There wasn’t a time quite like the 1980s. Whether it was the music, the fashion, or the hair, the ’80s were defining years in human history. Nothing has been more impactful on the aesthetic of modern pop culture than one quintessential part of the time period: the movies it gave us.
The films that came out of the 1980s went on to become the heart and soul of the decade. There’s no mistaking an ’80s flick. They have a certain style ⏤ a feeling, a vibe ⏤ and it’s infectious. The attitude and freedom attached to these films is as heartfelt as it is eye-opening. Most importantly, though, they’re wildly fun, and isn’t that what good movies are supposed to be? Entire documents have been made about the epic nature of the ’80s flick.
At some point, everyone has a hankering for good old fashioned ’80s storytelling, and with all the streaming services available to us, there’s never been a better time to soak up the nostalgia. Netflix, especially, has an exclusive rolodex of ’80s cinema, so without further ado, here are a few of the best ’80s movies you can currently catch on the streamer along with a memorable quote from each film that most definitely won’t get stuck in your head.
Blade Runner (1982)
If you haven’t seen Blade Runner, stop what you’re doing and give it a watch. Every other piece of sci-fi since the film’s 1982 release has been undeniably influenced by its ambitious aesthetic. Following detective Rick Deckard feverishly across a cyberpunk dystopia as he hunts down escaped androids, the film tackles everything from race and human rights to what it means to be human in the first place.
A memorable quote: “It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?”
The golf movie to end all golf movies, there’s a good chance that Caddyshack will be quoted on a golf course somewhere before this article comes to a close. At the heart of it all is a coming-of-age tale about finding your confidence and living life to the fullest. With a star-studded cast featuring the likes of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ted Knight, Caddyshack assembled a comedic superteam seldom seen in Hollywood before or since.
A memorable quote: “In the immortal words of Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Au revoir, gopher.'”
From the late great Jim Henson, Labyrinth is a cinematic trip seldom taken in modern filmmaking. Using a mixture of puppets, actors, and elaborate set pieces, the story revolves around Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) as she traverses a magical maze to rescue her baby brother. David Bowie surprisingly lends his talents as the film’s villain, Jareth the Goblin King, adding yet another layer of ’80s weirdness to this unforgettable story.
A memorable quote: “I say, does anyone want to play a game of Scrabble?”
If westerns are your bag, then Silverado won’t disappoint. A group of eccentric cowboys heroically ramble into the town of Silverado to find out the sheriff is a corrupt public official exercising his power over the townspeople. What’s not to like? Throw in a greed-ridden local rancher and the stage is set for an awesome story filled with heroes and villains. With a fantastic cast and incredible acting, the only thing left to do is mosey on over to Netflix.
A memorable quote: “Now, I don’t wanna kill you, and you don’t wanna be dead.”
Rain Man (1988)
One of the more serious entries available on Netflix, Rain Man doesn’t pull punches. With all-time great performances from Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, the film’s four Oscar wins are more than justified. In the film, Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) discovers that he has an autistic older brother named Rain (Dustin Hoffman) after the death of his father. The duo’s cross country trip is a heartfelt look into siblinghood, mental disability, and how family matters more than anything else.
A memorable quote: “Maple syrup is supposed to be on the table before the pancakes.”
It’s the movie that cemented Bill Murray’s movie stardom. Stripes is more of a wacky comedy than a war movie, but it’s nevertheless filled with espionage, explosions, and gun fights. Two young men, hard on their luck, enlist in the military in the hopes of turning their lives around. In the end, they get a lot more than they bargained for.
A memorable quote: “My philosophy: a hundred-dollar shine on a three-dollar pair of boots.”
The Neverending Story (1984)
Once you hear the theme song for this motion picture, odds are you’ll never be able to get it out of your head. Fantasy is as fantasy does, and in The Neverending Story, fantasy is what it’s all about. When a young boy named Bastian begins reading a book titled “The Neverending Story,” he’s pulled into a magical land called Fantasia and wondrous events ensue. Bastian’s quest to stop Fantasia from being destroyed is one you have to see to believe.
A memorable quote: “Never give up and good luck will find you.”
This beautiful, horrific, whimsical movie is a Christmas classic. When a young man named Billy receives Gizmo (the Chinese mogwai monster) as a gift, he has three unbreakable rules to follow: Don’t expose Gizmo to light, never let him come into contact with water, and most importantly, never feed him after midnight. See where this is going?
A memorable quote: “You say you hate Washington’s Birthday or Thanksgiving and nobody cares, but you say you hate Christmas and people treat you like you’re a leper.”
Stand By Me (1986)
If you look up “coming-of-age” in the dictionary, Stand By Me is what you’ll find. Dealing with youth in all its victories and pitfalls, Stand By Me follows four vastly different boys on their journey to find what they’ve been told is a dead body. Along the way they grow up, learn more about each other, and discover their own humanity. Their journey together defines who they are as people and has even defined the audience’s ability to contextualize their own experiences for more than 35 years.
A memorable quote: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
last but not least, She’s Gotta Have It is a staple of romantic comedy. When a young woman can’t decide what type of guy she wants to go out with, she dates three at the same time. Her indecisiveness is genuine, and we relate to how complicated romance can really be. Spike Lee’s directorial debut doesn’t disappoint in this black and white masterpiece.
A memorable quote: “It’s really about control, my body, my mind. Who was going to own it? Them? Or me? I’m not a one-man woman. Bottom line.”
There you have it, some of the most memorable ’80s movies currently streaming on Netflix. If you enjoyed any or all of the films on this list, here are two more from the last decades that are also worth your time.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail isn’t an ’80s movie, but close enough. This spoof on knights in shining armor has stood the test of time as a quick-witted classic. Completely ahead of the game, other comedies took years to achieve the same level of virtuosity. Every style of funny is on full display here and used so incredibly well that the film still has a cult following to this day.
A memorable quote: “Look, that rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide! It’s a killer!”
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Dances with Wolves follows a foreign soldier who falls in love with a tribe of natives that he’s meant to betray only to fight the very people who sent him out to do the dirty deed because of his newfound friends. Sure, it might be three hours long, but it’s worth it every time. It was also released in 1990 and is thus only one year removed from the ’80s, lending it a similar aesthetic to the other films on this list.
A memorable quote: “My place is with you. I go where you go.”
There’s no doubt that with all these options, finding something to watch might be a real Sophie’s Choice. The good news is that if it’s an ’80s movie, you can’t go wrong. So stop waiting around and take your pick! After all, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”