Hi-Topper Nation. This is it. The Final Chapter. It’s was a long hard road but together we made it. These 20 movies represent the peak of not only the 80s but maybe just maybe all of cinema history. Sure there maybe 20 more “important” or more technically “better” made films but there certainly are NOT 20 more entertaining and re-watchable movies than these 20 flicks. Catch any of these from the start or anywhere in the middle and you don’t change the channel. You watch all the way through even though you’ve probably already since it hundreds of times before. You quote lines. You act out scenes. You laugh before the jokes even land. And folks that’s the whole point of movies. To escape for a few hours, laugh and cry and go on a journey with characters you don’t want to leave. These 20 movies have all that and more. So without further ado, here they are: The Top 20 Ultimate Movies of the 1980s:
20. Pee Wes’s Big Adventure
“I know you are but what am I? Heee heee!”
Was it really possible that Pee Wee Herman was the absolute biggest star in America for a moment. Did that really happen???? Hell yeah it did. Big Adventure is bat shit crazy and not only introduced Pee Wee to the world at large but also director Tim Burton. This movie is weird and funny and weird and did I mention weird as hell, with a cast of off the wall nut bags, and of course, Large Marge:
19. The Natural
“Pick me out a winner Bobby.”
The pennant winning home run is great and the Wrigley dinger is super cool too but for the Lil’ Dogg’s money it will always be “Knock the cover off the ball.”
Is there really anything more to say about the Natural. It’s heroes and villains, good vs evil, failure and redemption, and it’s baseball. And for what’s it worth the music gets my vote for Best Score of All-Time. Chills. Every damn time.
18. Field of Dreams
“Ray people will come Ray.”
Inject this James Earl Jones straight into my blood stream. Epic. Add in the fact that in 1989 Kevin Costner could literally do no wrong. There is no other actor that you could imagine being Ray Kinsella. Is this a perfect movie? Almost. They just had to go and cast a righty as Shoeless Joe. I mean c’mon!!!!!! You had months and months of filming. All he had to do was fake a lefty swing. It’s not that hard. He didn’t have to actually hit homers.
17. The Sure Thing
Of all the 80s Brat Pack and Brat Pack adjacent teen stars it’s quite possible that John Cusack actually has the best filmography of the decade. Some of you may be shaking your head at The Sure Thing being #17 and maybe most people have never even heard of the movie and well that’s just a tragedy cuz The Sure Thing is AWESOME.
Also Daphne Zuniga. Daphne Zuniga. Daphne Zuniga.
16. Real Genius
Real Genius might not be the #1 funniest movie of the 80s but it’s damn close cuz it’s HILARIOUS. Val Kilmer is riot – yes really. If you have never seen Real Genius stop whatever you are doing right now and find this movie.
15. Monster Squad
You might be asking yourself, is one line – “Wolfman’s got nards!” – really enough to make a movie the 15th best of the entire decade and the answer my friend is HELL YES.
14. Coming to America
If you’re not laughing your butt off for this entire movie then there’s really no help for you. Pack it in, you’re done cuz CtA is a non-stop laugh riot. This is without question the greatest thing Eddie Murphy has ever done. It’s a 100% perfect comedy.
13. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Is it even possible to pick a favorite moment from Ferris Bueller? There’s just too many. This movie is imbedded into American culture. A throw away gag like The Sausage King of Chicago is an instantly recognizable quote. That’s the mark of a truly transcendent movie.
Bill Murray. Bill Murray. Bill Murray. Bill Murray. Also Bill Murray.
11. Pretty in Pink
If you’re not on Team Duckie then the Lil’ Dogg doesn’t want to know. Blaine? Blaine? That’s a major appliance. That’s not a name.
10. Breakfast Club
You’d have to be a Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebie to not think that The Breakfast Club is the greatest High School movie of all-time. The arch-types are perfectly done and perfectly cast. The quotable lines are endless. The soundtrack nearly perfect. Even as an adult looking back you can still appreciate both sides of the fight. You can see why the kids hate Vernon but you also now understand why Vernon takes out the frustrations of his life on these kids. The ending is perfect even if you know on Monday everything will go back to status quo and poor Brian will never get his hallway “hello”.
9. Die Hard
The magic of Die Hard is that it’s funny as hell. Action flicks may have had throwaway joke lines in the past but none were actually “funny” movies. Die Hard is. And the action scenes kick ass. That combination is why Die Hard has remained a classic and aged so well.
8. Lethal Weapon
There is no Die Hard if there’s isn’t a Lethal Weapon first. In fact LW laid the template for the next 30 years of action movies. Mel Gibson may be the awful kind of nutbag in real life but as Riggs he’s the absolutely perfect kind of nutbag. Before the onslaught of sequels Riggs was a death wish Vietnam vet with a true anything could happen edge to the character. Unfortunately later movies just made Riggs a caricature but the first movie, wow, Riggs was something else.
7. Empire Strikes Back
Empire is the coolest Star Wars movie. Empire is the best written Star Wars movie. Empire has the best battle. And Empire has The Twist. Enough said.
6. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Is the opening to Raiders the greatest opening action sequences all-time? Probably. I also may have said the same exact thing about the opening to Temple of Doom. Indiana Jones movies know how to open. And the rest of Raiders is almost as good.
Funniest sports movie of all-time, hands down, no debate. It’s not even close. Caddyshack is up there for funniest movie period. Every scene is quotable. And they are all the funniest. It’s just a matter of personal preference who you find the funniest. Personally I could watch 10 hours of Judge Smails:
4. Say Anything…
“I gave her my heart. She gave me a pen.”
“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”
3. The Goonies
Is there anything left to say about The Goonies that hasn’t already been said? Probably not. Its hands down the best “kids adventure” movie of all-time and it’s not even close. It’s very nearly a prefect movie outright. Just eminently enjoyable. Find me someone who doesn’t love the Goonies and well that person probably needs therapy or something cuz there’s nothing bad about The Goonies. Nothing.
Also the Goonies gave us the greatest music video of all-time:
2. Back to the Future
The opening sequence to Back to the Future is basically a 5 minute Graduate Level Film Class. Every single thing said or shown on screen is done for a purpose. Every detail connects to the plot. You learn everything you need to know about Marty and the Doc in that first scene and you don’t even see Marty till it’s half way over and you never see the Doc. And the rest of the movie follows in line. Note perfect. Endlessly rewatchable. You can jump in at any point and be instantly hooked in to watching the rest of the movie. 99% perfect movie.
1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
And Last Crusade is the 100% perfect movie. The action. The comedy. The actors. The script. Every single thing is top notch. To do this in the third movie of a series is absolutely astonishing. It starts with just a genius opening.
To have River Phoenix as Young Indy is pitch perfect. He was the only actor who could possibly pull this off and he does it flawlessly. Then you add Sean Connery as Indy’s dad??????? More Perfection. The Ford/Connery duo is the best pairing in the history of cinema. Yes that’s saying a lot but it’s also true. Facts is facts and the fact is Sean Connery is the only actor capable of being Dad. The degree of difficulty in casting both a Young Indy and Indy’s dad and nailing both is just mind blowing and speaks to the power of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas in 1989. They could have gotten anyone and they made the right choice twice.
Then there’s the story, the script, the plot. In most big budget action adventure movies like this the plot gets so convoluted that it becomes a hinderance holding the movie captive. But Last Crusade is both simple and intriguing. The historical elements draw you in. It never gets overly complicated but it’s interesting enough that you are happy to stay engaged. Also it’s thrilling and hilarious and of course Harrison Ford is charming and smug and everything that Indy always is. Last Crusade might be the only perfect movie ever made. Not one flaw. And that is why it’s the #1 movie of the 1980s (and possibly ever).
That’s it. That’s a wrap. For anyone that played along and read all 100 of these I hope you were remind of some great flicks or maybe found out about a movie you missed out and can now hunt down and enjoy.