Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Movies of the 1980's

Strange Culture had a very interesting post. They culled the all the movies made in the 1980's from IMDB's list of the Top 250 movies. Here are the 26.
1. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Top 250: #8
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Top 250: #18
3. The Shining (1980) Top 250: #55
3. Boot, Das (1981) Top 250: #60
4. Aliens (1986) Top 250: #69
5. Raging Bull (1980) Top 250: #71
6. Amadeus (1984) Top 250 #85
7. The Elephant Man (1980) Top 250: #90
8. Full Metal Jacket (1987) Top 250: #93
9. Cinema Paradiso (1988) Top 250: #94
10. Once Upon a Time in America (1984) Top 250: #97
11. Blade Runner (1982) Top 250: #98
12. Ran (1985) Top 250: #105
13. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) Top 250: #108
14. Back to the Future (1985) Top 250: #114
15. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Top 250: #119
16. Die Hard (1988) Top 250: #132
17. Platoon (1986) Top 250: #139
18. The Princess Bride (1987) Top 250: #151
19. Stand by Me (1986) Top 250: #161
20. The Thing (1982) Top 250: #175
21. Scarface (1983) Top 250: #186
22. The Terminator (1984) Top 250 #195
23. Glory (1989) Top 250: #198
24. Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) (1988) Top 250: #202
25. A Christmas Story (1983) Top 250: 224
26. Idi I Smotri (Come and See) (1985) Top 250: #231
This morning I wanted to take a closer look at this list and examine what movies were left off and what movies should be taken off.

It's easier for me to start with what should be taken off. I'm not a fan of foreign movies so I'd take them off my list just on principle. That means the Das Boot, Cinema Paradiso, Ran, Hotaru no haka, and Idi I Smotri come off my list. So immediately the list is down to 21 movies.

I'm also the type of person who thinks Casablanca is a much better movie than Citizen Kane. I know that Citizen Kane broke all sorts of new ground in the film business but when I go out to eat - I care about how the food tastes and not how it is "presented." For this reason I'm taking off Raging Bull (what people remember most about that movie are 3 things - 1. it was shot in black and white, 2. DeNiro's physical transformation and 3. the swearing) and Once Upon a Time in America (I love James Woods but this movie was just too damn long). Another movie I hate to take off but it honestly fits into the same category is The Shining. The two things people remember about that movie were that Stanley Kubric directed it and that Jack Nicholson was great in it. Honestly - I find it very easy to flip by The Shining if I see it on TV. Now we are down to 18 movies.

Next to come off the list are what I'd consider one shot wonders. These are movies that may have had an interesting or poignant story to tell but movies that you'd just see once. That means Amadeus, The Elephant Man, Stand By Me and even Glory come off my list. Don't be mad at me for taking these films off the list - I'm not an animal I'm a human being and this human being is now down to 14 movies.

I struggled with this decision but I'm also taking the sequels off my list. That means The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are off my list. It seems only fair since Rocky IV - the movie that ended the Cold War was excluded from the list in the first place (not to mention Rambo: First Blood Part II). That brings us down to 11 movies.

The 1980's signaled a return to (for lack of a better term) the screwball comedy. Movies like Airplane! (1980) and Porky's (1983) were classics. Other screwball movies like Trading Places and The Naked Gun deserve mention as much as some of the other movies that I've taken off the list (honestly if you had to choose between Trading Places and The Elephant Man - which would you watch?). I'm adding Airplane! and Porky's to my list. That brings us back up to 13 movies.

Another movie I'd add to the list would be 1989's Batman. Another great performance by Nicholson but more importantly - it signaled the rise of the superhero movie. How could you leave Batman off a list of movies that defined the 1980's?

Speaking of defining the 1980's - does any movie define the very essence of the 1980's better than Wall Street? So for those of you who are upset that I took off Platoon - here's another Oliver Stone movie being added to the list in its place. That brings us to 15 movies which is a good round number. So I think I'll stop there.

I did think about adding the movie Witness to the list because the 80's were the Harrison Ford decade (like the 70's were the Clint Eastwood decade). However, Harrison already had Raiders of the Lost Ark and Blade Runner on the list - so the Witness is excused.

Being a sports nut - you would also think I'd add either Hoosiers or The Natural or both but I think I'm going to keep my list to 15 movies. So here is my final list of the movies that defined the 1980s"
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
2. Aliens
3. Full Metal Jacket
4. Blade Runner
5. Back to the Future
6. Die Hard
7. Wall Street
8. Airplane!
9. Batman
10. The Princess Bride
11. Porky's
12. The Thing
13. Scarface
14. The Terminator
15. A Christmas Story

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