Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Decades of Cinema - 10 Best of the 1980's

My previous "Decades" lists are as follows: 1920's1930's1940's1950's1960's, and 1970's. Here we are in the decade I was born in, the 1980's. These are my ten favorite films released during those ten years.

10. Blade Runner

On the previous list I included a science fiction masterpiece by Ridley Scott, a little film you may have heard of called Alien. Here we are again with the same director and the same description. Ridley is pretty hit or miss with me over the course of his whole career, but he went back to back with Alien and then Blade Runner. For that I will always love him.

9. Back to the Future

Much of my lists for both the 80's and the 90's will be soaked in nostalgia for me, films that I have wonderful memories of watching on repeat growing up. Back to the Future is one of those. Just thinking about this one fills me with joy.

8. Full Metal Jacket

This, however, is not one of those films I am referring to when I mention nostalgia. I saw Full Metal Jacket once when I was a teenager and I don't recall feeling too much in either direction regarding it. As an adult though, things changed and I fell in love. Stanley Kubrick follows the narrative of the source material the film is adapted from (The Short-Timers, by Gustav Hasford) and separates the movie into two halves, the first being the iconic boot camp sequence and the second being a more traditional horrors of war story. As a whole, it is remarkable.

7. Grave of the Fireflies

Oh, was I just talking about war? Well here we go again with more on the subject, the beautiful yet heartbreaking Grave of the Fireflies. I cried so damn much when I watched it. Seriously. One of the finest by Studio Ghibli, but not the finest. More of their brilliance to come...

6. The Shining

The third decade and fifth film overall on these lists by Stanley Kubrick, and it won't be the last either. The Shining is sublime horror, the kind that would keep a younger me up at night.

5. Aliens

My love for the original Alien flourished the older I got, as adult me found much more appreciation in its nuance than kid me ever could have. Aliens, however, this had childhood Scott written all over it. Ripley kicked my young ass on repeat and I literally had nightmares I can still remember today, vivid and intense dreams involving xenomorphs crawling into my room.

4. My Neighbor Totoro

I promised more Ghibli above and I have delivered! My Neighbor Totoro...animation doesn't get much more gorgeous, touching and imaginative than this. A masterpiece that demands to be seen, regardless of your age.

3. Cinema Paradiso

I recently posted my review of the treasure Cinema Paradiso, one of the truly great love letters to cinema the medium has ever produced. This one doesn't just have a beating heart, it is bursting with passion and emotion. If you watch this and don't have a smile on your face during much of the running time, color me surprised.

2. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

A best of 1980's list was never not going to have a Star Wars flavor to it. The holy trilogy pretty much defined my 80's, 90's, hell I still can't quench my thirst for them to this day. So yeah, I bet you can guess how the list will end...

1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Up until a year or two ago, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back wouldn't merely have been my favorite film from the 1980's, it was my favorite movie period. Now it sits at #2, with my favorite still to come in a future list. The Empire Strikes Back has quite possibly the greatest pacing of any film I have ever seen. Despite it happening during roughly my 100th viewing just a year or so ago, it occurred to me for the first time that somehow, almost impossibly a picture so packed to the brim with iconic scenes, famous quotes and recognizable imagery is only right around two hours in length yet it also never feels even slightly rushed. It just happens, and it does so with perfection. 

Next up will be the 1990's, a decade in which I went from being a 6 year old watching films way too mature for me to a 15 year old who finally started to understand what they meant. One of the movies on that list is represented with the picture above.

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