140 Essential ’80s Movies

#105
#105
Adjusted Score: 85417%
Critics Consensus: Desperately Seeking Susan works with its fairy tale depiction of New York and the fun, frothy chemistry generated by its two leads.
Synopsis: New Jersey housewife Roberta Glass (Rosanna Arquette) spices up her boring life by reading personal ads, especially a series of... [More]
Directed By: Susan Seidelman

#104

Tron (1982)
72%

#104
Adjusted Score: 79294%
Critics Consensus: Though perhaps not as strong dramatically as it is technologically, TRON is an original and visually stunning piece of science fiction that represents a landmark work in the history of computer animation.
Synopsis: When talented computer engineer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) finds out that Ed Dillinger (David Warner), an executive at his company,... [More]
Directed By: Steven Lisberger

#103

The Color Purple (1985)
81%

#103
Adjusted Score: 82448%
Critics Consensus: It might have been better served by a filmmaker with a deeper connection to the source material, but The Color Purple remains a worthy, well-acted adaptation of Alice Walker's classic novel.
Synopsis: An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#102

Beetlejuice (1988)
85%

#102
Adjusted Score: 89390%
Critics Consensus: Brilliantly bizarre and overflowing with ideas, Beetlejuice offers some of Michael Keaton's most deliciously manic work - and creepy, funny fun for the whole family.
Synopsis: After Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) die in a car accident, they find themselves stuck haunting their... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#101
#101
Adjusted Score: 87900%
Critics Consensus: The buddy cop movie continues its evolution unabated with this Eddie Murphy vehicle that's fast, furious, and funny.
Synopsis: After his childhood buddy is murdered while visiting Detroit, rebellious cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) follows the leads to Beverly... [More]
Directed By: Martin Brest

#100

The Lost Boys (1987)
76%

#100
Adjusted Score: 81433%
Critics Consensus: Flawed but eminently watchable, Joel Schumacher's teen vampire thriller blends horror, humor, and plenty of visual style with standout performances from a cast full of young 1980s stars.
Synopsis: Teenage brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move with their mother (Dianne Wiest) to a small town in... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#99
#99
Adjusted Score: 63182%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: Eddie Murphy
Directed By: Bruce Gowers

#98

Wall Street (1987)
79%

#98
Adjusted Score: 82376%
Critics Consensus: With Wall Street, Oliver Stone delivers a blunt but effective -- and thoroughly well-acted -- jeremiad against its era's veneration of greed as a means to its own end.
Synopsis: On the Wall Street of the 1980s, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a stockbroker full of ambition, doing whatever he... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#97

Working Girl (1988)
84%

#97
Adjusted Score: 86519%
Critics Consensus: A buoyant corporate Cinderella story, Working Girl has the right cast, right story, and right director to make it all come together.
Synopsis: Savvy New York City receptionist Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) gives her conniving boss, Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), an excellent business... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#96
#96
Adjusted Score: 85876%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by impressive special effects and a charming performance from its young star, Flight of the Navigator holds up as a solidly entertaining bit of family-friendly sci-fi.
Synopsis: This 1978 Disney adventure tells the story of 12-year-old David (Joey Cramer) who lives with his family in Fort Lauderdale,... [More]
Directed By: Randal Kleiser

#95

Stripes (1981)
88%

#95
Adjusted Score: 90635%
Critics Consensus: A raucous military comedy that features Bill Murray and his merry cohorts approaching the peak of their talents.
Synopsis: Hard-luck cabbie John Winger (Bill Murray) -- directionless after being fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend --... [More]
Directed By: Ivan Reitman

#94

Mystery Train (1989)
89%

#94
Adjusted Score: 90762%
Critics Consensus: Mystery Train meanders by design, but it never goes off the rails, retaining its deadpan cool throughout.
Synopsis: A seedy hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, provides the backdrop for three separate tales, featuring everything from a kitsch-obsessed Japanese couple... [More]
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch

#93

Labyrinth (1986)
74%

#93
Adjusted Score: 78549%
Critics Consensus: While it's arguably more interesting on a visual level, Labyrinth provides further proof of director Jim Henson's boundless imagination.
Synopsis: Teenage Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) journeys through a maze to recover her baby brother (Toby Froud) from a goblin king (David... [More]
Directed By: Jim Henson

#92
#92
Adjusted Score: 89340%
Critics Consensus: Affecting performances from the young cast and a genuinely inspirational turn from Robin Williams grant Peter Weir's prep school drama top honors.
Synopsis: A new English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), is introduced to an all-boys preparatory school that is known for its... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#91

Commando (1985)
69%

#91
Adjusted Score: 70887%
Critics Consensus: The ultimate '80s Schwarzenegger movie, replete with a threadbare plot, outsized action, and endless one-liners.
Synopsis: Retired Special Forces soldier John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lives with daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in isolation, but his privacy is... [More]
Directed By: Mark L. Lester

#90

Field of Dreams (1989)
87%

#90
Adjusted Score: 92753%
Critics Consensus: Field of Dreams is sentimental, but in the best way; it's a mix of fairy tale, baseball, and family togetherness.
Synopsis: When Iowa farmer Ray (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying "If you build it,... [More]
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson

#89

The Naked Gun (1988)
88%

#89
Adjusted Score: 91885%
Critics Consensus: The Naked Gun is loaded chock full of gags that are goofy, unapologetically crass, and ultimately hilarious.
Synopsis: Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen), a rather clueless police detective, tries to foil a plot to turn innocent people into assassins... [More]
Directed By: David Zucker

#88

The Karate Kid (1984)
89%

#88
Adjusted Score: 91895%
Critics Consensus: Utterly predictable and wholly of its time, but warm, sincere, and difficult to resist, due in large part to Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio's relaxed chemistry.
Synopsis: Daniel (Ralph Macchio) moves to Southern California with his mother, Lucille (Randee Heller), but quickly finds himself the target of... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#87
#87
Adjusted Score: 81690%
Critics Consensus: A classic tearjerker, Terms of Endearment isn't shy about reaching for the heartstrings -- but is so well-acted and smartly scripted that it's almost impossible to resist.
Synopsis: Widow Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter, Emma (Debra Winger), have a strong bond, but Emma marries teacher Flap... [More]
Directed By: James L. Brooks

#86

Near Dark (1987)
81%

#86
Adjusted Score: 85433%
Critics Consensus: Near Dark is at once a creepy vampire film, a thrilling western, and a poignant family tale, with humor and scares in abundance.
Synopsis: Cowboy Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) meets gorgeous Mae (Jenny Wright) at a bar, and the two have an immediate attraction.... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow

#85

Tootsie (1982)
90%

#85
Adjusted Score: 95508%
Critics Consensus: Tootsie doesn't squander its high-concept comedy premise with fine dialogue and sympathetic treatment of the characters.
Synopsis: New York actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is a talented perfectionist who is so hard on himself and others that... [More]
Directed By: Sydney Pollack

#84
Adjusted Score: 93859%
Critics Consensus: A punk take on the zombie genre, The Return of the Living Dead injects a healthy dose of '80s silliness to the flesh-consuming.
Synopsis: When foreman Frank (James Karen) shows new employee Freddy (Thom Mathews) a secret military experiment in a supply warehouse, the... [More]
Directed By: Dan O'Bannon

#83
#83
Adjusted Score: 96978%
Critics Consensus: Rob Reiner's touching, funny film set a new standard for romantic comedies, and he was ably abetted by the sharp interplay between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
Synopsis: In 1977, college graduates Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) share a contentious car ride from Chicago... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#82

Time Bandits (1981)
90%

#82
Adjusted Score: 93658%
Critics Consensus: Time Bandits is a remarkable time-travel fantasy from Terry Gilliam, who utilizes fantastic set design and homemade special effects to create a vivid, original universe.
Synopsis: Young history buff Kevin (Craig Warnock) can scarcely believe it when six dwarfs emerge from his closet one night. Former... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#81
#81
Adjusted Score: 95200%
Critics Consensus: Remixing Roger Corman's B-movie by way of the Off-Broadway musical, Little Shop of Horrors offers camp, horror and catchy tunes in equal measure -- plus some inspired cameos by the likes of Steve Martin and Bill Murray.
Synopsis: Meek flower shop assistant Seymour (Rick Moranis) pines for co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene). During a total eclipse, he discovers an... [More]
Directed By: Frank Oz

#80
#80
Adjusted Score: 98610%
Critics Consensus: The Little Mermaid ushered in a new golden era for Disney animation with warm and charming hand-drawn characters and catchy musical sequences.
Synopsis: In Disney's beguiling animated romp, rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel (Jodi Benson) is fascinated with life on land. On one of... [More]
Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker

#79

My Life as a Dog (1985)
100%

#79
Adjusted Score: 102265%
Critics Consensus: A coming-of-age story with uncommon depth and sensitivity, My Life as a Dog is sweet, sincere, and utterly charming.
Synopsis: A boy (Anton Glanzelius), obsessed with comparing himself with those less fortunate, experiences a different life at the home of... [More]
Directed By: Lasse Hallström

#78

WarGames (1983)
93%

#78
Adjusted Score: 96636%
Critics Consensus: Part delightfully tense techno-thriller, part refreshingly unpatronizing teen drama, WarGames is one of the more inventive -- and genuinely suspenseful -- Cold War movies of the 1980s.
Synopsis: High school student David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) unwittingly hacks into a military supercomputer while searching for new video games. After... [More]
Directed By: John Badham

#77

Dragonslayer (1981)
85%

#77
Adjusted Score: 86827%
Critics Consensus: An atypically dark Disney adventure, Dragonslayer puts a realistic spin -- and some impressive special effects -- on a familiar tale.
Synopsis: A terrible dragon is terrorizing the medieval land of Urland in the 6th century. Representatives from the kingdom seek the... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Robbins

#76

Moonstruck (1987)
94%

#76
Adjusted Score: 98240%
Critics Consensus: Led by energetic performances from Nicolas Cage and Cher, Moonstruck is an exuberantly funny tribute to love and one of the decade's most appealing comedies.
Synopsis: No sooner does Italian-American widow Loretta (Cher) accept a marriage proposal from her doltish boyfriend, Johnny (Danny Aiello), than she... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#75

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
100%

#75
Adjusted Score: 102001%
Critics Consensus: Drugstore Cowboy takes us into a violent, transient world with cool, contemplative style.
Synopsis: Bob Hughes (Matt Dillon) is the leader of a "family" of drug addicts consisting of his wife, Dianne (Kelly Lynch),... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#74
#74
Adjusted Score: 101008%
Critics Consensus: Smartly written, smoothly directed, and solidly cast, A Fish Called Wanda offers a classic example of a brainy comedy with widespread appeal.
Synopsis: British gangster George Thomason (Tom Georgeson) and his hapless aide, Ken Pile (Michael Palin), draft a pair of arrogant Americans,... [More]

#73

The Boat (1981)
98%

#73
Adjusted Score: 103144%
Critics Consensus: Taut, breathtakingly thrilling, and devastatingly intelligent, Das Boot is one of the greatest war films ever made.
Synopsis: A German submarine patrols the Atlantic Ocean during World War II, manned by a crew that must contend with tense... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#72

Paris, Texas (1984)
94%

#72
Adjusted Score: 97390%
Critics Consensus: A quiet yet deeply moving kind of Western, Paris, Texas captures a place and people like never before (or after).
Synopsis: A disheveled man who wanders out of the desert, Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) seems to have no idea who... [More]
Directed By: Wim Wenders

#71
Adjusted Score: 90676%
Critics Consensus: It may be too "dark" for some, but Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom remains an ingenious adventure spectacle that showcases one of Hollywood's finest filmmaking teams in vintage form.
Synopsis: The second of the Lucas/Spielberg Indiana Jones epics is set a year or so before the events in Raiders of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

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