Rolling Stone Top 100 Movies Of The 80s

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Rolling Stone Top 100 Movies Of The 80s

Several creators have talked about Rolling Stone Top 100 Movies Of The 80s. Here are 25 of the top ones.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Irvin Kershner, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams
Rated PG

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back is an iconic science fiction film directed by Irvin Kershner and released in 1980. The film follows Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance as they battle against the Galactic Empire. With help from Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and R2-D2, Luke continues his journey to become a Jedi and discovers the power of the Force. He then faces off against the Sith Lord Darth Vader, who is revealed to be his father. As the Rebels prepare for a climactic battle against the Empire, Luke must choose between his feelings for Vader and his duty to the Rebel Alliance. With thrilling action sequences and a moving story, The Empire Strikes Back is considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Cinema Paradiso
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Giuseppe Tornatore, starring Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili, Isa Danieli
Rated R

Cinema Paradiso is an Italian drama film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Set in the fictional village of Giancaldo, Sicily, the film tells the story of Salvatore, a successful film director, who returns home for the first time in 30 years to attend the funeral of Alfredo, his old friend and mentor. Through a series of flashbacks, Salvatore recalls his childhood growing up in the village and his relationship with Alfredo, the projectionist at the local cinema, "Cinema Paradiso." Salvatore remembers how Alfredo took him under his wing and taught him the secrets of filmmaking, such as editing, the use of close-ups, and the power of music in movies. Despite his young age, Salvatore quickly develops a love for films and growing up, he and Alfredo become close friends. When Salvatore leaves the village to pursue his dream of becoming a film director, Alfredo continues to watch over him, sending him tapes of films that Alfredo had cut together himself. At Alfredo's funeral, Salvatore discovers that Alfredo had been secretly preserving Cinema Paradiso to the day of his death. He then decides to rebuild

Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Robert Zemeckis, starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover
Rated PG

Back to the Future is a 1985 American science-fiction adventure comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It stars Michael J. Fox as teenager Marty McFly, who accidentally travels back in time to 1955, where he meets his future parents and becomes his mother's romantic interest. In order to return to 1985, Marty must find a way to return to his present while also ensuring that his future parents fall in love. With the help of eccentric scientist Doc Brown, Marty must find a way to get back to the future and save the world. The film also features Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, Lea Thompson as Marty's mother, Crispin Glover as his father, and Thomas F. Wilson as Biff Tannen, the bully. The film was a huge success and spawned two sequels, animated television shows, and a theme park ride.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies
Rated PG

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is an action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1981. Indiana Jones, a professor of archaeology and an adventurer, is hired by the U.S. Government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can get their hands on it. He must battle his way through booby traps and ancient mysteries while being pursued by the Nazis and a dangerous adversary. Along the way he teams up with Marion Ravenwood, an old flame, and together they race to find the ancient relic before it is too late. The film is an exciting and thrilling ride, filled with spectacular action sequences, witty dialogue, and humorous moments.

Amadeus (1984)

Amadeus
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Milos Forman, starring F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice
Rated R

Amadeus is a biographical drama film directed by Milos Forman which tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the greatest and most popular composers of all time. The film follows the professional rivalry between Mozart and court composer Antonio Salieri. Salieri is a devout Catholic and believes that God has chosen him to be a great composer. He becomes increasingly jealous of Mozart's seemingly effortless genius and envies his success. The film follows the two throughout their lives as they struggle to understand each other and the world of art and music they inhabit. In the end, Salieri is forced to accept Mozart's greatness and acknowledge his own shortcomings. The film is an exploration of the themes of envy, genius, and the power of art.

The Shining (1980)

The Shining
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers
Rated R

The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. The film follows Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, as he takes a job as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, a secluded mountain resort. As the winter progresses, Jack slowly becomes unhinged and begins to experience supernatural phenomena, including visions of the hotel's past guests and the ghostly inhabitants of the hotel. As his mental state continues to deteriorate, his son Danny is tormented by a mysterious force known as "The Shining". Jack's wife, Wendy, is forced to protect Danny and herself from her husband's increasingly erratic behaviour, as the winter snowstorm traps them within the haunted hotel and Jack descends further into madness. Ultimately, Wendy and Danny must fight for their lives as Jack attempts to murder them in his murderous rage.

The Boat (1981)

The Boat
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Wolfgang Petersen, starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Hubertus Bengsch
Rated R

The Boat (1981) is an epic adventure drama directed by Wolfgang Petersen and starring Jürgen Prochnow and Herbert Grönemeyer. Set in the years immediately prior to World War II, the film follows the story of a German family, the Sturm's, who decide to purchase a boat in order to escape the turmoil of Germany. As the family sets out on their voyage to a place of safety, the boat comes across many obstacles and dangers, testing the resolve and strength of the family. As the boat sails from port to port, the family's faith is tested and their relationships are strengthened as they confront their fears of the unknown. In the end, the family finds solace and safety in each other, and the boat serves as a symbol of their courage and unity in the face of danger.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Once Upon a Time in America
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Sergio Leone, starring Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams
Rated R

Once Upon a Time in America is a 1984 epic crime film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, and Joe Pesci. The narrative follows the life of Noodles, a Jewish gangster in New York City from his childhood in the early 1900s to the day of his release from prison in 1968. The film tells the story of the rise and fall of a group of childhood friends and their struggles against organized crime in the Jewish ghetto of Little Italy. Through several decades, the characters' lives intertwine, allowing the audience to witness their friends' successes, defeats, betrayals, and loyalty. As time passes and the lives of the characters changes, their relationships with each other become increasingly complex. The film is a classic example of Leone’s visual style which combines a sweeping view of the characters’ lives with a highly stylized, dream-like atmosphere. It is a poignant ode to a lost era, and an exploration of the power of friendship and loyalty despite the obstacles of crime and violence.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Full Metal Jacket
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Baldwin
Rated R

Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, starring Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Adam Baldwin. The film follows a group of U.S. Marines from basic training to their deployment in the Vietnam War. The film focuses on the psychological effects of the war on the soldiers, exploring themes such as the duality of human nature, the effects of violence and dehumanization, and the differences between the idealized perception of war and the actual reality of combat. At basic training, a harsh drill sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, must prepare the young recruits for combat. He pushes them to the brink of their physical and mental limits, creating a strong bond between them. During the deployment in Vietnam, the Marines experience the chaos, terror, and brutality of war. The film culminates in an intense battle with the enemy, where the soldiers must confront the harsh realities of war and the cost of their ambition.

Scarface (1983)

Scarface
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Brian De Palma, starring Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Rated R

Scarface is a 1983 American crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone. It is a remake of the 1932 film of the same name, and stars Al Pacino as Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee-turned-gangster. Montana rises to the top of Miami's criminal underworld, but his activities eventually attract the attention of the government and the police. Along the way, Montana must contend with his rise to power, his fierce rivalry with a powerful drug lord, and his own drug addiction. The film follows Montana's journey as he struggles to maintain his power and wealth, and ultimately, to survive.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Richard Marquand, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams
Rated PG

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is the sixth and final installment of the original Star Wars trilogy. The film follows the heroes of the Rebel Alliance, who have won a major victory against the Empire at the Battle of Endor. However, their victory was short-lived as the Empire has constructed a new, more powerful Death Star and is looking to crush the Rebellion once and for all. The heroes must join together to find a way to destroy the new Death Star, while also facing off against the villainous Darth Vader and the Emperor. Along the way, the heroes must confront their own inner conflicts as well as their fears in order to save the galaxy.

Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent
Rated R

Raging Bull is a 1980 American biographical sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, an Italian-American middleweight boxer whose self-destructive behavior, sexual jealousy, and animalistic boxing style earned him the nickname “Raging Bull”. It tells the story of LaMotta's turbulent life and his relationship with his brother and manager, Joey, and his wife, Vickie. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, with De Niro winning the award for Best Actor and Scorsese winning the award for Best Director. The film is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time and is often cited as one of the greatest boxing films.

Ran (1985)

Ran
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Akira Kurosawa, starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryû
Rated R

Ran is a 1985 Japanese-French epic drama film directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa and inspired by William Shakespeare's King Lear. It tells the story of an elderly warlord who decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three sons, but their lack of honor and respect for him leads to tragedy. Along with their chaotic struggle for power, the film also focuses on the themes of loyalty, honor, and betrayal, as well as the destructive nature of ambition. The film is renowned for its stunning visuals, Academy Award-winning score, and is considered one of Kurosawa's greatest masterpieces.

The Elephant Man (1980)

The Elephant Man
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From David Lynch, starring Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud
Rated PG

The Elephant Man is a 1980 drama about the life of John Merrick, a severely disfigured man who is rescued from a London freak show and brought to the prestigious Whitechapel hospital for medical care. Despite his deformities, John is a kind-hearted and intelligent man who struggles to find acceptance and understanding from those around him. Through the help of the hospital's sympathetic staff, he is soon accepted into polite society, which ultimately leads to a profound transformation in his life. However, even as his status in society rises, he is haunted by his past and the society that once rejected him. The Elephant Man is a powerful exploration of the resilience of human spirit in the face of extreme adversity.

Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From John McTiernan, starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson
Rated R

Die Hard is an action-packed thriller directed by John McTiernan and released in 1988. The plot follows a New York cop, John McClane (played by Bruce Willis), as he attempts to foil a terrorist plot to steal millions of dollars from a Los Angeles office building. After terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman), take the building hostage, McClane must fight them off one by one. With the help of an LAPD sergeant, Al Powell (played by Reginald VelJohnson), McClane is able to face off against the terrorists and save the building, and the day.

Platoon (1986)

Platoon
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Oliver Stone, starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David
Rated R

Platoon is a 1986 American war film written and directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, and Charlie Sheen. It is based on Stone's experiences as a U.S. infantryman in Vietnam. The film follows a group of American soldiers in a platoon as they battle the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces in the jungle. It follows Chris Taylor (Sheen) a young, naive recruit who quickly learns the realities of war, and Sergeant Elias (Dafoe) and Sergeant Barnes (Berenger) who battle for the hearts and minds of the platoon. The film is a powerful depiction of the horrors of war and examines the intense mental and physical toll it takes on those who fight it. It also examines the moral complexities of the conflict and how easily the lines between good and evil can become blurred.

Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Ridley Scott, starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos
Rated R

Blade Runner is a 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott. The film is set in a dystopian future in which synthetic humans called replicants have been created to serve as slave labor. When a group of replicants escape from an off-world colony and make their way to Earth, a former police officer named Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is tasked with hunting them down and "retiring" them. Along the way, Deckard discovers a moral dilemma between his duties as a cop and his growing empathy for the replicants. As he searches for the escaped replicants, he is forced to confront his own identity and mortality. The film features an iconic and acclaimed score by Vangelis and is considered a classic of the sci-fi genre.

The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From James Cameron, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield
Rated R

The Terminator is a 1984 science-fiction action film directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular character. In the future, Skynet, a computer system which has become self-aware and is determined to wipe out the human race, sends a cyborg assassin back in time to 1984 to kill a young woman named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son will one day lead the human resistance against Skynet. Despite being chased by the Terminator, Sarah manages to enlist the help of a soldier from the future (Michael Biehn) to protect her from the killing machine. In the end, the Terminator is destroyed, Sarah is saved, and they discover the fate of mankind has been changed.

Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Richard Attenborough, starring Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Rohini Hattangadi, Roshan Seth
Rated PG

Gandhi (1982), directed by Richard Attenborough, tells the story of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the iconic leader of the Indian independence movement. The film follows Gandhi's journey from a young lawyer in South Africa, to his fight for India's independence from British rule. Along the way, Gandhi finds himself embroiled in a struggle between civil disobedience and non-violent protest against the oppressive British Raj. With his tireless efforts and steadfast commitment to non-violence, Gandhi manages to unite a nation and lead his people to freedom. The film features Ben Kingsley as Gandhi and features an impressive cast of British and Indian actors. It earned eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won eight Oscars, including Best Director for Attenborough.

Fanny and Alexander (1982)

Fanny and Alexander
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Ingmar Bergman, starring Bertil Guve, Pernilla Allwin, Kristina Adolphson, Börje Ahlstedt
Rated R

Fanny and Alexander is a 1982 Swedish drama directed by Ingmar Bergman. It follows the life of two siblings, Fanny and Alexander, who live with their loving parents in a small Swedish town during the early 1900s. After the death of their father, their mother remarries a tyrannical church leader who brings strict order and discipline to their home. The children soon find themselves living in a hostile and oppressive environment. Throughout their struggles, they remain connected to each other and share a strong bond of love and loyalty. The film is a poignant and beautiful exploration of family dynamics and growing up.

Stand by Me (1986)

Stand by Me
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Rob Reiner, starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell
Rated R

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming-of-age adventure film directed by Rob Reiner, adapted from the Stephen King novella The Body. It stars Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell as four boys in Oregon who go on a hike to find the body of a missing child. Along the way, they learn about friendship, courage, and how to survive the transition to adulthood. The film also features Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss, and John Cusack in supporting roles. It is a nostalgic look back at the joys and pains of growing up in the 1950s. Stand by Me is widely regarded as a classic coming-of-age film, a timeless and beloved story about friendship, loyalty, and growing up.

The Princess Bride (1987)

The Princess Bride
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Rob Reiner, starring Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon
Rated PG

The Princess Bride is a classic fantasy-adventure-romance film directed by Rob Reiner. It tells the story of a farmhand, Westley, and his beloved, Buttercup, who live in the fictional country of Florin. When Westley leaves to seek his fortune, Buttercup is kidnapped by the evil Prince Humperdinck, prompting Westley to set out on a daring quest to save her. Along the way, Westley encounters a series of colorful characters, including a giant, a six-fingered man, a master swordsman, a vengeful Spaniard, and a very handsome prince. With the help of these unlikely allies, Westley is able to rescue Buttercup and they are reunited in a romantic ending. The movie is filled with humor, adventure, and romance, and has become a beloved classic.

Rain Man (1988)

Rain Man
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Barry Levinson, starring Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Gerald R. Molen
Rated R

Rain Man is a 1988 American road comedy-drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. It tells the story of an abrasive, selfish young wheeler-dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), who discovers that his estranged father has died and bequeathed all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), an autistic savant, of whose existence Charlie was unaware. Charlie is irritated by the fact that he has inherited nothing, while Raymond has received millions. Charlie is determined to gain control of his father’s fortune by taking custody of Raymond, but soon discovers that he is unable to care for him properly. Nevertheless, they travel across the country together, forming an unlikely bond, and ultimately learning to accept each other. Rain Man was a critical and financial success and was the highest-grossing film of 1988. It won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actor for Hoffman. The film has also been embraced by the autism community and continues to be a powerful example of the power of understanding and acceptance.

Wings of Desire (1987)

Wings of Desire
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Wim Wenders, starring Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois
Rated PG-13

Wings of Desire is a 1987 fantasy drama directed by Wim Wenders. The film follows two angelic figures, Damiel and Cassiel, who observe the everyday lives of people in West Berlin as they contemplate whether or not to become human. As Damiel begins to experience human emotions, he falls in love with a trapeze artist named Marion and decides to forgo his immortality and embrace his mortality. With the help of his fellow angel, Cassiel, and a group of inspiring and eccentric characters, Damiel discovers the complexity of human life and the beauty of love.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace
Rated PG

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg. It tells the story of Elliott, a young boy who befriends an alien being, dubbed "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth. Elliott and his friends help E.T. return to his home planet while the United States government tries to capture him. Along the way, Elliott and E.T. develop a strong bond, experiencing moments of both joy and sorrow. Ultimately, Elliott and E.T. are successful in their mission, allowing E.T. to return home and Elliott to part with his beloved friend. The film was a huge success and is considered by many to be a modern classic.

 



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