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What are the best movies of the 80s? Let's go back to the times of neon & spandex by checking out our list of the best films from this iconic decade.

Big hair and rock ‘n’ roll: All the best movies of the 80s to revisit

The 1980s are one of the most iconic decades of the last fifty years. For those who lived through them, the 80s can bring back memories of cringe, “what was I thinking?” and smdh moments. To millennials, the 80s harken back to a neon-time they wish they were a part of, and each episode of I Love the 80s seen in the early 2000s further cemented the wondrous decade in their minds.

Movies of the 80s seem to capture a time where pop culture was so concisely crafted, any film seems almost a parody of itself. 

While The Breakfast Clubs of the 80s now compete for the quintessential 80s movie, there’s an abundance of great movies of the 80s that are perfect in their own right, regardless of how much hairspray is involved. We’ve curated a list of the best movies of the 80s that respect the most eye-rolled decade in film.

Something Wild

1986’s Something Wild is one of the most underrated best movies of the 80s that both stands on its own and has totally 80s characters. 

The film follows Jeff Daniels as repressed yuppie Charlie Diggs who’s dragged on a whirlwind ride out of New York City to rural Pennsylvania by Lulu (the original manic pixie dream girl) played by a young Melanie Griffith decked out in 80s gear.

Ray Liotta plays Lulu’s jealous ex Ray Sinclear who mucks up the debauterious yet wholesome booze-fueled thrill ride keeping Charlie away from his tightly-wound life in the city. 

More than just a fun dramedy, Something Wild features director John Demme’s trademark moments of still life during one of the greatest road trip movies of all time, and one of the best movies of the 80s. Something Wild is an absolute must-see, and – in the shiftless time of 2021 – is enough to make you cry. 

Fatal Attraction

Michael Douglas ruled the movie world in the 80s & 90s and may be the crowned king of the erotic thriller, a genre so perfectly fine tuned in the decade that made big hair huge and low-fat diets rule. 1987’s Fatal Attraction is not only one of the best movies of the 80s, but is the quintessential erotic thriller featuring Glenn Close’s most iconic role.

If you don’t know the story (and you should), Douglas cheats on his wife with Close who proceeds to set the standard for what it means to say “if I can’t have them, nobody can.” Filled with one-liners galore, and downright terrifying at times, Fatal Attraction taught us no ghost is completely unfindable (I won’t be ignored Dan).


1987’s Hellraiser is iconic, but not because it’s an 80s movie; the Clive Barker story became stitched into the fabric of American culture because it’s one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

If all you know about Hellraiser is Pinhead, you’ll be shocked to know the pincushioned mascot of the Hellraiser franchise has little screen time in the first film. Hellraiser is about what happens when one man is so desensitized by the pleasures & pains of the world he’s willing to risk an eternity of torture to feel something new (heavy stuff, we know).

Hellraiser is one of the best movies of the 80s because it’s a terrifying horror film with real substance & subtext, with moments of real beauty & philosophy peppered throughout the picture. On top of that, it’s brutal, fun, and nightmare-inducing. Hellraiser is like a puzzle box: open it. What’s the worst that could happen?

Can’t Buy Me Love

Okay, here’s the neon kitch you’ve clicked our link for; 1987’s Can’t Buy Me Love is the 80s fanatic’s 80s movie. A young Patrick Dempsey is a nerd who pays the popular girl at school to pretend to be his girlfriend. Need we say more?

Can’t Buy Me Love doesn’t get the print space in the 80s movie history books that Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles does, but not because it’s not as good. Can’t Buy Me Love is heartwarming, funny, and bodaciously hella 80s (just look at the soundtrack). Do you have a feeling the popular girl might fall for the nerd in the end? You’ll have to watch & find out. 

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