Top 10 Movies of the 1980s

Script written by Richard Bush. The 1980s saw Hollywood focus on sci-fi, action, comedy and franchises. For our series of the Best Movies of All Time, we’ve chosen ten movies per decade based on their iconic status, critical acclaim, box-office success, and watchability. And just so you know, we’re not necessarily choosing the movies your film studies professor would pick. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today, in this installment of our series on the greatest movies of all time, we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies of the 1980s. Special thanks to our users jwiking62, Philip Folta, Jerome Magajes, ibriers 1, NinthStCinema, Andrew A. Dennison and JakeMaringoni for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Richard Bush.

This decade saw Hollywood focus on sci-fi, action, comedy and franchises. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today, in this installment of our series on the greatest movies of all time, we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies of the 1980s.

For our series of the Best Movies of All Time, we’ve chosen ten movies per decade based on their iconic status, critical acclaim, box-office success, and watchability. And just so you know, we’re not necessarily choosing the movies your film studies professor would pick.

So sit back and relax as we wax on, wax off, kick some Aussie ass and turn this list up to 11.

#10: “Platoon” (1986)

Oliver Stone’s gritty Oscar-winner “Platoon” swarms with great characters, tension and the horrors of war. As young and naive soldier Chris Taylor makes his way through Vietnam, he discovers two things: 1) his existence in the war is pretty insignificant, and 2) there’s massive moral duality between his fellow soldiers. After a village is mercilessly slaughtered, Taylor must decide what kind of a man and soldier he wants to be, making this one of cinema’s most affective war movies.

#9: “Aliens” (1986)

Released seven years after the chest-bursting original, James Cameron’s “Aliens” sees the planet of LV-426 colonized by the acid bearing, tongue torpedoing extra-terrestrials. With Nostromo survivor Ellen Ripley on board to assist a group of trigger-happy warriors, we explore every nook and cranny of the alien planet – and we’re on edge every step of the way. The state-of-the-art special effects, intriguing characters and terrifying alien beings all make this movie an un-missable one for gory sci-fi enthusiasts.

#8: “Ghostbusters” (1984)

You don’t even have to believe in ghouls to love this Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis-written film. When a group of scientists sets up their own ghost catching firm, they patrol the streets of New York, defeating any slimers, demon canines or giant marshmallow men that get in their way. Not only are the ridiculously farfetched scenes entertaining, but the chemistry between these scientists, pardon the pun, is intoxicating.

#7: “Die Hard” (1988)

It’s shoeless Bruce Willis versus German Alan Rickman – seriously, what’s not to love? When New York cop John McClane goes to visit his family at Christmas, he unwittingly walks into the web of a bad-guy gang, led by Rickman’s Hans Gruber. Managing to slip out of their grasp, McClane slithers around the building, taking them out one-by-one, spawning sequels galore and inspiring imitators for years to come. Oh, but watch out for that glass, John…

#6: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)

With timeless concepts about friendship and exploration, Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” is the story of an adolescent boy who discovers an extra-terrestrial in his garden shed. With young Elliot and the alien worlds apart when it comes to communication, we watch as they teach each other new tricks and ultimately become best friends. Elliot must then battle the odds to get E.T. back to his home planet, leaving us with warmth in our hearts and tears in our eyes.

#5: “The Shining” (1980)

Aspiring writer Jack Torrance is holed up in the snowbound Overlook Hotel with his wife and son, when he falls victim to cabin fever – or something. Spiraling into madness, we witness Jack Nicholson at his unhinged best as he talks to ghosts, threatens his family and lets us know what “all work and no play” will do to a guy. Based on the Stephen King novel, it’s an ‘80s classic with Stanley Kubrick’s directorial fingerprints all over it.

#4: “Raging Bull” (1980)

Delving into the finer details of boxer Jake LaMotta’s life, this film explores the detrimental effects an aggressive personality can have on an Italian American household. Directed by the genius hand of Martin Scorsese and with the Oscar-winning Robert De Niro in the lead role, “Raging Bull” gives us a closer look behind the scenes of fixed boxing matches, domestic violence, sibling rivalry and the day-to-day struggle of living the American dream in mid-century New York.

#3: “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

This is the movie that made Indiana Jones a household name when it came to adventure epics. As we follow Indy in a race against the Nazis to reach the sacred Ark of the Covenant, we’re met not only by elaborate landscapes, messy fight scenes, ancient trap rooms and melting faces; but also by dry humor and multi-dimensional characters. Spielberg’s “Raiders” set the benchmark high, and left a legacy worthy of any treasure-hunter.

#2: “Back to the Future” (1985)

Time-travel, skateboarding, DeLoreans and Nike sneaks. Oh, but it’s much more. In the first of Robert Zemeckis’ three “BttF” movies, we follow Marty McFly as he travels back to 1955 when his parents first met, thanks to his eccentric friend Doc Brown’s newly-invented time machine. However, young Marty’s very existence in endangered when he finds himself in a love triangle – with his folks. What follows are weird parental scenarios, a bully beat-down, and some Johnny B. Goode rock guitar.

Honorable Mentions

- “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)
- “Blade Runner” (1982)
- “The Terminator” (1984)
- “Scarface” (1983)
- “The Breakfast Club” (1985)

#1: “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)

Before 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” completed George Lucas’ original trilogy; there was 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back.” Often considered the best film in the “Star Wars” saga, “Empire” sees lightsaber-wielding protagonist Luke Skywalker training with master Yoda to fight Darth Vader’s forces. But with Han Solo and Princess Leia taken prisoner, the Empire stronger than ever, and the temptation of the Dark Side hanging over his shoulder, it won’t be easy.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite movie of the ‘80s? For more thrilling top 10s be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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