Best Movies Each Year of the Last 40 Years

I’m turning 40 in just over a week I thought it’d be fun to pick my favorite movie from each of the last 40 years.

And it was fun…until I had to start making tough decisions like:

Jurassic Park or Tombstone?

Pulp Fiction or the Lion King?

Se7en, the Usual Suspects or Toy Story?

I’ve done my best to only pick one per year with an allowance for honorable mentions.

Let’s do this but fair warning – since it is my birthday blog series I’ve gone a little over my usual 500 word limit.

1977 – Star Wars. It has been rather incredible growing up with this movie quite literally. No movie captures my childhood quite like it and even as an adult I’m still enraptured by what the expanded universe provides. From movies and books to video games and comics and beyond my love for the franchise started with that title crawl telling me about a time “long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

Side note: trailers used to be awful…and I love them.

1978: Superman. While I’m in the minority and love the most recent Man of Steel movie, the original Superman with Christopher Reeves is a classic perhaps the best telling of Supes’ story.

1979: The Muppet Movie. Jim Henson was a genius. He took puppets and gave them character and depth to the point that we cared about them. Henson’s movies and tv shows played a huge role in my life from the original Muppet trilogy to shows like Fraggle Rock.

Honorable mention: the Jerk.

1980: the Empire Strikes Back. I tried to only pick one movie per franchise and already failed but ESB is still the best of all the Star Wars movies old or new.

Honorable mentions: The Shining and Airplane

1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s true that the early part of the list has been dominated by Lucas films but the more I watch Raiders the more I love it and believe it rivals Star Wars in many ways.

1982: The Dark Crystal. Ok. Fine. I really love Jim Henson and George Lucas films but in my defense, these dudes were killing it.

This movie was definitely dark and Henson wandered into Tolkien territory with it which combines twoof my favorite things.

1983: Scarface. I found this movie much later and definitely not as a 6 year old boy (which would have been really messed up) but when I found Scarface as a teen I was  in a gangster movie phase and watched this movie several times on the 2 VHS tape set I had.

NSFW language ahead.

Honorable mention: the Outsiders

1984: Ghostbusters. Perhaps the movie outside of Star Wars that I watched the most as a kid. It checked every box for me.

Cool paranormal effects? Check.

Comedy? Check.

Bill Freaking Murray? Check.

It’s the perfect movie.

1985: The Goonies. Much like Ghostbusters, the Goonies had it all. Comedy, action and adventure and it was an all kids cast.

Honorable mentions: the Breakfast Club and Back to the Future.

1986: Stand By Me. Like Goonies it starred kids, had comedy, action, adventure…and Corey Feldman. It’s timeless.

Honorable mentions: Labyrinth (another epic Jim Henson film), Big Trouble in Little China, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Man, 1986 was rad.

1987: Predator. Another movie I discovered in my teenage years and definitely not as a 10 year old. I’d call it “the perfect guy movie” featuring the Ahnuld at his best (?).

It had the greatest theme and featured Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura which was a huge collision of my movie loving and wrestling loving worlds.

Honorable mention: the Princess Bride

That’s it for my first decade! Check back soon for part 2!


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