140 Essential ’80s Movies

#70

Re-Animator (1985)
93%

#70
Adjusted Score: 98724%
Critics Consensus: Perfectly mixing humor and horror, the only thing more effective than Re-Animator's gory scares are its dry, deadpan jokes.
Synopsis: A medical student (Jeffrey Combs) brings his headless professor back from the dead with a special serum.... [More]
Directed By: Stuart Gordon

#69
#69
Adjusted Score: 97267%
Critics Consensus: Smart, tender, and funny in equal measure, Hannah and Her Sisters is one of Woody Allen's finest films.
Synopsis: Three successive family Thanksgiving dinners mark time for Hannah (Mia Farrow), her younger sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#68

Big (1988)
97%

#68
Adjusted Score: 102737%
Critics Consensus: Refreshingly sweet and undeniably funny, Big is a showcase for Tom Hanks, who dives into his role and infuses it with charm and surprising poignancy.
Synopsis: After a wish turns 12-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) into a 30-year-old man (Tom Hanks), he heads to New York... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#67

Lost in America (1985)
97%

#67
Adjusted Score: 99968%
Critics Consensus: A satire of the American fantasy of leaving it all behind, Lost in America features some of Albert Brooks' best, most consistent writing and cultural jabs.
Synopsis: After being snubbed at his advertising job, Los Angeles yuppie David Howard (Albert Brooks) convinces his wife, Linda (Julie Hagerty),... [More]
Directed By: Albert Brooks

#66
#66
Adjusted Score: 99265%
Critics Consensus: Louis Malle's autobiographical tale of a childhood spent in a WWII boarding school is a beautifully realized portrait of friendship and youth.
Synopsis: In 1943, Julien (Gaspard Manesse) is a student at a French boarding school. When three new students arrive, including Jean... [More]
Directed By: Louis Malle

#65

My Left Foot (1989)
98%

#65
Adjusted Score: 100514%
Critics Consensus: No doubt most will come to My Left Foot for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance, but the movie's refusal to go downbeat will keep it in viewer minds afterwards.
Synopsis: No one expects much from Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), a boy with cerebral palsy born into a working-class Irish family.... [More]
Directed By: Jim Sheridan

#64

Ran (1985)
96%

#64
Adjusted Score: 103810%
Critics Consensus: Akira Kurosawa's sprawling, epic take on King Lear should be required viewing for fans of westerns, war movies, or period films in general.
Synopsis: At the age of seventy, after years of consolidating his empire, the Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai) decides to... [More]
Directed By: Akira Kurosawa

#63
#63
Adjusted Score: 88080%
Critics Consensus: With coke fiends, car chases, and Wang Chung galore, To Live and Die in L.A. is perhaps the ultimate '80s action/thriller.
Synopsis: When his longtime partner on the force is killed, reckless U.S. Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William L. Petersen) vows... [More]
Directed By: William Friedkin

#62

Body Heat (1981)
98%

#62
Adjusted Score: 100237%
Critics Consensus: Made from classic noir ingredients and flavored with a heaping helping of steamy modern spice, Body Heat more than lives up to its evocative title.
Synopsis: Shyster lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt) begins a passionate affair with Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner), wife of a wealthy Florida... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#61

Pretty in Pink (1986)
73%

#61
Adjusted Score: 78980%
Critics Consensus: Molly Ringwald gives an outstanding performance in this sweet, intelligent teen comedy that takes an ancient premise and injects it with insight and wit.
Synopsis: Andie (Molly Ringwald) is an outcast at her Chicago high school, hanging out either with her older boss (Annie Potts),... [More]
Directed By: Howard Deutch

#60

Blue Velvet (1986)
93%

#60
Adjusted Score: 101502%
Critics Consensus: If audiences walk away from this subversive, surreal shocker not fully understanding the story, they might also walk away with a deeper perception of the potential of film storytelling.
Synopsis: College student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) returns home after his father has a stroke. When he discovers a severed ear... [More]
Directed By: David Lynch

#59
Adjusted Score: 81643%
Critics Consensus: While Fast Times at Ridgemont High features Sean Penn's legendary performance, the film endures because it accurately captured the small details of school, work, and teenage life.
Synopsis: Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a pretty, but inexperienced, teen interested in dating. Given advice by her uninhibited friend,... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#58
#58
Adjusted Score: 92553%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an atmospherically grimy futuristic metropolis, Escape from New York is a strange, entertaining jumble of thrilling action and oddball weirdness.
Synopsis: In 1997, a major war between the United States and the Soviet Union is concluding, and the entire island of... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#57

The Killer (1989)
98%

#57
Adjusted Score: 100313%
Critics Consensus: The Killer is another hard-boiled action flick from John Woo featuring eye-popping balletic violence and philosophical underpinnings.
Synopsis: Mob assassin Jeffrey (Chow Yun-Fat) is no ordinary hired gun; the best in his business, he views his chosen profession... [More]
Directed By: John Woo

#56

Repo Man (1984)
98%

#56
Adjusted Score: 101117%
Critics Consensus: Repo Man is many things: an alien-invasion film, a punk-rock musical, a send-up of consumerism. One thing it isn't is boring.
Synopsis: After being fired from his job, Los Angeles slacker and punk rocker Otto (Emilio Estevez) lands a gig working for... [More]
Directed By: Alex Cox

#55

Broadcast News (1987)
98%

#55
Adjusted Score: 102088%
Critics Consensus: Blockbuster dramatist James L. Brooks delivers with Broadcast News, fully entertaining with deft, deep characterization.
Synopsis: Intelligent satire of American television news. A highly strung news producer finds herself strangely attracted to a vapid anchorman even... [More]
Directed By: James L. Brooks

#54

They Live (1988)
85%

#54
Adjusted Score: 89830%
Critics Consensus: A politically subversive blend of horror and sci fi, They Live is an underrated genre film from John Carpenter.
Synopsis: Nada (Roddy Piper), a wanderer without meaning in his life, discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#53

Sid & Nancy (1986)
88%

#53
Adjusted Score: 95466%
Critics Consensus: Visceral, energetic, and often very sad, Sid and Nancy is also a surprisingly touching love story, and Gary Oldman is outstanding as the late punk rock icon Sid Vicious.
Synopsis: Following their breakout success in England, flagship punk rock band the Sex Pistols venture out on their first U.S. tour.... [More]
Directed By: Alex Cox

#52

Lethal Weapon (1987)
80%

#52
Adjusted Score: 84377%
Critics Consensus: The most successful installment in a phenomenally successful series, Lethal Weapon helped redefine action movies for the 1980s and 1990s.
Synopsis: Following the death of his wife, Los Angeles police detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) becomes reckless and suicidal. When he... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#51

Poltergeist (1982)
86%

#51
Adjusted Score: 90695%
Critics Consensus: Smartly filmed, tightly scripted, and -- most importantly -- consistently frightening, Poltergeist is a modern horror classic.
Synopsis: Strange and creepy happenings beset an average California family, the Freelings -- Steve (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams), teenaged... [More]
Directed By: Tobe Hooper

#50
Adjusted Score: 80748%
Critics Consensus: Brimming with energy and packed with humor, Big Trouble in Little China distills kung fu B-movies as affectionately as it subverts them.
Synopsis: Kurt Russell plays hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco's... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#49

Scarface (1983)
82%

#49
Adjusted Score: 87481%
Critics Consensus: Director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino take it to the limit in this stylized, ultra-violent and eminently quotable gangster epic that walks a thin white line between moral drama and celebratory excess.
Synopsis: After getting a green card in exchange for assassinating a Cuban government official, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) stakes a claim... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#48
Adjusted Score: 93870%
Critics Consensus: Lighter and more comedic than its predecessor, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade returns the series to the brisk serial adventure of Raiders, while adding a dynamite double act between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery.
Synopsis: An art collector appeals to Jones to embark on a search for the Holy Grail. He learns that another archaeologist... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 98648%
Critics Consensus: My Neighbor Totoro is a heartwarming, sentimental masterpiece that captures the simple grace of childhood.
Synopsis: This acclaimed animated tale by director Hayao Miyazaki follows schoolgirl Satsuke and her younger sister, Mei, as they settle into... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki

#46
#46
Adjusted Score: 100929%
Critics Consensus: Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an innovative and entertaining film that features a groundbreaking mix of live action and animation, with a touching and original story to boot.
Synopsis: Down-on-his-luck private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) gets hired by cartoon producer R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) to investigate an adultery... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#45

After Hours (1985)
89%

#45
Adjusted Score: 94210%
Critics Consensus: Bursting with frantic energy and tinged with black humor, After Hours is a masterful -- and often overlooked -- detour in Martin Scorsese's filmography.
Synopsis: In a Manhattan cafe, word processor Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) meets and talks literature with Marcy (Rosanna Arquette). Later that... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#44

Mad Max 2 (1981)
94%

#44
Adjusted Score: 97931%
Critics Consensus: The Road Warrior is everything a bigger-budgeted Mad Max sequel with should be: bigger, faster, louder, but definitely not dumber.
Synopsis: After avenging the death of his wife and young son at the hands of a vicious gang leader, Max (Mel... [More]
Directed By: George Miller

#43

Platoon (1986)
87%

#43
Adjusted Score: 93759%
Critics Consensus: Informed by director Oliver Stone's personal experiences in Vietnam, Platoon forgoes easy sermonizing in favor of a harrowing, ground-level view of war, bolstered by no-holds-barred performances from Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe.
Synopsis: Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) leaves his university studies to enlist in combat duty in Vietnam in 1967. Once he's on... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#42
Adjusted Score: 96636%
Critics Consensus: Blessed by a brilliantly befuddled star turn from Chevy Chase, National Lampoon's Vacation is one of the more consistent -- and thoroughly quotable -- screwball comedies of the 1980s.
Synopsis: Accompanied by their children (Dana Barron, Anthony Michael Hall), Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his wife, Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), are... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#41

Trading Places (1983)
88%

#41
Adjusted Score: 87869%
Critics Consensus: Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.
Synopsis: Upper-crust executive Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and down-and-out hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) are the subjects of a... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#40

Batman (1989)
71%

#40
Adjusted Score: 78267%
Critics Consensus: An eerie, haunting spectacle, Batman succeeds as dark entertainment, even if Jack Nicholson's Joker too often overshadows the title character.
Synopsis: Having witnessed his parents' brutal murder as a child, millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) fights crime in Gotham City... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 97969%
Critics Consensus: Intense, tightly constructed, and darkly comic at times, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket may not boast the most original of themes, but it is exceedingly effective at communicating them.
Synopsis: Stanley Kubrick's take on the Vietnam War follows smart-aleck Private Davis (Matthew Modine), quickly christened "Joker" by his foul-mouthed drill... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: 91115%
Critics Consensus: Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy.
Synopsis: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) battles horrible Jabba the Hut and cruel Darth Vader to save his comrades in the Rebel... [More]
Directed By: Richard Marquand

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 103229%
Critics Consensus: An achingly sad anti-war film, Grave of the Fireflies is one of Studio Ghibli's most profoundly beautiful, haunting works.
Synopsis: A teenager (J. Robert Spencer) is charged with the care of his younger sister (Rhoda Chrosite) after an Allied firebombing... [More]
Directed By: Isao Takahata

#36

Gremlins (1984)
85%

#36
Adjusted Score: 91010%
Critics Consensus: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic.
Synopsis: A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante

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