Greatest Films of the 1980s
Greatest Films of the 1980s


Greatest Films of the 1980s
1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989

1984

Amadeus (1984), 158 minutes, D: Milos Forman
Milos Forman's stunning, opulent, Best Picture-winning biography (not always 100% accurate, however) of musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, based on the Broadway play by Peter Shaffer (whose screenplay adaptation won him an Oscar), is perhaps his grandest production - equaling his earlier Best Picture winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and only challenged by The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). The film focuses on the character of the official royal composer Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) (F. Murray Abraham in an Oscar-winning performance) for Austrian Emperor Joseph II (Jeffrey Jones), and the story of his envious loathing, yet reverential relationship to the great prodigy Mozart (Tom Hulce), who is simultaneously spoiled, vulgar and talented. Told in flashback, the mediocre Salieri is slowly driven insane as he recognizes Mozart's incredible musical genius, but is tormented and consumed with insecurity and jealousy. The film was well-received by both critics and audiences alike with its lavish set and period costume design (filmed on location in Prague), its accessibility and nonpretentiousness, and its sly intelligence and musings over the capricious nature of "God-given" talent.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984), 105 minutes, D: Martin Brest
See Beverly Hills Cop series.

Blood Simple (1984), 97 minutes, D: Joel Coen
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The Bounty (1984), 130 minutes, D: Roger Donaldson
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Ghostbusters (1984), 107 minutes, D: Ivan Reitman
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The Killing Fields (1984, UK), 141 minutes, D: Roland Joffe
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The Natural (1984), 134 minutes, D: Barry Levinson
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A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), 91 minutes, D: Wes Craven
See series of Nightmare on Elm Street films.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984, It./US), 227 minutes, D: Sergio Leone
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Paris, Texas (1984, UK/Fr./W. Germ.), 147 minutes, D: Wim Wenders
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A Passage to India (1984, UK), 163 minutes, D: David Lean
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Places in the Heart (1984), 112 minutes, D: Robert Benton
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Romancing the Stone (1984), 105 minutes, D: Robert Zemeckis
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Stranger Than Paradise (1984, US/W. Germ.), 89 minutes, D: Jim Jarmusch
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The Terminator (1984), 108 minutes, D: James Cameron
A stylish, action-packed, low budget, beautifully-paced science-fiction film. Kyle Reece (Michael Biehn), a hunted, fugitive, freedom-fighting soldier-hero from the post-apocalyptic, wasteland future of 2029 Los Angeles, where a race of machine-like cyborgs rule the Earth and exterminate human beings, volunteers to return to present-day 1984 Los Angeles. In pursuit through time travel is an invulnerable, ruthless, assassin-terminator cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger), sent to kill the innocent young woman Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) destined to bear a son - John Connor - who will eventually become a liberator and lead the revolt against the evil machines to prevent the world from being annihilated. Rebel soldier Kyle's mission is to protect her, explain her destiny and the reason for the Terminator's stalking - as he falls in love with her. See Terminator series.

This Is Spinal Tap (1984), 82 minutes, D: Rob Reiner
One of the funniest, improvisational parodies and satirical mockumentaries ever made, a typical concert film about the ill-fated, 1982 Tap Across America tour by Spinal Tap - one of Europe's loudest bands, in their first US tour in six years. Fictional director Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner, the film's actual director with his debut film) follows the members of the second-rate, fictitious heavy metal band as they promote their new LP album Smell the Glove: blonde lead singer David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), the cucumber-wearing bass player Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) - who seems to long for St. Hubbins, Viv Savage (David Kaff) - a strange troll-like keyboardist, and their shifty-eyed, cricket stick-wielding manager Ian Faith (Tony Hendra). There's also an endless string of mortal drummers (one is remembered as having choked to death on someone else's vomit, while another spontaneously combusted). The group has numerous tour misadventures: they can't find the amphitheatre stage for a performance in Cleveland, are stopped at security for wearing "artificial limbs," experience show cancellations, non-existent hotel accommodations, mechanical failures, second billing to a puppet show, an 18" Stonehenge props debacle, failed promotional appearances, and David's Yoko Ono-like girlfriend Jeanine Pettibone (June Chadwick) attempts to break up the band. The film's most famous scene is of Tufnel trying to explain how the band's Marshall amplifier is special: "These go to 11." The film features non-stop hilarity, mixing both obvious gags and lampooning in-jokes, as well as many brief star cameos, like Billy Crystal as angry head waiter Morty the Mime, Fran Drescher as tough record company publicist Bobbi Flekman ("Money talks, and bulls--t walks!"), Bruno Kirby as a limo driver, and Patrick MacNee as the vacuous Sir Denis Eton-Hogg, head of Polymer Records and Hoggwood, a camp for pale young boys.


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