Elle34 Of The Best 80s Movies To Make You Want To Time Travel5 May 2023 at 10:25 am1/3434 Of The Best 80s Movies To Make You Want To Time TravelAh the Eighties. The era of perms, neon and fishnets.All trends which can be revisited via one of many streaming services hosting classic films from the decade.But the light-hearted nostalgia of 80s movies, fuelled by our penchant for the fashion, throwback references and seeing some of our favourite actors (Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington etc) in their early days, aren't the only reasons we should be revisiting these movies. On this list are a variety of movies, some warming and familiar rom coms but also the best 80s movies commenting on social issues like racial inequality, police brutality and sexism. They might have been made more than 30-40 years ago, but they feature issues still relevant today. Watching these films, with hindsight, and considering them as historical artefacts demonstrates to us that while some progress might have been made, we still have a long long way to go. Here's our pick of the best 80s movies out there - you're welcome. (Getty Images)2/341) 9 to 5 (1980)Setting the tone for the 1980s, when women gained career options and financial independence, 9 to 5 was inspired by a movement to empower female workers.It sees three colleagues (played by Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin) take revenge on their salacious boss by kidnapping him and starting a workplace revolution.Not only does it have a reputation for being the second-highest grossing film of 1980 in the US, its theme song, written by Parton, became one of the biggest hits of the Eighties.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)3/342) Fame (1980)The classic musical is motivating for aspiring performers, and anyone else devoted to pursuing their biggest goals and dreams. Set in a New York City performing arts high school, it follows the complex lives of teenagers as they navigate their craft and ambitions while under immense pressure. The stakes are high. See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)4/3411) ET (1982)This Steven Spielberg classic - which made a star out of child actress Drew Barrymore - continues to be one of the greatest family films ever, almost 40 years later. See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)5/344) Terms of Endearment (1983)A comedy-drama that pulls at the heartstrings, Terms of Endearment depicts the everlasting bond between a mother and daughter, documenting 30 years of their relationship. During this time, they grapple with correlating issues too - Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) searches for true love while her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) faces marital problems. See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)6/345) Do The Right Thing (1989)Spike Lee stars in his second directorial number, which takes place over the course of one sweltering day in Brooklyn. The film explores racial tensions between white, Black, Italian, Korean and Hispanic communities in the New York suburb and comments on gentrification, police brutality, cultural appropriation, white privilege and global warming. Heralded as culturally significant and relevant 30 years later (the ending, especially), the film is a cinematic masterpiece.Plus, Rosie Perez old-school dancing to Public Enemy's rallying anthem 'Fight The Power' still remains one of the best opening movie intros in history.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)7/346) When Harry Met Sally (1989)One of the all-time great rom coms. Allow Nora Ephron to whisk you back to the 1980s, to watch the friendship between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) blossom into one of the greatest relationship stories all time. Plus, 'I'll Have What She's Having' seems fairly progressive in terms of depicting female sexuality on screen when we consider the film is more than 30 years old. See the original post on Youtube (Movieclips@Youtube)8/347) Dirty Dancing (1987)A film that remains as beloved as it first did in 1987. With iconic pop culture moments like the 'I've Had (The Time Of My Life)' lift, Baby carrying a watermelon and Patrick Swayze's hips, Dirty Dancing's position as one of the most romantic movies of all times remains.See the original post on Youtube (Movieclips@Youtube)9/348) Back To The Future (1985)A true classic and family favourite. The soundtrack, more specifically, the film's anthem 'The Power Of Love' only cements Back To The Future's 80s cultural relevance. See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)10/349) The Breakfast Club (1985)One of the original high school movies, watching the Breakfast Club is still considered a rite-of-passage three decades later. To an extent, it's still relatable thanks to its adolescent themes of identity, struggling to fit in and find your tribe and pretending to be something you're not. But the 80s reference points are there too with Molly Ringwald's hair, the Simple Minds soundtrack and, as is the case with a lot of older entertainment, the sexist and homophobic jokes and scenes which definitely do not fly in the present day (something Ringwald herself even acknowledged in a 2019 New Yorker essay).See the original post on Youtube (Universal Pictures@Youtube)11/3410) Mystic Pizza (1988)A landmark film because it was both Julia Roberts and Matt Damon's first foray into movies (though blink and you'll miss Damon).The 21-year-old actress made a name for herself as the big-haired, sarcastic, sweary, independent Daisy who challenges outdated attitudes (even for 1988).Following three friends over a summer, experiencing life-affirming relationships at the same time, the film is female at its core (the three women driving while singing Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' at the top of their lungs is a highlight) and explores sex, love, heartbreak, class and identity through their lenses.It'll also leave you craving pizza...See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)12/3412) Flashdance (1983)Flashdance is an 1980s must with fashion moments like hip-bone-skimming leotards, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, legwarmers and big perms, simultaneously giving the welding industry a chic makeover in the process.It also features one of the most dance sequences in film ever with the 'What A Feeling' iconic water bucket-drenching dance audition.See the original post on Youtube (YouTube Movies@Youtube)13/3413) Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)This film is full of eighties references from the biggest computer you've ever seen in the headmaster's office (making Bueller's computer hacking skills to alter his school attendance record all the more impressive), big bouffant hair, thick eyeliner, converses and perms aplenty (here's looking at you, Jennifer Gray).The throwback cameos are something else too from a young bad boy Charlie Sheen, baby-faced Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck, who for any TV fans born after 1986 would most likely recognise Ferris' anxious friend Cameron as Succession's Connor Roy. See the original post on Youtube (OldSchoolTrailers@Youtube)14/3414) Stand By Me (1986)This coming-of-age cult movie, based on a Stephen King novel, is considered timeless even now. Starring the late River Phoenix (brother of Joaquin), Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell, four boys embark on a walk to search for a missing body in the areas surrounding Lake Oregon. In a testament to the film's legacy, the town of Brownsville, Oregon where parts of the film were shot celebrates a 'Stand By Me Day' every July. See the original post on Youtube (Everything I Learned in Film School@Youtube)15/3415) Moonstruck (1987)Cher and Nicolas Cage in the same film? You better believe it! The alternative 80s rom com you didn’t know you needed in your life is all about big perms, big bowls of pasta and big proposals. Throw in a dash of opera, some Oscar-winning performances from a host of elderly actors and Nicolas Cage making bread with only one hand (don’t ask), and you’ve got the 80s classic that didn’t quite make the top 10 list.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)16/3416) The Colour Purple (1985)Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg (in her movie debut!) star in the Steven Spielberg-directed movie version of the Pulitzer prize winning Alice Walker novel. See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)17/3417) Three Men And A Baby (1987)From the Gloria Estefan intro to the perms, all the 80s references are in this beloved feel-good film. Starring Tom Sellick (Richard from Friends), Ted Danson (Michael from The Good Place) and Margaret Colin (Eleanor Waldorf from Gossip Girl), three thirtysomething womanising bachelors living the dream in their huge New York City apartment - a frequent party location - have their lives upturned when an actual baby lands on their doorstep. Adorable, funny, heartwarming and in some ways surprisingly progressive in its attitudes to motherhood and working mums, this is a good'un.See the original post on Youtube (Mickeyjuice@Youtube)18/3418) Big (1988)When 12 year old Josh wished to become taller to get onto a theme park ride (we've all been there), he didn't expect the spooky fortune telling machine to turn him into a 20-something Tom Hanks but hey, it happened. A movie for all the adults who still feel too young to truly adult. Hanks even earned an Oscar nomination for the 1988 film. See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)19/3419) The BFG (1989)A loveable animated movie, made just seven years after Roald Dahl penned the children's classic. A film central to the childhood's of many 80s and 90s kids, featuring the iconic David Jason as the voice of the Big Friendly Giant.See the original post on Youtube (Joe Lamb@Youtube)20/3420) The Blues Brothers (1980)Join Jake and Elwood, a.k.a. the Blues Brothers, on a whirlwind musical road trip as they set out on a mission from God to save the Catholic orphanage they were raised in. Cue cameos from arguably the best celebrity lineup in movie history: Twiggy and Carrie Fisher and epic singing and dancing numbers courtesy of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and James Brown. See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)21/3421) Rain Man (1988)Dustin Hoffman took away the 1989 Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Raymond, the brother - who likely suffers from autism - to Tom Cruise's self-centred character Charlie Babbit. The film was the highest grossing movie of 1988, but its legacy is controversial.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)22/3422) Pretty In Pink (1986)Queen of 80s movies, Molly Ringwald stars in this 'Brat Pack' teenage classic opposite Two and a Half Men's Jon Pryor. Themes of high school angst, social cliques, secret teen crushes, friendships and plenty of 80s fashion references (hello to the pink dress) run through the uplifting movie.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)23/3423) The Shining (1980)The book is so scary it caused Joey to store it in the freezer... and it's not hard to see why. Axes, identical twins who talk at the same time, and 'Here's Johnny...' this film is a cult horror that still manages to spook us even if special effects in horror movies have come on leaps and bounds since.See the original post on Youtube (Andrew Henderson@Youtube)24/3424) Glory (1989)The story of the US' second African-American regiment (primarily comprising of former slaves) in the Civil War saw Denzel Washington win his very first Oscar (for Best Supporting Actor). See the original post on Youtube (Militarist@Youtube)25/3425) Ghostbusters (1984)The original (before the all-female fronted version in 2016) movie starring Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and more, is a favourite to this day.Who you gonna call? See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)26/3426) Airplane! (1980)Still celebrated as one of the funniest films ever all these years later, the slapstick comedy was even lauded for triggering the most laughs per minute amongst audiences.See the original post on Youtube (YouTube Movies@Youtube)27/3427) Beetlejuice (1988)A film so iconic that striped suits are now dubbed 'Beetlejuice' suits. Also one of the most overused Halloween costumes ever, we're looking at you Bella Hadid and The Weeknd - who went as Beetlejuice and Lydia to Heidi Klum's legendary party back when they were dating.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)28/3428) Cocktail (1988)A film that's cultural legacy is still apparent from the ubiquitous use of neon 'Cocktail' bar signs...See the original post on Youtube (YouTube Movies@Youtube)29/3429) Footloose (1984)When dancing is banned in a small American town, leave it to Kevin Bacon (more recently, you'll recognise him from EE adverts) to overthrow the archaic - and, frankly, no fun at all - ruling.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)30/3430) Working Girl (1988)Melanie Griffith stars in a film as iconic for its chronicling of women in the workplace as it is for its 80s fashion moments. We're talking shoulder pads, patterned tights and velvet dresses. You name the 80s fashion trend, Working Girl has it.See the original post on Youtube (20th Century Studios@Youtube)31/3431) Heathers (1988)The original Mean Girls? Heathers is all about the outfits… and the high school girls called Heather, duh. Think Winona Ryder dressed in enough plaid to make Cher Horowitz envious, more than a few classrooms exploding and the chicest croquet game you’ve seen in your life.See the original post on Youtube (HIGH on MOVIES@Youtube)32/3432) Dead Poets Society (1989)Robin Williams stars in one of his most memorable movies playing an English teacher who inspires his elite school students through the art of poetry (the film is also very much celebrated by teachers if my secondary school English lessons were anything to go by). A classic movie which saw the film win a Best Picture Oscar and Williams receive the Best Actor gong and is forever associated with the mantra, 'Carpe diem'.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)33/3433) Top Gun (1986)Tom Cruise is US air force pilot Maverick in this classic, which features moments still adored now, from the jumpsuits to the eternally romantic 'Take My Breath Away' soundtrack.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)34/3434) Labrynth (1986)A childhood favourite, David Bowie is a creepy Goblin King while a teenage Jennifer Connelly plays protagonist Sarah. Though a box office disappointment at the time of its release, the film has since garnered a serious cult following - especially amongst David Bowie fans.See the original post on Youtube (Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers@Youtube)The best 80s movies to give you all the feels. From When Harry Met Sally to Mystic Pizza, the 80s produced a number of classics - here are our favourites.