5 Phenomenal Movies from 1987

PHENOM 5

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?

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45 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Movies from 1987

  1. That’s a great list, particularly Raising Arizona. I was only 3 in 1987, so my list would be a mix of epic films and films I loved as a kid. The Last Emperor is an amazing film with a great performance from Peter O Toole. Full Metal Jacket has to be one of the best war films. Good Morning Vietnam another Great War film with a film stealing performance from Robin Williams. As a kid I loved Batteries Not Included as loved the idea of little spaceships flying around the house. I was a big He-Man fan as a kid, so I was so excited when it came out as a film particularly seeing Skeletor come to life.

  2. These are definitely 5 phenomenal choices. For my personal top 5, I’d have to find a spot for Full Metal Jacket. Some other movies I’d consider: Fatal Attraction, Moonstruck, Robocop, and Eddie Murphy Raw.

    • Ahhh Dirty Dancing. My wife would as that one as well! No doubt about it. Empire is very good indeed. It’s one I’ve been meaning to watch again for several years.

  3. Can’t say I’ve ever warmed to Raising Arizona as much as most people (my favorite Coen films are Fargo and The Big Lebowski). The performances are suitably outlandish as is the Coen’s sense of wacky humor but I’ve always felt oddly distanced from the story.

    Your other choices are perfect though. I love the 1980s in general, many of my favorite movies of all time were released during the decade, two of which are Predator and The Lost Boys.

    • Oh definitely give these films a watch. They are well worth it. 1987 was a crazy year and there were tons of good movies from every genre. RoboCop is one of the many really good movies. I’m a big fan of it too.

  4. YES, Raising Arizona is amazing. I actually love a lot from this year. The Dead, My Life as a Dog, The Princess Bride…such varied films and yet all so engaging and memorable. I wasn’t keen on your #5 and #4, but I admit to not having seen The Lost Boys (I need to get on that). Nice varied list, which also shows how strong the year was, even if I don’t really agree with two of your choices. This year had so much to offer.

    • You’re exactly right. 1987 had tons to offer regardless of your preferences in movies. So many different films from different genres. Definitely give Lost Boys a shot. It’s a load of fun!

  5. Has it really been 25 years ago? Geez, time flies.
    Empire of the Sun! It’s one of my favorite Christian Bale performances. Loved everything about it. Dirty Dancing–well, that’s my daughters favorite and I’ve seen it through her 20 times. Patrick was beautiful to watch 😉 Full Metal Jacket, Gomer Pyle Vincent D’Onofrio was brilliant. Broadcast News–loved the ensemble chemistry. Fun post, Keith.

      • The scenes with her crying for no reason had me scratching my head for years. Then as I grew older and life attacked at full force, I realized it was a way to deal with being overwhelmed. She had to keep her cool around the men, but like a tea kettle, she needed to leave off steam. Great character.

  6. 1987 was a pretty good year. I’d add Full Metal Jacket and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but I like many of your choices (particularly Raising Arizona).

  7. I agree w/ all though I have yet to see your #1. Lots of people recommended that on my Nic Cage list from Friday though, so I better get on that!

    • Raising Arizona is a must see. I swear, I can pop that movie in anytime and laugh my head off. I know every gag and every goofy line but it still remains funny to this day.

  8. Great choices, especially Predator and Raising Arizona!

    Think I’d have to put in Princess Bride into my 1987 list. Such a perfect little film.

    • Princess Bride certainly has a huge following. I like it a good deal myself. Just not quite as much as the five listed. It is always fun to revisit though, isn’t it?

      • Can not get enough of that film. I try and watch it at least once a year! Very quotable. Very uplifting!

        How about Robocop? That was another good one from ’87.

      • Robocop was so, so hard to leave off this list. I can’t tell you how many times I watched it once it came out on VHS. Clarence Boddicker – one of the most detestable villains ever put on screen. Great movie.

  9. Think its easy to overlook Predator, but at the time the effects were pretty astounding and the story was truly unusual. Easy to see this as just another Arnie movie, well its way above Par for him

    • You’re exactly right. I remember when this came out in theaters. My parents wouldn’t let me see it but once it hit VHS I was blown away. My buddies and I talked about it and mimicked the characters constantly. But I have to say that it holds up surprisingly well for me today. I just really love that movie.

      Thanks so much for the comments.

  10. This very wicked list happily reminds me of the very good year for movies that 1987 was. All of these films are so nostalgic for me. The Untouchables and Predator are tied for best flicks that year for me. Thanks! 😉

      • Oh it surely was. So many great releases. Witches of Eastwick, Lethal Weapon, Spaceballs, Fatal Attraction, Broadcast News and let’s not forget Superman 4!!! 😉

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