The 25 Greatest ’80s Movies

25. Desperately Seeking Susan

25. <i>Desperately Seeking Susan</i>

25. Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) Madonna in good movie shocker!

24. The Goonies

24. The Goonies (1985) Goonies Never Say Die! It’s been over 25 years since Mikey, Chunk, Data and co’s adventures with “One-Eyed” Willy (stop laughing at the back!) and the love for the gang keeps on growing. Altogether now, “Hey You Guys!”

23. St Elmo’s Fire

23. <i>St Elmo’s Fire</i>

23. St Elmo’s Fire (1985) Alongside The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire defined the Brat Pack, even if it’s principle characters Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy hated the label.


22. Top Gun

22. Top Gun (1986) There’s no doubting the homoerotic subtext of the tale of fighter pilots and their pissing contests but since when is homo-eroticism a bad thing? “You can be my wingman anytime!”, “Bullshit, you can be mine!”

21. The Karate Kid

21. <i>The Karate Kid</i>

21. The Karate Kid (1984) Rocky for kids. Or at least it would be Rocky for kids if lead actor Ralph Macchio wasn’t 22 at the time. 22!!! That’s right folks, Daniel-San was a grown adult beating up children. Hang your head in shame Miyagi!

20. The Lost Boys

20. The Lost Boys (1987) Years before Twilight sucked the fun out of being un-dead, The Lost Boys were showing how vampirism was the best excuse for teenagers to party all night and sleep all day. If only we could arrange Edward Cullen to be in a room with the late Corey Haim and a stereo.

19. Caddyshack

19. <i>Caddyshack</i>

19. Caddyshack (1980) Dear Prince William, please invite Rodney Dangerfield to the Royal Wedding to shout “Hey Everybody, We’re All Gonna Get Laid!” at the end of the ceremony. Sadly, Rodney is no longer with us but we at NME are sure Harry could replicate the ending of this 80’s comedy classic with equal aplomb.


18. Withnail And I

18. Withnail And I (1987) The only British film to make the list (what no Long Good Friday, Gregory’s Girl or A Fish Called Wanda?) the tale of two out of work actors who go on holiday by mistake is both endlessly quotable, hysterically funny and finally, in the Shakespeare infused denouement, deeply poignant.

17. The King Of Comedy

17. <i>The King Of Comedy</i>

17. The King Of Comedy (1982) From the late 70’s to the early 90’s, and right through the 80’s, Scorsese and De Niro were at the top of their game. For proof of Rupert Pupkin’s legacy, you need look no further than David Brent et al. Cringe Comedy at its most brilliantly uncomfortable.

16. Aliens

16. Aliens (1986) How do you make a scarier film than Alien? The answer is you don’t even try. The true genius of James Cameron’s sequel is the choice to swap genre from Sci-Fi/Horror to Sci-Fi/Action, without this simple but brilliant change it would have been “Game Over Man”, right from the start.

15. Ghostbusters

15. Ghostbusters (1984) A truer statement could not have been made by @hoverbird on Twitter, “Everybody thinks The Social Network is the best movie about forming a start-up company, they are wrong. The best movie is Ghostbusters.”


14. Pretty In Pink

14. <i>Pretty In Pink</i>

14. Pretty In Pink (1984) The late, great John Hughes is the undisputed King of the 80’s and Pretty In Pink shows why. That indelible combination of comedy, romance, music and the kind of cheese only a true cynic can’t embrace.

13. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

13. <i>Ferris Bueller’s Day Off</i>

13. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Told you so. It’s Hughes again, with the greatest 24 hours of ‘playing hookie’ ever committed to celluloid. Who hasn’t dreamed of miming ‘Twist And Shout’ in the middle of a parade? Save Ferris indeed.

12. Stand By Me

12. <i>Stand By Me</i>

12. Stand By Me (1986) Further proof that Stephen King is about more than just horror. Despite being as American as apple pie, the coming of age story still resonates to any corner of the globe. We’re still mourning the loss of the young River Phoenix.

11. Raiders Of The Lost Ark

11. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) Spielberg, Lucas, Ford. The absolute holy trinity of entertainers. Throw in Nazis, supernatural shenanigans and snakes and the result is the perfect cocktail of action and adventure.

10. Batman

10. Batman (1989) Before Christopher Nolan took the caped crusader into the real world, Tim Burton arguably had the tougher job of reinventing Batman from the camp 60’s Adam West version. By doing so he paved the way for every summer since to be infested with capes and masks.

9. The Man With Two Brains

9. <i>The Man With Two Brains</i>

9. The Man With Two Brains (1983) Some believe that Steve Martin was funny once. Everybody else knows he still is. There’s no doubt that his heyday was deep in the heart of the 80’s from Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid through to Roxanne, and as Doctor Michael Hfuhruhurr, Martin was above his best.

8. The Empire Strikes Back

8. The Empire Strikes Back (1980) When Irvin Kershner passed away earlier this year, the greatest compliment to his career was to simply state, “I love The Empire Strikes Back“. Looking down on us we can only hope his response was a simple, “I know”.

7. Back To The Future

7. Back To The Future (1985) ‘The Power Of Love’, “save the clock tower”, “Great Scott!”, “It’s the Libyans!”, 88mph, “This is Heavy!”, The Enchantment Under The Sea Dance, “1.21 Gigawatts”, Earth Angel, “I’m your density” and most importantly, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”. A true classic in every possible way.

6. The Terminator

6. The Terminator (1984) Watching it now, James Cameron’s ultimate killing machine oozes 80’s out of every cyborg pore (just check out the club Tech Noir) but it still hasn’t aged a day in terms of ground breaking effects and tension. Go with it, if you want a textbook definition of rollercoaster thrills.

5. Heathers

5. <i>Heathers</i>

5. Heathers (1988) The perfect antidote to the fun, cheesy Hughes High School of ‘hugging and learning’ was this darkest of dark comedies as jet black as Winona’s hair. And with, “Well fuck me gently with a chainsaw” it also contains the single best line of the 80’s. Visit NME.COM/movies for daily film news.

4. This Is Spinal Tap

4. <i>This Is Spinal Tap</i>

4. This Is Spinal Tap (1984). ‘Does for rock and roll what The Sound Of Music did for hills’. Even the tagline for Spinal Tap contains more humour than most current comedies. If you’ve ever driven to Glastonbury Festival and not shouted “No! We’re not gonna fucking do Stonehenge!” out of the car window, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

3. Raging Bull

3. <i>Raging Bull</i>

3. Raging Bull (1980) The second 80’s De Niro/Scorsese combo to make the list (they only made two) asked all the questions Rocky failed to. “How much of a beating can one man take?”, “How do you cook a good steak”, and most pressingly, “Did you fuck my wife?”.

2. Blade Runner

2. Blade Runner (1982) Original, director’s, definitive or final cut – whichever version of Ridley Scott’s science fiction classic you lay your hands onn you’re sure of an incredible movie experience. Just don’t ask Ridley or Harrison to debate if Deckard’s a replicant. You’re likely to reach your expiration date before they reach a consensus.

1. The Breakfast Club

1. The Breakfast Club (1985) Forgetting about John Hughes’ hugely influential teen angst life lesson isn’t an option. The tale of ‘the brain, the beauty, the jock, the rebel and the recluse’ sums up everything wonderfully cinematic about being young and on-screen. Rest in peace, Mr Hughes. Words: Owen Nicholls