Mike’s Top Ten of 1980-1989

The 80s as a whole is less than the sum of its parts. As a decade, I’ve always been very against it, just because, as a decade… the culture was pretty weird. And this is the decade where films became more mainstream and taken out of the directors’ hands. In a way, it was probably for the best, because they started getting really indulgent, but also, it just felt like films swung entirely to studio filmmaking here for a decade, until independent film started cropping up again, eventually reaching its heyday in the 90s.

Though, while I don’t particularly love the 80s as a decade for film, there are some of my all-time favorites in this decade. So it’s definitely not as bad as I’d think in the abstract. Though I do feel like this list was harder to compile because, while I can always get to a solid top 20, the last couple were difficult to come up with.

For methodology purposes, the way I compile these Top Tens of the Decade lists: I take my top ten for each year of the decade, throw them all together, and simply whittle it down until I find what I feel are my ten favorites from that decade. Not the best, my favorite. That’s really all it is. I feel like if I can figure out what my favorite films of all time are, then I can figure it out by specific decades.

Mike’s Top Ten of 1980-1989

Arthur (1981)

Back to School (1986)

A Christmas Story (1983)

Coming to America (1988)

Die Hard (1988)

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Major League (1989)

Raging Bull (1980)

The Untouchables (1987)

All of these are top 100 films for me, with four of them in my top 50. The only real question was which of the other top 100 films were gonna make it on and which were gonna be 11-20. But here… Arthur, Coming to America, Die Hard, Raging Bull… easy choices. Back to School and Major League were automatic as well. Same for Ferris Bueller. A Christmas Story had to be, based on its importance to my life and how often I’ve seen it. Untouchables was the same thing. And the last spot… Do the Right Thing felt like the ultimate right choice. It’s just so perfect. And while I’ve seen some of the 11-20s more than I’ve seen that, it’s just a masterpiece. It felt like the way to go.

The years not represented on this list are 1982, 1984 and 1985. I thought it would be more.

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  • Amadeus (1984)
  • Back to the Future (1985)
  • Caddyshack (1980)
  • Let It Ride (1989)
  • Moonwalker (1988)
  • Clue (1985)
  • The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • Scarface (1983)
  • The Verdict (1982)

Let It Ride, Moonwalker and The Naked Gun are all in the top 100, so those were easy. The rest were just figuring out which films I liked best. We end up hitting every year from the decade this way. The #1st from 1982, 1984 and 1985 all get on (though one of them easily could not have). 1988 makes two more appearances, giving it a total of four films (and it almost had six, since I was very close to putting one or both Ghibli films from that year on). But really, when you look at it, this is just my favorite films that I grew up watching (Moonwalker, Clue, Caddyshack, Let It Ride, Naked Gun), plus some greats (Amadeus, The Verdict).

While every year from the decade is represented, 1982, 1984 and 1987 are the years that only feature one film from them. Which makes sense, two of them barely made it on the list. Overall the decade is saved by all the stuff I grew up watching and have a special love for. Otherwise I’m wondering how this would have turned out.

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