See the Top 10 of 1985
1986 was the year when "the future" was supposed to have arrived.
Fortunately, George Orwell's dark and dire prediction for two years
earlier hadn't come true. Instead of a dreary, mind-numbing existence
where "Big Brother is watching," we were smack-dab in the middle of a
flashy and often tacky decade where bigger was better (especially when
it came to hair) and style ruled over substance. Let me take you back...
Wham!, Falco, Bananarama and the Pet Shop Boys rule the charts,
along with Huey Lewis, Steve Winwood, Robert Palmer and Madonna. Don
Johnson gives us "Heartbeat," and the world is introduced to a young
lady named Whitney Houston who will soon declare herself "bigger than
The Chicago Bears dance the Super Bowl Shuffle in possibly the worst
music video ever made, then trample all over the upstart New England
Patriots. The Mets beat the Red Sox in the World Series. And before
anyone had heard of Lance Armstrong, Greg LeMond becomes the first
American to win a Tour de France.
Budding investigative journalist Geraldo Rivera discovers the secret
vault of Al Capone and opens it on live TV only to discover a single
bottle of moonshine.
The nation suffers a heartbreaking tragedy when the space shuttle
Challenger explodes just after take-off, killing all seven people on
board including teacher Christa McAuliffe. The Soviets manage to
successfully launch MIR, but then suffer their own disaster back on
earth when fire erupts at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, killing dozens
and turning parts of the Ukraine into a poisonous wasteland. On the
political front, Ronald Reagan is in the White House still talking
tough about the "evil" Soviet empire, while members of his
administration are secretly selling weapons to Iran to fund the Contras.
'86 is as opulent and cheesy as you get and the movies reflect it.
The crew of the Enterprise saves the whales and the world in Star
Trek IV; Jason Gedrick blows up the Middle East with a single jet
in Iron Eagle; Rutger Hauer scares the crap out of us in The
Hitcher; Howard the Duck is perhaps the worst film ever
made; and Arnold Schwarzenegger battles Sylvester Stallone for the
unofficial title of most muscle-bound action star.
But the year's movies are not all about muscles and puppets. Here
are my picks for the best of '86.
1. Top Gun
Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer,
Why a fave? The first (and still one of the best) movies of its
genre, the military action/adventure, or as I like to call it, the "war
movie when there isn't a war." There's something for everyone to enjoy:
fighter jets for the guys and that volleyball scene for the ladies.
C'mon, admit it... you and your friends went around calling each other
Maverick and Ice Man.
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill
Why a fave? One of the first movies I remember where the sequel
was better than the original. What could be scarier than a monstrous
alien with acid for blood? Hundreds of them. Now send in some kick-ass
Marines of the future to fight the aliens and you have a movie. Great
story, great special effects (for the first time) and solid acting.
Color of Money
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Why a fave? Paul Newman reprises the character of Fast Eddie
Felson, one of the roles that made him a star. Despite the fact that I
think he's a lunatic now, Tom Cruise was brilliant as the arrogant and
hyper Vincent, who becomes Eddie's pool protege.
Director: David Anspaugh
Stars: Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey
Why a fave? The story's a little cheesy and predictable, but the
performances are top-notch. I still get chills when Dennis Hopper's
character has to take over coaching and calls the play that wins the
Bueller's Day Off
Director: John Hughes
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones,
Why a fave? Ferris Bueller: every teenage girl wanted him; every
teenage boy wanted to be him. This movie and War Games
launched Matthew Broderick's career into the stratosphere, but whatever
happened to Mia Sara, anyone know?
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger
Why a fave? The dirty little secret that was the Vietnam War was
out of the bag. Among the first movies to expose the darker sides of
war that few talked about, from fragging to other atrocities by U.S.
Director: Alex Cox
Stars: Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb
Why a fave? One of Gary Oldman's first and best films about
British punk rocker Sid Vicious. Chloe Webb was great too, but I admit
I got sick of her whining.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Marsha Mason, Mario Van Peebles
Why a fave? Okay, I know some of you might disagree with me on
this, but I LOVED this movie. Eastwood is terrific in front of
and behind the camera. Mario Van Peebles is in his most comfortable
role. Probably the only movie ever made about the invasion of Grenada.
Director: Rob Reiner
Stars: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry
O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland
Why a fave? You are not allowed to not like this movie.
Seriously, I think it's a law or something. A touching, poignant and
endearing coming of age film from a short story written by, of all
people, Stephen King (NOT known for touching, poignant and endearing
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Stars: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Roxanne Hart, Clancy
Why a fave? I'm not much of a Christopher Lambert fan, but he
was fine as the tortured and brooding Connor MacLeod. Clancy Brown is
one of my favorite "that guy" actors: you don't know his name, but when
you see him you say, "oh yeah, THAT GUY." He has my favorite line from
the film: "I have something to say. It's better to burn out than to
See the Top 10 of 1985
Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt."