We’re approaching peak 80s. The thing about this list is that you can look at most of them and go, “That’s an 80s movie.” It just feels like the decade. Also… it’s a great list. It’s just, boom, boom, boom, one after another.
The one thing I note about this year is that it has a proliferation of mainstream movies. All the best stuff are things that were not nominated for awards. In fact, this Oscar crop is one of the weakest of all time, in my mind. It shows that occasional disconnect where all the best stuff is ignored by the voting body in favor of the stodgy “Oscar” kind of movie.
I don’t have a whole lot to add about the year other than that. HOWEVER… there is a historical piece of information to relay about this one that makes it different from other 80s years. This is the year where the PG-13 rating was introduced. And we can thank Temple of Doom for that. And also Gremlins. These were movies with content above that young kids could handle that otherwise weren’t extreme enough for an R rating. So Spielberg suggested a rating in between, and then the PG-13 was introduced. Red Dawn was the first film to officially get the rating. (more…)
We’re full 80s at this point. Man… some of these movies are both the best and the worst of the 80s. Often at the same time.
But, as a standalone year, it’s pretty strong at the top. This list goes 7 or 8 deep of straight “oh shit yeh” kinda movies. Though I will say, as is the case with most of the 80s, the top ten lists of most people will largely be the same. I feel like everyone’s top ten for this year will consist of at least eight of my top 20 films. There’s always that 20% of personal preference, but I feel like the 80s are such that the cream rises to the top, and we’re all working off the same cream.
What I find interesting about this list in particular is how it starts off with all the obvious heavy hitters and then gets into some cool stuff that I really like. I like when I get to have a few top ten movies that are a bit straying from the beaten path, so maybe rather than affirming the same opinions as the rest of the group I get to give you something that you may not have heard about. Which is really what it’s all about. (more…)
Pound for pound, 1982 is one of the strongest years of the 80s.
This is the first year the industry feels like it switched over into the “80s.” Though, that being said, it still feels like there’s a strong auteurial stamp on the bigger movies, if that makes sense. It doesn’t feel like the studio has overwhelmed the filmmaker quite yet. For example — E.T. feels like a very personal movie for Spielberg, and it would end up being the thing that created that Amblin feel that would permeate the rest of the studio’s work for the decade.
Outside of that — heavy hitters this year. At least half the top ten list is just no-brainers on title alone. (more…)
I’ve always looked at 1981 as a weak year. Which might have something to do with their Best Picture choice. I don’t know. I just don’t find myself excited about many of the films. It’s the kind of year where, some of the films at the top would not be there had they come out in other years. But I guess you could say that for just about any year. It just feels kinda flat to me. Some of the below the line stuff definitely wouldn’t be there in a stronger year.
I’m guessing this is like 1968, which I also always looked at as a weak year, because the industry was flushing out the last of the “70s” stuff before moving onto the 80s. These industry transitions don’t just happen. They take a few years. This feels like the nadir of the transition, before everything fully switches over. This is like that moment, as you’re backing up, when the car sort of rolls to a stop before you put it back in drive. That’s how I would describe this year.
That said, one of my all time favorite movies came out this year, so that’s always nice. And then there’s some really cool stuff I like a lot also there. So that’ll keep things interesting. Overall, though, not my favorite year. (more…)
1980 is the transition period from the filmmaker-driven period of the 70s to the studio-driven period of the 80s. You can definitely see that shift taking place. Plus, this year has the big end marker: the giant bomb that effectively ended directors having complete control of projects.
The 80s as a decade always felt a bit formless to me. It’s just a weird time. But when you take each year on its own, there’s some great stuff. Here, two of the all-time most iconic films ever made were released. And honestly, if you didn’t know they came out in 1980, you wouldn’t know when it was they came out.
I think the theme of this decade is going to be, “Strong at the top, weak down below, with some good gems sprinkled throughout.” And a lot of terrible fashion choices. Oh, but it looks good on you though.
Here’s 1980. (more…)
The 70s might be the single best decade for American film. I love the 30s and 40s, but the 70s is just so good. There’s not really much to say about this decade except, this is when the director was king. Directors got to make these offbeat, weird films that they thought would be good, stuff the studios would have never made ten years earlier, and while there were some failures, it led to so much more interesting filmmaking that has continued to endure.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t an overly difficult list. Four of them are in my top ten of all time, and one more is in the top twenty. So that’s half the list. The rest — you don’t need to go down very far on my list of favorite films to get to them. And you’d think the hardest part was narrowing the list down to 20. But no. That was easy too. I got a solid 20 and really only could have fit on one more. I think this one hit the sweet spot.
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. (more…)
If I had an affinity for 1978 because it has two of my all-time favorite films, double down on that for 1979. I’ve got two top ten favorite films this year. And there’s a bunch of stuff I love down below the line too.
There’s just so much great stuff here. And, in a way, this is really the last of the auteur years. People often point to the 70s as being the best decade in American film. Typically what they mean is 1967-1976. That’s the decade. But even so, that ’70s’ mentality hung around for the last couple years after Star Wars, before it started getting phased out. This is the last year where it had a noticeable presence. 1980 was the year where it officially ‘ended’, before being turned over to big corporations and mainstream filmmaking. This year still feels like it has some freedom for the cool auteur stuff to come out. Though you can definitely see things coming to an end based on what we had five years before this. (more…)