The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XLII)

I gave Colin a giant list of 500 movies, and he finished it. Of course I’m gonna come up with another list.

This one is for everyone, though. Not specifically for Colin. This is raw material for everybody, should they choose, to go out and see more movies. Not all of them are essential. Most of them are just awesome. I told Colin that once he finished this list, I’d give him another one that was more fun than work. Geared toward cool stuff that he’d enjoy.

I went through and found 1,000 more movies that I think either need to be seen (leftover “essential” films) or are just really great and would be enjoyed by most who see them. Here they are:

1985-1989

Short Circuit (1986)

Number Johnny Five! What a classic 80s movie. I grew up with these movies. More so Short Circuit 2, which is an unofficial entry on this list. It’s about an experimental government robot weapon that becomes sentient. It’s a fun, fish out of water story, with Fisher Stevens, Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg. Great stuff. Number Five Is Alive.

Three Amigos (1986)

All-time comedy classic. Essential movie. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. Three actors out of work accept what they think is an invitation to perform, but it’s actually a cry for help. The village is besieged by bandits and they think the roles they play on screen are real. It’s a hilarious movie. Everyone should see this.

Broadcast News (1987)

James L. Brooks’ second movie. Also great. A lot of people prefer this to Terms of Endearment. It’s about a love triangle between news reporters. Holly Hunter is the workaholic producer, Albert Brooks is the talented but uncharismatic reporter, and William Hurt is the charismatic but dumb as rocks reporter. It’s a terrific movie. Holly Hunter probably should have won an Oscar for this. Essential movie.

The Brave Little Toaster (1987)

Another staple of my childhood. This movie, while great, is fucking terrifying. A bunch of household objects (Toaster, Blanky, Lampy, Radio and Kirby, the vacuum cleaner) live in a cabin in the woods. Their master is a boy who used to come visit them with his parents. He hasn’t been back in years, and they’re starting to feel abandoned. They then realize the house is going to be sold and they’re all going to be thrown out. So they go on an adventure to find their master. It’s a great movie, featuring one of the most terrifying musical climaxes in film history, at a junkyard where an evil crane lives and destroys old cars and things. Absolutely terrifying, and yet — I love the movie.

Cry Freedom (1987)

Apartheid drama. Richard Attenborough directs. Denzel Washington and Kevin Kline star. Denzel was nominated (and arguably should have won) Best Supporting Actor, even though he’s basically the lead for half the movie. Denzel is an activist and Kline is his journalist friend. There are a lot of these 80s political films, and I feel all of them are important to understanding the politics of the era and how Hollywood responded to them. Plus, this is also a really engaging movie. So there’s that too.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Do I need to say anything about this one?

Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

Look at the title. This is an essential movie. Robin Williams as an army DJ trying to lighten up the mood during the war. You need to see this one.

Hope and Glory (1987)

LOVE this movie. Best Picture nominee. One of those war movies of the 80s I figured would be good but not particularly memorable, and it ended up being my favorite of the nominees that year (well… this and Broadcast News are right there). It’s a hidden gem, is what I’m getting at. It’s about John Boorman’s experiences growing up during World War II. It has a lot of those elements that make it really engaging and more than just your average war movie. Don’t miss this one.

House of Games (1987)

David Mamet. It’s a con movie. A bunch of people pulling off a con. That’s all you need to know, really. David Mamet, con movie. Trust me, it’s great. Joe Mantegna, Lindsay Crouse, Lilia Skala, J.T. Walsh, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy — hidden gem.

The Last Emperor (1987)

This movie swept all of the Oscars. And by swept, I mean — 9 for 9. Won everything. And when you see it, it’s hard to argue. Big and epic, great production values — makes sense. It’s about the (insert title here) of China. It’s long, but not overly long. This easily could have been 40 minutes longer than it is. It looks great, by the way. And has a great supporting turn from Peter O’Toole. It’s pretty much essential.

The Lost Boys (1987)

One of those culturally essential movies. I personally don’t get what the appeal of this one is, but people seem to love it. I guess it’s one of those generational things. It’s one of those cult movies from the 80s that people love. So I need to mention it.

Moonstruck (1987)

Big movie for the 80s. Nominated for a bunch of Oscars. Cher won Best Actress for this. Olympia Dukakis won Supporting Actress. Nicolas Cage has a hook for a hand in this. It’s about Italians in Brooklyn, which always made me uncomfortable (because I grew up around people like this). She’s a widow whose agreed to marry a man, but then falls for her dead husband’s brother (Nicolas Cage, of course). It’s funny. Also written by John Patrick Shanley, who wrote Doubt. (He also wrote Joe Versus the Volcano, Congo and We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.)

Over the Top (1987)

This is the Citizen Kane of arm wrestling movies. You’d think this is a campy piece of shit, but I really enjoyed this. Actually — have you guys seen Real Steel? Hugh Jackman finds a son he didn’t know he had and has to bond with him while trying to win a sporting event? This is that same story. Except with arm wrestling. And Sylvester Stallone. These 80s sports movies are so good. It’s also like The Karate Kid. The third act is entirely the tournament. So we watch basically the World Series of Arm Wrestling. Which is just amazing. Where else are you gonna get that/

Predator (1987)

RoboCop (1987)

It’s RoboCop. What more do you need? This is culturally essential. Plus, Paul Verhoeven. He loads this movie with cultural critiques, which really makes it worthwhile past the basic plot. That’s why the remakes of these movies (the other being Total Recall) aren’t very good — they’re missing that satire element.

Spaceballs (1987)

Mel Brooks spoofing Star Wars. What more do you need? May the Schwartz be with you.

Street Smart (1987)

This movie is all but forgotten now, and is really only remembered because of Morgan Freeman’s performance. It’s about Christopher Reeve as a journalist who writes a fake story about a pimp who killed someone that just happens to fit the description of a real pimp, and that pimp is mad. Morgan Freeman is the pimp, and he’s so good in this movie, it gave him the career he has now. Before this movie, he wasn’t really in anything memorable. This got him Lean on Me, Driving Miss Daisy, Glory — it all started here. He’s really good in this, too. Worth it for the performance.

Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

What a great comedy. It’s a black comedy version of Strangers on a Train. Billy Crystal hates his ex-wife. Danny DeVito hates his mother. Through a miscommunication after seeing that movie, DeVito assumes that’s going to be their agreement: he’ll kill Crystal’s wife and Crystal will kill his mother. It’s a great movie. Anne Ramsey is great here. I mean other level great. How she didn’t win the Oscar still confuses me to this day.

Wall Street (1987)

Somehow this missed the original list. Maybe because I knew Colin had seen it. Either way, 100% essential. Michael Douglas, Oliver Stone — this is America in the 80s. This really should have been on the first list. You have to have seen this movie.

The Accused (1988)

Very essential. Jodie Foster plays a woman who is very flirtatious who is brutally raped in a bar. And because she is who she is, the men are basically let go. But she goes to a lawyer, who is determined to bring the men to justice. It’s a powerful film. It needs to be seen by all.

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