Best 80s Movies – Of All Time!

Best 80s Movies Ever

Join us as we walk all the way down to the single greatest 80s movie of all time.

What could possibly be better than a list of the absolute best 80s Movies of all time – walking all the way down to number one? I mean, who does that? How is it even possible? Or how could you be so audacious as to assume. I know right!? But if you’ve been to this blog before you know I’m nothing if not audacious. So here’s how it will work. I sat down with a moleskin, a gorgeous pen, and began scribbling every 80’s movie I could think of. I then grouped them into categories for easier viewing. And from that list, towards the bottom, I picked the top five. Then from the top five, the single best movie of the eighties. Brilliant. I know.

It recently hit me, while chatting with a truly enlightened individual that kids today have no idea about some of the greatest movies of all time. There really is a generational gap between us kids of the eighties and the kids of today. They have no idea about the Ringwald era. Winona Ryder anyone? Christian Slater and Matthew Broderick? Sure, I know the outfits are a riot now. And the special effects might as well be non-existent. But I’ll be derned if these 80s movies aren’t some of the greatest movies of all time.

But kids today haven’t a clue about the potentially life changing movies that lived prior to the the millennium. Sure, movies today have their special effects, and their 3D (thanks to Avatar and James Cameron – but I say you can keep ’em, thanks) but what about character driven plots and brilliant writing? What about funny high school comedies where the plot solely rested on the guy trying to get the girl? What happened to truly romantic comedies? Now we are stuck with Dramadies. Seriously? Or overly complicated characters. Where did the stereotypical Jock go to? And the ever prototypical Geek holding aloft the girl’s underwear in the boys bathroom?! These are the moments of movie cinema that are now gone.

I remember mentioning to a much younger co-worker the epic brilliance that was Red Dawn (seeing as though the remake was on its way) and he looked at me blankly. He figured the new Red Dawn was an original. He had no idea that it was originally Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen who were fighting communists in the heartland of America. And that is just unacceptable to me, as inevitable as this might be. This blog entry about the best 80s movies is a small attempt to right this terrible wrong in society today. So, pull out your VHS Machine, your popcorn and let’s light this candle!

Teen 80’s Greats
Title: Heathers [Watch Now]
Year: 1988
Cast: Christian Slater and Winona Ryder
Synopsis: Christian Slater and Winona Ryder star in this irreverent gorgeously written highschool romp. Murders posed as suicides begin to scare everyone as they spiral further and further out of control.
planes Title: Planes Trains & Automobiles [Watch Now]
Year: 1987
Cast: Steve Martin and John Candy
Synopsis: Two men trying to get home for Christmas run into chaos when a snowstorm slams the country.  This is one of the greatest road movies of all time and definitely one of the funniest movies ever.  Thanks Adam and Dan for reminding me of this egregious oversight!
ferris bueller's day off Title: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off [Watch Now]
Year: 1986
Cast: Matthew Broderick and Mia Sara
Synopsis: Matthew Broderick turned the genre upside down when he started the movie talking into the camera. ‘Save Ferris’ was the original high school slogan that everyone has imitated so thoroughly in Napoleon Dynamite, 10 Things I Hate About You, and others. I enjoyed Ferris so much that I went out of my way to reenact nearly every scene in the movie while going to school in Chicago. Brilliant movie.
Title: Sixteen Candles [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Molly Ringwald and John Cusack
Synopsis: One of the really great contenders for the list of the top five Best 80s movies of all time. Another high school coming of age drama. The dweeb. The jock. The substandard redhead pining for the jock. The crazy party that wrecks the family’s house. It all started right here.
Title: Breakfast Club [Watch Now]
Year: 1985
Cast: Molly Ringwald, Emelio Estevez and Judd Nelson
Synopsis: Another contender for the top five list. The Breakfast Club was genius in that it paired up mismatched members of different clicks throughout the stratified high school culture. Kids in detention breaking through barriers and walls. Another Ringwald great right here.
Title:Pretty In Pink [Watch Now]
Year: 1986
Cast: Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton & John Cryer
Synopsis: I personally always get Pretty in Pink confused with Sixteen Candles. Very very similar plot structure and characters. But you know what – You can’t have too much Sixteen Candles in my mind. So I say, more power to John Hughes! I mean, how else do we end up with the amazing song by the same title?
Title: St. Elmo’s Fire [Watch Now]
Year: 1985
Cast: Demi Moore & Rob Lowe
Synopsis: Seven friends – Alec, Billy, Jules, Kevin, Kirby, Leslie and Wendy – are trying to navigate through life and their friendships following college graduation. Definitely the precursor to Reality Bites (Which I almost changed the rules of this blog just so I could include it, but alas.)
Title: Footloose [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer
Synopsis: A city teenager moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. From here we got all manner of rebelliousness – like Christian Slater’s Pumped Up the Volume et al. Kevin Bacon lights it up here.
Title: Weird Science [Watch Now]
Year: 1985
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith & Kelly LeBrock
Synopsis: Weird Science struck a chord with me. I mean, why wouldn’t it. Two guys accidentally create a woman out of nothing? Every teenager’s best dream. But obviously everything goes wrong and implodes in on itself. But not before the their creation saves the day. hehe. Great movie.
cant buy me love Title: Can’t Buy Me Love [Watch Now]
Year: 1987
Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Amanda Peterson and Courtney Gains
Synopsis: This story is so old its new. Geek loves girl. Geek can’t get girl. Girl shafts her mom’s mink coat. Girl needs money to pay for new mink coat. Geek has money to pay for coat and saves the day. What does he ask for in return? Her as his girlfriend in hopes for notoriety and fame. What could go wrong. Very cute.


Best 80s Action Movies
war games Title: War Games [Watch Now]
Year: 1983
Cast: Matthew Broderick
Synopsis: Wunderkind hacker turns the military complex on its head by hacking into the Wopper and playing a simple game of Global Thermo Nuclear War. Fantastic movie! Even holds up today against today’s modern CG. But he definitely should have stuck with chess instead, that is for sure.
raiders of the lost ark Title: Raiders of the Lost Ark [Watch Now]
Year: 1981
Cast: Harrison Ford & Karen Allen
Synopsis: I was young when I saw this. May have even been the first movie I ever saw in the theater? Epic. Even people that don’t know about 80s movies know about Raiders of the Lost Ark. Right? Please tell me this is a truism.
aliens Title: Aliens [Watch Now]
Year: 1986
Cast: Sigourney Weaver & Bill Paxton
Synopsis: Ok, this movie turned the action movie world upside down. Alien was a horror classic. And Aliens was a shooter of epic proportions. One Alien, scary bad. 4,000 aliens? Epic carnage. I can’t get Bill Paxton’s “We’re all gonna die man! We’re gonne die!” out of my head. Prometheus, eat your heart out.
top gun Title: Top Gun [Watch Now]
Year: 1986
Cast: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis & Val Kilmer
Synopsis: This could take the best 80s movie title of all time without much of an effort. Think 80s and Top Gun is right there with terrible clothes, Jane Fonda workout videos and the Dukes of Hazard. Did you know a new Top Gun was in development? Yeah, I’m not holding my breath either.
red dawn Title: Red Dawn [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen & Jennifer Grey
Synopsis: Back in the Eighties, before Reagan brought the wall down, we were all scared out of our collective minds that the end of the world was near. And this movie shows some of that fear and Hollywood’s response. Russians overtake the U.S. and a group of high school kids lead the revolution. Great movie even if it had a bit too much hairspray.
Title: Robocop [Watch Now]
Year: 1987
Cast: Peter Weller & Nancy Allen
Synopsis: Cop loves wife. Cop gets absolutely decimated by bad guys. Cop gets rebuilt into a robot. Cop has memories of wife. Copy goes completely ape. Robocop was very violent for its day. Heck, its violent for today. Great ride though.
terminator Title: Terminator [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Synopsis: Robot bad guy comes from the future to kill John Connor, the leader of the human resistance movement. Arnold was actually a bad guy when this series started. Only to be rewired for the good guys in the follow on movies. He was too likeable to be bad for too long.
Title: Lethal Weapon [Watch Now]
Year: 1987
Cast: Mel Gibson & Danny Glover
Synopsis: Two police partners stumble upon some international scheme or other. (Currently having trouble differentiating 1,2,3,12,15 from one another.) It so happens that one of the cops is certifiably insane. Hilarity and chaos ensue. Its brilliance from beginning to end.
rambo Title: Rambo [Watch Now]
Year: 1982
Cast: Sylvester Stallone
Synopsis: Rambo gets a parking ticket. And then he gets upset about said parking ticket. And then the next thing you know, the entire town is after the guy and then they realize that they really shouldn’t have given the guy a ticket after all. Its a fun re-watch. I’d forgotten a lot about this original plot. Its a bit like Die Hard in a way.
untouchables Title: The Untouchables [Watch Now]
Year: 1987
Cast: Robert DeNiro, Kevin Costner & Sean Connery
Synopsis: Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; the mob lord in charge of chaos throughout Chicago. Eliot assembles a small, hand-picked team and begins hunting down Capone and his vast network of henchmen. Fantastically violent and amazing acting. Great movie all the way around.
Title: Predator [Watch Now]
Year: 1987
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Synopsis: There is no plot here. None that I remember anyway. Alien comes to earth. Military guys are wandering through the jungle. And then all manner of awesome chaos happens. You just don’t need a plot when you have an alien this cool and Arnold to go head to head with.
die hard Title: Die Hard [Watch Now]
Year: 1988
Cast: Bruce Willis
Synopsis: Cop flies to California from New York to visit his estranged wife. Ends up stuck in a highrise corporate building while international terrorists take the entire building hostage. Will one man be able to save the day? Only if that man is Bruce Willis. Yippy-kai-yay!!! Best Christmas movie of all time.
batman Title: Batman [Watch Now]
Year: 1989
Cast: Michael Keaton & Jack Nicholson
Synopsis: If you don’t know the plot of Batman then I don’t know if this list will help you anyway. Regardless, Bruce Wayne, loses his parents to common street thugs and takes on the mantle of the bat to seek vengeance. In so doing he meets Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker… one of the greatest acting performances of all time.
young guns Title: Young Guns [Watch Now]
Year: 1988
Cast: Emilio Estevez & Keifer Sutherland
Synopsis: Possibly one of the coolest westerns of all time – Young Guns is a group of young gunmen, led by Billy the Kid, who become deputies to avenge a murder. But when Billy takes their authority too far they in turn are hunted.
karate kid Title: The Karate Kid [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita & Elisabeth Shue
Synopsis: Basically a Rocky for the high school crowd. A bullied kid is cornered into a fight. Obviously in need of learning anything at all about fighting he turns to Mr. Miagi – who has him do all his household chores. Which is basically an epic Yoda move in the end. PAINT THE FENCE DANIEL SON, PAINT THE FENCE. Goodness.


80’s Comedy Greats
Title: Big [Watch Now]
Year: 1988
Cast: Tom Hanks
Synopsis: Tom Hanks as a 12 year old finds a wishing machine at a carnival. Wishes himself BIG (yes, clever name) and finds himself running a think tank for a toy company and involved with a sophisticated co-worker.
Title: When Harry Met Sally [Watch Now]
Year: 1989
Cast: Meg Ryan & Billy Crystal
Synopsis: Harry and Sally have known each other for years and years, but they are very afraid that crossing the line will endanger their friendship. Oh, and its also about the “I’ll have what she’s having.” line too.
raising arizona Title: Raising Arizona [Watch Now]
Year: 1987
Cast: Nicolas Cage & Holly Hunter
Synopsis: A childless couple decides that the Sextuplet Arizonas have one too many children, and that they wouldn’t miss one. Probably one of the funniest movies of all time. Bar none.
princess bride Title: Princess Bride [Watch Now]
Year: 1987
Cast: Robin Wright & Cary Elwes
Synopsis: Fantastic story book story told to a grandson, filled with swashbuckling sword fighting, high seas adventure and WOVE, TREW WOVE.
beverly hills cop Title: Beverly Hills Cop [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Eddie Murphy
Synopsis: A detroit cop following a murder investigation crashes into the cops of Beverly Hills and hilarity ensues. Probably one of Eddie’s greatest roles.
Title: Vacation [Watch Now]
Year: 1983
Cast: Chevy Chase & Beverly D’angelo
An all American family goes on a simple, little, vacation. Their only goal? Make it to Wally World? Could it really be that hard? With Chevy Chase at the wheel, definitely, it’s gonna go all pearshaped.
police academy Title: Police Academy [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Steve Guttenberg & Bubba Smith
Synopsis: I personally am not a huge fan of the Police Academy franchise, or the Airplane franchise for that matter. But they are the mainstay of 80’s humor for sure.
good morning vietnam Title: Good Morning Vietnam [Watch Now]
Year: 1988
Cast: Robin Williams
Robin Williams is a DJ in Vietnam. Really, do we need to say any more? I think that is plenty. Watch it just for his random riffing and his outrageous humor going at the speed of sound.
airplane Title: Airplane [Watch Now]
Year: 1980
Cast: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Lloyd Bridges
Synopsis: Slapstick. Bad puns. And random sight gags. Most people I know absolutely love Airplane. Love it love it. I can’t stand it, but I recognize that it is a critical part of the 80s as a whole.
Title: Caddyshack [Watch Now]
Year: 1980
Cast: Chevy Chase & Bill Murray
Synopsis: Wait. This has Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield Bill Murray in it and you want to know what its about? Stop. Just go watch it already.
mr mom Title: Mr. Mom [Watch Now]
Year: 1983
Cast: Michael Keaton & Teri Garr
Synopsis: Dad takes over as the stay at home dad when his job at the plant goes under. This is Michael Keaton at his comedic best and well before Batman had him donning the Bat Mantel. A must see.
Title: Goonies [Watch Now]
Year: 1985
Cast: Sean Astin & Josh Brolin
Synopsis: This is the first movie I ever saw in a drive in… oh, a drive in is a thing where the movie is projected onto a big screen, and you sit in your car, and you have a terrible speaker sitting on your window… oh NEVER MIND. Its a great movie, about a pile of kids on a fantastic adventure. See it.
ghostbusters Title: Ghostbusters [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd
This movie has a million memories for me. Recording the song off the radio on my casette tape recorder. The laughs. Sigourney Weaver? Right.
80’s Science Fiction Greats
blade runner Title: Blade Runner [Watch Now]
Year: 1982
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young
Synopsis: Blade Runner is dystopian brilliance at its finest. It could possibly be my favorite Science Fiction movie of all time. Yeah, and I’m an enormous Star Wars fan. “WAKE UP! It’s time to die.” And oh by the way – Deckard is a robot. I’m sorry. That was inappropriate. Deal with it, I’m tired of people having watched it 30 times and not getting that even now.
back to the future Title: Back to the Future [Watch Now]
Year: 1985
Cast: Michael J. Fox & Christopher Lloyd
Synopsis: This is the great time travel movie that all other time travel movies are always inevitably compared against. Even Primer gets compared to this movie. It is the granddaddy of the genre. Never mind the fact that its funny and clever to boot. Ever single movie in this streak is worth a watch. Good times.
ET Title: E.T. [Watch Now]
Year: 1982
Cast: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore & E.T.
Synopsis: I went to a birthday party the year E.T. came out – and the boy’s mother made a cake that said, E.T. Go Home. She thought that was what E.T. was saying. Good times. This is Steven Spielberg to the n’th. Reese’s Pieces anyone? Drew Barrymore? Great movie.
splash Title: Splash [Watch Now]
Year: 1984
Cast: Tom Hanks & Daryl Hannah
Synopsis: This is the age old story of boy meets girl, boy finds out that girl is a mermaid story. But this time we are treated to the story with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Very funny stuff throughout.
poltergeist Title: Poltergeist [Watch Now]
Year: 1982
Cast: JoBeth Williams & Heather O’Rourke
Synopsis: The two scariest words, of all time, without a doubt, are: “They’re here.” The closest modern equivalent to this movie is Ringu, or the American version, The Ring. But generally speaking, there is just nothing like Poltergeist to scare the heck out of you. And when you are watching it at nine… forget about it.
labyrinth Title: Labyrinth [Watch Now]
Year: 1986
Cast: David Bowie & Jennifer Connelly
Synopsis: I loved the ball maneuvers that David Bowie (done by a guy standing behind him) did in this movie so much that I learned how to contact juggle myself. I’ve got some hysterical stories about stewardesses trying to do it with my “trick” ball while landing. Chaos ensued. Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, its a good movie. Watch it.

Best 80s Movies - Top 5

Top 5 80s Movies of All Time

Oh wow. I love controversy. How could I possibly go out on that ledge and pick the top 5 80’s movies of all time? That isn’t even possible. Hahah. I love audacity – and this is only the beginning. Because you know what – not only did I pick the top 5, but I also picked the number one movie of the entire 80’s. Boom. But before we get there – why these five?

Top Gun – I don’t think I really need to justify this entry. I just don’t. It had everything. Action, Beach Volleyball (there is nothing better imho), fast cars, bar song, and 80s hair cuts to die for. When you stop and think about 80s movies, Top Gun is one of the first to roll off your tongue. Promise. So yeah, Top Gun is a shoe in.

Sixteen Candles – Molly Ringwald has to be in this list. Maybe I have to justify why she’s here twice – but definitely not the first time. Sixteen Candles is definitely my favorite 80s Teen movie by far. Its funny, its got the jock and the nerd that are easy to cheer for. The dialogue is quick and Candles definitely set the trend for a whole genre of 80s movies going forward.

Heathers – Of all the movies in this top five list I feel like I have to justify it is Heathers. But I refuse to. Yeah its darker than the rest. Sure its weird. But that is the thing that makes it so 80s and so different. Christian slater is on the top of his game. Winona is to die for here. And then you have the Heathers that are so cuttingly brilliant and rude. The dialogue is so sharp it will cut you. I may just pick this as my top 80s movie of all time to really make everyone mad!! hahah.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Can you believe it? I didn’t even take one lesson… possibly the single greatest movie of all time. I literally walked out into the middle of the yearly Thanksgiving parade and sang Danke Schoen. I kid you not. Stood at the top of the Sear’s Tower and quoted all the lines. Ditched school (albeit college) to see a game at Wrigley and I made dinner reservations under the name “Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago”. Oh there are more… but I’ll leave it at that. This movie made a big impression.

Breakfast Club – I personally think I could have stacked the top five list with all Ringwald movies and would have been justified. So put that in your pipe and smoke it. Breakfast Club is my personal favorite of hers… though it may not be the best one.

And so without further delay…. the number one top movie of the eighties…

ferris Bueller's day off best 80s movie everferris Bueller's day off best 80s movie ever

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Let the whining and kvetching begin. I seriously considered throwing Heathers out there, but its too niche to represent one of the greatest decades in a millennium. Just couldn’t carry the weight on its shoulders. But I do believe that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off can. Its just too good. It covers all the 80’s qualifications necessary to more than adequately represent the 80s. (Unlike many on this list). It also riotously funny and brilliantly written. It has its deep bits as well – the whole Cameron was in Egypt land bit? Poignant and touching. Great movie. I defy you to find a better movie in this. Go ahead. Try. Or not even on this list. Comment and let me have it. I already noticed a pile of movies I missed in my first pass at this. Feel free to suggest away.