The 10 Best Films of the 1980s, in my opinion (and that I have seen)

by George Watches Things

Today, we continue counting down the decades. And we’re so close, too. Please note, though, that the order of picks 3-9 changes each time I think about it.

10. Stand by Me

I’m not really sure what to write about Stand by Me. It’s an important film to me. It aims so high, but keeps most of the dialogue between the quartet of friends realistically small. Stand by Me is timeless and will always be a bittersweet slice of nostalgia. Honorable mentions: Airplane! and Rain Man.

9. Moonstruck

This isn’t a ‘chick-flick’ and it’s not a ‘rom-com’ either. It isn’t lightweight, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not the funniest of movies, but it’s one of the best comedies of the 80s. And if you want to see Nicolas Cage act, rent Moonstruck now.

8. The Thin Blue Line

The Thin Blue Line actually changed the outcome of the events it displayed. Completely absorbing and easily one of the best documentaries of all-time. Errol Morris knows what he is doing.

7. Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (aka The M*A*S*H Finale)

Hmm… a TV movie? Sure, why not? It boasts all the most authentic, most dramatic, and (even though it is debatable) best, parts of the series. It hits love, friendship, community, loss, loyalty, and of course war. It’s hard not to watch and then not to cry when it appears on TV Land every few months.

6. Hannah and Her Sisters

Hannah and her sisters and her sisters’ spouses are just so interesting. It’s only 103 minutes long, but it feels so much longer… in a good way. Packed with so many carefully written characters and moments, Hannah and Her Sisters is a must for any Woody Allen fan.

5. E.T.

Ah, yes. My good childhood friend. I got to see it on the big screen when I was five years old. E.T. is, perhaps, the centerpiece in the Americana film collection, and is a huge rite of passage. I recently saw Super 8, and it helped me appreciate E.T. all the more.

4. The Gods Must Be Crazy

One of the first movies I’ve ever seen, The Gods Must Be Crazy is funny, charming, and heartwarming. Also, it’s extremely crazy and it sticks with you… like a pesky, devilish Coca-Cola bottle. The film spawned four sequels, including this little monster.

3. Raging Bull

The character-study biopic to end all character-study biopics, indeed. Robert De Niro has only been better once than as boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. The complicated life he leads is a fascinating one, but I don’t think the film would be considered the classic it is if a powerhouse actor weren’t playing him. There is a sequel to Raging Bull expected out in 2013, by the way. Won’t that be fun?

2. The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back is one that I just couldn’t talk myself out of including on the list. Decidedly better than any other installment of the Star Wars franchise, it is both visually glorious and emotionally arresting.

1. A Christmas Story

What can I say? I love A Christmas Story. It’s the only one I would salvage from the 80s if a movie eating monster made me choose only 10 films to live with and love forever. So, if you’ll allow it, I’d like to quote myself from January 30th, because I’ll always feel the same way:

But I don’t really think of it as a Christmas movie, even though it has the word Christmas in the title. A Christmas Story is just a family movie. I’ll always remember sitting on the couch, watching this with my family… no matter what the weather is like outside or if there’s a tree in the corner of the room.