Ranking the 30 Greatest Films From the ’80s

30. Poltergeist (1982)



Regardless of whether you believe Poltergeist was steered by credited director Tobe Hooper or (as rumors have long suggested) producer Steven Spielberg, this TV-phobic haunted-house thriller delivers unforgettable scares along with a classic horror-cinema line (“They’re heeeere”).The film centers on the Freeling family, a typical middle class family living in the peaceful Cuesta Verde Estates. Soon, strange things begin to happen around the house; The pet canary dies, mysterious storms occur, and Carol Ann (Heather O’ Rourke) is summoned to the TV set.

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29. Tootsie (1982)


As the soap star Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman makes for an astonishingly convincing woman. However, it’s what lies under the fake breasts and permed wig that really startles. There are other cross-dressing comedies beyond Tootsie, but none have the nuance or insight that Sydney Pollack’s comic drama offers. Dustin Hoffman stars with Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray and Geena Davis in this heart-filled classic. The film sets a new standard for unpredictable laugh-out-loud comedy.

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28. Sixteen Candles (1984)


A perceptive coming-of-age comedy about a day in the life of one hopelessly stressed teenage girl, John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles found humanity and decency in even its weirdest of characters. Whenever I reflect on Sixteen Candles, all sentiments and fondness point right towards Samantha (played by Molly Ringwald — solidifying her ’80s dream girl status here). She has equal parts adorable sweetness and sympathetic vulnerability. At a time when most movies portray high school students as nothing more than sex-starved idiots, Hughes’ directorial debut bucked the trend.

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