 80's. If you want to know why I think Michelle Pfeiffer is the most beautiful and captivating women on the planet sit by me and watch this. I also love the brotherly relationship between Jeff and Beau Bridges as the Baker Boys. This has the best audition sequence ever captured on screen and a show stopping Pfeiffer dance on a piano. That dance scene and performance by Pfeiffer is the sexiest scene I think I have ever seen where actual sex wasn't involved. I also love watching Jeff Bridges here in a low key but perfect performance that is the typically great and under rated Jeff Bridges performance.
31.) Who Framed Roger Rabbit (88) Director: Robert Zemeckis Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner, Charles Fleischer
This ground breaking blend of live action and animation is to me more of a classic than "The Wizard of Oz". This is a dazzling technical achievement but also a very funny and charming comedy. I love the use of old classic cartoon characters and I love the character of Roger Rabbit. This movie has a lot of heart and I haven't seen many children's films these days that capture that same wonder. The Roger Rabbit cartoon short at the beginning is a masterpiece in itself also.
30.) The Empire Strikes Back (80) Director: Irvin Kershner Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams
The best "Star Wars" movie of them all is delightfully dark, brooding and haunting. It also has a wonderful, twisted sense of humor. To say these things about a "Star Wars" movie was the biggest surprise of my movie going life. This is like a totally different film than the others and it is like it's own masterpiece. This is pretty violent stuff at the end here. I think the acting here is better and less stiff and I think the Han Solo/Princess Leia love story is wonderful. It also introduces the Yoda character who is wonderful without being cute and cuddly like say those damn Ewoks. This is the one of the most exciting and exhilirating science fiction fantasies ever made.
29.) My Bodyguard (80) Director: Tony Bill Matt Dillon, Adam Baldwin, Chris Makepeace, Ruth Gordon, Martin Mull, George Wendt
This is another movie that has a hold on my heart for there is only one high school movie in the 80's better than this one. This is the inspirational coming of age drama that introduced me to Matt Dillon who is one of my favorite actors now. I thought he was cool and even though I hated his character I wanted to be him. I love all the location work here that was filmed beautifully in Chicago. The movie is warm, funny, charming, touching and it has an ending that will make you cheer. Chicago's own Adam Baldwin is another under rated and great actor who now does some great supporting work. This is a great movie about friendship, one of the best I have seen.
28.) BIG (88) Director: Penny Marshall Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia
This is the movie that made people stand up and notice how great Tom Hanks was going to be. This performance is much better than his work in "Forrest Gump" and that performance was truly special in itself. This is a warm, funny and moving comedy that just has a good heart. This came out at the time of all the body switching comedies but this was totally unique and special. It actually tried to go a little deeper with it's beautiful and touching story of childhood innocence.
27.) Scarface (83) Director: Brian DePalma Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Eliazabeth Mastrantonio, Steven Bauer
I was in the Hawthorn theatre with my father and it was intermission during Depalma's "Scarface". I turned to my dad and told him that this was the best movie I ever saw. Maybe it was the chainsaw scene or the explosive violence that made me as a kid think this was cool. I just think it was because this is just a hypnotic and fascinating crime epic. I was a huge DePalma fan at the time because everything he shot had such energy and style. Not many think DePalma has a subtle bone in his body but "Scarface" has now become an urban classic. Al Pacino is amazing here and this would be a great movie to play a drinking game with. Everytime someone says the "f" word take a drink. Of course by the end you would pretty much be dead of alcohol poisoning.
26.) Full Metal Jacket (87) Director: Stanley Kubrick Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Arliss Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey
This Vietnam war movie is pure, classic Kubrick film making that is a powerful war movie mixed with savage satire. This movie is split into two halves and the first half is better because it is so chilling and brutal. The second half settles down into battle scenes and war strategy. You feel every kill shot with great impact and there is some well written satire in the second half. Though the raw power of this movie is in it's first half of brutality and extreme violence. The first half has two powerful and outstanding performances by Ermey and D'Onofrio. The second half has a scene that is amazing as one of the most hateful and despicable characters in the movie does something so surprising and heroic it shocks us. This soldier puts his life on the line as he ambushes a sniper to save his fellow warriors. It is the beginning of an extremely suspenseful and masterful sequences of events. This is one of the best war movies I have seen and the ending is purely thrilling.
25.) Amadeus (84) Director: Milos Forman Tom Hulce, F. Murray Abraham
If you love the music of Mozart or any classical music this is the best movie to see. Tom Hulce is amazing as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham is even more amazing as Salieri in this stage adaptation. Again I am not a fan of the costume drama but this is a special movie. Of course the music is great, the costumes and set design are great but the movie's greatness lies in performance. Hulce and Abraham are simply wonderful in the movie and I love how it depicts the madness and wonder of composing such beautiful music. This is a lush, operatic and stimulating movie with great energy and grace.
24.) The Big Easy (87) Director: Jim McBride Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman, Ned Beatty, Grace Zabriskie
This movie was a complete surprise for me and it has one of my favorite performances by an actor. Dennis Quaid is pure energy and sexuality as detective Remy Swain. The flirtation, seduction and sex scenes are some of the hottest I have ever seen in a movie. Quaid and Ellen Barkin have blistering chemistry together and did I forget to mention this is also one of the best cop/detective movies ever made. I love how New Orleans becomes another character in this movie. This is the best movie ever shot in New Orleans. The story is rich, the other performances are great and the movie just glides along and grabs us with it's energy, vibrancy and skill.
23.) Silkwood (83) Director: Mike Nichols Meryl Streep, Cher, Kurt Russell
This true life movie had another expected and flawless performance by Meryl Streep. I think it was her best performance up to that point. As with all her best performances, at no time do we see any signs of Meryl Streep or any signs of her acting. She gives us a perfect and authentic southern dialect and makes us believe she is really a poor and uneducated factory worker. This is a real and powerful story that is heartbreaking and moving. Both Cher and Kurt Russell proved in this movie that they were serious actors with their performances. The movie also has the most beautiful musical score I have ever heard in a movie. This is gut wrenching stuff and I can watch it numerous times just to experience the brilliance that is Meryl Streep. This is easily one of my top five favorite Streep performances.
22.) The Blues Brothers (80) Director: John Landis John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd
There are many reasons why I love this movie and find it to be one of my favorite comedies. It was filmed in Chicago and it's use of Chicago locations is the best I have seen in a Chicago based movie. This is also the movie that made me a huge fan of blues and soul music for it has an amazing blues soundtrack. I also am a huge John Belushi fan and his performance is pure energy and charisma. I love the whole energy of this movie and it's willingness to go anywhere and do anything to keep us entertained. This movie could have been a real disaster but it is amazing how entertaining it all is. It is no surprise that most of the critics hated this when it came out but then a lot of critics hated "Animal House". This movie like all classic comedies are pretty much critic proof anyway.
21.) Midnight Run (88) Director: Martin Brest Robert Deniro, Charles Grodin,
Dennis Farina, Joe Pantaliano, John Ashton
This is another purely entertaining action comedy like "The Blues Brothers". This was a very funny and surprisingly touching movie with great performances by Deniro and Grodin. The chemistry between the two is wonderful and I enjoyed Grodin in a movie more than I ever had before. There are some great action sequences and some classic comedy bits. This is one of Deniro's best and deepest performances of the late 80's. I appreciate his handling of comedy here much more than I do in his broader, commercial comedies. This is a very entertaining mix of action and comedy that was one of the best of the 80's. I also was really floored by scenes like the one where Deniro's character visits his daughter. You don't expect a scene that is at first explosive and then heartbreaking in a comedy like this. I choke up during that scene everytime.
20.) Something Wild (86) Director: Jonathan Demme Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, Ray Liotta
This is my all time favorite Jonathan Demme movie simply because it is so criminally under rated. It is also an explosively violent, funny and surprisingly powerful crime film. It has one of the best soundtracks of the 80's if you like alternative rock. It also has one of the most explosive movie debuts by any actor in the 80's with Ray Liotta's frightening and intense performance. There is just something about this movie that sucks me in. The writing and story is original, the performances perfect and the feel of the movie is seductive. You will never guess in what direction the story is going and that is very rare. I think this is clearly one of the most original movies of the 80's and that is why it is in my top 20.
19.) Bull Durham (88) Director: Ron Shelton Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
Not only is this my favorite baseball movie of all time, it is also the sexiest and best romantic comedy I have ever seen. This is not really about baseball so much as it is about human nature. That being said it also has some very funny and truthful scenes about baseball and strategy. The screen play is well written, you truly love the characters and the performances are all awesome. This to me was the movie that first showed me that Costner had huge sex appeal and a real screen presence. Susan Sarandon is sexy, funny and captivating and Tim Robbins is hilarious in his star making performance. For some strange reason this is one of my mom's favorite movies and I think it is because it is truly a great love story.
18.) Platoon (86) Director: Oliver Stone Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Forrest Whitaker, Johnny Depp, John C. McGinley
This powerful and sober look at war and battle in Vietnam was touted for taking the most realistic look yet at warfare. What makes the movie special to me is the battle of good vs. evil between Sgt. Barnes and Sgt. Elias. It is a classic battle that gives this movie it's true greatness. Charlie Sheen is Chris Taylor who sees two father figures in Elias and Barnes, the kind, caring father and the strict unforgiving father. The movie has a haunting score, great performances by Dafoe and Berenger. I also love the haunting and heartbreaking death scene of Sgt. Elias that also gives the movie a powerful ending.
17.) Clean and Sober (88) Director: Glenn Gordon Caron Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman, Luca Bercovicci
The most powerful and heartbreaking movie that I have ever seen about drug addiction and rehablitation. It also contains the best performance by an actor who was never nominated for an Oscar. It was shocking that Michael Keaton did not receive an Oscar nomination for this powerful and solid performance. In the 80's only Robert Deniro in "Raging Bull" was better. The movie is engrossing, funny and sad and gives no easy answers. Kathy Baker is a revelation as another drug addict who falls in love with Keaton. The way the movie handles their relationship and how they deal with their addictions is done with cold, harsh reality. This isn't a movie where it pretends to have all the answers and wraps itself in a pretty, little bow.
16.) Terms of Endearment (83) Director: James L. Brooks Shirley McClaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels
This is a very entertaining throwback to the classic tearjerker dramas of the 30's and 40's. I haven't seen many movies with not one but two powerful performances by an actress. McClaine and Winger are fantastic in this very funny and finally emotionally crushing melodrama. This is the movie that gave us a major comeback for screen legend Jack Nicholson in a wonderful supporting role. The interaction between him and McClaine is priceless. This is a classic example of mixing laughs with tears without being sappy and unbearable. James L. Brooks, who created "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and other television classics, surprised everyone with this very well written film debut.
15.) Witness (85) Director: Peter Weir Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas
This very well crafted cop thriller surprises us with it's beautiful love story and enriching look at Amish life. Harrison Ford gives a gritty and outstanding performance as a cop who has to protect a young Amish child who has witnessed a murder. The movie seems like your standard cop thriller till it turns into a touching love story. The movie is very believable and as it reaches it's thrilling climax we care very much about the characters and what happens to them. I love the section of the movie that deals with a barn raising.
14.) The Color Purple (85) Director: Steven Spielberg Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery, Danny Glover
This emotional experience is beautifully adapted from the powerful Alice Walker novel. Whoopi Goldberg was a revelation here as Celie and it put her on the map as a great actress. Oprah Winfrey is also a revelation as Sofia because no one knew that Winfrey had this great acting talent. This for me was emotionally draining but also one of the most beautiful and haunting dramas I had seen in the 80's. I read the novel again after seeing the movie and it captures the spirit of the novel extremely well.
13.) REDS (81) Director: Warren Beatty Diane Keaton, Warren Beatty, Maureen Stapleton, Jack Nicholson
This sweeping epic about the Russian Revolution is a long but very rewarding movie. The movie's power and greatness does not come from the majestic photography or the elaborate sets. To me the power comes from it's beautiful love story and it's heartbreaking end. This movie takes us to another time and place so well and I watch this movie every Christmas. For some reason it always gets me in the mood for the holiday season. This is Beatty's best performance and Diane Keaton is outstanding also. Their chemistry is wonderful and Beatty has directed an epic drama equal to the old classics like for example the movies of David Lean. Usually a four hour movie like this wouldn't keep my attention but I was glued to the screen the entire time.
12.) Risky Business (83) Director: Paul Brickman Tom Cruise, Rebecca DeMornay, Joe Pantaliano
To me this coming of age comedy of my generation is equal to a classic comedy like "The Graduate". I even like this movie better because it spoke to me as a teenager. This is the movie that made Tom Cruise a star and he had star quality written all over him. This comedy was a dark, adult, sexy and very well written comedy that has a strange power to me. This movie perfectly captures the anxiety of picking a good college and pleasing your parents. The journey of Joel Goodson is funny, scary, hypnotic and mesmerizing. This is probably my favorite movie about high school because it treats it's subject matter with class, dignity and honesty.
11.) Once Upon a Time in America (84) (Unedited) Director: Segio Leone
Robert Deniro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Tuesday Weld
This four hour crime epic is equal in power and strength to a clasic like "The Godfather". It was a shame that the film studio wanted to cut this down to two hours and I never saw that version. I was lucky to see the uncut version and it is next to "Godfather" my favorite mobster movie. Without studio interference this would have been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. This is a violent but poetic epic that has a lot of great characters and performances. I was never bored throughout the entire four hours. Here is a neglected crime saga that is engrossing, powerful and beautiful and desreves to become a classic.
10.) Shoot the Moon (82) Director: Alan Parker Albert Finney, Diane Keaton, Karen Allen, Peter Weller
This is the best movie about divorce and it's effect on the children that I have ever seen. It was close to the time that my parent's divorced so maybe that's why the movie spoke to me. This is a powerful and heartbreaking movie that is extremely intense. The performances by Finney and Keaton are some of the best I have ever seen. This is an explosive, gut wrenching family drama that has a perfect and haunting life goes on ending. This movie is pure power and realism.
9.) Raiders of the Lost Ark (81) Director: Steven Spielberg Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys Davies
This perfect recreation of the old serial adventures of the 30's and 40's is one of the best and most entertaining summer blockbusters ever made. No one was on a roll more than Spielberg was at the time. His loving and rousing tribute is perfect in tone and full of chills, thrills and sublime adventure. Everyone was talking about this movie on my street in Libertyville. It was the must see summer movie of 1981 and it didn't let anyone down. This movie had one of the best car chase scenes I have ever seen and each segment of the movie was like a little cliffhanger. You also have believable performances and a sweeping love story as an extra bonus. I also can't believe a PG movie could have gory scenes of faces melting.
8.) The World According to Garp (82) Director: George Roy Hill
Robin Williams, Mary Beth Hurt, Glenn Close, John Lithgow
This movie was a great influence on me as an inspiring writer and I found it to be an enjoyable experience. Robin Williams is amazing and very under rated as T.S. Garp. This is a wonderful character adapted from the great John Irving novel and I think it is even better than the book. I love how the characters are fleshed out and Roberta Muldoon, played wonderfully by John Lithgow, is one of my favorite characters from the book and the movie. This a beautiful, powerful and finally heartbreaking movie that to me is a classic.
7.) The Right Stuff (83) Director: Phillip Kaufman Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Scott Glenn, Sam Shephard, Barbara Hershey
This extremely entertaining and rousing epic about the space race is a pure joy every time I revisit it. This starts with a wonderful look at the journey of Chuck Yeager and his quest to break the sound barrier. That would be a wonderful movie in itself but that is where the real power starts to build. The movie then takes us into America's race with the Russians to send the first man into space. The movie gives us a stellar cast of great actors who play the Mercury 7 astronauts. The movie gives us outstanding training and test sequences and charms us with it's humor and spirit. This is the most exciting and fastest three hours I have ever seen in a theatre. You know a movie is great when after three hours you still don't want it to end.
6.) Broadcast News (87) Director: James L. Brooks Holly Hunter, William Hurt, Albert Brooks, Jack Nicholson, Joan Cusack
One of my favorite love stories of the 80's with an ending that is far from predictable. It is also one of the best movies about the television news industry ever made. Holly Hunter gives one of my favorite performances by an actress in the 80's. This is a hilarious, smart and captivating comedy and love story. Albert Brooks also gives a scene stealing and very funny performance. The love triangle is completed by William Hurt who wonderfully plays against type as a not too bright news anchor. Not only is the love story amazing and wonderful but the movie's sharp look at news and ethics is dead on. Brooks knows the television world and like his "Mary Tyler Moore Show" he knows his subject and delivers the laughs.
5.) The Untouchables (87) Director: Brian DePalma Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert Deniro, Andy Garcia, Charles Martin Smith
This highly charged and exciting masterpiece is easily the best movie adapted from a television series. This introduced us to a rising new star in Kevin Costner in a star making, heroic role. One look at the city of Chicago magically transformed into 1920's prohibition and I was hooked. This movie is great commerical Hollywood film making at it's finest. You also have a scene stealing performance by Sean Connery and some breathtaking action. There are many crowd pleasing and wonderful moments such as the "Battleship Potemkin" inspired shootout at Union Station. This is classic and grand, old time Hollywood film making that gets better every time you see it.
4.) The Last Temptation of Christ (88) Director: Martin Scorsese
Willem Dafoe, Barbara Hershey, Harvey Keitel
When this controversial religious epic was released I was a practicing Catholic and the movie had a huge impact me. Now that I am going back and forth between being an atheist or an agnostic it has a new meaning for me. This is an unsettling and challenging movie that at the same time is beautiful and uplifting. Willem Dafoe gives a highly under rated and powerful performance in the lead role. At the time Catholics thought it was an outrage what this movie was telling us. Though if they looked at it carefully they would find that this is an inspiring and optimistic look at the life of Christ. I did not expect this movie to move me but leave it to the great Martin Scorsese to make the best movie about religion I have ever seen.
3.) E.T. (82) Director: Steven Spielberg Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace Stone, Peter Coyote
Anyone that didn't cry at the end of this new children's classic should have Christmas taken away from them. Here is a touching and powerfully captivating story of one of the most unlikely friendships in screen history. This is a classic that is my generation's answer to the "Wizard of Oz" and it is so much better. The movie is fun, exciting, funny, charming and magical. I can't believe how something so strange looking as E.T. could captivate and touch a film audience like it has. This movie will never lose it's haunting power and magic and that is why it deserves to be passed on from generation to generation.
2.) Do the Right Thing (89) Director: Spike Lee Danny Aiello, John Turturro
Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, Joie Lee, Richard Edson, John Savage, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Samuel Jackson
This powerful and very important film is the signature social movie of the decade. It has a gut wrenching and explosive look at race with one of the saddest and most heartbreaking endings I have ever seen in a movie. I cried for hours after watching this movie. I can think of no more important movie in my time than Spike Lee's masterpiece of power and emotion. It juggles many diverse and compelling characters and tells a story so powerful in a beautiful and careful manner. This is one of the best screenplays ever produced and this movie should be seen by all races and passed on to all generations. This is the only movie on my list that will stay as powerful and relevant 50 years from now.
1.) Raging Bull (80) Director: Martin Scorsese Robert Deniro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent
"Raging Bull" is a very brutal and tense film that also may be one of the most beautiful looking movies I have ever seen. This is how to make black and white photography look pristine and breathtaking. You also have in my opinion the best performance by an actor in the 80's in Robert Deniro. Deniro plays boxer Jake Lamotta who is not the kindest man and is a bit of a tyrant and monster but we can't keep our eyes off of him. How Deniro put on 50 pounds to play LaMotta when he was older is the most stunning transformation ever done by an actor on screen. It is so stunning and influential that a great number of actors follow Deniro's example today. The boxing scenes are flawless, the other performances great and Scorsese's direction is easily the best of the 80's if not of all time. This is a film I study and enjoy with every viewing because there is so much greatness going on in this movie. When I saw this movie as a 12 year old kid it was the first time in my life that I figured out how powerful and transforming the power of cinema was.
Again making this list was very difficult and I had to change the list and add movies to it so many times. In about a month I will continue with my best movies of the 90's. I would love to have any feedback from anyone here on my blog or on facebook.