Saturday, July 13, 2019

The 100 Project: The Top 10 Movies of 1988

Thanks for sticking with The 100 Project, the whole handful of you. 1988 was a bit of a down year for me, quantity wise. Quality wise, it wasn't quite on par with 1987, but a really solid year. Let's see how it shakes out for me.

My Top 10 Movies of 1988

  • According to my Letterboxd account, I've seen 51 movies released in 1988.
  • I've watched 2 of the 5 Best Picture nominees, both are honorable mentions.
  • I only saw 2 movies in theaters this year, both made the list.
  • A Western makes the list for the first time this decade.
  • I saw 2 of the movies on this list for the first time in the last 2 years.
  • Eddie Murphy makes the list for the 6th time.
  • A person of color is the protagonist of 3 movies.
  • 1 movie has a female lead.
  • A Non-English language film makes the list for only the 2nd time this decade.

10. Beetlejuice
I only caught up with this horror-comedy classic last year, and it instantly became one of my faves of this year. Michael Keaton's performance is iconic, but I knew that going in. What I didn't know was how well everything else works. It's definitely one of Tim Burton's finest.

9. Bull Durham
As a life-long baseball fan, this movie sings to me. The grizzled vet chasing a career record, the young phenom learning to speak in cliches, the sexy groupie, it all works for me. And that meeting on the pitcher's mound is one of the funniest scenes ever.

8. Cinema Paradiso
Here's another movie I saw for the first time recently. It's a lyrical, heartwarming love letter to cinema that is hard to resist even though it stretches out to two and a half hours and moves along at a leisurely pace. While it moseys along, it pulls us in and pulls us along.

7. Heathers
This is another one of those movies where the first viewing left me baffled. I saw what happened, but wasn't sure I understood it. I wasn't even sure what type of movie it was. After a few more watches, I figured out it was a morbid comedy. And I'm still not sure I fully understand it, but dammit I love it.

6. School Daze
Colorism is a worldwide issue, but ground zero appears to be within the African American community. With it comes a certain type of classism. Spike Lee's second movie crystallizes this with style, humor, and inventiveness. When I saw it in the theater all those years ago, it spoke directly to me as a darker skinned individual, and its last-second rallying cry of "Wake up!" touched my soul.

5. Young Guns
My friends and I weren't into westerns, but we watched this one because when we saw it at the video store we saw that it starred Hollywood's cool kids - Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, and Lou Diamond Phillips. We were glad we did because it was a pure blast. I've revisited it many times since and each watch is a joy. And for my money, this is the best Estevez has ever been.

4. Die Hard
There's really nothing I can say about Die Hard that you haven't already heard. It's iconic for very good reason. Action movies were around way before this one but there's no debating they were reborn the day Die Hard was released.

3. I'm Gonna Git You Sucka
If you don't know, I'm a pretty big fan of so-called Blaxploitation movies. I own about 3 dozen of them as proof. One thing I love is movies that spoof my favorite genres. I'm Gonna Git You Sucka does an amazing job of this. It was also an amazing introduction to Chris Rock. His "one rib" scene is still one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

2. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
Speaking of spoofs, we have yet another. I actually saw the TV series this is based on years earlier. At that age I didn't really get it. By the time the movie came out I had reached the ripe old age of 17 and acquired all the wisdom that went with it. In short, I laughed my ass of then, and I still laugh my ass off every time I rewatch it. It's so smart and simultaneously stupid that it's perfect.

1. Coming to America
So I'm sitting in the theater with my best friend (again), and we're just a few minutes into the movie. Eddie Movie is sitting in a pool, which we're about to find out is an abnormally large bathtub, with a bored look on his face despite the naked women around him. At that moment, another woman surfaces right in front of him and says, "The Royal Penis is clean, Your Highness." I lost it. And I've continued losing it once or twice or year for the full 116 minutes of its runtime.

Honorable Mention (alphabetically): The Accused, Akira, Big, Bird, Bloodsport, Colors, Eight Men Out, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Rain Man, Stand and Deliver, Working Girl


  1. I should note that the gif you used for The Naked Gun is from the 2nd film. We share 3 films in our top ten based on my list though I too would not stop quoting Coming to America.

    Oha, it is my 21st birthday. Do you think perhaps might I use the restroom by myself? Quite amusing your highness... WIPERS!!!!!

    I can't imagine anyone who would take the job to wipe someone's ass let alone a prince's ass.

    1. Thanks for the correction. I've fixed it. And I'm always happy to see more love for Coming to America. But no, I wouldn't take a job as a wiper, lol.

  2. I am so glad you have Naked Gun on your list as I love the series, the tv series and Leslie Nielsen. I love Ghostbusters too and love the dinner party scene. I would add Dangerous Liasions, The Great Outdoors just because of John Candy, married to the Mob, A Fish Called Wanda, for some reason, Dead that dead comedy, Frantic, The Milagros Beanfield War..I love, and the best, The Incredible Lightness of Being.

    1. The Naked Gun franchise great. I love all three movies. Of your group, I saw and liked Married to the Mob and A Fish Called Wanda, but I might have been too young to fully appreciate them and haven't revisited, yet.

  3. Oh yeah another year so soon! And one that contains a bunch of terrific movies.

    I’ve seen all but one of yours, and I could have sworn I’d seen School Daze but apparently not-I’ll have to get on it. Before I even looked at your list I knew we would have at least one match because who doesn’t love Die Hard! It turned out to be our only direct match though. A couple that made my list showed up in your runner-ups and a couple of your primaries showed up in mine.

    While the majority of your picks didn’t make my list I enjoyed them all.

    Beetlejuice and Young Guns are probably the two I would be most prone to watch again, though if we’re talking Brat Pack adventure movies I lean much more towards their Three Musketeers (which of course is sans Emilio Estevez).

    I haven’t watched Heathers in decades, I should give it another look. Same goes for Coming to America, though it was another one of those that played in my theatre for far too long so I was burnt out on it by the time it left.

    My most recent view from your list is I’m Gonna Git You Sucka which I saw about two months ago. I didn’t get as much out of it as you but did laugh throughout.

    1. Yeah, Die Hard was pretty much a given.

      I wasn't really a fan of the Brat Pack version of Three Musketeers. Might have to revisit since I haven't seen it, probably since it first hit VHS.

      Obviously, I'd say Heathers and CtA are worth the rewatch.

  4. One of my favorite years of the 80’s!!! There was the release of four of my all-time favorites which comprise the top of my list and another that I love almost as much, plus a whole group of others that I truly enjoyed.

    My top 10:

    Die Hard-Rock ‘em Sock ‘em blast of energy with three perfectly cast leads. It seems crazy now but I remember Bruce Willis being a big question mark when he was cast since he was only known for Moonlighting. Willis personally chose Bonnie Bedelia for Holly (based on her performance in Heart Like a Wheel-see it!) and she is an ideal partner for him, and a kickass heroine on her own. They would be enough but there’s also the sublime Alan Rickman and continuous propulsive action.

    Torch Song Trilogy-Harvey Fierstein pared down his Tony winning play into this moving comic drama of a gay man’s struggle for acceptance and love in 70’s New York. He plays the lead as well with Anne Bancroft as his mother and Matthew Broderick (who had played his adopted son in the stage version) as one of the important men in his life.

    Crossing Delancey-Beguiling comedy of young New York City woman Isabel (Amy Irving) with what her grandmother, Bubbie (a scene stealing Reizl Bozyk) sees as a major problem, she’s over 30 and unmarried! So to Izzie’s horror Bubbie hires a matchmaker, the catch is that perhaps the man, pickle merchant Sam (Peter Riegert) might be the right one after all.

    Running on Empty-Arthur & Annie Pope (Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti) and their two sons have lived on the run under assumed identities for the last 16 years because of an antiwar protest gone wrong. Now their oldest son, musical prodigy Danny (River Phoenix) wants to attend Juilliard which would mean breaking up the family unit. Deeply moving, brilliantly acted film.

    Beaches-Two young girls meet on the Atlantic City beach and become lifelong friends (growing into Bette Midler & Barbara Hershey) despite some rocky times.

    Big-Josh Baskin’s wish that he was grown up comes true and his adult self’s (Tom Hanks) quest to return to childhood is a terrific journey.

    Working Girl-I’m not much of a Melanie Griffith fan (though she also stars in one of my runner-ups-Stormy Monday) but she is flawless as Tess McGill, an extremely capable but put upon secretary who seizes an opportunity to get ahead when it falls into her lap. Both Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver are great supporting her.

    Big Business-Through preposterous circumstances two sets of twins are mixed up at birth with one of each being taken by a different couple, one ultra-rich one poor. Years later the grown women (Lily Tomlin & Bette Midler-both playing dual roles) all converge on The Plaza in New York with many comic misadventures and misunderstandings.

    Thin Blue Line-Fascinating documentary of a Texas man wrongfully convicted because of a corrupt justice system. Disturbing, sad and riveting.

    The Seventh Sign-My guilty pleasure. Strange signs swirl around the imminent upcoming birth of Demi Moore’s baby as signs of the Apocalypse begin to appear around the world.


    Apartment Zero, Appointment with Death, Camille Claudel, Cinema Paradiso, Dangerous Liaisons, Dominick & Eugene, Eight Men Out, Madame Sousatzka, Midnight Run, Mississippi Burning, Naked Gun, Permanent Record, Stormy Monday, Vice Versa

    1. I am embarrassingly unfamiliar with your list. I have seen The Seventh Sign which I hated. I've only watched it once and it wasn't the best of movie watching circumstances. I was a teenager much more focused on how to snuggle with my date than really paying attention to the film. Matters worsened because it was a double date and my cousin's girl really detested either him or the movie, I'm not sure which, because she walked out about halfway through. He initially walked out with her, had an argument, she went home, and he came back in the theater and finished it up. I never felt the need to go back to it after that since what I saw didn't excite me.

    2. That just means you have bunches of great films to discover!!

      I have to warn you that Apartment Zero is a weird, strange and probably a love it or hate it film.

      While I'd say that your viewing of The Seventh Sign was far, far from ideal! it isn't truly a wonderful lost gem or anything. As I said its a guilty pleasure, dumb, goofy and operatically over the top. You'll miss nothing by never watching it again.

    3. You've intrigued me with Apartment Zero.

      Far from ideal is putting it mildly. I figured there wasn't anything special I was missing so if I do see it again, it will probably be because I stumble across it already in progress.

    4. To sweeten the pot a little for Apartment Zero, it stars Colin Firth on his way up and Hart Bochner who plays Harry Ellis the slimeball co-worker of Bonnie Bedelia's Holly in Die Hard.

      I'll be curious to read what you think of it should you get around to watching....of course that holds true for any of my picks!

  5. No Akira in the top ten?? Blasphemy!! Haha thought tbh I couldn't even name ten movies I've seen in these years, let alone make a top ten. Maybe I should make one of those letterbox things for myself, seems like a good idea and a handy reference too

    1. Akira was another movie that was in, then out, then in, then out, and so on, until it wound up where it did. Letterboxd has turned out to be a good tool for me.

  6. I'm so glad I finally watched Cinema Paradiso as well. Such an amazing film. I still need to see Coming to America. Die Hard and Heathers are classics. I'd have The Land Before Time in there somewhere but I remember you mentioning that was a film you missed because of your age.

    God I was disappointed in Akira..

    1. Cinema Paradiso is fantastic!

      I remember your review of Akira. Sorry it didn't work for you.

  7. I need to make more of an effort to watch more movies from the 80s and earlier. This year I'm tackling my watch list, next year I'll get around to this list! I have seen Die Hard and Naked Gun though, which I loved!

    1. If you've seen those two, you've seen two of the best!

  8. A great year for comedies! I knew what your #1 would be ;) Heathers grew on me on rewatch. I guess you don't watch so much UK comedy, my #2 of 1988 is A Fish Called Wanda(does have two American actors in key roles in Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline). Rain Man is oscar baity yet still manages to work its magic for me.
    If you enjoy thrillers, George Sluizer's The Vanishing (1988) is often mentioned as one of, if not THE best Dutch film of all-time. A US remake with Jeff Bridges was released in 1993 to mixed reviews.

    1. Heathers is certainly one that requires multiple watches. I did see A Fish Called Wanda way back in 1989, after it hit VHS. Haven't seen it since, though. I keep telling myself I'm going back to it, but haven't quite gotten around to it yet. I've heard lots about The Vanishing, just haven't seen it (or the remake) yet.

  9. When Die Hard doesn't even make top 3 you know it's a good year! Chris Rock is such a talent. Even if he's barely in a film I want to see it.