50 Best 80s Movies To Watch If You Are Feeling Nostalgic
Ah, the 80s! The time when denim-on-denim outfits were in, MTV was making its first steps, and October 21, 2015 felt like a distant future (if you got that reference, we can be friends!) We often feel nostalgic about this decade, even if some of us are too young to remember it.
Everyone probably has their own recipe of what makes the 80s a great decade to reminisce about. One thing we can all agree on though is that it gave us many awesome movies we still watch 40 years later. It is probably safe to assume that each of us has one (or two, or five) favorite movies made in the 80s that we will keep watching till the end of eternity.
So what is it that makes movies of the 80s a beloved entertainment for all of us? A common point of view suggests that since technology was not as sophisticated as it is today, to have you stare at the screen in awe, filmmakers had to concentrate more on developing a captivating story and relatable characters than simply relying on a bunch of special effects.
Well, we are not here to judge anyone, past or present, but what we most definitely are here for is to introduce (or maybe re-introduce) you to some of the—to use popular 80s slang—fantabulous movies of the decade. Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments what the best 80s movies are in your opinion.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Director: Steven Spielberg | 1981
When George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were releasing Raiders of the Lost Ark back in 1981, prerelease polls showed that audiences weren’t too interested in an adventure film about an archeologist on his quest to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis could lay their hands on it. Yet upon its release, it became the highest-grossing film of 1981. It also went on to win multiple awards, including five Academy Awards. Adventurous and charismatic protagonist Indiana Jones, portrayed by Harrison Ford, is still considered to be one of the most iconic 80s characters, while well-choreographed stunts and an interesting, even if a little unrealistic, plot continue to attract fans even after so many years.
Blade Runner (1982)
Director: Ridley Scott | 1982
Do androids dream of sheep? Author Phillip K. Dick asked this question in his 1968 science fiction novel that was later adapted into a film by director Ridley Scott. In the dystopian future of 2019, Earth has bioengineered synthetic humans, known as replicants, who at first sight are almost impossible to distinguish from real people, but also have very limited rights compared to them. A group of advanced replicants returns to Earth illegally, and former police officer Deckard is assigned to capture them. Though some critics criticized the movie’s extremely slow pace, its portrayal of a decaying high-tech future placed Blade Runner among the all-time best sci-fi films and made it a foundational work both in neo-noir and cyberpunk genres.
Die Hard (1988)
Director: David Cronenberg | 1983
Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg is one of the key figures behind the genre that became known as body horror, where psychologically disturbing body violations become an integral part of the plot. In Videodrome, protagonist Max, who works at a TV station, uncovers a broadcast signal transmitting a show in which anonymous victims are tortured and murdered. He decides to use this program for his own station. This becomes the first step he makes towards a psychological horror full of hallucinations and brainwashing, inflicted upon him in the battle for control over the minds of future generations. The movie is placed among classic 80s movies for its depiction of complex themes and creating “techno-surrealist” aesthetics.
The Shining (1980)
Director: Akira Kurosawa | 1985
Ran, which translates from Japanese to “chaos” or “turmoil”, brings together the Japanese legend of a feudal lord Mori Motonari and Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear. Mori entered history as a great strategist, who had three famously loyal sons. However, when Kurosawa began working on the production, he turned the sons of his protagonist Hidetora Ichimonji into his antagonists. Elements from King Lear were added to the script in the development process. Telling the story of loyalty, betrayal, a fight for power, and revenge, Ran became the most expensive film in the history of Japanese cinema at the time. It is also largely considered to be Kurosawa’s greatest movie.
Raging Bull (1980)
Director: Martin Scorsese | 1980
Raging Bull is based on the memoirs of American professional boxer Jake LaMotta who held the title of the world middleweight champion from 1949 to 1951. In the beginning, Scorsese was not too keen on doing this project, until he began relating to the life story of the famous athlete. The film explores LaMotta’s life from the early 40s when he suffers his first loss in the ring and meets an underage girl who will go on to become his second wife. His uncontrolled rage and obsessive jealousy cost him his career, family, and relationship with his very supportive brother, who was also his manager. The end shows him making an attempt at a career as a stage entertainer.
Stand By Me (1986)
Back To The Future (1985)
The Thing (1982)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Director: David Lynch | 1986
When Jeffrey was returning home to visit his father who had recently suffered a heart attack, he definitely didn’t expect that he would end up getting entangled in a criminal conspiracy, a double love relationship, and finding himself on the wrong side of the local drug gang. All he did was find a severed ear on a plot of land and take it to the police station. From there on, his life turned into a roller coaster, and not of the fun kind. True to his usual style, director David Lynch combined psychological horror and film noir, and though upon release he was criticized by many for his excessive depiction of violence and nudity, Blue Velvet won him several prestigious awards and went on to become a cult film.
Do The Right Thing (1989)
Do The Right Thing
Director: Spike Lee | 1989
It’s a hot summer day in an Italian pizza place in an African-American neighborhood of Brooklyn. What could possibly go wrong? Director Spike Lee wrote the script for Do the Right Thing in two weeks. His inspiration came from two sources: a TV show episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, where characters contemplated the effects hot weather can have on violent tendencies, and the shooting of Eleanor Bumpers, an elderly lady of color, by New York police. In his film, which is frequently listed among the greatest movies of all time, Lee shows a racial confrontation between African-American residents of the neighborhood and the Italian-American owners of a pizzeria in the same location. What starts as occasional bickering and verbal insults grows into a tragedy on a particularly hot summer day.
Director: Claude Lanzmann | 1985
It took French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann 11 years to complete his documentary Shoah. Using the Hebrew word for “Holocaust” as its name, this 9+ hour-long film tells the story of the genocide of European Jews during WWII and includes interviews from the survivors of extermination camps, witnesses from the local population, and perpetrators who participated in executions. Not an easy spectacle by any measure, Shoah cracks open many uncomfortable topics. Notwithstanding the troubled production that was hindered by financial problems, the difficulty in finding interviewees, and even threats to Lanzmann’s life, the documentary received vast critical acclaim and won a number of prominent awards.
The Goonies (1985)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
Stranger Than Paradise
Director: Jim Jarmusch | 1984
Stranger Than Paradise tells the story of Willie, a small-time gambler of Hungarian origin living in Brooklyn. When his cousin Eva’s transit stay in his apartment on her way to Cleveland gets prolonged, Willie is not too happy at first but gradually warms up to Eva, introduces her to his friend Eddie, and even includes her in their fun activities. While for director Jim Jarmusch this was only his second feature-length film, it already set the tone for his soon-to-become-signature style of slow-paced storytelling where he lets the audience concentrate on the inner worlds and emotions of the characters.
The Thin Blue Line (1988)
The Thin Blue Line
Director: Errol Morris | 1988
“The thin blue line” is a colloquial term for police forces, the people that stand between society and crime, to keep the former safe from the latter. Initially, director Errol Morris was planning a documentary project about a prosecution psychiatrist Dr. James Grigson, widely known in his native Texas as Doctor Death for the number of defendants that received death sentences after his testimony. During the development stage, Morris came across the case of Randall Dale Adams, who was similarly deemed dangerous to society by Dr. Grigson. However Morris became suspicious of Adams’ involvement in the murder of police officer Robert Wood and started his own investigation. As a result, the documentary The Thin Blue Line was created, while all charges against Adams were dropped, as he was found innocent.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Say Anything... (1989)
Sex, Lies And Videotape (1989)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Short Circuit (1986)
Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Come And See (1985)
The Land Before Time (1988)
E.t.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Rain Man (1988)
9 To 5 (1980)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)
An American Werewolf In London (1981)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Something Wild (1986)
Blow Out (1981)
Note: this post originally had 201 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.