140 Essential ’80s Movies

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 83614%
Critics Consensus: Too over the top for its own good, but ultimately rescued by the cast's charm, director John Landis' grace, and several soul-stirring musical numbers.
Synopsis: Joliet Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), brothers on a mission from God, bomb around Chicago in an... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 101342%
Critics Consensus: Smartly directed, brilliantly acted, and packed with endlessly quotable moments, This Is Spinal Tap is an all-time comedy classic.
Synopsis: An American filmmaker (Rob Reiner) records the demise of a fictitious band of aging British metalheads (Michael McKean, Christopher Guest)... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#33

Amadeus (1984)
93%

#33
Adjusted Score: 103125%
Critics Consensus: A lavish, entertaining, powerful film about the life and influence, both positive and negative, of one of Western culture's great artists.
Synopsis: Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), court composer in Vienna, confesses in old age to his sins against the young genius... [More]
Directed By: Milos Forman

#32

RoboCop (1987)
90%

#32
Adjusted Score: 96744%
Critics Consensus: While over-the-top and gory, Robocop is also a surprisingly smart sci-fi flick that uses ultraviolence to disguise its satire of American culture.
Synopsis: Scientists use the mangled remains of a dead police officer to create the ultimate crime-fighter -- an indestructible cyborg.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 99011%
Critics Consensus: Wes Craven's intelligent premise, combined with the horrifying visual appearance of Freddy Krueger, still causes nightmares to this day.
Synopsis: Freddy Krueger, a badly burned boogeyman with razors on his glove, haunts and kills teens in their dreams.... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#30

Risky Business (1983)
92%

#30
Adjusted Score: 96218%
Critics Consensus: Featuring one of Tom Cruise's best early performances, Risky Business is a sharp, funny examination of teen angst that doesn't stop short of exploring dark themes.
Synopsis: A call girl (Rebecca De Mornay) helps a Princeton applicant (Tom Cruise) turn his home into a one-night brothel.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Brickman

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 95170%
Critics Consensus: Both warmly nostalgic and darkly humorous, A Christmas Story deserves its status as a holiday perennial.
Synopsis: In the 1940s, little Ralphie tries to convince his parents to get him a Red Ryder range-model BB gun for... [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

#28

Heathers (1989)
93%

#28
Adjusted Score: 96879%
Critics Consensus: Dark, cynical, and subversive, Heathers gently applies a chainsaw to the conventions of the high school movie -- changing the game for teen comedies to follow.
Synopsis: Cool Veronica (Winona Ryder) and her quirky new boyfriend (Christian Slater) topple a high-school trio of too-cool Heathers.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lehmann

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 87870%
Critics Consensus: Matthew Broderick charms in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a light and irrepressibly fun movie about being young and having fun.
Synopsis: A cool teen (Matthew Broderick) plays hooky in Chicago with his girlfriend (Mia Sara), his buddy (Alan Ruck) and the... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 95165%
Critics Consensus: The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers.
Synopsis: A wrestler (Emilio Estevez), a rebel (Judd Nelson), a brain, a beauty (Molly Ringwald) and a shy girl share Saturday... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#25

Akira (1988)
90%

#25
Adjusted Score: 94409%
Critics Consensus: Akira is strikingly bloody and violent, but its phenomenal animation and sheer kinetic energy helped set the standard for modern anime.
Synopsis: A Japanese teenager learns that his newfound powers of telepathy are more powerful than he suspected.... [More]
Directed By: Katsuhiro Ôtomo

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 83561%
Critics Consensus: A magical journey about the power of a young boy's imagination to save a dying fantasy land, The NeverEnding Story remains a much-loved kids adventure.
Synopsis: A New York schoolboy (Barret Oliver) escapes into a book about a boy warrior (Noah Hathaway) and an empress (Tami... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#23

Stop Making Sense (1984)
100%

#23
Adjusted Score: 103533%
Critics Consensus: Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense captures the energetic, unpredictable live act of peak Talking Heads with color and visual wit.
Synopsis: David Byrne and Talking Heads perform "Psycho Killer," "Take Me to the River," "Burning Down the House."... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#22
Adjusted Score: 96629%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the impeccable chemistry between Steve Martin and John Candy, as well as a deft mix of humor and heart, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a hilarious, heartfelt holiday classic.
Synopsis: An ad exec (Steve Martin) and a shower-curtain-ring salesman (John Candy) become co-travelers on the way to Thanksgiving in Chicago.... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#21

The Goonies (1985)
76%

#21
Adjusted Score: 81504%
Critics Consensus: The Goonies is an energetic, sometimes noisy mix of Spielbergian sentiment and funhouse tricks that will appeal to kids and nostalgic adults alike.
Synopsis: Coastal Oregon kids (Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen) follow the treasure map of pirate One-Eyed Willie past his deadly... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#20

Say Anything... (1989)
98%

#20
Adjusted Score: 100930%
Critics Consensus: One of the definitive Generation X movies, Say Anything... is equally funny and heartfelt -- and it established John Cusack as an icon for left-of-center types everywhere.
Synopsis: A high-school senior (John Cusack) falls in love with an honor student (Ione Skye) bound for studies in England.... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#19

Stand by Me (1986)
91%

#19
Adjusted Score: 97077%
Critics Consensus: Stand By Me is a wise, nostalgic movie with a weird streak that captures both Stephen King's voice and the trials of growing up.
Synopsis: A boy (Wil Wheaton) and his three buddies set out in the summer of 1959 on a hike to find... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#18

Predator (1987)
82%

#18
Adjusted Score: 85419%
Critics Consensus: Predator: Part sci-fi, part horror, part action -- all muscle.
Synopsis: A sneaky alien monster attacks commandos (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura) on a jungle mission in South America.... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#17

Airplane! (1980)
97%

#17
Adjusted Score: 104878%
Critics Consensus: Though unabashedly juvenile and silly, Airplane! is nevertheless an uproarious spoof comedy full of quotable lines and slapstick gags that endure to this day.
Synopsis: A pilot (Robert Hays) afraid to fly follows his stewardess ex-girlfriend (Julie Hagerty) and must take over for the poisoned... [More]

#16

Evil Dead 2 (1987)
95%

#16
Adjusted Score: 100734%
Critics Consensus: Evil Dead 2's increased special effects and slapstick-gore makes it as good -- if not better -- than the original.
Synopsis: Cabin visitors (Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry) fight protean spirits of the dead with a chainsaw, a shotgun and Egyptian incantations.... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#15

Raising Arizona (1987)
91%

#15
Adjusted Score: 96583%
Critics Consensus: A terrifically original, eccentric screwball comedy, Raising Arizona may not be the Coens' most disciplined movie, but it's one of their most purely entertaining.
Synopsis: A loser (Nicolas Cage) and his wife (Holly Hunter) kidnap a quintuplet from an unfinished-furniture store magnate.... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

#14

Blade Runner (1982)
90%

#14
Adjusted Score: 104440%
Critics Consensus: Misunderstood when it first hit theaters, the influence of Ridley Scott's mysterious, neo-noir Blade Runner has deepened with time. A visually remarkable, achingly human sci-fi masterpiece.
Synopsis: A specialized detective (Harrison Ford) in 2019 Los Angeles receives an order to terminate obsolete android slaves (Rutger Hauer, Sean... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#13

The Terminator (1984)
100%

#13
Adjusted Score: 106236%
Critics Consensus: With its impressive action sequences, taut economic direction, and relentlessly fast pace, it's clear why The Terminator continues to be an influence on sci-fi and action flicks.
Synopsis: A cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the future arrives in 20th-century Los Angeles to kill the woman (Linda Hamilton) who will... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#12

Die Hard (1988)
94%

#12
Adjusted Score: 100303%
Critics Consensus: Its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of the definitive holiday action classic.
Synopsis: A New York policeman (Bruce Willis) outwits foreign thugs holding his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and others in a Los Angeles... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#11

The Thing (1982)
86%

#11
Adjusted Score: 92735%
Critics Consensus: Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950s take, John Carpenter's The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.
Synopsis: Antarctic outpost men (Kurt Russell, A. Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter) fight a slimy alien able to assume the form of... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 104617%
Critics Consensus: A delightfully postmodern fairy tale, The Princess Bride is a deft, intelligent mix of swashbuckling, romance, and comedy that takes an age-old damsel-in-distress story and makes it fresh.
Synopsis: A storybook stableboy turns pirate (Cary Elwes) and rescues his beloved (Robin Wright), who is about to marry a dreadful... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 101566%
Critics Consensus: Smart, vibrant, and urgent without being didactic, Do the Right Thing is one of Spike Lee's most fully realized efforts -- and one of the most important films of the 1980s.
Synopsis: Spike Lee's account of erupting racial tensions on a summer afternoon in a predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood.... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 103737%
Critics Consensus: Featuring bravura set pieces, sly humor, and white-knuckle action, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time.
Synopsis: Globe-trotting archaeologist Indiana Jones races the Nazis for possession of a legendary religious artifact.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#7

Raging Bull (1980)
94%

#7
Adjusted Score: 101976%
Critics Consensus: Arguably Martin Scorsese's and Robert De Niro's finest film, Raging Bull is often painful to watch, but it's a searing, powerful work about an unsympathetic hero.
Synopsis: The violent nature of prizefighter Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) leads first to a boxing championship, then to a downward... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#6

The Shining (1980)
84%

#6
Adjusted Score: 95391%
Critics Consensus: Though it deviates from Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a chilling, often baroque journey into madness -- exemplified by an unforgettable turn from Jack Nicholson.
Synopsis: A writer (Jack Nicholson) goes mad while serving as caretaker with his wife (Shelley Duvall) and clairvoyant son (Danny Lloyd)... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#5

Sixteen Candles (1984)
84%

#5
Adjusted Score: 86788%
Critics Consensus: Significantly more mature than the teen raunch comedies that defined the era, Sixteen Candles is shot with compassion and clear respect for its characters and their hang-ups.
Synopsis: A girl turning 16 likes another girl's guy (Michael Schoeffling) and feels nobody cares about her birthday.... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 106553%
Critics Consensus: Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.
Synopsis: Yoda teaches Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to be a Jedi knight, and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) woos Princess Leia (Carrie... [More]
Directed By: Irvin Kershner

#3

Ghostbusters (1984)
97%

#3
Adjusted Score: 104121%
Critics Consensus: An infectiously fun blend of special effects and comedy, with Bill Murray's hilarious deadpan performance leading a cast of great comic turns.
Synopsis: Armed with proton packs, four paranormal investigators (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis) battle mischievous ghouls in New York.... [More]
Directed By: Ivan Reitman

#2
Adjusted Score: 113972%
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Synopsis: A boy's close encounter with an alien stranded on Earth leads to a unique friendship in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning film.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 104149%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, funny, and breathlessly constructed, Back to the Future is a rousing time-travel adventure with an unforgettable spirit.
Synopsis: A teen (Michael J. Fox) takes a crackpot's (Christopher Lloyd) DeLorean time machine to 1955 and sees his parents in... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

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