The Best Movies About AIDS In The '80s

The 1980s were a time of great change in the world. The Cold War was coming to an end, and the Berlin Wall was about to come down. AIDS had just been discovered, and it would soon become one of the most feared diseases in history. It's no surprise that so many movies about AIDS came out during this decade. There are also several movies like The Normal Heart that came out decades later that are about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the '80s.

Some of these films are based on true stories, while others are fictionalized accounts of what it was like to live through this scary time in history. Some are funny, some are sad, but all of them will make you appreciate how far we've come with medical technology since then! Vote up your favorite AIDS movies from the '80s, and about AIDS in the 1980s, so other users interested in the subject know what to watch next.


  • In mid-1980s Texas, electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is stunned to learn that he has AIDS. Though told that he has just 30 days left to live, Woodroof refuses to give in to despair. He seeks out alternative therapies and smuggles unapproved drugs into the U.S. from wherever he can find them. Woodroof joins forces with a fellow AIDS patient (Jared Leto) and begins selling the treatments to the growing number of people who can't wait for the medical establishment to save them.
    • Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Denis O'Hare, Steve Zahn
    • Released: 2013
    • Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée

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  • The Normal Heart
    Photo: The Normal Heart

    The Normal Heart is a searing drama about the early days of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. The film follows Ned Weeks (played by Mark Ruffalo), a gay rights activist, as he tries to raise awareness of the disease and fight for its victims. The film also stars Julia Roberts as Dr. Emma Brookner, one of the first doctors to treat AIDS patients. "The Normal Heart" is an important film about AIDS, and its impact on both those who lived through it and those who continue to fight it.

    • Actors: Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts
    • Released: 2014
    • Directed by: Ryan Murphy

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  • Torch Song Trilogy
    Photo: Torch Song Trilogy

    Torch Song Trilogy is a film about a gay man named Arnold Beckoff who is living with AIDS in the 1980s. The film follows Arnold as he navigates his relationships with his friends, his lover, and his mother. Torch Song Trilogy is a powerful and moving film about AIDS in the 1980s, and it is one of the best movies about AIDS in the '80s.

    • Actors: Harvey Fierstein, Anne Bancroft, Matthew Broderick, Brian Kerwin, Karen Young
    • Released: 1988
    • Directed by: Paul Bogart

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  • We Were Here
    Photo: We Were Here

    We Were Here is a powerful documentary that chronicles the early days of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Through interviews with five long-time survivors of HIV/AIDS, the film tells the story of how the disease ravaged the gay community in the 1980s and how those who were affected fought back. The film is a moving tribute to those who lost their lives to AIDS and a reminder of the strength and resilience of those who survived.

    • Actors: Paul Boneberg, Ed Wolf, Daniel Goldstein, Guy Clark
    • Released: 2011
    • Directed by: David Weissman, Bill Weber

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  • Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt
    Photo: Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt

    Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt is a 1989 documentary film about the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The film was directed by Rob Epstein and produced by Bill Couturié. It features interviews with people who have lost loved ones to AIDS, as well as footage of the quilt itself.

     

    • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Vito Russo, Tracy Torrey
    • Released: 1989
    • Directed by: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

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  • Parting Glances
    Photo: Parting Glances

    Parting Glances is a 1986 film about AIDS in the 1980s. The film follows the lives of two gay men in New York City, as they navigate their relationship and grapple with the diagnosis of AIDS. The film is a powerful portrait of love and loss during the AIDS crisis, and provides a rare glimpse into the early days of the epidemic.

    • Actors: Richard Ganoung, John Bolger, Steve Buscemi
    • Released: 1986
    • Directed by: Bill Sherwood

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