The B+ Movie Guide: Part XXXVIII

In May of 2012, Colin said I should make a list of movies that need to be seen, because he felt there were huge gaps in what he’d seen, and wanted something to do. The idea was that I’d make up a list, as “homework” for him, and he’d use that as things to watch.

So we came up with a giant list of 500 movies that worked, and Colin went about finishing it. And now that it’s finished, we’re gonna write it up. Because you don’t watch a giant list of movies without documenting that you did it.

We’re going through the entire list, little by little, for posterity’s sake. And here’s the next set:

Reds (1981)


Big epic about communism. Started that docudrama style that Band of Brothers used. Really good film. Not gonna be everyone’s favorite because it is long and can be tedious, but it is essential. (2)


This felt like Doctor Zhivago plus Bonnie and Clyde. It was a massive epic about the rise of the Soviet Union and how tough things were for everyone at that time, but it’s also a movie that stands out as a product of the era in which it was made and the people who made it. Once Warren Beatty’s been involved with something, it just has that Warren Beatty smell to it.

Mike’s right, it’s not going to be everyone’s favorite. But I like a movie about the Soviet Union to be somewhat laborious because… you know, it’s the Soviet Union.

Blade Runner - 23

Blade Runner (1982)


It’s essential, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you which version to watch. There are more cuts of this movie than there are sad teenagers. (2)


And you know how sad teenagers are about cutting! Ba-zing!

But this movie influenced a lot of people. Cough *George* cough.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial - 84

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)


Did you guys know Michael Jackson recorded a song for this soundtrack? (1)


This is still Drew Barrymore’s best movie.


Gandhi (1982)


Not gonna put the gif we were all expecting here. (2)


Oh god.

My Favorite Year (1982)


Peter O’Toole is one of the great underrated movie stars of all time. He starred in such fantastic movies that no one remembers. This one — not entirely essential, but man, is it good. Mel Brooks came up with the idea for this (he also produced The Elephant Man, which no one remembers), because it’s about something that happened to him. The premise is, a young writer on a variety show (you’d think SNL, but it’s based on the Sid Caesar Show of Shows) is tasked to babysit an actor who is going to be on the show that week. Who is Peter O’Toole. But he’s basically playing Errol Flynn. There’s no question about that. And he’s going off to drink all week and screw women, and it seems very unlikely that he’s gonna be able to do this show in one piece. Peter O’Toole is great in this. And the movie is absolutely hilarious. One of cinema’s near-forgotten gems. (3)


What a great actor this man was. He does the perfect homage to Errol Flynn in this really funny movie that gets really sad, too. I mentioned yesterday for The Stunt Man that Peter O’Toole is probably overlooked by a lot of people because he has a huge repertoire of awesome movies that don’t get discussed all that often. I hadn’t even heard of this movie til I got the list from Mike, and I would have called myself an admirer of O’Toole’s work. Unacceptable. Watch this, and recognize just how good he really was.


Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)


What a great movie. First off, the album is perfect. And then they made a movie out of it that’s just a great watch. I think everyone should see these types of movies, because it’s a beautiful representation of how good music can be (and no longer is) and how great it is when good music is put to great visuals. I have no idea why they don’t do these anymore. (3)


All these rock operas start to blend together a bit for me because I’ve never been too into rock. That said, I enjoyed the hell out of this — and Tommy, which I like to compare it with — for the way they move the story along in this sort of disjointed way that reminds me of a play. Or an opera, duh. Obviously this wouldn’t work anymore because nobody really puts out music like this that lends itself to a narrative these days. I suppose a few could potentially pull it off, but then who would see it? Nobody popular would do this now, which is fine because the world doesn’t need a Justin Bieber “rock” opera.

Tootsie - 35

Tootsie (1982)


One of the all time great comedies. Dustin Hoffman is a difficult actor to work with and no one will hire him. So in order to get a part he starts dressing like a woman. It’s incredible. A perfect movie. (3)


There was a podcast I listened to recently during which a host remarked that movies with white guys crossdressing are almost all good and movies with black guys crossdressing are almost all trashy. As in Some Like it HotTootsie, and Mrs. Doubtfire vs. Big Momma’s House and the Madea movies. I haven’t seen either of those, so I can’t speak to what he was saying, but I can say that Tootsie is awesome. Dustin Hoffman has a great ear for comedy, which we saw in Little Big Man first and foremost. To its credit, this movie got 10 Oscar nominations, as a comedy. That doesn’t happen all that often. 

The Verdict (1982)


Paul Newman. Once you start getting into Paul Newman (and everyone does), you very quickly get to this one, because most people will point to this as one of his five greatest screen performances. It’s a trial movie, to boot. Directed by Sidney Lumet and written by David Mamet. Greatness all around. (3)


This felt like less of a trial movie than a lot of the other trial movies on this list, though that isn’t bad. I went in expecting a trial movie like the others and was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t quite as much of one as I had hoped. But on reflection, it was a pretty perfect Paul Newman drama with one of his least likable characters. That’s how you know he was taking risks. The guy started with less likable characters in the 50s and early 60s, moved into more likable characters in the 60s and 70s, and graduated to less likable characters here. And he nails it. I wasn’t thrilled as I watched it, but now that I’ve been relieved of my expectations, I know I’d like it a second time.

The Big Chill (1983)


The ultimate hangout movie. They’ve remade this a bunch for each new generation, but none of them hold up as much as this one does. It’s just a fun movie. Great cast, great performances, and it’s one of those unlikely great movies. (3)


This movie had a cast. People hang out, sleep together, stuff like that. Also, it’s the 80s and William Hurt drives around in a beat-up old Porsche 911. I don’t like seeing 911s in rough shape, but it worked here.

A Christmas Story (1983)




You’ve all seen this movie. I hadn’t seen it. I know, crazy, right?

– – – – – – – – – –

Final Thoughts:


I hate the 80s as a decade, but this list is great. I consider The Wall essential, so I don’t care if other people wouldn’t. My Favorite Year isn’t really essential, but it’s great, and everyone should see it, because you’ll love it. Everything else is wholly essential.


I also hate the 80s as a decade, but you need to get through it, and…. there’s some good stuff here! Watch Peter O’Toole movies!

– – – – – – – – – – –

More movies tomorrow.

One response

  1. You only really need to worry about the Final Cut of Blade Runner (and maybe the original theatrical cut if you’re a diehard). The Final Cut is Ridley Scott’s preferred cut (the “Director’s Cut” that floated around for 15 years is superfluous).

    August 14, 2015 at 3:31 pm

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