This is not a list of movies you should watch at some point in your life. This is a list of 80s (and a few early 90s) movies that if you have not seen you should call in sick to work for a few days, plant your ass on the couch and start marathoning immediately. Seriously. Go.
John Hughes: His movies should be top priority. I guarantee there are at least 10 shows or movies you’ve seen that have referenced, ripped off, or paid homage to a scene from a John Hughes movie. Detention? How to skip school? Everyone forgetting your birthday? Perfect boys? Perfect girls? Tabletop kisses? THESE ARE JOHN HUGHES THINGS FIRST.
Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Home Alone, Weird Science…you know what just imdb him and watch all of his works. Just put Breakfast Club and Some Kind of Wonderful at the top.
Die Hard. You know how I said everything references John Hughes at some point? Yeah a lot reference the original Die Hard too.
Spielberg Works: He’s had an influence through so many decades that it can be easy to forget how much epicness Spielberg contributed to the 80s. The Indiana Jones trilogy, E.T., The Blues Brothers, Gremlins (yes, I think everyone has to watch Gremlins), Back to the Future, The Goonies, and since I said I could jump into the early 90s, Hook.
Other must see movies include Raging Bull, Ghostbusters, Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken, The Journey of Natty Gann, The Rocketeer, Blue Velvet, Airplane, The Shining (just maybe don’t watch alone), The Princess Bride, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Scarface, A Christmas Story, This is Spinal Tap (and yes that is it’s full name. I suggest knowing it for trivia nights or you’ll be docked points. Not that I know from experience), Chariots of Fire, Field of Dreams, Driving Miss Daisy, Stand by Me, Caddyshack, Big, City Slickers, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Splash, The Man in the Moon, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Thelma and Louise.
Of those, you should know that The Journey of Natty Gann remains an all time favorite and the one that sparked my eternal love of John Cusack. Also Thelma & Louise is nothing short of epic.
Tell ya what. I’m just go by year from here on out, starting with 1990 and working back to 1980.
1990: Ghost, Pretty Woman (seriously every insert your bad person with a heart of gold character here stems from Pretty Woman), Dances with Wolves (I actually hate this movie because my dad watches it ALL THE TIME but it really is a must see. If you can block out Kevin Costner while watching, more power to you). Cry-Baby, Goodfellas, Memphis Belle (swoon), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
1989: Dead Poets Society. You want to talk about homages/rip offs from movies, this one gets them all the time. Deservedly so. Milo & Otis, Steel Magnolias, When Harry met Sally (run to see this one, hell watch it again if you’ve already seen it), Say Anything (double swoon).
1988: I already mentioned a lot of 1988 movies because it was a damn good year for film. Additions include: Beaches, Working Girl, Oliver and Company (hey some animated movies are epic), and Rain Man.
Heathers is also a 1988 movie but it gets its own section. It’s HEATHERS. I don’t care what you have to do to get your hands on this movie, watch it immediately. The quotable lines are priceless.
1987: Can’t Buy Me Love. Patrick Dempsey’s hair in this one. I can’t even begin. Dirty Dancing (and while it’s a much later film, I actually really liked Dirty Dancing 2 so maybe give that a shot), and that’s about it. What can I say, ’87 wasn’t a great year.
1986: Labyrinth (I love this movie. LOVE.), One Crazy Summer, Space Camp, Little Shop of Horrors, and Top Gun. Look I’m not even a Tom Cruise fan but everyone needs to watch Top Gun.
1985: That whole really good year for movies thing? This is another one. So, so good. Besides ones I mentioned previously you’ve got The Color Purple, LadyHawke (you don’t even understand the fun of this movie. All my love), St. Elmo’s Fire (Brat Pack FTW), and Teen Wolf. Look this Teen Wolf is just awful but it’s like fun awful so just go with it.
1984: Another great year for movies. Even though like with 1985, I don’t have a ton listed because I already did that. Anyway. You’ve got Footloose, The Karate Kid, The Neverending Story, Once Upon a Time in America (don’t even get me started on how much I love this film), Romancing the Stone (seriously. Just stay away from The Jewel of the Nile).
1983: FLASHDANCE. Also Terms of Endearment so long as you have like 3 boxes of tissues nearby. The Outsiders. That one’s not so much for the film accuracy but because it essentially launched the Brat Pack so it’s a must see. Oh and Staying Alive. And I guess if you’re not a Cruise hater, Risky Business.
1982: An Officer and a Gentleman. I DIE. Ugh so perfect. Anyway 1982 was more of a great movie for really awful films but who doesn’t love the chance to live-tweet and mock a film. (The answer is no one. No one hates that.) The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Grease 2 (I don’t even care).
The Man From Snowy River. Yes the theme song is the most memorized piano song on the planet. This does not matter. You want to know why my generation harbors a secret fantasy of moving to Australia and doesn’t even consider the beaches as a reason? THIS MOVIE IS WHY.
1981: Any worth watching have been noted above.
1980: Airplane. Coal Miner’s Daughter. EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (Best Star Wars Film. Don’t even try and disagree). Ordinary People, My Bodyguard (it stars Adam Baldwin and is absolutely adorable).
So what’d I miss?