5 Phenomenal Movies from 1989

movie_theatre - Phenom 5

Oh what a great year. At the risk of dating myself 1989 held quite a bit of significance for me. It was the year I graduated from high school. It was also a year rich with fun and entertaining movies. For a while now I’ve been looking back at the movies of the 1980s and we have finally reached 1989. As with the years before it, 1989 had a wacky mix of genres many of which featured that crazy 80s personality. Here are just five of the best of them. Obviously with so many films within a year’s time I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But there is no denying that these five films from 1989 are absolutely phenomenal.

#5 – “When Harry Met Sally”


Good romantic comedies are hard to come by these days, but that wasn’t always the case. 1989 gave us a great one in “When Harry Met Sally”. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan shine during a time when both of their careers were skyrocketing. Rob Renier’s direction is fantastic but this is really Nora Ephron’s baby. She received an Oscar nomination for her smart and witty screenplay which is the true lifeblood of the film. It is filled with such energy and charm while also being strikingly authentic. And it still holds up after all these years.

#4 – “My Left Foot”


Daniel Day-Lewis’ first movie appearance happened way back in 1971. But in 1989 he would rise to the top of his craft with his emotionally-charged performance in the Irish Drama “My Left Foot”. It is a stirring performance in a film that isn’t the most comfortable to watch. On the flipside of that, “My Left Foot” is a movie that pulls you in with its unquestionable passion and sincerity. It is impossible to stop watching once it begins and a lot of that comes back to Day-Lewis. He would win the first of his three Best Actor Oscars and you never doubt whether he is deserving.

#3 – “Field of Dreams”


For many years I called “Field of Dreams” the quintessential baseball movie. Without a doubt, it’s a film that gets to the core of why many of us love the game of baseball. But as I’ve grown older and watched the film more, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t the baseball aspect that makes it so good. It’s the family aspect that gives the movie its strong emotional punch. Kevin Costner is fabulous as a husband and father struggling to keep his family farm in Iowa. The movie has so much heart and a great supporting cast including Burt Lancaster in his final role.

#2 – “Batman”


I still remember the summer of 1989 and the release of Tim Burton’s “Batman”. I remember seeing it in the theater with a packed house of excited moviegoers. It was all we talked about for weeks following its release. Nothing has changed over the years. I still love that movie. Michael Keaton surprised a lot of people (including myself) playing billionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, the Dark Knight himself. But Jack Nicholson stole the show playing the Joker. He gives us two incredible personas – a goofy, mischievous clown and a maniacal violent psychopath. It is so much fun and it landed during a time where superhero movies weren’t commonplace.

#1 – “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”


Growing up in the 1980s was really great and the movies offered a lot to enjoy. One of the great pleasures for me was the Indiana Jones series and 1989 gave us the last of his movies (Look, I know the “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” came out a few years ago but who counts it?). I often think the “The Last Crusade” is terribly underappreciated. It is an Indiana Jones film through and through, but it also features a wonderful father/son family dynamic between Harrison Ford and the great Sean Connery. The film is loaded with the signature great action and humor of the other films, but it has the most heart of any of them. Don’t cut this great installment short.

So that wraps up my Phenomenal 5 look at the 1980s. What did you think of this list? Is there a 1989 movie you think I missed? I would love to hear your thoughts. Hit the comments section below and let me know what you think. Now, on to the 90s?

42 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Movies from 1989

  1. Wow. You graduated high school and I got married…late. Yes, indeed. Quite a film year. Fine set you’ve named. Certainly the top two were blockbusters and the third heartfelt. Of course, your last two are far from just chicken liver. 😉

    Well done, Keith.

    • Thanks! Quite a year indeed. The blockbusters took the top spots though. I still remember standing in line to see Batman. The theater was absolutely packed!

  2. I really need to rewatch and reevaluate Field of Dreams.

    For me, 1989 is all about:

    1) The Little Mermaid
    2) sex, lies and videotape
    3) When Harry Met Sally
    4) The Fabulous Baker Boys
    5) Sweetie

    • Very interesting list. We only match up on one! Mermaid never did much for me. I know a lot of people appreciate it but it’s just not my thing

  3. I have some catching up to do. This is a list jam-packed with classics. Makes me wish I were growing up in this time and was able to see these as they debuted. Most notably ‘Batman’ and ‘The Last Crusade.’

    With ‘When Harry Met Sally’ making this list I might have to give that a shot as well. Haven’t ever thought much of it to be honest.

  4. A great year.
    The Fabulous Baker Boys, When Harry Met Sally, License to Kill, The Abyss, Glory. My only gripe was Michelle Pfeiffer losing out for best actress at the academy awards.

  5. Cool list. For me,

    1. Do the Right Thing
    2. Batman
    3. Dead Poets Society
    4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    5. Harlem Nights

    So many more excellent movies to choose from.

  6. Your top three are definitely winners. The Little Mermaid May not have done much for you but it launched the Disney renaissance, and the music is still better than anything done since. It is also the first movie my kids loved, just at the start of their memories. License to Kill was the last 007 for six long years, and it was a brutal basses Dalton that brought Bond to life. I have to agree Keith, 1989 was a vintage year. 82,84 and 89 are the top three years of the decade.

    • It was fun going back through the the decade of my youth. So many good movies and it was amazing how the decade put out so many ‘distinctly 80s’ films. Fun years for sure!

    • LOVE that you mentioned Licence to Kill Richard!! YES that’d be on my list too from 1989, and I also love Little Mermaid!

      P.S. So Keith, when are you gonna give Dalton’s Bonds a watch? 😉

  7. Nothing wrong with your excellent choices at all Keith, of course, but I’ll plump for five different films that I enjoyed. A couple are mentioned by people above but how about Dead Poet’s Society, Do The Right Thing, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Back To The Future Part II, Crimes and Misdemeanours and Casualties Of War?

  8. Awesome list Keith! I’ve only seen four of these, and I TOTALLY agree w/ #1! They even showed that invisible bridge scene at church the other day to illustrate faith in what you can’t see 😀 I still need to see “My Left Foot”, boy just looking at that pic, I could see why Day-Lewis won that year.

    • Thanks Ruth! It was quite the movie year. Definitely seek out My Left Foot! DDL is just as good as you probably expect! And I love Last Crusade. It is Indiana Jones through and through!

  9. “Field of Dreams” was way too mawkish, sentimental, and predictable for me. Additionally, there was barely any conflict at all (the conflict that was there was either resolved instantly or basically forgotten about), and the ending scene would’ve touched me a lot more if a) it wasn’t so goddamn cheesy, and b) if I’d actually known more about the relationship between Costner’s character and his father beyond “they didn’t like each other at one point, and Costner called Shoeless Joe a criminal for some reason”.

    • Oh I adore that movie (obviously). I think it’s the right kind of sentimental and as a lover of baseball it really strikes a chord. But it’s that final scene that gets to me. I get that there is an ambiguity when it comes to Ray’s father, but I really didn’t need a lot of clarity. I bought Ray as a son hurting from the time he missed with his father. It really works for me.

      • Yeah, I totally get why some people would find that final scene moving, but I still wish the film would’ve spent more time with that plot point other than that scene in the car where Costner explains it all to the audience. I guess my biggest problem with the film is that I’ve always found that kind of cloying, manipulative, “aw-shucks” sentimentality to be wooden and fake to an extraordinarily irritating degree, so maybe it’s just me.

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