The Best Films of the 80’s

10. Amadeus (1984)

Dir. Milos Forman


To start of this list, I’ve gone with this Milos Forman gem. Through this period piece, we the audience are given a new take of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s work. As told through the eyes of Mozart’s rival Antonio Salieri. And despite its impressive run time of almost 3 hours, this film manages to keep you engaged thoroughly. With beautiful set and costume designs and a powerful score, this film is worth it. Plus, it won 8 oscars, which isn’t too bad.

9. Back to the Future (1985)

Dir. Robert Zemeckis


Next up is one of the most memorable films of the 80’s. This film became an instant hit with Michael J. Fox’s iconic performance as the aspiring musician Marty McFly. With this film, you’re in for absolutely fun dialogue and a stellar direction from Zemeckis. Not to mention the resonating effect this film has had on both media and technology to this day.

8. Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

Dir. Peter Weir


At number eight, we have a film that provided us with one of Robin Williams’ most inspiring performances. Williams’ part as an English teacher at an elite academy for boys with a unique style of instructing is magnificent. Along with heart-breaking performances from Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke as emotionally troubled students, this film is sure to bring you to tears.

7. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982)

Dir. Steven Spielberg


In the next slot is this classic Spielberg film of the early 80’s. This film was able to bring a fresh and new take to its genre. Through the use of its appeal to children, this film will, without a doubt, raise you up while also pulling at your heartstrings. Along with exemplary scenes accompanied by an exquisite score by John Williams, this film has it all.

6. The Shining (1980)

Dir. Stanley Kubrick


Coming at number six is this classic Kubrick flick based in an isolated hotel deep in the snow-covered mountains. Right from the start, the tension created from scene to scene will keep you fully engaged and anticipating what’s next. Along with memorable cinematography and a dazzling set design, this film stands as one of Kubrick’s bests.

5. Grave of the Fireflies (1984)

Dir. Isao Takahata


This animated Japanese film broke barriers with its graphic nature. The story takes place during the chaos of World War II, where a young brother and sister struggle to stay alive. The divine animation counteracting with destructive nature of the story is crushing, but also paints a descriptive image of Japan’s history.

4. The Princess Bride (1987)

Dir. Rob Reiner


Here we have this Rob Reiner classic. Based off the book with the same title, this film uniquely blends the late 80’s with medieval times. With outstanding performances from Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin, and a breakout performance from Robin Wright, this classic garners much acclaim. And with the help of a brilliant screenplay from William Goldman and a beautiful score from Mark Knopfler, this film lands as number four.

3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Dir. Irvin Kershner


Next up is the sequel to the massive 1977 hit, Star Wars. This film was able to take the extraordinary success of its predecessor and take its story to new heights. With the use of stunning visuals and some of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history, this film cemented the Star Wars saga into its rightful place in the industry.

2. Aliens (1986)

Dir. James Cameron


And at number two is another sequel. This time to the widely popular 1979 film Alien. And despite a directorial change from Ridley Scott to James Cameron, this film manages to hold up to if not exceed its predecessor. This film continues with Sigourney Weaver as the bad-ass Ellen Ripley as the hero, as well as the xenomorphs returning to wreak havoc once again. Throughout the film, Cameron provides his audience with thrilling sequences and amplified action. Basically, this film managed to help shape both action and sci-fi genres.

1. Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Dir. Giuseppe Tornatore


And for my number one slot, I have Cinema Paradiso. This Italian film of the late 80’s bore the very essence of film. We are introduced to a young boy whose fascination with film through his local cinema captivates him through his teenage years and later into adulthood. Throughout this masterpiece, we are presented with a celebration of film and beauty it holds. And with the use of a breath taking score and awe-inspiring cinematography, this film is sure to stand the test of time.


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