Best Movies 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, making a list of the 25 '80s movies everyone should watch something of a challenge. Many arguments will likely ensue, so vote your favorites up below to decide on the most essential films the '80s had to offer. 

1 841 VOTES

Back to the Future


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Back to the Future is a 1985 American comic science fiction film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson. Fox plays Marty McFly, a teenager who is sent back in time to 1955. He meets his future parents in high school and accidentally becomes his mother's romantic interest. Marty must repair the damage to history by causing his parents-to-be to fall in love, and with the help of scientist Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, he must find a way to return to 1985. Zemeckis and Gale wrote the script after Gale mused upon whether he would have befriended ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Billy Zane, + more

Initial Release: 1985

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Also Ranked

#1 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#1 on "Old" Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

#1 on The Greatest Movies of the 1980s, Ranked

#4 on The Funniest '80s Movies

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2 804 VOTES

Ghostbusters


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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 three eccentric parapsychologists in New York City who start a ghost-catching business. Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis co-star as a client and her neighbor. The Ghostbusters business booms after initial skepticism, eventually requiring a fourth Ghostbuster, played by Ernie Hudson; but, when an uptown high-rise apartment building becomes the focal point of spirit activity linked to the ancient god Gozer, it threatens to overwhelm the team and the entire world. Originally intended by Aykroyd as a ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Walton, Ron Jeremy, + more

Initial Release: 1984

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Also Ranked

#9 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#4 on The Greatest Movies of the 1980s, Ranked

#1 on The Funniest '80s Movies

#76 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

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3 809 VOTES

Beetlejuice


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Beetlejuice is a 1988 American comedy fantasy film directed by Tim Burton, produced by The Geffen Film Company and distributed by Warner Bros. The plot revolves around a recently deceased young couple who become ghosts haunting their former home, and an obnoxious, devious ghost named Betelgeuse from the Netherworld who tries to scare away the new inhabitants permanently. After the success of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Burton was sent several scripts and became disheartened by their lack of imagination and originality. When he was sent Michael McDowell's original script for Beetlejuice, Burton agreed to direct, although Larry Wilson and later Warren Skaaren were hired to rewrite it. Beetlejuice ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, Jeffrey Jones, + more

Initial Release: 1988

Directed by: Tim Burton

Also Ranked

#57 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#84 on "Old" Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

#15 on The Greatest Movies of the 1980s, Ranked

#10 on The Funniest '80s Movies

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4 745 VOTES

The Terminator


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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, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. It was filmed in Los Angeles, produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a cyborg assassin sent back in time from the year 2029 to 1984 to kill 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. Though not expected to be either a commercial or critical success, The Terminator ...more on Wikipedia

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

Initial Release: 1984

Directed by: James Cameron

Also Ranked

#44 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#6 on The Greatest Movies of the 1980s, Ranked

#11 on The Greatest Movies for Guys

#3 on Every Single Movie On Rotten Tomatoes With 100% Approval, Ranked By Sheer Watchability

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