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The Best 80s Movies Ever Made


Since it’s hard to resist a walk down memory lane, we combed through every single movie from the 1980s to bring you a list of the decade’s best films.

‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street was so damn good that it literally toyed with our perception of dreams versus reality. Doubling as a cinematic trailblazer and an absolutely haunting horror film, the story of Freddy Krueger still lives on in our nightmares today.


‘Aliens’ (1986)
Who could watch Alien without being completely and utterly captivated by Sigourney Weaver as badass Ripley?


‘Back to the Future’ (1985)
This sci-fi/comedy classic was a blockbuster success (it was the highest grossing movie of 1985) and catapulted Michael J. Fox to certified A-list status. In the movie, Marty McFly (Fox) travels back in time and puts his own existence into jeopardy when he interrupts his parents’ meet-cute and is forced to play matchmaker to try to set things right.


‘Beetlejuice’ (1988)
Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetleju…Don’t say it a third time, because we’re still convinced Tim Burton’s creepy-as-hell character might appear. The 1988 flick gave the likes of Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder their starts.


‘Blade Runner” (1982)
This science fiction film, starring Harrison Ford, is a classic in the genre and a mind-bender to watch. Plus, it’s required viewing if you want to watch the recent sequel, co-starring Ryan Gosling (and of course you want to watch that).


‘Blue Velvet’ (1986)
David Lynch’s haunting mystery tells the story of Jeffrey, (Kyle MacLachlan) who after finding a severed human ear, is set on a dramatic, albeit entertaining, journey.


‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’ (1989)
Another Woody Allen hit, Crimes and Misdemeanors features Martin Landau, Mia Farrow, and Anjelica Huston, and it was nominated for three Academy Awards.


‘Die Hard’ (1988)
Undeniably one of the greatest action movies of all time, Bruce Willis as John McClane was such a hit that the film spawned four sequels and a video game series.


‘Dirty Dancing’ (1987)
Summer romance, forbidden love, killer dance moves, and a sexy leading man? Wayne Blair’s 1987 knockout brought us an epic love story between quirky girl Baby and dark and brooding Johnny and arguably the most iconic dance routine of all time.


‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial’ (1982)
Steven Spielberg’s instant blockbuster quickly became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, catapulting a little Drew Barrymore into stardom.


‘Flashdance’ (1983)
Although it may be more famous for its on-point soundtrack (how can you deny classics like “Maniac” and “What a Feeling”?), the struggle Jennifer Beals’s character faces as a working girl dreaming of making it big is totally relatable to any aspiring dancer today.


‘Footloose’ (1984)
Sure, ’80s movies were incomplete without a sexy leading man, but holy Kevin Bacon. What would a ranking of the decade’s best films be without Herbet Ross’s story of dancing and breaking rules?


‘Full Metal Jacket’ (1987)
This Stanley Kubrick film about the Vietnam War received critical praise and an Academy Award nomination on its release and the iconic poster is still a dorm room decor staple years later.


‘Ghostbusters’ (1984)
Launching one of the biggest cultural phenoms to date, Saturday Night Live stars Dan Aykroyd and Billy Murray had audiences in stitches as they filmed their adventures in fighting the supernatural. The film was so loved that the franchise spawned multiple sequels, including 2017’s all-women rendition starring Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones.


‘Out of Africa’ (1986)
The killer leading duo of Meryl Streep and Robert Redford made the story of a Danish woman searching for love in Sub-Saharan Africa compelling enough to earn seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.


‘Raging Bull’ (1980)
Undeniably one of Martin Scorsese’s best, Raging Bull features Robert De Niro as a tumultuous, but lovable, boxer.


‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (1981)
The first of the epic Indian Jones franchise, Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark certainly didn’t disappoint. Anyone who was able to come out of the film not in love with Harrison Ford as Indy was straight-up crazy.


‘Say Anything’ (1989)
Opposites attract in this post-high school romance featuring heartthrobs John Cusack and Ione Skye. Say Anything proved that when things get rocky in a relationship, nothing beats standing outside your lover’s window with a boombox.


‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)
The second (in terms of release, anyway) Star Wars film kicked off the ’80s with a bang. The Empire Strikes Back is widely considered to be the best film in the Star Wars franchise and it’s still a classic today.


‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985):
This John Hughes classic gave birth to high school stereotypes as we know them now: the jock, the princess, the nerd, the misunderstood rebel. With Judd Nelson’s incredible performance as everyone’s favorite bad boy (John Bender) and a killer soundtrack, The Breakfast Club locks in at number one. *Cue freeze frame of Nelson’s fist pump.*


‘The Goonies’ (1985)
This cult classic stars boys-next-door Sean Astin and Corey Feldman as they follow a 17th century treasure map in an attempt to save their house in the Goon Docks from foreclosure. And don’t pretend that you’ve forgotten the truffle shuffle.


‘The Karate Kid’ (1984)
It’s hard not to root for ultimate-underdog Ralph Macchio, who learns traditional martial arts to combat the bullies wreaking havoc on his life.


‘The Shining’ (1980)
Why is every bad boy from the ’80s named Johnny? Jack Nicholson definitely takes the cake for the most terrifying Johnny in this undeniably haunting adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling novel.


‘The Terminator’ (1984)
Who would’ve thought that the future governor of California would start his career as a sexy, time-traveling assassin? Arnold Schwarzenegger coined the now-famous phrase, “I’ll be back,” which turned out to be true—The Terminator continued into four sequels and a television series.


‘Top Gun’ (1986)
With a 24-year-old Tom Cruise in uniform, it’s no wonder Top Gun became an immediate favorite. Bless you, ’80s.


‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989)
This rom-com classic from Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner tells the story of Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan), two best friends who fall for each other. The premise seems simple, but Ephron’s script is a master class in character development and social psychology—and laugh out loud funny, too.


‘Working Girl’ (1988)
Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaver make for a hilarious, but totally moving, story of success and loss.


From Marie Claire US

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