5 Phenomenal Movies from 1986

movie_theatre - Phenom 5

It has been a while so today I’m continuing my look back at the movies from the 1980s. I grew up on these films and I’ve been making my way through them year by year. Today we stop in 1986 to look at five of the best films from that year. The mid-80s were loaded with fun movies that still stick with me today. 1986 was an interesting year. It brought unique comedies, great science fiction, corny but fun blockbusters, and much more. Now with so many great movies to choose from I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But I firmly believe that these five films from 1986 are absolutely phenomenal.

#5 – “Top Gun”

Top Gun

When it comes to big summer blockbusters built for the masses, “Top Gun” is the blueprint. It’s a bit corny in places and it’s full of lightheaded summer time fun. But it’s also a really good movie and one that I grew up loving as a kid. Tom Cruise found himself on nearly every teen girl’s wall and many of us guys loved the military fighter pilot aspect of it. The late Tony Scott gave us exciting action, cool and pretty people, a steamy romance, and a lot of fun. Throw in a great supporting cast and an awesome 80s soundtrack and you have a fantastic blockbuster that I still enjoy.

#4 – “Hoosiers”

HOOSIERS

Sports movies are notoriously hit or miss. Rarely does a sports film hit every mark and blow me away. “Hoosiers” was one of those rare treats. Led by a fantastic performance by Gene Hackman, “Hoosiers” tells the story of a former college coach who comes to the small town of Hickory, Indiana to take over their basketball program. He wades through small town politics, a nervous school system, and anxious parents to take the team to the Indiana state tournament. Everything in the film works from David Anspaugh’s direction to Angelo Pizzo’s script which deals as much in humanity as it does sports. I love this movie.

#3 – “Platoon”

Platoon

Amid the indulgences and occasional heavy-handedness, “Platoon” gave us arguably the most visceral Vietnam war film ever made. Director Oliver Stone received criticism aimed at his motivations behind making the movie. I wouldn’t completely discredit them knowing Stone’s history, but as an individual piece of cinema, “Platoon” is amazing. It puts so much focus on its characters led by pre-Tiger Blood Charlie Sheen. And then there is the great work from Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger. “Platoon” is a movie that stands proudly on a soapbox. But it’s also an addictive cinematic experience and I have to watch it anytime I come across it.

#2 – “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

FERRIS

One of the quirkiest and most infectious comedies to come out of the 80s was “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Written and directed by the late and great John Hughes, the film has a most unique sense of humor. Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Bueller character became a cultural phenomenon and I remember everyone talking about this film. Simply put, Ferris Bueller skips school on a beautiful spring day with his friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloane. But Principal Rooney (played by the hilarious Jeffrey Jones) is hot on his trail. This is such a 1980s movie but it’s remarkable how well it holds up today.

#1 – “Aliens”

ALIENS

Easily, without hesitation, and without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite movie from 1986 is James Cameron’s “Aliens”. Not only is it my favorite movie of that year, it’s one of my favorite science fiction films and one of my favorite sequels of all time. This modern classic mixes horror, sci-fi, and military action to give us an amazing follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1979 groundbreaker. Sigourney Weaver gives us one of the strongest female characters in movie history. There’s also a great supporting cast featuring the likes of Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, and Bill Paxton. The look of the film is amazing, the action is intense, and there are so many memorable lines and scenes. I absolutely love “Aliens”.

So there are my five phenomenal movies from 1986. Did you see something I missed? Is there one you disagree with? I’d love to hear your thoughts or your picks in the comments section below.

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53 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Movies from 1986

    • Stand By Me is a great choice and it was so close to making it. Really good movie and I had a feeling someone would mention it. It still holds up well today, doesn’t it?

  1. Very solid list man, I’m right there with you with Hoosiers — it manages to (mostly) avoid the trappings of sports film cliches because of Hackman and an inspired story. So well-paced as well. Hopper was heartbreaking. As far as your #1 goes, I almost would want to give Alien, its predecessor the credit. Both are excellent, though. Master classes in sci-fi, no doubt.

    • Glad to see the love for Hoosiers. Great point about the pacing. It does move at just the right speed. Hopper was fantastic. If I remember right he got an Oscar nomination for his performance.

      Aliens can get some credit to its predecessor for sure. But one of the things I like so much about it is how it is a strong stand-alone movie. It really does define itself in its own terms while also embracing what made the first one so incredible. It’s a tricky task but I think it pulls it off perfectly. Glad to hear you love it too.

    • It was a good year, wasn’t it? I remember all of these well. Unfortunately I was young enough that my parents wouldn’t let me see Aliens in the theater. But I remember reading everything I could on it. I even read the paperback novel version.

      I’m assuming you’re a big fan of it as well?

      • Never caught on to Aliens so much. Platoon yes, Hoosiers absolutely (I’m a Hoosier (born in Indiana, not an IU basketball fan (that’s an important distinction))). And Ferris Bueller totally! That movie is timeless and so quotable.

      • I think one of Hoosiers’ charms was how well it captures small town sports. I’m from a small town in Arkansas and high school sports is a centerpiece of the community. The movie really get that.

    • Blue Velvet is one I assumed would be mentioned. It is a movie that I really felt the need to revisit before putting it on this list. Unlike many, it just hasn’t stuck with me so I really need to see it again. It’s been years.

  2. Great picks Keith, lots of good ones from this year. Top Gun is a modern classic isn’t it and of course ALIENS is genre-defining.

    I really should see Hoosiers, been hearing all kinds of good things about it. I always like a rousing sports drama!

    • Hey Ruth! I think you would really like Hoosiers. Sports is definitely present but this is so much more about the people and relationships. I would almost GUARANTEE that you would love it.

      What about “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller”?

  3. Brilliant list. The 80s has such awesome films. Memorable, fun, and real trailblazers for the film industry. So many films from the 80s are templates for SO many films now. Top Gun and Aliens being among them 😀

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I think you said it perfectly. The 80s definitely had its own unique flavor. They gave us a wide range of movies, but they were also movies that have really stood the test of time. I know I’m sounding a bit cliché but that really is the case.

  4. These are all good choices, especially Aliens and Platoon. Both still stand up very well 28 (yikes!) years later. I also really enjoy Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which sent the crew on a fun “fish out of water” time travel story. Hannah and Her Sisters is also one of Woody Allen’s best films.

    The big winner that needs to be mentioned is John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. There are so many great things about that movie, especially the way that it undercuts Kurt Russell as the hero and makes him a dummy. So brilliant.

    • Tell me about it!!! 28 years ago!!!

      I was pretty mixed on the Star Trek flick but I gave a lot of consideration to Hannah. Ultimately Top Gun made it on 80% nostalgia. I watched it so much growing up that I had to include it. I still find it fun.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Aliens was my unquestioned #1! Before I even started this list it had #1 wrapped up. I swear man I can watch that movie any time, any place. It’s that rare example of a perfect mixture of sci-fi and action. LOVE it bro. In fact it’s a Valhalla film!

    • Amen to that! Her Ripley from “Aliens” is one of the toughest female characters to ever hit the screen. Absolutely brilliant movie that I can watch anytime and anyplace.

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