Friday, April 19, 2019

The 100 Project: Top 10 Movies of 1986

Believe it or not, The 100 Project is still going...ever so slowly. No matter. Here we are, in 1986. '84 was a watershed year for movies. I found '85 zany. 1986 is strong, but not all that deep. Well, it's not according to what I've seen. The reality is I've missed a lot from this year. I've only seen one of the Academy's five Best Picture nominees. It made the list, by the way. Of their ten nominated performances in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories, I've seen all of one, and three of the ten in the supporting categories. So...yeah...I didn't watch (hardly) any of those stuffy Oscar flicks. And somehow, I still haven't seen Top Gun. Let's talk about the best of what I did watch.

My Top 10 Movies of 1986

  • According to my Letterboxd account I've seen 57 movies that were released during this year.
  • I watched 7 movies in theaters in '86. 2 made the list. 2 more were honorable mentions.
  • 2 of my top 10 and 3 of 11 honorable mentions have female leads.

10.The Hitcher
Tension. Cat-and-mouse. That's really all I need to say about this movie. It's Rutger Hauer at his most horrifying as the titular hitcher terrorizing C. Thomas Howell, and us in the process. Ever since seeing this for the first time, I thoroughly check my fries before eating them.

9. Platoon
So, here's the Oscar flick. I didn't actually see this one until about 7 or 8 years ago. When I finally did, I was blown away by it. I immediately realized why many consider it to be among the very best war films ever made.

8. Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling
Occasionally, a movie is not only a labor of love for the filmmaker, but also a form of therapy. Jo Jo Dancer is one such movie. Richard Pryor stars in the only feature he directed, which he also co-wrote. It's known as a semi-autobiographical movie, but I'm not sure how "semi" it is.

7. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
When thinking of the most unsettling movies I've ever watched, this one always leaps to mind. As fun as movies like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and other slasher flicks are, hulking and/or supernatural masked men hunting down drunk, horny teenagers is theatrical enough to allow us a disconnect. They tap into our fears, but are silly enough to set aside. Henry feels like it could be happening next door. That's what makes it stick to us.

6. Aliens
Speaking of slasher flicks, the original Alien was a marvelous one. For this arguably better sequel, they didn't try to reinvent the wheel. They switched genres and made it an action flick, and cemented Ellen Ripley as THE cinematic heroine.

5. The Fly
I first saw this at my best friend's house about a year or so after it came out. Weirdly, it was a late morning viewing with all sorts of sunlight coming through the window. Still, we were glued to the screen as Jeff Goldblum held us in the palms of his ever-transforming hands.

4. April Fool's Day
I remember there was lots of hype around this when it came out so I wanted to go to the theaters to see it. That didn't happen, but I made sure I got my hands on it when it hit VHS. And I had a blast watching it. It was also my first inkling that dark comedies masquerading as horror flicks were my thing.

3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Bueller? Bueller? There are so many iconic moments packed into this movie that I probably can't say much about this you don't already know, even if you've never seen it. I've probably seen this more than any other movie that I've never actually owned. That's because when I come across it while flipping channels I tend to stop.

2. Little Shop of Horrors
If there's a movie that makes me giddier than Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it's this one. I loved it the first time I saw it, thirty years ago, and enjoy the hell out of it every time I watch it. I got my daughter to watch it with me a year or two ago. She didn't like it, but I still got something out of it. Now, I can randomly say "Feed me, Seymour!" whenever I want to pluck a nerve. Ya' know us dads, always trying to annoy our kids.

1. Stand By Me
The coming of age movies we tend to love are the ones that came out when we were coming of age ourselves. For me, this is one of those movies. It helps that it is absolutely fantastic. The added bonus is that I shared this one with my kids when they were a lot younger and they actually like this one. To that, all I can say is "Hey, wanna see a dead body?"

Honorable Mentions (alphabetically):  9 1/2 Weeks, Back to School, Big Trouble in Little China, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Highlander, Hoosiers, Nothing in Common, Pretty in Pink, She's Gotta Have It, Transformers: The Movie, Wildcats


  1. I had no idea Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was released in 86. Damn good list.

  2. I don't have a lot of complaints, but I would have a very different list.

    That said, Stand by Me (with possibly Aliens and Hoosiers) was my pick for the best of this year.

    1. I'd love to see your list.

    2. For now, this is a close approximation:

    3. Cool. From your post, the one I want to see most is Sid and Nancy. Hopefully, I'll get to it sooner rather than later.

  3. Stand By Me is great, that would probably be on my list along with Aliens. I never cared much for Ferris Bueller. I've always meant to see Henry as I heard Rooker is fantastic in it. I'm not sure what else I'd pick, Top Gun, An American Tail, and Poltergeist 2 because I actually like that one better than the first.

    1. Rooker is great in Henry. Obviously, I highly recommend it.

  4. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is the one film in that list I haven't seen while I have seen a lot in your list while my list has so many different kinds of films.

    1. It's a fantastic film. Hope you revisit it. Hell, I need to revisit it, too.

  5. Good to see Stand by Me so high on your list, Stephen King stories-to-screen don't always work but that one is certainly a successful adaptation. Interestingly, I haven't heard of April Fool's Day. Is it a horror?

    My top 10 of 1986:
    1. The Mosquito Coast (Peter Weir)
    2. Stand By Me (Rob Reiner)
    3. Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman)
    4. Blue Velvet (David Lynch)
    5. Clockwise (Christopher Morahan)
    6. Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter)
    7. Aliens (James Cameron)
    8. Pretty in Pink (Howard Deutch)
    9. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Leonard Nimoy)
    10. Jean de Florette (Claude Berri)

    1. Stand By Me is the best Stephen King adaptation, in my eyes. Yes, April Fool's Day is a horror flick. And I still need to see The Mosquito Coast.

  6. Interesting list, if on the very dark side. I’ve seen everything on both your main and honorables list but She’s Gotta Have It (which I’ve been meaning to for years) and Transformers: The Movie (which I’ll never watch) and between the two we have eight that overlap. Just in different places.

    I love Stand by Me (those four boys are tremendous actors and it’s beautifully directed), Ferris (what a fun, joyful film-and everyone thinks he’s a righteous dude!), Aliens (Ripley is SO fierce) and Back to School is one that I find endlessly rewatchable (even if it’s absurd Rodney Dangerfield is just so damn likable in it).

    Platoon is a fine film, it wouldn’t get my vote for Best Picture but a terrific achievement, but so intense it’s nothing I’ve had any desire to watch again since I saw it in the theatre.

    They didn’t make my list by Little Shop of Horrors, Jo Jo and especially The Fly were films I thought were decent. The Fly is too gross for me but Jeff Goldblum is amazing in it and Geena Davis both spunky and moving.

    Michael Rooker is flat out brilliant and unnerving in Henry but I found the movie so unsettling I barely made it to the end.

    I loathed, despised and abominated The Hitcher more than pretty much any other movie I’ve ever seen. No matter how good Rutger Hauer is it’s an incredibly ugly film.

    April Fool’s Day just isn’t my thing.

    My top 10 and runner-ups would run this way.

    Hannah and Her Sisters-My favorite Woody Allen film and the one that I would have selected as Best Picture.
    A Room with a View-One of the best Merchant/Ivory films.
    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home-It might not be the best of the Star Trek features but it’s the one with the warmest heart and the one I’m most fond of.
    Ruthless People-Down and Out in Beverly Hills didn’t thrill me (it was passable) but this film Bette Midler followed up with is a laugh riot.
    Back to School-
    Ferris Bueller's Day Off
    Peggy Sue Got Married-Perhaps Coppola’s gentlest movie with an award worthy performance from Kathleen Turner.
    Stand by Me
    Ginger and Fred-Late period Fellini, an nostalgic drama of hopes and dreams both realized and thwarted.

    Runner-ups-As Is, Big Trouble in Little China (not quite as much fun as Escape from New York but still a good time), Defense of the Realm, Heartbreak Ridge, Lady Jane, The Mission, The Morning After, ‘night Mother (Anne Bancroft & Sissy Spacek are both great in this but it is heavy stuff and super dark), Nothing in Common, Parting Glances, Platoon, Pretty in Pink

    1. I'm amazed you even bothered with Henry, to be honest. It's definitely something I thought you'd stay far away from him. I still need to see a few of these, especially Ruthless People and Peggy Sue Got Married.

  7. I like Ferris Bueller and Platoon but I haven’t seen Aliens yet nor won’t unless I am in a strange mood or insane hahaaa. I still have to see Stand By Me and the Fly. I love Joel’s list and agree with those and would add The Name of the Rose, Crocadile Dundee, a fun film that I always liked. Labyrinth is great and love the film Crossroads and Highlander

    1. Have you seen Alien? Aliens is a bit less stressful, due to it being more of an action flick, but it's just as good. I love Stand By Me and The Fly. Hope you get to see them, soon. To be fair, I need to see Labyrinth.

  8. Great list! Loved seeing Stand By Me at number one. And huge props for listing Henry as well. That is definitely one of the more unsettling movies I've seen.

    1. Stand By Me is amazing. I couldn't have it any other way. And Henry....