Arts & Culture

30 of the Best Movies From the 1980s

From teen movies to tear-jerkers, these films changed pop-culture forever.
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The 1980s was a glorious decade for Hollywood with major strides made in film throughout many genres. From the rise of teenage coming-of-age films (thank you John Hughes) to the generation's comedic stars like Eddie Murphy– the eighties cemented certain characters and stars in pop-culture forever. We've rounded up the classics, everything from thrillers and comedies to action flicks and rom-coms, so you can relive the 80's anytime you want.

THE UNTOUCHABLES


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Widely considered one of the greatest mafia movies of all time, The Untouchables follows the battle between the infamous Chicago bootlegger, Al Capone, and a Prohibition agent, Eliot Ness. Robert De Niro, Kevin Costner, and Sean Connery deliver brilliant performances that compete for your attention with the film's non-stop action. 

BABY BOOM


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Diane Keaton plays J.C., a career woman and chic New York sophisticate whose life is thrown into chaos when she is made guardian of a distant relative's baby. Follow along as she re-routes her life and attempts to create a new normal for her work-life balance.

STEEL MAGNOLIAS


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Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, and Daryl Hannah (need we say more?) join forces in a story about small-town gals who are navigating the precarious ups and downs of life, love, grief and the passage of time. Be sure to grab your tissues, it's sure to be a tearjerker.

FRIDAY THE 13TH


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When a group of young camp counselors travel to a secluded lake to re-open a summer camp, they are met with an unknown murderer who begins killing them off one by one.

DEAD POETS SOCIETY


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Set in the high-stakes, high society environment of an upper echelon prep school in the 1950's, The Dead Poets Society tells the story of an unorthodox teacher played by Robin Williams, whose teaching ideology clashes with traditions of the educational institution at which he is employed. His methods ruffle some feathers and reshapes the lives of his students forever.

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More: The Most Classic Fall Films Ever

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY


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The age old question of whether or not women and men can just be friends is dissected in Rob Reiner's romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally. The film follows the amusing duo, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, as they search for love in New York City—a true classic. Come for the banter, stay for the great outfit inspiration.

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CADDYSHACK


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Comedians Chevy Chase and Bill Murray cause all sorts of hilarious hijinks that ensue on an exclusive country club's golf course.

More: 25 Summer Movies We Can't Stop Watching

PRETTY IN PINK


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'80s darling, Molly Ringwald, stars in Pretty in Pink as a teenage girl who suddenly gains the attention of a popular boy at school. She must choose between her former self and the popular crowd—even if the cost is losing her best friend.

THE RAGING BULL


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Robert De Niro won his second Academy Award for his role in Raging Bull, the story of champion boxer Jake LaMotta and his violent tendencies, in an out of the ring.

MYSTIC PIZZA


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Three best friends who work in a pizza shop together embark on three very different romances in the romantic comedy that is set in the picturesque seaside town of Mystic, Connecticut.

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WORKING GIRL


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Working Girl embodies the 1980's career-woman trope with the story of a young woman living and working in Manhattan. Tess (Melanie Griffith) works as a secretary who desperately wants to move up the corporate ladder, so when an opportunity arises she jumps on it—regardless of the consequences she might face.

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RISKY BUSINESS


Tom Cruise provided the archetype for rebellious teenagers when he starred in Risky Business a film about a teen boy who gets into all kinds of trouble when his parents go out of town for the weekend.

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ST. ELMO'S FIRE


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A group of friends enter post-college life in New York City, but as their different goals, personalities, and priorities are made more obvious their friendships will be tested.

THE KARATE KID


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When an awkward teenager moves to a new school he becomes the target of a gang of bullies. That is until he meets Mr. Myagi who teaches him to stand up for himself, through karate and with confidence.

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THE OUTSIDERS


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The Outsiders called on the 'brat pack' (the moniker for a group of young actors who dominated the decade) for it's 1983 film about two street gangs from different backgrounds who after a clash are planning a disastrous rumble.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB


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What happens when you bring together five teenagers from very different high school cliques? In the Breakfast Club it creates a very honest and real depiction of teenage pressures, adversities, and stereotypes as each character finds out that there is more than meets the eye to a jock, beauty, brain, rebel, and recluse.

THE SHINING


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Based on Stephen King's thrilling novel of the same name, The Shining has been dubbed a classic, of the horror genre. Jack Nicholson plays a father who increasingly becomes more enraged and violent as he and his family stay at a winter hotel.

SIXTEEN CANDLES


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For Samantha (Molly Ringwald) sixteen isn't so sweet– her family has forgotten her birthday, her crush doesn't know she exists, and she's being pursued by the dorkiest boy in her class. From her story comes a touching film about all of the embarrassing and dreadful moments that can happen when you're having a really terrible day in high school.

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT


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The winner of five Academy-Awards, Terms of Endearment portrays the complex mother-daughter relationship of Aurora (Shirley McClaine) and Emma (Debra Winger) over the span of many years. As both Aurora and Emma go on to lead different lives their unbreakable bond is clear and will bring them together no matter how far apart they are.

COMING TO AMERICA


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Eddie Murphy was the king of comedy in the 1980's with multiple box office hits like Beverly Hills Cop and Trading Places. But his 1988 film Coming to America, in which he played an African prince who visits New York City to find the love of his life instead of agreeing to an arranged marriage, may be his most famous.

POLTERGEIST


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When the thriller Poltergeist was released in 1982 audiences were terrified as they watched a host of demonic ghosts terrorize a family home.

BUY NOW Poltergeist Blue-ray, $12.55

TOP GUN


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When dare-devil pilot 'Maverick' enters an intense training program at the Navy's Fighter school he realizes the the fierce competition for the top spot.

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FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF


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Ferris Bueller made high schoolers across America rejoice as he continuously escaped his school principal in his quest to take a day off of school.

BACK TO THE FUTURE


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Marty McFly was an average teenager until his scientist friend Doc Brown invents a time-traveling DeLorean and the two are sent on an adventure into the past.

BUY NOW Back to the Future Trilogy Box Set, $17.96

SAY ANYTHING


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Not only is Diane out of Lloyd's (John Cusack) league, but she is leaving for college in England at the end of the summer. After a sweet summer romance the two must reconcile their feelings for one another with the future's they see for themselves.

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E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL


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Steven Spielberg's E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial is the ultimate tale of friendship after a young boy discovers an alien stranded on Earth and must risk everything to bring him to safety.

OUT OF AFRICA


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In Meryl Streep's Oscar-winning performance, Out of Africa depicts the challenges facing a wealthy Danish woman as she tries to build a life for herself in 20th century Africa—in the midst of a potential and alluring love affair.

GHOSTBUSTERS


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Three former professors who've invented ghost-catching tools form a band of unlikely paranormal crime fighters in NYC. A true romp and a comedy classic.

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THE COLOR PURPLE


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Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning novel of the same name, The Color Purple tells the heart-wrenching tale of a Celie, a poor southern woman during the 1900's who struggles to find her voice amidst years of abuse.

BUY NOW The Color Purple by Alice Walker, $10.50

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DIRTY DANCING


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While vacationing in the Catskills a privileged girl becomes involved with the resort's dance instructor in the romantic story you will have the time of your life watching.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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