IndieWire’s The 100 Best 80’s Movies – Reaction

Do The Right Thing IndieWire 1980s movies
Do The Right Thing

IndieWire is dedicating the next week to the filmmaking of the ‘80s, highlighting the best movies, styles, ideas, and performances of a decade that certainly shifted perspectives on the medium. They started the week with a hot list fresh off the press: The Top 100 Movies of the ’80s.

It’s an eclectic list, as all IndieWire lists are. They normally pluck a few international pictures or lesser known works and position them among some of the greats. I like these lists because they help me fill my watchlist – normally I’ve only seen about half of what they choose to highlight. This is their Top 10 Movies of the ‘80s, according to the 20 critics they polled:

1. Do the Right Thing – Spike Lee

2. Mishima – Paul Schrader

3. The Thing – John Carpenter

4. Paris, Texas – Wim Wenders

5. Shoah – Claude Lanzmann

6. My Neighbor Totoro – Hayao Miyazaki

7. Vagabond – Agnes Varda

8. The Green Ray – Eric Rohmer

9. Possession – Andrzej Żuławski

10. Sans Soleil – Chris Marker

A pretty remarkable and unique handful of selections, not at all what I expected when I first clicked the link. As always, I have a few thoughts about what they missed, but they certainly didn’t pick a bad film (at least from what I’ve seen of these).

Do The Right Thing and Mishima are stone-cold classics. I have no problem ranking these among some of the best of their decade. Do The Right Thing feels particularly more and more relevant as each decade passes, emphasizing black culture and race relations in a way that felt inventive and transcendent for its time.

I also loved the shoutouts to film from around the globe. My Neighbor Totoro at #6 and Possession at #9 are bold, while still completely understandable. Each feels like milestones in their respective genres. I’ll surely be returning to the former in anticipation of The Boy and the Heron, but I feel confident saying that it’ll only grow in my anticipation.

I have some quibbles with where they ranked some films lower in the list. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining at #16 stood out immediately. Not only is it arguably Kubrick’s best, but it’s the best horror movie of that particular decade – outdoing The Thing and Possession.

A few other movies appear far too low in their rankings, although I won’t spoil them just yet because they’ll appear in an exercise a bit further down in this article.

As I mentioned earlier, I like IndieWire’s lists because they tend to include movies I haven’t even heard of. This was the case when they unveiled a similar list for the ‘90s a while back.

With that being said, I’ve compiled a quick list of my Top 10 Movies of the ‘80s. Although not a concrete list because I’m always finding new favorites, and there’s surely a few highly acclaimed classics that I haven’t even seen, here’s what I’m thinking as a rough sketch:

10. Sex, Lies, and Videotape – Steven Soderbergh

9. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – Steven Spielberg

8. The Color of Money – Martin Scorsese

7. Where is the Friend’s House? – Abbas Kiarostami

6. Blood Simple – Joel and Ethan Coen

5. When Harry Met Sally… – Rob Reiner

4. Do The Right Thing – Spike Lee

3. Blow Out – Brian De Palma

2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Amy Heckerling

1. The Shining – Stanley Kubrick

Read more lists from Cinephile Corner