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?