My Take: 50 Favorite Movies of 1980-1984

Paring down this list was difficult, to say the least. My first attempt had 140 titles. I managed to whittle that down to 100 and, after a final round of cuts, finished with the 50 movies you see below. Are all of these films masterpieces? Absolutely not, except perhaps to me. A lot of the titles on this list are considered mediocre in certain circles. That's the point. I tried to pick 50 films that bring me happiness, not 50 films that made me look smart, which I am not, you can ask anybody. I have good memories about these 50 movies, and on rainy Saturday afternoons, I can watch these films, again and again, either with friends or by myself. In some cases, my memory of a particular film-going experience is better than the film itself, if you know what I mean. How could I forget the time a half-dozen of my 13 year-old friends and I skipped school to see FLASH GORDON? It was grand time, no matter that the film itself was not. The memory of that experience is what makes FLASH GORDON such a fun movie, all these years later. Why aren't films such as AMADEUS and THE KING OF COMEDY, among others, on this list, you ask? Their absence doesn't mean I don't think they're great films. They are. It just means that I had to follow my emotions rather than my brain when making these choices. If your favorite film from 1980-1984 does not appear on the list, well, pretend that it ranked #51. Lastly, I believe all of the movies on the list are mainstream, American films, and that says something about my upbringing; I don't know what, except I am a child of my times: The 70s and 80s.
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1.
Ordinary People (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son. (124 mins.)
Director: Robert Redford
“ If you're wondering how this film made this list, read "MY TAKE: THE POSITIVE MOVIES." It's fully explained. ” - JCarl01
 
2.
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke. (124 mins.)
Director: Irvin Kershner
 
3.
The Fog (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Legend says that Antonio Bay was built in 1880 with blood money obtained from shipwrecked lepers which no one believes. On the eve of the town's centennial, many plan to attend the celebrations, including the murdered lepers. (89 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
4.
Evil Under the Sun (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Trying to find how a millionaire wound up with a phony diamond brings Hercule Poirot to an exclusive island resort frequented by the rich and famous. When a murder is committed, everyone has an alibi. (117 mins.)
Director: Guy Hamilton
 
5.
Ghost Story (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Two generations of men find themselves haunted by the presence of a spectral woman. When the son of one of the elderly men returns to his hometown after his brother's mysterious death, they attempt to unravel her story. (110 mins.)
Director: John Irvin
 
6.
Superman II (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Superman agrees to sacrifice his powers to start a relationship with Lois Lane, unaware that three Kryptonian criminals he inadvertently released are conquering Earth. (127 mins.)
Director: Richard Lester
 
7.
Private Benjamin (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A sheltered young high society woman joins the United States Army on a whim and finds herself in a more difficult situation than she ever expected. (109 mins.)
Director: Howard Zieff
“ If you're wondering how this film made this list, read "MY TAKE: THE POSITIVE MOVIES." It's fully explained. ” - JCarl01
 
8.
Nine to Five (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Three female employees of a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot find a way to turn the tables on him. (109 mins.)
Director: Colin Higgins
 
9.
Silkwood (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The story of Karen Silkwood, a metallurgy worker at a plutonium processing plant who was purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing blatant worker safety violations at the plant. (131 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
 
10.
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader return from the dark side of the Force. (131 mins.)
 
11.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. (115 mins.)
 
12.
Flash Gordon (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A football player and his friends travel to the planet Mongo and find themselves fighting the tyranny of Ming the Merciless to save Earth. (111 mins.)
Director: Mike Hodges
 
13.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Jake Blues, just out from prison, puts together his old band to save the Catholic home where he and brother Elwood were raised. (133 mins.)
Director: John Landis
 
14.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
With the assistance of the Enterprise crew, Admiral Kirk must stop an old nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, from using the life-generating Genesis Device as the ultimate weapon. (113 mins.)
Director: Nicholas Meyer
 
15.
Poltergeist (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A family's home is haunted by a host of ghosts. (114 mins.)
Director: Tobe Hooper
 
16.
The Changeling (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre. (107 mins.)
Director: Peter Medak
 
17.
Excalibur (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the round table of Camelot even as forces conspire to tear it apart (140 mins.)
Director: John Boorman
 
18.
Dressed to Kill (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A mysterious blonde woman kills one of a psychiatrist's patients, and then goes after the high-class call girl who witnessed the murder. (105 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
 
19.
Seems Like Old Times (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Wrongfully accused of a bank robbery, a writer seeks the help of his ex-wife, who is now married to the soon-to-be D.A. of California. (100 mins.)
Director: Jay Sandrich
 
20.
On Golden Pond (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms. (109 mins.)
Director: Mark Rydell
 
21.
Hopscotch (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Grounded with a desk job by incompetent superiors, a clever CIA agent retires and writes a tell all memoir that will embarrass his bosses, prompting him to go on the run and elude them. (106 mins.)
Director: Ronald Neame
 
22.
The Howling (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem. (91 mins.)
Director: Joe Dante
 
23.
The Cannonball Run (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A wide variety of eccentric competitors participate in a wild and illegal cross-country road race. However, the eccentric entrants will do anything to win the road race, including low-down, dirty tricks. (95 mins.)
Director: Hal Needham
 
24.
Gloria (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
When a young boy's family is killed by the mob, their tough neighbor Gloria becomes his reluctant guardian. In possession of a book that the gangsters want, the pair go on the run in New York. (123 mins.)
Director: John Cassavetes
“ If you're wondering how this film made this list, read "MY TAKE: THE POSITIVE MOVIES." It's fully explained. ” - JCarl01
 
25.
The Thing (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
It's the first week of winter in 1982. An American Research Base is greeted by an alien force, that can assimilate anything it touches. It's up to the members to stay alive, and be sure of who is human, and who has become one of the Things. (109 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
26.
The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  
Fu Manchu's 168th birthday celebration is dampened when a hapless flunky spills Fu's age-regressing elixir vitae... (100 mins.)
Director: Piers Haggard
“ If you're wondering how this film made this list, read "MY TAKE: THE POSITIVE MOVIES." It's fully explained. ” - JCarl01
 
27.
An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A young man must complete his work at a Navy Flight school to become an aviator, with the help of a tough gunnery sergeant and his new girlfriend. (124 mins.)
Director: Taylor Hackford
 
28.
Friday the 13th (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A group of camp counselors is stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which, years before, was the site of a child's drowning. (95 mins.)
 
29.
Looker (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Plastic surgeon Larry Roberts performs a series of minor alterations on a group of models who are seeking perfection... (93 mins.)
 
30.
Psycho II (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
After twenty-two years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates attempts to return to a life of solitude, but the specters of his crimes - and his mother - continue to haunt him. (113 mins.)
 
31.
Victor Victoria (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A struggling female soprano finds work playing a male female impersonator, but it complicates her personal life. (132 mins.)
Director: Blake Edwards
 
32.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
A town's sheriff and regular patron of a historical whorehouse fights to keep it running when a TV preacher targets it as the Devil's playhouse. (114 mins.)
Director: Colin Higgins
 
33.
Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
At the snobby Crawford Academy, Virginia's group of friends start to go missing years after horrible events that happened to her as a child around her birthday. (110 mins.)
Director: J. Lee Thompson
 
34.
The Right Stuff (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program. (193 mins.)
Director: Philip Kaufman
 
35.
Terror in the Aisles (1984 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A compilation of scenes from science fiction, crime drama and horror films of the 1930s through 1980s. (84 mins.)
Director: Andrew J. Kuehn
 
36.
Tootsie (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Michael Dorsey, an unsuccessful actor, disguises himself as a woman in order to get a role on a trashy hospital soap. (116 mins.)
Director: Sydney Pollack
 
37.
Sophie's Choice (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
After spending time with his new neighbors, an aspiring writer realizes they are harboring deep secrets that will forever change him. (150 mins.)
Director: Alan J. Pakula
 
38.
Romancing the Stone (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A romance writer sets off to Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister, and soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous adventure. (106 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
 
39.
Kiss Me Goodbye (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Not until three years after the death of her husband Jolly, Kay dares to move back into their former home... (101 mins.)
Director: Robert Mulligan
 
40.
Cujo (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Cujo, a friendly St. Bernard, contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town. (93 mins.)
Director: Lewis Teague
 
41.
Terms of Endearment (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love and her daughter's family problems. (132 mins.)
Director: James L. Brooks
 
42.
Christine (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it. (110 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
43.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A skirmish in Shanghai puts archaeologist Indiana Jones, his partner Short Round and singer Willie Scott crossing paths with an Indian village desperate to reclaim a rock stolen by a secret cult beneath the catacombs of an ancient palace. (118 mins.)
 
44.
Gremlins (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town. (106 mins.)
Director: Joe Dante
 
45.
Deathtrap (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A Broadway playwright puts murder in his plan to take credit for a student's script. (116 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
 
46.
The World According to Garp (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Based on the John Irving novel, this film chronicles the life of T S Garp, and his mother, Jenny. Whilst Garp sees himself as a "serious" writer... (136 mins.)
Director: George Roy Hill
 
47.
Halloween II (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
While Sheriff Brackett and Dr. Loomis hunt for Michael Myers, a traumatized Laurie is rushed to hospital, and the serial killer is not far behind her. (92 mins.)
Director: Rick Rosenthal
“ If you're wondering how this film made this list, read "MY TAKE: THE POSITIVE MOVIES." It's fully explained. ” - JCarl01
 
48.
When Time Ran Out... (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  
An active volcano threatens a south Pacific island resort and its guests as a power struggle ensues between the property's developer and a drilling foreman. (121 mins.)
Director: James Goldstone
“ If you're wondering how this film made this list, read "MY TAKE: THE POSITIVE MOVIES." It's fully explained. ” - JCarl01
 
49.
Body Heat (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman convinces her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband. (113 mins.)
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
 
50.
The Fan (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
A record salesman is an obsessed fan of an actress of stage and screen (Lauren Bacall). However when his letters are rejected, the fan strikes out at the actresses friends, then at her. (95 mins.)
Director: Edward Bianchi