As a kid of the 80’s I have enjoyed these looks back at that wonderful decade. I grew up watching a lot of films during those years and they provided us with some true classics. Some 80’s movies have aged really well while others haven’t. Then there are those that actually have gotten better. So now we are up to 1987, a year that brought a ton of fun genre films and some of my personal favorites. As always, since we are looking at a full year of movies I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But there’s no denying that these five films from 1987 are absolutely phenomenal.
#5 – “Wall Street”
I’ve never been the biggest Oliver Stone fan but his 1987 gem “Wall Street” is still a movie that I can turn on at any time and watch. A lot of it has to do with Michael Douglas’ Oscar-winning performance as the classic character Gordon Gekko. Douglas dominates every scene he is in and his Gekko character is as mesmerizing as he is devious. Charlie Sheen is great as Bud Fox, a young broker who quickly learns that shortcuts and trampling over others may get you some quick money but there are always consequences. The movie also boasts a fine supporting cast including Martin Sheen, Hal Holbrook, James Spader, and the great Terence Stamp. I love “Wall Street”.
#4 – “The Untouchables”
In 1987 Brian De Palma gave us the crime thriller “The Untouchables”. Kevin Costner, who also starred in another 1987 favorite of mine “No Way Out”, plays Elliot Ness and the film is loosely based on the real Ness’ pursuit of Al Capone in gangland Chicago. Costner is solid and he is surrounded by a strong cast including Andy Garcia as a young trainee who is chosen for Ness’ task force and Robert DeNiro who is a lot of fun as Al Capone. But there is no one better than Sean Connery who plays a seasoned and honest Irish cop who not only helps Ness in his pursuit of Capone but mentors him as well. Connery deservedly won the Academy Award for the performance. The movie looks great, is filled with gritty period action, and moves at a sizzling pace. It’s a film that is still fun to watch.
#3- “The Lost Boys”
Talk about a different take on vampire movies. “The Lost Boys” was a great mix of horror and comedy and was by far the best movie from ‘the two Coreys’. Corey Haim plays Sam. He moves to Santa Carla, California along with his mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest) and his older brother Michael (Jason Patric) to live with his grandpa. The problem is Santa Carla has a serious vampire problem. Michael gets involved with four local teen bikers led by David (wonderfully played by Keifer Sutherland) who turn out to be, you guessed it, vampires. What makes the movie work so well is that it never takes itself too seriously. While it certainly has horror elements it’s also genuinely funny especially after we’re introduced to the Frog brothers, comic book store owners by day, vampire hunters by night. A wonderful cast, some creepy moments, and some great laughs.
#2 – “Predator”
Look, I make no apologies for being a fan of the cheesy, over-the-top, action genre that was big during the 80’s. But John McTiernan’s “Predator” was different on many levels. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special forces team are sent into the dangerous Central American jungles to find out what has happened to a missing chopper. The movie follows some of the typical but fun formulas of the action genre but things change dramatically when an alien hunter shows up. Schwarzenegger, who was never accused of being a strong actor, is actually quite good here. The special effects are fantastic and the film features one of the single greatest military action sequences in movie history. Throw in Alan Silvestri’s unforgettable score and you have what I think is one of the best action movies of the 80’s.
#1 – “Raising Arizona”
With all of the quirky movies that Joel and Ethen Coen have given us since 1987, none show their wacky sense of humor better than “Raising Arizona”. This hysterical film centers on a habitual convenient store robber (Nicolas Cage) and his police officer wife (Holly Hunter) who come up with a hair-brained plan to take a baby from a wealthy couple who just had quints. Cage is simply perfect for the role and unlike most of his recent work, he really sells his character. The Coen’s unique brand of comedy is stamped all over this picture from the region specific humor to the hilarious array of side characters that pop up along the way. Also add in some incredibly funny work from John Goodman, William Forsythe, Sam McMurray, Frances McDormand, and Trey Wilson. “Raising Arizona” is still as funny today as it was when I first saw it. This brilliantly written and masterfully directed picture was only the Coen’s second film but it clearly revealed that the brothers would be a fantastic creative force for a long time. That’s shown to be true.
There they are – five phenomenal films from 1987. Now I have several others I could add to this list right now – movies I truly love and that have stuck with me over the years. What about you? What would be your favorite films of 1987?