Monday, February 22, 2010

1984: All-Time Best Movie-Year Lineup?

So Orel's post yesterday got me thinking: what has been the best movie year of my (conscious) lifetime? Keep in mind, I'm not talking about the year with the best two or three movies; I'm talking about the best entire lineup, one through nine.

Also, it's based on how much I liked the movie at the time it came out, not how much I like it today. For example, today I might not enjoy Gremlins as much as I did back in 1984. It doesn't matter - what matters is how much I enjoyed it when it came out in 1984. Similarly, I don't think I would have enjoyed, say, Up In The Air much as a 13 year old as I did 3 weeks ago when I saw it as an adult. But it would get high marks in this context because, lucky for it, it came out when I was an adult.

So, after a little more thought and research, I hereby confirm my initial assertion: 1984 was the best movie year of my lifetime. The only real competition was 1997. Here's a side-by-side comparison of their respective batting orders:

1984* Lineup
1997 Lineup
Romancing the Stone - I never really think of this movie as one of my favorites, but I really enjoyed it at the time. A poor man's Indiana Jones. Designated leadoff hitter. L.A. Confidential
The Karate Kid - Solid, Jeter-like production from the 2-hole. Con Air
Ghost Busters - MVP of the team. Must maximize at-bats by putting it #3. Good Will Hunting
Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom - Although it was my least favorite of the trilogy (I guess now it's a four-logy), it still blew me away, and is thus awarded the cleanup spot. The PG-13 controversy from the ripping-the-heart-out-of-the-chest scene was a bonus. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Terminator - Offers Temple of Doom formidable protection - who would dare pitch around it to face Arnold at his best? Life is Beautiful
Gremlins - Phoebe Cates + Killer Christmas Tree + Phoebe Cates = 6-hole. Titanic
Beverly Hills Cop - I'm not sure how this drops down to #7, but man the profanity was cool and edgy. Austin Powers
This is Spinal Tap - To me, this movie has gotten better with age, but it gets the 8-hole because I'm judging it on how much I liked it at the time - which was still a lot. Boogie Nights
Cloak & Dagger - I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much I liked it, but I remember seeing it and really wanting to be a spy. Men In Black

Interestingly, none of the 1984 movies are probably among my top 10 all-time. Part of that is because my tastes are different now, but I also think it speaks to the depth of field. And riding the 1984 bench are Top Secret!, Purple Rain, Nightmare on Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, and Hot Dog...The Movie, to name a few - films that would start on most other lineups.

So what do you guys think? Was there a better year than 1984?

*someone help me out here: did Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo really both come out the same year? Can they do that?


MR.F said...

I just watched Temple of Doom 2 days ago for the first time in years. I enjoyed it more than I remember.

Kyle Baker said...

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree and refer you to 1982, the year that gave us:

Blade Runner
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
First Blood
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
Pink Floyd The Wall
The Dark Crystal
Airplane II
Friday the 13th Part III (It was in 3D, right)

And of course The Empire Strikes Back

It also gave us Sophie's Choice, which brings the year of movies down a few notches.

Kyle Baker said...

And good point about it being all relative. It's what struck you at the time. Hell, at the time I thought LAND OF THE LOST was the absolute shizznit. I watched one the other night and was dumbfounded by how godawful those really were.

I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday but I can remember where I sat in what theater when I saw EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

MR.F said...

The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980. Any self-respecting Star Wars geek knows that.

MR.F said...

Damn, Harrison Ford sure was on fire in the early 80's.

1980 - Empire Strikes Back
1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 - Blade Runner
1983 - Return of the Jedi
1984 - Temple of Doom

Kyle Baker said...

FUCK ME! Sorry to draw a blank on that. Was typing on 2 different computers at once, one work and one play!

Eric Karros said...

1982 does look pretty good, pending verification of DB's list, but to me no match for '84. Only ET would crack my '84 lineup, as I didn't appreciate Blade Runner or The Wall until years later and didn't even see Fast Times until later as well.

Kyle Baker said...

Oh, and re: Cloak and Dagger:

Man, that was fascinating to me. It made me want to use video cartridges to be a spy. To this day, I am enamored with any spy stuff and not-so-secretly want to work for CIA or NSA.* But now I would use a flash drive pr something like that.

*Even though I am fundamentally opposed to much of their work.

Kyle Baker said...

If Raiders of the Lost Ark would have jumped from 1981 to 1982 it would be a hands-down winner.

Josh S. said...

You listed The Lost World as good, invalidating your whole methodology.

I kid, I kid.

1981 was pretty damn strong too. I'd go so far as to say 80-86 is the GOLDEN AGE of my lifetime at the movies.

Josh S. said...

This has given me good food for thought. When I have the time, I'm going to apply a formula to determine best movie year of my lifetime. That formula will be: Which year's Top 10 at the box office would make for the most enjoyable movie marathon (if I were to sit through them today)?

I'll do it tournament-style, choosing the best of the 00's, 90's, 80's and the half of the 70's I lived through. Then I'll pick the best of the best from those 4.

Kyle Baker said...

Jayson Werth has stolen Casey Blake's beard!

Nostradamus said...

I can't disagree with either '82 or '84.

'97 doesn't make the cut for me, but '94 was the perfect storm for my diseased adolescent mind, in that I could stomach serious movies, but my taste for drivel was still near it's peak levels.

Pulp Fiction
Shawshank Redemption
Dumb and Dumber
Ace Ventura Pet Detective
Forrest Gump
The Hudsucker Proxy

and, wait for it...

The Legend of Drunken Master

out of the bullpen:
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Clear and Present Danger

Nostradamus said...

'85 is also strong, at least through the top of the lineup.

Eric Karros said...

Yeah Mr C, I had '94 as my third best.

And Josh, I know it gets a bad rap but I can't deny I really liked Lost World. The scene where there was a van or maybe it was a trailer hanging by something and someone was trapped inside trying not to break the glass or he (or she?) would fall through was riveting.

As you can see that scene is vividly seared in my memory.

Nostradamus said...

The Lost World.

Say what you want, it's still better than Congo.

Kyle Baker said...

Slightly OT: Glee cast to perform at White House Easter Egg Roll:

If you ply Mrs. Dusty with enough cocktails, you can get her to show you pictures of her dressed as one of the eggs in the WH Easter Egg Roll, circa 1996.

Kyle Baker said...

CONGO! Goddamn that was a horrible, horrible movie.

Eric Karros said...


Steve Sax said...

EK, this is a family site, don't start cursing here

Jason said...

Making the case for 1986:

Star Trek IV (time travel! Spock's ear-hiding bandanna! Scotty deciphering how to use a Mac! Whales!)
Stand By Me
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Top Gun
The Three Amigos
Big Trouble in Little China
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
Short Circuit (or any other Guttenburg title of the year including Police Academy III)

... and of course: Cobra

Points reduced for Howard the Duck and Jumpin Jack Flash.

Nostradamus said...

Sadly, "Congo" was not even the worst movie I've watched all the way through.

That title goes to JCVD's "The Quest", undisputed. I died a little that day.

Nostradamus said...


Why was it that I only liked the even-numbered Star Trek sequels?

Kyle Baker said...

Trivia fans will note that COBRA was the first movie I saw legally as a 16-year old (e.g., an R-rated movie I didn't have to sneak into). Oh, was it worth it.

Nostradamus said...


I want so say that my first flick I got into with my real ID was The Usual Suspects, but it could have been Braveheart. I don't recall which I saw first.

Cliff Beefpile said...

i humbly submit, for your consideration, 1985:

the goonies
back to the future
the breakfast club
better off dead
day of the dead
rocky VI (dragooooo!)
just one of the guys (the first time i ever saw boobies)
the last dragon (leroy green, bitches)
pee-wee's big adventure
a view to a kill (one of the few good non-connery bond movies)
mad max beyond thunderdome
real genius
to live and die in l.a.
weird science

1984 might still have it beat, hard to top pheobe cates AND spinal tap. but in terms of volume, 1985 has a shot at the upset in the march movie madness tournament. losing to 1975 in the final four, though.

Kyle Baker said...

@el montanero

E.T. was def 1982 not 1985 (now my math is clicking!)

From Goonies to Weird Science, The alpha and the omega.

I'm not sure I make it a day without quoting from Weird Science.

Nostradamus said...


I could definitely move '85 to the top tier if I were able to appreciate Brazil at the time, but I was to discover it several years later.

View to a Kill is notable for three things only.

1. Walken
2. Grace Jones' ability to make my young mind very, very conflicted.

But that's just from where I'm sitting.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Call me a heretic, but I say 2007 was a great year in film.

The Simpsons Movie
I Am Legend
Knocked Up
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Kyle Baker said...

@Mr C re: Grace Jones

No shit. I don't think I've ever worked out my conflict after that.

Cliff Beefpile said...

@ dusty

you're right, i'm stupid, e.t. was 1982.

@mr. c

i didn't see you'd already nominated '85 and apologize for the theft of any thunder. also, i thought walken's performance, grace jones, and the duran duran theme song were enough to make it a great bond film. to say nothing of the fact that christopher walken was trying to take out the bay area via man-made earthquake. max zorin, closet dodger fan perhaps?

Fred's Brim said...

85 also had Spies Like Us

Nostradamus said...


No worries, you wave the '85 flag all day.

AVTAK get points for Walken, Jones, and the blimp (and participation credit for a Dolph Lundgren cameo, which I totally forgot about until I looked it up), but I'm taking points away for the absurd (even by 007 standards) plot, and the fact that Roger Moore was positively geriatric. It falls right at the median of the Roger Moore tenure for me. Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Octopussy were better, The Man with the Golden Gun, For Your Eyes Only, and (ugh) Moonraker were worse.

Felix Pardalis said...

Moore's face lift was really showing in AVtaK and that helped bring down a strong story and Walken's excellent scene chewing. Bond just doesn't look like he should, sadly.

FYEO, on the other hand, was probably his best outing as it avoided most of the silliness that came up in his earlier films. OP was close behind it, highlighted by Bond's disguise as a clown.

kudos for the Top Secret! mention. "This is NOT Mel Torme!"

Eric Stephen said...

Put me firmly in the 1984 camp.

However, UHF came out in 1989, so I'm waiting for that matchup!

Steve Sax said...

Gremlins and Top Secret! put 1984 in the driver's seat. There is sauerkraut in my lederhosen.

rbnlaw said...

Did you say, "Hot Dog: The Movie?"

You sir, are an outrage. What year did Joe Dirt come out? That'd be my year.

Jason said...

@Eric - I just watched UHF a couple of nights ago. And, I'm proud to say I have consumed a Twinkie dog. In public.

Top Secret! <french accent>Chocolate Mousse!</french accent>

Nostradamus said...

Freakin' UHF? God, I love you people.

Spatula City gift certificates for everyone!

Fred's Brim said...

Top Secret reminded me of Real Genius, which was also an 85er!

International Order for Gorillas memberships for everyone!

Kyle Baker said...

Did you really reference Joe Dirt? Wow...I'm repulsed and impressed at one time. I had blocked that one out.

rbnlaw said...

"That's right, I said 'Hemi.'"

Between that and Anchorman for my favorite comedies of all time. Something About Mary actually is the runaway best of all time.