Thursday, July 2, 2009

MASTER LIST #14: The 101 Best Films of the 1980s

Having followed the stellar 1970s, and heavily steeped with former movie star Ronald Reagan's culture-changing presidential agenda (at least in its latter half), the 1980s may seem at first glance as a nadir for cinema (especially since the decade itself was, in my opinion, the beginning of the end for serious movies). But I find absolutely nothing worthy of burial in this list. All titles cited that were released before 1983 are suitable for inclusion in the golden age of the previous decade, and those that came afterwards are only VERY slightly weaker. Among those doing some of their best work in this decade: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Philip Kaufman, Terry Gilliam, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Sidney Lumet, Jonathan Demme, Albert Brooks, and Steven Spielberg. Plus we have the emergence of Alex Cox, Jim Jaramusch, Bill Forsyth, Steven Soderburgh, Joel and Ethan Coen, Ross McElwee, and Sam Raimi. Not a bad batch of filmmakers there. Anyway, according to (1) influence, (2) overall quality, and (3) personal affection, here's my lineup for the decade, with short commentary:

1) Fanny and Alexander (TV or film version) (Ingmar Bergman, 83 (Sweden))
2) Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 80)
3) Local Hero (Bill Forsyth, 82 (Scotland))
4) Sherman's March (Ross McEllwee, 86)
5) Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 86)
6) Reds (Warren Beatty, 81)
7) Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 87)
8) Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee, 89)
9) The Killing Fields (Roland Joffe, 84)
10) Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (Claude Berri, 87/88 (France))
11) Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 85 (Britain))
12) Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 89)
13) Das Boot (TV or film version) (Wolfgang Petersen, 83 (Germany))
14) Chilly Scenes of Winter (Joan Micklin Silver, 81)
15) The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 83)
16) Blade Runner (Director's Cut) (Ridley Scott, 82/92)
17) Drugstore Cowboy (Gus Van Sant, 89)
18) 'Round Midnight (Bertrand Tavernier, 86 (France/USA))
19) Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme and Talking Heads, 84)
20) Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 85 (Japan))
21) The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufman, 88)
22) Entre Nous (Diane Kurys, 83 (France))
23) The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 86)
24) Matewan (John Sayles, 87)
25) E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 82)
26) The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky, 86 (Russia))
27) This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 84)
28) Burden of Dreams (Les Blank, 82)
29) Le Rayon Vert / Summer (Eric Rohmer, 86 (France))
30) Cutter's Way (Ivan Passer, 81)
31) Prince of the City (Sidney Lumet, 81)
32) The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 83)
33) Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 85)
34) Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 82)
35) The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 88)
36) Tess (Roman Polanski, 80 (France/Britain))
37) The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 80)
38) Pennies From Heaven (Herbert Ross, 81)
39) Star 80 (Bob Fosse, 83)
40) Gallipoli (Peter Weir, 81 (Australia))
41) Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Speilberg, 82)
42) High Hopes (Mike Leigh, 88 (Britain))
43) Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 80)
44) Shoot The Moon (Alan Parker, 82)
45) Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 89)
46) Wings of Desire (Wim Winders, 87 (Germany))
47) Last Night at the Alamo (Eagle Pennell, 83)
48) Gregory's Girl (Bill Forsyth, 81 (Scotland))
49), lies and videotape (Steven Soderburgh, 89)
50) Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 81)
51) Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen, 84)
52) Sophie's Choice (Alan J. Pakula, 82)
53) Once Upon A Time in America (long version) (Sergio Leone, 84)
54) Used Cars (Robert Zemeckis, 80)
55) The Verdict (Sidney Lumet, 82)
56) Modern Romance (Albert Brooks, 80)
57) After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 86)
58) The Long Riders (Walter Hill, 81)
59) Missing (Costa-Gavras, 82)
60) Diner (Barry Levinson, 82)
61) Thief (Michael Mann, 81)
62) Drowning by Numbers (Peter Greenaway, 88 (Britain))
63) Smash Palace (Roger Donaldson, 81 (Australia))
64) Blood Simple (Joel and Ethan Coen, 85)
65) Pixote (Hector Babenco, 81 (Brazil))
66) Empire of the Sun (Steven Spielberg, 87)
67) The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 80)
68) The Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen, 85)
69) The Fourth Man (Paul Verhoeven, 83 (Germany))
70) Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, 83 (Britain))
71) Aliens (James Cameron, 88)
72) The Vanishing (George Sluzier, 88 (Denmark))
73) Out of the Blue (Dennis Hopper, 80)
74) Threads (Mick Jackson, 84 (Britain))
75) Tucker: The Man and His Dream (Francis Ford Coppola, 88)
76) The Dead (John Huston, 87 (Ireland/USA))
77) My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle, 81)
78) A Passage to India (David Lean, 85 (Britain))
79) The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 80 (Britain/USA))
80) Lost in America (Albert Brooks, 85)
81) Broadcast News (James L. Brooks, 87)
82) The Color of Money (Martin Scorsese, 86)
83) Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 81)
84) Prizzi's Honor (John Huston, 85)
85) The Road Warrior (George Miller, 81)
86) Hope and Glory (John Boorman, 87 (Britain))
87) Zelig (Woody Allen, 83)
88) Sid and Nancy (Alex Cox, 86 (Britain))
89) Die Hard (John McTiernan, 88)
90) Coal Miner's Daughter (Michael Apted, 80)
91) Altered States (Ken Russell, 80)
92) Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 88 (Canada))
93) Airplane! (Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker, 80)
94) Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, 86)
95) Raising Arizona (Joel and Ethan Coen, 86)
96) One-Trick Pony (Robert M. Young, 80)
97) Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (Tim Burton, 86)
98) The Stunt Man (Richard Rush, 80)
99) They Live (John Carpenter, 88)
100) Old Enough (Marisa Silver, 84)
101) Marvin and Tige (Eric Weston, 83)


Sam Juliano said...

Your 80's list is fantastic Dean! I also will be annointing Bergman's FANNY AND ALEXANER as my #1 film, and there are numerous others here that will surely be on my BLUE VELVET, JEAN DE FLORETTE, MANON OF THE SPRING, CRIMES AND MISDEAMEANOES, DO THE RIGHT THING, HOPE AND GLORY, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, etc.

Of course as with th ecomplication of any list, one will invariable lament the absence of certain films, but you could deo th esame for me. I will most surely have CINEMA PARADISO, HENVY V, FIELD OF DREAMS, COME AND SEE, THE COOK THE THIEF< HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER and ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA on my own list. But again, we won't all have the exact same choices.

I greatly look forward to seeing this list on the 80's thread next months. Kudos, Sir!

Dean Treadway said...

Thanks a lot, Sam! I can always count on you for some kind words. PARADISO made my first cut, but I had to go with my current choices ultimately. Upon your reminding me about ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, though, I had to find a place for that, as it's definitely one of the best of the decade. HENRY V and FIELD OF DREAMS almost made my list, too, but I remembered the PTA book banning scene in FIELDS and how I wince at it each time, so off the list it went. HENRY V was a tough one to leave off, though, but I do have to admit I haven't revistited it like I have the other movies on the list. And, as much as I admire THE COOK, I went with Greenaway's DROWNING BY NUMBERS instead. The one film you mentioned that I haven't seen is COME AND SEE, and I've only not seen it because I haven't been able to locate a DVD for it anywhere. I also understand it's quite a harrowing movie, so I might have to gird myself for it.

Of course, I'll be submitting the list to WONDERS IN THE DARK, and I look forward to your top 25 greatly! Cheers!