Go back to the '80s with these 33 massive movie hits

Updated 11:23 AM ET, Wed July 3, 2019
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"Back to the Future" It's been 34 years since Michael J. Fox made his debut on the big screen as Marty McFly in this 1985 classic. Fox played the teen, who is hurled back to 1955 in a time-traveling DeLorean, alongside Christopher Lloyd's mad professor. Most of the film pivots on the duo devising a way to ride the DeLorean back to the future (ahem). Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) From Universal Pictures
"Raging Bull" Robert De Niro lands a hard-hitting punch in Martin Scorsese's acclaimed film about real-life boxing champion Jake LaMotta. "I didn't really understand boxing, but the character was interesting," Scorsese says in CNN's "The Movies." "He was just so difficult. (And) De Niro isn't afraid of the negative characters." Where to watch: Hulu; HBO Go; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy) Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images
"Ordinary People" This 1980 drama from Robert Redford stars Timothy Hutton as Conrad, a teen haunted by the death of his older brother. Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland play the parents struggling to cope with the family's loss. "(It) centers on people who can't get in touch with their feelings," Redford says in "The Movies." "I decided I'd like to tell a story about what people will do to avoid being seen for who they really are." This is also the movie that beat "Raging Bull" for best picture at the 1981 Oscars. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (subscription; rent/buy); YouTube (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) Paramount Pictures
"The Shining" "Heeeere's Johnny!" In this 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's novel, Jack Nicholson plays an off-season caretaker of a haunted hotel as his young psychic son, Danny, has the unfortunate ability to see ghosts. Although this was director Stanley Kubrick's first horror film, many consider it among the most terrifying movies of all time. But King is apparently not a fan -- calling it "cold." Where to watch: Hulu; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); YouTube (rent/buy) From Warner Bros. Entertainment
"The Empire Strikes Back" The 1980 sequel to 1977's "Star Wars" raised the bar for an already blockbuster franchise, the late John Singleton says in CNN's "The Movies." "While 'Star Wars' was huge, 'Empire Strikes Back' was phenomenal," he explains. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan adds that he saw this installment as "the good act," because "in classical dramatic philosophy, you set the thing up in the first act. In the second act, your heroes are put in a position that is unresolvable ... you don't know how it's going to work out. And that is always the most interesting part of the story to tell." Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy); Vudu (rent/buy) From Lucasfilm, Ltd.
"9 to 5" Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley describes this 1980 workplace comedy "as a #MeToo movie before the #MeToo movement." Starring Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda as secretaries who kidnap their sexist boss and revamp the business with an eye toward equality, "9 to 5" feels just as relevant today as it did nearly 40 years ago. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) From Twentieth Century Fox
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" This is the film that launched a thousand archeology majors. In 1981 we met the dashing professor and adventurer Indiana Jones, played by "Star Wars" heartthrob Harrison Ford, who races the Nazis to Egypt to find the Ark of Covenant, a Biblical artifact said to contain the Ten Commandments. The Indiana Jones franchise, directed by Steven Spielberg, now includes four films, with a fifth on the way in 2021. Where to watch: Netflix; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) From Lucasfilm, Ltd.
"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" Before "Poltergeist," Steven Spielberg developed a script for something called "Night Skies" -- basically "Poltergeist" with aliens terrorizing a family instead of ghosts. He scrapped that idea in favor of 1982's "E.T.," a tale about a lonely boy named Elliott who finds friendship with a benevolent creature from another planet. The movie became the highest-grossing film of the decade. Where to watch: DirecTV (subscription); Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) From Universal Pictures
"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" Directed by Amy Heckerling and written by Cameron Crowe, this 1982 high school dramedy starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates and a young Sean Penn is so realistic because Crowe did his homework -- literally. "I never graduated traditionally, so the idea was that I could go back and have the senior year that I didn't have and write about it what it is to be a high school student," Crowe says in "The Movies." "I learned so much. ... These kids are having a super-short adolescence. It's fast food, it's fast adolescence; it's all disposable." Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) From Universal Pictures
"Tootsie" Dustin Hoffman starred in this 1982 comedy about an unemployed actor so desperate for work that he disguises himself as a woman to land a female role on a TV soap opera. It made audiences laugh while forcing some to re-think their views about gender and society. Hoffman later explained, in an emotional, viral video clip, an "epiphany" he had during the process of transforming into Tootsie. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Michael Ochs Archives/Moviepix/Getty Images
"Blade Runner" Based on Philip K. Dick's novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?," this sci-fi classic stars Harrison Ford as an android-hunting operative who questions what it means to be human. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) from Warner Bros
"Sophie's Choice" This 1982 drama about a Holocaust survivor who recounts her experience is considered one of Meryl Streep's best performances -- and that's saying a lot, knowing her impressive track record. For this Oscar-winning turn, she learned both Polish and German in addition to transforming her appearance. This is the summer movie for when you want to feel all your feelings. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video; Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Universal Pictures
"Flashdance" Even if you've never seen this 1983 movie, you know the scene: Jennifer Beals, in a leotard and leg warmers, sweating it out to the song "Maniac" as she rehearses her dance moves. Come for the '80s dance attire, stay for the award-winning original songs. Where to watch: Hulu; Amazon Prime Video; Epix; Google Play (rent/buy) From Paramount Pictures
"Scarface" In 1983, Al Pacino's "Scarface" remade a 1930s gangster flick and turned it into a colorful bloodfest chronicling the rise and fall of Tony Montana -- a "political refugee from Cuba" who becomes a Miami drug lord. A lot of lines from the script -- written by Oliver Stone -- have become part of pop culture. Many who've never even seen "Scarface" know the famous line Montana screams as he opens fire: "Say hello to my little friend!" Where to watch: Netflix; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) From Universal Pictures
"Purple Rain" Prince's unexpected death has reminded us in the worst way what an endearing movie this was when it debuted in 1984. By then he was already a musical wunderkind with a handful of albums under his belt. The film baptized a wider mainstream audience to his lustful soul-rock style. " 'Purple Rain' hit me really hard," Maya Rudolph says in "The Movies." "To this day, I have yet to see a mainstream film that uses music as a emotion in such an incredible way." Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Warner Bros./Moviepix/Getty Images
"Footloose" Kevin Bacon became a household name in this 1984 film about a fleet-footed high school kid from the city who moves to a tiny, uptight town where dancing is banned. Bacon has fun playing chicken with farm vehicles, making friends with Chris Penn and making out with Lori Singer. Finally the whole school wins the right to boogie down at a big dance. Let's hear it for the boy! Where to watch: Hulu; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) From Paramount HE.
"The Terminator" Today, a story about a computer cyborg passing as a human who's really an evil time traveler from 2029 seems pretty old hat. But back in 1984 when this Arnold Schwarzenegger film came out, Americans had never seen anything like it. The film has the distinction of introducing the seminal one-liner "I'll be back" (said with requisite faux Austrian accent) into popular culture. Where to watch: Netflix; Tribeca Shortlist; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) Universal Images Group/Getty Images
"Ghostbusters" Fighting off a sudden plague of supernatural activity around New York City, "Saturday Night Live" alums Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray lead an all-star comedy cast in this 1984 pop-culture phenomenon. When the smoke clears at the end of this mind-blowing comedy, we understand the dangers of "ectoplasmic residue," "protonic reversal," and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) From Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
"The Karate Kid" In this 1984 film, Ralph Macchio plays Daniel, a new kid in high school who's getting pushed around by a bunch of bullies. But things begin to improve when Pat Morita -- as the wise old Mr. Miyagi -- teaches Daniel martial arts through "wax on, wax off" and other unorthodox training methods. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Columbia Pictures/Moviepix/Getty Images
"The Color Purple" Two words -- or make that four: Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. In 1985, they starred in this Steven Spielberg adaptation of an Alice Walker novel about an uneducated woman named Celie who, after enduring unspeakable abuse, yearns to be loved and to love in return. The astonishing saga earned 11 Oscar nominations, including a best-actress nomination for Goldberg and a supporting-actress nomination for Winfrey. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Michael Ochs Archives/Moviepix/Getty Images
"The Breakfast Club" What '80s star wasn't in this film? Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall -- aka "The Breakfast Club" -- defined teen angst and cemented director John Hughes' reputation. The group begins a Saturday of detention as five people with little or nothing in common, only to find at the day's end that they're far more united than they thought. "It still is my favorite of the John Hughes films," Ringwald says in "The Movies," "just because I think it is so unique and nothing like that had ever been done." Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images
"Top Gun" After this 1986 film, Tom Cruise became the grown-up and bankable box-office star we know today. This drama, about a cocky Navy fighter pilot, introduced such unforgettable lines such as "I feel the need, the need for speed" and "It's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." The movie was known just as much for its soundtrack, which included Berlin's steamy ballad "Take My Breath Away" and the Kenny Loggins tune "Danger Zone." Where to watch: DirecTV; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) From Paramount Pictures
"Aliens" Director Edgar Wright calls James Cameron's 1986 sci-fi action thriller "the perfect sequel" because it managed to build on the 1979 original with ingenuity. Starring Sigourney Weaver as the badass willing and ready to face hostile creatures, " 'Aliens' is the template of how to write a great blockbuster," Wright says. "There's real skill to building the perfect roller coaster. 'Aliens' is example No. 1 of how brilliant action cinema can be." Where to watch: DirecTV; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Twentieth Century Fox
"The Princess Bride" Easily one of the most quotable '80s movies, this 1987 tale from Rob Reiner is as adorable as it is witty. As the director himself describes in "The Movies," this comedy/drama/action flick is a blend of "romance, satire, adventure, swash-buckling ... and it's a very strange mixture. You have to walk a balance; it's a fine line between stupid and clever." Where to watch: DirecTV; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) MGM
"Good Morning, Vietnam" The 1987 film was a star vehicle for Robin Williams, who transformed the true story of an Army disc jockey into a laugh-out-loud showcase for his one-of-a-kind sense of humor. Williams played Adrian Cronauer, a real-life soldier who was transferred to Saigon during the Vietnam War with the assignment of bringing some color to Armed Forces Radio. The film, directed by Barry Levinson, is one of several '80s pictures to tackle the legacy of Vietnam. Where to watch: Hulu; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images
"Do the Right Thing" This career-defining film for director Spike Lee turns 30 this year, and it feels as relevant as ever. The movie tells the story of Mookie, a pizza-delivery guy (played by Lee) who begins a hot summer day in New York with no knowledge that the events of the day -- including a fire and the death of his friend at the hands of the police -- will change his neighborhood forever. From the casting (which included seminal African-American actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis in addition to Danny Aiello and a young John Turturro) to the cinematography (superbly executed by Ernest Dickerson) to the tense themes of race and police brutality, the film is one where Lee can do no wrong. Where to watch: Starz; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Anthony Barboza/Archive Photos/Getty Images
"Raising Arizona" The Coen brothers were only on their second film when they crafted this criminally funny comedy about an oddball couple -- played by Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter -- who turn to a desperate act to start a family. The Coens "have the same equipment and the same playing field (as other filmmakers), and to take that and to make something fully aesthetically different than anything you've ever seen is a big deal," actor Bill Hader says. "That's a triumph." Where to watch: Starz; Google Play (rent/buy); Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy) From 20th Century Fox
"Die Hard" Yippee-ki-yay! Bruce Willis plays New York police officer John McClane, who is attending a company function with his wife in Los Angeles only to find himself having to save everyone from German terrorists (including Alan Rickman in a career-defining role). Think reality-defying brushes with bombs, guns and gravity. " 'Die Hard" is as perfect in its own way as 'Casablanca,' " says film critic Alonso Duralde. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images
"Coming To America" There's an argument to be made that comedy in the 1980s was owned by Eddie Murphy, who gave us "48 Hours," "Trading Places," "Beverly Hills Cop" -- and, of course, 1988's "Coming to America." It's a joy to watch and an incredible theatrical accomplishment: Murphy alone played four different roles in the film. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) Eddie Murphy Productions
"When Harry Met Sally" The movie that gave us what has to be one of the most quoted movie lines of all time -- say it with us: 'I'll have what she's having' -- began as a seed of a story from director Rob Reiner. "I'd known (screenwriter) Nora (Ephron), and I'd pitched this idea about the dance people go through to get together after they've both gotten out of long-term relationships and they become friends," Reiner says in "The Movies." If you don't already know how that dance ends, make a movie date with this comedy immediately. Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
"Batman" Tim Burton's 1989 take on the dark knight set off a craze for the superhero long before the film even opened. "For me, Batman ... some of that imagery was more horror than it was comic books, and I liked that about it. I liked the kind of split personality nature, the light and the dark. For me it was definitely my favorite of all the comic book characters because of those reasons," Burton says in "The Movies." "We were lucky the movie was made before there was any superhero s*** going on. It felt like new territory at the time." Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy) Warner Bros
"Glory" For many, this 1989 drama from Edward and Richard Zwick was like an incredibly well-produced history lesson, says star Morgan Freeman. "People had no idea that there were black soldiers fighting for the Union in the Civil War," Freeman says. And if viewers didn't yet know what a powerhouse Denzel Washington was, they learned that with this film, too; it led to his first Oscar. Where to watch: Showtime; Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy); iTunes (rent/buy); Google Play (rent/buy) TriStar Pictures
"Say Anything" If you were to do a marathon of these movies in order, we'd want you to end on a sweet note with Cameron Crowe's endearing 1989 teen romantic comedy. And that famous boombox scene? "We had a hard time with the boombox," Crowe says. "We tried it a couple different ways. ... We finished the last shot of the last day of 'Say Anything,' (with) a little light in the sky left. The light is disappearing, the shot's moving in on (John) Cusack, and I see it. I see it through the camera: The anger, the resentment, the love, the pain, the glory, the adolescence. All of it was there in his face. We got lucky." Where to watch: Starz; Google Play (rent/buy); Amazon Prime Video (rent/buy) From 20th Century Fox