The Best Movies Of 1981

List Rules
Only movies released in theaters in 1981.

This list has all of the best movies of 1981, from action films like Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark to comedies like The Great Muppet Caper. The '80s were a decade where Hollywood thrived. In were new stars and big blockbusters and 1981 was no exception. Some the best movies of this year are some of the best teen, coming of age, adventure, comedies, and dramas in history. The films on here are very memorable and had audiences on the edges of their seats, and still pack a punch so many years after they were first released. You shouldn't be too surprised by the movies listed on this list of top 1981 films.

But which one of these films from '81 should be at the top of our list? You get to help decide by voting up your favorite movies from 1981. You can also vote down any 1981 movies that you tink other fans should skip.

Ranked by
  • Friday the 13th Part 2
    26
    Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Steve Miner
  • Heavy Metal
    27
    Harvey Atkin, Thor Bishopric, Rodger Bumpass
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Gerald Potterton
  • The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie
    28
    Mel Blanc, Frank Welker, June Foray
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Friz Freleng
  • Taps
    29
    Timothy Hutton, George C. Scott, Ronny Cox
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Harold Becker
  • Nighthawks
    30
    Sylvester Stallone, Billy Dee Williams, Rutger Hauer
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Bruce Malmuth
  • Fort Apache, The Bronx
    31
    Paul Newman, Ed Asner, Ken Wahl
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Daniel Petrie
  • Absence of Malice
    32
    Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bob Balaban
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Sydney Pollack
  • Outland
    33
    Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Peter Hyams
  • Mommie Dearest
    34
    Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Howard Da Silva
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Frank Perry
  • Reds
    35
    Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Warren Beatty
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice
    36
    Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, John Colicos
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Bob Rafelson
  • Dragonslayer
    37
    Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, Ralph Richardson
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Matthew Robbins
  • Ragtime
    38
    James Cagney, Howard E. Rollins, Elizabeth McGovern
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Milos Forman
  • Neighbors
    39
    John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cathy Moriarty
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: John G. Avildsen
  • Southern Comfort
    40
    Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Walter Hill
  • My Bloody Valentine
    41
    Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: George Mihalka
  • Eye of the Needle
    42
    Donald Sutherland, Kate Nelligan, Christopher Cazenove
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Richard Marquand
  • Death Hunt
    43
    Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Peter Hunt
  • True Confessions
    44
    Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Charles Durning
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Ulu Grosbard
  • The Funhouse
    45
    Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Miles Chapin
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Tobe Hooper
  • My Dinner with Andre
    46
    Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory, Jean Lenauer
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Louis Malle
  • Sharky's Machine
    47
    Burt Reynolds, Rachel Ward, Vittorio Gassman
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Burt Reynolds
  • The French Lieutenant's Woman
    48
    Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Leo McKern
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: Karel Reisz
  • Ghost Story
    49
    Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: John Irvin
  • Escape to Victory
    50
    Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, Pelé
    • Released: 1981
    • Directed by: John Huston