The Movies That Mattered:
Normally I hate to be blatantly manipulated, but when it comes to sports movies, I’m easy pickings. Sitting at the top of most sports fans’ list of the best sports movies is Hoosiers, a sentimental ode to the underdog that shamelessly plays to every emotion. I love Hoosiers for all those reasons, but I also love it because it’s got great performances and classic storytelling. It’s no wonder that director Richard Anspaugh also directed Rudy, another sappy sports favorite. I’m such a sucker.
About Last Night…
I refuse to take any grief here. This movie is as guilty a pleasure as they come and I’m not ashamed. I mean, how can anyone resist a melodramatic romance drama starring two of the ‘80s cheesiest but most beautiful actors, Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. Neither of them can act worth a damn, but there’s just something about their over-emoting and “look how sexy I am in these sweatpants” style of acting that is irresistable.
This is one of those movies that you only need to see once for it to stay with you forever. I haven’t seen it in 26 years but the instant I think of it, I’m right back there in the jungle, mesmerized by the performances of Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro and the intensity and scope of this magnificent film that certify its place among the best historical dramas of all time. The most un-DeNiro performance of DeNiro’s career makes it one of his most memorable.
Pretty in Pink
I’ve never been a Molly Ringwald fan, but I adore this movie. I don’t even like Andrew McCarthy and I still love this movie. Why? Because it’s the perfect ‘80s teen movie. It’s got star-crossed lovers, a totally adorable underdog, a slimy villain and awesome music. And what writer/director John Hughes knows how to do so well is build a movie through great scenes. I defy you to find one scene in Pretty in Pink that isn’t thoroughly entertaining. Then again, maybe it’s just all about Duckie, arguably my generation’s most beloved—and relatable—character. The Duck-man lives forever.
Back to School
The legendary Rodney Dangerfield gives a master-class in the art of the one-liner in this surprisingly sweet comedy classic that has a re-watchability factor off the charts. Extra bonuses: Oingo Boingo playing a party and Robert Downey Jr. trying to act despite being clearly high in every scene.
I had a rule when I was younger that nobody could talk to me right after a movie—I think that started with Platoon. I was so emotionally spent and psychically ravaged by Platoon that I literally could not speak when it was over. Oliver Stone may be a total hit-or-miss director, but when he knows his stuff, he’s as good as they come.
Crimes of the Heart
This year’s Jessica Lange movie pairs her with two other Oscar-winning actresses, Diane Keaton and Sissy Spacek in a quirky and low-key comedy about three sisters forced to come to terms with their odd family. While it’s not one of my favorite Jessica movies, seeing her on screen with Keaton and Spacek is a real treat.
Trailer provided by Video Detective
I bet if I watched it again, I’d be sorely disappointed. But, back in 1986, this movie was a blast. There are some movies where the only part you remember is how you felt leaving the theatre. Sometimes that’s enough.
The Money Pit
2 years after his debut in Splash and 2 years before he’d truly make it to the A-list in Big, Tom Hanks stole the show in the Money Pit, a hilarious movie about a young couple who buy the ultimate fixer-upper house. Hanks proves he is a master at physical comedy and Shelley Long turns in her best big-screen performance as his hapless wife in this movie that is even funnier—but more painful—to watch AFTER you’ve bought real estate.
Just Between Friends
This is my favorite made-for-TV movie of all time. Wait, it wasn’t a made-for-TV movie? Oh, well then, this is my favorite badly-written, shamelessly manipulative and outrageously dated movie of all time. Christine Lahti is one of my favorite actresses, but she seems drawn to projects like this, a cheesy movie about two friends who have a massive falling out over a man (it’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s the gist). Mary Tyler Moore is talented too, but this movie is not about great performances, it’s about schmaltz and dime-store novel emotional simplicity—and boy, is it awesome.
Trailer provided by Video Detective
Looking for a classic ‘80s movie? Look no further. C’mon, a movie doesn’t have to be smart to be good.
One Crazy Summer
Speaking of not smart…. I love this movie for one reason and one reason only: it’s filmed on Nantucket. I never said I was a pure critic.
There are formulas for a reason—they work and people fall for them when done right. And Top Gun does it all right. No matter how much I want to hate it, it’s impossible to not get sucked in.
The Movies That Should Have Mattered More:
The Color of Money
Paul Newman going through the motions, Tom Cruise in love with himself (which would prove to be his calling card for the rest of his career), and Martin Scorsese whoring himself out for a mainstream hit? No thanks.
Stand By Me
Oh, I’m going to get such grief for this. So many of my peers consider Stand By Me a seminal film from their youth—a landmark movie about coming of age and friendship. For me though it was just an average movie with a great soundtrack that was most notable for featuring the debut of the supremely talented and gone-far-too-soon River Phoenix.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Of the two John Hughes movies of 1986, this one was my least favorite, which clearly places me in the minority. I’ll honestly say I didn’t get at first what everyone loved so much about this comedy that rung hollow for me when I was 16. Probably due to the fact that I was starting to lean towards the darker side of pop culture, Ferris was just too mainstream for me. Give me offbeat, misunderstood teenagers any day over a snarky, cocky, get-away-with-anything smart aleck. I have since come to love the movie as an adult, but more for its well-paced story and one-liners than its generation-specific muse. I know…I’m un-American.
The Ones That Might Have Mattered, But I Missed:
Children of a Lesser God
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
Down by Law
Hannah and Her Sisters
Peggy Sue Got Married
Sid and Nancy
1986 Oscar winners:
Best Picture: Platoon
Best Director: Oliver Stone, Platoon
Best Actor: Paul Newman, The Color of Money
Best Actress: Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Caine, Hannah and Her Sisters
Best Supporting Actress: Dianne Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters