top ten//FILMS OF 1985


There are good movies and bad movies each and every year. This is a truth that has been evident since the invention of cinematic pictures. But, just like 100 years ago, some years offer bigger surprises, box office successes, and better movies than others. 1985 was one of those years. 

Here's a look at what I think are the Top Ten Films of 1985:


First off, I have to admit that I was only a kid for most of the 80's and early 90's, so my ratings are probably a little skewed, but even as an adult there are certain emotions Sesame Street's film is able to evoke. Nothing is sadder than seeing Big Bird literally sitting there blue. After a social worker sends Big Bird to Illinois to live with a new family, he runs away, ending up on the news. His Muppet friends come to the rescue and the magic that is Jim Henson & crew is ever present. The film wasn't a hit with audiences, only gaining just over $13 million at the end of its run, but it's built somewhat of a cult following over the years. 


Science fiction films are usually box office hits, but a sci-fi picture starring a group of elderly actors made for a unique motion picture at the time. Ron Howard's film starred Jessica Tandy, Maureen Stapleton, Steve Guttenberg, Hume Cronyn, among others. The warm-hearted tale takes place at a Florida retirement home where a few old geezers sneak into the pool next door and begin feeling younger. Extra-terrestrial adventures occur once they find strange pods at the base of the pool. The film brought in over $85 million, plus earned Don Ameche an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. 


Talk about creepy, Return to Oz was so scary that the "kid" film wasn't a big hit after it was released. Starring Faruiza Balk as Dorothy, the story follows her back to the land of Oz to find things in ruin. With her chicken and new friends, Dorothy must do everything to restore the land to its magical greatness. As a kid, it was almost too much to watch the evil lady who changes heads and the crazy goons who have wheels for hands and feet. The Deadly Desert was also pretty scary. The outlandish effects were enough the snag an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. The film earned just $11 million at the box office, but is now considered a cult hit.


John Cusack and teen romantic comedies were the rage in the 80's. When Lane Meyer (Cusack) is dumped by his girlfriend, he deals with heartbreak by becoming suicidal. While it sounds dark, the film was really an insightful comedy and teen film hit. As happens in high school, while focussing on winning his ex back, Meyer meets a new girl that may or may not catch his attention. While it's not the best teen comedy of the decade, it's a testament to Cusack's comedic prowess. 


John Hughes was the king of teen flicks and Weird Science is one of his quirkiest. It's the dream of any teen guy come true. Two unpopular high schoolers jokingly try to create the perfect woman on their computer and, through a few mishaps, end up doing just that. Their creation is hot and does everything she can to help them get out of their shells. Starring one of the biggest stars of 80's teen films Anthony Michael Hall, Weird Science was a decent hit among critics and a pretty nice box office success, earning over $23 million. 


Steven Spielberg's masterpiece will go down in history as one of the films nominated for a ton of Oscars only to walk away empty-handed. Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, the film showed the struggles of black women in the early 1900s. Starring Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, and Oprah Winfrey, the film was a huge success, earning over $142 million worldwide and being called the year's best film by lots of critics, including Roger Ebert. It was nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Goldberg), and Best Supporting Actress (Winfrey). 


Tim Burton's first film is a wacky, weird, but overall fun adventure following Paul Reuben's iconic man-child Pee-wee Herman. The cross-country epic follows Pee-wee as he searches for his stolen bicycle. The film parlays the style we'd all grow to know as Burton-esque. Danny Elfman's score is perfect and, again, sets up what we'll expect from Burton films to come. It's one of those rare kids movies that are just as fun and memorable for adults. The film went on to gross over $40 million, making it one of the highest grossing of the year.


The coming of age film by John Hughes is the epitome of teen films, bringing to the forefront Molly Ringwald's star and the success of the teen angst story. The Brat Pack stars are the idols of the 80s film scene and every high school film to follow has Hughes' classic to thank. The story follows a group of very different students stuck in Saturday detention and their dealings with the over-zealous assistant principal. Each kid represents a different high school stereotype without being disrespectful to teenager differences. They're each a rebel and hero in their own right. After the success of Sixteen Candles, this secured Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall as teen film stars. Known as the quintessential 80s flick, The Breakfast Club earned over $50 million worldwide and classic status. Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)" has this film to thank for its #1 reach on the Billboard charts.


Richard Donner's The Goonies is another classic to come out of 1985. Written by Christopher Columbus and produced by Steven Spielberg, the adventure is classic 80s epicness wrapped up in a fast paced realistic fantasy. Booby traps, pirate ships, first loves, and funny kids, The Goonies is everything kids movies used to be. The sets are Spielbergian goodness. It's Hollywood adventure like it used to be. Magical and mystical while still being real (whether built on a sound stage or shot on location). Effects worked like a charm back then because they had to be realistic. The excitement was true edge-of-your-seat fun for all ages and the adventure holds up well today. It was one of the highest grossing films of the year, earning $61 million. Starring an elaborate cast of soon-to-be stars, including Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, and Martha Plimpton, the film will never get old. "Goonies never say die!"


In the realm of film classics, there are a few things a movie must possess. It has to be an original, timeless story. It has to have an audience following. It should probably be somewhat groundbreaking. It should capture the essence of the time and age in which it's released. These are all true of Robert Zemeckis' hit Back to the Future. Produced by Steven Spielberg, the film starred Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a teenager accidentally sent back to 1955. When he attracts his high school-aged mom, he must fix history before he erases himself. Christopher Lloyd starred as the iconic Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, the mad scientist who helps McFly return to 1985. Everything from the DeLorean to the flux capacitor, the film sparked cultural relevance upon its release and has kept that ever since. President Ronald Reagan even mentioned the film in his 1986 State of the Union address. The film, which also co-starred Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover, was a huge hit with critics and audiences, amassing over $300 million at the worldwide box office. It's been credited with everything from being an 80s cultural milestone for cinema and effects, to sparking the skateboarding subculture that became popular around that time. Nominated for Academy Awards and being placed on the National Film Registry in 2007, Back to the Future will always stand as one of cinemas crowning achievements. It sparked two highly successful sequels and continues to be a moneymaker with home video releases. It's definitely one of the films everyone must see before they die.

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