Prestige Best films of the 80’s year by year


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1) Aliens
2) The Thing
3) Empire Strikes Back
4) Return of The Jedi

Not sure what to put for 5 as so many to choose from.

Who says sequels and remakes have to be rubbish??!!!


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My 1988 pick : Katsuhiro Ôtomo's Akira

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In 1988 Tokyo is destroyed an event of psychic origin which in turn leads to World War III. We join the film in the year 2019 in the rebuilt metropolis of Neo-Tokyo and meeting our protagonists, a teenage motorcycle gang led by Kanada, right from the off we are thrown into a spectacular, violent bike chase/fight against rival bike gang The Clowns. In the aftermath, the gang are arrested except Tetsuo who is hospitalised after nearly crashing into Takashi, an esper or psychic who has escaped a government lab. Military and government scientists learn that Tetsuo also possesses psychic powers and may have abilities near the titular Akira, who we learn was the cause of Tokyo's destruction 31 years earlier. That's essentially the setup and I've leave it there for anyone who hasn't seen it.

Akira was many people's introduction to Anime and quickly earned an iconic reputation with it's depiction of a futuristic, violent cyberpunk world, in contrast to the rather twee and child-friendly animation on offer in the west at the time. Neo-Tokyo is a brilliantly constructed and realised place, from the Blade Runner-esque neon lit highrise buildings and large animated holographic advertisements to the dingy noir inflected back street bars. All this fits perfectly as a backdrop to civil unrest, terrorist attacks, biker gangs and as a canvas for the themes of the film such as adolescence, freedom, control, the destiny of mankind and corrupting effect of power.

The film is beautifully hand drawn and designed, Kanada's bike is fantastically designed and still looks as futuristic today as it did then. The production high point for me however is the sound design and stunning soundtrack by Shôji Yamashiro, I can't think about this film without instantly hearing the music in my head.

Animation can have a tendency to not age well, partly due to technical aspects, but picking up the blu ray release a few years back after a good 15+ year gap since my previous watch was a joy and a revelation. The artwork has been lovingly restored and looks just beautiful, but the audio, which features an extremely rare 24-bit/192kHz PCM encoding is one of the best I've ever heard on blu ray. If you haven't seen this, or even if you have, the blu ray release is highly recommended!

Runners up :

The Last Temptation of Christ
Mississippi Burning
Cinema Paradiso
The Vanishing

This was not my first introduction to manga, but I definitely dug it. A live action film version has been talked about for years, but I am not convinced it needs it. I've not got the blu ray but will definitely be picking it up now after hearing about the sound encoding! I need to see this film properly. Good pick.
I gave Akira another watch after bringing it up in this thread. Just a note :

The 24-bit/192kHz track is the original stereo track and sounds very good, but I think the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is the one to go for, a fantastic enveloping mix that is done really well while respecting the original audio.


Distinguished Member
I gave Akira another watch after bringing it up in this thread. Just a note :

The 24-bit/192kHz track is the original stereo track and sounds very good, but I think the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is the one to go for, a fantastic enveloping mix that is done really well while respecting the original audio.
I used to have the soundtrack on CD, very cool music in Akira. Wish I still had it, will have to look online.


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Hey, we've been on holiday with the kids, and I've also been re-painting the kitchen, so fallen waaaaaayy behind the last week and a half! 1989 is also a tough year, as there are loads that I like! Anyway, better late than never, so here's my picks for the year that Taylor Swift was born and The Berlin Wall fell:


The Killer (John Woo)


After the breakout success of A Better Tomorrow (1986) in Asia, John Woo and Chow Yun Fat went from being a relative journeyman director and TV star respectively into the new darlings of Hong Kong cinema. The Triad action drama gave birth to Woo's signature, flamboyantly choreographed, slow motion gunplay style - itself influenced by Sam Peckinpah - and transformed Chow Yun Fat into a supercool action icon with his character's image of long coat, Alain Delon sunglasses, chewing on a toothpick, and brandishing twin Berettas (a look that fans immediately sought to imitate after seeing the movie).

For their third collaboration - HK's answer to Scorsese and De Niro if you like: Woo and Chow would go on to make five movies together before the director departed for the bright lights of America - its Heroic Bloodshed meets Film Noir. In interviews, John Woo has often expressed his all encompassing admiration for French director Jean-Pierre Melville and suave French actor Alain Delon (who was very popular in Hong Kong circa the sixties/seventies). The Killer is almost an open homage to Melville's Le Samourai fused with Woo's trademark action style. The French film's influence is clear both in the similar-ish plot line, and the titular character's name (Jeffrey Chow, aka Ah Jong in the movie's native tongue) and penchant for smart suits - he even wears a Fedora hat and trench coat as an overt tribute during the opening of the movie.


Religious symbolism/imagery is a recurring theme in The Killer. Chow's professional assassin likes to use a church as a rendezvous for discussing contracts, and for getting treatment from injuries. Chow claims not to be religious but prefers to meet in church for the tranquility. The church features heavily throughout the course of the film culminating as the location for the ferocious, blood soaked denouement. The hitman wants to repent for the life that he has led, and for accidentally blinding an innocent nightclub singer, but must inevitably atone for his past sins.

Male chivalry or personal loyalty ("yi hei" in Cantonese) are favourite themes of the director, and feature heavily in The Killer. This code of honour is a big deal for Woo, and the strong focus on male relationships often have analysts claim his films are loaded with homoerotic subtext. Whether intentional or not, it's difficult to argue the case against it. Although Woo's movies may feature female characters, they are often sidelined in favour of the brotherhood bond between the male leads. In The Killer, the main female character is the nightclub singer Jenny (Sally Yeh) whom Ah Jong accidentally blinds by way of collateral damage during a hit on a Triad boss. Wracked with guilt, Ah Jong comes to care enormously about Jenny, although Woo is ambiguous over whether there is any romantic interest or merely just a friendship or brotherly affection towards her? Instead the primary focus is on the established relationship between Ah Jong and his underworld assignment liaison, and the burgeoning male bonding between the hitman and police detective Inspector Li (Danny Lee), who is hot on his trail. Later in the film, when the pair inevitably team up in the finale, Woo deliberately frames the characters gazing at each other in admiration.


During a scene when Detective Li delivers a profile of the titular assassin, the policeman speaks about Ah Jong in glowing, empathetic terms. In this respect, The Killer also bears some similarities with Michael Mann's Heat - although the former was made six years earlier, interestingly Mann's original TV movie of which Heat is based upon, LA Takedown, was also made in 1989 - in terms of a obsessively determined cop and master criminal finding a kind of respect for each other. However, the comparison ends there as the hitman and cop's relationship in The Killer develops into a full blown "bro-mance" (hey this is John Woo).

Having recently re-watched the film after many years, I feel many aspects of The Killer haven't dated tremendously well - the acting is at times over earnest, its very melodramatic, the hitman and cop become best friends in a very short space of time, the character of Jenny is poorly written with Sally Yeh's performance rather questionable - although it undoubtedly remains a seminal movie for me. I think I saw it (introduced to me by my local indie video shop owner) before the aforementioned A Better Tomorrow , and I'd never seen such cool gunplay choreography or raw visceral power in action sequences in any American production at that time in my life. Before John Woo, the only other Hong Kong movies I was aware of were Shaw Bros, and mainly those that starred Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, so The Killer opened up a whole new world.

Runner Up - Back to the Future II

I think I might just slightly prefer this over the original. Love the colourful, day-glo future of 2015(!) and the dystopian, alternate 1985. I also love the way Zemeckis plays with the plot, having a returned Marty go forward, and then back again in time. Its a great way to continue the story without repeating the formula.

Special mentions:

The Abyss
Bill & Ted
Road House
When Harry Met Sally
Field of Dreams
Major League
Lethal Weapon 2


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My 80s top 5:

The Empire Strikes Back
John Carpenter's The Thing
The Terminator
Midnight Run
Die Hard


I've finally picked 1989. :D

I also picked The Howling for 81, which isn't on your visual summary. :D


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1983's Best Film
Return Of The Jedi

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As others have said, this is a particularly weak year considering how strong the rest of the 80's were. Despite 'Empire' being my all time favourite movie, this by no means gives a free pass to 'Jedi' for '83. It's by far the weakest of the original trilogy, does the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy a massive disservice, forgets to give Han much to do, and has entirely too many Ewoks...
But, then we get to the good stuff -
When this works, it's still absolutely tremendous. It has a pair of great 'new' villains in Jabba the Hutt and Emperor Palpatine, has a great character arc for both Luke and Darth, juggles a trio of major combat set pieces in the third act, made gold bikinis the stuff of dreams, and boasts another terrific score by the master John Williams. By it's closing scenes (not featuring anyone called Hayden) it's all come to an emotional end, and is pretty much the perfect finishing point. It's almost a shame that things all got resurrected with TFA.
Positives still massively outweigh the negatives, and even now has endless rewatch value. Anytime I'm in the mood for an 'Empire' viewing, I have to make time to see
this this after to 'find out what happens next';)

Runner Up

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I'm a huge Roger Moore fan, so this was an easy second choice. My only regret with this film was that I just missed out on this at the flicks. Despite making do with grainy VHS, I was utterly captivated with this, as it throws in pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. As well as the usual action scenes, it has a major circus(!) set piece, and brought back the lovely Maud Adams from MWTGG to the title role in what I consider the ultimate Bond girl. No contest. It also boasts one of the greatest ever Bond themes with Rita Coolidge's 'All Time High'. A little dated now with some of the rear projection work, but it still doesn't stop this being huge fun.

I'm not the biggest fan of most comedies, but I'll just give a quick shout out to the timeless 'Trading Places'. A wonderful feel good Xmas film (so long as the kids are in bed), Murphy and Akroyd are on fire, and it's got the irreplaceable Denholm Elliot - "Just be yourself sir. Whatever happens, they can't take that away from you". :smashin:
Having just seen it for the first time, I simply must add Educating Rita to my Honourable Mentions. Sure elements have dated, but the central dynamic between Michael Caine and Julie Walters is absolutely spellbinding. Putting two actors together and achieving the level of chemistry they had, was cinematic lightening in a bottle. Caine has mentioned previously that he feels it's his best performance, and he won't get any arguments from me. A dreamy synth score with a final scene to die for. Loved it.
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