So several creators have been posting the top ten films of the year they were born, and I thought it was an interesting idea. The most interesting thing about it, I think, is finding out exactly what was happening in pop culture when you were too young to remember. Most people, I think, know when movies came out, especially if you fancy yourself an aficionado, but I don't think many people take the time to stop and think, "This movie came out the same year I did!" It kind of puts things in perspective a little bit. As an interesting side note, as I sit down to write this, I am currently watching the "1980" episode of I Love the 80s on YouTube. So let's begin, and remember, these are in no particular order.
Friday the 13th
I really love horror movies, however - with rare exception - slasher movies are mostly crap. They are the bottom of the barrel of the horror film genre. They are generally devoid of any actual story or relatable characters, and basically exist just as exhibition pieces for gratuitous sex, nudity, violence and gore. Now, while I am not necessarily prejudiced to any of these things, I think that if they are going to be in a movie then they need to further the story, and be necessary. Titties for the sake of titties are a distraction. All of that said, the original Friday the 13th was a really good movie. It was the story of literally a mother driven insane by grief and taking revenge on the irresponsible teenage camp counselors whom she blames for the death of her son, Jason Voorhies. If you've never seen the original Friday - SPOILER ALERT - Jason isn't the killer! Jason doesn't become the killer until Friday the 13th, Part II. Even if you don't like the Friday movies, or slasher movies in general, you really should check out the first one. The second one is good too, but it isn't the wonderful film the first one was.
While the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining currently holds an 8.5 approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it was critically acclaimed back in the 80s, modern opinions of the film seem to be rather mixed. Even Stephen King himself has made comments of his disapproval of the film, which even led to him writing a remake himself in 1997. On one hand, Stanley Kubrick was a genius filmmaker and The Shining showcases that brilliance, it is an amazing Kubrick film, but on the other hand, it took a lot of liberties with the source material, even going so far as to pretty much change the entire point of the story. It really isn't the Stephen King novel, but it is still a great movie for what it is. The television miniseries remake was good at being an almost literal translation of the novel, but it also fails at capturing the same feel and the same terror that the original had. Let's just face facts, Mick Garris is no Stanley Kubrick, and Steven Webber is no Jack Nicholson. In a perfect world, we would have gotten the Stephen King script, all four and a half hours of it, directed by Kubrick and starring the same cast from the original film, but alas, what we got is what we got. Two versions of the same story, and both quite good for what they are: a Stanley Kubrick movie and a Stephen King novel brought to life.
The Blues Brothers
Elwood: It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.
What can I say about The Blues Brothers that it doesn't already say for itself? This movie instilled in me a love of both car chases and blues music. And let's be honest, who hasn't wanted to buy a retired black and white police car and cruise around in their own Blues Mobile? I know I did, and a part of me still does.
Somewhere in Time
Somewhere in Time was based on a novel called Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, one of the most influential science fiction writers of the 20th Century. Christopher Reeve stars as a modern day playwright who sees a painting in a hotel dining hall of an actress from 1912. He is immediately enchanted by her, and while investigating her he discovers that he is destined to go back and time and fall in love with her, so he does. He wills himself back to 1912 and finds her in the same hotel where he was staying in 1980. The real payoff for this film, however, is the ending. It is so tragic that I would venture to say that if you don't tear up just a little bit, then you have no soul and you like to kick puppies.
Shut up. No, seriously, just stop. Stop hating. Popeye was by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but it wasn't intended to be and people really need to start accepting that not every movie wants to be a brilliant artistic endeavor. Just wanting to deliver a couple hours of fun as a diversion from every day life is a perfectly valid reason for making a film, and Popeye definitely does that. Popeye was a live action cartoon, and it did that admirably. It was funny, it was smart and the entire cast, especially Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, were brilliant in it. Robin Williams wasn't playing Popeye, he just was Popeye. I hear so many people give this movie crap, and it currently holds only a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I really think people are too hard on this movie. No, it isn't Citizen Kane, but come on, it's Popeye. It was never going to be some artistic masterpiece and you really shouldn't expect it to be.
The Empire Strikes Back
Invariably, the conversation of sequels that were better than the originals will come up in conversation whenever film buffs gather around to talk about movies, and two movies always come up; The Godfather, Part 2 and The Empire Strikes Back. In the large landscape that is the Star Wars Saga, many fans still consider this to be the best movie of the entire franchise, and The Force Awakens certainly does have some big shoes to fill if it has any aspirations of changing that. Empire was full of great twists and ends on such a down note, that you almost expect it to have To Be Continued... appear on the screen before the credits started to roll. Of course, that didn't happen (at least not until Back to the Future, Part II). Even though those words never appeared on screen, everyone knew that Luke Skywalker would be back and that the story was far from over. The Empire would get theirs in the end.
Based on the real life of boxing middleweight Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull might possibly be the greatest boxing movie ever made. Obviously, as one of three boxing movies that have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, it does have some stiff competition, but it definitely gets my vote as the best. Shooting the film in black and white gave it a mood, and really helps to immerse the viewer into the period. LaMotta was a very trouble soul, and the film doesn't try to sugarcoat that aspect at all. Joe Pesci is wonderful in this film being Joe Pesci and DeNiro is brilliant as always. While not on the same level as a film at all, it was great seeing DeNiro return to boxing for the film Grudge Match. Rocky Balboa vs the Raging Bull? What could be better than that?
Coal Miner's Daughter
This biopic of country music superstar Loretta Lynn currently holds a perfect score, 100% Fresh, on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is certainly deserving of that. A true rags to riches story, Loretta was born into poverty, one of eight children, marries at age 15 and is a grandmother before her 30th birthday. As a 25 year old mother of four, Loretta begins singing in small honky tonks as a way of making some extra money to support her family when she is discovered by Norm Burley, the owner of Zero Records. The film follows Loretta's rise to fame in the 1960s, and it is a truly inspirational tale, proving that you can't just wait for opportunity to come to you, or complain about how unfair life is and expect the world to change. You have to get out there and make your own opportunities, and great rewards will follow.
The Nude Bomb
Long before Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway joined together to make the Get Smart movie in 2008, the original Maxwell Smart himself, Don Adams, made the original Get Smart movie, The Nude Bomb. Many characters and actors from the original television series were brought back for this film, with the notable exception of Barbara Feldon as Agent 99. In fact, the wife of Maxwell Smart is never even mentioned, leading most fans to consider the film outside of the canon of the television series. The Nude Bomb did a fantastic job of retaining the feel, and even most of the catchphrases from the original television series, while also adapting to the cinematic format. Also missing from the film was Ed Platt as "The Chief", because Platt had unfortunately passed away six years earlier. The film also watched much more like a James Bond parody than the television series had managed to be, probably because of the more cinematic format, which better matched the format of the Bond films than an episodic sitcom could ever try to. If nothing else, this movie is worth a watch just for the skydiving scene and the car chase, with Maxwell Smart driving his desk.
For a long time, Superman II was considered by many to be the best Superman film of the Christopher Reeve era. Richard Donner, the director of Superman: The Movie had been sacked, and his replacement, Richard Lester, had brought many campy and silly elements into the film, but the film still managed to shine even through the memory-wipe kiss and giant cellophane S-shield. Donner had actually already shot a majority of the Superman sequel while on production of the first film, and much of his original footage survived the final cut, which I think saved this film. For example, Gene Hackman didn't shoot a single scene for Lester. His scenes had been filmed with Donner, and although he was asked to come back for reshoots, he declined out of respect for Donner, who most of the cast had felt was fired unfairly. Eventually, to tie-in with Superman Returns in 2006, Donner was afforded the opportunity to recut the film with all of his available footage. Since Donner had only shot 75% of the film before being fired, some Lester stuff does still remain in Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, but it is still a vastly superior film to the original cut.
There you have it, the top 10 films of 1980, the year of my birth.