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Is 1985 the worst year for film in the last half-century?


skimpole
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Last year, I made a list of my top ten films for each year. Particularly striking was 1985, when I was only able to come up with seven films. I have seen all five best picture nominees for that year, and it is conceivable, if not likely, that if I saw Out of Africa and Prizzi's Honor I might like them enough to include them. Does anyone else have their own top tens for that year?

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Some excellent films were made in 1985. I think *Out of Africa* is underrated. It sounds silly to say that, since it won seven Oscars including Best Picture, but I think it is a particularly fine film and should appeal especially to those of us who enjoy the spirit and quality of the classics. I also think -- and this is a big statement -- that it is Meryl Streep's finest performance. It is literate, romantic, a ripping yarn, gorgeously and intelligently shot. The only caveat is that Redford is not quite right as Denys Finch Hatton.

 

Other great films from 1985 (in my opinion) are Prizzi's Honour, A Room with a View, Witness, After Hours, Kiss of the Spider Woman, My Beautiful Lauderette, My Sweet Little Village, and Ran.

 

I'm afraid that one of the most overrated films of all time was made in 1985: that revolting pile of crap, Brazil, which fools some people into taking its boring satire and art direction for something more. I hate that film, and I had to sit through a particularly endless version in the U.K. which was cut for the U.S. release.

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*Back to the Future*

*Ran*

*Brazil*

*Cocoon*

*Out of Africa*

*Witness*

*Mask*

*Ladyhawke*

*Silverado*

*Prizzi's Honor*

*The Sure Thing*

*Kiss of the Spider Woman*

*Sweet Dreams*

*Into the Night*

*The Trip to Bountiful*

*Insignificance*

 

are some of the movies I enjoyed on the big screen in 1985.

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The 80's in general were a crappy decade for films. 1985 was certainly the weakest of all those years.

 

But those things can be weird sometimes. For instance, I think '66 and '67 are two of the greatest years ever for films, and that '64 was terrific as well. However, when I look at '65, I think it's a terribly weak year for movies. How can that happen?

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Films I like:

 

1. Rambo First Blood

 

2. Witness -- Great Movie

 

3. Legend

 

4. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

 

5. Mask

 

6. Silverado

 

7. A View to a Kill

 

8. Pale Rider

 

9. Out of Africa

 

10. The Jewel of the Nile

 

Jake in the Heartland

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Poor The Color Purple, it seems to have taken quite the fall in terms of reverance in the twenty-five years since its release, and I certainly understand why. Spielberg took what is a dark, brutal, humorless novel with a strong lesbian theme and turned it into a gorgeous, sunflower field of a film replete with some questionable comic relief that harkens back to moments from Our Gang shorts. He changes the ending (although arguably for the better) and the lesbian stuff is truncated to one small rather non sequitor scene- I totally get why he was snubbed for best director at the Oscars that year.

 

Yet, for all those faults: it is not an unwatchable film by any means (quite the opposite, in fact), and is one that (in spite of truncating the lesbian thread) has found fans galore among the gay community. It is also one of his best acted films, with Whoopi Goldberg giving what is unquestionably her best performance (before she became an outright **** for the money), a pre-insufferable Oprah: excellent in a supporting role, Danny Glover: good in a thankless part, and Margaret Avery who is fantastic and who sadly evaporated completely after her role in this film.

 

Flawed but inn-teresting.

 

Oh, and 1985 is nowhere near the worst year for film. I'd rate 1996, 1999 or the years 2003-present waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay lower.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Jan 16, 2012 9:50 AM

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*Brazil* is the biggest pile of crap ever put on film. Sorry, I see red when I think about that big fat pretentious cliched bore. I'm an Anglophile and love Monty Python but think Terry Gilliam (an American) is a great animateur but a lousy director. I walked out of Gilliam's *The Time Bandits*. I couldn't walk out of Brazil, because I was going to a dinner party in the neighborhood, and it was too cold to walk around.

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Some of you put up a good list, but two of my favorites from that year are:

 

*The Purple Rose of Cairo*

 

 

*Runaway Train*

 

 

Looking over the list of movies that came out that year, it would seem NOT to be a banner year, but I don't know if I'd call it the worst.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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> Oh, and 1985 is nowhere near the worst year for film. I'd rate 1996, 1999 or the years 2003-present waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay lower.

 

You obviously have not seen many post 1999 films.

 

To write that 1996, and 1999 plus any year past 2003 is really much worse than 1985 makes me think that you have not seen some of the greatest films to have been produced during those years. 1985 was not a great year, oh, it did have some good releases but not on a par with what we have seen from the mid 1990's onward. In fact I would say that the films that have been really good since 1996 onward have been very good in high production quality. Probably the highest ever.

 

I would say that compared to the golden years of 1933 through 1952, the years you have sighted did not have as many quality films released. But to say that the years you mentioned were the worst years for film is actually a little off. The following films released between 1996 and 2010, were really fine films. Some would say that these are in no way comparable to the golden age, but I would argue that some years during the golden age weren't all that good either. I would cite 1938, 1943, 1945, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1956 and 1958 as some of the average years for releases. There were some fine films released during those years, but they weren't outstanding years either.

 

The following lists are good, and I think could stand up quite well against many of the golden era films.

 

1996

The Daytrippers

The English Patient

Fargo

Flirting With Disaster

Hard Eight

Lone Star

Mother

Secrets and Lies

Star Trek: First Contact

A Time to Kill

 

1997

Air Force One

Amistad

Boogie Nights

Contact

The Game

Good Will Hunting

L.A. Confidential

The Sweet Hereafter

Switchback

Wag the Dog

 

1998

Bulworth

Elizabeth

Next Stop Wonderland

The Parent Trap

Pleasantville

Primary Colors

Ronin

Saving Private Ryan

A Simple Plan

There's Something About Mary

 

1999

Being John Malkovich

The Cider House Rules

The Green Mile

The Insider

The Limey

Mumford

Notting Hill

Office Space

Sleepy Hollow

The Straight Story

 

2000

Almost Famous

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Erin Brockovich

Gladiator

Memento

Requiem for a Dream

Return to Me

Thirteen Days

Traffic

Wonder Boys

 

2001

A Beautiful Mind

Heist

Kissing Jessica Stein

Life as a House

Monster's Ball

Moulin Rouge!

Mulholland Drive

The Royal Tenenbaums

The Shipping News

Shrek

 

2002

About Schmidt

Antwone Fisher

The Good Girl

The Hours

Laurel Canyon

The Pianist

Signs

Spider-Man

The Sum of All Fears

Tadpole

 

2003

American Splendor

Lost in Translation

Love Actually

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Mystic River

Open Range

Seabiscuit

Secondhand Lions

Something's Gotta Give

The Station Agent

 

2004

The Aviator

Crash

Garden State

Hotel Rwanda

The Incredibles

In Good Company

Million Dollar Baby

Shrek 2

Sideways

Silver City

 

2005

Batman Begins

Capote

Cinderella Man

The Constant Gardener

Good Night, and Good Luck

The Squid and the Whale

Syriana

The Thing About My Folks

Walk the Line

The World's Fastest Indian

 

2006

Casino Royale

Children of Men

The Da Vinci Code

The Departed

The Good German

Infamous

Letters From Iwo Jima

Pan's Labyrinth

The Queen

We Are Marshall

 

2007

American Gangster

The Bourne Ultimatum

Breach

In the Valley of Elah

Juno

Michael Clayton

No Country for Old Men

The Savages

The Visitor

You Kill Me

 

2008

Appaloosa

Body of Lies

The Dark Knight

The Express

Ghost Town

Gran Torino

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Iron Man

Last Chance Harvey

The Reader

 

2009

The Blind Side

Crazy Heart

The Hangover

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Julie & Julia

Me and Orson Welles

Sherlock Holmes

Star Trek

State of Play

 

2010

127 Hours

Black Swan

The Fighter

The Ghost Writer

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

The Kings Speech

The Social Network

True Grit

Winter's Bone

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1985 is more of a bland year, virtually nothing happened for me to reflect on it.

 

Sorry I can't compose a top 10 because there are not enough movies to do so. Posters has already mentioned Cocoon; Mask; Enemy Mine; Rambo First Blood Part II and Back to the Future which I do like but "Back to the Future" was the only film worth buying. Hard to beleive its approaching 30, yikes I am getting old.

 

"Enemy Mine" reminds me of the historical event of WWI when everyone stopped the war for one day and celebrated Christmas *together* (Hitler HATED that!)

 

Far as the 1980's goes for me, 1982 was the best for movies and 1984 for music.

 

Edited by: hamradio on Jan 16, 2012 12:35 PM

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JakeHolman wrote:

 

<< 1. Rambo First Blood >>

 

"Rambo First Blood Part II", there was a political cartoon in my local newpaper that was so neat, I clipped it out and put it in a scrapbook.

It was Ronald Reagan as Rambo but it was titled "Rombo First Blood *Salt* II" :^0

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> {quote:title=Swithin wrote:}{quote}*Brazil* is the biggest pile of crap ever put on film. Sorry, I see red when I think about that big fat pretentious cliched bore. I'm an Anglophile and love Monty Python but think Terry Gilliam (an American) is a great animateur but a lousy director. I walked out of Gilliam's *The Time Bandits*. I couldn't walk out of Brazil, because I was going to a dinner party in the neighborhood, and it was too cold to walk around.

 

You are entitled to your opinion, as are we all. Mine is that *Brazil* is an excellent film, even prophetic, as it has become more relevant since it was made. I think it, along with some of Gilliam's other films, i.e. *The Fisher King*, *Twelve Monkeys*, and *Tideland* are some of the best of modern films. And, I liked *Time Bandits* very much too, I just don't think it rises to the level of excellence of the other four of his films I've cited.

 

As to Gilliam's skills as an animator - I am a Monty Python fan, and loved his animation. But, mainly for his sense of humor, and perspective. Anyone who has seen a lot of experimental animation, collage animation, stop-motion animation, etc., as I have, would likely tell you that Gilliam's technical animation skills were nothing special.

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I really wanted to like Brazil. I love sci-fi, futuristic fantasies, satire, social criticism, etc. I even knew and liked one of the actors in it. But once the film started, I just couldn't believe what I felt to be the cliched story and the excrutiatingly tedious art direction which served as a replacement for real direction. As you say, it's all a matter of opinion but sometimes I think "artists" can fool the public, and I think Gilliam does that. I sort of liked Twelve Monkeys, up to a point, but still, I wish Gilliam would stick to animation, which he did so well.

 

 

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Thank you for posting this!

 

Many of the films you listed air on the many movie channels I receive. I am so TCM obsessed I admit I haven't seen many of them (and yet I pay a mini fortune for the premium channels) I am going to use your list as a guide and watch as many of these films as I can.

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I was in high school then. I had to watch movies since I hated school :P

What I liked that year:

 

* Back to the future

* Breakfast club

* Color Purple

* Rocky IV

* Weird Science

* Commando

* A View to a Kill (Worst Bond film ever:|* )

* Thunderdome (put me to sleep)

You know what ? This year really wasn't very remarkable afterall. I tend to agree with the OP !

 

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Geraldddddd wrote:

<<

A View to a Kill (Worst Bond film ever:|* ) >>

 

Actually "The Living Daylights" (1987) is the worst Bond ever! Between the cellist and lame plot made it a real bore! Zzzzzzzzz

 

That mission should had been given to Jethro Bodine - Double Naught Spy.

 

50257_37745750469_2093011_n.jpg

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Swithin, I couldn't agree more with your list of outstanding films for 1985 (I haven't seen three of them), which begins to look like one of the best years of the last 30, now that everyone is mentioning films. Congrats to lzcutter for the shoutout to *Ladyhawke*, a romantic fantasy which, except for the music, holds up well.

 

And Jef, I think 1965 was a good year for films, though the more prominent films weren't necessarily the best. *King Rat*, *The Hill*, *The Train*, and *Mirage* are all excellent, to name only four. Granted, they weren't the films getting the critical love at the time.

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> {quote:title=ValentineXavier wrote:}{quote}

>

> As to Gilliam's skills as an animator - I am a Monty Python fan, and loved his animation. But, mainly for his sense of humor, and perspective. Anyone who has seen a lot of experimental animation, collage animation, stop-motion animation, etc., as I have, would likely tell you that Gilliam's technical animation skills were nothing special.

>

 

OK, Val, I'll give you that point. Gilliam wasn't a particularly innovative animateur. I missed that line in my first reading of your post. I think during the days of Monty Python, that sort of animation was kind of new to American television perhaps that's why I remember it more fondly. Haven't seen Monty Python in yonks! But by anyone standards, I think 1985 was actually a particularly good year for film.

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Kingrat, is *King Rat* your eponymous film? I don't know it at all, what a great cast!

 

I see Denholm Elliott is in it. I once spoke to him on the phone. I think he thought I was trying to break into his neighbor's house! I was house-sitting for a friend in London (in Kentish Town), got home late one night and was watering the front garden. When I went back in, the phone rang, asking for the friend I was house-sitting for. I said she was on holiday, and I was living there that summer. He seemed relieved, seeing a figure in the dark in front of a house across the road from him concerned him. He couldn't see the watering can! It would have been in the mid to late 1980s.

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