Watchworthy
466 voters

The Greatest Directors of the 1980s

Updated September 18, 2020 3.7k votes 466 voters 23.2k views56 items

List RulesVote only based on the director's feature films released in the 1980s.

List of the top directors of the 80s. From 1980 to 1989, film history was shaped by esteemed directors who defined the decade through their movies. After all, what would the eighties be without the Brat Pack movies directed by John Hughes? The 1980s is also the time when when heavyweights like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were honing their directorial skills on epic levels, from the Indiana Jones movies to "E.T."

Woody Allen is also an auteur who made some of his absolute funniest and most dramatic Oscar-winning flicks during the 1980s. And between the "Lethal Weapon" movies and "The Goonies," director Dick Donner made the eighties an unforgettable 10 years for major motion pictures.

With nostalgic '80s movies on the mind, who can forget the arguable directorial peak of Rob Reiner with smash hits like "Spinal Tap," "Stand by Me," "The Princess Bride," and "When Harry Met Sally," which transitioned us into the 1990s.
Photo:
...more
  • Steven Spielberg1
    206
    54
    Always (1989)
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
    Empire of the Sun (1987)
    The Color Purple (1985)
    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
    Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

    More Steven Spielberg 

    The Best Steven Spielberg MoviesBehind-The-Scenes Stories From 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial'

  • John Hughes2
    198
    61

    John Hughes

    Dec. at 59 (1950-2009)
    Sixteen Candles (1984)
    The Breakfast Club (1985)
    Weird Science (1985)
    Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
    She's Having a Baby (1988)
    Uncle Buck (1989)
    Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

    More John Hughes 

    Things You'll Find In Most Every John Hughes MovieThe Best Characters In John Hughes Movies

  • John Carpenter3
    142
    45
    The Fog (1980)
    Escape From New York (1981)
    The Thing (1982)
    Christine (1983)
    Starman (1984)
    Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
    Prince of Darkness (1987)
    They Live (1988)

    More John Carpenter 

    17 Small But Fascinating Details In John Carpenter MoviesSmall But Compelling Details In John Carpenter's 'The Thing'

  • James Cameron4
    118
    39
    Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)
    The Terminator (1984)
    Aliens (1986)
    The Abyss (1989)
  • Robert Zemeckis5
    126
    34
    Used Cars (1980)
    Romancing the Stone (1984)
    Back to the Future (1985)
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
    Back to the Future Part II (1989)

    More Robert Zemeckis 

    #376 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time#119 of 309 Famous People Most Likely to Live to 100

  • Rob Reiner6
    119
    42

    Rob Reiner

    Age: 73
    This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
    The Sure Thing (1985)
    Stand by Me (1986)
    The Princess Bride (1987)
    When Harry Met Sally.... (1989)

    More Rob Reiner 

    The Best Movies Directed by Rob Reiner#203 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

  • Martin Scorsese7
    105
    36

    Raging Bull (1980)
    The Kings of Comedy (1982)
    After Hours (1985)
    The Color of Money (1986)
    The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

    More Martin Scorsese 

    The Best Martin Scorsese MoviesFascinating Stories From The Wild Life Of Martin Scorsese

  • John Landis8
    100
    30
    The Blues Brothers (1980)
    An American Werewolf in London (1981)
    Trading Places (1983)
    Spies Like Us (1985)
    Three Amigos (1986)
    Coming to America (1988)
    Into the Night (1985)

    More John Landis 

    #11 of 120 The Best Comedy Directors in Film History#100 of 249 The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked

  • Tim Burton9
    116
    47

    Tim Burton

    Age: 62
    Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)
    Beetlejuice (1988)
    Batman (1989)

    More Tim Burton 

    Fascinating Stories From The Making Of 'Edward Scissorhands'Small Details From 'Beetlejuice' That Prove He's The Ghost With The Most

  • Ridley Scott10
    81
    32

    Blade Runner (1982)
    Legend (1985)
    Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
    Black Rain (1989)

  • Richard Donner11
    84
    23

    Richard Donner

    Age: 90
    The Toy (1982)
    The Goonies (1985)
    Ladyhawke (1985)
    Lethal Weapon (1987)
    Scrooged (1988)
    Leathal Weapon 2 (1989)
  • Oliver Stone12
    77
    35
    Salvador (1986)
    Platoon (1986)
    Wall Street (1987)
    Talk Radio (1988)
    Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

    More Oliver Stone 

    #80 of 101 The Most Beloved US Veterans#146 of 211 Celebrities Who Should Run for President

  • David Cronenberg13
    71
    34
    The Scanners (1981)
    Videodrome (1983)
    The Dead Zone (1983)
    The Fly (1986)
    Dead Ringers (1988)
  • David Lynch14
    72
    44
    The Elephant Man (1980)
    Dune (1984)
    Blue Velvet (1986)

    More David Lynch 

    17 Eccentric Facts About David Lynch, Hollywood's Most Willful Weirdo26 David Lynch Memes You'll Only Appreciate If You Like David Lynch

  • Harold Ramis15
    64
    25

    Harold Ramis

    Dec. at 70 (1944-2014)
    Caddyshack (1980)
    National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
    Club Paradise (1986)
  • Barry Levinson16
    37
    29
    Diner (1982)
    The Natural (1984)
    Young Sherlock Homes (1985)
    Tin Men (1987)
    Good Morning Vietnam (1987)
    Rain Man (1988)
  • Ivan Reitman17
    42
    15

    Ghostbusters (1984)

    Ghostbusters II (1989)

    Stripes (1981)

    Meatballs (1979)

  • Stanley Kubrick18
    14
    2

    Stanley Kubrick

    Dec. at 71 (1928-1999)

    More Stanley Kubrick 

    A Timeline Of The Beef Between Stephen King And Stanley Kubrick Over 'The Shining'#753 of 2,443 The Most Influential People of All Time

  • Woody Allen19
    50
    48
    A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
    Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
    Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
    Radio Days (1987)
    New York Stories (1989)

    More Woody Allen 

    The Best Woody Allen Movies#174 of 233 The Funniest Stand Up Comedians Of All Time

  • Terry Gilliam20
    47
    42

    Time Bandits (1981)
    Brazil (1985)
    The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

  • John McTiernan21
    10
    0
  • Ron Howard22
    25
    22

    Ron Howard

    Age: 66
  • Brian De Palma23
    10
    2
  • Paul Verhoeven24
  • Vladimir Bortko25
    23
    22

    Without Family (1984)
    The Blonde from Around the Corner (1984)
    Heart of a Dog (1988)