The 1980s were a key decade in film history. It showed the turning point from art films to blockbusters for a larger demographic. Therefore, this decade contains some of the most memorable movies in history. Here is my ranking for the Top five 80s movies.
Ghostbusters takes its place at #5 because of how it perfectly uses science fiction to create the setting for a comedy movie. That’s essentially what Ghostbusters is: a comedy. No one watches Ghostbusters for the science fiction. People just want to hear Bill Murray say quirky lines. The science fiction part isn’t bad by any means; however, the real beauty in Ghostbusters is the humor.
4. Back to the Future
Back to the Future is the best time-travel movie ever made. The science behind the time travel in this movie makes no sense, but that doesn’t matter. This is more about the main character trying to save his own life by bringing his parents together. It has a lot of situational humor as well, which is amusing. It’s mainly interesting to see how a teenager from the 80s would act in the 50s. Michael J. Fox plays the role of Marty McFly very well. Another aspect of the movie I enjoyed was the stakes felt drastic. If he doesn’t complete his mission, he’ll cease to exist. Overall, the movie has a fun story, a good protagonist, and suspenseful scenes where you really feel the stakes.
3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Is there a cooler main character than Ferris Bueller? Who wouldn’t want to be Ferris Bueller in high school? While not a totally accurate description of high school (my #2 choice is far closer to reality), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has a hilarious cast and an extremely entertaining protagonist. The story is basically Ferris Bueller pulling off as many crazy stunts he can before something terrible happens. Every time you think Ferris can’t find a way, he does. The supporting cast each plays their role perfectly. The sister despises Ferris due to her extreme jealousy. The principal sees him as a beetle he just can’t seem to kill. Cameron, his friend, is constantly nervous and turns his self-deprecation into something comedic. And the rest of the world loves Ferris Bueller. This is a movie you’ll be happy to watch over and over again.
2. The Breakfast Club
While my #3 has a fun but slightly inaccurate high school setting, The Breakfast Club shows the struggles every teenager faces. The five main characters each represent a different high school stereotype: a nerd, a jock, a popular kid, an outsider, and a degenerate. The characters are all stuck in detention together and start off either hating or not caring about each other. Bonding begins to occur when Bender, the degenerate of the group, breaks the rules and mocks all of them. He enjoys “getting a rise out of people” as Claire, the popular girl, explains. This sets the stage for some excellent dialogue and character interaction. By the end of the movie, they all learn that each of them has real problems they have to work through: pressure from popular friends to act a certain way, pressure from parents and yourself to get a certain grade, the feeling of no one caring about you, being told you’ll never go anywhere in life because of your GPA, and overwhelming influence to do well in sports. The movie sends the audience off with a hopeful message: Do whatever you want and don’t worry about what others think. Although this message has been overused in various movies, it’s best shown in The Breakfast Club.
1. The Empire Strikes Back
The best Star Wars movie takes the top spot because it’s a perfect movie. I can’t think of a flaw in the entire movie, aside from one or two minor infractions. Since there’s so much greatness in Empire, I’ll break it down into categories: story, creativity, and characters.
The story is broken into two parts: the Han and Leia storyline, and the Luke training storyline. Both stories are fantastically done. The Han and Leia romance is very convincing, and there is great suspense while the Empire is on their tail. Luke meets Yoda and has some of the best training in any movie, besides possibly Rocky. The beginning kicks off with the intense Battle of Hoth. The film ends very climatically, with two cliffhangers that have us excited for the next movie. Therefore, the story is perfect.
The creativity in Empire is superb. Just like the original, this movie introduces three locations. The first is the ice planet of Hoth, which gives us the Battle of Hoth and Luke’s near-death experience with the Wampa. There’s Degobah, the swamp planet where Yoda lives. Then there’s the gorgeous Cloud City, which contains the most interesting place a lightsaber battle has been fought. There are many other examples of creativity in this movie, such as the monster that’s so large Han and the crew believe it to be a cave, the costumes for all the bounty hunters, the new uses of the force, and much more.
The final and biggest reason The Empire Strikes Back is the best 80s movie is the characters. The movie manages to both grow the original characters to be rich and fleshed out, and introduces three new great characters. Han changes into a much less arrogant and more caring person by the end, while still retaining his charm. Leia is far less judgmental and harsh toward Han. She learns to really see the good in him. Luke learns a lot more about the force and what it means to be a Jedi. Most of the assumptions he had about the Force are wrong. Being a Jedi doesn’t mean being a strong warrior. It doesn’t mean looking for a fight. Often rushing to save people without giving it a thought only makes matters worse. If Luke had just stayed and trained with Yoda, they would’ve been in the same situation, except he’d still have his hand and lightsaber, and he could have completed the training. Darth Vader is solidified in this movie as a fantastic intimidating villain. The three new characters they introduce are Yoda, Lando Calrissian, and Boba Fett. Yoda has some of the wisest lines in movie history. Lando is a smooth rich gambler who can’t be trusted. He originally betrays the group but by the end of the movie shows remorse and helps them escape. Boba Fett is basically a plot device but the coolest plot device in movie history.
The movie all comes together in a neat bow at the end. Anyone would enjoy watching this perfect movie.