There were 33,493 movies released in the 1980s according to IMDb. I was going to narrow it down by the major genres according to AFI, but that doesn’t work since I’ve only seen a few animated movies from this time. I definitely need more than two to have a list of five in every genre. I next thought I could cover the most popular directors from that time, but that would cover basically a lot of movies. I’d like to make this somewhat manageable. I then thought about the movies that defined the 1980s, but that would take a whole month to try to come up with a suitable list. I finally decided to just wing it and see what happened. Here it goes for now, but later I will probably expand on this decade in some way.
This was the year of 9 to 5, Private Benjamin, and The Blue Lagoon. I decided to pick Coal Miner’s Daughter, which is the story of Loretta Lynn, a mother of four from Kentucky that became a famous country singer. It stars Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn. It is directed by Michael Apted.
Fun Fact: Sissy Spacek beat Meryl Streep for this role.
This was the year of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman II, and The Postman Always Rings Twice. I decided to pick Mommie Dearest, which is the story of Joan Crawford and her adopted daughter, Christina. It stars Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. It is directed by Frank Perry.
Fun Fact: Faye Dunaway needed a voice coach to help her after she lost it due to all the screaming.
This was the year of Tootsie, Rocky II, and Annie. I decided to pick E.T the Extra-Terrestrial, which is the story an alien stranded on Earth and the relationship with a boy. It stars Henry Thomas as Elliott and Drew Barrymore as Gertie. It is directed by Steven Spielberg.
Fun Fact: The theatrical run for this movie was over a year.
This was the year of Flashdance, Mr. Mom, and Risky Business. I decided to pick Trading Places, which is the story of a businessman and con man. It stars Eddie Murphy as Billy Ray Valentine and Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthrope III. It is directed by John Landis.
Fun Fact: Eddie Murphy had no understanding of commodities trading.
This was the year of Gremlins, Footloose, and Splash. I decided to pick The Karate Kid, which is the story of an old master who teaches karate to a teenager who just moved to California. It stars Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi and Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso. It is directed by John G. Avildsen.
Fun Fact: Chad McQueen is in the movie. He’s Steve McQueen’s son. His character’s name was Dutch.
This was the year of Back to the Future, The Color Purple, and The Goonies. I decided to pick Witness, which is the story of an Amish boy and his encounter with a police officer. It stars Harrison Ford as John Book and Lukas Haas as Samuel. It is directed by Peter Weir.
Fun Fact: This was Viggo Mortensen’s film debut.
This was the year of Top Gun, Aliens, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I decided to pick The Name of the Rose, which is the story of murders in an Abbey and how a friar is sought to solve these deaths. It stars Sean Connery as William von Baskerville and Christian Slater as Adso von Melk. It is directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud.
Fun Fact: The preparation for this movie was five years.
This was the year of Fatal Attraction, Three Men and a Baby, and Lethal Weapon. I decided to pick Predator, which is the story of a special operations team sent to Central America on a rescue mission. It stars Arnold Schwarzenagger as Dutch and Carl Weathers as Dillion. It is directed by John McTiernan.
Fun Fact: The human body count in the movie is 69.
This was the year of Rain Man, Twins, and Die Hard. I decided to pick Young Guns, which is the story of a group of gunmen seeking revenge. It stars Emilio Estevez as William H. Bonney, Kiefer Sutherland as Doc Scurlock, Lou Diamond Phillips as Chavez y Chavez, Charlie Sheen as Dick Brewer, Dermot Mulroney as Dirty Steve Stephens, and Casey Siemaszko as Charley Bowdre. It is directed by Christopher Cain.
Fun Fact: Kiefer Sutherland accidentally popped his squib blood pack, which had taken an hour to rig up.
This was the year of Batman, Dead Poets Society, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I decided to pick My Left Foot, which is about a man with cerebral palsy who paints with his left foot. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown and Brenda Fricker as Mrs. Brown. It is directed by Jim Sheridan.
Fun Fact: Brenda Fricker has only been nominated once for an Academy Award and won it for this movie.