Crash! Landen’s Best 100 Movies of the 1980s

I finally got to my Best of for the 80s, so I’ve now gone backwards through the last 3 decades… It was difficult, believe me. But here is my list. You can click on The 1990s and The 2000s to see those lists.

Someone asked my criteria for this (and the other film lists). The most important was that I’ve seen the film. There are a large number of highly praised films that I still have not seen, especially when it comes to foreign films from this decade. Foreign films were not readily available (for me) until the mid 90s. That’s when I started watching them, and as with most people I tended to watch either the cream of the crop from foreign lands or movies that were current. I now seek out those films that I might have missed because of access at the time or because I was too busy watching the mindless drivel that Hollywood usually churns out.

Other factors do go into my rational for the best films. How well a movie was made. How entertaining. The performances. The production values. The impact the movie had when it was released. How well written a story is. What it says about the human condition.  Originality. How influential a film is. The relevance of the story. The impact that the film may have had within its particular genre. I put weight on how well a movie did at what it was trying to do.

There are intangibles, also. There are movies, for instance, that are lacking in production values, but were so well made that their shortcomings could be brushed aside. Take my #51 Evil Dead II. Made on an extremely meager budget, it was still highly entertaining and at times both shocking and hilarious. It had an outstanding performance from an unknown (at the time) B actor as well as a director. It was unpredictable and amazingly well written for its genre (horror). It never winks at the camera, either (okay, maybe a few times). The actors completely buy into the situation. It did not have a cookie cutter ending. It’s a landmark horror film that never gets old, despite the dated FX. The very next film I have is Empire of the Sun? Is ED2 a better movie than EOTS? Probably not, but it is one of the best low budget horror films ever made by independent filmmakers. And it’s probably had a FAR greater influence that Empire of the Sun, which is a very fine movie (and one of my favorites).

There are also some films that either transcend or blur the line on exactly what genre they’re in. Two friends of mine disagreed with some of my picks such as  Robocop in my Top 10. One of the arguments was that it wasn’t a better film than Die Hard. I argue(d) that Robocop despite having some flaws, is a better film because… While Die Hard is one of, if not the best action film of all time, Robocop is a not just an action film. It’s not just science fiction, either. Or a superhero story. Or a fantasy. Or a comedy. Or a satire. It has elements of all of those. It has a number of underlying themes that ask questions that are relevant to just about anyone. It has biting commentary on society that is just as relevant today as when it was made, maybe even more so now than then. It’s also just a really cool film. Die Hard is, too (and also another favorite). It’s also well written, well made, highly influential, has one of the best villains of all time and features a star making performance by Willis, but it’s just more of an entertainment than a movie that says somethinglike Robocop WHILE having all of those exact qualities. And they’re only 3 spots difference on my list, anyway, so it’s not like I’m knocking the brilliance of Die Hard.

Ultimately this is just my opinion, so the list really can’t be wrong. If it were titled ‘Best 100 Movies of the 1980s’, then sure I could be wrong, but it’s not. it’s Crash! Landen’s Best 100 Movies of the 1980s, so I’m always 100% correct about what Crash! Landen thinks are the best films. I didn’t make the list just for myself. I made it hoping that if you like films like I do and feel like you can’t find a good film to watch, then maybe you might try one of these. I have no stake in that. I just hope other folks will seek out better films to support and be entertained by, than the typical Hollywood pablum. Do I have any qualifications for making my list? Nope. Just an opinion. I do watch more movies than most other people and I don’t stick to any particular genres. I try to be impartial and when I know I won’t be (negative bias), I generally just won’t watch the film. I also seek out films that have a bit of intelligence to them, even if it’s a low brow comedy. Despite what some may think, most dumb comedies have a level of intelligence behind what’s being shown onscreen.

I have adjusted some of the placement of films from the individual years that I’ve already posted, but it;s minimal. The biggest change I made was moving The Breakfast Club up to fill the last spot on the list. I think it was at #104 on my list. I had to drop Twilight Zone:The Movie in order to do that. Footloose made the list mostly made it onto the list because of its iconic value also. Probably the best 80s dance movie. I won’t mention that other one (shudder)… Some that just missed the cut: Dramas like Lucas, The River’s Edge, the Fabulous Baker Boys, Do The Right Thing and Dead Poets Society… genre flicks like Escape From New York, Legend, and Christine… Comedies like Better off dead, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Trading Places, Airplane! and Stir Crazy…. And others like Back To The Future Part II, Crocodile Dundee, Field Of dreams, and War Games… They go on and on.

Update #1: Added ‘A Passage To India’ and bumped ‘Footloose’

Update #2: Added ‘A Cry In The Dark’ and bumped ‘The Breakfast Club’

Update #3: Added ‘My Left Foot’ and bumped ‘The Never Ending Story’

Update #4: Added ‘Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (1989)’ and bumped ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’

Update #5: Added ‘Highlander (1986)’ and bumped ‘The Witches Of Eastwick’

Update #6Added ‘Crusoe (1988)’ and bumped ‘Hellraiser’

Update #7: Added Dangerous Liaisons (1988)…


Footloose (Bumped)

The Breakfast Club (Bumped)

The Never Ending Story (Bumped)

National Lampoon’s Vacation (Bumped)

The Witches of Eastwick (Bumped)

Hellraiser (Bumped)

Waxwork (Bumped)

Harry and the Hendersons (Bumped)

Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bumped, but a favorite of mine.)

 The Howling (Bumped)

 Gallipoli (Bumped)

Now that I’ve stated all of that; here’s my list.

100 The Color of Money

99 Big Trouble in Little China

98 Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

97 Highlander

96 The Fox and the Hound

95 Clash of the Titans

94 Absence of Malice

93 Raging Bull

92 Tron

91 Used Cars

90 The Killing Fields

89 The Verdict

88 1984

87 Blood Simple

86 A Nightmare on Elm Street

85 Dreamscape

84 Young Sherlock Holmes

83 Smithereens

82 The Secret of NIMH

81 Spaceballs

80 Roxanne

79 An American Werewolf in London

78 Dragonslayer

77 Chariots of Fire

76 Eye Of The Needle

75 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

74 The Goonies

73 Caddyshack

72 Altered States

71 Moonstruck

70 Lethal Weapon

69 Three O’ Clock High

68 Angel Heart

67 The Hidden

66 Dangerous Liaisons

65 The Accidental Tourist

64 Full Metal Jacket

63 The Lost Boys

62 Coming to America

61 Near Dark

60 Rain Man

59 Frantic

58 Planes, Trains and Automobiles


57 Broadcast News

56 The Princess Bride

55 Empire of the Sun

54 Evil Dead II

53 Innerspace

52 Predator

51 The Untouchables

50 Crusoe

49 Hoosiers

48 The Hitcher

47 The Color Purple

46 Witness

45 Midnight Run

44 The Dead Zone

43 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

42 John Carpenter’s The Thing

41 Gremlins

40 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

39 Ghostbusters

38 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

37 The Terminator

36 My Left Foot

35 Valmont

34 The Blues Brothers

33 A Passage To India

32 The Natural

31 Dead Calm

30 The Year of Living Dangerously

29 A Fish Called Wanda

28 Cinema Paradiso

27 The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

26 The Unbearable Lightness of Being

25 The Abyss

24 Return of the Jedi

23 A Christmas Story

22 The Shining

21 Back to the Future

20 Time Bandits

19 The Dark Crystal

18 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

17 Raising Arizona

16 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

15 Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

14 The Elephant Man

13 Die Hard

12 A Cry In The Dark

11 Aliens

10 The Empire Strikes Back

9 RoboCop

8 The Last Emperor

7 Gandhi

6 The Right Stuff

5 Brazil

4 Raiders of the Lost Ark

3 Blade Runner

2 Ran

1 Amadeus

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