Best 1981 Movies

by georgecobbold | created - 2 months ago | updated - 1 week ago | Public
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1. Das Boot (1981)

R | 149 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

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: 213,912 | Gross: $11.49M

2. Blow Out (1981)

R | 108 min | Mystery, Thriller

85 Metascore

A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz

Votes: 38,496 | Gross: $13.75M

3. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

G | 83 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama

65 Metascore

Two childhood friends find themselves forced to become enemies.

Directors: Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens | Stars: Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson

Votes: 78,303 | Gross: $63.46M

4. On Golden Pond (1981)

PG | 109 min | Drama

68 Metascore

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: 25,741 | Gross: $119.29M

5. The Aviator's Wife (1981)

PG | 106 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A young student is devastated when he finds that his girlfriend is cheating on him. In order to find out why she did it, he decides to spy on her and her lover.

Director: Éric Rohmer | Stars: Philippe Marlaud, Marie Rivière, Anne-Laure Meury, Mathieu Carrière

Votes: 2,619

6. Time Bandits (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

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: 54,208 | Gross: $42.37M

7. Escape from New York (1981)

R | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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: 114,035 | Gross: $25.24M

8. Chariots of Fire (1981)

PG | 125 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

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: 50,018 | Gross: $58.97M

9. The Woman Next Door (1981)

R | 106 min | Drama, Romance

Two ex-lovers wind up living next door to each other with their respective spouses. Forbidden passions ensue.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Fanny Ardant, Henri Garcin, Michèle Baumgartner

Votes: 6,302

10. The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, History, Music

93 Metascore

The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.

Director: Penelope Spheeris | Stars: Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks

Votes: 3,103

11. Modern Romance (1981)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Romance

Albert Brooks directs himself as a successful film editor with far too many issues that affects the relationship between him and his remarkably patient girlfriend.

Director: Albert Brooks | Stars: Albert Brooks, Kathryn Harrold, Tyann Means, Bruno Kirby

Votes: 2,826 | Gross: $2.86M

12. Ragtime (1981)

PG | 155 min | Drama

57 Metascore

A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: James Cagney, Elizabeth McGovern, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Brad Dourif

Votes: 8,087 | Gross: $21.02M

13. Stripes (1981)

R | 106 min | Comedy, War

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: 59,957 | Gross: $85.30M

14. Arthur (1981)

PG | 97 min | Comedy, Romance

69 Metascore

Arthur spends his time with booze and whores. His dad has a wife lined up for him that he keeps rejecting - until it's her or being cut off from $750,000,000. Then he goes shopping where he falls in love with a shoplifter.

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

Votes: 24,233 | Gross: $95.46M

15. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure

85 Metascore

In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler's Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.

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

Votes: 824,937 | Gross: $248.16M

16. Possession (1981)

R | 124 min | Drama, Horror

72 Metascore

A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.

Director: Andrzej Zulawski | Stars: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent

Votes: 21,005 | Gross: $1.11M

17. The Howling (1981)

R | 91 min | Horror

68 Metascore

After a bizarre and near deadly 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: 28,440 | Gross: $17.99M

18. Vernon, Florida (1981)

Not Rated | 55 min | Documentary, Comedy

A documentary on the eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Albert Bitterling, Roscoe Collins, George Harris, Joe Payne

Votes: 2,811

19. The Evil Dead (1981)

NC-17 | 85 min | Horror

71 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: 172,265 | Gross: $2.40M

20. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror

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: 83,543 | Gross: $30.57M

21. Polyester (1981)

R | 86 min | Comedy

72 Metascore

A suburban housewife's world falls apart when she finds that her pornographer husband is serially unfaithful to her, her daughter is pregnant, and her son is suspected of being the foot-fetishist who's been breaking local women's feet.

Director: John Waters | Stars: Divine, Tab Hunter, Edith Massey, David Samson

Votes: 6,250

22. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

R | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

77 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 156,566 | Gross: $12.47M

23. Scanners (1981)

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

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: 43,762 | Gross: $14.23M

24. Excalibur (1981)

PG | 140 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

56 Metascore

Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the Round Table of Camelot, even as dark forces conspire to tear it apart.

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

Votes: 54,148 | Gross: $34.97M

25. The Beyond (1981)

R | 87 min | Horror

A young woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana where, following a series of supernatural "accidents", she learns that the building was built over one of the entrances to Hell.

Director: Lucio Fulci | Stars: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John

Votes: 18,280 | Gross: $0.12M



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