Movies That Defined a Decade – The 1980’s

We’re back with our ‘Movies That Defined a Decade’! It’s the 80’s turn this time. There was a time when the 80’s were looked on as the most depressing, gloomy and uncreative of decades when it came to all things cultural. That time has passed and the 1980’s are very much back in vogue as the current breed of adolescents and twenty-somethings have embraced the decade and it’s style in all it’s glory.
Here are the five films that defined the 1980’s. Again, it’s not a definitve ‘Best of’ list, just what made the decade what it was.
5. Raging Bull (1980, Martin Scorsese)
I remember those cheers / They still ring in my ears / After years, they remain in my thoughts. / Go to one night / I took off my robe, and what’d I do? I forgot to wear shorts. / I recall every fall / Every hook, every jab / The worst way a guy can get rid of his flab. / As you know, my life wasn’t drab. / Though I’d much… Though I’d rather hear you cheer / When you delve… Though I’d rather hear you cheer / When I delve into Shakespeare / “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse”, I haven’t had a winner in six months. 

Made during Scorsese’s infamous ‘coke’ period, Raging Bull tells the tale of hotheaded boxer Jake La Motta. Robert De Niro’s portrayal of the troubled athlete still ranks as one of his best as he puts his renowned ‘Method’ style of acting to fully transform into the character of LaMotta. De Niro gained 30 lbs of fat trying to replicate the boxer in his retirement years. 

What is most striking about Raging Bull is the visuals – the brutal contrast in the black and white cinematography, with kudos to cinematographer Michael Chapman who has, along with Scorsese shot one of the most beautiful films ever made. 

La Motta is not seen as a nice guy. He beats his wife and his brother and alienates everyone in his life. In fact the most sympathetic character in the film is his brother Joey, played brilliantly by Joe Pesci. 

The film lost out at the Oscars to ‘Ordinary People’, an inferior film, as Raging Bull has become known as the greatest film of the 1980’s. And it is. 
4. Back to the Future (1985, Robert Zemeckis)
A favourite with adults and youths, Back to the Future just screams 1980’s – the clothes, the music – that DeLorean. Endlessly re-watchable with one of the most hate-able screen villians ever in Biff Tannon. Who doesn’t punch the air with joy when Biff gets his comeuppance in the prom car park.
Like most people, I always get such joy seeing Marty McFly playing Johnny B. Goode in front of an audience unfamiliar with the sounds as he quips “to early for ya, huh? But your kids are gonna love it.”
3. Die Hard (1988, John McTeirnan)
The Definitive Action Movie. ‘Nuff said. Yippy-ki-yay Motherfucker!
2. The Goonies (1985, Richard Donner)
Featuring some familiar faces such as Sean Astin (aka Sam from The Lord of the Rings), Corey Feldman and current Hollywood favourite Josh Brolin. The Goonies is about the innocence and adventurous spirit of being a kid and fits in to the ‘ they don’t make ’em like that anymore’ category.
One question: Whatever happened to the guy who played Chunk? 
1. The Breakfast Club (1985, John Hughes)
Frankly, this list could have been filled completely with John Hughes 80’s canon such as Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink. His films are what define 80’s movies – Fun, romantic, a bit cheesy but oh so loveable nonetheless.

From IMDB: It’s the weekend, and five students have weekend detention. There’s a jock, a princess, a misfit, a nerd, and a lout. Not much in common, except for having to give up their day, sit in the school library, and write an essay for the principal. Being from such widely different backgrounds and having such completely different personalities, it’s inevitable that some friction and shenanigans develop.

No the acting isn’t Oscar worthy (it’s not bad either) but the film completely oozes charm and likeability that you can’t help but fall for these guys. When you watch it you feel the air of the time, you want to be there with these characters, at that time – there is a real sense of false nostalgia when watching John Hughes movies and in particular The Breakfast Club. 

A real 80’s gem and the film that defines the 1980’s. 

There we are. Again, there were of course many films that could have been there:
  • Batman
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The Shining
  • Any John Hughes movie
  • Stand by Me
  • E.T
  • Ghostbusters
  • Top Gun
  • Blue Velvet
  • The Terminator
  • The Karate Kid
  • Predator
This could go on forever. 

Feedback on the lists would be cool, as would suggestions on further lists!

Up next, the 1970’s!

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