RANKING THE YEAR’S BEST: FROM OSCAR MOVIES TO BLOCKBUSTERS
Walk down memory lane… And let the movie nerd debate begin.
TOP 10 Lists are always tons of fun. You can debate my choices, while also getting a better idea of how I review newer movies. You never know, you might even uncover a hidden gem or two.
Let’s REWIND to the year 1981.
These are personal TOP 10s ranking Oscar-nominated movies right alongside popcorn-munching blockbusters, indie films, b-movies, and cult classics.
1981 was a great year for popcorn. The #1 movie at the box office was RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK with $212 million domestically (not adjusted for inflation). Although, there are several big dramas I haven’t seen, like ABSENCE OF MALICE, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, and ON GOLDEN POND.
My TOP 10 is followed by HONORABLE MENTIONS.
Let’s dig in…
THE TOP 10
10. HEAVY METAL
This Canadian animated film is NOT for kids. Adapting the sci-fi pulps of HEAVY METAL magazine, this grindhouse cult classic isn’t for everyone. Those that like a bit of cyberpunk mixed with some ultra-violence and edgy themes will feel right at home with this over-the-top galactic adventure.
Billy Murray steals the show in this Harold Ramis super comedy co-starring John Candy. R-rated and milking every moment of guilty pleasure, this cult classic about new army recruits has tons of laughs. While not as well-known as CADDYSHACK or GHOSTBUSTERS this is a must-watch for Murray fans.
Michael Mann (HEAT) stylishly directs this totally 80s vibing thriller. The dark story and edgy performances feel like a Scorsese flick. This underrated hidden gem heist picture is worth hunting down.
7. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
John Carpenter (HALLOWEEN and THE THING) turns to action for this over-the-top adventure starring Kurt Russell as the ultimate badass. The eyepatch helps. This ticking clock scenario involves explosive implants and saving the president. This cult classic helped invent the anti-hero sub-genre.
6. MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR
The sequel to the grimy, hard-hitting Australian original stars Mel Gibson, returning to his iconic action-hero role. George Miller once again directs, assuring the intensity will be balls to the walls. A simple story executed well. If you haven’t seen the original MAD MAX flicks, why not start here.
5. DAS BOOT
One of the best foreign films of all time. This intense thriller takes place in a German submarine during the war. Strong characters, choking atmosphere, and astounding direction make this a real highlight of 1981.
4. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
The phenomenal transformation scene alone makes this a must-watch for horror fans. While taking its subject seriously, there is also a lot of dark humour to enjoy. The story manages to scare us with more than werewolves too. There are some real surprises in store for those new to the movie. This flick deserves its place in cinematic history.
3. QUEST FOR FIRE
This Canadian film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud (THE BEAR, SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET) tells us the story of primitive man. A tribe of Neanderthals, incapable of making their own fire, set out on a long journey to find a new flame and return to their people. While there is no dialogue, this rare glimpse into prehistory makes this movie entirely enthralling. It almost feels like a documentary made by time travelers. The film takes a stunning turn when our tribe (including Ron Perlman) meets early humans. This rich exploration of early culture is incredibly captivating. One of my favourite movies of all time.
2. THE EVIL DEAD
1981 had some all-time greats. One of the best horror movies ever is this Sam Raimi directed cult classic. Starring Bruce Campbell as Ash vs the undead, this gore-soaked horror flick takes the familiar cabin in the woods premise and executes it brilliantly. Stylishly directed, blindingly energetic sequences, amazing sound design, and fantastic legendary special FX for the era, all combine in a strange brew concoction unfit for mass consumption. My perfectly weird cup of tea.
1. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
Another all-timer. The first INDIANA JONES flick is one of the best adventures ever put to screen. Harrison Ford plays one of the best heroes ever made. His sly smirk and badass attitude makes him an unlikely archaelogist who’s willing to get his hands dirty. Incredible action set-pieces and a triumphant score fuel the fun. When you think of popcorn, you think of RAIDERS. One of the best blockbuster experiences ever!
AMERICAN POP / THE BURNING / CLASH OF THE TITANS / FOR YOUR EYES ONLY / FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART 2 / HALLOWEEN 2 / THE HOWLING / SCANNERS
notable movies i need to see
ABSENCE OF MALICE / ARTHUR / BLOW OUT / BODY HEAT / THE CANNONBALL RUN / CHARIOTS OF FIRE / CUTTER’S WAY / DEADLY BLESSING / MY DINNER WITH ANDRE / GALLIPOLI / MEPHISTO / NEIGHBORS / ON GOLDEN POND / THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE / THE PURSUIT OF D.B. COOPER / REDS / TAPS / TIME BANDITS