It was the decade that gave us the Reagan administration, Rubik’s cubes, “The Reflex” and Run DMC. (Thank you for three of those things.) And if you went to the movies regularly, you were blessed with a steady diet of horny teens, killer robots, homesick extraterrestrials, raging bulls, road warriors, cop-and-crook team-ups, and more dystopian visions of the future than you could shake a time-traveling DeLorean at. For a long time, the Eighties were considered a bit of a cinematic dead zone stuck between the New Hollywood/modern blockbuster-inventing Seventies and the edgier, irony-heavy Indie Revolution Nineties. It was a lull, a pressed pause button, a clearing of the throat in between arias. But that 10-year period minted a handful of Hall of Fame movie stars. Multiplex culture thrived. Genres like science fiction and horror hit new heights. Several major directors brought their A game to the 1980s, a transfusion of fresh-blood filmmakers hit the scene with breakthrough works and bold debuts, and a handful of veteran international auteurs made late masterpieces. Documentaries became formally innovative, socially insightful and more popular than ever. It’s never quite been the lost decade that people have claimed it was.
So it wasn’t that hard, after many Zima-fueled nights of popping VHS tapes in and out of our video cassette recorders, to come up with a definitive ranked list of the 100 greatest movies of the 1980s. Some of these went home with Oscars. Some dominated the box office for weeks on end. Some of these became instant cult classics and some were smaller films championed by few at the time, and have only recently — and belatedly — been rediscovered as true treasures. Some are movies that might have flown under your radar entirely yet have not only stood the test of time, they’ve proven that they’re well worth yours. And all of these selections are ones we felt represented not just the decade they sprung from, but the very best that Eighties cinema had to offer.