The best movies from every year of the 1980s, according to Letterboxd

The 1980s were a great time for film, with countless classics that remain popular to this day being released alongside artistic – and often more challenging – films from directors at the height of their powers. Searching for the top-rated movies of the decade according to Letterboxd users makes it clear, with a movie-related social media site that allows users to see what the top-rated movies of any given year are.

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Doing this for every year of the 1980s is one way to get an overview of some of the most beloved films of the decade, according to users of the site. It’s a very diverse and interesting series of films, with some that are very well-known and accessible, and others that are a little more niche and/or arthouse. The top rankings from each year of the 1980s on Letterboxd are shown below, starting with 1980 and ending with 1989.

10 ‘Empires Strikes Back’ (1980)

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader battle Cloud City in 'Star Wars: Episode V - Empire Strikes Back'

Letterboxd Rating: 4.4/5

It is fair to call Empire strikes back The best movies released in 1980, although it was a particularly strong year for movies, which means Star Wars The sequel certainly has some competition. It continues the story of Luke Skywalker and the others in the Rebellion, taking things in a darker direction as the Imperial Forces fight back harder than ever after suffering defeat with the destruction of their Death Star in the previous film.

Related: The best movie sequels of all time, ranked

It is difficult to resist the power of Empire strikes back, and it truly deserves to be considered one of the best sequels of all time. It takes what was great about the first film from 1977 and improves on it in every way, in the process building strength. Star Wars One of the greatest and most culturally significant series of all time.

9 ‘Das Boot’ (1981)

A submarine captain in the control room in the movie Das Boot.
Image via Columbia Pictures

Letterboxd Rating: 4.3/5

A World War II movie doesn’t get more gritty, intense, or memorable than 1981. Das Boot. It is a German film about the crew on a submarine during the Second World War, and how they try to survive in their claustrophobic conditions, tired of life under water, and occasional (and scary) attacks from enemy forces.

It’s pretty close to perfect, and still has a huge impact more than 40 years after its release, and will likely continue to unsettle and unsettle audiences for years to come. It’s a clear indictment of war, showing that it’s boring and scary, but doing so in a way that never feels boring or pointless to watch, is overall cleverly done.

8 ‘Fanny and Alexander’ (1982)

Fanny and Alexander (1982)

Letterboxd Rating: 4.4/5

Fanny and Alexander is one Akira Kurosawa’s Favorite movie, so it seems like a very good endorsement for those who know how great Kurosawa’s own movies are. But at the same time, it may not need the approval of Kurosawa to sell it, because it is a film directed by. Ingmar BergmanArguably the most famous Swedish film producer of all time.

It’s also Bergman’s greatest work as a filmmaker, a beautifully crafted and brutal family drama that spans over three hours. It follows a family dealing with personal tragedy, showing things from the perspective of two children, Fanny and Alexander. It’s a film that’s hard to fault in any way, and feels like Bergman has been making it throughout his long career.

7 Nostalgia (1983)

Nostalgia - 1983
Image via Sovinfilm

Letterboxd Rating: 4.2/5

Andrei Tarkovsky Only made a few films in his life, but just about all of them are respected and loved, especially by Letterboxd users. It’s not too surprising to see his 1983 film, NostalgiaHas the highest rating on the site for any movie released that year.

Related: The Greatest Movies of the 1980s, Ranked

It’s a slow and sometimes challenging film, following a Russian poet who travels through Italy while researching a composer from the 1700s. Nostalgia The picture quality is generally beautiful, and perhaps more enduring than almost all Tarkovsky films (relatively late) although the poetic blending of past and present has clearly struck a chord with Letterboxd users.

6 ‘Stop Making Sense’ (1984)

Stop making sense David Byrne
Image via Cinecom International Films and Island Alive Releasing

Letterboxd Rating: 4.6/5

If Stop making sense Can count as a documentary, then it’s up there with the best of all time. It is a concert movie of a band Head talk At their creative and commercial peak, was filmed over three nights by the director Jonathan DemmeAnd then fix together to look like one seamless performance.

Even if you’re not a Talking Heads fan (and it would be weird if you didn’t like at least a few of their songs), Stop making sense Still worth watching, because the way it’s shot and edited is captivating, and more interesting than most concert film presentations. It has a reputation for being the best concert film of all time, and in all honesty, that claim is completely justified.

5 ‘Come and See’ (1985)

Let's see - 1985
Image via Sovexportfilm

Letterboxd Rating: 4.7/5

Not only Let’s see The highest rated movie of 1985 on Letterboxd, but it is also the second highest rated movie of all time – from any year – according to users of the site. It’s one of the best (and hardest) war movies of all time, following a young boy whose life becomes a living nightmare when he joins a group of anti-Soviet fighters during World War II.

Let’s see A slow-moving film that slowly turns into a nightmare, it shows the brutality of war in a way that few other films have come close to depicting so vividly. It’s a very challenging watch, but a powerful and unforgettable experience, and stands as one of the most powerful anti-war films of all time.

4 ‘The Sacrifice’ (1986)

Sacrifice - 1986
Image via Sandrew

Letterboxd Rating: 4.3/5

Just like what happened for 1983, another famous movie from Andrei Tarkovsky’s The filmography became the highest rated movie by Letterboxd users for 1986. SacrificeAnd it is notable for being a Swedish film, rather than a Russian one (like Tarkovsky’s other efforts), and for being the last filmmaker.

Related: Best Movies of 1986, Ranked

It runs for a long 2.5 hours, and follows a retired man who struggles with his beliefs and purpose in the world while friends and family are visiting him for his birthday. It becomes darker and more vivid as it goes along, a very slow – but always interesting – film that stands as one of Tarkovsky’s most challenging and terrifying.

3 ‘Where is the friend’s house?’ (1987)

Where is the friend's house - 1987

Letterboxd Rating: 4.3/5

Where is the friend’s house? It’s a remarkably straightforward film that shows once again that sometimes, simplicity is key to making a great movie. It is an Iranian film about a boy who mistakenly takes his classmate’s notebook home, and then travels to find his classmate before the next day of school, fearing that he will be expelled if the teacher discovers that he has lost the notebook.

This makes Where are the friends? Create the feeling of a small-time movie, or maybe even an adventure story with a normal, everyday setting. It doesn’t sound like much on paper, but it works well in practice, benefiting from a lot of natural acting and some very memorable visuals.

2 ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ (1988)

Seita and Setsuko stand in the meadow at night as fireflies flutter around them
Image via Toho

Letterboxd Rating: 4.4/5

A few Japanese anime films have been announced as Grave of the Fireflies, which is also famous for being one of the worst movies of all time. It follows a pair of brothers and sisters in Japan who are left without a family during the final days of World War II, and must fight to survive in a desolate landscape torn apart by global conflict.

It is the most famous Studio Ghibli film not directed by Hayao MiyazakiRather than being directed by someone less famous (but arguably just as successful) Isao Takahata. It’s a difficult movie to watch, but it’s impressive and tends to shake everyone who watches it, making it understandable why it’s the best movie of 1988, according to user Letterboxd.

1 ‘Do the Right Thing’ (1989)

Spike Lee - Do the right thing

Letterboxd Rating: 4.4/5

A well-written, stylishly directed, and wonderfully acted film, Do the right thing Representing revolutionary actors/filmmakers Huang Li His best. It happened during the hottest day of the year in a New York neighborhood where residents’ tensions are already high, with the weather pushing people closer to their breaking point, and the film’s tension building from the scene.

Few films are so well controlled and so consistently engaging, making give Do the right thing A thriller more than many thrillers, even if it is not a thriller. It’s instead a powerful and brutally honest look at racial tensions in America, with its core message and narrative still packed with punch – and still relevant – all these years from its initial release.

Next: The Greatest Movies of the 1990s, Ranked

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