The 1980s was a fascinating decade. Those who are fortunate enough to have experienced it will remember the music, the movies, the fashion,… Luckily, even younger people can vicariously live through the 1980s thanks to Netflix.
If you spend to long browsing Netflix looking for good movies that are fun to watch, look no further. In this article we will tell you what are the best 1980s movies to stream on Netflix right now. Whether you are an old-time Netflix subscriber or are just enjoying you 30 day free trial, we have some excellent suggestions for you. We have made every effort to include a fair representation of the different movie genres available to make sure that our selection of the best 1980’s movies on Netflix caters to as many different tastes as possible. Enjoy our suggestions!
Say hello to my little friend! – Scarface
This 1984 movie is about the life of music composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Unless you are a fan of classical music, this may not sound like an exciting prospect to watch on a Sunday afternoon. If you think like that, boy could you be any more wrong!
Directed by the Czech acclaimed film director Miloš Forman, Amadeus is a fast-paced movie that begins with the attempted suicide of the man who killed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham). After failing in the attempt of ending his own life, Salieri, who had been a composer and conductor, tells his story to a priest named Father Vogler played by Richard Frank. It transpired that Salieri had met Mozart when the genius first arrived in Vienna as a child.
Set in 18th century Vienna, Amadeus is masterfully directed and huge fun to watch. Tom Hulce plays the titular character seemingly effortlessly and with a sense of gusto.
Amadeus was a commercial and critical success when it was released in the 1980s. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, four BAFTA Awards and a Directors’ Guild of America. Here is the list of some of the awards it won:
- Best Director: Miloš Forman
- Best Picture: Saul Zaentz
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Peter Shaffer
- Best Actor in a Leading Role: F. Murray Abraham
- Best Costume Design: Theodor Pištek
- Best Art Direction: Karel Cerny and Patricia von Brandenstein
- Best Makeup: Dick Smith and Paul LeBlanc
- Best Sound Mixing: Mark Berger, Thomas Scott, Christopher Newman, and Todd Boekelheide.
- Best Motion Picture Drama: Saul Zaentz
- Best Director: Miloš Forman
- Best Screenplay: Peter Shaffer
- Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama: F. Murray Abraham
- Best Cinematography: Miroslav Ondricek
- Best Editing: Michael Chandler and Nena Danevic
- Best Sound: Mark Berger, Thomas Scott, Christopher Newman, and Todd Boekelheide.
- Best Makeup Artist: Dick Smith and Paul Leblanc
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Now, here is a beloved movie. They simple do not may family movies like they used to! Steven Spielberg directed this 1982 movie about a cute and vulnerable alien who is protected by a group of suburban siblings in California.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial was a huge box office success around the world when it was originally released in theaters. It is now considered who of the best science fiction and family movies ever mind. In many ways E.T. The Extra Terrestrial is the best cross-generational movie: it is certainly a treat-jerker but it is also full of humor and action, too.
The movie stars Henry Thomas as 10-year old Elliot, the kid who befriends E.T.; Robert McNaughton played, Eliot’s older brother, Michael; Drew Barrymore was their younger sister, Gertie; and Dee Wallace played their mother who is so busy keeping her life together after a divorce that she does not even realize E.T. live in the house for quite some time.
E.T. The Extraterrestrial won four Oscars including Best Sound, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Effects Editing.
If you are looking for something a little bit more adult, 1987’s Fatal Attraction may be the thing for you. This psychological thriller about erotic obsession stars Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer.
The movie, directed by Adrian Lyne and written by James Dearden, tells the nightmare Dan Gallagher’s life becomes when his lover Alexandra Forrest refuses to end their illicit affair. The woman becomes obsessed with Dan and begins to harass him constantly to the point he has to move away with his family. But this does not stop Alexandra…
So far we have a converted the prestigious art movie, the family film, and the adult movie, but how about teenagers? This group of viewers were treated to some of the best movies portraying adolescence, which were produced in the 1980s. Most notably the films written and directed by John Hughes.
1984’s Sixteen Candles is one his best films. Nothing goes right for Samantha “Sam” Baker on the day of her 16th birthday. Even her family, who are too busy organizing her older sister’s wedding forget it is her birthday! And, what is even worse, the guy she is in love with does not even know she exists!
This timeless tale of teenage angst, at times moving and at other times laugh-out funny, stars Molly Ringwald as Sam, Paul Dooley as Jim Baker, Justin Henry as Mike Baker, and Anthony Michael Hall as Ted. Movie fans will also no doubt spot real life brother and sister John and Joan Cusak.
The Princess Bride
The Pricess Bride is one of those movies that had a discreet release but that over the years has become a true cult classic. It is probably the combination of comedy, adventure, romance, and fantasy that have made The Princess Bride endurably successful.
Directed by Rob Reiner in 1987, the movie stars Cary Elwes, Robin Wright (who you can also see in Netflix House of Cards), Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, Billy Cristal, and Peter Falk.
Talking about cult classic, the 1988 was a total and utter box office failure when it was released in theaters. Since them, its fans have become legion.
The popular trio of students knows as “Heathers” formed by friends Hether Chandler (played by Kim Walker), Heather Duke (played by Shannen Doherty), and Heather McNamara (Liane Falk) terrorize their suburban Ohio high school. The movie stars Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer and Christian Slater as Jason “J.D.” Dean.
In 1989, director Tim Burton and producer Jon Peters brought the dark crusader to the big screen to the big screen. Years before the Dark Knight movies, Warner Brothers started a series of Batman movies which began with this one.
Batman starred Jack Nicholson as the Joker, Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon, and Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent. Batman is unmissable for comic fans or superhero fans alike. It is a true classic of the genre!
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Mixing animation and live action in one movie had done before in certain sequences (for instance, in Mary Poppins), what Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a huge achievement even by today’s standards. This 1988 movie directed by Robert Zemeckis has live action detective Eddie Valiant (played by Bob Hoskins) investigate who is behind a murder animated character Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fletcher) is being framed for. The result is a hugely entertaining and funny movie.
The Money Pit
When a young couple set their eyes on buy a mansion in need of repairs, they think they are getting a real bargain. What they do not know is that the house is literally falling apart. The Money Pit was one of the biggest comedies of the 1980s.
With a hot star like Tom Hanks playing attorney Walter Fielding and the then very popular Shelley Long as his girlfriend Anna Crowley, it is no wonder theatrical audiences for this movie were huge. If you are after some goofy laughs, you could do much worse that this movie.
Coming to America
Just rounding off our list of the best 1980s movies on Netflix, what better than another comedy.
Coming to America was a star vehicle for comic Eddie Murphy who, in fact, created the original story. The movie was then directed by John Landis in 1988.
Eddie Murphy is an African crown prince named Akeem Joffer who visits the United States in search of a suitable wife after rejected the wife arranged by his parents. The results of his American adventure are hilarious.
The stellar casts included Murphy’s fellow comedian Arsenio Hall as Akeem’s friend, Semmi; James Earl Jones as his father the King of the fictional African nation of Zamunda; John Amos as Cleo McDowell who gives Akeem a job working in his fast food restaurant in the United States; Magde Sinclair as Akeem’s mother, Queen Aeoleon; and Shari Headily as Lisa McDowell, Cleo’s daughter and the woman Akeem’s falls in love with.
Coming to America was also a huge box office success. It was Eddie Murphy’s 7th feature after 48 Hrs. Trading Places (also directed by John Landis), Best Defense, Beverly Hills Cop, The Golden Child, Beverly Hills Cop II, and Eddie Murphy Raw (in which he played himself). After his initial popularity on NBC’s sketch-comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL), Murphy had become a bona fide movie star and a huge box office draw by the late 1980s.