Neal Damiano of FilmWad takes a look at one of his favourite periods in American film history – the 1980s. What films perfectly encapsulate the era of big hair, Spandex and MTV?
What films encapsulate the social, economic and cultural direction of 1980s America?
From big hair and high heels to big business and cocaine. The 1980s remain a much loved yet infuriating period for Hollywood where excess and high concept took artistic control away from the directors and into the hands of the all-seeing Power Producers.
10. The Last American Virgin (Boaz Davidson, 1982)
This film really captured the essence of being a hormone crazed kid in high school in the eighties. Not to mention the amazing soundtrack.
9. Trading Places (John Landis, 1983)
The ultimate comedy about social status and the extremes rich people will do to keep their money. Put Eddie Murphy to the forefront of comedy.
8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling, 1982)
The life & times of Southern California high shoolers. A film that continues to grow in popularity. Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli is one of the most revered characters in film history…put surfers on the map.
7. Risky Business (Paul Brickman, 1983)
Racy for its time in 1983 given its content a straight laced young man gets very ambitious when his parents go on vacation with an idea to make some cash, capitalism at its finest. Made a star of Tom Cruise.
6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (John Hughes, 1986)
A timeless favorite from John Hughes. Ferris Bueller became a fixture in popular culture. Often quoted from his witty one liners every kid wanted to be Ferris Bueller in the eighties.
5. Revenge of the Nerds (Jeff Kanew, 1984)
The ultimate film about the underdog winning. Revenge of the Nerds was a battle cry for every kid that was put down and picked on. The characters in this film were a quirky delight and who can forget the ending.
4. Wall Street (Oliver Stone, 1987)
Great eighties film about the excess of greed. Really symbolized what was happening in America at the time in the stock market. The chemistry between Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas creates great drama.
3. Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984)
A timeless comedy, quirky story about some three very unlikely guys that save the world….coin one of the most popular phrases in cinema history “Who you gonna call ghostbusters”.
2. The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)
One of the most quoted films in history. Really captured a relatability with the characters and what teenagers feel and go through in their high school years. Also tackled issues of social status to a teen audience. But the film touches all ages it’s timeless.
1. Valley Girl (Martha Coolidge, 1983)
What can I say about Valley Girl it just had such an eighties feel to it right down to the characters and the soundtrack of new wave hits. A quirky love story of opposites attracting and some very quotable and funny one liners.The film showcased a scene that was happening in the early eighties with the clothes, music, and way of speak. Martha Coolidge really got it right with this one.
Written and compiled by Neal Damiano.
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Your turn – what are your favourite 1980s films?
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