Favoritest Movies of 1981

by Tincage | created - 09 Jan 2012 | updated - 31 Jan 2012 | Public

I'm making (I hope...) the most comprehensive favorite movie list ever!!! (No sense in being arbitrary with such a commonly asked question!) So I'm ranking every movie I've ever seen using Paired Comparison Analysis. First, year by year. Then, the top 80th percentile from each year advance to the decade round, and from there the all time round. I'll admit that a number of movies a much younger me saw long ago may be appreciated more or differently now, but in their cases, I only have my reactions at the time to draw upon.

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1. Heavy Metal (1981)

R | 86 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A glowing green orb - which embodies ultimate evil - terrorizes a young girl with an anthology of bizarre and fantastic stories of dark fantasy, eroticism and horror.

Directors: Gerald Potterton, John Bruno, John Halas, Julian Harris, Jimmy T. Murakami, Barrie Nelson, Paul Sabella, Jack Stokes, Pino Van Lamsweerde, Harold Whitaker | Stars: Richard Romanus, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Don Francks

Votes: 25,938

I know, I know... complete injustice, I put Heavy Metal over Raiders. Obviously I love Raiders, It's at #2 for this year. I go into 'why' a little bit more on my blog; Tincage Lining.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
85 Metascore

Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies

Votes: 731,989 | Gross: $248.16M

3. The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

G | 97 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Kermit, Gonzo and Fozzie are reporters who travel to Britain to interview a rich victim of jewel thieves and help her along with her secretary, Miss Piggy.

Director: Jim Henson | Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson

Votes: 11,013 | Gross: $31.21M

4. Clash of the Titans (1981)

PG | 118 min | Action, Adventure, Family

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Perseus must battle both Medusa and the Kraken to save the Princess Andromeda.

Director: Desmond Davis | Stars: Laurence Olivier, Harry Hamlin, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith

Votes: 35,351 | Gross: $41.09M

5. History of the World: Part I (1981)

R | 92 min | Comedy, History

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Mel Brooks brings his one-of-a-kind comic touch to the history of mankind covering events from the Old Testament to the French Revolution in a series of episodic comedy vignettes.

Director: Mel Brooks | Stars: Mel Brooks, Gregory Hines, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn

Votes: 39,748 | Gross: $31.67M

6. Escape from New York (1981)

R | 99 min | Action, Sci-Fi

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
76 Metascore

In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence

Votes: 101,764 | Gross: $25.24M

7. Time Bandits (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
79 Metascore

A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese, Katherine Helmond

Votes: 49,489 | Gross: $42.37M

8. Excalibur (1981)

PG | 140 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
56 Metascore

Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the round table of Camelot even as forces conspire to tear it apart

Director: John Boorman | Stars: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi

Votes: 50,025 | Gross: $34.97M

9. Outland (1981)

R | 112 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Sean Connery, Frances Sternhagen, Peter Boyle, James Sikking

Votes: 23,308 | Gross: $17.37M

10. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

PG | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
54 Metascore

Agent 007 is assigned to hunt for a lost British encryption device and prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

Director: John Glen | Stars: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson

Votes: 77,873 | Gross: $62.30M

11. Stripes (1981)

R | 106 min | Comedy, War

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
68 Metascore

Two friends who are dissatisfied with their jobs decide to join the army for a bit of fun.

Director: Ivan Reitman | Stars: Bill Murray, John Candy, Harold Ramis, Warren Oates

Votes: 53,356 | Gross: $85.30M

12. Condorman (1981)

PG | 90 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

5.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Cartoonist Woody becomes the superhero he draws. Using his gadgets he helps a Soviet spy defect to the West.

Director: Charles Jarrott | Stars: Michael Crawford, Oliver Reed, Barbara Carrera, James Hampton

Votes: 3,828

13. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
60 Metascore

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Director: John Landis | Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Joe Belcher, Griffin Dunne

Votes: 74,304 | Gross: $30.57M

14. Das Boot (1981)

R | 149 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
86 Metascore

The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth, and sheer terror.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Hubertus Bengsch

Votes: 186,918 | Gross: $11.49M

15. The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)

PG | 98 min | Action, Adventure, Western

5.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

The sole surviving Texas Ranger of an ambush arranged by Butch Cavandish returns to fight back as a masked hero.

Director: William A. Fraker | Stars: Klinton Spilsbury, Michael Horse, Christopher Lloyd, Matt Clark

Votes: 1,507 | Gross: $12.62M

I haven't seen this since I was a kid. Younger than that, the Lone Ranger TV show was how my day started. Seeing this, at age 7 or 8 was, and haven't gotten to see it again.

16. Dragonslayer (1981)

PG | 109 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

6.7
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A young wizarding apprentice is sent to kill a dragon which has been devouring girls from a nearby kingdom.

Director: Matthew Robbins | Stars: Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, Ralph Richardson, John Hallam

Votes: 11,927 | Gross: $14.11M

Dear any movie with a dragon, Dragonslayer is over 30 years old, why aren't more dragons in movies designed like these? We've suffered way to many ugly dragons.

17. The Final Conflict (1981)

R | 108 min | Horror

5.6
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The now adult Antichrist plots to eliminate his future divine opponent while a cabal of monks plot to stop him.

Director: Graham Baker | Stars: Sam Neill, Rossano Brazzi, Don Gordon, Lisa Harrow

Votes: 15,330 | Gross: $20.47M

18. The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981)

G | 79 min | Animation, Comedy, Crime

7.1
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Bugs Bunny hosts an award show featuring several classic Looney Toon shorts.

Director: Friz Freleng | Stars: Mel Blanc, Stan Freberg, June Foray, Ralph James

Votes: 1,721

19. Scanners (1981)

R | 103 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
60 Metascore

A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane

Votes: 39,292 | Gross: $14.23M

20. The Road Warrior (1981)

R | 94 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

7.6
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76 Metascore

In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.

Director: George Miller | Stars: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps

Votes: 145,024 | Gross: $12.47M

Must revisit in high def. Did so with Mad Max, and it was (like so many that I've only seen in p&s VHS) like I saw it for the first time.

21. Quest for Fire (1981)

R | 100 min | Adventure, Drama, History

7.4
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This story takes place in prehistoric time when three tribesmen search for a new fire source.

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud | Stars: Everett McGill, Ron Perlman, Nicholas Kadi, Rae Dawn Chong

Votes: 17,736 | Gross: $20.96M

22. Chariots of Fire (1981)

PG | 125 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
78 Metascore

Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew, and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Director: Hugh Hudson | Stars: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers

Votes: 44,757 | Gross: $58.97M

23. Gallipoli (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Drama, History

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
65 Metascore

Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr, Harold Hopkins

Votes: 31,923 | Gross: $5.73M

24. Heartbeeps (1981)

PG | 78 min | Sci-Fi, Comedy

4.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.2/10 X  

Two household robots run away and try to start a family.

Director: Allan Arkush | Stars: Andy Kaufman, Bernadette Peters, Randy Quaid, Kenneth McMillan

Votes: 1,121 | Gross: $2.15M

25. Reds (1981)

PG | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
76 Metascore

A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia, and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

Director: Warren Beatty | Stars: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski

Votes: 17,809 | Gross: $40.38M

26. Tarzan the Ape Man (1981)

R | 107 min | Adventure, Drama

3.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.3/10 X  

While on an African expedition with her father, Jane Parker meets Tarzan, and the two become fascinated by each other.

Director: John Derek | Stars: Bo Derek, Richard Harris, Miles O'Keeffe, John Phillip Law

Votes: 4,478 | Gross: $36.57M

27. The Evil Dead (1981)

NC-17 | 85 min | Horror

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
70 Metascore

Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker

Votes: 156,095 | Gross: $2.40M

28. The Cannonball Run (1981)

PG | 95 min | Action, Comedy, Sport

6.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
28 Metascore

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.

Director: Hal Needham | Stars: Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dom DeLuise

Votes: 27,976 | Gross: $72.18M

29. Arthur (1981)

PG | 97 min | Comedy, Romance

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
69 Metascore

Arthur is a happy drunk with no pretensions at any ambition. He is also the heir to a vast fortune which he is told will only be his if he marries Susan. He does not love Susan, but she ... See full summary »

Director: Steve Gordon | Stars: Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud, Geraldine Fitzgerald

Votes: 22,733 | Gross: $95.46M

30. The Howling (1981)

R | 91 min | Horror

6.6
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    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.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone

Votes: 25,095 | Gross: $17.99M

31. Sharky's Machine (1981)

R | 122 min | Action, Crime, Drama

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
58 Metascore

Tom Sharky is demoted to vice after a bust goes terribly wrong. He and his team stumble across a mob murder tied to prostitution and government.

Director: Burt Reynolds | Stars: Burt Reynolds, Rachel Ward, Vittorio Gassman, Brian Keith

Votes: 4,254 | Gross: $35.61M

32. Body Heat (1981)

R | 113 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
77 Metascore

In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman persuades her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband.

Director: Lawrence Kasdan | Stars: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson

Votes: 25,368 | Gross: $24.06M

33. The Professional (1981)

R | 108 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Victim of a plot which has resulted in his imprisonment in a Central African jail for two years, a French secret agent arrives in Paris to settle accounts.

Director: Georges Lautner | Stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Desailly, Cyrielle Clair, Marie-Christine Descouard

Votes: 10,465

34. On Golden Pond (1981)

PG | 109 min | Drama

7.7
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    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.

Director: Mark Rydell | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Doug McKeon

Votes: 23,284 | Gross: $119.29M

35. American Pop (1981)

R | 96 min | Animation, Drama, Music

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The story of four generations of a Russian Jewish immigrant family of musicians whose careers parallel the history of American popular music in the 20th century.

Director: Ralph Bakshi | Stars: Mews Small, Ron Thompson, Jerry Holland, Lisa Jane Persky

Votes: 3,456 | Gross: $6.00M

36. Tuck Everlasting (1981)

90 min | Drama

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In turn-of-the-20th-century upstate New York, Winnie Foster, a 12-year-old girl, discovers a family living in the woods near her family's home who never ages thanks to a magical spring they... See full summary »

Director: Frederick King Keller | Stars: Margaret Chamberlain, Paul Flessa, Fred A. Keller, James McGuire

Votes: 281

37. The Devil and Max Devlin (1981)

PG | 96 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

5.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

Max, a dead corrupt businessman, makes a Faustian pact with Satan's henchman to drive three people to Hell in exchange for longer life. Soon Max realizes that there still may be good in him.

Director: Steven Hilliard Stern | Stars: Elliott Gould, Bill Cosby, Susan Anspach, Adam Rich

Votes: 987 | Gross: $16.00M

38. Bustin' Loose (1981)

R | 94 min | Comedy, Drama

6.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
55 Metascore

Joe Braxton is an ex-con who has been given a second chance to freedom after violating his probation. He has been hired by a school teacher named Vivian Perry to repair and drive an old ... See full summary »

Directors: Oz Scott, Michael Schultz | Stars: Richard Pryor, Cicely Tyson, Angel Ramirez Jr., Jimmy Hughes

Votes: 2,237 | Gross: $31.26M