The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential '80s Movies  

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List Rules Vote up the '80s movies that define the genre and should be required viewing for beginners in an Intro to 1980s Films Class.

The '80s made for some great movies and - if you missed the decade - you may not realize all the great films released those years. Here, you'll find all the essential '80s movies. Given this list is comprised of films from a particular decade, there won't be a focus on genre, but there might be more than a few teen, adventure, Sci-Fi, or romantic comedies on this list. These are '80s movies for beginners - a glimpse into the must-see films that defined the decade. 

Unfortunately, '80s movies can have a reputation for being melodramatic and loaded with unnecessary - and corny - special effects, but not every movie of this time period followed this formula. Remember - this was the decade of John Cusack, Matthew Broderick, and some classic films including Back to the Future and The Empire Strikes Back! If you are sitting there thinking you could do without this decade in film, you need to rethink your position. Consider this an intro to '80s movies for all of you out there doubting the cinematic prowess of the decade. Remember, '80s movies constitute some of the most popular and famous films of the past 50 years! This was the decade where Indiana Jones first donned his famous fedora and Elliot had to say goodbye to E.T. 

There were thousands of movies released between 1980 and 1989 (many of which are rightly forgotten), making it something of a challenge to assemble a list of 25 must-see films from the decade. Many arguments will likely ensue, so vote your favorites up below to decide on the most essential films the '80s had to offer. 

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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 cyborg sent back in time from the year 2029 to 1984 to take out Sarah Connor, played by Hamilton, whose son will one day become a savior against machines. Biehn plays Kyle Reese, a soldier from the future sent back in time to protect Sarah. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Biehn, + more

Released: 1984

Directed by: James Cameron

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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 Frank Marshall for Lucasfilm Ltd., with Lucas and Howard Kazanjian as executive producers. Starring Harrison Ford, it was the first installment in the Indiana Jones film franchise to be released, though it is the second in internal chronological order. It pits Indiana Jones against a group of Nazis who are searching for the Ark of the Covenant, which Adolf Hitler believes will make his army invincible. The film co-stars Karen Allen as Indiana's former lover, Marion Ravenwood; Paul Freeman as Indiana's ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen, Frank Welker, Denholm Elliott, + more

Released: 1981

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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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 premise features a band of pre-teens who live in the "Goon Docks" neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon attempting to save their homes from demolition, and in doing so, discover an old Spanish map that leads them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willie, a legendary 17th-century pirate. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, Joe Pantoliano, Martha Plimpton, + more

Released: 1985

Directed by: Richard Donner

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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 Hard follows off-duty New York City Police Department officer John McClane as he takes on a group of highly organized wrongdoers led by Hans Gruber, who perform a caper in a Los Angeles skyscraper under the guise of a terrorist attack using hostages, including McClane's wife Holly, to keep the police at bay. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Robert Davi, Kym Malin, + more

Released: 1988

Directed by: John McTiernan

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