Turn back the clock because Back To The Future claims the title as the best movie of the 80s!
Must-See Movies 80s was a recent promotion that was held with participating stores across the United Kingdom. In association with National Album Day, the official charts company and FindAnyFilm.com launched a poll to discover what the favorite 1980s film was amongst the population. There are so many to choose from, some classics, some held dear for personal reasons and some which are, frankly, so bad that they’re good! But when the votes were counted, one film stood tall amongst all of the rest. To be perfectly honest with you, it isn’t really a huge shock or surprise which film took the top honor or what movies feature inside the top ten except for one which I couldn’t have predicted. But when all is said and done, the films that comprise the top ten are classics in their own right.
Let’s do the common thing and reveal the placings in reverse order. Coming in at number ten and a complete surprise is 1989 comedy ‘When Harry Met Sally‘. I’m guessing that the film is highly regarded due to ‘That’ scene and the ad-libbed comment from a fellow diner after. The Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan comedy seems to have stuck in the minds of the UK audience and rightly so. This is Meg Ryan’s finest hour, the highlight of her career and her best-ever performance.
Scaring its way into number nine is Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of the Stephen King novel ‘The Shining‘. Again, I believe that the film has stuck in the minds of the public due to Jack Nicholson and his incredible performance in the film. His ad-libbed quote as he smashed through the bathroom door with an ax is still quoted today and remains one of the most imitated lines of dialogue. Despite the acclaim the world gave the film, Stephen King hated the movie and has expressed his disappointment in it several times.
At number eight, again just one line of dialogue has stuck in the minds of the world and again, is one of the most quoted lines of them all. But when James Cameron cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role of ‘The Terminator‘, a franchise was born and the Austrian Oak found himself propelled onto the world stage. Thirty-six years after its 1984 release, the film still plays to packed audiences when it is screened around the world and remains one of the best sci-fi actioners ever filmed.
At number seven comes the tale that left the world in love with a cute but ugly little alien creature and floods of tears at the climax. 1982 saw the world fall in love with Steven Spielberg‘s wonderful ‘E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial‘. The film could easily be acclaimed as Spielberg’s masterpiece, a love letter back to the classic science fiction tales and cinema of the 1950s but with a lovable alien, left behind after he and his shipmates are discovered by a government agency. Another film that has many quotable lines that remain in the consciousness of the world today, the film, I have to admit, is one of my all-time favorites. And yes, I cried buckets at the end!
‘The Empire Strikes Back‘ comes in at number six. What else is there left to say about the film that hasn’t already been said? Not much to be fair but in the summer of 1980, the world went crazy for the film, almost as much as the original ‘Star Wars‘ back in 1977. The darkest and the best film of the entire saga, we were thrilled, surprised, entertained and of course, left in total shock by the revelation that comes near the film’s climax. And to think, all that packed into a two-hour movie which struggled to get to the screen, with behind the scenes drama and compounding problems. But it made it and saw queues of fans and audiences standing in lines that stretched around the block.
There is no number five title. Why I hear you ask? It’s because TWO films have tied for the fourth position. And the difference between them is quite vast. We start with 1985s ‘The Goonies‘ and our love of the film. Richard Donner directed the kid’s own adventure which still stands the test of time. Again, we get thrills, spills, treasure hunting, some scenes which are still questionable at a PG rating, and what can only be described as an ‘Indiana Jones‘ type adventure but with teenagers. And it worked wonders. Even today, they talk about a sequel to the film, thirty-five years after the original.
The second film that takes the fourth position comes to us from 1986. And it is, quite simply, one of the best science fiction/action films of all time. James Cameron, hot off his success with ‘The Terminator‘ delivered to the world the classic ‘Aliens‘. A sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 original, Cameron not only delivered a worthy sequel, but he also expanded the story of the creatures and started a mythology that remains to this day. I saw the film on opening weekend back in 1986 and I have to tell you that I was amazed, blown away and totally hooked from the start to the fantastic climax between human and Queen Alien. I took my younger brother, Phil to The Prince Charles Cinema in London a few years back so he could finally see the film on the big screen after years of watching it on TV via DVD and Blu-Ray and even though he has seen the film many times, he was blown away as I was watching it as it was meant to be seen.
We enter the top three movies as voted by the British public by entering a world that can only be described as a dystopian look at the future. But despite its box office failure on its original release, Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner‘ is today held up as a classic and rightfully so. Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?‘, the film was the total opposite of Spielberg’s ‘E.T‘, which may have contributed to its failure at first. The 1982 sci-fi classic saw Harrison Ford play the title role of Rick Deckard, a former Blade Runner, brought back into the fray to track down and ‘Retire’ five replicants, androids created to look exactly like humans who have gone rogue. Watching the film, you see Deckard kill THREE replicants while he watches the fourth, Roy Batty die in front of him as his life span runs out. So where is the fifth? The debate rages on years to this day as to where and who the fifth replicant is. (Hint: Its Deckard himself). Ford is great in the film but it is the late Rutger Hauer who steals the show as Batty. A career highlight for the Dutch actor and a role that endeared him to Hollywood.
At number two, we find what is probably the quintessential action film of all time. 1988 saw the star of Bruce Willis not only rise but go into orbit with a huge rush. And all due to what could easily be described as a sequel to the 1960s Frank Sinatra film ‘The Detective‘. Author Roderick Thorpe wrote both The Detective and the novel Nothing Lasts Forever and both followed the character of Joe Leland, the titular detective. Some creative writing later and Nothing Lasts Forever became the classic ‘Die Hard‘. And it preceded to blow the roofs off multiplexes the world over. A claustrophobic location, some classic villains, a wise-cracking New York cop and some of the best action scenes and dialogue committed to celluloid and you have the action film that others aspire to. Willis was a TV actor before he got his shot at the big leagues and this is the film that made him the household name he became. Four sequels followed but this original from director John McTiernan is the best of them all, the movie that started the trend for terrorist actioners that followed. But nothing could top the scale, the flair, and the complete enjoyment that the film brought us.
And we reach the number one title that the British public has voted as their favorite film from the 1980s. What could it be? Could Sylvester Stallone take the spot with ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II‘? Has the late Patrick Swayze made sure Baby isn’t left in the corner in ‘Dirty Dancing‘? Has Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones taken the top spot in one of the three movies he starred in? The answer is NO! What makes the top spot is a film that seemed to come from nowhere, a love letter to classic science fiction films of the past. A film that replaced its lead actor after two weeks of filming and replaced him with a TV actor, one the producers wanted for the main role originally but couldn’t get the scheduling right. And a film that belongs at the top.
‘Back To The Future‘ came out of nowhere in 1985 and captured the world’s hearts, imagination and blew the box offices apart. Michael J Fox jumped into a Delorian and was transported back to 1955 and into history in more ways than one. Written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, with Zemeckis also directing and Steven Spielberg on producing duties, the film had it all. Action, romance, science, heart, and a great deal of physical and scripted comedy. Fox played the character of Marty McFly, a young man who aims to become a famous rock star. He is also, as the school principal Mr. Strickland constantly tells him, a slacker. He is not helped by having an alcoholic mother, a coward of a father, and a brother and sister who really just don’t care and are just drifting through life. His father’s boss is the former school bully who still belittles him thirty years later.
Marty’s best friend is Dr. Emmet Brown, a scientist who is considered dangerous and completely insane. His experiments and his inventions are all failures until he manages to construct a time machine out of a Delorian. When Doc is murdered in front of Marty by Iranian terrorists who Doc promised to build a bomb for, Marty jumps into the time machine and somehow manages to get himself transported back to 1955. The remainder of the film shows us, Marty, trying to get back to 1985 with the help of Doc Brown’s 1955 self. What we were presented with was one of the best films of all time, a favorite that still holds up to this day and is one of the films that we are given to watch regularly.
So there we have it. The top ten favorite films of the 1980s as voted for by the British public. Didn’t see your favorite listed? Why not drop us a line and let us know your personal favorite movie that came out during the decade. Don’t agree with the top ten? Let us know your own top ten movies of the 1980s. But until next time, where we’re going, we don’t need roads!
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
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