Monday, December 17, 2018

The 100 Project: Top 10 Movies of 1985

Last time out, The 100 Project took on one of cinema's most universally lauded years, 1984. We follow that up with one that was just plain fun. For me, 1985 was the year of zany movies. The concepts were pretty out there and the films built upon them followed suit. I didn't fully understand it at the time I saw many of these for the first time because I was 14. As I got older, I realized just how nuts some of these movies are. You know what? I still love them. Let's talk about them.

My Top 10 Movies of 1985

  • My Letterboxd account tells me I've watched 59 movies that were released during this year.
  • I made 10 trips to the theater in '85. 5 of those movies made this list. 2 more are honorable mentions.
  • I watched 2 of the 5 Best Picture nominees. Only 1 made my list.

10. Rocky IV
Yeah, it's a giant ball of full-blown 80s cheese, right down to Mr. Balboa single-handedly tearing down the iron curtain and practically ending the Cold War. However, it's also insanely fun. It might also be the most quotable movie in the Rocky franchise. I mean..."Throw the damn towel!"

9. Re-Animator
I first saw this a year or so after it came out, when it hit cable, and immediately fell in love. Frankenstein-inspired nuttiness oozes from the film's pores. We get a head in a pan giving orders to re-animated corpses, all powered by a neon green serum.

8. Fright Night
This is one of those movies I saw in theaters. I think it's important to mention that because that night was the exact moment that vampires became cool. Before this, every vampire I came across was merely a variation on Bela Lugosi's iconic portrayal. They all wore a cape and a tux, spoke with an accent, and acted all sophisticated. From this point on, vampires could literally be the person next door. (Full Review)

7. Commando
This movie doesn't really tick many of the boxes on the checklist of things that make a film legitimately good. One of the ones it does, however, is the one marked "rewatchability." There's something magnetic about watching Arnie mow down dozens of bad guys all by his lonesome and drop corny one-liners on nearly all of them. Seriously, ever since then I've eaten green berets for breakfast.

6. The Last Dragon
Some of you know that I'm a huge Bruce Lee fan. So is the main character of this movie. That's a point in this movie's favor. He's not just a fan, though. He really is a kung fu master. Point number two. The girl he falls in love with is played none other than 80s Prince babe Vanity. Yup, point three. Finally, it has one of my all-time favorite villains, Sho'Nuff the Shogun of Harlem. (Movies I Grew Up: The Last Dragon)

5. Teen Wolf
When you think about it, this might be one of the strangest coming-of-age movies ever made. So much about it shouldn't work, but somehow it does. For starters, no one in this movie about a basketball playing werewolf can play a lick of basketball with the exception of the dude in the wolf suit. And trust me, I ain't talking about Michael J. Fox. But at the end of the day, it is Fox's movie. He, along with some colorful characters make this one also ticks the rewatchability box with emphasis.

4. The Breakfast Club
I'm fully aware that this is the first movie that many of will actually think is good. And it's here anyway. Oh well. I'm also aware that after all these years, the ending has revealed itself to be a bit problematic. Still, it captures teen angst as well as just about any other film ever made. For that reason, it might be the best of all John Hughes movies.

3. Krush Groove
This is a highly fictionalized version of the creation of the iconic Def Jam Records. The acting is mostly terrible as the cast is filled with music artists playing themselves. The story is pretty predictable. However, the movie soundtrack doubles as the one of my youth and is performed all the way through the movie. And dammit, The Fat Boys are hilarious. Once again, rewatchability.

2. The Color Purple
Sometimes, a movie is wildly divergent from its source material. That's the case here, as Steven Spielberg used the framework of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name, but told the story in a very different fashion. The result is a one of the famed director's masterpieces.

1. Back to the Future
If you think about it for even one second, you realize some icky things are going in this movie. And none of it stops it from being one of the most fun movies to ever grace the silver screen. To this day, it's still a phenomenal watch. Make no bones about it, this is THE time travel movie.

Honorable Mentions (alphabetically): Better Off Dead..., Brewster's Millions, Desperately Seeking Susan, Fletch, The Goonies, The Jewel of the Nile, National Lampoon's European Vacation, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Weird Science


  1. The 80s were a great decade for spandex leotards

  2. I love The Color Purple, such an amazing movie. I always see Danny Glover as "Mister" though. It always takes me a while to shake that when I watch his new performances.

    I never loved Back to the Future. My husband adores it. The rapiness of it distracts me now. That went over my head as a kid.

    I really want to see Re-Animator. I added it to my Netflix queue as a reminder.

    You're totally missing one of my top 1985's....Rainbow Bright and the Star Stealer. Loved that. lol

    1. I tend to first think of him as Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon movies, but he is no doubt vile and frightening as Mister. I can easily see why you would have some trouble with that.

      Fair point on Back to the Future, but this is one movie where I can forgive it - especially since it doesn't actually happen.

      Re-Animator is lots of fun.

      Rainbow Bright, lol. My little sister used to watch that.

  3. So many great movies! I've seen about half of them, but the ones I have seen are all-time favorites of mine!

  4. I really need to sit down and watch the Rocky franchise, fun Dolph Lundgren returned for Creed 2. The Color Purple is powerful and the 2½ hour running time just flies by, even if a minor weakness could be the main character is almost too flawless. The Last Dragon I don't know and looks entertaining! No love for The Goonies?

    My top 10:
    1. A View To A Kill (John Glen) (yes I know many think it's weak Bond movie and Moore is too old but I love it!)
    2. The Goonies (Richard Donner)
    3. The Breakfast Club (John Hughes)
    4. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis)
    5. Santa Claus: The Movie (Jeannot Szwarc)
    6. Come and See (Elem Klimov)
    7. Brazil (Terry Gilliam)
    8. Enemy Mine (Wolfgang Petersen)
    9. Fletch (Michael Ritchie)
    10. Brewster’s Millions (Walter Hill)

    1. The Last Dragon is a fun one.

      I updated my honorable mentions to include The Goonies. Meant to include them there in the first place. Thanks for catching that.

      Nice list with a very interesting #1. I'm not mad at that. I might be a little miffed about Brazil making it because it just doesn't work for me. I've tried it three times, and nope, not clicking.

  5. I'm just thrilled that Fright Night made it. I adore that movie on so many levels.

    1. It's such a fun vampire flick - one of my faves.

  6. I have seen bits of Fright Night though I'm not sure if I've seen the whole thing. I've never seen Re-Animator in its entirety and I'm ashamed of that. Same with The Color Purple as that's a big Spielberg blind spot that I need to rectify. The rest I have seen and enjoyed as here's my list of the best films of 1985 as it's more arty than commercial. Rocky IV isn't in the list as I tend to feel it's a propaganda film of the times while The Breakfast Club is a film I feel has gotten overrated in the years and it's been imitated by so many high school films.

    1. I hope you get to see both of those films, soon. Very fair about Rocky IV, but it is a lot of fun.

  7. I was going to say Back to The Future is one of those movies everyone loves, but read just read above. Breakfast Club seems so effortless and then you see the films that try to copy it. The Perfect Score? Ouch!

  8. Another year where we’re going to be mostly miles apart! But we do share one more this time than in ’84. Though that brings us to a whopping two the rest is wildly divergent, none of the others made my runner-ups as happened last time.

    It comes in at number 3 for me but I LOVE Back to the Future!! Perfectly cast from top to bottom with such a sense of fun with MJF and Christopher Lloyd an ideal team.

    While it borders on the ridiculous The Breakfast Club does have many relatable elements and really did catch the zeitgeist of its time.

    Of your others Fright Night has a certain stylish panache for such a cheapie with two standout performances from Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowell…and its miles better than the rotten 2011 remake even though Colin Farrell was decent in that (the ONLY good thing in it). It doesn’t make my list but I did like it when I saw it in the theatre but I never revisit it.

    Same goes for Teen Wolf. Michael J. Fox makes it so much better than it is. I saw an interview with him where he said that he felt the success of this is what really made him bankable since Back to the Future would have been a success with anyone in the lead but his name pulled in the crowd here. I don’t know if I agree, his magnetism is so key to Future but there is no question about his contribution to this flyaway venture.

    I know it’s probably blasphemy but while I didn’t hate it The Color Purple didn’t do much for me outside of Oprah Winfrey’s performance. But then I didn’t care too much for the book either.

    I’ve seen Rocky IV, Commando and The Last Dragon but didn’t care much for any of them. I can say with almost complete certainty that I’ll never see Re-Animator and honestly chances are slim for Krush Groove.

    My top 10:

    A Room with a View
    Back to the Future
    The Sure Thing
    The Official Story
    Dance with a Stranger
    The Breakfast Club

    Runner-Ups: The Emerald Forest, Gotcha, Marie, Mask, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Sweet Dreams and The Trip to Bountiful

    1. Ahhhh...Mask. I new I was forgetting about something. Somehow, I hadn't included it on my letterboxd account. I might have to change the list for that. Fantastic movie. I'll be mulling over that the next few days.