Thursday, October 09, 2008

8 Essential 80's

So I was talking to Maren yesterday and she mentioned that Quinn is going to host a film series on campus. He's a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont and is always up to something interesting. This year most college freshmen were born in 1990, which means they missed the 80's completely. I can hardly fathom it. So Quinn has put together his list of "8 Essential 80's movies" to show the students this winter - one a week. (Don't you think it should be "8 Quinn-Essential...?")

Of course this is fodder for my inner pop culture blogger so I got to thinking about what my list would include. Coming up with great 80's movies was the easy part. Narrowing it down to eight essentials was strenuous. Here's how I came to them: first I came up with my list of 80's movies I love. Then I took out all the films made in the 80's but set in a different time period, past or future. I wanted true 80's movies that showed the 1980's. I made a separate list of the other-time-period ones because they deserve it. Then I thought about what I would show college students. I was age 5 through 15 in the 80's, so I did not catch a lot of adult dramas or foreign films in those years. When I looked at my remaining list I thought, "How is it possible anyone hasn't seen these? They're so classic!" But I guess that's the point. I suppose it's possible that people born in the late 80's and early 90's might not have been exposed to them. The final cut was either my personal preference or how well a film represented the filmmaking or culture of the 80's. I considered having "14 Favorites of the 80's" but it doesn't have the same ring as "8 Essentials" so I had to close my eyes, cut some more, and here they are (in alphabetical order). I'm trying to ignore how many of these are Rob Reiner films.

8 Essential 80's Movies

#1 Back to the Future (1985)
Though mostly set in the 50's, the beginning and end make a point of being very 80's for contrast; plus many lines and scenes have become iconic.

#2 The Breakfast Club (1985)
You can't have an 80's movie list without something from the brat pack and it doesn't get more bratty than this one.

#3 Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Duh.

#4 Ordinary People (1980)
Here's our only drama in the group, for a little balance. I caught this late one night on cable a few years ago and was kind of spellbound by how well such an everyday story was told. Afterwards looked it up and was pleased to see it had won Best Picture that year.

#5 The Princess Bride (1987)
Duh.

#6 This is Spinal Tap (1984)
This is more of a cult favorite than mainstream blockbuster but it's a fabulously funny farce on 80's rock bands, and college students should love it.

#7 Top Gun (1986)
Duh.

#8 When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Barely makes the 80's cutoff, but it covers a period of like 15 years through the 70's and 80's so it does count. This is a lovely and funny tale of a friendship-turned-love that echoes the real relationships many of us have. Singles love it.


Also Highly Recommended for a Full 80's Experience:

Raising Arizona (1987)

It was a toss-up; I wanted this in the list but not sure what to trade for it.
Big (1988)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
E.T. (1982)

So what’s your list – what would add or take away from mine?

Remember we're not talking about anything set in another time (i.e., no Raiders of the Lost Ark or Dirty Dancing) - those will be addressed in a soon-future post.

6 comments:

tona said...

Abe Frohman?

The sausage king of Chicago?

I love that movie and I keep meaning to show it to the kids, but the language isn't very family-friendly. Ever notice how the PG rating in the 70s and 80s was worse than the PG rating now? When did PG-13 come about?

Anyway, great list. I would have put ET on it in place of Princess Bride, but otherwise I think this is perfect. Great memories.

tona said...

Also, I just have to say that when my kids want to say that something was really, really old, they say it must be from the 80's. I mean, man, that hurts.

Same thing with my college students. To them, 80s music is classic rock. As if!

kat said...

breakfast club would be my #1 80s movie pick. i'm curious how the stereotypes of the clicks hold out in today's high schools.

The Finck Five said...

I agree with Tona, my college studetns see anything even in the 90s as old. I teach alot of culture in my class and most kids have not seen anything past 5 years, and black and white is unheard of. I would add one movie, not my favorite, but one that I believe captures much of the attatude of the 80s, I use it every year in class, Wall Street. I idea of greed is good was king in the 80s and Wall Street did a great job showing the 80 attatude.
James

Disco Mom said...

Argh! I forgot Say Anything (1989)! Another fabulous 80's flick!

Disco Mom said...

Shoot, Rain Man is also very good and I think The Wedding Singer gets a place as an honorary 80's movie.

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