Was 1984 the greatest year in movies ever?

Over the past few months, a lot has of ink has been spilled about how 1939 was the greatest year in movies ever. After all, that was the year of The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. Granted, not a bad double whammy. And it didn’t stop there: 1939 also was the year of Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights, Love Affair, Gunga Din, Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.Those are all celluloid gems, no doubt about it. But aside from the first two, how many of them make you honestly want to play hooky and watch right this second?

I thought so.

So let me put forth an alternate argument. When it comes to the year-in-film you really want to waste a Cheetos-snarfing afternoon on the sofa with, all you have to do is go back 25 years. Will the cinema eggheads and film snobs ever agree with this? Of course not. Not when you’re dealing with movies like Ghostbusters, Bachelor Party, and Gremlins. But personally, I’ll take 1984 over just about any other Hollywood vintage. Here’s a month-by-month argument (with embedded clips!) why…

-The Lonely Guy
-Broadway Danny Rose…which includes this shootout scene in room full of helium.

-A little Kevin Bacon movie you may have heard of…

-Splash (Part of a great one-two punch of pre-serious Tom Hanks from the year, along with Bachelor Party)
-Romancing the Stone
-And only the greatest movie about rock & roll ever made…

-Friday the 13thThe Final Chapter (Don’t laugh, it’s one of the few good ones. With Corey Feldman as a pint-sized psycho)
-And Rick Springfield “in his sizzling motion picture debut”…

-Mel Gibson shirtless in The Bounty
-Robert Redford swinging for the fences in The Natural
-Harrison Ford and Short Round eating chilled monkey brains in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
-Lil’ Drew Barrymore being all spooky in Firestarter
-And, of course, this…

-Segio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America
-Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
-Bachelor Party
-Top Secret!
-The Pope of Greenwich Village
-The Karate Kid
-Conan the Destroyer
-Cannonball Run II

-Repo Man
-The Gods Must Be Crazy
-The Muppets Take Manhattan
-Purple Rain
-And a little honey that we’ll let Orson Welles introduce…

-Red Dawn
-Clint Eastwood in Tightrope
-Oxford Blues

-A trio of great high-brow films (The Brother From Another Planet, Amadeus, Stranger Than Paradise) and one very low-brow one…

-The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
-The Coen brothers’ debut, Blood Simple
-Stop Making Sense
-Body Double
-And another movie you may have heard of…

-The Killing Fields
-A Nightmare on Elm Street
-And just to show that they can’t all be classics…

-Beverly Hills Cop
-The Flamingo Kid
-Johnny Dangerously
-And just to close out this miraculous cinematic year on a catchy note…

Now it’s your turn, PopWatchers: What’s your favorite film from 1984?


Comments (295 total) Add your comment
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  • Preston

    Sometimes summer 2009 in movies reminds me of summer 1984 a little bit. The variety of the movies that came out. You had Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, Prince’s summer hit Purple Rain, Cannonball Run 2(which I did see and laughed my head off), when Eddie Murphy’s star shined the most that summer! Most of these movies had adult themes, but they were all great for that time. But I watched Eddie Murphy’s Best Defense, which came on the same time in the summer as his R-rated Beverly Hills Cop movie. It was funny, but the plot was flat. Proof that you can’t handle everything. Fast forward to 2009 and you have hits like Star Trek, unlikely hit The Hangover, Harry Potter, Up, Ice Age, Transformers and the funny Bruno all being summer hits. There’s even variety in that summer with the hits both with the adult and kids audiences. Thanks for respecting 1984, because there was a smorgasboard of movies that did well that summer and also during the year!

  • Jenna Fawn

    Dear Chris Nashawaty,
    I do believe I just fell in love with you. If for any reason, the Breakin’ clip. It takes a true 80’s craptastic conniseur to appreciate that film. I’m with you in your arguement. 1984 is a good vintage(my DVD collection contains a majority of the films listed). Spot on brilliance. I don’t miss the shoulder pads but, oh, how I miss the 80’s.

  • Alex

    I think in 20-30 years, we’ll look back at 1994 and 1999 as the major years in movies for this era:
    1994: Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, The Lion King, Hoop Dreams, Heavenly Creatures, Clerks, Forrest Gump, Quiz Show, Nobody’s Fool, The Professional, Natural Born Killers, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Mask, The Crow, Interview With The Vampire, Ed Wood, Reality Bites.
    1999: Fight Club, The Matrix, Office Space, The Sixth Sense, American Beauty, American Pie, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, 10 Things I Hate About You, Toy Story 2, Three Kings, Galaxy Quest, Being John Malkovich, The Blair Witch Project, Election, The Insider, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.

  • Q

    2009 has been a terrible year for movies. There has been only 5-7 quality films in that many months.
    I also think the author is overrating 1984. I mean Conan the Destroyer? Dune? Friday the 13th? It was a decent year, but not great.
    On the other hand, 1994 was a terrific year as Alex mentioned.
    I nominate 1982 which had E.T., The Thing, Blade Runner, Conan the Barbarian, Wrath of Khan, Tootsie, 48 Hours, Poltergeist, An Officer and a Gentlemen, Gandhi, Sophie’s Choice, Creepshow, The Dark Crystal, Diner, Fanny and Alexander, First Blood, Tron, The Verdict, The Secret of Nimh and Missing. A great year.
    1999 was pretty great too.

  • Rahul

    Forget 1984. 1999 was the greatest. You guys should know. You did a cover story about it.

  • pop

    thank you for including the muppets take manhattan!

  • Ronn

    ‘No Small Affair’
    Demi Moore & Jon Cryer.
    The soundtrack needs to be released on CD format…PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Filip Frederiks

    What about…..
    Blade Runner????
    Police Academy
    and the classic (quite cheesy actually but stil…) The Karate Kid…

  • Simeon

    How could you leave out AMADEUS? It won the oscar for Best Picture that year, and is one of the greatest of the last 25 years!

  • chuck

    It was my favoite year. Loved Gremlins,Temple of Doom, Karate Kid and Beverly Hils Cop. GREAT year!

  • John

    They didn’t leave out Amadeus. It’s listed in the “trio of great highbrow films.”

  • Dave G

    Muppets Take Manhattan anyone?

    • Siddi

      Really, that movie Kick Ass is everywhere! I don’t get it. Is it bescuae it has the word “ass” in it? Just wondering why the hype? It’s not like it’s another Xmen or Iron Man. Hm.Interesting trailer. Will have to check it out, if anything to learn a little more. 8 years was a loooooong time. So long. It felt like I was being rounded up by hooting & hollaring Texans, wrapped up in rope and forced to watch as they set fire to well, you get the image. Is your children learning?

  • Joshua

    1967 was the year in cinema history

    • Kiki

      There are lot of great romantic mieovs out their. I will suggest some of them which I think you have not seen( Not all are English)Love Story (1970)Wings of Desire(1987)[German]The Cutting Edge (1992)Before Sunrise (1995)Devdas(2002)[India]The Man Who Copied(2003)[Brazil](500) Days of Summer (2009)

  • derek

    1972 was probably the greatest international year for films containing such greats as the godfather, last tango in paris, cries and whispers, the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie, aguirre the wrath of god, cabaret, solaris, deliverance,

    • Gustavo

      Actually, I liked Jesus Christ Superstar, that may be my favorite Jesus movie. I also liked The Life of Brian for a good laugh. As far as more drtaiamc movies, The Passion of the Christ wasn’t bad, but it was long at some points and almost sickeningly violent at others. Nativity Story was good and takes the story pretty seriously while remaining a family movie.

  • derek

    my favorite film from 84 is PARIS TEXAS not the houston hilton but PARIS TEXAS

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