Welcome to our big list of the most Essential 1980s movies, showcasing 140 of the decade’s best and most iconic Fresh (and not-so-Fresh) movies. That’s right, we recommend some Rotten additions for your ’80s movie playlists, because this is one decade only fully experienced with the good, the bad, and the feathered neon.
Any ’80s movie with a Tomatometer was considered for our Essentials guide, and after including the truly timeless material (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Raging Bull), we focused on works that represented the cinematic trends and social themes of the era. Some of those include the fantasy epic (NeverEnding Story, Princess Bride), teen movies (Breakfast Club, Weird Science), the new corporate overlord (Wall Street, Trading Places), women making strides in the workplace (Baby Boom, Working Girl), and rising hip-hop culture (Krush Groove, Do the Right Thing).
Now fire up the flux capicator and cue the workout montage because it’s time for Rotten Tomatoes’ 140 Essential ’80s Movies!