Must-see movies of the 80s, from “Raging Bull” to “Do the Right Thing”




Turner Classic Movies has a regular franchise called “The Essentials,” which is as good an organizing principle as any in the daunting and highly subjective task of contemplating key films from each of the past decades.

Using “essential” as a criterion helps determine what scores, with various considerations involved: the best, yes, but also the most influential, with the longest tails. Films that stand up to repeated viewing, but also those that define and capture the era in which they were made.

For those who are tempted to include several Alfred Hitchcock or Humphrey Bogart films from a decade, it is helpful to seek to represent key stars and filmmakers. And finally, what you would pack if you got stranded on an island and could only take a handful of movies with you.

All of these factors have been taken into account in this exercise inspired by “The Movies”, CNN’s latest documentary series, which begins with a chapter devoted to the 1980s.

The 1970s in particular ushered in what is widely regarded as the modern era in major studios – for better or for worse – with first “Jaws” and then “Star Wars” rewriting expectations for blockbusters at box office, especially during the summer.

The 1980s continued this trend, paving the way for the heavy reliance on “franchises” that prevails today.

Inevitably, such a list means leaving personal favorites on the editing room floor, especially in terms of comedies. “This is Spinal Tap” and “The Princess Bride”, too bad we weren’t able to get things up to 11.

Yet when the pressure arose, the question “Which movies should everyone have seen from the ’80s?” – especially if they want to understand not only those years, but where the entertainment industry is today – produced the following selections, presented in chronological order:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios

‘Angry bull’

Boxing movies and biographies came together in Martin Scorsese’s gloriously shot black-and-white ode to Jake LaMotta, simply one of the director’s memorable collaborations with Robert De Niro. There have been plenty of great movies in both genres, but few can put a glove on this one.

From Lucasfilm, Ltd.

“The Empire Strikes Back” (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

“Star Wars” is a landmark movie, but it wouldn’t be the “Episode IX” franchise without a sensational sequel that remains the best movie in the series and that dramatically raised the stakes for “I Am Your Father” family history Skywalker.

'The Raiders of the Lost Ark'
Lucasfilm, Ltd.

‘The Raiders of the Lost Ark’

The collaboration of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas produced an iconic ode to soap operas of the past, one of Indiana Jones’ all-time great heroes, another signature role for Harrison Ford and not incidentally, perhaps the score. most moving by composer John Williams.

Joanna Cassidy in
Warner Bros./Getty Images / IMDB

Joanna Cassidy in “Blade Runner”

Director Ridley Scott’s dystopian vision of an acid rain inundated Los Angeles essentially set the tone for nightmarish images of what could be to come, as well as an early exploration of artificial intelligence in the context of this. what does it mean to be human.

Henry Thomas on the set of
Sunset Boulevard / Corbis Historical / Corbis via Getty Images

Henry Thomas on the set of “ET”. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard / Corbis via Getty Images)

Spielberg’s blend of childhood wonder, optimism, and (brilliant, in this case) heart in the suburbs came to a head – certainly commercially – in this story on the moon about a young boy befriending him. with a stranded alien.

Tom Hulce in
Orion Pictures

Tom Hulce in “Amadeus”

The eight Oscar winner, director Milos Forman’s take on Mozart (Tom Hulce) and the man who understood and envied his genius (F. Murray Abraham) was both a delightful period piece and a film that captured the creative process like few have done before. or since.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'The Terminator' (Photo via Universal History Archive / Getty Images)
Archives of Universal History / Getty Images

Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘The Terminator’ (Photo via Universal History Archive / Getty Images)

James Cameron’s sci-fi concept saw the future in more ways than one, upping Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career as a killer cyborg and providing the model for a host of tech movies that go wild and unleashed. tinker with the timeline to save the world. Schwarzenegger’s killing machine has promised “I’ll be back,” which it has been, in one form or another, over and over again.

Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rosselini in

Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rosselini in “Blue Velvet”

David Lynch’s bizarre mix of soap opera and dread may have found its climax (or peaks) on television, but the director has gathered all of his quirky gifts in this dark and unsettling film – where the plot is set. in motion by a severed ear – with Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rosselini and an even crazier performance by Dennis Hopper.

Bonnie Bedelia and Bruce Willis in a scene from 'Die Hard'
Stock Photos / Films / Getty Images

Bonnie Bedelia and Bruce Willis in a scene from ‘Die Hard’

The “Is this a Christmas movie?” The debate continues 30 years after director John McTiernan’s Bruce Willis action thriller (who left another big ’80s imprint with “Predator”) paved the way for dozens of copiers, while noting that ‘Alan Rickman was one of the greatest villains of all time. Yupi ki-yay, indeed.

'Do the right thing'
40 acres and a mule / Universal Pictures

‘Do the right thing’

Spike Lee’s third film remains his masterpiece, a thought-provoking look at the racial tensions simmering beneath the surface, police abuse and empathy for his characters, which still seems relevant 30 years ago later. Its significance also extends to the role the film played in paving the way for other African American filmmakers, which prompted the late critic Roger Ebert to call it, in a 1991 essay, “The American Film the most important in recent years “.

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