The 68 Best '80s Movies Ever Made

An official ranking of the decade's standout films.

image
Shutterstock + Everett

Since it's hard to resist a walk down memory lane, we combed through every single movie from the 1980s to bring you a list of the decade's best films. Click through for 68 of our favorites, ahead.

1 of 68
image
TriStar Pictures
#68 ‘Short Circuit’ (1986)

Short Circuit follows a robot named Number 5 on its journey from research facility to the real world. Although this comic sci-fi didn’t earn E.T.-level hype, its solid cast (Brian McNamara and Fisher Stevens, among others) and lovable plot makes it one of the decade’s most memorable films.

2 of 68
image
Warner Bros.
#67 ‘Ladyhawke’ (1985)

Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick star in this romantic fantasy that, surprisingly, has no relation to 2018’s Lady Bird. Set in medieval France, LadyHawke tells the story of a pickpocket and a knight on a journey to find love and defeat evil.

3 of 68
image
Universal
#66 'An American Werewolf in London' (1981)

This British-American comedy-horror is a classic and worth a re-watch for the dated transformation scene alone.

4 of 68
image
Columbia Pictures
#65 ‘Tootsie’ (1982)

Jessica Lange snagged the 1983 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Tootsie, which tells the story of Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), a failing New York actor who sets out to reinvent himself.

5 of 68
image
United Artists
#64 ‘Baby Boom’ (1987)

Diane Keaton plays a New York businesswoman who is forced to drop everything (job and relationship included) when an unexpected death leaves her the caretaker of a baby girl. Directed by Nancy Myers (who went on to make The Parent Trap, The Holiday, and The Intern), Baby Boom has all the makings of a classic ‘80s movie: gendered roles, slapstick humor, and shoulder pads.

6 of 68
image
Warner Bros.
#63 'The Lost Boys'

Long before Twilight or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this comedy-horror film updated vampires for the modern age in an edgy and innovative way.

7 of 68
image
Warner Bros.
#62 ‘Better Off Dead’ (1985)

John Cusack plays an offbeat teen who grapples with his girlfriend (Amanda Wyss) unexpectedly dumping him. Although Better Off Dead received mix reviews, the film is still a favorite of die-hard Cusack fans.

8 of 68
image
Paramount
#61 'Trading Places' (1983)

Trading Places offers biting commentary on the wealth gap and corruption on Wall Street that's still relevant today. Oh, and it's certifiably hilarious, too.

9 of 68
image
Warner Bros.
#60 'Gremlins' (1984)

This horror-comedy classic expertly mixed cute and creepy. Plus, it inspired multiple generations of dog owners to dub their pets "Gizmo," which is is iconic.

10 of 68
image
Paramount Pictures
#59 ‘Friday the 13th’ (1980)

Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th tells the story of five camp counselors who are stalked and murdered by a merciless killer. The film has since become a cult-classic and spawned an entire horror franchise (which includes a whopping 12 films).

11 of 68
image
TriStar Pictures
#58 ‘Steel Magnolias’ (1989)

Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, and Dolly Parton team up in this much-loved comedy drama. Steel Magnolias will make you laugh and cry and is definitely worthy of a re-watch during a nostalgic binge.

12 of 68
image
Paramount Pictures
#57 ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (1984)

Eddie Murphy as Detroit detective Alex Foley in Beverly Hills Cop made for a classically ’80s (and objectively hilarious) cult favorite. The movie went on to win the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture and snagged both Golden Globes and Academy Award nominations.

13 of 68
image
New Line Cinema
#56 'The Evil Dead' (1981)

Sam Raimi's cult classic horror movie The Evil Dead is a cult classic that changed the landscape of scary movies for years to come.

14 of 68
image
Shutterstock
#55 ‘The Color Purple’ (1985)

Directed by Steven Speilberg and based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Price-winning novel, The Color Purple was easily one of the decade’s best films. With a first-class ensemble (including Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey) and a deeply emotional script, this 1985 production was an all-around win.

15 of 68
#54 'Hannah and Her Sisters' (1986)

One of Woody Allen's first majorly successful films, Hannah and Her Sisters focuses on the complex relationship between Hannah (Mia Farrow), her sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest), and her husband Elliot (Michael Caine).

16 of 68
#53 'Raging Bull' (1980)

Undeniably one of Martin Scorsese's best, Raging Bull features Robert De Niro as a tumultuous, but lovable, boxer.

17 of 68
#52 'Broadcast News' (1987)

James L. Brooks's 1987 film told the story of two rival TV
reporters and a producer.

18 of 68
#51 'Aliens' (1986)

Who could watch Alien without being completely and utterly captivated by Sigourney Weaver as badass Ripley?

19 of 68
#50 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' (1989)

Another Woody Allen hit, Crimes and Misdemeanors features Martin Landau, Mia Farrow, and Anjelica Huston, and it was nominated for three Academy Awards.

20 of 68
#49 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' (1989)

Equal parts ridiculous and hilarious, Bill and Ted are two airheads with a time-traveling mission to save the future. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter made for a super endearing, totally '80s flick.

21 of 68
image
TriStar Pictures
#48 'Labyrinth' (1986)

It simply does not get more '80s than David Bowie in Labyrinth. His character is everything you need to know about the decade in a single costume.

22 of 68
#47 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' (1982)

Based on Cameron Crowe's book, Fast Times at Ridgemont High gifted us a young Sean Penn and an undeniably hilarious plot.

23 of 68
#46 'The Thing' (1982)

Call us wimps, but John Carpenter's The Thing is still frightening to this day.

24 of 68
image
Warner Bros.
#45 'Full Metal Jacket' (1987)

This Stanley Kubrick film about the Vietnam War received critical praise and an Academy Award nomination on its release and the iconic poster is still a dorm room decor staple years later.

25 of 68
#44 'Blue Velvet' (1986)

David Lynch's haunting mystery tells the story of Jeffrey, (Kyle MacLachlan) who after finding a severed human ear, is set on a dramatic, albeit entertaining, journey.

26 of 68
#43 'Platoon' (1986)

Before Charlie Sheen was, well, Charlie Sheen, he stole America's hearts as Chris, the young recruit in Vietnam. Combined with actors like Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, and even Johnny Depp, Platoon was an all-around hit.

27 of 68
#42 'Working Girl' (1988)

Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaver make for a hilarious, but totally moving, story of success and loss.

28 of 68
#41 'Can't Buy Me Love' (1987)

Real talk: We'd go out with Patrick Dempsey for free, let alone one thousand dollars. Dempsey's too-cute role as nerdy Ronald Miller automatically made Can't Buy Me Love one of our favorites.

29 of 68
#40 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981)

The first of the epic Indian Jones franchise, Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark certainly didn't disappoint. Anyone who was able to come out of the film not in love with Harrison Ford as Indy was straight-up crazy.

30 of 68
#39 'Weird Science' (1985)

Arguably one of John Hughes's best, Weird Science follows two high school outcasts in their attempt to create the perfect woman.

49 of 68
#20 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

The outfits! The hair! Duckie! John Hughes crafted yet another masterpiece centered around a seemingly too-cool-to-care girl named Andie and her romantic struggles with the popular, rich boy. And like any good high school movie, it ends with a totally '80's prom scene you have to see to believe.

50 of 68
#19 'Stand by Me' (1986)

Rob Reiner's film adaptation of Stephen King's novel brought four teenage boys together for a thrilling, coming-of-age drama.

51 of 68
#18 'Top Gun' (1986)

With a 24-year-old Tom Cruise in uniform, it's no wonder Top Gun became an immediate favorite. Bless you, '80s.

52 of 68
#17 'Driving Miss Daisy' (1989)

Driving Miss Daisy was the movie that really put Morgan Freeman on the map. Bruce Beresford's film landed the Oscar for Best Picture, and Jessica Tandy won Best Actress.

53 of 68
image
Warner Bros.
#16 'Blade Runner" (1982)

This science fiction film, starring Harrison Ford, is a classic in the genre and a mind-bender to watch. Plus, it's required viewing if you want to watch the recent sequel, co-starring Ryan Gosling (and of course you want to watch that).

54 of 68
#15 'Say Anything' (1989)

Opposites attract in this post-high school romance featuring heartthrobs John Cusack and Ione Skye. Say Anything proved that when things get rocky in a relationship, nothing beats standing outside your lover's window with a boombox.

55 of 68
#14 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial' (1982)

Steven Spielberg's instant blockbuster quickly became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, catapulting a little Drew Barrymore into stardom.

56 of 68
#13 'Footloose' (1984)

Sure, '80s movies were incomplete without a sexy leading man, but holy Kevin Bacon. What would a ranking of the decade's best films be without Herbet Ross's story of dancing and breaking rules?

57 of 68
image
Universal
#12 'Sixteen Candles' (1984)

There's no doubt that Molly Ringwald is the queen of '80s cinema. In this emotional roller coaster of a story, Ringwald goes from being ignored on her sweet sixteen to scoring the hottest dude in school. In other words: Classic high school wish fulfillment.

58 of 68
#11 'Beetlejuice' (1988)

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetleju…Don't say it a third time, because we're still convinced Tim Burton's creepy-as-hell character might appear. The 1988 flick gave the likes of Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder their starts.

59 of 68
image
Paramount
#10 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' (1986)

Matthew Broderick made skipping school an event as Ferris Bueller, a teen with an elaborate plan to stay home "sick" from school and then an even more elaborate plan for what to do with the day instead. This hit film has everything we love about '80s movies: teen angst, deadpan humor, and adventure—making it truly unforgettable.

60 of 68
#9 'The Shining' (1980)

Why is every bad boy from the '80s named Johnny? Jack Nicholson definitely takes the cake for the most terrifying Johnny in this undeniably haunting adaptation of Stephen King's best-selling novel.

61 of 68
image
#8 'Do the Right Thing' (1989)

Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing isn't just one of the best movies of the '80s, it's one of the best and most culturally significant films of all time. It was a critical and commercial success and nabbed Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Danny Aiello for his portrayal of Sal the pizzeria owner.

62 of 68
#7 'The Princess Bride' (1987)

Rob Reiner's wildly loved fairy tale still holds up to this day. Mandy Patinkin in tights, stupid but quotable humor—what more could you ask for in an '80s movie?

63 of 68
#6 ''Dirty Dancing' (1987)

Summer romance, forbidden love, killer dance moves, and a sexy leading man? Wayne Blair's 1987 knockout brought us an epic love story between quirky girl Baby and dark and brooding Johnny and arguably the most iconic dance routine of all time.

64 of 68
image
Buena Vista Pictures
#5 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit wasn't just a wildly creative, fun-for-all-ages film. It was also a landmark movie in terms of special effects innovation. A+ all around.

65 of 68
image
Universal
#4 'Back to the Future' (1985)

This sci-fi/comedy classic was a blockbuster success (it was the highest grossing movie of 1985) and catapulted Michael J. Fox to certified A-list status. In the movie, Marty McFly (Fox) travels back in time and puts his own existence into jeopardy when he interrupts his parents' meet-cute and is forced to play matchmaker to try to set things right.

66 of 68
image
Columbia Pictures
#3 'When Harry Met Sally' (1989)

This rom-com classic from Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner tells the story of Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan), two best friends who fall for each other. The premise seems simple, but Ephron's script is a master class in character development and social psychology—and laugh out loud funny, too.

67 of 68
image
Lucasfilm
#2 'Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back' (1980)

The second (in terms of release, anyway) Star Wars film kicked off the '80s with a bang. The Empire Strikes Back is widely considered to be the best film in the Star Wars franchise and it's still a classic today.

68 of 68
#1 'The Breakfast Club' (1985):

This John Hughes classic gave birth to high school stereotypes as we know them now: the jock, the princess, the nerd, the misunderstood rebel. With Judd Nelson's incredible performance as everyone's favorite bad boy (John Bender) and a killer soundtrack, The Breakfast Club locks in at number one. *Cue freeze frame of Nelson's fist pump.*

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Culture