Watchworthy

The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated January 8, 2020 545.9k votes 19.6k voters 517.4k views 571 items

List Rules Movies must have been released during the 1980s

Since it was one of the greatest decades for film, here's a list of the best movies of the 80s. These are the most popular films of the 1980's. While the 1980's is largely known for Matthew Broderick, John Cusack, and the musical montage, it is also the decade that brought us The Empire Strikes Back, the cult classic They Live, and all three of the good Indiana Jones films. The movies on this list were each a top ten grossing film in the year they were released. If you're looking to find out what the 1980's were all about, then watching a classic movie on this list would be a great place to start! Vote on the best 80s movies and share your super 80s knowledge with the world!

What are the best movies of the 1980s? This list will give you that answer if you ever had any doubt what the best 1980s films are.

See Also: What are the most awesome and best 90s movies? and 17 Movies That No '80s Kid Is Nostalgic About.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Ferris Bueller's Day Off... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones

Released: 1986

Directed by: John Hughes

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a 1986 American comedy film written, produced and directed by John Hughes. The film follows high school senior Ferris Bueller, who skips school and spends the day in ...more

More Ferris Bueller's Day Off 

Behind The Scenes Of The Famous Parade Scene In 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' Kick Back And Relax With The Best 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' Quotes #11 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

2
Star Wars Episode V: The... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1980

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film's story ...more

More Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 

Here's Why The Last Jedi And Empire Strikes Back Are Pretty Much The Same Movie #15 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
The Goonies is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin

Released: 1985

Directed by: Richard Donner

The Goonies is a 1985 American adventure comedy film directed by Richard Donner. The screenplay was written by Chris Columbus from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. The film's ...more

More The Goonies 

Things You Have To Ignore In Order To Enjoy Watching 'The Goonies' 20 Goonies Trivia Facts Everyone Should Know #8 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

4
The Breakfast Club is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall

Released: 1985

Directed by: John Hughes

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John ...more

More The Breakfast Club 

The Best Quotes From 'The Breakfast Club' Make Detention Fun Again #12 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #27 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

5
Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

Released: 1985

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into ...more

More Back to the Future 

Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Back to the Future #1 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
The Karate Kid is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Elisabeth Shue, Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita

Released: 1984

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts romantic drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen, starring Ralph Macchio, who was 22 years old during principal ...more

More The Karate Kid 

#33 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #17 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #135 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

7
The Princess Bride is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, André the Giant

Released: 1987

Directed by: Rob Reiner

The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic comedy fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner. It was adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name. The ...more

More The Princess Bride 

No Matter How Many Times You've Watched 'The Princess Bride,' You Don't Know Everything About It Who Would Star In 'The Princess Bride' If It Were Made Today? #26 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

8
The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

Released: 1984

Directed by: James Cameron

The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction/horror action film directed by James Cameron, written by Cameron and the film's producer Gale Anne Hurd. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a ...more

More The Terminator 

56 Things You Didn't Know About the Terminator Movies 12 Terminator Fan Theories That Are Just Crazy Enough To Be True #20 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

9
Beverly Hills Cop is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Eddie Murphy, Damon Wayans, Paul Reiser

Released: 1984

Directed by: Martin Brest

Beverly Hills Cop is a 1984 American action comedy film directed by Martin Brest and starring Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, a street-smart Detroit cop who heads to Beverly Hills, California to ...more

More Beverly Hills Cop 

#95 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #176 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #34 of 1,027 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

10
Star Wars: Episode VI –R... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1983

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand, and the third and final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. After a daring ...more

More Star Wars: Episode VI –Return of the Jedi 

#19 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #23 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #16 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

11
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack

Released: 1986

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

More Stand by Me 

Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Stand By Me' That Prove The Film Shaped The Child Actors The Most Memorable 'Stand by Me' Quotes #35 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

12
Back to the Future Part ... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Michael J. Fox, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd

Released: 1989

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Back to the Future Part II is a 1989 American comic science fiction film and the second installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who directed all three ...more

More Back to the Future Part II 

When ‘Back To The Future II’ Recreated Crispin Glover’s Face, He Took The Studio To Court See The Future With These 'Back to the Future Part II' Quotes #22 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

13
Top Gun is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

Released: 1986

Directed by: Tony Scott

Top Gun is a 1986 American action drama film directed by Tony Scott, and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, in association with Paramount Pictures. The screenplay was written by Jim ...more

More Top Gun 

Everything You Don't Know About The Making Of 'Top Gun' #1,808 of 3,542 The Greatest Albums of All-Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
National Lampoon's Chris... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chevy Chase, Juliette Lewis

Released: 1989

Directed by: Jeremiah S. Chechik

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a 1989 Christmas comedy film directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik. It is the third installment in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, and was written by ...more

More National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 

The Funniest Lines From 'Christmas Vacation' #56 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #4 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

15
Big is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Tom Hanks, Jon Lovitz, Elizabeth Perkins

Released: 1988

Directed by: Penny Marshall

Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish "to be big" and is then aged to adulthood ...more

More Big 

'Big' Is Actually An Existential Nightmare #27 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #67 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

16
Indiana Jones and the La... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix

Released: 1989

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a 1989 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. It is the third installment in the ...more

More Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 

The Best Characters in the Whole Indiana Jones Franchise, Ranked #20 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

17
Indiana Jones and the Ra... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

Released: 1981

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. The screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan was from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It was produced by ...more

More Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark 

12 Stories That Prove The Making Of 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' Was An Adventure Behind The Scenes Too #4 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
Lethal Weapon is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Mel Gibson, Gary Busey, Danny Glover

Released: 1987

Directed by: Richard Donner

Lethal Weapon is a 1987 American buddy cop action film directed by Richard Donner, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as a mismatched pair of L.A.P.D. detectives and stars Mitchell Ryan and ...more

More Lethal Weapon 

Surprising Facts Most People Don't Know About 'Lethal Weapon' You're Never Too Old For The Best Quotes From 'Lethal Weapon' #63 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

19
Beetlejuice is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder, Geena Davis

Released: 1988

Directed by: Tim Burton

Beetlejuice is a 1988 American fantasy-comedy-horror film directed by Tim Burton. The spirits of a deceased couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are harassed by an unbearable family that has ...more

More Beetlejuice 

Strange Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Making Of 'Beetlejuice' #9 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

20
Ghostbusters is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

Released: 1984

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Ghostbusters is a 1984 American sci-fi-fantasy comedy film, directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as ...more

More Ghostbusters 

Behind The Scenes Secrets From 'Ghostbusters' Most People Have Never Heard Vintage Ghostbusters Toys That Are Worth A Scary Amount Now #2 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

21
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn

Released: 1986

Directed by: James Cameron

Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by his then-wife Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael ...more

More Aliens 

The Best 'Aliens' Quotes #201 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

22
Die Hard is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia

Released: 1988

Directed by: John McTiernan

Die Hard is a 1988 American action film directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart. It is based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp. Die ...more

More Die Hard 

'Die Hard' Ripoffs, Ranked By How Hard They Die Behind The Scenes Of Alan Rickman's Defining Role: Hans Gruber #17 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

23
The Lost Boys is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, Corey Haim

Released: 1987

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

The Lost Boys is a 1987 American teen horror film starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, Alex Winter, Jamison Newlander, ...more

More The Lost Boys 

#44 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #5 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #28 of 852 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

24
Vacation is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Chevy Chase, Christie Brinkley, John Candy

Released: 1983

Directed by: Harold Ramis

National Lampoon's Vacation, sometimes referred to as Vacation, is a 1983 Technicolor comedy film directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron, ...more

More Vacation 

#59 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #107 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #5 of 1,027 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

25
Predator is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers

Released: 1987

Directed by: John McTiernan

Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill ...more

More Predator 

Somehow, Making Predator Was WAY More Insane Than The Actual Movie I Ain't Got Time To Read The Best 'Predator' Quotes #86 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime