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The Best '80s Movies And How To Watch Them

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future

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The 1980s will forever go down as one of the most significant decades in terms of contributions to pop culture. With timeless classics like Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Breakfast Club, and landmark sci-fi and horror movies like The Terminator, Aliens, and Friday the 13th, the list of Best ‘80s movies is one that is rich and bursting at the seams with memorable characters, quotable one-liners, and stellar soundtracks that are as popular in 2021 as they were in the summer of 1985.

If you have been wanting to take a trip down memory lane and revisit the best movies the decade had to offer, look no further as we have put together a comprehensive list of nearly 60 of the best ‘80s movies and where you can find them streaming, through digital rentals, and old-fashioned physical media. There’s a lot of ground to cover in not much, so let’s get started…

Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda in 9 to 5

9 to 5 (1980)

Colin Higgins 1980 workplace satirical comedy 9 to 5 follows three fed-up secretaries, played by Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, who decide to get even with their tyrannical and sexist boss.

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Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story

(Image credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

A Christmas Story (1983)

Bob Clark’s 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story follows a young boy named Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) as he tries to convince everyone from his parents to his teacher and even the Santa Claus himself to bring him a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

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Elisabeth Shue, Keith Coogan, and Maia Brewton in Adventures in Babysitting

(Image credit: Disney)

Adventures In Babysitting (1987)

After being stood up by her boyfriend, high school senior Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) decides to spend the night watching a group of young siblings. What at first seems like a quiet night and easy money quickly turns into anything but in Adventures in Babysitting.

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Robert Hays in Airplane!

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Airplane! (1980)

The 1980 disaster film spoof Airplane! answers the question: what happens when a man afraid to fly is the only one who can prevent a jumbo-jet from crashing?

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Sigourney Weaver on the set of Aliens

(Image credit: Bob Penn / Contributor)

Aliens (1986)

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is back with a vengeance in James Cameron’s 1986 sci-fi action flick Aliens, and she isn’t stopping until the final Xenomorph is launched into outer space.

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Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future

Back To The Future (1985)

When Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) steps into a DeLorean time machine and is transported back to 1955, he must avoid high school bullies and a younger version of his own mom if he wants to get Back to the Future.

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Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger on the set of Batman

(Image credit: Sunset Boulevard / Contributor)

Batman (1989)

Tim Burton’s dark and moody 1989 unconventional superhero film Batman sees the Caped Crusader (Michael Keaton) cross paths with his archenemies The Joker (Jack Nicholson), who is hellbent on bringing chaos, destruction, and death to Gotham City.

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Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Beetlejuice (1988)

When the efforts by a ghostly couple (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) to scare away the new owners of their country home are fruitless, they turn to a spirit by the name of Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to gain back control.

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Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop

(Image credit: CBS Photo Archive / Contributor)

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Martin Brest’s 1984 buddy action comedy Beverly Hills Cop introduces the world to Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy), a wise-cracking and rebellious Detroit police officer who has come to Los Angeles to track down those responsible for his best friend’s murder.

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Robert Loggia and Tom Hanks in Big

(Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox)

Big (1988)

When 12-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) wishes he was a little bigger, he gets his wish and then more when he wakes up to find he has been transformed into a full-grown adult (Tom Hanks). Penny Marshall’s timeless comedy sees Baskin navigate 1980s New York City, but as a child trapped in a man’s body and various situations.

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Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when two dopey high schoolers (played by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) are given access to a time-traveling phone-booth to pass their history exam and keep their band together.

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Harrison Ford in Blade Runner

(Image credit: Warner Bros. / Handout)

Blade Runner (1982)

Ridley Scott’s 1982 noir sci-fi thriller Blade Runner follows replicant hunter Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) as he tracks down four escaped criminals who have returned to earth from an off-world colony. What starts off as a simple game of cat and mouse slowly turns into something much more complex.

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Kyle MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet

(Image credit: Sunset Boulevard / Contributor)

Blue Velvet (1986)

David Lynch’s 1986 surrealist crime drama Blue Velvet centers on college student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) as he becomes involved with the dark and twisted world of his town’s criminal underbelly led by the psychotic Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper).

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Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in The Blues Brothers

(Image credit: Sunset Boulevard / Contributor)

The Blues Brothers (1980)

John Landis’ 1980 musical comedy The Blues Brothers follows the titular characters (played by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi) as they attempt to get their old band back together to help save the orphanage in which they were raised.

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Holly Hunter and William Hurt in Broadcast News

(Image credit: twentieth Century Fox)

Broadcast News (1987)

James L. Brooks romantic comedy Broadcast News plants the audience in the middle of a love triangle involving a talented news producer (Holly Hunter), her best friend (Albert Brooks), and a handsome yet under-qualified anchorman (William Hurt) all while they try to present the news day in and day out.

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Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack

Caddyshack (1980)

Set at the Bushwood Country Club, which is infested with rodents and yuppies alike, Harold Ramis’ 1980 sports comedy Caddyshack follows caddies (led by Michael O’Keefe), grounds crew (led by Bill Murray), and all other sorts of characters who spend a summer at the prestigious club.

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Eddie Murphy in Coming to America

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Coming To America (1988)

John Landis’ 1988 comedy Coming to America follows Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy) as he travels to Queens to find a wife to bring back to the African nation of Zamunda.

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Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

(Image credit: Archive Photos / Stringer)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Set in a prestigious college prep academy, the 1989 drama Dead Poets Society follows newly arrived English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) as he spends a semester opening eyes and changing the lives of his students, for better or for worse.

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Bruce Willis in Die hard

(Image credit: Archive Photos / Stringer)

Die Hard (1988)

NYPD officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) finds himself in the right place at the right time in Die Hard when his wife’s holiday Christmas party is overtaken by a group of international terrorists who holds them hostage in hopes of securing unfathomable wealth.

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Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing

(Image credit: Vestron Pictures)

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) goes to spend a summer in the Catskills with her family in Dirty Dancing. Thinking she’ll spend the summer bored out of her mind, Baby quickly finds herself learning what it means to dance, love, and stand up for herself thanks to her dance instructor-turned-lover Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze).

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Spike Lee in Do The Right Thing

Do The Right Thing (1989)

What initially starts out as a disagreement over which actors should or shouldn’t be included on the wall of a Brooklyn pizzeria quickly escalates into a full-blown riot in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

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Henry Thomas in E.T. The Extra- Terrestrial

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Steven Spielberg’s 1982 sci-fi adventure E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial follows a young boy (Henry Thomas) as he forms an unbreakable bond with a gentle alien who is trapped on Earth and just wants to go home.

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Kurt Russell in Escape from New York

(Image credit: Sunset Boulevard / Contributor)

Escape From New York (1981)

John Carpenter’s 1981 dystopian thriller Escape From New York sees Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) attempt to save the U.S. President from a group of fanatical criminals who run the streets of Manhattan which has been turned into a prison colony.

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Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)

Amy Heckerling’s 1982 raunchy teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont Hight follows the various cliques that call the titular home and how they navigate life, love, and algebra.

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Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off

(Image credit: CBS Photo Archive / Contributor)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

John Hughes’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off follows the charismatic titular high school senior (Matthew Broderick) as he convinces his girlfriend and best friend to skip class and have an epic adventure in Chicago.

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Lori Singer and Kevin Bacon in Footloose

Footloose (1984)

When Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), a dance-obsessed high schooler, moves to a small town that has banned all forms of music and dancing, he does what any teenager would do in his position: rebels with loads and loads of dancing in Footloose.

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Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Friday The 13th (1980)

The slasher film Friday the 13th follows a group of teenager as they are picked off one by one by a sadistic masked killer with one hell of a backstory involving Camp Crystal Lake.

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Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Bill Murray in Ghostbusters

(Image credit: Archive Photos / Stringer)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Who ya gonna call? Well, Ghostbusters if you’re looking for a fun supernatural comedy involving college professors who use their knowledge to rid New York City of ghostly threats.

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Gremlins

(Image credit: Sunset Boulevard / Contributor)

Gremlins (1984)

Written by Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante, the 1984 horror flick Gremlins answers the question: What’s the worst that could happen when you spill water on your new pet and feed them after midnight.

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Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon

(Image credit: Bertrand LAFORET / Contributor)

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Los Angeles police detectives Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are forced to look past their differences and different lifestyles to uncover a massive drug-trafficking ring in Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon.

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Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in Midnight Run

Midnight Run (1988)

Martin Brest’s 1988 buddy action comedy Midnight Run follows bounty hunter Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) as he sets out to capture mob accountant Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (Charles Grodin), who has skipped out on his bail. What follows is a cross-country adventure with the mob and FBI hot on their tail.

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Dana Barron, Anthony Michael Hall, Chevy chase, and Imogene Coca in National Lampoon's Vacation

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

Bumbling father Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) takes his wife and two children on what is supposed to be two weeks of family bonding but quickly devolves into a trip from hell in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

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Robert Englund in A Nightmare on Elm Street

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street follows a group of teenagers who are being terrorized by the undead killer Freddy Krueger who attacks them when most vulnerable: while they sleep.

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Willem Dafoe and Johnny Depp in Platoon

(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Platoon (1986)

Oliver Stone’s 1986 Academy Award-winning military drama Platoon follows a group of American soldiers in the Vietnam War who are pushed to the brink of losing what little humanity they have left.

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Robert De Niro in Raging Bull

(Image credit: Bettmann / Contributor)

Raging Bull (1980)

Robert De Niro plays Jake LaMotta, a former heavyweight boxing champ whose life is falling apart in Martin Scorsese’s 1980 acclaimed Raging Bull.

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Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

The world is introduced to archeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in Steven Spielberg’s 1981 adventure film Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in Rain Man

(Image credit: MGM)

Rain Man (1988)

Barry Levinson’s 1988 drama Rain Man netted Dustin Hoffman an Academy Award for his portrayal of Raymond Babbitt, an autistic man who has a knack for counting cards and the game of blackjack.

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