This now closes out a decade that doesn't compare well to other decades, in fact it was the worst decade for nominated films. Follow through it, there are really good films at the end of the list.
50. Tess (1980) - An adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles that just isn't worth watching. It goes on forever, the story is painful to watch, as well as most of the acting. Worst of the decade.
49. The Big Chill (1983) - Baby Boomers hitting their 30's and whining about it. You would think they were the only generation to grow old? A bad remake of The Return of the Secaucus 7 which really wasn't that great of a movie either.
48. Terms of Endearment (1983) - A terrible film from a rather terrible year. The 80’s were not known for making good movies and this is a perfect example of one of them. It’s a sappy tearjerker of a film that had the luck to come out at the right time. Just like a team that finishes one game above five hundred but win’s their division, this is what you get.
47. Reds (1981) - This film is a way too long, over bloated story about John Reed during the Russian Revolution. I'm not very comfortable to see people die a painful death in a movie, but in this case I can make an exception.
46. Missing (1982) - Another Costa Gravas disaster just like Z that leaves you wondering why do you even bother making a movie. Jack Lemon and Sissy Spacek are great actors and that is only reason why I can see this film even being nominated.
45. On Golden Pond (1981) - Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman in a somewhat slow moving drama about a daughter dropping off her soon to be step child with her parents in their summer home. Her father is old, angry and has never liked anyone but bonds with the kid over fishing. When his daughter comes back she is jealous of the relationship that the kid has that she never did and cries.
44. Children of a Lesser God (1986) - A romantic drama that is mainly based upon a deaf character and a teacher at a school for the deaf. Typical 80's movie that really isn't much to watch. Rather comical at times trying to make a bigger deal out of things that are really not that important. But you have to have conflict to help the story along, and it does it, but not very effectively.
43. The Accidental Tourist (1988) - A boring film about a man going through a divorce and meeting someone new. A typical obnoxious Baby Boomer drama which was common during this era. You might ask why was this nominated? I suggest asking an easier question like how can I make this spaceship travel at the speed of light?
42. The Dresser (1983) - An attempt at a classy movie but it gets real boring fast. Good acting, but very very dry. Might be better to watch it as a play.
41. Dangerous Liaisons (1988) - Dangerous Liaisons is based on the French novel from the 18th century where it should have stayed. Very artistic, and won awards for that. But it once again reminds us why we are better than the French.
40. The Color Purple (1985) - A so-so film about poor black women in the south in the early 20th century. Respectable acting, but like many Spielberg movies, a bit too long.
39. Out of Africa (1985) - Talk about competing in a weak division, another example of a film that had no serious competition. Very stylish but boring and tedious, a perfect example of what the 1980’s were like in Hollywood.
38. Dead Poets Society (1989) - Dead Poets Society is Robin Williams doing Good Morning Vietnam but in a classroom this time. Doesn't stand the test of time.
37. Chariots of Fire (1981) - The start of a long run of bad movies to come from the decade. With the exception of Ordinary People and Gandhi, this film is typical of the type of film that won best picture during the decade. A simple slightly boring movie about English runners in the 1924 Olympics doesn't rank well against the other movies from the decade.
36. Prizzi's Honor (1985) - Prizzi's Honor is about two hit men who fall in love, a male and female mind you, this isn't Brokeback Prizzi's Honor of course.
35. Tender Mercies (1983) - This movie is a bad film with one exception, Robert Duvall is amazing and really earned the best actor Oscar. Otherwise it is almost unwatchable.
34. Field of Dreams (1989) - Why do popular films get nominated even though they aren't that good? Oh wait, it was the 80's, very little was that good. The feel good movie that thankfully today wouldn't get in the top ten of nominations, made at the right time. If you are a baseball fan you can tolerate it. A fantasy movie that makes you fell warm and fuzzy inside, which is good for a movie to do, but is it best picture material?
33. A Passage to India (1984) - A Passage to India is a dry but warm film about India in the 1920's. Kind of like the PBS mini series The Jewel in the Crown. Typical for the decade, but not the worst you will ever watch.
32. The Right Stuff (1983) - The epic film based on the Mercury Seven and Chuck Yeager during the dawn of the space age. Star studded cast, good special effects, very well done movie. Reminds you how brave the first Astronauts were and how great of an American Chuck Yeager is. Not that it is a great film, but it is good and better than the others from this year.
31. The Mission (1986) - A respectable drama about Jesuit missionaries in South America in the 18th century. Good acting performances by Robert De Niro and Jermey Irons, great scenery, interesting story. A typical 80's drama, good film but nothing that great or to write home about.
30. Tootsie (1982) - A slightly funny film, Dustin Hoffman is good, but drag films are really a one joke premise. Rather surprising to see this nominated when this was much more popular in the 50's.
29. Working Girl (1988) - A period piece of the yuppie 80's and the Wall Street lifestyle that was shoved down mine and every one's throat when I was in high school. I get flashbacks from watching this movie, not all good.
28. The Verdict (1982) - Another film that has great acting from Paul Newman. In this one he is a Lionel Hutz type of lawyer who finally does good. Not the best film but not the worst.
27. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - I will say that this is one of my all time favorite movies. But the truth is that it's a cult action film that is fun to watch, but not seriously a best picture.
26. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - Here is another popular kids movie that was heart warming. But like Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is not a serious best picture nominee.
25. A Room with a View (1986) - Granted this is a typical Merchant Ivory film, can be boring at times, but very stylish. But I did enjoy it and if you have the patience can be a good film to watch. Could be I must stress.
24. Places in the Heart (1984) - It is a depressing movie about a widow trying to grow cotton, but it did win Sally Field her second Oscar as best actress. Overall, it's in the middle of the pack for the decade.
23. The Killing Fields (1984) - Based on real events, this is a very powerful and depressing movie showing only a slight bit of what happened when Pol Pot took over Cambodia. Should be seen so we don't forget.
22. Witness (1985) - A good action cop film but rather typical of cop movies from the 1980's. Not like what you would see in the 70's, but well done and a good film to watch.
21. Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) - The life story of Loretta Lynn wonderfully acted by Sissy Spacek who truly earned the best actress award for her acting. A typical bio-pic showing how she became a musician and her climb to fame and the trials and tribulations she faced. An enjoyable film even if you can't stand county music.
20. Hope and Glory (1987) - A view of WWII through the eyes of an English child who has to leave the city and live with his grandparents in the country. Less of a war drama and more of a slice of life film, it’s a well-acted film that is enjoyable and was worthy of a best picture nomination.
19. Born on the Fourth of July (1989) - A loosely based bio-pic about Ronnie Kovic, a disabled Vietnam veteran. Was made as a sequel to Platoon in what would become Oliver Stone's Vietnam trilogy. Good film, not the best picture of the year, but one of the better ones made.
18. The Elephant Man (1980) - The rather depressing biopic about the life of Joseph Merrick who was a seriously deformed man in 19th century England. The film is not historically accurate, but it is very well acted. John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins are great as well as the rest of the cast. And being filmed in black and white adds so much to the film. It makes it feel more realistic and helps you focus more on everything. When a film like this is in color, so much effort would have to be put in makeup, scenery, clothing, etc. But being black and white keeps you from being distracted with all that and allows you to watch the movie.
17. Driving Miss Daisy (1989) - An aptly fitting film to close out the weak decade of the 80's. A simple heartfelt drama about an old woman unable to drive and her son hiring her a driver. She doesn't like or trust him but they eventually learn to become friends. It's not a terrible film, but when compared to other films that won it's not that good.
16. Rain Man (1988) - Another typical 1980's film, although great acting from Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruse. It did come from a weak decade and a very soft year so it really isn't much of a classic. Simple drama about a man finding out he has a mentally disabled older brother and finding himself, and a lot of money, as they go across country. It was the first movie that I saw in the theater before it won best picture so I was rooting for it back in 1989.
15. A Soldier's Story (1984) - A murder mystery during WWII in an army camp amongst black soldiers. Told in flashbacks, it keeps you intrigued and interested. Does finish flat, but that's why it probably didn't win best picture.
14. My Left Foot (1989) - Based on the life story of Cristy Brown, a man who was born with cerebral palsy who could only control his left foot. As a result he learned to do as much as you can with his foot including writing and painting. While his life and death are very depressing, the film is positive, upbeat and shows his love of life.
13. Mississippi Burning (1988) - A great film about FBI agents looking for three missing civil rights workers in the 1960's. Great acting all around from so many talented actors and actresses. Still stands up today as a great movie.
12. Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) - Simply a movie about two prisoners in a South American prison bonding. Well acted and one of the better intense dramas from the decade.
11. Moonstruck (1987) - A romantic comedy that really doesn't take chances, another safe fuzzy friendly 1980's film. Yet when it compares to the other films in the decade, it is one of the best. Now move this film to another decade, like the 1930's or 1970's and it wouldn't even rank.
10. Platoon (1986) - Hollywood's attempt to wash away their guilt for treating Vietnam veterans like dirt after the war. There was a popular movement in the mid 80's to finally recognize Vietnam vets including parades and movies like this. Talk with a vet who served and they will tell you that this movie is pure fiction, not much of it based on reality. It does have some strong acting and to date the last Vietnam War film to win best picture.
9. Fatal Attraction (1987) - A different type of suspense movie which became a public service warning about cheating on your spouse with a crazy person. Still holds up today as a really good movie.
8. Broadcast News (1987) - Yes it is a typical 1980's film, slightly funny, slightly edgy, slightly dramatic but still a safe movie. Albert Brooks is good but they don't use him to his fully comedic potential which is a waste. But compared to other years of the decade, this was one of the stronger ones.
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) - A great Woody Allen comedy, you get what you expect. The scenes with him and his television show are some of the funniest I've seen him do in a long time.
6. Atlantic City (1981) - A small film at the time called low budget, now would be called independent, about a gangster who is a legend in his mind who falls into a drug deal and is able to get away with the money. Burt Lancaster plays the part very well and is supported by Susan Sarandon a woman down on her luck trying to become a blackjack dealer. They are surrounded by Atlantic City's rebirth that started in the late 1970's and eventually came back to life, as good as you can in New Jersey, by the mid 80's. So it shows the historic background mixed with the conflicts of the characters. This is a really good film that does not get enough notice.
5. Amadeus ( 1984) - A rather good film about Mozart, although not very historically accurate but very well done. One of the finer best pictures from the decade that produced some of the worst best pictures. The costumes were great, very good acting and the soundtrack isn't too shabby either.
4. The Last Emperor (1987) - A stylish epic that doesn't get the recognition it deserves. Made during a decade where most movies were bland and meaningless, this is one of the few that was very well done. Based on the life story of the last emperor of China it shows his life as he grows up, deals with WWII and imprisoned under the dirge of communism.
3. Gandhi (1982) - The grand epic that is an island in a sea of horrible movies. One of the few best pictures of the decade that is one of the best pictures of all time. A well done bio-pic about the life of Gandhi well acted and great cinematography. One of those films that still stands up over time.
2. Ordinary People (1980) - A strong drama about a family dealing with the death of a child, the brother who blames himself and attempted suicide, the mother dealing with losing her favorite child and the father trying to keep the remains of the family together.
1. Raging Bull (1980) - This is the greatest boxing movie of all time. Robert DeNero's acting is amazing. Scorsese does such a great job, you really feel like it's 1947 and you are watching a real boxing match. Without any doubt it is the best nominated film of the decade and one of the best films ever made.